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Glossary of the interactive textbook "Music Appreciation"

Appendix 2: glossary

  • Absolute music: instrumental music whose materials and structure have been conceived without influence from or reference to text, stories, pictures, or other nonmusical sources or meanings. Sonata, concerto, symphony, and string quartet are among the common titles assigned by composers to such works. Compare program music.
  • Accent: emphasis of a note or chord, often through dynamic stress, that is marked increase in loudness.
  • Accompaniment: the musical background for a principal part or parts. A musical texture consisting of melody and accompaniment is classified as homophonic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Aria: a number for solo voice and orchestra most commonly associated with opera and oratorio. Arias are vehicles through which characters tell us about themselves and express their feelings and emotions. The text of an aria is often poetic and is set to a highly developed melody. Words and phrases may be repeated. The orchestra accompanies, but instruments may also function as wordless characters that counterpoint and converse with the voice.
  • Art song: notated (written down) musical setting of a text authored by a known composer who consciously seeks to develop expressive connections between poetry and music. By contrast, folk songs are usually transmitted by oral tradition and their creators are unknown.
  • Beat: the regular pulse underlying the unfolding of music in time. The rate at which the beat occurs is called tempo. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Blue notes: steps in the scale, usually the third and seventh, that are flattened, that is, slightly lowered in pitch, in performing blues.
  • Blues: see Chapter 6: American Vernacular Music.
  • Brass instrument: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Bridge: a section that connects two themes, often bringing about a modulation, as in sonata form. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Cadence: the termination of a musical statement, analogous to a point of punctuation in prose. A complete or full cadence is characterized by the finality of a period or exclamation point at the end of an independent clause while the need for completion of a dependent clause, denoted by a comma or semicolon in prose, is the musical equivalent of an incomplete or half cadence.
  • Cadenza: passage near the end of an aria or concerto movement performed by the soloist without the orchestra. The material of the cadenza is intended to show off the virtuosity of the soloist and in some periods was improvised.
  • Call and response: in jazz, gospel, and other music influenced by African practices, alternation between two performing entities, most commonly a single performer and a group. See Chapter 6: American Vernacular Music and Chapter 7: Jazz.
  • Cantata: from the Italian “cantare” to sing, a genre of vocal music based on either a secular or religious text set as recitatives and arias, and sometimes choruses. Cantatas may have dramatic qualities but are unstaged and are much shorter than operas and oratorios.
  • Chamber music: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Chance music: an approach to creating a unique musical work in which the composer intentionally relinquishes control over pitches, durations, and other essential musical elements. The performer(s) determines what will be played and how it will be played by such means as tossing dice or coins.
  • Chant: monophonic setting of a sacred text. Chanting by a soloist or a choir in unison is practiced in many religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. The intoning of sacred texts provides a manner of delivery that is differentiated from ordinary speech and can heighten the mystery and spiritual atmosphere of religious ritual.
  • Choir: a choral ensemble, especially one that performs religious music, as in a church choir or a gospel choir. When applied to instruments, choir is usually synonymous with “section,” as in woodwind choir, brass choir.
  • Chord: three or more pitches sounding together that produce harmony.
  • Chorus: when referring to performers, a chorus is a vocal ensemble. Choruses vary greatly in size, from chamber-like groups of eight to twelve to a hundred or more singers. The performance of choral music most commonly requires sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses (see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles, section on Human Voice as Instrument) but there is also important choral literature for women, men, children, and boys. The other use of the word chorus denotes a section of a musical work, either the refrain of a song or, in a jazz composition, the harmonic/melodic theme and its varied repetitions.
  • Coda: from the Latin for “tail,” a concluding section added to customary components of a musical form.
  • Common practice period: the time in European art music between 1600 and 1900 when composers spoke, and audiences understood, a common musical language based on tonality (keys) and standard instrumental forms. The Baroque period began this era with refinements to the tonal system still in progress, in the Classical period tonal music and instrumental forms (such as sonata form) reached their highest level of development, and in the Romantic period these systems broke down as composers began to sacrifice formal purity in exchange for personal expression in their music.
  • Concerto: an orchestral work in which the players are divided into two groups, one consisting of one or more soloists, the other being the full orchestra (called the tutti, meaning all the players). The term concerto derives from an Italian word that means both to join together in a cooperative manner and also to contend competitively. Much of the effect of the concerto derives from the virtuosity of the soloist and from contrasts of dynamics, mass of sound, and tone color made possible by the division into differently constituted groups
  • Conjunct, disjunct: see Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music. Consonance, dissonance: simultaneous pitches that are experienced as pleasing or harmonious within a particular musical context are described as consonant while those experienced as harsh or clashing are described as dissonant.
