Areas of Study

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Areas of Study
AoS 1: Rhythm and metre
Pulse- The beat of the music.
Simple time- Time signatures where the beat is divided into two: typically, a crotchet beat divided into two quavers.
Compound time- Time signatures based on a dotted crotchet beat, divided into three quavers, for example 6/8.
Irregular/Free time- Music where the time signature changes (usually a lot), or where the accents frequently shift/
Where the rhythm of the music is not set by regular bar lines but determined by the performer in response to the flow
of the music.
Augmentation- The doubling of note values/ the widening of an interval.
It is where a melody or series of notes is repeated using notes of a longer duration. For example a melody with an
original rhythm of:
might be played:
Diminution- Shortening the note values of a melody, usually by halving them/ reducing the intervals within a melody
(e.g. from movement by tone to movement by semitone).
Triplets- Three notes that take up the time of two.
Hemiola- Where two bars of 3/4 are played as three bars of 2/4 or one bar of 3/2.
A hemiola rhythm has a `three against two' metrical feel. For example, in this 3/4 rhythm there is a hemiola in the
last two bars, giving the impression of three minim beats in two bars of 3/4 time.
Cross-rhythm- A cross rhythm is occurs when two different rhythms are played together at the same time. Usually
the rhythms contrast in some way, for instance a rhythm with a triple metre feel against a rhythm with a duple or
quadruple metre feel.
Rubato- From the Italian for `robbed': where the player uses a certain amount of freedom with the tempo to add
expression to the music.
Polyrhythm- Where several different rhythms are played or sung together.
Drum fills- Usually heard at the end of a phrase, this is where the drummer plays a free rhythmic pattern to fill in the
bars indicated.
AoS 2: Harmony and tonality
Diatonic- Music written using the major or minor keys; a major of minor scale, or the notes from such a scale. For
example, if a piece of music is in the key of C major, it will mainly use the notes of the C major scale:
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Chromatic- Music written using both the black and white notes of the piano; a scale which moves always by semitone;
the alteration by a semitone of the notes of a diatonic scale.
Consonant- Sounds which fit well together (though the range of these chords or combinations of sound is not fixed).
Dissonant- Sounds which clash when played together.
Pedal & drone- A sustained note while the harmonies change/ Sustained note, or notes at a fixed pitch (as on the
bagpipes).…read more

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Key signatures- Sharp(s) or flat(s) placed at the beginning of the music and at the beginning of each subsequent line,
to indicate the scale used and, therefore, the key of the music.
Modulation- Moving from one key to another.
AoS 3: Texture and melody
Homophonic- A type of music texture where different parts sing and/or play different notes but move together in the
same rhythm.…read more

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Arpeggio- Playing the notes of a chord by spreading them out (usually from the bottom), a feature commonly used by
piano, harp and guitar.
Passing note- A melodic note placed between two harmony notes which results in stepwise movement:
Acciaccatura- Also referred to as crush notes: a note of decoration played in as short a time as possible, i.e.…read more

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Inversion- Turning a melody `upside down' but keeping its intervals:
Glissando- Sliding from one note to another.
Portamento- A smooth, gliding transition from one note to another.
Ostinato- A repeated musical phrase or rhythm.
Riff- A jazz ostinato.
Pitch bend- Technique associated with guitar playing: the player frets a string and then pushes it sideways to raise
the pitch.
A0S 4: Timbre and dynamics
Pizzicato- Plucking the strings instead of using a bow.
Arco- Using a bow to produce a note on a stringed instrument.…read more

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Chorus- When a recorded voice or instrument is multiplied electronically, producing the effect of one voice or
instrument sounding like many.
Crescendo- Getting gradually louder.
Diminuendo- Getting gradually quieter.
Sforzando- An accent, a note to be emphasised.
A0S 5: Structure and form
Binary- Music in two sections, each of which is similar in style; the first section (A) may modulate (e.g. to the dominant);
the second section (B) will return to the tonic. Section B might include a repeat or reference to section A.…read more

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Minuet and trio- A dance style written in 3/4 time. The two sections are both in binary form, with the trio forming a
contrast in style and/or orchestration with the minuet. Normally the minuet is played repeating each section, then
the trio is played in the same way, and finally the minuet is played again without repeats.
Ground bass- Music where a bass pattern (or melody in the bass) is repeated a number of times while the parts above
alter.…read more

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Imperfect cadence- This is made up of any chord- but typically chord I, II or IV-followed by the dominant chord (V). This
has the opposite effect to a perfect or plagal cadence as it acts as a musical comma: the music must move on after it.
Interrupted cadence- This starts with chord V, but, instead of being followed by the expected tonic chord (I), it goes to
the submediant chord (VI).…read more

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Key signatures in major and minor keys
Because a major scale must have semitones between the 3rd and 4th, and 7th and 8th notes of the scale, C major is the
only major scale which can be played only using the white notes of a keyboard. If we start a major scale on any other
note we will have to use the black notes-sharps and flats- to make the semitones occur in the right place.…read more


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