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2010-05-09 16:26:19
music history music history musical definitions

Musical history definitions
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  1. concerto
    • a composition that shows off a specific instrument or instruments, with the orchestra used as an accompaniment. Slow movements were not intended for virtuoso display, so they tended to be a short intro to the fast and virtuosic finales. Cadenzas were written out or improvised Finales were often inspired by national dances or folk songs.
    • Example: Violin Concerto in e minor, Op 64 by Mendelssohn
  2. cadenza
    • a decorative virtuoso passage performed near the end of a composition or movement. Can be improvised or written by the composer. The soloist usually signals the end with a long trill, after which the orchestra joins in.
    • Example: Violin Concerto in e minor Op 64 by Mendelssohn
  3. double stopping
    • playing two strings simultaneously on a stringed instrument.
    • Example: Violin concerto in e minor Op 64 by Mendelssohn
  4. pedal point
    • holding a note over changing chords.
    • Example: Violin concerto in e minor Op64 by Mendelssohn OR La Campanella by Liszt
  5. sonata form
    • or sonata cycle. The opening movement of a multi-movement cycle, consisting of themes that are stated in the first section (exposition), developed in the second section (development), and restated in the third section (recapitulation). Can be used for solo instruments, concertos, symphonies, chamber groups, etc.
    • Example: Violin concerto in e minor Op 64 by Mendelssohn
  6. song cycle
    • a group of songs that share a common theme or central idea and which have been designed to be presented as a unit. Flourished during the 19th century.
    • Example: Dichterliebe by Schumann
  7. modified strophic form
    • a type of song structure in which some later verses are set to different music (though sometimes only the accompaniment is varied). There is typically new music at the climax.
    • Example: And if the flowers knew from Dichterliebe by Schumann
  8. character pieces
    composition (usually for piano) that represented ideas, scenes, dramatic events, etc. They attempted to represent the "character" of something extra-musical. Usually a short, descriptive work. Popular in the Romantic era.
  9. cross-rhythms
    Two types: duplets against triplets (used by Chopin and Brahms); and irregularly grouped notes in the right-hand set to normally grouped notes in the left hand. (eg, Lusebius from Schumann's Carnival)
  10. strophic form
    • when the same melody is repeated in every stanza, or strophe, of the poem. Does not allow for a close relationship between the words and music.
    • Example: Silent Night
  11. lied
    • or German "art-song"; consisted of a vocalist and piano accompaniment. It was a song of serious artistic purpose usually based on poetry and was designed for the concert hall as opposed to traditional songs or folk songs. Themes were love and longing, the beauty of nature, and the fragility of human happiness. Three types: strophic, modified strophic, through-composed.
    • Example: And if the flowers knew from Dichterliebe by Schumann
  12. piano cycle
    • a work for solo piano that consists of many short, separate pieces, designed to be played as a whole, since they share a common idea, theme, motive, or other unifying factor by the use of thematic transformation (and varying harmony, rhythm, tempo, etc, the pieces are varied). Often in ternary ABA form.
    • Example: Carnival by Schumann
  13. etude
    • A study or an exercise designed to challenge a musician technically as well as musically. Each deals with a particular technical difficulty.
    • Example: La Campanella by Liszt
  14. requiem
    • Roman Catholic mass for the dead.
    • Example: A German Requiem by Brahms
  15. rondo form
    • Form in which the first section recurs at least 3 times, usually in the tonic. ABACA or ABACABA. Alternates between contrasting forms.
    • Example: A German Requiem by Brahms
  16. coloratura soprano
    • must control the voice through extremely high notes, runs, cadenzas, and other agile ornamentation of the music. Very demanding on the voice. Includes many florid passages.
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  17. opera
    • a staged work (with acting, scenery and costumes) that is sung, combining the resources of vocal and instrumental music - soloists, orchestra, ensembles, and sometimes ballet. Types include verismo (realistic plot and emotions) and nationalistic trends such as grand opera (France), opera seria and opera buffa (Italy), and singspiel and music drama (Germany).
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  18. bel canto
    • "beautiful singing": elegant Italian vocal style characterized by florid melodic lines delivered by voices of great agility, smoothness, and purity of tone.