  • Continuo: in Baroque music, both the bass line that provides the harmonic foundation and the instruments that perform it. At least two players are generally required for the performance the continuo part: a cellist for the written-out bass line, and a harpsichordist or organist who plays the bass line with the left hand and improvises harmonies with the right hand. The continuo section is somewhat analogous to the rhythm section in jazz.
  • Counterpoint : principles and rules used in composing multi-part music; adjective, contrapuntal.
  • Development: in a general sense, the manipulation of musical material through such procedures as altering the melodic and rhythmic contours of a theme, stating motives derived from a theme in imitation or repeated at different pitch levels, stating the theme in different keys, and so on. In a more restricted sense, the section in a sonata form where musical ideas from the exposition are manipulated and elaborated.
  • Dissonance: see Consonance.
  • Downbeat: the first beat in a metric grouping, or measure. Patterns of arm motion used by the conductor signal the downbeat by a downward movement of the arm.
  • Dynamics: degrees of loud and soft. Commonly used Italian terms are forte (loud), piano (soft), crescendo (getting gradually louder), and decrescendo (getting gradually softer). See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Ensemble: from the French for “together,” a group that performs together. Examples include an orchestra, band, opera, and chorus as well as groups with ensemble in their title, such as jazz ensemble, brass ensemble, and new music ensemble. In opera, an ensemble involves three or more soloists simultaneously singing different words and melodies, each conveying his or her view of a particular dramatic situation. See Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Episode: a passage between statements of a theme or subject, as in a fugue or rondo.
  • Ethnomusicology: from the Greek “ethno” (culture, people), the scientific study of music of oral tradition, encompassing tribal and folk music, and of the art music produced by various world cultures. The discipline, whose origins date back to the 1880s, draws on methodologies of musicology, the scholarly study of Western art music, and anthropology, whose subject is mankind and human culture.
  • Exposition: the section of a work in which the principal thematic material is presented. See fugue and sonata form.
  • Experimental music: music where the outcome is unknown until the piece is realized. Although the term did not exist when Charles Ives was active as a composer, due to his several musical innovations he is seen today as the father of American experimental music. Important experimental composers include Henry Cowell, John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Annea Lockwood, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, and Laurie Anderson.
  • Expressionism: an early 20th-century movement that sought to reveal through art the irrational, subconscious reality and repressed primordial impulses postulated and analyzed in the writings of Freud. See Chapter 5: European and American Art Music since 1900.
  • Extended performance technique: non-traditional performance of an instrument (extended instrumental technique) or use of the voice (extended vocal technique) in order to extend its range and/or expand its timbre palette. This term is most often associated with American experimental music. It should be noted that a non-traditional performance technique in one culture may be a traditional performance method in another.
  • Folk song: a song of unknown authorship that has been transmitted through oral tradition and usually exists in various versions as a result of being passed on over time. Compare art song. See Chapter 6: American Vernacular Music.
  • Form: the structural aspect of music concerned with such factors as statement, repetition, contrast, and development of musical material. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Front line: the members of a jazz ensemble whose principal function is melodic, in contrast to the harmonic, rhythmic role of the rhythm section. See Chapter 7: Jazz.
  • Fugue: title for a polyphonic musical work that is characterized by the development of a theme or subject through imitation. Most fugues are composed for four “voices,” or independent lines in the texture, commonly identified by their relative ranges as soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. In the exposition, or opening section, the theme is presented by one of the voice parts alone and is then taken up by each of the other voice parts in turn. As each new voice enters, the others continue with counterpointing material and the texture becomes increasingly dense. In the entries—subsequent appearances of the theme in one or more voices—the theme may be stated in new key areas or altered form, for example, with durations of the pitches longer or shorter. Entries alternate with episodes in which fragments or motives from the theme are developed.
  • Gamelan: percussion orchestra of Bali, Java, and other Indonesian islands. See Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Gospel music: genre of American religious music. See Chapter 6: American Vernacular Music.
  • Harmony: the vertical dimension of multi-part music through which simultaneous combinations of tones produces chords and successions of chords. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Heterophony: a variant of monophonic texture; adjective heterophonic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Homophony: a musical texture comprised of two elements, a dominating melody and supporting accompaniment; adjective homophonic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Imitation: the repetition, in close succession, of melodic and/or rhythmic material in one part by another part. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Impressionism: an artistic movement of the late 19th and early 20th century pioneered by French painters whose muted colors, blurred outlines, and sensuous subjects influenced contemporary poets and musicians, most notably Claude Debussy.
