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Humanities LibreTexts

6.18: Glossary

  • Page ID
    54800
  • Art song – a composition setting a poem to music, generally for one solo voice and piano accompaniment; in German, a Lied

    Chamber music – music--such as art songs, piano character pieces, and string quartets-- primarily performed in small performing spaces, often for personal entertainment

    Chromaticism – use of “colorful,” dissonant pitches, that included in the key of the composition

    Concerto – a composition for a soloist or a group of soloists and an orchestra, generally in three movements with fast, slow, and fast tempos, respectively

    Conductor – individual who leads an orchestra

    drone – a sustained pitch or pitches often found in music of the middle ages or earlier and in folk music

    Idée fixe – a famous melody that appears in all five movements of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique to represent the beloved from the program

    Leitmotiv – “guiding motive” associated with a specific character, theme, or locale in a music drama, and first associated with the music of Richard Wagner

    mazurka – a Polish dance in triple time, with emphasis on beat 2

    Nationalism – pride in one’s nation or cultural identity, often expressed in art, literature, and music

    Opera – a drama almost entirely sung to orchestral accompaniment, with accompanying costumes and staging

    Plagal cadence – ending of a composition that consists of a IV chord moving to a I chord and most often associated with church music

    Program music – instrumental music intended to represent a something extra musical such as a poem, narrative, drama, or picture, or the ideas, images, or sounds therein

    Program symphony – program music in the form of a multi-movement composition for orchestra

    Rubato – the momentary speeding up or slowing down of the tempo within a melody line, literally “robbing” time from one note to give to another

    Scena ad aria – nineteenth-century operatic combination of a recitative (“scena”) plus aria; here the aria generally has two parts, a slower cantabile and a faster cabaletta

    Sonata – composition for a solo instrument or an instrument with piano accompaniment, generally in three movements with fast, slow, and fast tempos, respectively

    Sonata form – a form often found in the first and last movements of sonatas, symphonies, and string quartets, consisting of three parts – exposition, development, and recapitulation

    Song cycle – a collection of art songs, unified by poet, narrative, musical style, or composer

    String quartet – performing ensemble consisting of two violinists, one violinist, and one cellist that plays compositions called string quartets, compositions generally in four movements

    Strophic – a composition that uses the repetition of the same music (“strophes”) for successive texts

    Symphonic poem – program music in the form of a single-movement composition for orchestra; sometimes called a tone poem

    Symphony – multi-movement composition for orchestra, often in four movements

    Ternary form – describes a musical composition in three parts, most often featurings two similar sections, separated by a contrasting section and represented by the letters A – B – A.

    Through-composed – a movement or composition consisting of new music throughout, without repetition of internal sections

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