A History of Western Music Glossary

Flashcard maker : Daniel Thompson
see \”bar form\”
sign that calls for altering the pitch of a note; raising it by a sharp, lowering it by a flat, or canceling a previous sign by a \”natural\”
Ad libitum
(Lat. \”at pleasure\”) Details of execution left to the discretion of the performer
Fixed state of mind, such as rage, fear, or wonder, not unlike a persistent emotion
Unordered set of the Pitch-class of the Chromatic Scale
(Fr. \”charm\”) Ornament in French music, usually indicated by a sign
1 – Tune
2 – Tuneful song in a French stage work, usually in a dance meter
3 – English or French art song with lute or viol accompaniment
Air de cour
French Monodic song
Alberti bass
Broken-chord accompaniment named after Domenico Alberti, a composer who used it frequently
(Lat. alea \”dice\”) Deliberately leaving the choice of pitches, rhythmic values, or the order of events to chance
Allemande, alman
Dance in moderate duple meter, often the first dance of a suite
Pitch range of a mode or plainchant
Motet-like composition on an English text; a verse anthem is for solo voice and chorus with instrumental accompaniment, a full anthem for chorus without soloist
Pertaining to a method of performance in which one group answers another
Lute with an extra pegbox for long bass strings tuned diatonically to play bass notes in a continus; also called theorbo
(It. \”air\”)
1 – Tune or formula for singing poetry
2 – Strophic song
3 – Songful monologue or duet in an opera or other vocal work
(It. \”airy\”)
1 – Short for recitativo arioso \”tuneful recitative\”
2 – Free lyric passage not formally organized as an aria
(from It. arpa \”harp\”)
broken-chord figure
Atonal (atonality)
pertaining to music that avoids a tonal center but is not built on serial principles
a mode’s primary form, in which the final is the lowest note of the octave range, see also plagal
ballad opera
18th century English comic play with songs in which new texts are set to familiar tunes
1 – one of the French formes fixes of the 14th and 15th centuries, each stanza having an overall AAB form
2 – Instrumental piece inspired by the genre of narrative poetry
3 – Composed setting of a narrative poem
Entertainment in which both professionals and guests danced; later, a stage work danced by professionals
Bar Form
Song form in which the first melodic component is sung twice with different texts (the two stollen); the remainder (the Abgesang) is sung once
(from Port. barroco \”misshapen,\” as in a bulbous pearl)
1 – Bizarre, extravagant
2 – Period of music history from ca. 1580 to ca. 1730
Basse danse
Family of dances, some duple, some triple, or a mixture of the two, whose music was often improvised over a tenor cantus firmus
Basso continuo
A foundation for improvised chords that filled in the harmony in the baroque period; see also figured bass
Bel canto
(It. \”beautiful singing\”) Smooth, fluent, vocal line that shows off the singer’s voice
(Lat. \”made up of two\”) A two-part form
Blue notes
Lowered 3rd, 7th, and sometimes 5th degrees of the major scale, used especially in African-American music
1 – Standard 12-bar progression: I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-IV-I-I
2 – African-American vocal genre
see Transition
Melodic or harmonic succession that closes a musical phrase, section, or composition. A cadence may be evaded by preparing the close but then moving on.
(It. \”cadence\”) Improvised passage usually placed just before the end of a piece or section
Circle of intellectuals and ameteurs of the arts that met in Florence at the home of Giovanni Bardi in the 1570s and 1580s
(Gr. kanon \”rule\”)
1 – Rule for performing music, particularly for deriving more than one voice from a single line of notated music, as when several voices sing the same melody, entering at certain intervals of time or singing at different speeds simultaneously
2 – Composition in which the voices enter successively at determined pitch and time intervals, all performing the same melody.
