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"Pathetique" Sonata

a multimovement solo work for piano by Beethoven; suggests passion and pathos

Heiligenstadt Testament

Beethoven's last will and testament; written in 1802 after he realized he would lose his hearing entirely

"heroic" period

Beethoven's middle period from 1803-1813; his works became longer, grander, and more assertive

"Eroica" Symphony

nearly twice as long as a typical symphony; dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, but dedication scratched out when Napoleon declared himself emperor

Ode to Joy

Beethoven symphony in honor of universal brotherhood, first symphony to include a chorus


works of classical music which constitute the core of today's concert repertoire

chromatic harmony

chords constructed on the chromatic notes within the twelve-note chromatic scale; gave more colors to Romantic harmony


expression mark for a performer; "stole" some time here and gave it back there, moving faster or slower so as to effect an intensely personal performance

character piece

very brief works that tried to capture a single mood, sentiment, or emotion; often written for piano in binary (AB) or ternary (ABA) form

art song

a song for solo voice and piano accompaniment with high artistic aspiration; Schubert specialized in this


another word for "art song"; cultivated most intensely in German-speaking lands


gatherings at which Schubert appeared, and at which only his compositions were played

song cycle

a tightly structured group of individual songs that tell a story or treat a single theme; ex. Die schoene Mullerin


musical composition featuring ever-changing melodic and harmonic material

strophic form

form preferred for text that does not tell a story or project a series of changing moods; a single poetic mood is maintained

program music

instrumental music, usually written for symphony orchestra, that seeks to re-create in sound the events and emotion portrayed in some extramusical source (e.g. a story, legend, play, novel, historical event)

absolute music

instrumental music free of a text or any preexisting program

program symphony

a symphony with the usual three, four, or five movements which together depict a succession of specific events or scenes drawn from an extramusical story or event

dramatic overture

a one-movement work, usually in sonata-allegro form; encapsulates in music the essential dramatic events of an opera or play

concert overture

a one-movement work of programmatic content originally intended for the concert hall; does not precede an opera or play

tone poem (symphonic poem)

a one-movement work for orchestra; gives musical expression to the emotions and events associated with a story, play, political event, or personal experience


an early form of the tuba

English horn

a low oboe


a brass instrument with valves, borrowed from the military band

idee fixe

fixed idea; single melody that reappears as a unifying force, movement after movement

Dies irae

burial hymn of the medieval Church; played bye ophicleides and bassoons in Berlioz's "Dream of the Witches' Sabbath"


a reduction, usually by half, of all the rhythmic durations in a melody

double counterpoint

counterpoint with two themes that can reverse position, with the top theme moving to the bottom, and the bottom to the top

col legno

string players strike the strings with the wood of the bow


a dramatic dance in which the characters, using steps and pantomime, tell a story

ballet music

music with short bursts of tuneful melody and captivating rhythm, intended to capture the emotional essence of the scene


a keyed percussion instrument

soft pedal

softens the dynamic level of the piano by shifting the position of the hammers relative to the strings


overlaying the lowest-sounding strings across those of the middle register to produce a richer sound


a fast dance in triple meter with an accent on the second beat; specialty of Chopin

bel canto

a type of Italian opera that features the beautiful tone and brilliant technique of the human voice


the movement for a united Italy free from foreign domination; Verdi became a leader through his patriotic music

recitativo accompagnato

a recitative accompanied by the orchestra instead of simply the basso continuo

Ring cycle

a set of four Wagner operas intended to be performed during the course of four successive evenings

music drama

a musical work for the stage in which all the arts poetry, music, acting, mime, dance, and scenic design) function as a harmonious ensemble


total art work; Wagner's "musical drama" combining all of the arts


Isolde's vision of she and Tristan's love beyond the grave


a brief, distinctive unit of music designed to represent a character, object, or idea, which returns repeatedly in order to show how the drama is unfolding

double stops

a technique in which two strings on a string instruments are pressed down and played simultaneously

orchestral song

an art song in which the full orchestra replaces the piano as the medium of accompaniment


