Music Terms from Music History I

  1. Lyre
    Plucked string instrument with a resonating sound box, two arms, crossbar, and strings that run parallel to the soundboard and attach to the crossbar.
  2. Monophonic
    Consisting of a single unaccompanied MELODIC line.
  3. Heterophony
    Music or musical TEXTURE in which a MELODY is performed by two or more parts simultaneously in more than one way, for example, one voice performing it simply, and the other with embellishments.
  4. Harmonia
    Ancient Greek term with multiple meanings: (1) the union of parts in an orderly whole; (2) INTERVAL; (3) SCALE type; (4) style of MELODY.
  5. Ethos
    (1) Moral and ethical character or way of being or behaving. (2) Character, mood, or emotional effect of a certain TONOS, MODE, METER, or MELODY.
  6. Tetrachord
    (1) In Greek and medieval theory, a SCALE of four NOTES spanning a perfect fourth. (2) In modern theory, a SET of four pitches or PITCH-CLASSES. (3) In TWELVE-TONE theory, the first four, middle four, or last four notes in the ROW.
  7. Diatonic
    (1) In ancient Greek music, adjective describing a TETRACHORD with two WHOLE TONES and one SEMITONE. (2) Name for a SCALE that includes five whole tones and two semitones, where the semitones are separated by two or three whole tones. (3) Adjective describing a MELODY, CHORD, or passage based exclusively on a single diatonic scale.
  8. Enharmonic
    (1) In ancient Greek music, adjective describing a TETRACHORD comprising a major third and two quartertones, or a MELODY that uses such tetrachords. (2) Adjective describing the relationship between two pitches that are notated differently but sound alike when played, such as G# and Ab.
  9. Chromatic
    (from Greek chroma, "color") (1) In ancient Greek music, adjective describing a TETRACHORD comprising a minor third and two SEMITONES, or a MELODY that uses such tetrachords. (2) Adjective describing a melody that uses two or more successive semitones in the same direction, a SCALE consisting exclusively of semitones, an INTERVAL or CHORD that draws NOTES from more than one DIATONIC scale, or music that uses many such melodies or chords.
  10. Byzantine Chant
    The repertory of ecclesiastical CHANT used in the Byzantine RITE and in the modern Greek Orthodox Church.
  11. Liturgy
    The prescribed body of texts to be spoken or sung and ritual actions to be performed in a religious service.
  12. Psalms
    A poem of praise to God, one of 150 in the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament). Singing psalms was a central part of Jewish, Christian, Catholic, and Protestant worship.
  13. Mass
    (1) The most important service in the Roman Church. (2) A musical work setting the texts of the ORDINARY of the Mass, typically KYRIE, GLORIA, CREDO, SANCTUS, and AGNUS DEI.
  14. Ordinary
    Texts of the MASS that remain the same on most or all days of the CHURCH CALENDAR, although the tunes may change.
  15. Proper
    Texts of the MASS that are assigned to a particular day in the CHURCH CALENDAR.
  16. Gregorian Chant
    The repertory of ecclesiastical CHANT used in the Roman Catholic Church.
  17. Final
    The main NOTE in a MODE; the normal closing note of a CHANT in that mode.
  18. Authentic Mode
    A MODE (2) in which the RANGE normally extends from a STEP below the FINAL to an octave above it. See also PLAGAL MODE.
  19. Plagal Mode
    A MODE (2) in a which the RANGE normally extends from a fourth (or fifth) below the FINAL to a fifth or sixth above it. See also AUTHENTIC MODE.
  20. Reciting Tone
    The second most important NOTE in a MODE (after the FINAL), often emphasized in CHANT and used for reciting text in a PSALM TONE.
  21. Responsorial/Responsory
    RESPONSORIAL CHANT used in the OFFICE. Matins includes nine Great Responsories, and several other office services include a Short Responsory.