(It. \”sung\”)
1 – Composition for solo voice containing recitatives and arias
2 – sacred concerto
Cantus firmus
(Lat. \”plain chant\”, pl. cantus firmi) Plainchant or other melody used as a basis for a polyphonic composition
In the 16th century an instrumental chanson; later, a piece for ensemble in several sections or tempos
(Fr; Sp. chacona; It. ciaccona)
1 – Dance song in triple time, originating in Latin America
2 – A composition having an extended pattern of chords
3 – French dance with refrains
(Fr. song) Secular French song, either of popular origin or composed anew, usually arranged polyphonically
see Archlute
Large-format manuscript or printed book of music notation large enough to be read by the choir standing around it
Strophic hymn used in the German Lutheran Church
Chorale Prelude
Organ arrangement of a chorale played before the congregation sings it
three or more simultaneous pitches heard as a single entity
Chromatic (chromaticism)
1 – One of the genera of Greek music
2 – Pertaining to a melody or scale that uses successive half steps
3 – In mid-16th-century Madrigals, writing many black notes in the time signature
Classic, classical
1 – Art music as opposed to vernacular or entertainment music
2 – Period or style from ca. 1730 to ca. 1820
(Lat. end, concluding sentence or verse)
1 – Cadence
2 – Phrase of plainchant
3 – Measured organum set to melismatic fragment of plainchant
French term for harpsichord
(It. tail)
A supplementary ending to a composition
Collegium musicum
Ensemble or orchestra made up mostly of amateurs such as university students
(From Lat. rhetoric \”ornament\”, particularly repetition) In an isorhythmic composition, a repeated melodic, as opposed to rhythmic, pattern
Commedia dell’arte
Professional, improvised Italian comedy of the 16th and 17th centuries using standard characters
(adj. from It. concertare \”to agree upon or act together)
1. Concerted, that is, joining instruments and voices
2. Performing as a soloist, as in violino concertato
(It. \”little concerto\”) Ensemble of few solo instruments, as opposed to concerto grosso, large ensemble with numerous players to part
(Fr. concert; Eng. consort)
1. Ensemble of instrument or voices.
2. Composition for instruments or voices
3. Composition in which one or more solo performers join an orchestral ensemble
Concerto Grosso
(It. \”large concerto\”)
1. Tutti or Ripieno – the full orchestra in a concerto
2. Composition for a full orchestra or for such an orchestra alternating with a small group of soloists, the concertino
(It. \”excited\”)
Style in which a single note or chord is rapidly repeated, mixed with fanfares, to suggest belligerence and battle
1. Medieval Monophonic song, usually sacred, on rhythmical Latin verse
2. Measured Polyphonic setting of an original melody
Interval or chord that has a stable, agreeable sound. In early times only octaves, fifths, and fourths were considered consonant; later, thirds and sixths were included
(pl. contrafacta)
Composition in which a new text is substituted for the original one — for example, a sacred text for a secular one
Artful combination of two or more simultaneous melodic lines
Courante, corrente
Fluent dance in moderate triple meter
Da capo aria
Two-section aria form. The first section is repeated after the second section’s close, which carries the instruction da capo (It. \”from the head\”)
Process or section in which a subject is taken apart, combined with other ideas, and reworked
1. One of the genera of Greek music
2. Pertaining to a melody or scale that mixes whole tones and semitones without consecutive half steps
1. Uniform reduction of note values in a melody or phrase
2. Replacing a long note with a run or other figure composed of short notes, also called \”division\”
(Lat. \”singing apart\”)
1. Treble part
2. Improvised or written polyphony in which voices move at same speed, particularly when all are measured
1. Interval or chord that is disagreeable or that requires resolution. Seconds, tritones, and sevenths, and chords containing them are considered dissonant.
