History of Western Music Study Guide

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hymn
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Song to or in honor of a god. In the Christian tradition, song of praise sung to God.
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diatonic
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(1) In ancient Greek music, adjective describing a TETRACHORD with two WHOLE TONES and one SEMITONE. (2) Name for a SCALE that includes five whole tones and two semitones, where the semitones are separated by two or three whole tones. (3) Adjective describing a MELODY, CHORD, or passage based exclusively on a single diatonic scale.
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heterophony
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Music or musical TEXTURE in which a MELODY is performed by two or more parts simultaneously in more than one way, for example, one voice performing it simply, and the other with embellishments.
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diastematic
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Having to do with INTERVALS. In diastematic motion, the voice moves between sustained pitches separated by discrete intervals; in diastematic NOTATION, the approximate intervals are indicated by relative height (see HEIGHTED NEUMES).
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psalm
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A poem of praise to God, one of 150 in the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament). Singing psalms was a central part of Jewish, Christian, Catholic, and Protestant worship.
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notation
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A system for writing down musical sounds, or the process of writing down music. The principal notation systems of European music use a staff of lines and signs that define the pitch, duration, and other qualities of sound.
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musica mundana
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(Latin, ‘music of the universe,’ ‘human music,’ and ‘instrumental music’) Three kinds of music identified by Boethius (ca. 480-ca. 524), respectively the ‘music’ or numerical relationships governing the movement of stars, planets, and the seasons; the ‘music’ that harmonizes the human body and soul and their parts; and audible music produced by voices or instruments.
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musica instrumentalis
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(Latin, ‘music of the universe,’ ‘human music,’ and ‘instrumental music’) Three kinds of music identified by Boethius (ca. 480-ca. 524), respectively the ‘music’ or numerical relationships governing the movement of stars, planets, and the seasons; the ‘music’ that harmonizes the human body and soul and their parts; and audible music produced by voices or instruments.
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mode
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(1) A SCALE or MELODY type, identified by the particular INTERVALLIC relationships among the NOTES in the mode. (2) In particular, one of the eight scale or melody types recognized by church musicians and theorists beginning in the Middle Ages, distinguished from one another by the arrangement of WHOLE TONES and SEMITONES around the FINAL, by the RANGE relative to the final, and by the position of the TENOR or RECITING TONE. (3) RHYTHMIC MODE. See also MODE, TIME, AND PROLATION.
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tenor
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(from Latin tenere, “to hold”) (1) In a MODE or CHANT, the RECITING TONE. (2) In POLYPHONY of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the voice part that has the chant or other borrowed MELODY, often in long-held NOTES. (3) Male voice of a relatively high range.
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Mass
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from Latin missa, ‘dismissed’) (1) The most important service in the Roman church. (2) A musical work setting the texts of the ORDINARY of the Mass, typically KYRIE, GLORIA, CREDO, SANCTUS, and AGNUS DEI. In this book, as in common usage, the church service is capitalized (the Mass), but a musical setting of the Mass Ordinary is not (a mass)
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Introit
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(from Latin introitus, ‘entrance’) First item in the MASS PROPER, originally sung for the entrance procession, comprising an ANTIPHON, PSALM verse, Lesser DOXOLOGY, and reprise of the ANTIPHON.
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Kyrie
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(Greek, “Lord”) One of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based on a BYZANTINE litany.
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Gloria
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(Latin, ‘Glory’) Second of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, a praise formula also known as the Greater DOXOLOGY.
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Gradual
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(from Latin gradus, ‘stairstep’) Item in the MASS PROPER, sung after the Epistle reading, comprising a RESPOND and VERSE. CHANT graduals are normally MELISMATIC in style and sung in a RESPONSORIAL manner, one or more soloists alternating with the CHOIR.
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Alleluia
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Item from the MASS PROPER, sung just before the Gospel reading, comprising a RESPOND to the text ‘Alleluia,’ a verse, and a repetition of the respond. CHANT alleluias are normally MELISMATIC in style and sung in a RESPONSORIAL manner, one or more soloists alternating with the CHOIR.
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Credo
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(Latin, ‘I believe’) Third of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, a creed or statement of faith.
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Offertory
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Item in the MASS PROPER, sung while the COMMUNION is prepared, comprising a RESPOND without VERSES.
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Sanctus
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(Latin, ‘Holy’) One of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based in part on Isaiah 6:3.
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Agnus Dei
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(Latin, ‘Lamb of God’) Fifth of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based on a litany.
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Communion
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Item in the MASS PROPER, originally sung during communion, comprising an ANTIPHON without verses.
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Office
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(from Latin officium, ‘obligation’ or “ceremony”) A series of eight prayer services of the Roman church, celebrated daily at specified times, especially in monasteries and convents; also, any one of those services.
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canticle
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HYMN-like or PSALM-like passage from a part of the Bible other than the Book of Psalms.
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direct
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Pertaining to a manner of performing CHANT without alternation between groups (see ANTIPHONAL) or between soloist and group (see RESPONSORIAL).
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neumatic
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In CHANT, having about one to six NOTES (or one NEUME) sung to each syllable of text.
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melismatic
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Of a MELODY, having many MELISMAS.
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intonation
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The first NOTES of a CHANT, sung by a soloist to establish the pitch for the CHOIR, which joins the soloist to continue the chant.
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mediant
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In a PSALM TONE, the CADENCE that marks the middle of the PSALM verse.
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termination
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In a PSALM TONE, the CADENCE that marks the end of the PSALM VERSE.
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Lesser Doxology
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A formula of praise to the Trinity. Two FORMS are used in GREGORIAN CHANT: the Greater Doxology, or GLORIA, and the Lesser Doxology, used with PSALMS, INTROITS, and other chants.
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cantor
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In Jewish synagogue music, the main solo singer. In the medieval Christian church, the leader of the CHOIR.
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strophic
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Of a poem, consisting of two or more stanzas that are equivalent in form and can each be sung to the same MELODY; of a vocal work, consisting of a strophic poem set to the same music for each stanza.
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jubilus
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(Latin) In CHANT, an effusive MELISMA, particularly the melisma on “-ia” in an ALLELUIA.
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cycle
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A group of related works, comprising MOVEMENTS of a single larger entity. Examples include cycles of CHANTS for the MASS ORDINARY, consisting of one setting each of the KYRIE, GLORIA, SANCTUS, and AGNUS DEI (and sometimes also Ite, missa est); the POLYPHONIC MASS cycle of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries; and the SONG CYCLE of the nineteenth century.
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trope
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Addition to an existing CHANT, consisting of (1) words and MELODY; (2) a MELISMA; or (3) words only, set to an existing melisma or other melody.
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liturgical drama
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Dialogue on a sacred subject, set to music and usually performed with action, and linked to the LITURGY.
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versus
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(Latin, ‘verse’) A type of Latin sacred song, either MONOPHONIC or POLYPHONIC, setting a rhymed, rhythmic poem.
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goliard songs
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Medieval Latin songs associated with the goliards, who were wandering students and clerics.
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chanson de geste
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(French, ‘song of deeds’) Type of medieval French epic recounting the deeds of national heroes, sung to MELODIC formulas.
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bard
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Medieval poet-singer, especially of epics.
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minstrel
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(from Latin minister, ‘servant’) Thirteenth-century traveling musician, some of whom were also employed at a court or city.
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troubadour
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(from Occitan trobar, ‘to compose a song’) A poet-composer of southern France who wrote MONOPHONIC songs in Occitan (langue d’oc) in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
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trobairitz
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(from Occitan trobar, ‘to compose a song’) A female TROUBADOUR.
