Gouvernement du Manitoba

Arts Education


Glossary (Kindergarten to Grade 8)

The following terms are provided for clarification and understanding of selected terminology used in Manitoba's Kindergarten to Grade 8 music curriculum and resources. These terms are not intended to be exhaustive. Educators are encouraged to consult the recommended music resources for additional and alternative terminology.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J| K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

12-bar blues: An african-american song form characterized by a 12-bar structure in 4/4, use of blues notes, three-line verses, and I–IV–V harmonic progression (I–I–I–I; IV–IV–I–I; V–IV–I–I).

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ABA form: A sequential compositional form with three distinct parts in which a music theme (a) is followed by a contrasting but related music theme (B) and ends with a repeat of the initial music theme (a). AB form a sequential compositional form with two distinct parts in which a music theme (A) is followed by a contrasting but related music theme (B).

accelerando: A gradual increase in tempo, resulting in getting faster.

accent: A note performed with emphasis or stress.

allegro: A lively and quick tempo.

andante: A moderate tempo or walking pace.

articulation: A performance technique affecting the musical line by the way notes are attacked and spaces are formed between notes. The two basic articulations are legato and staccato.

ascending contour: The shape of a melody established by its upward movement.

a tempo: A return to the original tempo.

aural music system: A rote process for learning music by listening and reproducing, often described as learning by ear.

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balance: Maintaining proper emphasis between parts of an ensemble.

beat: The underlying pulse of music.

blend: Merging and unifying parts within an ensemble.

body percussion: Use of the body to make sounds (e.g., snap, clap, patsch, stamp).

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call and response: A sequential compositional form in which a lead musician calls orperforms a music phrase, while another musician or group responds by imitating the same phrase or performing a related one.

canon: An overlapping compositional form in which two or more musiciansor groups imitate a melody after a given interval (e.g., four beats).

chaconne: A compositional form of Baroque origin consisting of variations built upon a short, repeated harmonic progression.

coda: The concluding part of a music composition.

complementary rhythms: Interlocking layered rhythms that are related but contrasting (e.g., long sound durations in one part against short sound durations in another).

crescendo: a gradual increase in dynamics, or getting louder.

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da capo (DC): A direction to perform again from the beginning.

dal segno (DS): A direction to perform again from a sign indicated in a score.

decrescendo (diminuendo): A gradual decrease in dynamics, or getting quieter.

descending contour: The shape of a melody established by its downward movement.

diction: Clear articulation of words in speaking and singing through effective pronunciation of vowels and consonants.

dynamics: The overall volume (loudness or quietness) of music.

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first and second endings: Repeated sections of a music composition with two different endings indicated by brackets and numbers in a score.

forms: Designs or structures for organizing music.

forte (f): Loud dynamics.

fortissimo (ff): Very loud dynamics.

fugue: An overlapping form in which a music theme is introduced and then extended and developed by other parts after a given interval; like a canon, but uses a more complex mix of counter-melodies.

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genres: Broad categories of musical forms (e.g., popular, art, folk).

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harmonic progressions: A series of chords.

harmony: a vertical element of music created by two or more pitches sounding simultaneously.

homophonic music: Texture created by a melody with a chordal accompaniment; two or more parts moving together rhythmically in a chordal style.

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improvise: Making music "in the moment" with intent to explore.

interlude: A short section or bridge between two main sections of a music composition.

intonation: Singing or playing in tune by producing accurate pitches.

introduction: The opening part of a music composition.

invented music notation: Non-standard sound-symbol representations

irregular metre: Combinations of duple and triple metres resulting in metrical patterns such as 5/4 (3 + 2/4) or 7/8 (4 + 3/8).

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largo: A very slow tempo.

legato: A smooth, connected style of articulation.

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melodic contour: The shape of a melody established by its upward, downward, or horizontal movement.

melody: A horizontal element of music created by a sequence of pitches resulting in a tune.

metre: A regular pattern of accented (stronger) and unaccented (weaker) beats.

metric accents: Beats felt and heard in a metrical context that have a stronger accent than others.

mezzo-forte (mf): Moderately loud dynamics.

mezzo-piano (mp): Moderately soft dynamics.

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non-pitched instruments: Percussion instruments producing one or more indefinite pitches used to perform rhythms.

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ostinato: A short, repeated musical phrase or pattern often used as an accompaniment.

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partner songs: Two or more different songs sharing the same chord structure that can be sung simultaneously to produce harmony.

pentatonic scale: A simple five-tone scale.

phrase: A music sentence or a series of sounds that connect and have a clear beginning and end.

pianissimo (pp): Very soft dynamics.

piano (p): Soft dynamics.

pitch: The highness or lowness of a tone determined by its frequency.

pitched instruments: Instruments producing more than one definite pitch used to perform melodies and/or harmonies.

polyphonic music: Texture created by two or more independent melodies performed simultaneously.

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release: The manipulation of one or more music elements to create a sense of relaxation, resolution, or stability after building tension in music.

rhythm: The time element of music consisting of a sequence of sound and/or silence durations.

ritardando: A gradual decrease in tempo, or getting slower.

rondo form (ABACA . . .): A sequential compositional form with several distinct parts in which a music theme (A) is alternated with contrasting music themes (B, C, D . . .) and ends with a repeat of the initial music theme (A).

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serendipitous discoveries: Imaginative, productive insights that happen by chance and contribute to resolving creative problems.

slur: A curved line above or below notes in a score that are to be performed legato.

staccato: A detached, disconnected style of articulation.

standard music notation: Written symbols for representing sounds widely used and understood by musicians (e.g., staff lines, notes, rests, time and key signatures).

style: Characteristic use of music elements producing distinctive ways of making music identified with particular performers, composers, cultures, or historical periods.

syncopation: The rhythmic effect produced by unexpectedly shifting accents from strong to weak beats.

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tempo: The overall pace or speed of music.

tension: The manipulation of one or more music elements to create points of intensity, suspense, or instability in music.

texture: The fabric of music created by layering and interrelating rhythms, melodies, harmonies, and/or timbres.

theme and variations (A1A2A3A4 . . .): A sequential compositional form with several distinct parts in which a music theme (A) is repeated in modified forms (e.g., altering the style, tempo, rhythm, scale).

timbre: The tone colour or distinctive quality of a sound source.

traditions: Music of a culture passed, over time, from one generation to another.

transition: A compositional feature that contributes to the continuity of music by ensuring smooth connections between its parts.

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verse-chorus: A song in which the main section (verse) is followed by a refrain (chorus); the chorus is repeated after every verse.

verse-chorus-bridge: An extension of the verse-chorus form that incorporates one or more interludes.

visual music systems: Systems using graphic, pictorial symbols or gestures, such as shapes, colours, and/or icons, to represent sounds.

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written music systems: Systems using written symbols, such as those used in standard notation, to represent sounds.

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