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Rhythm

The aspect of music having to do with the duration of the notes in time.

Meter

A background of stressed and unstressed beats in a simple, regular, repeating pattern.

Tempo

The speed of music,i.e., the rate at which the accented and unaccented beats of the meter follow one another.

Beat

The regular pulse underlying most music; the lowest unit of meter.

Accent

The stressing of a note-for example, by playing it louder than the surrounding notes.

Duple Meter

A meter consisting of one accented beat alternating with one unaccented beat.

Triple Meter

Meter consisting of one accented beat alternating with tow unaccented beats.

Pitch

The quality of "highness" or "lowness" of sound.

Dynamics

The volume of sound, the loudness or softness of a musical passage.

Piano

Soft

Forte

Loud

Timbre

Another term for tone color.

Scales

A selection of ordered pitches that provides the pitch material for music.

Major

One of the modes of the diatonic scale, oriented around C as the tonic; characterized by the interval between the first and third notes containing four semitones, as opposed to three in the minor mode.

Minor

One of the modes of the diatonic scale, oriented around A as the the tonic; characterized by the interval between the first and third notes containing three semitones.

Chromatic

The set of twelve pitches between one octave.

Melody

The aspect of music having to do with the succession of pitches.

Motive

A short fragment of melody or rhythm used in constructing a long section of music.

Chords

A grouping of pitches played and heard simultaneously.

Consonance

Intervals or chords that sound relatively stable and free of tension, as opposed to dissonance.

Dissonance

Intervals or chords that sound relatively tense and unstable.

Monophony

A musical texture involving a single melodic line.

Homophony

A musical texture that involves only one melody of real interest combined with chords or other subsidiary sounds.

Texture

The blend of the various sounds and melodic lines occurring simultaneously in a piece of music.

Polyphony

Musical texture in which two or more melodic lines are played or sung simultaneously.

Strophic

A song in several stanzas, with the same music for each stanza.

Jongleur

A medieval secular musician.

Liturgy

The system of prayers and worship of a particular religion.

Plainchant

Unaccompanied, monophonic music, without fixed rhythm or meter.

Reciting tone

Especially in chant, the single note used for musical "recitation," with brief melodic formulas for beginning and ending.

Sequence

In a melody, a series of fragments identical except for their placement at successively higher or lower pitch levels; in the Middle Ages, a type of plainchant in which successive phrases of text receive nearly identical melodic treatment.

Minnesingers

Poet-Composers of the Middle Ages in Germany.

Troubadours; Trouveres

Aristocratic poet-musicians of the Middle Ages.

Organum

The earliest genre of medieval polyphonic music.

Chanson

French for a song; a genre of French secular vocal music.

The Mass

The main Roman Catholic service; or the music written for it. The musical mass consists of five large sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

Imitation

A polyphonic musical texture in which the various melodic lines use approximately the same themes.

Madrigal

The main secular vocal genre of the Renaissance.

Motet

Usually a sacred vocal composition. Early motets were based on fragments of Gregorian chant.

Galliard

A Renaissance court dance in triple meter.

Gigue/jig

A baroque dance in a lively compound meter.

Ostinato

A motive, phrase, or theme repeated over and over again.

Basso Continuo

A set of chords continuosly underlying the melody in a piece of Baroque music; the instruments playing the continuo, usually cello plus harpsichord or organ.

Functionality Harmony

From the Baroque period on, the system whereby all chords have a specific interrelation and function in relation to the tonic.

Opera

Drama presented in music with the characters singing instead of speaking.

Aria

A vocal number for solo singer and orchestra, generally in an opera, cantata, or oratorio.

Recitative

A half-singing, half-reciting style of presenting words in opera, cantata, oratorio, etc., following speech accents and speech rhymes closely. Secco recitative is accompanied by orchestra.

Dance Suites

A piece consisting of a series of dances.

Passacaglia

A set of variations on a short theme in the bass.

Fugue

A composition written systematically in imitative polyphony, usually with a single main theme, the fugue subject.

Phrase

A section of a melody or tune.

Tonality

The feeling of centrality of one note to a passage of music.

Estampie

An instrumental dance of the Middle Ages.

Antiphon

A genre of plainchant usually in a simple melodic style with very few melismas.

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