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trouvere
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(from Old French trover, ‘to compose a song’) A poet-composer of northern France who wrote MONOPHONIC songs in Old French (langue d’oil) in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
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chansonnier
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(French, ‘songbook’) Manuscript collection of secular songs with French words; used both for collections of MONOPHONIC TROUBADOUR and TROUVeRE songs and for collections of POLYPHONIC songs.
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refrain
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In a song, a recurring line (or lines) of text, usually set to a recurring MELODY.
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fine amour
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(French, ‘refined love’; pronounced FEEN ah-MOOR; fin’ amors in Occitan; also called courtly love) An idealized love for an unattainable woman who is admired from a distance. Chief subject of the TROUBADOURS and TROUVeRES.
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courtly love
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(French, ‘refined love’; pronounced FEEN ah-MOOR; fin’ amors in Occitan; also called courtly love) An idealized love for an unattainable woman who is admired from a distance. Chief subject of the TROUBADOURS and TROUVeRES.
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rondeau
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(pl. rondeaux) (1) French FORME FIXE with a single stanza and the musical FORM ABaAabAB, with capital letters indicating lines of REFRAIN and lowercase letters indicating new text set to music from the refrain. (2) FORM in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century instrumental music in which a repeated STRAIN alternates with other strains, as in the pattern AABACA.
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Minnesinger
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(German, ‘singer of love’; also pl.) A poet-composer of medieval Germany who wrote MONOPHONIC songs, particularly about love, in Middle High German.
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Minnelieder
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(German, ‘love songs’) Songs of the MINNESINGER.
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bar form
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Song FORM in which the first section of MELODY is sung twice with different texts (the two STOLLEN) and the remainder (the ABGESANG) is sung once.
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lauda
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(from Latin laudare, ‘to praise’) Italian devotional song.
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carole
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Medieval circle or line dance, or the MONOPHONIC song that accompanied it.
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estampie
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Medieval instrumental DANCE that features a series of sections, each played twice with two different endings, OUVERT and CLOS.
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open
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(French, ouvert and clos) In an ESTAMPIE, BALLADE, or other medieval form, two different endings for a repeated section. The first (‘open’) closes on a pitch other than the FINAL, and the second (‘closed’) ends with a full CADENCE on the final.
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closed
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(French, ouvert and clos) In an ESTAMPIE, BALLADE, or other medieval form, two different endings for a repeated section. The first (‘open’) closes on a pitch other than the FINAL, and the second (‘closed’) ends with a full CADENCE on the final.
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polyphony
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Music or musical TEXTURE consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent MELODY. See also COUNTERPOINT.
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organum
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(Latin; pronounced OR-guh-num) (1) One of several styles of early POLYPHONY from the ninth through thirteenth centuries, involving the addition of one or more voices to an existing CHANT. (2) A piece, whether IMPROVISED or written, in one of those styles, in which one voice is drawn from a CHANT. The plural is organa.
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motet
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(from French mot, ‘word’) POLYPHONIC vocal COMPOSITION; the specific meaning changes over time. The earliest motets add a text to an existing DISCANT CLAUSULA. Thirteenth-century motets feature one or more voices, each with its own sacred or secular text in Latin or French, above a TENOR drawn from CHANT or other MELODY. Most fourteenth- and some fifteenth-century motets feature ISORHYTHM and may include a CONTRATENOR. From the fifteenth century on, any polyphonic setting of a Latin text (other than a MASS) could be called a motet; from the sixteenth century on, the term was also applied to sacred compositions in other languages.
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organum
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(Latin; pronounced OR-guh-num) (1) One of several styles of early POLYPHONY from the ninth through thirteenth centuries, involving the addition of one or more voices to an existing CHANT. (2) A piece, whether IMPROVISED or written, in one of those styles, in which one voice is drawn from a CHANT. The plural is organa.
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parallel organum
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Type of POLYPHONY in which an added voice moves in exact parallel to a CHANT, normally a perfect fifth below it. Either voice may be doubled at the octave.
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principal voice
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(Latin, vox principalis) In an ORGANUM, the original CHANT MELODY.
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organal voice
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(Latin, vox organalis) In an ORGANUM, the voice that is added above or below the original CHANT MELODY.
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mixed parallel and oblique organum
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Early form of ORGANUM that combines parallel motion with oblique motion (in which the ORGANAL VOICE remains on the same NOTE while the PRINCIPAL VOICE moves) in order to avoid tritones.
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free organum
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Style of ORGANUM in which the ORGANAL voice moves in a free mixture of contrary, oblique, parallel, and similar motion against the CHANT (and usually above it).
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Aquitanian polyphony
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Style of POLYPHONY from the twelfth century, encompassing both DISCANT and FLORID ORGANUM.
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Discant
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(Latin, “singing apart”) (1) Twelfth-century style of POLYPHONY in which the upper voice or voices have about one to three NOTES for each note of the lower voice. (2) TREBLE part.
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florid organum
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Twelfth-century style of two-voice POLYPHONY in which the lower voice sustains relatively long NOTES while the upper voice sings note-groups of varying length above each note of the lower voice.
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tenor
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(from Latin tenere, ‘to hold’) (1) In a MODE or CHANT, the RECITING TONE. (2) In POLYPHONY of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the voice part that has the chant or other borrowed MELODY, often in long-held NOTES. (3) Male voice of a relatively high range.
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ligature
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NEUME-like noteshape used to indicate a short RHYTHMIC pattern in twelfth- to sixteenth-century NOTATION.
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long
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In medieval and RENAISSANCE systems of RHYTHMIC NOTATION, a NOTE equal to two or three BREVES.
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breve
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(from Latin brevis, ‘short’) In medieval and RENAISSANCE systems of RHYTHMIC NOTATION, a NOTE that is normally equal to half or a third of a LONG.
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rhythmic modes
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System of six durational patterns (for example, mode 1, long-short) used in POLYPHONY of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, used as the basis of the rhythmic NOTATION of the Notre Dame composers.
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tempus
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(Latin, ‘time’; pl. tempora) In medieval systems of NOTATION, the basic time unit. See also MODE, TIME, AND PROLATION.
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clausula
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(Latin, ‘clause,’ pl. clausulae) In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, a self-contained section of an ORGANUM that closes with a CADENCE.
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substitute clausula
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In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, a new CLAUSULA (usually in DISCANT style) designed to replace the original polyphonic setting of a particular segment of a CHANT.
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triplum
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(from Latin triplus, ‘triple’) (1) In POLYPHONY of the late twelfth through fourteenth centuries, third voice from the bottom in a three- or four-voice TEXTURE, added to a TENOR and DUPLUM. (2) In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, an ORGANUM in three voices.
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quadruplum
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(Latin, ‘quadruple’) (1) In POLYPHONY of the late twelfth through fourteenth centuries, fourth voice from the bottom in a four-voice TEXTURE, added to a TENOR, DUPLUM, and TRIPLUM. (2) In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, an ORGANUM in four voices.
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duplum
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(from Latin duplus, ‘double’) In POLYPHONY of the late twelfth through fourteenth centuries, second voice from the bottom in a four-voice TEXTURE, above the TENOR.
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double motet
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Thirteenth-century MOTET in three voices, with different texts in the DUPLUM and TRIPLUM.
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triple motet
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Thirteenth-century MOTET in four voices, with a different text in each voice above the TENOR.
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cantus firmus
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(Latin, ‘fixed melody’) An existing MELODY, often taken from a GREGORIAN CHANT, on which a new POLYPHONIC work is based; used especially for MELODIES presented in long NOTES.
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Franconian notation
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System of NOTATION described by Franco of Cologne around 1280, using noteshapes to indicate durations.
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perfection
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(1) What we all strive for. (2) In medieval systems of NOTATION, a unit of duration equal to three TEMPORA, akin to a MEASURE of three beats.
