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This is the whole kit'n'kaboodle, the whole sh'bang, the entirety of the RCM history I book's information in one gigantic quizlet. To all those who venture into endless depths of this monumental quizlet, good luck, and may the force be with you.


A metrical unit containing a fixed number of beats; separated on the staff by bar lines.


Fixed patterns of strong and weak beats.

Simple Time

Time signatures in which each beat contains two subdivisions.

Compound Time

Time signatures in which each beat contains three subdivisions (rather than two).


A deliberate shifting of the musical accent to a weak beat.


An upbeat, or the last beat of a measure anticipating the downbeat.


The highness or lowness of a particular sound.


The distance between the highest and lowest notes of a melody.


The distance between any two pitches.


Melodies that move mostly in a stepwise direction.


Melodies that contain many leaps and changes of direction.


A series of consecutive pitches that form a musical unit, much like a sentence.


A short melodic or rhythmic fragment used to build a melody.


A combination of three or more pitches that create a unit of harmony.


A three-note chord that consists of a root, third and fifth.


Melodies/harmonies built from the notes of a major or minor scale.


Melodies/harmonies that include all the notes available within the octave; from the Greek word for "color".


An agreeable combination of tones that provides a sense of relaxation and stability.


A combination of tones that sounds discordant, thus creating restlessness and a sense of instability.

Harmonic Rhythm

The rate (frequency) of chord changes per measure.


A specific combination of two chords that provide moments of rest at the ends of phrases, much like punctuation.


A combination of two or more melodic lines.

Monophonic Texture

A single line of unaccompanied melody.

Homophonic Texture

A single line of melody supported by a harmonic accompaniment.

Polyphonic Texture

A combination of two or more melodic lines, also referred to as counterpoint.


The level of volume in music, traditionally indicated with Italian terms.


Tone-color, the quality of sound specific to a voice or instrument for example, the silvery sound of a celesta or the nasal tone of an oboe.


The speed at which music is performed, traditionally indicated with Italian terms (though certain German terms do prevail as well, such as Schnell).


The classification of a composition type, and includes categories such as sonata, symphony, and opera.


Latin for "work", this is usually abbreviated as op., and indicates the order in which a composer's works were published.


High female voice.


Low female voice.


High male voice.


Low male voice.


A male voice with a range that straddles the tenor and bass ranges.


A female voice with a range that straddles the soprano and alto ranges.

Coloratura Soprano

A high female voice trained to execute rapid passages demanding great agility.


A keyboard instrument dating back to the Middle Ages often associated with church music. Sound is generated by air passing through pipes or reeds.


A keyboard instrument popular from the late 16th through 18th centuries. Sound is generated by small quills inside the instrument that pluck the strings.


A small keyboard instrument popular from the late 16th through 18th centuries. Sound is generated by small metal tangents that strike the strings inside the instrument.


A keyboard instrument invented in the early 18th century. Sound is generated by hammers inside the instrument that strike the strings.


A device (usually played with a keyboard) that generates and modifies sounds electronically. Robert Moog popularized the synthesizer in the 1960's.


Derived from the Portuguese word "barroco" meaning irregularly shaped or misshapen pearl, this term was first used as a derogatory term in reference to the overly ornate art of the era. It is now applied to art, architecture, and music of the 17th and early 18th centuries.

Major-minor Tonality

A musical organization system based on major (Ionian) and minor (Aeolian) scales, which gradually replaced the modal language that had been favored up to this time. It serves as the foundation for musical composition.

Figured Bass

A type of musical shorthand developed in the Baroque era, where numbers are placed below the bass line to show the harmonic progression, which is then performed or "realized" by the "basso continuo", and provides the structure for guided improvisation.

Basso Continuo

A Baroque performance practice, generally involving two performers, one playing the notated bass line and the other realizing the harmonies as indicated by the figured bass. The Harmonies are usually played on harpsichord or organ, and provides the harmonic framework.

Equal Temperament

A method of tuning keyboard instruments where all semitones within the octave are divided equally; created enharmonic equivalents (C sharp/D flat). Allowed music to be performed "in tune" in all keys.

Terraced Dynamics

A Baroque practice of changing dynamics abruptly, which results in stark contrast rather than gradual change.

The Affections

A Baroque philosophy inspired by ancient Greek and Roman writers and orators, which refers to emotional states of the soul. In Baroque music, a single "affection" (one clear emotion) is usually projected through an entire composition or movement. Vocal music depicted the emotions of the text or dramatic situation (as is displayed in Bel Canto works). It was a reaction against the complex polyphony of Renaissance music, and was also referred to as the "Doctrine of Affections".

Word Painting

A technique of musical pictorialization, in which music mirrors the literal meaning of the words. This is achieved through melody, harmony, or rhythm.

