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•Pitch: (high and low)
–Corresponds to size!
•Dynamics: (loud, soft)
Forte (f)
Mezzo Forte (mf)
Mezzo Piano (mp)
Piano (p)
•Timbre/Tone Color: (bright, dark, mellow, harsh,
– Abstract descriptions for what you are hearing
•Standard Choral Voices
– soprano, alto, tenor, bass
•Standard Orchestra Instrumentation
String (violin, viola, cello, bass)
Woodwind (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon)
Brass (trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba)
Percussion (timpani, drums, mallet keyboards)
– Keyboard (piano, organ, harpsichord)
– Jazz Instruments (saxophone, drumset)
Rhythm and Melody
• Beat (pulse)
- Meter (duple, triple)
- Tempo (fast, slow)
• Melody:
– Theme (main idea)
• Musical terms to describe:
– Articulation (legato, staccato)
– Accents
– Syncopation
• Consonance & Dissonance
– A relationship between two notes (interval) is
either stable or unstable
– Unstable (dissonant) intervals resolve to stable
(consonant) intervals
• Tonal:
– Called “functional”
– Every chord has a function: going back to the
Tonal Center
– Can be Major or minor scale
• Atonal
– Chromatic, no tonal scale
Music history is all about moving from
functional tonality towards Atonality!
• Texture
– Monophonic (single line)
– Homophonic (one line, accompanied)
– Polyphonic (2 or more equal lines)
• The shape and structure of a piece of
• Most music is divided into sections
– New sections defined by harmony and/or
– Older musical ideas return often
– Some large pieces are broken into
movements, which are also broken into
• The Form and/or instrumentation defines the
genre of a piece of music:
• Symphony (Orchestra)
• Concerto (Soloist with orchestra)
• Chamber Music (Small ensemble)
– String Quartet
– Woodwind Quintet
– Brass Quintet
Sonata (Solo instrumental music)
Art Song (Solo voice with piano)
Opera (Music with vocal storytelling <staged>)
Ballet (Music with dancing)
Historical Eras
Middle Ages (450-1450)
Renaissance (1450-1600)
Baroque (1600-1750)
Classical (1750-1800ish)
Romantic (1800-1900)
20th Century (1900-2000)
- Often divided into two halves (1900-1945)
- 1945-present = modern music