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rota
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FORM of medieval English POLYPHONY in which two or more voices sing the same MELODY, entering at different times and repeating the melody until all stop together. See CANON.
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isorhythm
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(from Greek iso-, ‘equal,’ and rhythm) Repetition in a voice part (usually the TENOR) of an extended pattern of durations throughout a section or an entire COMPOSITION.
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Ars Nova
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(Latin, ‘new art’) Style of POLYPHONY from fourteenth-century France, distinguished from earlier styles by a new system of rhythmic NOTATION that allowed duple or triple division of NOTE values, SYNCOPATION, and great rhythmic flexibility.
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talea
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(Latin, ‘cutting’; pronounced TAH-lay-ah) In an ISORHYTHMIC COMPOSITION, an extended rhythmic pattern repeated one or more times, usually in the TENOR. Compare COLOR.
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color
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(Latin rhetorical term for ornament, particularly repetition, pronounced KOH-lor) In an ISORHYTHMIC COMPOSITION, a repeated MELODIC pattern, as opposed to the repeating rhythmic pattern (the TALEA).
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mode
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(1) A SCALE or MELODY type, identified by the particular INTERVALLIC relationships among the NOTES in the mode. (2) In particular, one of the eight scale or melody types recognized by church musicians and theorists beginning in the Middle Ages, distinguished from one another by the arrangement of WHOLE TONES and SEMITONES around the FINAL, by the RANGE relative to the final, and by the position of the TENOR or RECITING TONE. (3) RHYTHMIC MODE. See also MODE, TIME, AND PROLATION.
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prolation
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(Latin modus, tempus, prolatio) The three levels of rhythmic DIVISION in ARS NOVA NOTATION. Mode is the division of LONGS into BREVES; time the division of breves into SEMIBREVES; and prolation the division of semibreves into MINIMS.
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contratenor
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(Latin, ‘against the tenor’) In fourteenth- and fifteenth-century POLYPHONY, voice composed after or in conjunction with the TENOR and in about the same RANGE, helping to form the HARMONIC foundation.
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virelai
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French FORME FIXE in the pattern A bba A bba A bba A, in which a REFRAIN (A) alternates with stanzas with the musical FORM bba, the a using the same music as the refrain.
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formes fixes
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(French, ‘fixed forms’; pronounced form FEEX) Schemes of poetic and musical repetition, each featuring a REFRAIN, used in late medieval and fifteenth-century French CHANSONS; in particular, the BALLADE, RONDEAU, and VIRELAI.
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chanson
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(French, ‘song’; pronounced shanh-SONH) Secular song with French words; used especially for POLYPHONIC songs of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries.
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treble-dominated style
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Style common in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in which the main MELODY is in the CANTUS, the upper voice carrying the text, supported by a slower-moving TENOR and CONTRATENOR.
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treble
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(French, ‘triple’) (1) A high voice or a part written for high voice, especially the highest part in three-part POLYPHONY of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. (2) Pertaining to the highest voice.
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cantus
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(Latin, ‘melody’) In POLYPHONY of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the highest voice, especially the texted voice in a polyphonic song.
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ballade
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(1) French FORME FIXE, normally in three stanzas, in which each stanza has the musical FORM aab and ends with a REFRAIN. (2) Instrumental piece inspired by the GENRE of narrative poetry.
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rondeau
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(pl. rondeaux) (1) French FORME FIXE with a single stanza and the musical FORM ABaAabAB, with capital letters indicating lines of REFRAIN and lowercase letters indicating new text set to music from the refrain. (2) FORM in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century instrumental music in which a repeated STRAIN alternates with other strains, as in the pattern AABACA.
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Ars Subtilior
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(Latin, ‘more subtle art’) Style of POLYPHONY from the late fourteenth or very early fifteenth centuries in southern France and northern Italy, distinguished by extreme complexity in rhythm and NOTATION.
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Trecento
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(Italian, short for mille trecento, ‘one thousand three hundred’; pronounced treh-CHEN-toh) The 1300s (the fourteenth century), particularly with reference to Italian art, literature, and music of the time.
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madrigal
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(Italian madrigale, ‘song in the mother tongue’) (1) Fourteenth-century Italian poetic form and its musical setting having two or three stanzas followed by a RITORNELLO. (2) Sixteenth-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 sonnet or other nonrepetitive VERSE form. (4) English polyphonic work imitating the Italian GENRE.
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ritornello
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(Italian, ‘refrain’) (1) In a fourteenth-century MADRIGAL, the closing section, in a different METER from the preceding verses. (2) In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century vocal music, instrumental introduction or interlude between sung stanzas. (3) In an ARIA or similar piece, an instrumental passage that recurs several times, like a refrain. Typically, it is played at the beginning, as interludes (often in modified form), and again at the end, and it states the main THEME. (4) In a fast MOVEMENT of a CONCERTO, the recurring thematic material played at the beginning by the full orchestra and repeated, usually in varied form, throughout the movement and at the end.
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caccia
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(Italian, ‘hunt’; pronounced CAH-cha; pl. cacce) Fourteenth-century Italian FORM featuring two voices in CANON over a free untexted TENOR.
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ballata
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(from Italian ballare, ‘to dance’; pl. ballate) Fourteenth-century Italian song GENRE with the FORM AbbaA, in which A is the ripresa or REFRAIN, and the single stanza consists of two piedi (bb) and a volta (a) sung to the music of the ripresa.
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musica ficta
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(Latin, ‘feigned music’) (1) In early music, NOTES outside the standard GAMUT, which excluded all flatted and sharped notes except B. (2). In POLYPHONY of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the practice of raising or lowering by a semitone the pitch of a written note, particularly at a CADENCE, for the sake of smoother HARMONY or motion of the parts.
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double leading-tone cadence
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CADENCE popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in which the bottom voice moves down a WHOLE TONE and the upper voices move up a SEMITONE, forming a major third and major sixth expanding to an open fifth and octave.
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homophony
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Musical TEXTURE in which all voices move together in essentially the same RHYTHM, as distinct from POLYPHONY and HETEROPHONY. See also MELODY AND ACCOMPANIMENT.
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imitate
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(1) To repeat or slightly vary in one voice or part a segment of MELODY just heard in another, at pitch or transposed. (2) To follow the example of an existing piece or style in composing a new piece.
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temperament
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Any system of tuning NOTES in the SCALE in which pitches are adjusted to make most or all INTERVALS sound well, though perhaps not in perfect tune.
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mean-tone temperament
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A type of TEMPERAMENT in which the fifths are tuned small so that the major thirds sound well; frequently used for keyboard instruments from the RENAISSANCE through the eighteenth century.
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equal temperament
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A TEMPERAMENT in which the octave is divided into twelve equal SEMITONES. This is the most commonly used tuning for Western music today.
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contenance angloise
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(French, ‘English guise’) Characteristic quality of early-fifteenth-century English music, marked by pervasive CONSONANCE with frequent use of HARMONIC thirds and sixths, often in parallel motion.
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faburden
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English style of IMPROVISED POLYPHONY from the late Middle Ages and RENAISSANCE, in which a CHANT in the middle voice is joined by an upper voice moving in parallel a perfect fourth above it and a lower voice that follows below the chant mostly in parallel thirds, moving to a fifth below to mark the beginning and end of phrases and the ends of most words.
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Cantilena
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(Latin, ‘song’) POLYPHONIC song not based on a CANTUS FIRMUS; used especially for polyphonic songs by English composers of the late thirteenth through early fifteenth centuries.
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carol
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English song, usually on a religious subject, with several stanzas and a BURDEN, or REFRAIN. From the fifteenth century on, most carols are POLYPHONIC.
