This glossary is divided into two parts. The alphabetical part covers the basics of classical music. The appendix covers the more arduous aspects of classical music. Some entry words appear in both.
Meaning that a chorus or song is to be performed without accompaniment of instruments.
Music that is only music; an art form in itself, separated from the outer world, being non-representational. The opposite is program music.
1) English song, sometimes spelled 'ayre', often with lute accompaniment, from the late Renaissance and early Baroque.
2) Instrumental piece or song with light character from the Baroque and Classical periods.
1) The two lower female voices - mezzo-soprano and contralto - as grouped together in choral music. See also soprano.
2) Description of an instrument with the same range, the second highest register.
Short choral piece, usually with biblical references in the text. A so called full anthem is for full choir without soloists, while a verse anthem has solo singers.
A responsory by a choir or congregation, in the form of a Gregorian chant, a motet or such, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work.
Any call-and-response style of singing: music that is performed by two semi-independent choirs in interaction, often singing alternate musical phrases.
Apotheosis in music refers to the appearance of a theme in grand or exalted form, especially where the theme is connected in some way with historical persons or dramatic characters.
1) Solo song that is the central moment in operas, cantatas, passions and oratorios.
2) Instrumental piece that's singable.
An arietta is a short aria.
Similar to an aria, but between the aria and a recitative in idiom. Wagner's operas are full of this.
Term meaning old art/technique, precursor to ars nova and referring to Medieval music between approximately 1170 and 1310, covering the period of the Notre Dame School plus the subsequent years which saw the early development of the motet.
Term meaning new art/technique, successor to ars antiqua and usually referring to the groundbreaking music of Machaut, with greater complexity and more varied rhythm than any before. It usually refers to the years between 1310 and 1375. See also Trecento.
Music lacking identifiable tonality (key) and tonal center, such as twelve-tone music.
Latin prayer to the Virgin Mary used as basis in musical settings during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, notably by Caccini. But also later, by Schubert and Gounod.
A morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening).
During the middle Baroque a one-act oratorio or sacred opera as cultivated by the Habsburg court in Vienna. In the late Baroque it became synonymous with 'oratorio' in general.
Synonymous with azione sacra, with specific reference to the passion and crucifixion of Christ.
As the name suggest, a short and musically light piece.
Piece of music of light and pleasing character.
Narrative poem adapted for singing. Also a folk-song popular in Victorian England. Not to be confused with the more common and much more popular ballade.
An Italian poetic and musical form in use from the late 13th to the 15th century. Similar to the French virelai (but not to the ballade as the name suggests). One of the most prominent secular musical forms during the trecento.
1) Medieval secular chanson based on French poetry. See also formes fixes.
2) Instrumental piece, usually with a lyrical and heroic quality. Notable composers are Chopin and Liszt.
Formalized performance dance that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts. It later developed into Classical ballet, a poised concert dance. There's also Neoclassical and Contemporary ballet.
Song or instrumental piece characterized by a lilting rhythm. Notable composers are Chopin, Offenbach and Mendelssohn.
1) Male voice with a range between the higher tenor and the lower bass.
2) Description of an instrument with approximately the same range.
Description of light, easy listening style galante music from the joint of the late Baroque and early Classical periods. Composers of barococo include Torelli, Geminiani and Boccherini.
Period of musical history stretching from about 1600 to about 1750, the start of classical music proper, establishing most of its genres.
A popular verse form used by frottola composers in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. The barzelletta tends to be lively and dance-like, with heavy accents on cadences.
1) The lowest male voice.
2) Description of an instrument with approximately the same range.
3) For instrumental music, the bottom part of a piece.
Male singer with a range covering both the baritone and bass register.
Harmonic accompaniment appended to the bass line of the music. Used during the Baroque and usually played on a keyboard instrument plus a bass instrument such as cello, viola da gamba or bassoon. The keyboard often improvise on the music's melody/theme. Shortened 'continuo'.
Style of singing with tonal beauty, clarity and pure line, common in early Romantic Italian opera.
Instrumental piece signifying a lullaby, not seldom in lilting triple time. Notable composers are Chopin and Liszt.
Family of instruments. Basic instruments here are trumpet, trombone, tuba and French horn. There are instruments regarded as brass although not made of brass metal, due to how they are played, how the sound is made: the alphorn, serpent and cornett. And vice versa: the saxophone is a woodwind instrument.
1) A comic intermezzo between the acts of an opera seria.
2) Scherzo-like instrumental music.
Fast end section of an aria, especially in Italian opera and usually brilliant and showy.
Elaborate and decorative solo passage, played or sung and often virtuosic. In concertos it often leads to a closing of a movement, not seldom moving towards and including a cadence, with which it should not be confused. Often improvised in the Classical period, later usually written down.
A group of musicians and aristocrat dilettantes in Florence that played a central role in the invention of opera, at the joint of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.
Music piece in which a part is followed by other parts at fixed intervals, singing or playing the same melody in succession thus overlapping each other. A well known example is Pachelbel's Canon in D.
The first half of a double aria, with a cabaletta as the second half.