2. A note not belonging in a chord, a nonharmonic tone
Interval spanning two whole tones
(Fr. \”entertainment, diversion\”)
Entertaining episodes of ballet, tuneful airs, and spectacle within serious French operas
Pertaining to composition with 12-Tone rows
5th degree of a major or minor scale
Note or notes, usually in the bass, sustained throughout an entire piece or section
(Lat. duplus \”double\”)
Voice part in early polyphony set against a tenor
variation of loudness and intensity
(Ger. \”sentimentality, sensitivity\”; adj. empfindsam)
Quality of refined passion and melancholy in 18th century music
1. One of the genera of Greek music
2. Pertains to a melody or scale that uses steps smaller than a semitone
3. Pertains to a change in the notation and function of a single pitch, as from Eb to D#
Passage, especially in a fugue, that does not state the principal subject
(Gr. \”custom\”)
Character, mood, or emotional effect of a certain tonos, mode, meter, style, or composition
Exercise to develop instrumental technique
Section of a fugue, sonata, or concerto in which the main subject or subjects are announced
Exaggerated and extreme subjectivity in artistic expression
Fantasy for a solo instrument or ensemble
(It. \”fantasy\”)
1. Instrumental composition lacking a strict form, often improvisatory
2. Instrumental piece developing an abstract subject, often invented by the composer
(Fr. \”false bass\”)
Scheme for improvising a third part between a plainchant in the treble and a lower voice. The outer voices form parallel 6ths, while the middle voice is a 4th below the plainchant, though they start and end phrases with an octave mediated by a 5th
Figure, figuration
Melodic pattern, usually ornamental, made of commonplace material such as scales, arpeggios, and turns, not distinctive enough to be considered a motive or theme
Figured Bass
Thoroughbass with numbers to indicate the intervals above it that form the required chords
Step of a mode that is the normal closing note of a plainchant or tenor part
Last movement of a work of the closing scene of an act in an Opera
Formes Fixes
(Fr. \”fixed forms\”)
Schemes of poetic and musical repetition used in the late Middle Ages, such as virelai, rondeau, and ballade
Raised strip of material, such as leather, guiding and aiding the stopping of strings on a fingerboard
Short fugue, usually in the midst of nonfugal music
Fuging tune
Arrangement of hymn using free imitation
fuga, fugal (Lat. and It. \”flight\”)
1. Composition or section of a composition in which a subject is answered or repeated successively by several parts
2. Before 1550 one type of fuga was a strict canon
(Fr. \”elegant\”)
1. Smart, chic, sophisticated
2. Light, homophonic early 18th century style of music that treats contrapuntal rules freely
Lively dance in triple meter that usually followed a pavane
(contraction of gamma — greek — and the first solmization syllable, ut, of the hard hexachord)
Entire range of pitches
(Ger. \”utilitarian music\”)
Music for amateurs, children, and workers to play and sing
(Lat. \”classes\”; sing. genus)
In Greek music, three classes of melody or ways of tuning the tetrachord: diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic
(Ger. \”joint or integrated artwork\”)
Theatrical work envisioned by Richard Wagner that unites poetry, scenery, staging, action, and music, all working toward a dramatic goal
(Eng. jig)
Quick dance usually in triple meter
Grand Motet
(Fr. \”large motet\”)
17th and 18th century French sacred concerto for soloists, double choruses, and orchestra
Ground bass
Pattern of bass notes repeated as a foundation for harmony
Early Italian word for trill
(Gr.; pl. harmoniai)
Greek scale or mode having a certain octave species or configuration of intervals, not unlike a plainchant mode. Harmoniae were sometimes given ethnic names, such as Dorian and Lydian
1. High thin tone produced by lightly touching the string, such as of a violin, at 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 etc. of its length.
2. Overtone, or partial, of a vibrating string or air column
Aspect of music that pertains to simultaneous combinations of sounds, particularly consonant ones.
(from Gr. hemiolios \”one and a half\”)
Three beats against two in an equivalent amount of time, whether between voices or successive measures, as in one measure of 3/2 against two measures of 3/4
Same melody performed simultaneously in more than one way, for example, simply and ornamented
1. Set of 6 pitches
2. In medieval theory and practice, three types of hexachord were distinguished: according to whether the B was absent (\”natural\” hexachord, as in C-A); B was natural (\”hard hexachord,\” as in G-E); or B was flat (\”soft\” hexachord, as in F-D with Bb)
(Lat. hoquetus; Fr. hoquet \”hiccup\”)
Device of splitting a melodic line between two voices, or a composition based on this device
Music in which the harmony is chordal and not made up of distinctive lines
Having the same rhythm, as when several voices sing the same syllables with the same durations
Movement in the Renaissance to revive ancient Greek and Roman culture
Device of repeating a motive or melody announced in one part in a second or more parts, often at a different pitch level and not always accurately
Imitation Mass
Mass in which movements are based on a single polyphonic model, such as a motet or madrigal, all of whose voices may be borrowed or rewored; also called a parody mass
Style that evokes moods and sensuous impressions through harmony and tone color
Spontaneous invention of music, embellishment, or accompaniment while performing
In nomine
Cantus Firumus, derived from the Benedictus of Taverner’s Western Wynde Mass, used in sets of instrumental variations by English composers
Freedom from a composer’s notational prescription
Pastoral, allegorical, or mythological interlude of vocal and instrumental music performed before and between the acts of a spoken comedy or tragedy
A brief coming operatic work performed between the acts of a serious opera
Distance in pitch between two notes
Intervall class
If the half-steps or pitch classes of the chormatic octave are numbered from 0 to 11, the differences between the integers yield seven interval classes, namely the intervals possible in an octave if inversions are not counted. For example, the major third and the minor sixth belong to the same interval class 4, the pitch classes being four half-steps apart in the nearest direction
The first notes of a plainchant, sung by a soloist to establish the pitch for the choir, which joins the soloist to continue the chant
1 — Shifting the position of the notes in a chord so that a different one is the lowers
2 — Reversing the upward or downward direction of melodic intervals while mainting their size
3 — In counterpoint, placing a part above a given part that had been below it.