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motet
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(from French mot, ‘word’) POLYPHONIC vocal COMPOSITION; the specific meaning changes over time. The earliest motets add a text to an existing DISCANT CLAUSULA. Thirteenth-century motets feature one or more voices, each with its own sacred or secular text in Latin or French, above a TENOR drawn from CHANT or other MELODY. Most fourteenth- and some fifteenth-century motets feature ISORHYTHM and may include a CONTRATENOR. From the fifteenth century on, any polyphonic setting of a Latin text (other than a MASS) could be called a motet; from the sixteenth century on, the term was also applied to sacred compositions in other languages.
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fauxbourdon
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(pronounced FOH-boor-donh) Continental style of POLYPHONY in the early RENAISSANCE, in which two voices are written, moving mostly in parallel sixths and ending each PHRASE on an octave, while a third unwritten voice is sung in parallel perfect fourths below the upper voice.
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plainsong mass
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A MASS in which each MOVEMENT is based on a CHANT to the same text (the KYRIE is based on a chant Kyrie, the GLORIA on a chant Gloria, and so on).
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head-motive
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Initial passage or MOTIVE of a piece or MOVEMENT; used especially for a motive or PHRASE that appears at the beginning of each movement of a MOTTO MASS or CANTUS-FIRMUS MASS.
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cantus-firmus mass
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POLYPHONIC MASS in which the same CANTUS FIRMUS is used in each MOVEMENT, normally in the TENOR.
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tenor mass
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POLYPHONIC MASS in which the same CANTUS FIRMUS is used in each MOVEMENT, normally in the TENOR.
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cantus-firmus/imitation mass
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POLYPHONIC MASS in which each MOVEMENT is based on the same polyphonic work, using that work’s TENOR (sometimes the SUPERIUS) as a CANTUS FIRMUS, normally in the tenor, and borrowing some elements from the other voices of the model to use in the other voices of the mass.
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contratenor bassus
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(Latin) In fifteenth-century POLYPHONY, CONTRATENOR parts that lie relatively high (ALTUS) or low (BASSUS) in comparison to the TENOR. Often simply written as “altus” or “bassus,” these are the ancestors of the vocal ranges ALTO and BASS.
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canon
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(Latin, ‘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.
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inversion
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(1) In a MELODY or TWELVE-TONE ROW, reversing the upward or downward direction of each INTERVAL while maintaining its size; or the new melody or row form that results. (2) In HARMONY, a distribution of the NOTES in a CHORD so that a note other than the ROOT is the lowest note. (3) In COUNTERPOINT, reversing the relative position of two melodies, so that the one that had been lower is now above the other.
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retrograde
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Backward statement of a previously heard MELODY, passage, or TWELVE-TONE ROW.
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mensuration canon
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A CANON in which voices move at different rates of speed by using different MENSURATION SIGNS.
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point of imitation
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Passage in a POLYPHONIC work in which two or more parts enter in IMITATION.
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text depiction
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Using musical gestures to reinforce or suggest images in a text, such as rising on the word ‘ascend.’
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text expression
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Conveying or suggesting through musical means the emotions expressed in a text.
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imitation mass
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(or parody mass) POLYPHONIC MASS in which each MOVEMENT is based on the same polyphonic model, normally a CHANSON or MOTET, and all voices of the model are used in the mass, but none is used as a CANTUS FIRMUS.
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paraphrase mass
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POLYPHONIC MASS in which each MOVEMENT is based on the same MONOPHONIC MELODY, normally a CHANT, which is PARAPHRASED in most or all voices rather than being used as a CANTUS FIRMUS in one voice.
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chorale
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(pronounced ko-RAL) STROPHIC HYMN in the Lutheran tradition, intended to be sung by the congregation.
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metric psalm
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Metric, rhymed, and STROPHIC vernacular translation of a PSALM, sung to a relatively simple MELODY that repeats for each strophe.
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anthem
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A POLYPHONIC sacred work in English for Anglican religious services.
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Service
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A setting of Anglican service music, encompassing specific portions of Matins, Holy Communion, and Evensong. A Great Service is a MELISMATIC, CONTRAPUNTAL setting of these texts; a Short Service sets the same text in SYLLABIC, CHORDAL style.
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chorale motet
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CHORALE setting in the style of a sixteenth-century MOTET.
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motets
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(from French mot, “word”) POLYPHONIC vocal COMPOSITION; the specific meaning changes over time. The earliest motets add a text to an existing DISCANT CLAUSULA. Thirteenth-century motets feature one or more voices, each with its own sacred or secular text in Latin or French, above a TENOR drawn from CHANT or other MELODY. Most fourteenth- and some fifteenth-century motets feature ISORHYTHM and may include a CONTRATENOR. From the fifteenth century on, any polyphonic setting of a Latin text (other than a MASS) could be called a motet; from the sixteenth century on, the term was also applied to sacred compositions in other languages.
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full anthem
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ANTHEM for unaccompanied CHOIR in CONTRAPUNTAL style.
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verse anthem
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ANTHEM in which passages for solo voice(s) with accompaniment alternate with passages for full CHOIR doubled by instruments.
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villancico
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(from Spanish villano, ‘peasant’; pronounced vee-yan-THEE-co) Type of POLYPHONIC song in Spanish, with several stanzas framed by a REFRAIN; originally secular, the FORM was later used for sacred works, especially associated with Christmas or other important holy days.
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frottola
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(pl. frottole) Sixteenth-century GENRE of Italian POLYPHONIC song in mock-popular style, typically SYLLABIC, HOMOPHONIC, and DIATONIC, with the MELODY in the upper voice and marked rhythmic patterns.
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madrigal
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(Italian madrigale, “song in the mother tongue”) (1) Fourteenth-century Italian poetic form and its musical setting having two or three stanzas followed by a RITORNELLO. (2) Sixteenth-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 sonnet or other nonrepetitive VERSE form. (4) English polyphonic work imitating the Italian GENRE.
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through-composed
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Composed throughout, as when each stanza or other unit of a poem is set to new music rather than in a STROPHIC manner to a single MELODY.
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villanella
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Type of sixteenth-century Italian song, generally for three voices, in a rustic HOMOPHONIC style.
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canzonetta
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(Italian, ‘little song’) Sixteenth-century Italian (and later English) song GENRE in a simple, mostly HOMOPHONIC style. Diminutive of CANZONA.
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balletto
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(Italian, ‘little dance’) Sixteenth-century Italian (and later English) song GENRE in a simple, dancelike, HOMOPHONIC style with repeated sections and “fa-la-la” refrains.
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musique mesuree
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(French, ‘measured music’) Late-sixteenth-century French style of text-setting, especially in CHANSONS, in which stressed syllables are given longer NOTES than unstressed syllables (usually twice as long).
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air de cour
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(French, ‘court air’) Type of song for voice and accompaniment, prominent in France from about 1580 through the seventeenth century.
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Meistersinger
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(German, ‘master singer’) Type of German amateur singer and poet-composer of the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries, who was a member of a guild that cultivated a style of MONOPHONIC song derived from MINNELIEDER.
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air
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English or French song for solo voice with instrumental accompaniment, setting rhymed poetry, often STROPHIC, and usually in the METER of a dance.
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tablature
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A system of NOTATION used for LUTE or other plucked string instrument that tells the player which strings to pluck and where to place the fingers on the strings, rather than indicating which NOTES will result. Tablatures were also used for keyboard instruments until the seventeenth century.
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variations
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(variations form) FORM that presents an uninterrupted series of variants (each called a VARIATION) on a THEME; the theme may be a MELODY, a BASS line, a HARMONIC plan, or other musical subject.
