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June 9

art song

A musical setting of a poem for solo voice and piano. The e German words for song and songs, lied and lieder (plural), became the standard terms for this type of song.

Modified-strophic form

A song structure that varies the regularity of the repeated melodies of strophic form by having some verses sung to a new melody.

Song cycle

A series of art songs that tell a story.

Through-composed form

A term applied to songs in which new music is used for each successive verse.

Character pieces

Works portraying a single mood, emotion, or idea.


A study piece concentrating on a single technical problem.


In romantic music, a small piano piece based on the Polish dance form. Prominent in the works of Chopin.


A "night piece" that is gentle and reflective.


In romantic music, a small piano piece based on the Polish dance form.

Symphonic poem

See tone poem.

Tone poem

A single-movement programmatic work, relatively long and very free in form, usually involving a dramatic plot or literary idea.

"Dies irae"

"Day of Wrath." A chant melody from the Middle Ages that represents death in music.

Idée fixe

A single, recurring motive; for example, in Berlioz's Symphony fantastique, a musical idea representing the hero's beloved that recurs throughout the piece.

Program symphony

A symphony with a story line or other type of program.

Thematic transformation

The practice of varying a single theme or melody through the different sections of a piece; this procedure was used especially in romantic tone poems.


A rapid sliding up or down the scale.


A late nineteenth-century artistic movement that sought to capture the visual impression rather than the literal reality of a subject. Also, in music, a style belonging primarily to Debussy, characterized by an emphasis on mood and atmosphere, sensuous tone colors, elegance, and beauty of sound.


A subtle French poetic style from the late nineteenth century that stressed the sound and color of the words and suggested rather than clearly outlined the meaning or story behind the text.


In music of the early twentieth century, the philosophy that musical composition should be approached with objectivity and restraint. Neoclassical composers were attracted to the textures and forms of the baroque and classical periods.


In music, the use of frenzied, irregular rhythms and percussive effects to evoke a feeling of primitive power, as in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.


Lacking a recognizable tonal center or tonic.


Very current, modern, and experimental.


An artistic school of the early twentieth century that attempted to represent the psychological and emotional experience of modern humanity.


See twelve-tone.


Literally, "speech voice." A vocal technique in which a pitch is half sung, half spoken. Developed by Schoenberg.

Twelve tone

A system of composition developed by Schoenberg that consists of arranging the twelve pitches of the chromatic scale in a particular order (known as a tone row, series, or set). Also called dodecaphony.

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