1) Music piece intended to be sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is intended to be played on instruments.
2) A choral/vocal work, sacred or secular, with recitative and arias, duets and choruses and instrumental accompaniment, progressing in an operalike maner. It resembles the oratorio but is shorter in length.
A hymn or other song of praise taken from biblical texts other than the Psalms.
Traditional music piece, not seldom a secular and popular song, serving as basic theme in some contrapuntal and polyphonic compositions, usually in masses. An early example, and possibly the most used, is L'homme armé, the armed man.
Instrumental composition in several sections or tempi from the late Renaissance and early Baroque, similar to the ricercar and fantasia but livelier. Influenced the fugue and was somewhat an ancestor to the sonata. Notable composers include Gabrieli and Frescobaldi. Sometimes called canzone.
A lyrical song or songlike/singable instrumental piece from the Classical and Romantic periods. Also used to describe a type of lyric which resembles a madrigal.
Light secular, Italian song derived from the villanella and following the pattern of the poetic form with the same name. Very popular in the Renaissance. Resembles the more serious madrigal.
1) During the Baroque, usually a composition based on a fugue.
2) During the Romantic period a short and lively piece in free style, the most famous example being Paganini's Caprices for solo violin.
Festive song from the Renaissance, generally religious and with a dance-like or popular character.
Male singer castrated before puberty, thus preserving his alto voice or giving him a male soprano or mezzo-soprano voice. Very popular in Italian opera in the Baroque and Classical periods.
Short song of simple character, a simple and melodious air, as distinguished from brilliant arias or recitatives.
Slow instrumental or vocal piece based on an ancient dance, with variations over a short repeated bass pattern. Related to the passacaglia. Notable composers are Purcell, Bach and Handel.
Music composed for and played by a small group of musicians, usually in smaller rooms rather than auditoriums. The compositions are usually written so there's one part to each instrument.
Medium sized group of musicians, usually between twelve and twenty-one, but settings with up to fifty players are also known. See also ensemble, string orchestra and orchestra.
See sonata da camera under sonata.
Music of the Contemporary period with unpredictable and changeable elements, not seldom in the form of controlled improvisation. Also called aleatoric and indeterminate music. Notable composers include Cage, Stockhausen, and Lutoslawski.
French secular song. The term is mostly used to indicate songs from the Medieval troubadour compositions, and also some polyphonic works. The version of the Romantic and Modern periods, the art song, is usually called mélodie, not chanson.
Body of people singing in an opera, oratorio, etc.
Music work or piece composed for a body of singers, i.e. a choir, accompanied or otherwise. Genres include the mass and the requiem mass, oratorios, motets, cantatas, etc. Not to be confused with chorale.
Simple hymn of the protestant church, often based on plainchant and sung jointly by a choir and the congregation.
Introduction to a chorale, developed in the Baroque as an organ composition based on a chorale melody. Notable composers are Buxtehude and Bach.
Part of a song, a refrain or such, in which many join in and sing together. Also used as synonym for choir.
Period of musical history stretching from about 1750 to about 1820, lending its name to all of classical music, with music that forms the base of it.
Synonymous with keyboard, a Baroque term for stringed keyboard instruments - harpsichord, clavichord, pianoforte, etc. In the Romantic period the Germans used this term for 'piano'. The organ is sometimes, and incorrectly, referred to as a clavier instrument.
Elaborate and ornamented style of singing, suited in particular for a high soprano voice.
A term for the era of musical history stretching from about 1600 to about 1915 and gathering the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods. The music of this three-period-era is when the techniques, ideas, and written language of classical music as we know it today were standardized and systemized.
Aria composed for concert performance, often with a certain singer in mind that it's dedicated to.
1) General term for all orchestral works related to the concerto, such as concertino, concerto grosso, sinfonia concertante etc.
2) Part in a music piece that calls for a solo performance.
Baroque term referring to a music style in which instruments and voices share a melody, usually in contrasting alternation.
1) Short concerto freer in form than it's regular sibling, usually but not always in one movement.
2) The smaller group of musicians performing in a concerto grosso. The larger group is a ripieno.
The leader of an orchestra, i.e. the principal first violin. In the UK the term 'leader' is used and in Germany 'konsertmeister'.
Orchestral work in (usually) three movements in which a solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. There are also double, triple and quadruple concertos with two, three of four solo instruments.
concerto for orchestra
A 20th century concertante form that uses more than one solo instrument, derived from the sinfonia concertante, which in turn was derived from the concerto grosso.
Orchestral work performed by an orchestra with two groups of musicians: a smaller group of solo performers called concertino and a larger accompaniment group called ripieno, usually a string orchestra. Common during the Baroque.
Vocal composition for one or more voices, used during the Middle Ages. The style of singing is rhythmic and the voices sing together. Precursor to organum.
Combination of notes considered stable and perceived as pleasant to the ear, due to cultural expectations of what 'sounds good'. The opposite is dissonance.
Name given to a small ensemble during the Renaissance and Baroque. A so called whole consort had instruments of the same family, usually strings, while a broken consort was mixed.