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prelude
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Introductory piece for solo instrument, often in the style of an IMPROVISATION, or introductory MOVEMENT in a multimovement work such as an OPERA or SUITE.
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fantasia
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(Italian, ‘fantasy’), fantasy (1) Instrumental COMPOSITION that resembles an IMPROVISATION or lacks a strict FORM. (2) IMITATIVE instrumental piece on a single subject.
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ricercare
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(ricercar) (Italian, ‘to seek out’ or ‘to attempt’) (1) In the early to mid-sixteenth century, a PRELUDE in the style of an IMPROVISATION. (2) From the late sixteenth century on, an instrumental piece that treats one or more SUBJECTS in IMITATION.
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canzona
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(Italian, ‘song’) (1) Sixteenth-century Italian GENRE, an instrumental work adapted from a CHANSON or composed in a similar style. (2) In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, an instrumental work in several contrasting sections, of which the first and some of the others are in IMITATIVE COUNTERPOINT.
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sonata
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(Italian, ‘sounded’) (1) A piece to be played on one or more instruments. (2) BAROQUE instrumental piece with contrasting sections or MOVEMENTS, often with IMITATIVE COUNTERPOINT. (3) GENRE in several movements for one or two solo instruments.
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instrumental family
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Set of instruments, all of the same type but of different sizes and RANGES, such as a VIOL CONSORT.
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consort
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English name (current ca. 1575-1700) for a group of instruments, either all of one type (called a full consort), such as a consort of VIOLS, or of different types (called a broken consort).
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clavecin
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French term for HARPSICHORD. A person who performs on or composes works for the clavecin is known as a clavecinist.
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basse danse
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(French, ‘low dance’) Type of stately couple DANCE of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.
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pavane
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(pavan) Sixteenth-century dance in slow duple METER with three repeated sections (AABBCC). Often followed by a GALLIARD.
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galliard
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Sixteenth-century dance in fast triple METER, often paired with the PAVANE and in the same FORM (AABBCC).
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intabulation
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Arrangement of a vocal piece for LUTE or keyboard, typically written in TABLATURE.
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organ mass
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Setting for organ of all sections of the MASS for which the organ would play, including ORGAN VERSES and other pieces.
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variation form
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FORM that presents an uninterrupted series of variants (each called a VARIATION) on a THEME; the theme may be a MELODY, a BASS line, a HARMONIC plan, or other musical subject.
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canzon
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(Italian, ‘song’) (1) Sixteenth-century Italian GENRE, an instrumental work adapted from a CHANSON or composed in a similar style. (2) In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, an instrumental work in several contrasting sections, of which the first and some of the others are in IMITATIVE COUNTERPOINT.
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polychoral motet
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MOTET for two or more choirs.
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basso continuo
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(Italian, ‘continuous bass’) (1) System of NOTATION and performance practice, used in the BAROQUE PERIOD, in which an instrumental BASS line is written out and one or more players of keyboard, LUTE, or similar instruments fill in the HARMONY with appropriate CHORDS or IMPROVISED MELODIC lines. (2) The bass line itself.
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opera
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(Italian, ‘work’) Drama with continuous or nearly continuous music, staged with scenery, costumes, and action.
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Baroque
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(from Portuguese barroco, ‘a misshapen pearl’) PERIOD of music history from about 1600 to about 1750, overlapping the late RENAISSANCE and early CLASSIC periods.
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prima pratica
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(Italian, ‘first practice’) Claudio Monteverdi’s term for the style and practice of sixteenth-century POLYPHONY, in contradistinction to the SECONDA PRATICA.
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first practice
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(Italian, ‘first practice’) Claudio Monteverdi’s term for the style and practice of sixteenth-century POLYPHONY, in contradistinction to the SECONDA PRATICA.
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seconda pratica
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Monteverdi’s term for a practice of COUNTERPOINT and COMPOSITION that allows the rules of sixteenth-century counterpoint (the PRIMA PRATICA) to be broken in order to express the feelings of a text. Also called stile moderno.
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second practice
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Monteverdi’s term for a practice of COUNTERPOINT and COMPOSITION that allows the rules of sixteenth-century counterpoint (the PRIMA PRATICA) to be broken in order to express the feelings of a text. Also called stile moderno.
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concerto
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(from Italian concertare, “to reach agreement”) (1) In the seventeenth century, ENSEMBLE of instruments or of voices with one or more instruments, or a work for such an ensemble. (2) COMPOSITION in which one or more solo instruments (or instrumental group) contrasts with an ORCHESTRAL ENSEMBLE. See also SOLO CONCERTO, CONCERTO GROSS, and ORCHESTRAL CONCERTO.
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concerted madrigal
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Early-seventeenth-century type of MADRIGAL for one or more voices accompanied by BASSO CONTINUO and in some cases by other instruments.
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sacred concerto
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In the seventeenth century, a COMPOSITION on a sacred text for one or more singers and instrumental accompaniment.
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measure
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(1) A unit of musical time consisting of a given number of beats; the basic unit of METER. (2) Metrical unit set off by barlines.
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tonality
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The system, common since the late seventeenth century, by which a piece of music is organized around a TONIC NOTE, CHORD, and KEY, to which all the other notes and keys in the piece are subordinate.
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madrigal comedy
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In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a series of MADRIGALS that represents a succession of scenes or a simple plot.
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madrigal cycle
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In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a series of MADRIGALS that represents a succession of scenes or a simple plot.
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intermedio
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Musical interlude on a pastoral, allegorical, or mythological subject performed before, between, or after the acts of a spoken comedy or tragedy.
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Camerata
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(Italian, ‘circle’ or ‘association’) Circle of intellectuals and amateurs of the arts that met in Florence, Italy, in the 1570s and 1580s.
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aria
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(Italian, ‘air’) (1) In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, any section of an Italian STROPHIC poem for a solo singer. (2) Lyrical monologue in an OPERA or other vocal work such as CANTATA and ORATORIO.
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solo madrigal
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In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a THROUGH-COMPOSED setting of a nonstrophic poem for solo voice with accompaniment, distinguished from an ARIA and from a MADRIGAL for several voices.
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recitative style
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(from Italian stile recitativo, ‘recitational style’) A type of vocal singing that approaches speech and follows the natural rhythms of the text.
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ritornello
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(Italian, ‘refrain’) (1) In a fourteenth-century MADRIGAL, the closing section, in a different METER from the preceding verses. (2) In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century vocal music, instrumental introduction or interlude between sung stanzas. (3) In an ARIA or similar piece, an instrumental passage that recurs several times, like a refrain. Typically, it is played at the beginning, as interludes (often in modified form), and again at the end, and it states the main THEME. (4) In a fast MOVEMENT of a CONCERTO, the recurring thematic material played at the beginning by the full orchestra and repeated, usually in varied form, throughout the movement and at the end.
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sinfonia
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(1) Generic term used throughout the seventeenth century for an abstract ENSEMBLE piece, especially one that serves as an introduction to a vocal work. (2) Italian OPERA OVERTURE in the early eighteenth century. (3) Early SYMPHONY.
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strophic variation
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Early seventeenth-century vocal GENRE, a setting of a STROPHIC poem, in which the MELODY of the first stanza is varied but the HARMONIC plan remains essentially the same, although the duration of harmonies may change to reflect the accentuation and meaning of the text.
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stile concitato
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(Italian, ‘excited style’) Style devised by Claudio Monteverdi to portray anger and warlike actions, characterized by rapid reiteration of a single NOTE, whether on quickly spoken syllables or in a measured string tremolo.
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recitativo arioso
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A passage or selection in an OPERA or other vocal work in a style that lies somewhere between RECITATIVE STYLE and ARIA style.