  22. Antiphonal/Antiphon
    Adjective describing a manner of performance in which two or more groups alternate.
  23. Syllabic
    Having (or tending to have) one NOTE sung to each syllable of text.
  24. Neumatic
    In CHANT, having about one to six NOTES (or one NEUME) sung to each syllable of text.
  25. Melismatic/Melisma
    A long MELODIC passage sung to a single syllable of text.
  26. Psalm Tone
    A MELODIC formula for singing PSALMS in the OFFICE. There is one psalm tone for each MODE.
  27. Intonation
    The first NOTES of a CHANT, sung by a soloist to establish the pitch for the CHOIR, which joins the soloist to continue the chant.
  28. Mediant
    In a PSALM TONE, the CADENCE that marks the middle of the PSALM verse.
  29. Termination
    In a PSALM TONE, the CADENCE that marks the end of the PSALM VERSE.
  30. Lesser Doxology
    A formula of praise to the Trinity. Two FORMS are used in GREGORIAN CHANT: the Greater Doxology, or GLORIA, and the Lesser Doxology, used with PSALMS, INTROITS, and other chants.
  31. Canticle
    HYMN-like or PSALM-like passage from a part of the Bible other than the Book of Psalms.
  32. Hymn
    Song to or in honor of a god. In the Christian tradition, song of praise sung to God.
  33. Introit
    First item in the MASS PROPER, originally sung for the entrance procession, comprising an ANTIPHON, PSALM verse, Lesser DOXOLOGY, and reprise of the ANTIPHON.
  34. Kyrie
    One of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based on a BYZANTINE litany.
  35. Gloria
    Second of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, a praise formula also known as the Greater DOXOLOGY.
  36. Alleluia
    Item from the MASS PROPER, sung just before the Gospel reading, comprising a RESPOND to the text "Alleluia," a verse, and a repetition of the respond. CHANT alleluias are normally MELISMATIC in style and sung in a RESPONSORIAL manner, one or more soloists alternating with the CHOIR.
  37. Gradual
    Item in the MASS PROPER, sung after the Epistle reading, comprising a RESPOND and VERSE. CHANT graduals are normally MELISMATIC in style and sung in a RESPONSORIAL manner, one or more soloists alternating with the CHOIR.
  38. Sanctus
    One of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based in part on Isaiah 6:3.
  39. Communion
    Item in the MASS PROPER, originally sung during communion, comprising an ANTIPHON without verses.
  40. Agnus Dei
    Fifth of the five major musical items in the MASS ORDINARY, based on a litany.
  41. Jubilus
    In CHANT, an effusive MELISMA, particularly the melisma on "-ia" in an ALLELUIA.
  42. Trope
    Addition to an existing CHANT, consisting of (1) words and MELODY; (2) a MELISMA; or (3) words only, set to an existing melisma or other melody.
  43. Sequence
    (1) A category of Latin CHANT that follows the ALLELUIA in some MASSES. (2) Restatement of a pattern, either MELODIC or HARMONIC, on successive or different pitch levels.
  44. Liturgical Drama
    Dialogue on a sacred subject, set to music and usually performed with action, and linked to the LITURGY.
  45. Hexachord
    (1) A set of six pitches. (2) In medieval and RENAISSANCE SOLMIZATION, the six NOTES represented by the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, which could be transposed to three positions: the "natural" hexachord, C-D-E-F-G-A; the "hard" hexachord, G-A-B-C-D-E; and the "soft" hexachord, F-G-A-Bb-C-D. (3) In TWELVE-TONE theory, the first six or last six notes in the ROW.
  46. Solmization
    A method of assigning syllables to STEPS in a SCALE, used to make it easier to identify and sing the WHOLE TONES and SEMITONES in a MELODY.
  47. Neume
    A sign used in NOTATION of CHANT to indicate a certain number of NOTES and general MELODIC direction (in early forms of notation) or particular pitches (in later forms).
