Melody (the tune) Pitch –how high or low the note is.
Interval –the gap in pitch between two notes.
Scale – a group of notes played in ascending or descending order.
Arpeggio - playing the notes of a chord one by one
Conjunct melodies move mainlyby step (next door notes like C-D) and sound smooth.
Disjunct melodies use a lot of leaps (bigger intervals) rather than step movement. They will sound spiky and are much harder to sing!
Triadic melodies that use the notes from a triad (3 note chord). E.g. a melody using C’s, E’s and G’s would be triadic as those are notes from the chord of C.
Scalic melodies are melodies that follow the order of a particular scale. Similar to conjunct melodies except that a scalic melody can only move up or down to the next note of the scale, whereas a conjunct melody can have a few little jumps.
Pentatonic scale -a five note scale. Often used in Chinese, African & Celtic Folk melodies.
Whole tone scale – a scale made up of only whole tones. (Sounds quite mysterious)
Chromatic scale scale made up of semitones (smallest interval e.g. C-C#).
Augmentation– doubling the note values/lengths of the original tune
Diminution– halving the note values/lengths of the original tune
Modes – came before scales. E.g. play D-D on the white notes-this is the Dorian mode. Often used in early music, folk and jazz.
Passing notes are the notes in between the notes of the harmony. So if the accompanying chord was C, the notes not in the chord (D, F, A, B) would be the passing notes. You need passing notes to make a melody sound smooth otherwise it would just be a triadic melody.
Blue notes the flattened notes in a Blues Scale. Often slide up or down to these notes. They make a piece sound ‘bluesy’!
Sequence when a tune is repeated a step higher (ascending sequence) or a step lower (descending sequence).
Glissando/Portamento – a slide between 2 notes. (instruments like piano or harp would play all the notes in between the 2 notes really fast by sliding the fingers over the notes really quickly.)
Pitch bend – bending the note on a guitar or any string instrument/voice or keyboard/synthesizer.
Ornamentation –decorating the melody with ornaments such as trills(2 adjacent notes played rapidly).
Mordents - (upper and lower) – 3 notes starting and ending on the same note with the middle note either a step higher or lower.
Ostinato / Riff - a repeated rhythm or tune. (Both words mean the same, but riff tends to be used in a pop context.)
Phrase – a musical sentence (where you’d naturally take a breath). Often 2, 4 or 8 bars long. Indicated by a curved line above the stave.
Articulation – how to play the notes: Staccato short, detached notes. Legato -smooth. Indicated by a slur Accent notes played with more force.
Improvisation –when a player makes the music up on the spot. In jazz/blues/pop players will often improvise a solo – commonly on a guitar/sax/trumpet/keyboard.
Texture (how the different parts of the piece are woven together)
Monophonic – one single melody line. No harmonies, but it may be played/sung by more than one instrument/voice.
Unison When everyone sings/plays one part together e.g. when we all sing Happy Birthday we are singing in unison (therefore, unison is monophonic).
Octaves - If the instruments/voices are an octave apart this is called being in OCTAVES. To be in unison the notes must be at the same pitch.
Homophonic(or harmonic) – a texture where all parts (melody and accompaniment) move in the same (more or less) rhythm creating a chordal effect. The accompaniment is supporting a clear melody.
Broken Chords – Playing the notes of the chord separately, one after the other. Broken Chords provide a more flowing accompaniment than when they are played as block chords.
Polyphonic / Contrapuntal –A texture where 2 or more equally important melodies interweave (weave in and out of each other).
Imitation – a phrase is repeated (imitated – so not necessarily exactly the same!). Could be one instrument/voice imitating itself, or 2 or more imitating each other.
Canon is a particular type of imitation. It’s like a round (‘London’s Burning’), where the imitating part repeats the entire melody and not just a few notes of it.
Antiphonal stereo effect as a musical phrase is passed from one group of performers to another. E.g. like two choirs singing alternate phrases standing in different places in a church. A lot of early religious vocal music was antiphonal.