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arioso
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(1) RECITATIVO ARIOSO. (2) Short, ARIA-like passage. (3) Style of vocal writing that approaches the lyricism of an ARIA but is freer in form.
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court ballet
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Seventeenth-century French GENRE, an extensive musical-dramatic work with costumes, scenery, poetry, and dance that featured members of the court as well as professional dancers.
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tragedie en musique
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(French, ‘tragedy in music’; later tragedie lyrique, ‘lyric tragedy’) French seventeenth- and eighteenth-century form of OPERA, pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Lully, that combined the French classic drama and BALLET traditions with music, DANCES, and spectacles.
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tragedie lyrique
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French seventeenth- and eighteenth-century form of OPERA, pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Lully, that combined the French classic drama and BALLET traditions with music, DANCES, and spectacles.
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divertissement
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In TRAGeDIE EN MUSIQUE, a long interlude of BALLET, solo AIRS, choral singing, and spectacle, intended as entertainment.
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ouverture
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(French, ‘opening’) (1) OVERTURE, especially FRENCH OVERTURE. (2) SUITE for ORCHESTRA, beginning with an OVERTURE.
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French overture
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Type of OVERTURE, used in TRAGeDIE EN MUSIQUE and other GENRES, that opens with a slow, HOMOPHONIC, and majestic section, followed by a faster second section that begins with IMITATION.
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recitatif simple
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(French, ‘simple recitative’) In French BAROQUE OPERA, RECITATIVE that shifts frequently between duple and triple METER to allow the natural speechlike declamation of the words.
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recitatif mesure
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(French, ‘measured recitative’) In French BAROQUE OPERA, RECITATIVE in a songlike, measured style, in a uniform METER, and with relatively steady motion in the accompaniment.
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air
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English or French song for solo voice with instrumental accompaniment, setting rhymed poetry, often STROPHIC, and usually in the METER of a dance.
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notes inegales
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(French, ‘unequal notes’; pronounced NOTS an-ay GALL) Seventeenth-century convention of performing French music in which passages notated in short, even durations, such as a succession of eighth notes, are performed by alternating longer notes on the beat with shorter offbeats to produce a lilting rhythm.
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overdotting
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Performing practice in French BAROQUE music in which a dotted NOTE is held longer than written, while the following short note is shortened.
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binary form
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A FORM comprised of two complementary sections, each of which is repeated. The first section usually ends on the DOMINANT or the relative major, although it many end of the TONIC or other KEY; the second section returns to the tonic.
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suite
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A set of pieces that are linked together into a single work. During the BAROQUE, a suite usually referred to a set of stylized DANCE pieces.
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allemande
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(French for ‘German’) Highly stylized DANCE in BINARY FORM, in moderately fast quadruple METER with almost continuous movement, beginning with an upbeat. Popular during the RENAISSANCE and BAROQUE; appearing often as the first dance in a SUITE.
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courante
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A DANCE in BINARY FORM, in triple METER at a moderate tempo and with an upbeat, featured as a standard MOVEMENT of the BAROQUE dance SUITE.
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sarabande
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(1) Originally a quick dance-song from Latin America. (2) In French BAROQUE music, a slow DANCE in BINARY FORM and in triple METER, often emphasizing the second beat; a standard MOVEMENT of a SUITE.
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gigue
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(French for ‘jig’) Stylized DANCE movement of a standard BAROQUE SUITE, in BINARY FORM, marked by fast compound METER such as 6/4 or 12/8 with wide MELODIC leaps and continuous triplets. The two sections usually both begin with IMITATION.
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rondeau
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(pl. rondeaux) (1) French FORME FIXE with a single stanza and the musical FORM ABaAabAB, with capital letters indicating lines of REFRAIN and lowercase letters indicating new text set to music from the refrain. (2) FORM in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century instrumental music in which a repeated STRAIN alternates with other strains, as in the pattern AABACA.
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couplet
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In a RONDO or seventeenth- or eighteenth-century RONDEAU, one of several PERIODS or passages that alternate with the REFRAIN.
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gavotte
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BAROQUE duple-time dance in BINARY FORM, with a half-measure upbeat and a characteristic rhythm of short-short-long.
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minuet
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DANCE in moderate triple METER, two-measure units, and BINARY FORM.
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masque
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Seventeenth-century English entertainment involving poetry, music, DANCE, costumes, CHORUSES, and elaborate sets, akin to the French COURT BALLET.
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dramatic opera
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Seventeenth-century English mixed GENRE of musical theater, a spoken play with an OVERTURE and four or more MASQUES or long musical interludes. Today often called SEMI-OPERA.
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da capo aria
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ARIA FORM with two sections. The first section is repeated after the second section’s close, which carries the instruction da capo (Italian, ‘from the head’), creating an ABA FORM.
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sonata da chiesa
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BAROQUE instrumental work intended for performance in church; usually in four MOVEMENTS-slow-fast-slow-fast-and scored for one or more TREBLE instruments and CONTINUO.
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church sonata
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BAROQUE instrumental work intended for performance in church; usually in four MOVEMENTS-slow-fast-slow-fast-and scored for one or more TREBLE instruments and CONTINUO.
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trio sonata
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Common instrumental GENRE during the BAROQUE PERIOD, a SONATA for two TREBLE instruments (usually VIOLINS) above a BASSO CONTINUO. A performance featured four or more players if more than one was used for the continuo part.
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concerto
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(from Italian concertare, ‘to reach agreement’) (1) In the seventeenth century, ENSEMBLE of instruments or of voices with one or more instruments, or a work for such an ensemble. (2) COMPOSITION in which one or more solo instruments (or instrumental group) contrasts with an ORCHESTRAL ENSEMBLE. See also SOLO CONCERTO, CONCERTO GROSS, and ORCHESTRAL CONCERTO.
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orchestral concerto
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Orchestral GENRE in several MOVEMENTS, originating in the late seventeenth century, that emphasized the first VIOLIN part and the BASS, avoiding the more CONTRAPUNTAL TEXTURE of the SONATA.
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concerto grosso
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Instrumental work that exploits the contrast in sonority between a small ENSEMBLE of solo instruments (concertino), usually the same forces that appeared in the TRIO SONATA, and a large ENSEMBLE (RIPIENO or concerto grosso).
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solo concerto
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CONCERTO in which a single instrument, such as a VIOLIN, contrasts with an ORCHESTRA.
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tutti
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(Italian, ‘all’) (1) In both the SOLO CONCERTO and the CONCERTO GROSSO, designates the full ORCHESTRA. Also called RIPIENO (Italian, ‘full’). (2) Instruction to an ENSEMBLE that all should play.
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Stadtpfeifer
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(German, ‘town pipers’) Professional town musicians who had the exclusive right to provide music within city limits.
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collegium musicum
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An association of amateurs, popular during the BAROQUE PERIOD, who gathered to play and sing together for their own pleasure. Today, an ensemble of university students that performs early music.
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exposition
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(1) In a FUGUE, a set of entries of the SUBJECT. (2) In SONATA FORM, the first part of the MOVEMENT, in which the main THEMES are stated, beginning in the TONIC and usually closing in the DOMINANT (or relative major).
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answer
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In the EXPOSITION of a FUGUE, the second entry of the SUBJECT, normally on the DOMINANT if the subject was on the TONIC, and vice versa. Also refers to subsequent answers to the subject.
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episode
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(1) In a FUGUE, a passage of free COUNTERPOINT between statements of the SUBJECT. (2) In RONDO FORM, a section between two statements of the main THEME. (3) A subsidiary passage between presentations of the main thematic material.
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chorale prelude
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Relatively short setting for organ of a CHORALE MELODY, used as an introduction for congregational singing or as an interlude in a Lutheran church service.