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  19. recitative
    • solo vocal declamation that follows the inflections of the text, often resulting in a disjunct vocal style. Found in opera, cantata and oratorio. NEVER WAGNER
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  20. aria
    • lyric song for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment, generally expressing intense emotion. Found in opera, cantata and oratorio. NEVER WAGNER
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  21. heldentenor
    • tenor voice of great weight and sonority, strong in the middle and lower range. These tenors commonly sang the leading roles in the music dramas of Wagner.
    • Example: Die Walkure by Wagner
  22. program music
    • orchestral music that is given literary or pictorial associations, the nature of which is denoted by the title of the piece or by an explanatory note written by the composer.
    • Example: The Moldau by Smetana
  23. symphonic/tone poem
    • a piece of program music for orchestra in one movement. Within contrasting sections, it develops a poetic idea, suggests a scene, or creates a mood. Developed by Liszt.
    • Example: The Moldau by Smetana
  24. nationalism
    • expressing the hopes and dreams of the composer's country through their music and the forms they chose. Includes basing music on folk songs and dances, or writing dramatic works on folklore or peasant life. Incorporates rhythms and sounds of the homeland into compositions.
    • Example: The Moldau by Smetana
  25. chromatic harmony
    • harmony built from many or all twelve semitones of the octave.
    • Example: Die Walkure by Wagner
  26. music drama
    • often applied to Wagner's operas and others that combine music, scenery, text, costume, etc to create a whole cohesive imaginary world. Poetry is sung against complex orchestration that defines moods and colours as effectively as sets of the story being acted on stage. The music and drama are equally important.
    • Example: Die Walkure by Wagner
  27. gesamtkunstwerk
    • Wagner's philosophy of total fusion of the arts; since drama and music are connected, one person should be responsible for all aspects of the performance including the libretto, score, direction, etc.
    • Example: Die Walkure by Wagner
  28. lietmotif
    • "leading motive" - a clearly defined musical theme representing a person, object, or idea, which appears at the appropriate moment. It was most common for it to appear in the orchestra, not the singers. Developed by Wagner.
    • Example: Die Walkure by Wagner
  29. concert overture
    • a single movement concert piece for orchestra that consists of several ideas and moods, but the structure is generally in a Classical form and it is usually longer than a symphonic poem. Based on a literary idea.
    • Example: Romeo and Juliet Overture by Tchaikovsky
  30. impressionism in music
    • important movement from 1890-1910. Composers interpreted their subjects in a personal style, conveying the moods and emotions around by the subject rather than a detailed picture. They looked beyond major-minor tonality, exploring modes, parallel octaves and chords, and non-Western influences. There was a blurring of Classical forms, exaggerated attention to musical colour, and a focus on non-tonal progressions.
    • Example: Jeux d'eau by Ravel
  31. pentatonic scale
    any major scale where the 3rd and 7th notes are omitted. It tends to blur the importance of the tonic. Used in far-eastern music.
  32. whole tone scale
    • scale where each note is separated by a whole tone.
    • Example: Sunken Cathedral by Debussy
  33. octatonic scale
    scale that alternates between intervals of whole tones and semitones.
  34. ostinato
    short melodic, rhythmic or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout an entire composition or some portion of a composition.
  35. Neo-Classicism
    • a reaction to 20th century musical experiments; a return to the Baroque period's more objective style and forms, including a preference for absolute music. It was meant not to express emotions but to manipulate abstract combinations of sound.
    • Example: Three Orchestral Pieces by Berg
  36. polytonality
    • two or more chords combined to make a more complex harmonic unit; alternatively, two or more keys used at once.
    • Example: Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok
  37. quotation in music
    • music that references another work or works, presenting them in a new style or guise.
    • Example: Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok
  38. changing meter
    • using constantly changing meters throughout an entire work. Indicated by a change in time signatures in Bartok and other 20th century composers.
    • Example: Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok
  39. expressionism in music
    • a style developed by Schonberg, Webern, and Berg; it was a German answer to French impressionism. Instead of creating impressions of the outer world, they explored the recesses of the soul. Their music favoured very expressive harmonic language, disjunct melodies and the use of instruments in their extreme ranges and timbres. Attempted a more powerful means of communicating expression. The result went beyond the major-minor system - the twelve-tone method was developed so that every semi-tone within an octave would be treated equally.
    • Example: Pierrot Lunaire Op 21 by Schonberg OR Wozzeck Op 7 by Berg
  40. atonality
    • the absence of a tonal centre or key. A feature of modern music. Also, moving from one dissonance to another without relaxation.
