Study Guide - Terminology
Midterm Test, Music 101
- Organology – The Study and classification of musical instruments.
- Sachs-Hornbostel System – A classification of musical instruments, named after the scholars
who developed the system. Four categories: chordophone, aerophone, idiophone, and
- Idiophone – self-sounding; the body and/or construction of the instrument produces
its sound. Example: bell gongs, triangle, rattle.
- Chordophone – the sound of the instrument is produced by vibrating strings stretched
across a resonator. Can be plucked or bowed. Four categories: lute, harp, lyre, zither.
Example: violin, viola, cello, bass, harp, koto, Kenyan lyre.
- Aerophone – instruments that sound by means of vibrating air; with an opening or
mouthpiece, through which the player blows air. Divided into trumpets, pipes, and free
aerophones. Can be transverse or endblown. Example: clarinet, oboe, bassoon, flute,
- Membranophone – an instrument whose sound is produced by a stretched membrane
across an opening. Categorized by shape, material, number or heads, how skins are
fastened, playing position, and manner of playing. Example: bodhran, congas, drum kit.
- Electrophone – added in the mid-twentieth century. Instruments that produce sound
using electricity such as synthesizer or electric guitar (overlaps with other categories).
Example: electric guitar, synthesizer.
- Chord – a group of notes played together. May sound pleasant or unpleasant, played either
“broken” or “solid.”
- Major – notes played together that have a “happy” sound. Example: notes CEG played
- Minor – the second note is “flattened”, making it sound sad or melancholy. Example:
notes CEb(E flat)G played together.
- Consonance – sounding smooth together.
- Dissonance – sounding rough together.
- Crescendo – a gradual increase in volume over time.
- Diminuendo – a gradual decrease in volume over time. Example: terraced dynamics is when
there is an immediate change in dynamics that moves several levels and does not change
- Dynamics – the perceived loudness or softness of a sound.
Pianissimo (pp) – very quiet, Piano (p) – quiet, Mezzo Piano (mp) – medium quiet,
Mezzo Forte (mf) – medium loud, Forte (f) – loud, Fortissimo (ff) – very loud.
- Gamelan – Large Indonesian ensemble consisting mainly of metallophones. Large gongs act as
timekeepers, while smaller keyed instruments and gongs keep the beat or play melodies. Skin-
headed drums contribute to maintaining the beat as do wooden percussion instruments.
Smaller instruments, including the rebab (a fiddle_ and the suling (a flute) play melodies and
ornament existing melodies further. Example: gongs, skin-headed drums, a fiddle, a flute; used
1 for shadow puppet plays, weddings, funerals, celebrations, entertainment, dance competitions,
- Mbira – African instrument made of a small wooden box or gourd with thin metal strips
attached. Example: “Mandarendare” (“A Place Full of Energy”)
- Meter – a repeating pattern of strong and weak beats or pulses. This repeating pattern
occupies one bar or measure of music. Is identified with a time s