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7 Apr 2011
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Music Terminology
Frequency – rate of sound vibration
Pitch – “high” = rapid frequency/low = slow frequency
Dynamics – amplitude of sound vibrations – loudness/softness of sound
Forte (loud) vs. Piano (soft)
Crescendo – gradually getting louder
Decrescendo – gradually getting softer
Tone Color/Timbre – quality of sound dependent on instrument of production
i.e. Brass, Strings, Woodwinds, Percussion, Piano, Voice etc.
- usually described in terms like “warm woodwindsbright brass,” “dark strings,” etc.
Rhythm – arrangement of duration of sounds – pattern of tension and release over time
Beat – basic unit of musical duration – regular recurring pulse
Accent - emphasizing strong or weak beats
Meter – grouping of beats into recurring patterns
Measure/Bar – a single occurrence of the recurring pattern
Simple Meter: (duple/triple) main beats not subdivided or subdivided into two
i.e. 2/4, 3/4, 4/4
Compound Meter – main beats are subdivided into three i.e. 6/8
Syncopation – accenting a normally unaccented beat or portion of beat (“off beat)
Tempo – how fast or slow the beat is.
Metronome – device used to tick out beats at various tempos
Pitch - notated ABCDEFG (musical alphabet)
Interval – distance between any two pitches (harmonic or melodic)
Half step/Semi-tone – smallest interval (adjacent keys on a piano)
Whole step/Whole tone – 2 half steps or semi tones
Scale – a particular ordering of tones and semi tones used in the composition of
music (often several types of scales used)
Diatonic Scale – 7 pitches within an octave comprised of whole and semi tones
(Major and Minor forms)
Chromatic Scale (semi tones only), Whole Tone Scale (whole tones only)
Octave – interval where one pitch vibrates at half the rate of another
Diatonic Scale – set of original 7 pitches (A-G) used in Western art music
Comprised of whole and half-steps
major and minor arrangements
Chromatic scale – scale consisting entirely of half steps (Chromatic movement)
Sharps (#) raise indicated pitches a half step
Flats (b) lower indicated pitches a half step
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Document Summary

Pitch high = rapid frequency/ low = slow frequency. Dynamics amplitude of sound vibrations loudness/softness of sound. Tone color/timbre quality of sound dependent on instrument of production i. e. brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion, piano, voice etc. Usually described in terms like warm woodwinds bright brass, dark strings, etc. Rhythm arrangement of duration of sounds pattern of tension and release over time. Beat basic unit of musical duration regular recurring pulse. Meter grouping of beats into recurring patterns. Measure/bar a single occurrence of the recurring pattern. Simple meter: (duple/triple) main beats not subdivided or subdivided into two i. e. 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. Compound meter main beats are subdivided into three i. e. 6/8. Syncopation accenting a normally unaccented beat or portion of beat ( off beat ) Tempo how fast or slow the beat is. Metronome device used to tick out beats at various tempos. Interval distance between any two pitches (harmonic or melodic) Half step/semi-tone smallest interval (adjacent keys on a piano)

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