Idiomatic Writing

A technique developed in the Baroque era in which the unique technical capabilities of an instrument are highlighted. It is the opposite of "generic".

Binary Form

A two-part musical form (AB), in which section A generally ends with an open cadence. This form was frequently used in Baroque dances and keyboard peaces.

Ternary Form

A three-part musical form (ABA), in which section B generally creates contrast in key and/or in material. This form was frequently used in Baroque arias.

Ritornello Form

A structure employed in the first and third movements of the Baroque concerto in which the opening passage is re-stated throughout the movement.


Italian for "full" or "complete", this term is used to denote the use of the full orchestra in the Baroque concerto.


Italian for "obstinate" or "persistent", this term is used to define a rhythmic or melodic pattern repeated for an extended period.


A sustained bass note that provides a rudimentary harmonic foundation, commonly found in folk music.

Programmatic Writing

Music with a descriptive element, inspired by extra-musical associations, like a story or painting. It evolved into a significant feature of 19th-century instrumental writing (program music).

Solo Concerto

A popular instrumental genre of the Baroque era for soloist and orchestra. Generally in three movements (fast - slow -fast), and frequently employed in ritornello form, this genre was intended to showcase the virtuosity of the soloist.


A short keyboard work in improvisatory style, often paired with a fugue.


A highly structured, imitative contrapuntal composition in which a single theme or subject prevails.


The initial statement of the main theme of a fugue, described in the tonic key.


The second statement of the main theme in a fugue, usually in the dominant key.

Real Answer

An exact transposition of the subject.

Tonal Answer

A statement of the subject in which one or more intervals is adjusted to accommodate the harmony.


A recurring counter-melody, which accompanies entries of the subject and answer.


A passage within a fugue in which neither subject nor answer is present, frequently sequential.


Thematic material presented in longer time values.


From the Italian "stringere", meaning "to tighten", this term is used to define overlapping subject entries in close succession.


Thematic material presented "upside-down".


Thematic material presented in shorter time values, the opposite of augmentation.

Pedal Point

A sustained note over which harmonies change.

Tierce de Picardie

A work in a minor key which ends in the tonic major (raised a 3rd), which was a common mannerism in Baroque music.


A large-scale work for soloists, chorus, and orchestra that contains a serious subject, generally based on biblical texts and consists of recitatives, arias, ensembles, and choruses. This genre was developed in the Baroque era.

French Overture

A Baroque orchestral genre, first developed at court of Louis XIV by Jean-Baptiste Lully, generally in two parts. The first part usually being slow in tempo, with homophonic texture, and featuring dotted figures. The second part was fast in tempo and had an imitative texture.


A speech-like style of singing used in operas oratorios, and cantatas. It follows inflections of the text resulting in rhythmic flexibility, and was usually used to advance the plot or storyline; moves through text quickly.

Recitativo Secco

Italin for "dry recitative", this was a speech-like, declamatory style of singing, supported only by continuo, and employed in opera, oratorio, and cantata.

Recitativo Accompagnato

Italian for "accompanied recitative", this was a speech-like, declamatory style of singing supported by instrumental ensemble or orchestra, which allowed for greater connection with the text. It was usually employed in opera, oratorio, and cantata.

Da Capo Aria

The most common song type in Baroque opera and oratorio, this was a three-part structure (ternary form) in which in performance the return of Section A is generally ornamented.


A group of notes sung on a single syllable/vowel, which demonstrates vocal virtuosity and often serves to highlight key words.


The text of an opera, oratorio, or cantata, which was usually written by someone other than the composer.

Homorhythmic Texture

A texture in which all voices sing the same rhythm, which results in a blocked chordal texture (homophonic), and delivers the text with clarity and emphasis.Classicism


A style which pertains to the highest level of excellence, and possesses enduring value or timeless quality. It refers to the cultures of Ancient Rome and Greece as well as the art, architecture, and music of the late 18th century. Emphasis on symmetry, balance, and proportion was common in this style.

Viennese School

A name used mostly to refer to the musical style forged by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and their contemporaries. The name derives from the fact that in the late 18th-century Vienna, Austria flourished as a musical center.

Absolute Music

Music without extra-musical associations, also known as "pure music". This form of music was generally accompanied by generic titles reflecting tempos, genres or forms (for example, Sonata, Allegretto, Menuet, Rondo).

Sonata Cycle

A multi-movement structure that emerged in the Classical era that was mainly demonstrated in the symphony, sonata, or concerto.

Menuet and Trio

A stylized dance of French origin developed in the Baroque period in triple meter which was graceful and elegant in character, accompanied by a contrasting middle section to create ternary form (ABA).

Rondo Form

Classical formal structure often used in sonata cycle in which Section A recurs three times or more in the tonic key with alternating sections creating contrast (ABACA or ABACABA).