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ritornello form
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Standard FORM for fast MOVEMENTS in CONCERTOS of the first half of the eighteenth century, featuring a RITORNELLO (4) for full ORCHESTRA that alternates with EPISODES characterized by virtuosic material played by one or more soloists.
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fundamental bass
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Term coined by Jean-Philippe Rameau to indicate the succession of the roots or fundamental tones in a series of CHORDS.
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classical style
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Musical idiom of the eighteenth century, generally characterized by an emphasis on MELODY over relatively light accompaniment; simple, clearly articulated harmonic plans; PERIODIC phrasing; clearly delineated FORMS based on contrast between THEMES, between KEYS, between stable and unstable passages, and between sections with different functions; and contrasts of mood, style, and figuration within MOVEMENTS as well as between them.
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galant
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(French, ‘elegant’) Eighteenth-century musical style that featured songlike MELODIES, short PHRASES, frequent CADENCES, and light accompaniment.
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empfindsam style
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(German, ‘sensitive style’ or ‘sentimental style’) Close relative of the GALANT style, featuring surprising turns of HARMONY, CHROMATICISM, nervous RHYTHMS, and speechlike MELODIES.
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period
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(1) In music history, an era whose music is understood to have common attributes of style, conventions, approach, and function, in contrast to the previous and following eras. (2) In musical FORM, especially since the eighteenth century, a complete musical thought concluded by a CADENCE and normally containing at least two PHRASES.
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opera buffa
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(Italian, ‘comic opera’) Eighteenth-century GENRE of Italian comic OPERA, sung throughout.
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intermezzo
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Eighteenth-century GENRE of Italian comic OPERA, performed between acts of a serious OPERA or play.
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opera seria
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(Italian, ‘serious opera’) Eighteenth-century GENRE of Italian OPERA, on a serious subject but normally with a happy ending, usually without comic characters and scenes.
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opera comique
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(French, ‘comic opera’) (1) In the eighteenth century, light French comic OPERA, which used spoken dialogue instead of RECITATIVES. (2) In nineteenth-century France, opera with spoken dialogue, whether comic or tragic.
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ballad opera
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GENRE of eighteenth-century English comic play featuring songs in which new words are set to borrowed tunes.
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Lied
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(German, ‘song’; pl. Lieder) Song with German words, whether MONOPHONIC, POLYPHONIC, or for voice with accompaniment; used especially for polyphonic songs in the RENAISSANCE and songs for voice and PIANO in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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sonata form
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FORM typically used in first MOVEMENTS of SONATAS, instrumental chamber works, and SYMPHONIES during the CLASSIC and ROMANTIC PERIODS. An expansion of ROUNDED BINARY FORM, it was described in the nineteenth century as consisting of an EXPOSITION, DEVELOPMENT, and RECAPITULATION based on a limited number of THEMES.
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development
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(1) The process of reworking, recombining, fragmenting, and varying given THEMES or other material. (2) In SONATA FORM, the section after the EXPOSITION, which MODULATES through a variety of KEYS and in which THEMES from the exposition are presented in new ways.
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recapitulation
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In SONATA FORM, the third main section, which restates the material from the EXPOSITION, normally all in the TONIC.
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Rondo form
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Musical FORM in which the first or main section recurs, usually in the TONIC, between subsidiary sections or EPISODES.
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episode
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(1) In a FUGUE, a passage of free COUNTERPOINT between statements of the SUBJECT. (2) In RONDO FORM, a section between two statements of the main THEME. (3) A subsidiary passage between presentations of the main thematic material.
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rounded binary form
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BINARY FORM in which the latter part of the first section returns at the end of the second section, but in the TONIC.
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symphonie concertante
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A CONCERTO-like GENRE of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for two or more solo instruments and ORCHESTRA, characterized by its lightheartedness and MELODIC variety.
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sonata-rondo
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A FORM that blends characteristics of SONATA FORM and RONDO FORM. One frequent structure is ABACABA, in which A and B correspond to the first and second THEMES of SONATA FORM and B appears first in the DOMINANT and returns in the TONIC.
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topics
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Term for the different and contrasting styles in Classic-era music that serve as subjects for musical discourse.
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Romantic
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Term applied to music of the nineteenth century. Romantic music had looser and more extended FORMS, greater experimentation with HARMONY and TEXTURE, richly expressive and memorable MELODIES, improved musical instruments, an interest in musical NATIONALISM, and a view of music as a moral force, in which there was a link between the artists’ inner lives and the world around them.
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absolute music
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Music that is independent of words, drama, visual images, or any kind of representational aspects.
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descriptive music
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Instrumental music that depicts or suggests a mood, personality, or scene, usually indicated in its title.
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program music
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Instrumental music that tells a story or follows a narrative or other sequence of events, often spelled out in an accompanying text called a PROGRAM.
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ballad
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(1) Long narrative poem, or musical setting of such a poem. (2) Late-eighteenth-century German poetic form that imitated the folk ballad of England and Scotland and was set to music by German composers. The ballad expanded the LIED in both FORM and emotional content.
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mazurka
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A type of Polish folk dance (and later ballroom dance) in triple METER, characterized by accents on the second or third beat and often by dotted figures on the first beat, or a stylized PIANO piece based on such a DANCE.
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polonaise
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A stately Polish processional DANCE in triple METER, or a stylized piece in the style of such a dance.
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rubato
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(from Italian tempo rubato, ‘stolen time’) Technique common in ROMANTIC music in which the performer holds back or hurries the written NOTE values.
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nocturne
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Type of short PIANO piece popular during the ROMANTIC PERIOD, marked by highly embellished MELODY, sonorous accompaniments, and a contemplative mood..
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ballade
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(1) French FORME FIXE, normally in three stanzas, in which each stanza has the musical FORM aab and ends with a REFRAIN. (2) Instrumental piece inspired by the GENRE of narrative poetry.
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idee fixe
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(French, ‘fixed idea’) term coined by Hector Berlioz for a MELODY that is used throughout a piece to represent a person, thing, or idea, transforming it to suit the mood and situation.
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bel canto
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(Italian, ‘beautiful singing’) Elegant Italian vocal style of the early nineteenth century marked by lyrical, embellished, and florid melodies that show off the beauty, agility, and fluency of the singer’s voice.
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cantabile
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(Italian, ‘songlike’) (1) Songful, lyrical, in a songlike style. (2) In the operatic scene structure developed by Gioachino Rossini in the early nineteenth century, the first section of an ARIA or ENSEMBLE, somewhat slow and expressing a relatively calm mood. See also CABELETTA and TEMPO DI MEZZO.
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cabaletta
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In the operatic scene structure developed by Gioachino Rossini in the early nineteenth century, the last part of an ARIA or ENSEMBLE, which was lively and brilliant and expressed active feelings, such as joy or despair. See also CANTABILE and TEMPO DI MEZZO.
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tempo di mezzo
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(Italian, ‘middle movement’) The operatic scene structure developed by Gioachino Rossini in the early nineteenth century, the middle section of an ARIA or ENSEMBLE, usually an interruption or a TRANSITION, that falls between the CANTABILE and the CABALETTA.
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reminiscence motive
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In an OPERA, a MOTIVE, THEME, or MELODY that recurs in a later scene, in order to recall the events and feelings with which it was first associated. Compare LEITMOTIV.
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Grand opera
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A serious form of OPERA, popular during the ROMANTIC era, that was sung throughout and included BALLETS, CHORUSES and spectacular staging.
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melodrama
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A GENRE of musical theater that combined spoken dialogue with background music.
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opera bouffe
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ROMANTIC operatic GENRE in France that emphasized the smart, witty, and satirical elements of OPeRA COMIQUE.
