Music 2115

Study Guide for Introductory Unit

Introduction to Sound, Music, Musical Forms

2115 Homepage | Calendar | Chapters | Recordings | Reviews | Syllabus | Instructor


1. Sound
4. Harmony
7. Musical Form
2. Rhythm
5. Tonality
8. Musical Style Periods
3. Melody
6. Musical Texture
9. Performing Ensembles

1. Sound

A. Sound may be pitched (a tone) or unpitched (a noise)
1. Either pitches or unpitched sounds may sound higher or lower than others (frequency)

2. The distance between any 2 pitches is called an interval & is measured in half-steps

3. Pitches are named for the 1st 7 letters of the alphabet (A-G)

4. Pitches may be altered --made lower (flat) or higher (sharp) but keep the same letter name

5. Pitch is indicated by its vertical location on a musical staff (labeled with a clef)

6. The absence of sound (a rest) is also an important element of music

B. Sound has duration (longer or shorter)

1. Duration is indicated by note shape (but also depends on the tempo)

2. Ties change the duration of a note by combining more than one note into a single sound

3. Dots change the duration of a note by adding half its value

4. A rest (the absence of sound) also has a duration indicated by the shape of the rest

C. Sound has dynamics (loudness or softness; plus change in loudness or softness)

D. Sound has tone color (or timbre) based on the overtone series of the sound

2. Rhythm

A. Beat is a regular, recurring pulsation (like a heartbeat) that may be strong or weak

B. Tempo (the speed of the beat) is the basic pace of the music

C. Meter is the organization of the beat into regular groupings

1. May be duple, triple, or mixed (irregular)

2. Implies a regular pattern of stresses that divide the music into measures or bars, separated by barlines

3. In music since about 1680 the first beat in each bar gets the most stress, the last beat gets the least stress, and the beats in between get varying degrees of stress, giving shape to each individual measure

D. Accent and syncopation

1. Accent is a temporary increase in loudness that stresses an individual note

2. Syncopation is a strong accent on what would ordinarily be a weak beat in the measure

3. Melody

A. Melody is a series of pitches that sound one after another

B. Melody represents the horizontal or linear aspect of music and is represented by notes read from left to right on a staff of several lines

C. Melody creates a pattern in 2 dimensions

1. Up and down in patterns of high and low pitches (moving by step or by leap or both)

2. Forward through time in patterns of different durations

D. Melodies are organized into shorter sections that can be combined into longer sections

1. A motive is a few notes that form a distinctive pattern (like a few letters forming a word)

2. A phrase is 2 or more motives (like a few words forming a sentence)

3. A theme is 2 or more phrases (like a few sentences forming a paragraph)

4. Harmony

A. Harmony is created by the sounding of 2 or more pitches at the same time
1. The smallest harmonic unit is 2 pitches, called an interval

2. Three (or more) pitches form a chord

B. Harmony represents the vertical aspect of music

C. Harmony creates the qualities of consonance and dissonance

1. Dissonance creates an acoustical tension and a need for musical movement away from tension and toward less tension

2. Consonance releases acoustical tension and represents less need for movement

3. A cadence is a point of consonance where the musical movement comes to rest

4. What is considered consonant or dissonant has changed over the centuries

D. A harmonic progression is a specific sequence of chords

E. The speed of harmonic movement may be rapid or may be slow

5. Tonality

A. Most melodies imply a tonal center--a single note which is called the tonic
1. The tonic is often the end point or resting point of the melody

2. The tonic is the one pitch to which all the other pitches in the melody relate

B. Most harmonic progressions also imply a harmonic tonal center, called the tonic chord

C. The key or mode of a piece depends on the arrangement of half steps and whole steps around the tonic

1. A key or mode may be major, if the note a third above the tonic is higth, or minor, if that note is low

2. Different modes have different emotional effects, but this is a learned response that has changed over the centuries

3. A key or mode is often represented as a scale, but is actually the set of pitches in that scale without regard to their order

D. Modulation is a shift from one tonal center to another, either temporarily or permanently

6. Musical Texture

A. Monophonic music ("single sound") is a single, unaccompanied melody (chant or unaccompanied folk song)

B. Heterophonic music ("different sound") is a single melody played simultaneously in different ways (your typical Irish band)

C. Polyphonic music ("many sounds") is 2 or more relatively equal melodies sounding at the same time

1. In imitative polyphony (like a round) the melodies imitate each other

2. Counterpoint is the technique of combining melodies into polyphony

D. Homophonic music ("same sound") is defined in two different ways

1. Homorhythmic music has 2 or more parts which move together in the same rhythms (like a church hymn)

2. Accompanied melody has a single melody with a separate, non-melodic accompaniment

7. Musical Form

A. The organization of music is based on similarity and difference (unity and variety)
1. Repetition provides unity

2. Contrast provides variety

3. Variation combines repetition with variety

B. Binary form consists of two contrasting musical sections (labeled A and B)

C. Ternary form consists of three musical sections, one of which may be a repetition

1. ABA (statement, contrast, return)

2. AAB (statement, repetition, contrast; typical of the blues)

3. ABB (statement, contrast, emphasis)

4. ABC (less common; C is often a refrain)

D. Both binary and ternary form may be expanded to create larger musical forms, playing repetiton off against contrast

1. ABACA (rondo form)

2. ABACABA (expanded rondo form)

3. AABA (Tin Pan Alley popular song form)

E. Theme and variations form (A A' A" ... An

8. Musical Style and Syle Periods

A. Determined by the use of musical elements in a recognizable and predictable way
1. Two composers may have similar or different styles

2. Style may define a type of music (classical, country, jazz, rock, etc.)

3. Style may define a period of music (Medieval, Classical, 50s, etc.)

4. Style may define a national or geographical music (English, Italian, etc.)

B. Western art music--the music of the upper classes in Europe and later in the Americas--can be divided into time periods according to changes in style

1. Medieval (c. 600-1430)

2. Renaissance (c. 1430-1600)

3. Baroque (c. 1600-1750)

4. Classical (c. 1750-1820)

5. Romantic (c. 1820-1918)

6. Early 20th century (c. 1918-1945)

7. Late 20th century (c. 1945-present)

C. Each style period follows a similar cycle of development

1. Starts with a return to melody and to simplicity in reaction to existing complexity

2. Grows as composers explore the possibilities inherent in the new style

3. Reaches an artistic high point that exploits all those possibilities

4. Declines as compositions become more complex and out of touch with the listener

9. Performing ensembles used for early music

A. Can be all vocal, all instrumental, or combine or mix voices and instruments
1. Early instrument were right for the sound and music of their time

2. For centuries women were not allowed to sing in church

B. Can be large or small in terms of the number of separate musical parts

1. 2 or 3 parts typical in Medieval music; occasionally 4

2. 3, 4, or 5 parts typical in Renaissance music; occasionally 6 or more

C. Can be large or small in terms of the number of performers involved

1. One on a part was standard for most indoor music, except sometimes in church

2. Ensembles with more than 2 on a part were rare and infrequently heard

3. All early ensembles were smaller--often much smaller--than modern ensembles

2115 Homepage | Calendar | Chapters | Recordings | Reviews | Syllabus | Instructor