Sonata Form

A common structure composed of the Exposition( statement of two or more contrasting themes), Development (departure), and Recapitulation (return). Also known as sonata-allegro form.

Sonato-Rondo Form

A form of music that combines the elements seen in sonata form and rondo form. The typical layout of such musical works are ABACABA (ABA functioning as the Exposition, C functioning as the Development, and the second ABA functioning as the Recapitulation).

Chamber Music

Music for a small ensemble (between two and ten players), composed for one player per part, and usually performed without a conductor.

Style Galant

French for "elegant style", this was used in reference to the pre-Classical musical style emphasizing homophonic texture, delicate ornamentation, and a "light and airy" approach.

Sturm und Drang

German for "storm and stress", this was a German literary movement of the 1770's exemplified in the works of Goethe, Schiller, and their contemporaries. It demonstrates heightened emotionalism and dramatic contrasts foreshadowing Romanticism.

Empfindsamer Stil

German for the "sensitive style" and represented in the music of C.P.E. Bach, this style used a melancholy, introspective, expressive style that foreshadows Romanticism.


While not a standard component of the form of a Sonata, this segment is usually slow and not always related to what comes later. It establishes the tonic key, though sometimes in tonic major or minor, and creates musical tension and suspense to capture the listener's attention.


The first movement of a sonata.

First Theme

The segment of the Exposition which establishes the tonic key, presents a distinctive melodic and rhythmic character, and often sets the mood for the entire movement.


The segment of the Exposition which is used to initiate a move to a new key center, and often consists of scale figurations or chordal passages.

Second Theme

The segment of the Exposition that establishes a new key (dominant or relative major), and often creates contrast. It sometimes consists of several themes (theme group).


The final segment of the Exposition that affirms the new key by extending the final cadence and generally concludes with a repeat sign (indicating a repeat of the entire Exposition). This is sometimes also referred to as the closing theme or closing section.


The second movement of a sonata. Harmonic tension intensifies through modulation and increased dissonance. It manipulates the thematic material heard earlier, and includes techniques such as sequential treatment, fragmentation, inversion, and changes to orchestration. This movement may also present new material, and generally ends with a dominant preparation (emphasis of dominant harmony in anticipation of the return to the tonic key).


The third and final movement of a sonata, which reverberates the Exposition with subtle differences and a longer ending segment (known as a Coda).

String Quartet

The most important chamber-music genre of the Classical era, with the performing forces: violin I, violin II, viola, and cello. It is usually in four movements (fast, slow, moderately fast, fast), and the first movement is usually in sonata form.


Latin for "tail" (cauda), this is the concluding section, reaffirming the tonic key of the recapitulation

Rocket Theme

A rapidly ascending melody outlining an arpeggio, often used as a dramatic opening motive in Classical-era works.

Rounded Binary Form

A two-part musical form: A :||: B + A :||, in which material from Section A returns within Section B.


Italian for "romance", this was a title used in the 18th century for instrumental pieces of a tender, lyrical character.


A multi-movement orchestral genre for small orchestras or chamber ensembles. It was a popular instrumental genre in the Classical era, often performed in aristocratic social settings and at outdoor events.

Cyclical Structure

A structure in which material heard in one movement recurs in later movements, which creates structural unity in a multi-movement work.


A short melodic or rhythmic idea; the smallest unit used to form a melody or theme.

Scherzo and Trio

Italian for "jest" or "joke", this is much like the menuet and trio, but with menuet replaced by Beethoven with a different word. This new segment, while also in triple meter but with generally more dramatic elements than the elegant menuet, could be humorous or ironic.

Theme and Variations

A structure in which a melody is stated and then undergoes a series of transformations. Changes can be made to the melody, harmony, rhythm, or orchestration, and is often used in the slow movement of a sonata cycle.


A reaction against classicism, dating back to late 18th-century literature that served as inspiration for art and music. It employs emphasis on creative imagination and expression of emotions.

Exoticism in music

An important element of 19th-century musical style, sparked by fascination with foreign lands and cultures, which evoked through melody, rhythm, harmony, and orchestration.

Nationalism in music

An important element of 19th-century musical style, defined by patriotism expressed through music, with influence of folk song and dance, myths and legends, landscapes, and historical events.

Program Music

A significant trend in 19th-century music in which instrumental music was composed with extra-musical associations (be it literary, poetic, or visual). This style includes descriptive titles that identified the connection. Some works include a written text or "program" provided by the composer.


An Italian term meaning "robbed time", that defines rhythmic flexibility (leeway allowing speeding up or slowing down), and used as an expressive device for interpreting music.

Art Song

The setting of a poem to music, usually intended for solo voice with the accompaniment of a piano.


