Glossary of Terms


AB Form
Musical form consisting of two sections, A and B, which contrast with each other.

ABA Form
Musical form consisting of three sections, A, B, and A; two are the same and the middle one is different.

Accompaniment Patterns
A musical part that supports or partners a melody line and repeats.

Setting or adaptation of an existing musical composition.

Characteristic way in which musical tones are connected, separated, or accented; types of articulation include legato (smooth, connected tone) and staccato (short, detached tones).

Underlying steady pulse present in most music.

Original piece of music that can be repeated, typically developed over time, and preserved either in notation or in a sound recording.

Level or range of loudness of sound.

Element of music describing the overall organization of a piece of music, such as AB, ABA, theme and variations.

Harmonic Accompaniments
Supports the melody: two or more parts sung or played simultaneously.

Harmonic Phrases
A musical harmony connected by a series of phrases.

Harmonic Sequences
Series of two or more chords commonly used to support melody(ies).

Iconic Notation
Representation of sound and its treatment using lines, drawings, pictures.

Melodic Line
A succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence; ascending or descending.

Melodic Patterns
 Grouping, generally brief, of tones or pitches.

Melodic Phrase
A melody connected by a series of phrases.

A sequence of sounds (pitches) and silences moving through time; the horizontal structure of music.

Grouping of beats and divisions of beats in music.

Brief rhythmic/melodic pattern that recurs throughout a composition as a unifying element.

Musical segment with a clear beginning and ending, comparable to a simple sentence or clause in written text.

Performance of musical phrase that uses expressive qualities such as dynamics, tempo, articulation, and timbre, to convey a thought, mood, or feeling.

Identification of a tone or note with respect to highness or lowness (e.g., frequency).

Rhythmic Pattern
Grouping, generally brief, of long and short sounds and silences.

Rhythmic Phrases
A rhythm connected by a series of phrases.

Duration or length of sounds and silences that occur in music; organization of sounds and silences in time.

Simple Chord Changes
A combination of chords in a certain key that repeats.

Standard Notation
System for visually representing musical sound (e.g., traditional music staff notation).

Tonality of a musical work.

Label for a type of music possessing distinguishing characteristics associated with its historical period, cultural context, and/or genre.

Rate of speed of the beat in a musical work or performance.

Theme and Variation
Musical form in which a melody is presented and then followed by two or more sections presenting variations of that melody.

Tone color or tone quality that distinguishes one sound source, instrument, or voice from another.

Key tone around which a piece of music is centered.

Voice Quality
One color or tone quality that distinguishes one sound source, instrument, or voice from another.