  48. Goliard Songs
    Medieval Latin songs associated with the goliards, who were wandering students and clerics.
  49. Chanson de Geste
    Type of medieval French epic recounting the deeds of national heros, sung to MELODIC formulas.
  50. Jongleur
    Itinerant medieval musician or street entertainer.
  51. Minstrel
    Thirteenth-century traveling musician, some of whom were also employed at a court or city.
  52. Troubadour/Trobairitz
    A poet-composer of southern France who wrote MONOPHONIC songs in Occitan (langue d'oc) in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
  53. Trouvere
    A poet-composer of northern France who wrote MONOPHONIC songs in Old French (langue d'o?"l) in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
  54. Chansonnier
    Manuscript collection of secular songs with French words; used both for collections of MONOPHONIC TROUBADOUR and TROUV'ERE songs and for collections of POLYPHONIC songs.
  55. Minnesinger
    A poet-composer of medieval Germany who wrote MONOPHONIC songs, particularly about love, in Middle High German.
  56. Cantiga
    Medieval MONOPHONIC song in Spanish or Portuguese.
  57. Polyphony
    Music or musical TEXTURE consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent MELODY. See also COUNTERPOINT.
  58. Organum
    (1) One of several styles of early POLYPHONY from the ninth through thirteenth centuries, involving the addition of one or more voices to an existing CHANT. (2) A piece, whether IMPROVISED or written, in one of those styles, in which one voice is drawn from a CHANT. The plural is organa.
  59. Parallel Organum
    Type of POLYPHONY in which an added voice moves in exact parallel to a CHANT, normally a perfect fifth below it. Either voice may be doubled at the octave.
  60. Aquitanian Polyphony
    Style of POLYPHONY from the twelfth century, encompassing both DISCANT and FLORID ORGANUM.
  61. Florid Organum
    Twelfth-century style of two-voice POLYPHONY in which the lower voice sustains relatively long NOTES while the upper voice sings note-groups of varying length above each note of the lower voice.
  62. Discant
    1) Twelfth-century style of POLYPHONY in which the upper voice or voices have about one to three NOTES for each note of the lower voice. (2) TREBLE part.
  63. Notre Dame Polyphony
    Style of POLYPHONY from the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, associated with the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
  64. Clausula
    In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, a self-contained section of an ORGANUM that closes with a CADENCE.
  65. Triplum
    (1) In POLYPHONY of the late twelfth through fourteenth centuries, third voice from the bottom in a three- or four-voice TEXTURE, added to a TENOR and DUPLUM. (2) In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, an ORGANUM in three voices.
  66. Quadruplum
    (1) In POLYPHONY of the late twelfth through fourteenth centuries, fourth voice from the bottom in a four-voice TEXTURE, added to a TENOR, DUPLUM, and TRIPLUM. (2) In NOTRE DAME POLYPHONY, an ORGANUM in four voices.
  67. Conductus
    A serious medieval song, MONOPHONIC or POLYPHONIC, setting a rhymed, rhythmic Latin poem.
  68. Caudae
  69. Motet
    POLYPHONIC vocal COMPOSITION; the specific meaning changes over time. The earliest motets add a text to an existing DISCANT CLAUSULA. Thirteenth-century motets feature one or more voices, each with its own sacred or secular text in Latin or French, above a TENOR drawn from CHANT or other MELODY. Most fourteenth- and some fifteenth-century motets feature ISORHYTHM and may include a CONTRATENOR. From the fifteenth century on, any polyphonic setting of a Latin text (other than a MASS) could be called a motet; from the sixteenth century on, the term was also applied to sacred compositions in other languages.
  70. Double Motet
    Thirteenth-century MOTET in three voices, with different texts in the DUPLUM and TRIPLUM.
  71. Tenor (in florid organum, discant, and motet)
    (1) In a MODE or CHANT, the RECITING TONE. (2) In POLYPHONY of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the voice part that has the chant or other borrowed MELODY, often in long-held NOTES. (3) Male voice of a relatively high range.