  • Improvisation: extemporaneous creation of music. Many Western European composers were renowned improvisers (see for example biographies of Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin) and the ability to improvise is essential in such traditions as Indian classical music, African tribal music, and some styles of jazz, where the performers are the composers and the performance is the work. Improvisation often takes place within established conventions, involving preexisting material that the performer is expected to flesh out in the course of performance. Improvisations are sometimes recorded, or later written down based on memory. See Chapter 3: Composer, Performer, Audience and Chapter 7: Jazz.
  • Instruments/instrumental music: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Interval: the distance between two pitches. Often expressed as a number of scale steps or as the ratio of relative frequencies. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Jazz: see Chapter 7: Jazz.
  • Key: tonic plus scale type, for example, G major, A minor. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Mass: service in the Christian liturgy that culminates in Holy Communion, the re-creation of the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples. Texts of the Mass have been set to music by composers from the Middle Ages through today.
  • Melisma: in vocal music, a single syllable of text sung on a lengthy succession of pitches.
  • Melody: succession of musical tones that is perceived as constituting a meaningful whole. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Meter: organization of time in which beats are arranged into recurring groupings of two’s, three’s, or some combination of two’s and three’s. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.Mode: scale type, determined by the size and succession of intervals. Most music from the Western European tradition draws its pitch material from the major and minor modes.
  • Modulation: change of key. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Motive: a short figure of distinctive melodic or rhythmic configuration that recurs throughout a composition or section and functions as a unifying element.
  • Monophony: single-line melody; adjective monophonic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Music theory: rules and principles of musical composition. Examples include rules of counterpoint associated with the Western European tradition, the principles governing the performance of raga and tala in Indian music, and practices of harmony and scales in jazz.
  • Musical theater: a play set to music for singers and instruments and performed on the stage with costumes and scenery. Dance is an important component of many musical theater works. Musical theater differs from opera in that dialogue is spoken rather than sung in recitative.
  • Opera: a large-scale dramatic production requiring solo singers, an orchestra, costumes, scenery, and often choruses and dancers. The word “opera,” is the plural of “opus,” the Latin for “work,” suggesting the multidimensional nature of the form. China, Japan, Indonesia, and India are among the world cultures that have rich traditions combining music with other theatrical elements and performance arts for ceremonies and entertainment.
  • Oratorio: similar to opera except that the subject is religious and the stage performance is without acting, costumes, and scenery.
  • Orchestra: in its broadest sense, a large ensemble such as a symphony orchestra, marching band, and jazz band or orchestra. In addition to a size of about 12 to over 100 players, other features of orchestral ensembles are the division of the instruments into sections, direction of the ensemble by a conductor, and performance in comparatively large venues, such a concert halls or even outdoors. Counterparts to Western orchestral ensembles include the West Indian steel pan orchestra and the gamelan of Indonesia. See Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Orchestration: the part of the creative process that involves designating particular musical material to particular instruments.
  • Ostinato: from the Italian for obstinate or persistent, a clearly defined phrase or motive that is repeated persistently, usually at the same musical pitch and in the same musical part, throughout a section or passage.
  • Overture: a self-contained instrumental piece intended as an introduction to another work such as an opera, oratorio, or musical theater.
  • Percussion instrument: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Performance artist: an artist that works in two or more disciplines at once, one of those disciplines being a performing art. An example would be a sculptor creating set pieces to include in a theatrical performance of their own creation.
  • Performance practice: the conventions and customs associated with the performance of a particular musical repertory—for example, the instruments employed, techniques of singing, and the nature and extent of improvisation that are expected. See Chapter 3: Composer, Performer, Audience.
  • Phrase: a fairly complete musical idea terminated by a cadence, which is comparable to a clause or sentence in prose. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Pitch: the location of a musical sound in terms of high and low. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Polyphony: from the Greek “poly” for many and “phono” for sound or voice, a musical texture comprised of two or more simultaneous melodies of fairly equal importance; adjective polyphonic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Polyrhythm: musical texture comprised of two or more simultaneous and independent rhythmic lines; adjective polyrhythmic. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Prepared piano: the insertion of foreign objects (screws, bolts, erasers, plastic, etc.) between the strings of a piano to alter its timbre. See Appendix 1: John Cage.
  • Program music: instrumental music that portrays a story, scene, or other nonmusical subject. Composers generally identify the subject in the title of the work. Compare absolute music.
  • Raga: an ascending and descending pattern of melodic pitches used in music of the Indian subcontinent. See Chapter 8: World Music.
  • Ragtime: a genre of instrumental music from around the turn of the 20th century that is an important predecessor of jazz. Most rags are for piano and are based on a steady one-two, or oom-pah, beat in the left hand supporting a highly syncopated melody in the right hand. Scott Joplin was one of the most prolific composers of piano rags.
