1.12 Chapter Summary

In this chapter, we learned a basic definition of music as well as definitions of the basic elements of music. We also explored some basic facts about acoustics, including the nature of sound. We learned how tones comprised of organized sound waves sound to us like definite pitches, while disorganized sound waves are perceived as noise. We briefly touched on the harmonic series and how it influenced the nature of music, including properties of sound such as timbre.

Next, we explored how the development of musical notation made it possible to organize sounds into a wide variety of configurations. There are an infinite number of possible performing forces, but the most common would have to be the human voice followed by a wide variety of instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, keyboards, and electric instruments.

Next we discussed the four main components of music: melody, harmony, rhythm and texture. Melody is defined primarily by its shape, and can be broken up into smaller components called motives. Harmony, which is the vertical aspect of music, can be described in its most basic terms as dissonant or consonant. Harmony is often built in thirds through the use of three-note chords called triads or four-note chords called seventh chords. Whole sequences of chords are known as chord progressions. Compositions are harmonically grounded through the use of key centers, tonic notes, and scales.

Rhythm is the way the music is organized in respect to time. The fundamental unit of time is the beat, which is further broken into groupings called measures. These groupings are determined by the meter of the piece, which is often either duple, triple, or quadruple. The speed at which these beats go by is known as the tempo. Other rhythmic devices such as syncopation and polyrhythm can add further variety to the music. On a larger scale, music is put together in terms of its form. We discussed three common song forms, the blues, AABA and the Verse and Chorus.

Texture refers to the ways in which musical lines of a musical piece interact. Common textures include monophonic texture (one melodic line), homophonic texture (accompanied by chords), and polyphonic texture (simultaneous melodies). We also saw that composition and improvisation are the two major processes used to combine the musical elements we discussed. They may be used independently or they may be combined within a composition. These topics are key concepts to remember while reading the upcoming chapters where they are further expanded upon.

1.13 Glossary

notes that are not normally found in a given key
the study of how sound behaves in physical spaces
Acoustical Engineer
a person who works in the area of acoustic technology
a person who studies the theory and science of acoustics
refers to how high the wave form appears to vibrate above zero when seen on an oscilloscope; louder sounds create higher oscilloscope amplitude readings
see measure
the basic unit of time in music
instruments traditionally made of brass or another metal (and thus often producing a "bright" or "brassy" tone) whose sound is generated by blowing into a mouthpiece that is attached to a coiled tube
the simultaneous sounding of three or more pitches; like intervals, chords can be consonant or dissonant
Chord Progression
a series of chords
musical pitches which move up or down by successive half-steps
the process whereby a musician notates musical ideas using a system of symbols or using some other form of recording
a melody that moves mostly by step, in a smooth manner
(adjective) term used to describe intervals and chords that tend to sound sweet and pleasing to our ears; consonance (noun), as opposed to dissonance, is stable and needs no resolution.
Cycles per Second (cps)
a definition of frequency of vibration; replaced by Hertz in 1960
a melody with wide leaps and rapid changes in direction
(adjective) intervals and chords that tend to sound harsh to our ears; dissonance (noun) is often used to create tension and instability, and the interplay between dissonance and consonance provides a sense of harmonic and melodic motion in music
the variation in the volume of musical sound (the amplitude of the sound waves)
Equalization (EQ)
the process of raising or lowering different frequencies of sound, either in a recording, or within a tone (overtones)
the structure of the phrases and sections within a musical composition (Does it repeat?)
how quickly or slowly a medium (solid, liquid, gas) vibrates and produces a sound
Fundamental Pitch
the lowest pitch in the harmonic series
Guido of Arezzo
a medieval music theorist who developed a system of lines and spaces that enabled musicians to notate the specific notes in a melody
any simultaneous combination of tones and the rules governing those combinations (the way a melody is accompanied is also another way to define harmony)
Hertz (Hz)
the unit of frequency defined as one cycle per second and named after Heinrich Hertz (1957–1894) in 1960
musical texture comprised of one melodic line accompanied by chords
the process whereby musicians create music spontaneously using the elements of music as building blocks
the instruments comprising a musical group (including the human voice)
the distance in pitch between any two notes
the set of pitches on which a composition is based
instruments that are characterized by keyboards, such as the piano, organ, vibraphone, and accordion
a unit of time that contains a specific number of beats defined by the meter/time signature
a succession of single tones in musical compositions
the way in which the beats are grouped together in a piece
musical texture comprised of one melodic line; a melodic line may be sung by one person or 100 people
the smallest musical unit of a melody, generally a single rhythm of two or three pitches
sound and silence organized in time
a disorganized sound with no observable pitch
the distance between two musical pitches where the higher pitch vibrates exactly twice as many times per second as the lower
an electronic device that displays a visual representation of the different types of sound waves
Overtones (also known as harmonics)
a musical tone heard above a fundamental pitch
the sounds of different frequency that naturally occur above a fundamental (primary) tone
instruments that are typically hit or struck by the hand, with sticks, or with hammers or that are shaken or rubbed by hand
Performing Forces
see instrumentation
smaller sub-sections of a melody
a tone that is composed of an organized sound wave
musical texture that simultaneously features two or more relatively independent and important melodic lines
two or more different rhythms played at the same time
the number of pitches, expressed as an intervallic distance
the low, medium, and high sections of an instrument or vocal range
the way the music is organized in respect to time
a series of pitches, ordered by the interval between its notes
a repetition of a motive or phrase at a different pitch level
Seventh Chord
a chord that has four pitches stacked in intervals of thirds
Sine Wave
the simplest sound wave that occurs in nature. A pure sine wave contains no partials and is perfectly smooth and rounded in appearance on an oscilloscope.
the mechanical movement of an audible pressure wave through a solid, liquid, or gas
Sound Waves
longitudinal waves (compression and rarefaction waves) that travel through a solid, liquid, or gas
the distance between adjacent notes in a musical scale
instruments whose sound is produced by setting strings in motion
the act of shifting the normal accent, usually by stressing the normally unaccented weak beats or placing the accent between the beats themselves
electronic instruments (often in keyboard form) that create sounds using basic wave forms in different combinations
the speed at which the beat is played
the ways in which musical lines of a musical piece interact
the tone color or tone quality of a sound
Time signature
the numeric notation at the beginning of a line of music where the top number indicates how many beats are in each measure and the bottom number indicates which type of note will represent that beat
the most important pitch of a key; the note from which the other pitches are derived
a chord that has three pitches stacked in intervals of thirds
Twelve-Bar Blues
a twelve-bar musical form commonly found in American music
having to do with the human voice
instruments traditionally made of wood whose sound is generated by forcing air through a tube, thus creating a vibrating air column