- structure and form

- other key words


Structure - Binary

  • AB.
  • Two sections of roughly equal length. Each section is usually repeated.
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Structure - Ternary

  • ABA.
  • Three sections, the first and last being the same.
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Structure - Rondo

  • ABACA...
  • Several sections but one (the A section) keeps returning with other 'episodes' in between.
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Structure - Arch Shape

  • ABCBA.
  • A symmetrical structures so that a plan of the music represents an arch.
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Structure - Theme and Variations

  • A theme is played at the beginning and then repeated a number of times but each time it return it is changed or 'varied'.
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Structure - Song-specific

  • Strophic - the same music is repeated with different words (verse, verse, verse or A, A , A, A).
  • Verse-chorus - a form frequently used in pop music, similar to rondo
  • Through-composed - no repeating sections, constantly changes and develops.
  • Da Capo Aria - an operatic song in ternary form: A, then B then 'da capo' (back to the beginning) A again.
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Structure - Sonata

  • A classical form, with exposition, development, and recapitualtion.
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Structure - Cyclic

  • Cyclic - constand repetition of short patterns. Gamelan music is a good example of this. As the piece continues the patterns are developed through small changes in texture and dynamics in order for the piece to slowly evolve.
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Structure - Minuet and Trio

  • Baroque and classical dance form (in a moderate 3 time) where minuet is binary, trio is binary and then minuet is re-played without repeats (so effectively it is A A B B C C D D A B).
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Structure - Scherzo and Trio

  • Same thing as minuet and trio only faster.
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Structure - 12 bar blues

  • This is a twelve bar pattern in which the chord sequence is: I, I, I , I , IV, IV, I, I, V, IV, I, I.
  • This is used in almost all blues pieces and sometimes pop songs.
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Structure - Call and Response

  • Simple way of bulding up a piece. Leader and echo or reply. African tradition, blues, jazz etc.
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Structural Devices

  • Ground bass - a continously repeating bass line.
  • Continuo - baroque bass line where a bass instrument and chord instruemtn (usually harpsichord) accompany the music.
  • Candenza - a free section for soloists to show off. This section is usually unaccompanied and improvised.
  • Riff - A short repeating pattern in pop music. A good example is the bass line in '7 nation army' by the white stripes, or the guitar riff in 'day tripper' by the beatles.
  • Hook - a short melodic fragment which is very catchy and 'hooks' the audience. A good example is 'she's so lovely' by scouting for girls.
  • Anacrusis - An upbeat. A note or small group of notes which are played before the first beast on the bar. In the song 'skyfall', the words 'let the' happen before the beat and 'sky' of 'skyfall' happens on the first beat of the bar.
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Word Music - Africa

  • Call and response, especially in vocals.
  • Pentatonic.
  • Use of percussion, especially drums.
  • Polyrhythms.
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World music - India

  • Decorated vocal style
  • Sitar, tabla, tampura (drone instrument)
  • Ragas - special indian scales.
  • Pop style called Bhangra.
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World Music - Carribean

  • Bands of steel drums or 'steel pans'
  • Calypso rhythm: 1 - 2 - 3 -1 - 2 -3 - 1 - 2


  • From Jamaicam usually slow tempo, emphasises the offbeat
  • Hevay bass with syncopated patterns, often avoids the first beat of the bar.
  • Bob Marley main artist. Influence on British pop.


  • Fast, again with heavy back beat.
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