Alberti bassa stereotyped accompaniment taking its name from Domenico Alberti.
appoggiaturaa note dissonant with the chord (made consonant by moving up or down one step)
ariaa solo vocal air in opera, oratorio, or cantata.
arpeggio a group of chord notes sounded in succession rather than simultaneously.
augmented chord one containing a chromatic alteration (enlarging one of the chord's intervals-by a semitone).
bar a musical rhythmic measure (shown by a vertical line).
bel canto the nineteenth-century Italian operatic style of singing.
blue note a flattened 3rd, 7th, or even 5th note of the major scale (common in Afro-American music)
broken chord see arpeggio.
call and response musical phrases given by a soloist answered by a scrap of tune (usually unchanging) given by an ensemble (vocal or instrumental)
cantata a short (often religious) piece for soloist(s) and (usually) chorus, with instrumental accompaniment.
canzonet a 'little song' (from the Italian, canzonetta)
cell a short, distinctive melodic and/or rhythmic grouping (like a motive)
chromaticism the use of notes additional to those in the major or minor key in which the piece is set.
coda a concluding section.
contrapuntal two or more melodic lines woven together
crescendo growing louder
diminished 7th a chromatic chord not belonging to a specific key (often used fo dramatic disorientating effect)
discord a combination of notes which seem to clash and require resolution.
dissonance the effect created by notes which seem to clash together
dominant the fifth note of a major or minor scale, the most important note in the tonal hierarchy after the tonic.
dominant extension a chord formed on the fifth note of the major or minor scale which is given increased tension by adding dissonant notes (7th, 9th, etc.) [238/239]
drone bassan unchanging bass note or notes.
duple time/metretwo main beats per bar
dynamic the level of softness or loudness.
expression'expressive' playing (Italian = espressivd) usually means adopting a certain amount of flexibility in relation to dynamics and rhythm; the tension created by the resulting unpredictability is felt to convey the player's personal emotion.
figure/figurationa pattern of notes used repeatedly (generally as an accompaniment).
grace notesmusical ornaments which lend emphasis to the note they decorate.
gran scenaoperatic set piece, usually for anguished prima donna.
grandiosoto be performed in a grand and dignified fashion.
hammered-on notea note sounded on the guitar by hammering-on a finger of the left hand after the string has been picked by the right hand.
harmonic rhythmthe rate of change of harmonies (chords).
key (major/minor)a concept reliant upon a hierarchy of notes (as in a major or minor scale). The first note of a major or minor scale gives its name to the key.
leading-notethe seventh note of a major or minor scale which leads back to the tonic.
major and minorsee key. The two important tonal scales.
mediantthe third note of a major or minor scale, or the key based on that note.
metrethe musical equivalent of the 'foot' in poetry.
modesthe old system of scales ousted by the 'invention' of keys in the seventeenth century.
modulationa change from one key to another.
monotonean unchanging pitch.
motivea short, distinctive rhythmic and/or melodic pattern, offering possibilities for development.
musical phrasea melodic unit which a singer would take in one breath.
octavethe interval stretching from first to eighth note of a major or minor scale (the notes being the same except for pitch).
opera seria'serious opera' carrying high artistic status, established in the seventeenth century, and mostly filled with recitatives and arias sung by gods, goddesses, mythological heroes, etc.
oratorioa large-scale work (usually religious) for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.
pasticcioa freshly written stage work making use of pre-existing music by different composers.
pedala note (usually in the bass) sustained throughout changing harmonies.
pentatonicmusic based on a scale of five notes (such as found in many traditional musical cultures).
phrasesee musical phrase.
pitchthe height or depth of a note.
recitativea declamatory style of word-setting.
refraina recurring combination of words and tune. [239/240]
scalea stepwise succession of notes.
semitonethe smallest interval between notes in western 'art music'.
Scotch snapan accented short note followed by a longer note.
sonata forma musical form based on a conflict of keys; since the nineteenth century its sections have been labelled 'exposition', 'development', and 'recapitulation'.
stopsdevices to alter the sound of an organ or harmonium.
strophic settingeach verse set to the same tune.
style galanta highly embellished 'courtly' style of eighteenth-century music.
syncopationtransference of musical accent from strong to weak beats.
tempooverall speed
ternary forma three-part form in which the third part repeats the first.
texturethe thinness or thickness of the sound.
through-composedin the case of a song, different music for each verse; in the case of an opera, no spoken dialogue.
timbrethe 'colour' of the sound (e.g. a guitar playing the same note as a piano sounds different).
tonalityanother word for key.
tonicthe first note of a major or minor scale, the key note.
transposechange the overall pitch up or down.
tremolandorapid repetitions of the same note (often used for dramatic effect).
triple time/metrethree beats per bar.
turna particular kind of musical ornament.

Last modified 20 June 2012