The setting of a German poem to music, usually intended for solo voice with piano accompaniment. It flourished in the 19th century.

Song Cycle

A collection of art songs united by a central theme or narrative thread, intended to be performed together.


A song structure where the same music is performed for each verse of the accompanying poem. As a result, little connection can be achieved between the words and music.

Modified Strophic

A song structure which allows for some repetition of music, with some changes to the melody, harmony, and accompaniment take place to reflect the text.


A song structure that avoids the repetition of entire sections of the music, and as a result, melody, harmony, and piano accompaniment are able to reflect the meaning of the text. Sometimes called "through-composed".


A stately Polish dance in triple meter transformed by Chopin into a virtuosic piano composition, often proud and majestic in character, and often including characteristic rhythmic figures.


From the Greek word "khroma" meaning color, this was a style that employed extensive use of notes outside the prevailing key signature. It was increasingly used for heightened expression in 19th-century music.

Program Symphony

A 19th-century, multi-movement orchestral work modeled after 18th-century symphony with programmatic elements. It often includes a descriptive title and accompanying text that outlines the program.

Idée Fixe

French for "fixed idea", this was a technique devised by Berlioz encompassing a recurring theme which undergoes transformation and serves as a unifying thread in a multi-movement composition. In "Symphonie Fantastique", it represents "the beloved".


A now obsolete brass instrument which was the predecessor of the tuba.


Italian for "carrying", this was a technique of sliding smoothly from one note to the next. Originally used as a vocal technique, it was adapted by Berlioz as a novel instrumental technique.

Col Legno

Italian for "with the wood", this was a novel string effect invented by Berlioz in which players tap on the strings with the wooden parts of their bows.


French for "bells", this is a pitched percussion instrument that emits a ringing sound when struck with a mallet or hammer.

Dies Irae

Latin for "day of wrath", this is a monophonic chant melody dating from the late Middle Ages, drawn from Roman Catholic requiem (Mass for the Dead). 19th-century audiences would have associated the tune with funeral services.


A genre in which a drama is sung, which combines vocal and instrumental music with drama (staging and acting), visual arts (costume and scenery), and often dance. Components include recitative, arias, ensembles, and choruses. It was invented in Italy around 1600 by Claudio Monteverdi (the first of which being L'Orfeo).

Prelude (in opera)

An orchestral work, serving as an introduction to an opera, used in the mid-19th century in place of traditional overture. There is no prescribed form, but it often includes themes to be heard later in the opera.


An Italian term meaning "realism". This was an opera style that became popular in Italy during the 1890s and early 1900s in which story lines often project a gritty realism which usually culminate in a violent ending. Puccini was the master of this style.

Pentatonic Scale

A scale consisting of five different pitches, for example, C-D-F-G-A. It is easily rendered by playing the five black keys on the piano, and is common to the folk music of many European and Asian cultures.

Whole-tone Scale

A non-traditional scale employed by composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. It consists of six different pitches, all spaced a whole tone (whole step) apart, for example, C-D-E-F#-G#-A#-C.


Italian for "air", this was a solo song heard in an opera, oratorio, or cantata. It is highly emotional, often virtuosic, and may have lyrical or dramatic character.


An Italian term meaning "speech-like", which defines performing in a declamatory style.


A device used frequently by Puccini in which orchestral doubling of the vocal line takes place.


A Cuban dance-song with a 2/4 meter, and a characteristic motive, often used as an ostinato.


A style of painting developed in the late 19th century, led by French painters Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas, it was a conscious reaction to earlier formal, "learned" style. It featured new techniques that explored the play of light, new textures such as visible brush strokes, and subject matter drawn from everyday life.


A Viennese art movement led by painters such as Wassily Kandinsky, and Oskar Kokoschka. It depicted human angst, obsessions, and compulsions. The imagery was often exaggerated, distorted, and even nightmarish.

Expanded Tonality

The use of extremely chromatic harmony while still maintaining allegiance to a tonal center.


The simultaneous use of two or more tonal centers.

Modal scales

The use of scales (modes) in which the pattern of whole steps and half steps is different from conventional major and minor scales (for example: Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, etc.). It was common in music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (before the time of tonality), and rediscovered by 20th-century composers.


The total absence of any tonal center, characterized by unresolved dissonances.

Twelve-tone Method

Atonal music based on an arrangement of all twelve chromatic pitches (tone row). It was developed by composer Arnold Schoenberg.

Impressionism in music

A musical movement which reflected the French artistic movement of the same name. It employed expanded harmonic vocabulary (whole tone, modal, pentatonic scales and parallel chords) which were used to subtly suggest images rather than directly depicting them. It featured innovative orchestral colors, including individual treatment of instruments and use of muted instruments, as well as an obscuring of the metric pulse.

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