AS Music Vocabulary (AQA 2010 Specification)

This list of vocabulary words is taken from the AQA 2010 Specification for AS Music. Short and concise definitions have been added alongside, but it is highly unlikely you will be asked to provide their definitions, you just need to be aware of what they are, and more importantly, how to recognise them.

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  • Created on: 13-04-10 15:57
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AS Music Vocabulary (AQA 2010 Specification)
Binary Two part (A-B) structure; each is usually repeated.
Ternary Three part structure; A (theme), B (contrast), A (theme).
Fugue Theme is introduced by one voice, and is imitated by other voices
in succession.
Passacaglia Based on a four-bar ostinato, over which variations are written in
the other voices ("continuous variation form").
Ritornello Short, recurring instrumental passage in Baroque arias and
concerti, particularly in tutti sections.
Rondo First section recurs after the second section is performed
(A-B-A). They can have more sections, e.g. A-B-A-C-A.
Arch-Form Sectional structure based on repetition, in reverse order, of all
(or most) musical sections such that the overall form is symmetric,
usually around a central movement.
Variations Deviation from a theme that uses the same bass pattern / harmonic
progression as the theme.
Minuet and Trio A-B-A form (A = minuet and B = trio) in a moderate triple metre,
often the third movement of the sonata cycle.
Sonata Exposition (theme), development (material developed) and
recapitulation (theme repeated) usually followed by short closing
Sonata-Rondo Form of composition displaying characteristics of both rondo and
sonata forms.
Scherzo and Trio Standard movement type introduced as a replacement for the
`minuet and trio' in the sonata cycle.
Da Capo Aria Lyrical song in ternary (A-B-A) form commonly found in operas,
cantatas and oratorios.
Strophic Song structure in which every verse ("strophe") of the text is sung
to the same musical tune.
Through-Composed Song composed from beginning to end without repetition of any
major sections. Each verse has its own, unique melody.
Cyclic Made up of individual, complete movements placed in contrast to
each other, e.g. sonata, symphony, suite etc.
Diatonic Chords from within the key.
Chromatic Chords using notes outside the diatonic scale.
Functional Harmonic progression required to advance through the music
(such as the use of cadences).
Nonfunctional Chords simply used for colour and effect, i.e. not necessary for
the progression of the piece.
Harmonic Rhythm Rate at which the chords change.
Consonant Harmony that sounds sweet and pleasant.
Dissonant Two or more notes sounded together which are discordant, and
feel as thought they should resolve to a consonance.
AQA AS Music Vocabulary 2010 · Page 1 of 5

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Essential / Unessential Notes Notes belonging to the chord in question are essential notes, as
opposed to a passing note, suspension, appoggiatura, etc. which
are all unessential notes.
Passing Notes Non-harmonic note that appears between two notes in stepwise
Auxiliary Notes Ornamentation such as a grace note, which is an unaccented,
non-harmonic note immediately above or below a principal (or
harmonic) note.…read more

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Double-Stopping Two notes played simultaneously on a violin (etc.) using two
separate strings. Applicable not only if both strings are stopped
by the finger, but also if one (or both) strings are open.
Conjunct Smooth, connected melody that moves in stepwise motion.
Disjunct Melodic line that moves by leaps rather than in steps.
Triadic Melody moving in thirds as to form the intervals of a triad.
Blue Notes Diatonic major scale incorporating a flattened 3rd, 7th and
sometimes 5th.…read more

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Isorhythm Construction based on a repeating rhythmic pattern in one or more
of the voices.
Polyrhythm Use of several patterns (or metres) simultaneously.
Augmentation Extending the rhythmic phrase in proportion to the original.
Diminution Contracting a rhythmic phrase in proportion to the original.
Hemiola When the articulation of two measures of triple metre feels like
three measures of duple metre.
Cross-Rhythm Regular shift of some beats in a rhythmic pattern to points ahead
of / behind their `normal' positions.…read more

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Modulation Process of changing from one key to another.
Composer, Performer and
Intention Purpose and attitude of the performance.
Interpretation Artistic communication by the performer of the music to the
audience; how emotions are portrayed.
Improvisation Spontaneous performance of music without previous preparation
(or any written notes).
Occasion, Time and Place
Sacred Compositions with religious themes that are meant to be
performed for church services / religious activities.
Secular Music that does not have any connection with religion.…read more


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