Glossary

A

Accent
A special emphasis of a tone.

B

Beat
The basic unit of time in a piece.

C

Call and Response
A succession of two distinct musical where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or in response to the first.

Chord
A combination of three or more pitched notes that are heard simultaneously.

Clef
A musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes on a staff.

Composition
An original piece of music.

Consonance
A combination of notes that seem stable or pleasant.

Cycle
The arrangement of several individual pieces into a large-scale composition.

D

Dissonance
A combination of notes that seem unstable or unpleasant.

Dynamics
The level of loudness of a sound.

F

Fermata
A symbol of musical notation indicating that the note should be prolonged beyond the normal duration.

Form
The structure of a musical composition.

H

Harmony
The relationship between two distinct musical pitches played simultaneously.

Heptatonic scale
A musical scale that has seven pitches per octave.

Hexatonic scale
A musical scale that has six pitches per octave.

I

Interval
The difference in pitch between two notes.

M

Measure
A segment of time corresponding to a specific number of beats.

Melody
A sequence of pitches that makes up a musical phrase.

Meter
The regularly recurring patterns and accents such as measures and beats.

Mode
A scale that is a copy of another scale but where the starting note is any of the existing notes of the original scale except for the first note itself.

Monophony
A melody or tune played or sung without any accompaniment.

Motif
A short musical fragment of special importance that is characteristic of a composition.

N

Notation
A system used to represent music visually.

Note
A musical sound // The character representing the sound on the page.

O

Octave
The interval between one musical pitch and another with the exact same name.

Octave equivalence
The assumption that pitches one or more octaves apart are musically equivalent, and usually share the same name.

Overtone
A tone which is part of the harmonic series of another tone.

P

Pentatonic scale
A musical scale that has five pitches per octave.

Pitch
The quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as “higher” and “lower”.

Polyphony
Two or more independent melodies or tunes that are played or sung simultaneously.

R

Rhythm
The succession of strong and weak elements of sounds.

Root
A note used as reference by other notes.

S

Scale
A set of musical notes ordered by ascending or descending order in pitch.

Staff
A set of horizontal lines and spaces where each represent a different musical pitch.

T

Tempo
The speed or pace of a given piece of music.

Tetrachord
A set of four contiguous notes from a musical scale.

Timbre
The color or quality of a sound that is unique to an instrument or a voice.

Tonic
The first note of a scale.

Transposition
A shift of a piece of music to a different musical key by moving all the notes up or down in pitch equally.

Trichord
A set of three contiguous notes from a musical scale.