AQA GCSE Music vocabulary

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Here is a list of words that you should be aware of for the AQA GCSE music listening exam (definitions are copied from AQA GCSE music textbook)


Also referred to as crush notes: a note of decoration played in as short a time as possible, i.e. crushed in.


(i)       A note of decoration which his written in smaller type but given its full notated value, this value being taken from the following note.

(ii)     An accented but not harmonised note, which resolves by step up or down.

Arch shape, arch form

Music in at least five sections, in the form A B C B A


Literally means “air”, and refers to a lengthy vocal solo (or sometimes duet), which emphasises the technique of the singer, or reflects on the story or plot.


Playing the notes of a chord by spreading them out (usually from the bottom), a feature commonly used by piano, harp and guitar.


Where a melody or series of notes is drawn out by using notes of a longer duration.


A small unit of music; the number of beats in each bar is shown by the time signature.


Style of music composed between about 1600 and 1750.


The use of two different rhythms together.

Binary form

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 of or reference to Section A. Each section is usually repeated.

Blue notes

A note that has been altered / flattened in blues music; most frequently it is the 3rd, 5th or 7th notes of the scale which are flattened.

Broken chord

Normally referring to a type of accompaniment figure derived from spreading the notes of a chord.


A progression of (usually) two chords which end a musical phrase.


A solo vocal or instrumental passage improvising on music previously heard in the movement. Nowadays, most cadenzas are worked out in advance, with many written by the original composer.


A particular type of imitation.


A group of singers in which there are a number of singers to each part. A mixed voice choir contains both male and female singers, usually soprano and alto voices (the high and low categories of women’s voices) and tenor and bass (the high and low categories of men’s voices) – often abbreviated to SATB. Other choirs might have just women’s or just men’s voices.


Two or more notes of different pitch played together.


A movement or section of music performed by a choir.


Melody uses some notes that do not belong to the scale.

Coda / codetta

A rounding-off section.


In audio recording, this is where the dynamic range of the performers is controlled to avoid both distortion where the dynamic level is too high and inaudibility where dynamics are


Conor Tuffs

Very usefull

Hummi C

Thank you! this is really helpful :)

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