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Glossary of Musical Terms a cappella Choral music performed without instrumental accompaniment. accent The emphasis on a beat resulting in that beat being louder or longer than another in a measure. alto Lowest of the female voices. Also contralto. aria Lyric song for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment, generally expressing intense emotion; found in opera, cantata, and oratorio. art rock Genre of rock that uses larger forms and more complex harmonies than other popular styles; occasionally quotes examples from classical music. Also progressive rock. baritone Male voice of moderately low range. bass Male voice of low range. beat Regular pulsation; a basic unit of length in musical time. bridge Transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, also transition. chord Simultaneous combination of three or more tones that constitute a single block of harmony. computer music A type of electro-acoustic music in which computers assist in creating works through sound synthesis and manipulation. contrast Contrast of musical materials sustains our interest and feeds our love of change; it provides variety to a form. countermelody An accompanying melody sounded against the principal melody. crescendo The dynamic effect of gradually growing louder, indicated in the musical score by the marking "<". dynamics Element of musical expression relating to the degree of loudness or softness, or volume, of a sound. falsetto Vocal technique whereby men can sing above their normal range, producing a lighter sound. folk rock Popular music style that combines folk music with amplified instruments of rock. forte The Italian term for "loud", indicated in the musical score by the marking "f". harmony The simultaneous combination of notes and the ensuing relationships of intervals and chords. Not all musics of the world rely on harmony for interest, but it is central to most Western music. improvisation Creation of a musical composition while it is being performed, seen in Baroque ornamentation, cadenzas of concertos, jazz, and some non-Western musics. keyboard instrument Instrument sounded by means of a keyboard (a series of keys played with the fingers). The most commonly recognized keyboard instruments are the piano, organ, harpsichord and synthesizer, a recent invention. legato Smooth and connected; opposite of staccato. melody Succession of single tones or pitches perceived by the mind as a unity. monophonic Single-line texture, or melody without accompaniment. ostinato A short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout a work or a section of one. piano The Italian term for "soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "p". quadruple meter Basic metrical pattern of four beats to a measure; also common time. range Distance between the lowest and highest tones of a melody, an instrument or a voice. This span can be generally described as narrow, medium or wide in range. refrain Text or music that is repeated within a larger form. rhythm The controlled movement of music in time. scat singing A jazz style that sets syllables without meaning (vocables) to an improvised vocal line. soprano Highest-ranged voice, normally possessed by women or boys. staccato Short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them. tempo Rate of speed or pace of music. theme Melodic idea used as a basic building block in the construction of a composition. timbre The quality of a sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another. triple meter Basic metrical pattern of three beats to a measure.