  • Recitative: a style of text setting, found especially in operas and oratorios, that closely follows the rhythm and accents of speech. Recitative is used primarily for narrative and dialogue and is characterized by melody of narrow range that follows the accents of the text, spare accompaniment, one pitch per syllable of text, little or no repetition of text.
  • Rhythm: the durational and temporal dimension of musical sounds. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music. Rhythm section: in jazz, the instruments that keep the beat and provide harmonic support. Common members of the rhythm section are drum set, piano, string bass, and guitar.
  • Ritornello: from the Italian for return, the opening section of a work, particularly of concertos and arias of the Baroque period, that recurs either as a whole or in part between sections of contrasting material.
  • Rondo: a musical form involving a principal theme that is stated at least three times in the same key and intervening subordinate themes in contrasting keys. The rondo was a favorite design of final movements during the classical period.
  • Rubato: a practice in performance involving changes in tempo for expressive purposes.
  • Sampler: a device that allows the user to digitally store, manipulate, and play back recorded sounds.
  • Scale: arrangement of the pitch material of a piece of music in order from low to high (and sometimes from high to low as well). Each element of a scale is called a “step” and the distance between steps is called an interval. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Score: the composite of all parts of a notated composition arranged one underneath the others, each on a different staff. Conductors work from scores while performers read only their particular part.
  • Serialism: a compositional method in which the composer constructs a germinal cell, usually a series of pitches, which is then repeated over and over in various permutations throughout the course of a work.
  • Solo: from the Italian for alone, the term is used for the part in ensemble music that is performed by a single player (the soloist), such as the solo part in a concerto, and also as descriptive of music intended to be performed by one player. In the Western tradition, the largest solo literature is for keyboard instruments or for members of the guitar family, all of which can create a complete musical texture without the participation of other instruments. There is also a small solo repertory for unaccompanied violin, flute, and other instruments that usually perform as part of an ensemble.
  • Sonata: from the Italian “sonare” the verb “to sound,” a common designation for instrumental works to be performed by one player, for example, piano sonata, or a small group of instrumentalists, for example, sonata for violin and piano.
  • Sonata form: a structural plan that evolved during the Classical period and has been used to the present day as the design of symphonic, chamber, and solo movements. A movement in sonata form consists of three sections: (1) exposition that presents two principal themes and key areas; (2) development in which thematic material from the exposition is manipulated, varied, and elaborated; (3) recapitulation that restates the themes of the exposition, but both in the home key. This basic plan can be expanded to include an introduction and a coda. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music
  • Staff: the Western European system of horizontal lines and intervening spaces that has been used for the notation of pitch since the Middle Ages.
  • String instrument: see Chapter 1: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Strophic: a musical form in vocal music in which all verses of text are sung to the same music.
  • Subject: a theme or melody that constitutes the basic material of a composition, especially a fugue.
  • Symphony: a title applied mainly to orchestral music from the Classical period to the present.
  • Syncopation: irregular or unexpected stresses in the rhythmic flow. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Tala: in music of the Indian subcontinent, the sequence of beats that underlies continuous cycle of rhythmic improvisations executed by a percussion player. See Chapter 8: World Music.
  • Tempo: rate of speed in music, often indicated by Italian terms such as Allegro (fast), Andante (moderate, walking pace), and Large (slow).
  • Texture: the quality of a musical fabric with respect to the number and relationship of simultaneous musical events. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Theme: musical material, often a melody, that functions as a principal idea for a musical work, comparable to the theme of an essay or speech. Fugues typically have one theme; works in sonata form typically have two. During the course of a work, the theme may recur in its entirety or broken up into shorter motives, and it may appear in its original form or with variations in one or more of its elements, such as rhythm, tempo, melodic design, orchestration, or key.
  • Tone color: the distinctive sound quality of a voice or instrument. See Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music.
  • Tonic: the starting pitch of a scale, also called keynote.
  • Tutti: from the Italian for all, the full ensemble. In a concerto, passages for the soloist alternate with sections for the tutti.
  • Variation: a broad concept encompassing a number of procedures that modify musical material. Ornamentation or decoration of a melody, repetition of a theme with different orchestration or at a different tempo, reharmonization of a theme, including modulation from major to minor or vice versa are common techniques.
  • Vibrato: wavering or fluctuation of pitch.
  • Virtuoso: in general, a person of extraordinary skill and knowledge. In music, a highly accomplished musician.
  • Voice/vocal music: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.
  • Word painting: in vocal music, musical representation of individual words and textual images, for example, the use of high pitches for words like sky, low pitches for words like deep, and ascending pitches for rise.
  • Woodwind instrument: see Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Music appreciation: its language, history and culture. OpenStax CNX. Jun 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11803/1.1
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