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operetta
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Nineteenth-century kind of light OPERA with spoken dialogue, originating in OPeRA BOUFFE.
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verismo
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(Italian, ‘realism’) Nineteenth-century operatic MOVEMENT that presents everyday people in familiar situations, often depicting sordid or brutal events.
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music drama
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Nineteenth-century GENRE created by Richard Wagner in which drama and music become organically connected to express a kind of absolute oneness. See also GESAMTKUNSTWERK.
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Gesamtkunstwerk
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(German, ‘total artwork’ or ‘collective artwork’) Term coined by Richard Wagner for a dramatic work in which poetry, scenic design, staging, action, and music all work together toward one artistic expression.
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Leitmotiv
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(German, ‘leading motive’) In an OPERA or MUSIC DRAMA, a MOTIVE, THEME, or musical idea associated with a person, thing, mood, or idea, which returns in original or altered form throughout.
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lyric opera
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ROMANTIC OPERA that lies somewhere between light OPeRA COMIQUE and GRAND OPERA.
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opera
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(Italian, ‘work’) Drama with continuous or nearly continuous music, staged with scenery, costumes, and action.
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opera bouffe
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ROMANTIC operatic GENRE in France that emphasized the smart, witty, and satirical elements of OPeRA COMIQUE.
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whole-tone scale
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(or whole-tone collection) A SCALE consisting of only WHOLE STEPS.
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octatonic scale
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(or octatonic collection) A SCALE that alternates WHOLE and HALF STEPS.
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Operetta
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Nineteenth-century kind of light OPERA with spoken dialogue, originating in OPeRA BOUFFE.
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classical music
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(1) Common term for ART MUSIC of all PERIODS, as distinct from POPULAR MUSIC or FOLK MUSIC. (2) Music in the tradition of the repertoire of musical masterworks that formed in the nineteenth century, including lesser works in the same GENRES (such as OPERA, ORATORIO, SYMPHONY, SONATA, STRING QUARTET, and ART SONG) or for the same performing forces and newly composed works intended as part of the same tradition. (3) Music in the CLASSIC PERIOD.
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developing variation
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Term coined by Arnold Schoenberg for the process of deriving new THEMES, accompaniments, and other ideas throughout a piece through variations of a germinal idea.
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symphonic poems
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(or tone poem) Term coined by Franz Liszt for a one-movement work of PROGRAM MUSIC for orchestra that conveys a poetic idea, story, scene, or succession of moods by presenting THEMES that are repeated, varied, or transformed.
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thematic transformation
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A method devised by Franz Liszt to provide unity, variety, and a narrative-like logic to a composition by transforming the thematic material into new THEMES or other elements, in order to reflect the diverse moods needed to portray a PROGRAMMATIC subject.
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chromatic saturation
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The appearance of all twelve PITCH-CLASSES within a segment of music.
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art song
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A song intended to be appreciated as an artistic statement rather than as entertainment, featuring precisely notated music, usually THROUGH COMPOSED, and requiring professional standards of performance. Compare POPULAR SONG.
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jazz
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A type of music developed mostly by African Americans in the early part of the twentieth century that combined elements of African, popular, and European music, and that has evolved into a broad tradition encompassing many styles.
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post-tonal
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General term for music after 1900 that does not adhere to TONALITY but instead uses any of the new ways that composers found to organize pitch, from ATONALITY to NEOTONALITY.
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avant-garde
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Term for music (and art) that is iconoclastic, irreverent, antagonistic, and nihilistic, seeking to overthrow established aesthetics.
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musical
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GENRE of musical theater that features songs and dance numbers in styles drawn from POPULAR MUSIC in the context of a spoken play with a comic or romantic plot.
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futurists
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Twentieth-century movement that created music based on noise.
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modernists
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Twentieth-century composers who made a radical break from the musical language of their predecessors and contemporaries while maintaining strong links to the tradition.
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atonality
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Terms for music that avoids establishing a central pitch or tonal center (such as the TONIC in TONAL music).
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twelve-tone method
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A form of ATONALITY based on the systematic ordering of the twelve notes of the CHROMATIC scale into a ROW that may be manipulated according to certain rules.
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atonal
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Terms for music that avoids establishing a central pitch or tonal center (such as the TONIC in TONAL music).
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set
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A collection of PITCH-CLASSES that preserves its identity when transposed, inverted, or reordered and used MELODICALLY or HARMONICALLY.
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pitch-class set
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(or set) A collection of PITCH-CLASSES that preserves its identity when transposed, inverted, or reordered and used MELODICALLY or HARMONICALLY.
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pitch-class
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Any one of the twelve NOTES of the CHROMATIC SCALE, including its ENHARMONIC equivalents, in any octave.
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Sprechstimme
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(German, ‘speaking voice’) A vocal style developed by Arnold Schoenberg in which the performer approximates the written pitches in the gliding tones of speech, while following the notated rhythm.
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row
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In TWELVE-TONE MUSIC, an ordering of all twelve PITCH-CLASSES that is used to generate the musical content.
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series
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(1) A ROW. (2) An ordering of specific durations, dynamic levels, or other non-pitch elements, used in SERIAL MUSIC.
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prime
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In TWELVE-TONE music based on a particular ROW, the original form of the row, transposed or untransposed, as opposed to the INVERSION, RETROGRADE, or RETROGRADE INVERSION.
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inversion
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(1) In a MELODY or TWELVE-TONE ROW, reversing the upward or downward direction of each INTERVAL while maintaining its size; or the new melody or row form that results. (2) In HARMONY, a distribution of the NOTES in a CHORD so that a note other than the ROOT is the lowest note. (3) In COUNTERPOINT, reversing the relative position of two melodies, so that the one that had been lower is now above the other.
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retrograde
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Backward statement of a previously heard MELODY, passage, or TWELVE-TONE ROW.
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retrograde inversion
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Upside-down and backward statement of a MELODY or TWELVE-TONE ROW.
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tetrachord
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(from Greek, ‘four strings’) (1) In Greek and medieval theory, a SCALE of four NOTES spanning a perfect fourth. (2) In modern theory, a SET of four pitches or PITCH-CLASSES. (3) In TWELVE-TONE theory, the first four, middle four, or last four notes in the ROW.
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hexachord
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(from Greek, ‘six strings’) (1) A set of six pitches. (2) In medieval and RENAISSANCE SOLMIZATION, the six NOTES represented by the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, which could be transposed to three positions: the ‘natural’ hexachord, C-D-E-F-G-A; the “hard” hexachord, G-A-B-C-D-E; and the ‘soft’ hexachord, F-G-A-B-C-D. (3) In TWELVE-TONE theory, the first six or last six notes in the ROW.
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Klangfarbenmelodie
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(German, ‘tone-color melody’) Term coined by Arnold Schoenberg to describe a succession of tone colors that is perceived as analogous to the changing pitches in a MELODY.
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neoclassicism
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Trend in music from the 1910s to the 1950s in which composers revived, imitated, or evoked the styles, GENRES, and FORMS of pre-ROMANTIC music, especially those of the eighteenth century.
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neotonal
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Term for music since the early 1900s that establishes a single pitch as a tonal center, but does not follow the traditional rules of TONALITY.
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serial music
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Music that uses the TWELVE-TONE METHOD; used especially for music that extends the same general approach to SERIES in parameters other than pitch.
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experimental music
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A trend in twentieth-century music that focused on the exploration of new musical sounds, techniques, and resources.
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polytonality
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The simultaneous use of two or more KEYS, each in a different layer of the music (such as MELODY and accompaniment).
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cumulative form
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FORM used by Charles Ives and others in which the principal THEME appears in its entirety only at the end of a work, preceded by its DEVELOPMENT.

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