    • Example: Quartet for the End of Time by Messaien
  41. sprechstimme
    • a vocal speaking style where the voice uses approximate pitches instead of exact pitches.It is a type of dramatic declamation.
    • Example: Pierrot Lunaire Op 21 by Schonberg
  42. klangfarbenmelodie
    • "sound-colour-melody": a term to describe a composition that employs several different kinds of tone colour to a single pitch or multiple pitches. It is achieved by distributing a pitch or melody among several different instruments. Creates a shifting effect. 20th century technique.
    • Example: Symphony Op 21 by Webern
  43. rondeau
    • composition of the form ABAAABAB. It is a verse form from the 15th century in which opening lines return as a refrain in the middle of the poem.
    • Example: Pierrot Lunaire by Schonberg
  44. canon
    • a type of polyphonic composition in which one musical line strictly imitates the other at a fixed distance throughout.
    • Example: Moonfleck from Pierrot Lunaire by Schonberg
  45. en pointe
    • a type of ballet presented on the tips of the shoes, made possible by specialized pointe shoes. The focus is on grace and technique, usually performed by women. Became popular in the Romantic era and into the 20th century.
    • Example: Romeo and Juliet Op 64c by Prokofiev
  46. micropolyphony
    • a 20th century technique. A complex polyphonic fabric derived from barely perceptible changes in dynamics, timbre, texture and density. The result is a shimmering current of sound.
    • Example: Atmospheres by Ligeti
  47. tintinnabulation
    • used in vocal works by Part. He developed the concept to include voices and meant the term to be defined as the applications of various inversions of a certain chord. It involves the predominance of a single triad in one or more voices, with two voices usually moving in opposite directions. Sounds bell-like. Developed by Part.
    • Example: Cantate domino canticum novum by Part
  48. minimalism
    • a trend meant to simplify musical language by reducing compositions to the barest essentials in order to concentrate the listener's attention to a few basic details. Melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic patterns are repeated with very little variation. The style is a reaction to complex serialism and has been promoted by composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
    • Example: City Life by Reich and Glassworks by Philip Glass
  49. cluster chord
    • a chord that consists of notes in intervals of seconds, common in Bartok's music.
    • Example: Atmospheres by Ligeti
  50. serialism
    • a piece of music for which there is control and order to all the musical features. Chord duration, pitch, rhythms, and dynamics are controlled.
    • Example: Symphony Op 21 by Webern
  51. tone row
    • a specific arrangements of the twelve notes of the twelve-tone scale as a basis for twelve-tone compositions. The arrangement of notes is done so that each note appears only once, and each note is given equal importance until they are all heard. The order is to be strictly followed throughout the piece, leaving the following possibilities for organization/transposition:
    • Prime: the initial statement of the tone row
    • Inversion: the prime statement upside-down/in mirrored intervals
    • Retrograde: the tone row played backwards
    • Retrograde inversion: the tone row played backward and upside down
    • Example: Symphony Op 21 by Webern
  52. twelve-tone/dodecaphonic music
    • a method of composition that keeps all twelve tones of the chromatic scale available for use, not restricting the music to the notes of the major, minor, or other scale.
    • Example: Symphony Op 21 by Webern
  53. theme and variations
    • compositional procedure in which a theme is stated and then altered un successive statements; occurs in an independent piece or as a movement of a multi-movement cycle.
    • Example: Symphony Op 21 by Webern
  54. glissando
    • rapid slide through the pitches of a scale.
    • Example: Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok
  55. celesta
    • percussion instrument resembling a miniature upright piano, with tuned metal plates struck by hammers that are operated by a keyboard.
    • Example: Wozzeck Op 7 by Berg
  56. choreography
    • the art of creating or arranging dances or ballets, or a work created by this art.
    • Example: Romeo and Juliet Op 64c by Prokofiev
  57. libretto
    • text or script of an opera, prepared by a librettist.
    • Example: La Traviata by Verdi
  58. cyclical structure
    • structure in which musical material, such as the theme, presented in one movement returns in a later movement.
    • Example: Symphony No 4 in G major by Mahler
  59. mode of limited transposition
    • modes of 6-10 notes that have fewer than 12 transpositions without duplication of pitch-class content.
    • Example: Quartet for the End of Time by Messaien