a movement that arose in France in opposition to German Romantic music; Debussy was inspired by this form of art

whole-tone scale

a scale employed by Debussy in which all of the pitches are a whole step apart

parallel motion

a musical process in which all of the lines or parts move in the same direction, and at the same intervals, for a period of time; the opposite of counterpoint


any sounds drawn from outside the traditional Western European musical experience; e.g. a non-Western scale, a folk rhythm, a musical instrument


a new musical style characterized by angular melody and discontinuous rhythm

octave displacement

avoiding a simple interval for a more distant one an octave above or below; a feature of modern music

tone cluster

the simultaneous sounding of a number of pitches only a whole step or a half step a part; a highly-dissonant chord


a style which emphasized classical forms and smaller ensembles; concurrent with the disappearance of large symphony orchestras in Europe due to World War I; developed by Stravinsky


two or more meters sounding simultaneously


two or more rhythms sounding simultaneously


one triad or seventh chord sounding simultaneously with another

atonal music

music without tonality, without a key center


a vocal technique that requires the vocalist to declaim the text more than to sing it; the rhythmic values are exact, but once the voice his the pitch, it must slide in either a downward or upward direction

Twelve-tone composition

a method of writing that employs each of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale set in a fixed, predetermined order

Russian Revolution

the overthrow of the Russian tsar by the socialist Bolshevik Party; was reflected in music


modern music that was branded as "antidemocratic: by Soviet authorities


the simultaneous sounding of two or more keys


a machine that can create, transform, and combine sounds by means of electronic circuitry

electronic music

music produced by a synthesizer

Musique concrete

music in which the composer works with sounds found naturally in the everyday world


a technique whereby the rapper or producer extracts a small portion of prerecorded music and then mechanically repeats it over and over as a musical backdrop to the text they rap


a technique popular in rap and hip hop; a DJ manipulates the needles, scratching on the vinyl of the record

prepared piano

a grand piano outfitted with screws, bolts, washers, erasers, and bits of felt and plastic inserted between the strings; invented by John Cage

chance music

music in which musical events are not carefully predetermined by the composer, but come instead in an unpredictable sequence as the result of nonmusical decisions (e.g. tossing coins, throwing dice, or shuffling randomly the pages of music to be played); invented by John Cage


a style of postmodern music that takes a very small musical unit and repeats it over and over to form a composition; Philip Glass was famous for this

verse and chorus

two subsections within a strophe of popular music


a form of black folk song that originated in the South during the late 1800s; typical subjects are poverty loneliness, oppression, family troubles, infidelity, etc.

instrumental break

a way of replying to the cry of the voice in blues by inserting a short instrumental response at the end of each line

blues scale

a scale with seven notes used in blues music

blue notes

notes in the blues scale that are between flat and natural


a lively, energetic music with with syncopation and pulsating rhythms; usually played by several instruments with independent lines (polyphonic); includes and element of improvisation


music that came right before jazz; shares many of the same rhythmic features of jazz


each presentation of the tune in a jazz piece


a popular style of jazz played by a big band in the 1930s and 1940s

symphonic jazz

a fusion of jazz styles with the idioms and forms of classical music


angular, hard-driving jazz played by a small combo without written music


a tune so influential as to cause other musicians to record many other interpretations of it called "covers"

cool jazz

jazz that emphasized lyricism, lower instrumental registers, moderate tempos, and quieter dynamics


jazz music that incorporated elements of rock

Tin Pan Alley

a cluster of music stores in New York City; where the music industry in America was born


a form of American popular musical theater that emerged shortly after 1900; most of the dialogue is spoken, but the emotional high points are sung

rhythm and blues

music that followed the twelve-bar blues chord progression, was set in 4/4, and featured expressive solo singing with a lively, upbeat aesthetic


more sophisticated styles of music that emerged from rock 'n' roll after the The Beatles

punk rock

a rebellious style of rock developed in the in 1970s and exemplified by the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash


a type of alternative rock, inspired by punk rock


a style of popular music associated with hip hop that became popular in the 1980s, mostly among African Americans

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