  72. Cantus Firmus
    An existing MELODY, often taken from a GREGORIAN CHANT, on which a new POLYPHONIC work is based; used especially for MELODIES presented in long NOTES.
  73. Rota
    FORM of medieval English POLYPHONY in which two or more voices sing the same MELODY, entering at different times and repeating the melody until all stop together. See CANON.
  74. Ars Nova
    Style of POLYPHONY from fourteenth-century France, distinguished from earlier styles by a new system of rhythmic NOTATION that allowed duple or triple division of NOTE values, SYNCOPATION, and great rhythmic flexibility.
  75. Talea
    In an ISORHYTHMIC COMPOSITION, an extended rhythmic pattern repeated one or more times, usually in the TENOR. Compare COLOR.
  76. Color
    In an ISORHYTHMIC COMPOSITION, a repeated MELODIC pattern, as opposed to the repeating rhythmic pattern (the TALEA).
  77. Hocket
    In thirteenth- and fourteenth-century POLYPHONY, the device of alternating rapidly between two voices, each resting while the other sings, as if a single MELODY is split between them; or, a COMPOSITION based on this device.
  78. Contratenor
    In fourteenth- and fifteenth-century POLYPHONY, voice composed after or in conjunction with the TENOR and in about the same RANGE, helping to form the HARMONIC foundation.
  79. Formes Fixes
    Schemes of poetic and musical repetition, each featuring a REFRAIN, used in late medieval and fifteenth-century French CHANSONS; in particular, the BALLADE, RONDEAU, and VIRELAI.
  80. Virelai
    French FORME FIXE in the pattern A bba A bba A bba A, in which a REFRAIN (A) alternates with stanzas with the musical FORM bba, the a using the same music as the refrain.
  81. Ballade
    (a) French FORME FIXE, normally in three stanzas, in which each stanza has the musical FORM aab and ends with a REFRAIN. (2) Instrumental piece inspired by the GENRE of narrative poetry.
  82. Rondeau
    (1) French FORME FIXE with a single stanza and the musical FORM ABaAabAB, with capital letters indicating lines of REFRAIN and lowercase letters indicating new text set to music from the refrain. (2) FORM in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century instrumental music in which a repeated STRAIN alternates with other strains, as in the pattern AABACA.
  83. Ars Subilitior
    Style of POLYPHONY from the late fourteenth or very early fifteenth centuries in southern France and northern Italy, distinguished by extreme complexity in rhythm and NOTATION.
  84. Trecento
    "one thousand three hundred"; pronounced treh-CHEN-toh) The 1300s (the fourteenth century), particularly with reference to Italian art, literature, and music of the time.
  85. Madrigal
    (1) Fourteenth-century Italian poetic form and its musical setting having two or three stanzas followed by a RITORNELLO. (2) Sixteenth-century Italian poem having any number of lines, each of seven or eleven syllables. (3) POLYPHONIC or CONCERTATO setting of such a poem or of a sonnet or other nonrepetitive VERSE form. (4) English polyphonic work imitating the Italian GENRE.
  86. Caccia
    Fourteenth-century Italian FORM featuring two voices in CANON over a free untexted TENOR.
  87. Ballata
    Fourteenth-century Italian song GENRE with the FORM AbbaA, in which A is the ripresa or REFRAIN, and the single stanza consists of two piedi (bb) and a volta (a) sung to the music of the ripresa.
  88. Musica Ficta
    (1) In early music, NOTES outside the standard GAMUT, which excluded all flatted and sharped notes except Bb. (2). In POLYPHONY of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the practice of raising or lowering by a SEMITONE the pitch of a written note, particularly at a CADENCE, for the sake of smoother HARMONY or motion of the parts.
Card Set
Music Terms from Music History I
Music Terms from Music History I (Ancient and Medieval Worlds)