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Music Styles Glossary

This is a guest post from former VCE student Erin Lancaster for VCE Music. If you want to write a guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

MELODY
Function, shape, register, phrasing, tonality, general character

Theme
Statement
Subject
Counter-melodies
Focus lines
Competition
Riff
Shape/Contour
Ascending
Descending
Angular
Undulating
Consistent
Inconsistent
Arch like
Sequential
Fragmented
Continuously unfolding
Symmetrical
Asymmetrical
Short phrases
Extended phrases
Balanced, even
Melodic Devices
Climax
Question and Answer
Internal variation
Repetition
Contrasts (inversion, retrograde)
Sequence
Imitation
Conventional/unique
Unresolved
Register and Range
Small range
Big range
Big leaps; disjunct
Small intervals; conjunct
Chromatic
Appeggiated
Scalic
Character
Simple
Straight
Predictable/unpredictable
Subtle
Child-like
Gentle
Faint
Ornamented
Embellished
Florid
Complex
Improvisatory
Virtuosic
Runs
Interlacing/interweaving
Angular
Jagged
Rigid
Speech-like
Flowing
Lyrical
Undulating
Dawdling
Meandering
Wending
Lilting
Rousing
Triumphal
Animated
Catchy
Bouncy
Dramatic
Brooding
Menacing
Throbbing
Short melodic motifs reminiscent of the melodic contour

Interact

Heightening the excitement

The rhythm of the melody is shaped around the syllables of the words

RHYTHM
Beat, Pulse, Tempo, Rhythmic details. Use of silence, Articulation, Length of Phrases, General Character

Beat/Pulse/Tempo

Steady
Even
Regular/isometric
Clear underlying beat
Free flowing
Slow
Fast
Speeding up/down/accelerando
Stringendo
Reinforced
Strong
Well marked
Changing
Pulse
Weak
Unmarked
Suppressed
Syncopated
Cross rhythms
Polyrhythmic
Ambiguous metre
Rubato
Triplets
Groupings
Patters: waltz, rap,
Allargando
Rhythmic Details
Short
Long
Fast flurries
Swung
Begins with upbeat
March-like
Dance-like
Repetitive patterns. Motifs
Ostinato
Staccato
Legato
Sequences
Multimetric (changing time signatures)
Rhythmically extended
Rhythmic embellishment
Dramatic pauses
Articulation
Legato
Smooth
Accented
Rough
Marked
Length of Phrases
Complex
Simple
Improvisatory
Layering of percussive effects
General Character
Driving
Virtuosic
Lilting
Erratic
Fluctuating
Bouncy
Sporadic
Relentless
Throbbing
Pulsating
Thumping
Hammering
Beating
Grinding
Insistent
Accented
“throbbing ostinato”

“bubbling sensation of crotchet movement”

“the simple swing groove of the drum kit and bass allows him to syncopate and move around the time”

TEXTURE

What layers of sound can I hear?
Background/foreground?
What role does each instrument play in the layers?
Texture

Monophonic
Polyphonic – two or more voices
Homophonic – one melody stands out from accompaniment
Heterophonic – same melody different embellishments
Contrapuntal
Antiphonal (Call and Response)
Number of lines
Opposing
Complementary
Solo and accompaniment
Motion between instruments

Contrary
Similar
Oblique (one voice is stationary, the other one moves)
Parallel
Imitative
Staggered
Cascade
Discrete- separate and distinct
Continuous
Canon
Fugue
Level of Activity

Sparse
Dense
Cluttered, busy, crowded
Tangled
Closely woven
Wash of sound/ walls of sound
Confused
Well defined
Level of dependence
Clear
Disconnected events
Role
Descant – higher pitched line
Linear dependence
Harmonic
Melodic
Accompaniment
Rhythmic support
Pulse reinforcing
Countermelodic
Doubling
Backing
Harmonic support
Open harmony – harmony has wide intervals
Close harmony – harmony has a narrow range
Voicing
Drone
“puncutate texture”

shimmering pads

“melodic line regularly positioned beneath accompaniment”

HARMONY
Qualities of Individual Chords

Major
Minor
Diminished
Dissonant
Consonant
Jarring
Block chords
Long held/short chords
Traditional cadences
Appeggiated chords
Diatonic
Chord Progressions

Slow/fast harmonic changes
Move in parallel motion
12 bar blues
Unison
Repeated harmonic pattern
Functional progressions
Overall Quality

Simple
Complex
Rhythmic unison
Based on a drone
Reinforces a strong sense of key
Close harmonic accompaniment
Implied harmony – in a solo piece
Restricted chord movement
“Primary triadic constructions with free addition of dissonance”

“Pizzicato bass line emphasised the root note values of various chords

“Harmony created through contrary motion in double motion”

“functional progressions decorated with motivic interpolations”

TONALITY
Diatonic
Major
Minor
Atonal
Bitonal
Dissonance
Shifting key centre
Jazz scale
Non western/ethnic scale
Modal
Modulations occur
Unity
Frequent changes
“Key not firmly established”

“Firmly established with repeated use of tonic and dominant chords

Unstable sense of tonality

DYNAMICS
Volume, changes in volume, overall quality and importance

Loud
Thunderous
Abrasive
Blaring
Soft
Distant
Subdued
Restrained
Sudden
Gradual
Interjections
Fading away
Constant
Swells
Dynamic contrasts

Balanced

Important in creating drama

The volume relationships are subtle

TONE COLOUR
Sound qualities of individual instruments, overall quality of combination and importance, vibrato, instrumental timbre,

Mellow
Velvety
Sinuous
Rounded
Dark/Bright
Pure
Clear
Clean
Soothing
Tender
Brittle
Muted
Faint
Delicate whispering
Innocent simplicity
Breathy
Reverb
Ringing
Tinny
Metallic
Tinkly
Brassy
Reedy
Strident
Penetrating
Blaring
Biting
Piercing
Punchy
Intense
Abrasive
Harsh
Warm Combination
Buzzing
Throbbing
Trembling
Fluttering
Quivering
Tremulous
Grinding
Scratchy
Unfocussed/Focussed
Distortion
FORM

Regular repeated phrases
Irregular
Free flowing phrases
Simple form
Clear, contrasting sections
Strophic – one verse following another
Canon
Fugue
Head, solo, break
Sonata form
Jazz standard
Rondo – one section returns repeatedly
Binary
Cyclic
Complex
Recitative
Aria
Developing section
Contrasting section
Recurring section – ritornello
First theme, second theme
Coda
Introduction
Ostinato
“melodic idea fragmented and sequenced”

“drone, static, harmonic backbone”

CONTAST AND VARIATION

Call and reposnse
Repetition of….functions like a ritornello
….repeated throughout
repeated patterns
ARTICULATION

Attack and delay, methods of producing sound

Staccato
Accented
Explosive attack
Clean
Detached
Marcato – lots of accents in a row
Sharp
Clipped diction
Legato
Unaccented
Notes blurred together
Long decay
“lyricism and legato phrasing”
Portamento – smooth glide
Sustained
Connected articulation
Methods of Producing Sound

Plucked
Bowed
Bends
Glissando
Tremolo
Vibrato
Harmonics
Erin Lancaster has recently survived Year 12 and is looking to move from her small town of Picola (population: 100 people) in Regional Victoria to Melbourne next year to study music. She plays the violin, sings and enjoys writing especially in her blog www.strandedgypsygirl.wordpress.com and will read anything she can get her hands on! Her favourite quote it by Mark Twain, “So let us live so that when we die even the undertaker will be sorry”

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