(Gr. \”equal rhythm\”) Repetition in a voice part (usually the tenor) of an extended pattern of durations throughout a section or an entire composition
Just intonation
Method of tuning that affords both perfect and imperfect consonances in their purest form as demonstrated by the simple ratios of their frequencies, such as 3:2 for the perfect fifth and 5:4 for the major third
Key Signature
Sharp(s) or flat(s) placed on line(s) or space(s) at the beginning of each staff
Singer or poet who accompanies self on the kithara
Austrian and South German dance in triple meter
(Lat. laudare \”to praise\”) Italian devotional song
(Ger. \”leading motive\”) Musical theme or motive associated with a person, thing, emotion, or idea in the drama
Literary text for a musical stage work
(Ger. \”song\”; pl. lieder) Germon song, such as a polyphonic partsong or an accompanied art song
Neume-like shape used to indicate a short rhythmic pattern in the notation of the 12th to 16th centuries
(It. madrigale \”song in the mother tongue\”) 1 — 14th century Italian verse form and its musical setting having two or three stanzas followed by a ritornello
2 — 16th century Italian poem having any number of lines, each of seven or eleven syllables
3 — polyphonic or concertato setting of such a poem or of a canzona, sonet, etc.
4 — English part-song imitating the Italian models
Major Scale
diatonic succession of notes with a major third as the third step
Piece in duple meter to accompany military stepping
English entertainment in which guests and professionals joined in a dance peformance, sometimes including recitatives, songs, and choruses
Metrical unit set off by barlines
(Ger. \”master singer\”)
German singer and composer of a song practiced by 14th-16th century burgher-musicians’ guilds
Melisma (Melismatic)
Flowing passage of many notes sung to a single syllable, particularly of plainchant
Theatrical genre that combined spoken dialogue with background music
1 – succession of tones perceived as coherent line
2 – tune
3 – principal part accompanied by other parts or chords
Pattern of beats in a measure
Type of music deliberately limiting musical material and vocabulary, often marked by continual repetition of a short melody, figure, or chord with only slight variation
(Ger. \”singer of love\”)
Composer or singer of medieval German song, particularly about love
Minor Scale
Diatonic succession of notes with a minor third as the third step and optional lowered sixth and seventh steps
Dance in triple meter usually followed by a second minuet, called \”Trio,\” after which the first minuet returns
1 – Melody type characterized by a certain final or ending pitch, a particular arrangement of tones and semitones, and an approximate ambitus
2 – Rhythmic pattern of two or three short and longer duartions – for example, Mode 1, long-short
Change from one tonality to another in the course of a composition
Instrument used to locate intervals through dividing and measuring lengths of its single string
Accompanied solo song
(from Fr. mot \”word\”)
Polyphonic vocal composition, most often on a sacred text
Duplum or Triplum voice part in early polyphony to which words are set
Short melodic or rhythmic idea
1 – Musical idea that recurs
2 – Introduction of the main idea in the voice, prior to the completion of the instrumental ritornello, in what is called a \”motto aria\”
Musica ficta
(Lat. \”feigned music\”)
1 – Practice of raising or lowering by a semitone the pitch of a written note in a polyphonic texture, particularly at a cadence, for the sake of smoother harmony or stronger part movement
2 – In early music, notes outside the standard camut, which excluded all flatted and sharped notes except Bb
Musique concrete
(Fr. \”concrete music\”)
Natural sounds that are stored, combined, modified, and arranged
Musique mesuree
(Fr. \”measured music\”)
Style of 16th century French music in which poetry simulating the ancient Greek and Latin syllable quantities is set to combinations of long and short notes that do not fit in regular meter
Movement in the 20th century to revive forms, genres, and styles of the 18th century
Sign placed above a syllable to indicate the pitch height of one or more plainchant notes
Writing down of music, usually on a staff of lines, using signs that define the pitch, duration, and other qualities of sound
