GlossaryVisual and Performing Arts: Music Content Standards.
aerophone. A musical instrument (as a trumpet or flute) in which sound is generated by a vibrating column of air.
articulation. The manner in which notes are performed, such as staccato or legato.
atonal. A type of music in which tones and chords are not related to a central keynote.
augmented interval. A major or perfect interval raised by a half step.
beat. Unit of measure of rhythmic time.
canon. A musical form in which a melody is imitated exactly in one or more parts. Similar to a round.
chord. Three or more tones sounded simultaneously.
chordophone. An instrument the sound of which is created by means of strings stretched between two points.
clef, bass, or treble. A symbol written at the beginning of a musical staff indicating which notes are represented by which lines and spaces.
composition. Creation of original music by organizing sound. Usually written for others to perform.
compound meter. A type of meter in which the beat is divided into threes or sixes.
concerto. A composition for orchestra and soloist.
descant. A melodic line or counterpoint accompanying an existing melody.
diatonic scale. The notes found within a major or minor scale.
diminished interval. A minor or perfect interval lowered by a half step.
duple meter. A time signature with groups of two beats to the measure.
dynamics. Varying degrees of volume in the performance of music.
dynamic markings. The symbols indicating the varying degrees of volume: pp pianissimo, very soft; p piano, soft; mp mezzo piano, medium soft; mf mezzo forte, medium loud; f forte, loud; and ff fortissimo, very loud.
elements of music. Melody, harmony, rhythm, and form and the expressive elements of dynamics, tempo, and timbre (tone color).
embellishments: melodic and rhythmic. Notes added to ornament a melody or rhythmic pattern.
form. The organization and structure of a composition and the interrelationships of musical events within the overall structure.
fugue. A composition in which three or more voices enter one after the other and imitate the main melody in various ways according to a set pattern.
genre. Type or kind of musical work (e.g., opera, jazz, mariachi).
harmonic progression. A succession of individual chords or harmonies that form larger units of phrases, sections, or compositions.
harmony. The simultaneous sounding of two or more tones.
idiophone. A musical instrument, the sound of which is produced by shaking or scraping.
improvisation. Spontaneous creation of music.
interval. The distance in pitch between two tones.
levels of difficulty. The levels of difficulty for the musical content standards are as follows:
- Level 1: very easy; easy keys, meters, and rhythms; limited ranges.
- Level 2: easy; may include changes of tempo, key, and meter; modest ranges.
- Level 3: moderately easy; contains moderate technical demands, expanded ranges, and varied interpretive requirements.
- Level 4: moderately difficult; requires well-developed technical skills, attention to phrasing and interpretation, and ability to perform various meters and rhythms in a variety of keys.
- Level 5: difficult; requires advanced technical and interpretive skills; contains key signatures with numerous sharps or flats, usual meters, complex rhythms, subtle dynamic requirements.
- Level 6: very difficult; suitable for musically mature students of exceptional competence.
major key. Tonally, a key based on a major scale; a scale that contains the following step pattern: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half; or uses the sol-fa tones of do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.
melody. An organized sequence of single notes.
membranophone. An instrument that produces sound through the vibrations of a membrane.
meter. The grouping of beats by which a piece of music is measured.
minor key. Tonally, a key based on a minor scale; a scale that contains the following step pattern: whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole; or uses the sol-fa tones of la, ti, do, re, me, fa, so, la.
mixed meter. A mixture of duple and triple meters.
mode. A type of scale with a specific arrangement of intervals (e.g., Aeolian, Dorian, Ionian, Locrian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Phrygian).
notation. Written music indicating pitch and rhythm for performance.
opera. A drama set to music for voices and orchestra and presented with costumes and sets.
oratorio. A dramatic musical composition usually set to a religious text and performed by solo voices, chorus, and orchestra without action, special costumes, or scenery.
ostinato. A rhythmic or melodic accompaniment figure repeated continuously.
pentatonic scale. A scale having five tones to the octave and containing no half steps: do, re, mi, so, la .
phrase. A musical idea comparable to a sentence or a clause in language.
pitch. The location of a note related to its highness or lowness.
rhythm. The combinations of long and short, even or uneven sounds that convey a sense of movement in time.
rondo form. A musical form in which a section is repeated, with contrasting sections in between, such as ABACA.
scale. The arrangement of notes in a specific order of whole and half steps.
score. The organized notation of all of the instrumental and/ or vocal parts of a composition.
serial music. A type of composition based on a technique involving a twelve-tone scale. See also twelve-tone scale.
solfege. A system of designating verbal syllables for the degrees of the scale.
sonata-allegro form. A musical form that uses the overall design of exposition, development, and recapitulation.
song forms. The organization of sections of a song, represented by letters that depict similar and contrasting sections: AB, ABA, AABA, ABC, verse/ refrain, and so forth.
staff (staves). The horizontal lines on and between which notes are written.
suite. A musical composition consisting of a succession of short pieces.
symphony. A long orchestral work divided into three to five movements.
syncopation. The placement of rhythmic accents on weak beats or weak portions of beats.
tempo. The pace at which music moves according to the speed of the underlying beat.
texture. The character of the different layers of horizontal and vertical sounds.
theme and variation. A compositional form in which a theme is clearly stated and is followed by a number of variations.
timbre. Tone color or quality of sound heard.
tonality (key). The tonal center of a composition.
tone poem. An orchestral composition based on an extramusical idea; a tone picture (e.g., The Pines of Rome, by Ottorino Respighi).
triad. A three-note chord consisting of root, third, and fifth.
triple meter. Beats grouped into a set of three.
twelve-bar blues. A chord pattern often used in blues music based on the I, IV, and V chords and the blues scale in specific order within 12 bars.
twelve-tone scale. A scale constructed of all twelve half steps within an octave and organized in a specific order called a tone row.