Octave Species
Arrangement of intervals, such as whole tones and semitones, in an octave
Monastic ritual celebrated at certain hours of the day and night
(It. \”work\”)
1 – Dramatic stage composition, ordinarily in two or more acts
2 – work
Opera buffa
(It. \”comical opera\”)
Italian full-length comic opera sung throughout
Opera comique
(Fr. \”comic opera\”)
French full-length comic opera with spoken dialogue instead of recitative
Opera seria
(It. \”serious opera\”)
Serious Italian opera of the 18th century, purged of comic scenes and characters
(Lat. \”work\”; pl. opera)
A composition or set of compositions
Composition for solo singers, chorus, and instruments, usually dramatic and on a biblical or religious subject
Oratorio volgare
Oratorio on a vernacular
1 – Art of assigning musical material to individual instruments
2 – The product of this process
(Lat. ordinarium missae \”the ordinary of the Mass\”)
Texts and plainchants of a mass that remain the same throughout the church calendar, such as the Kyrie and Gloria
(Fr. \”order\”)
French collection of pieces that are mostly in dance rhythms, such as a suite
Improvised or written voice part sung against a plainchant, or the work resulting from this procedure
Ornament, ornamentation, ornamented
Decorative element, such as a trill or turn, written or improvised, that adds expression or charm to a melodic line
Short melodic figure persistently repeated, most often in the bass
Ottava rima
(It. \”eighth rhyme\”)
Poem of eight eleven-syllable lines in which the eighth line rhymes with the seventh
(Fr. \”opening\”)
1 – French overture in two-part form, the first slow and majestic with dotted rhythms, the second quick, fluent, and fugal, after which the first section is often recalled
2 – A suite having such an introduction
Introduction to a stage work, oratorio, or instrumental suite, later also a breif orchestral work in one movement.
Volume, particularly printed, containing music for a single vocal or instrumental part of a polyphonic ensemble
Single variation of a theme or a set of such variation
(It.; Sp. passecalle; Fr. passecaille)
1 – Pattern of guitar chords played before and between strophes of a song
2 – Pattern of pitches usually serving as a foundation for harmony
Setting of a New Testament account of the crucifixion of Jesus
Poetic genre to which the early operal librettos, such as Euridice of 1600, belonged
Pavane, pavana, paduana
Slow, stately dance in duple meter, often followed by a galliard
Quality of being organized in discrete phases and periods
Petit motet
(Fr. \”little motet\”)
French version of the sacred concerto for a few voices
Phrygian cadence
Cadence in which the lowest voice descends by a semitone and the highest ascends by a whole tone
One of the twelve pitches of the chromatic scale without reference to register, such as C when it refers to all Cs in the gamut
(Gr. plagios, \”placed sideways\”)
Refers to the collateral mode that shares a final with an authentic mode and has a range approzimately a fourth lower
Plainchant, plainsong
(Lat. cantus planus)
Monophonic sacred chant or song of the Christian church, performed in free rhythm
Texture in which two or more choruses alternate and join together
Polyphony (polyphonic)
Musical texture consisting of two or more lines of melody
Combines two or more lines of melody that are in different tonalities
Introductory piece in an opera, suite, or instrumental composition
Program Music
Music that is descriptive, narrative, or that develops a non-musical subject
Dramatic scene or speech before the beginning of a spoken or musical stage work
(Lat. proprium de rempore \”proper of the time\”)
Texts and plainchants of the mass that are assigned to particular days in the church calendar
Psalm tone
Formula for chanting psalms on a reciting tone, which varies with the mode, including patterns for beginning, continuing, temporarily resting, resuming, and closing
Pythagorean tuning
Having perfect consonances in ratios of 2:1 (octave), 3:2 (fifth), 4:3 (fourth), unlike other intervals, which have irrational ratios, such as 81:64 (ditone, or major third)
(Lat. \”whatever you please\”)
Composition juxtaposing several borrowed melodies

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