Period of musical history stretching from about 1945 to the present, overlapped until circa 1975 by the Modern period. The music of it abandons all traditions; some say it's no longer 'classical music' but rather just 'art music'.
The lowest of the three female voices. Very rare, present in only one percent of the female population. The contralto often does the female villains or assume trouser roles in operas.
Short for basso continuo.
The highest male voice; men singing within the female contralto range. Many countertenors perform roles originally written for a castrato in baroque operas.
A collection of pieces, usually songs, intended to be performed as a group, not individually.
da capo aria
An aria in three sections with the first repeated in an ornamented fashion in the last. Based on the ternary form and common in opera seria.
In general and as you already know, the music composed to accompany the physical act of dancing. However, in classical music the various forms of dance music is most often used to compose music intended to be listened to, as either separate pieces or as parts of larger works.
German dance, generally moderate in speed, sometimes the first movement in a Baroque suite, sometimes a prelude to such a suite.
French dance found in some Baroque suits.
French dance in triple time, used frequently as the second movement in Baroque dance suites.
Medieval dance form.
Lively dance music form, usually in triple time and very popular in the Renaissance and Baroque.
Quick dance in duple time, very popular during the Romantic. Notable composers are Johann Strauss and Offenbach.
French folk dance of Renaissance origin. Made popular in the Baroque and not seldom used in suites, between the sarabande and the gigue.
See länder and waltz below.
French dance music form based on the English 'jig', often used as the final movement in a Baroque or Classical period suite.
Cuban dance form with characteristic rhythm. Notable composers are Bizet, Ravel and Debussy.
Traditional Spanish dance form.
Austrian dance in triple time, used in the Classical period. One of two 'german dances' and precursor to the other, the waltz.
French dance form of the Baroque, described as a slow gigue.
Spanish dance form, e.g. used in Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole.
Polish dance form in triple time. Chopin wrote many mazurkas.
An elegant French court dance in triple time of the Baroque and Classical periods. Lully used minuets in his operas and later Bach and Handel included the minuet in their suites.
Baroque dance with a drone bass.
French fast dance in two sections and triple time found in some Baroque suites.
Slow and processional court dance of the late Renaissance and early Baroque that reoccured during the Romantic period. Notable composers are Dowland, Fauré and Ravel.
Bohemian dance that became one of the most popular ballroom dances in the Romantic period.
Slow dance in triple time, of Polish origin. Notable composers are Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and, of course, Chopin.
One of the most popular ballroom dances in the Romantic period, usually in brisk duple time.
French folk-dance usually in brisk duple time, found in Baroque dance suites.
Rapid Italian dance of Medieval origin in triple time, similar to the tarantella.
Slow dance of Latin American origin in triple time, generally used as the third movement in Baroque dance suites.
Fairly quick Spanish dance in triple time.
Sicilian shepherd dance or song, in slow tempo and melancholy in mood, associated with Baroque pastoral music.
Italian dance of some rapidity, from the town of Taranto (it has nothing to do with the tarantula spider). Notable composers include Chopin and Liszt. See also saltarello.
Austrian dance in triple time, very popular in the Romantic period. One of two 'german dances', the other being the länder.
Combination of notes considered unstable and perceived as unpleasant to the ear, due to cultural expectations of what 'sounds good'. The opposite is consonance.
Light and pleasing orchestral work, closely related to the serenade. Mozart composed many divertimentos and serenades.
Additional dance and/or song entertainment in a classical ballet or in an opera.
Doctrine of the affections
An expressive aesthetic from the Baroque, saying that music's main purpose is to arouse 'affections', e.g. love, fear, anger, etc. Various musical elements such as rhythm, keys and so on were connected to specific emotions. An additional idea was that each piece or movement should focus on one affect.
duet & duo
1) A duet is a piece for two performers: Piano four hands; voice and piano; two voices; two of any instrument.
2) A duo is a piece for two performers: On two pianos; any instrument and piano; any instrument and basso continuo.
Variations in loudness and softness in a music piece.
The era of musical history before the Baroque, in our cicerone stretching from about 1100 to about 1600 and gathering the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Vocal or instrumental piece that is a lament in mourning of the dead.
1) Small group of musicians and/or singers. See also chamber orchestra.
2) An ensemble piece in an opera is a set for three or more singers.
Short and not seldom a comic music piece played between acts of a play or opera, designed to bridge a gap. See also interlude and intermezzo.
1) The opening number in a suite of dances, e.g. a ballet suite; typically a short number which serves as an introduction for the whole suite.
2) Entrée can also mean a number in which the lead character(s) of a ballet make their initial appearance on stage.
3) An older French term for an act in a ballet.
Also called study, this is a short piece intended to improve or display the performers technical ability. Chopin and Liszt added complexity turning it beyond 'study' music. Chopin, Debussy and Scriabin also wrote etudes for orchestral performances.
Art genre that emphasized an eruptive immediacy of expressive feeling, often based on the psychology of the unconscious. Applied to the music of Mahler, Scriabin, et al, and the early works of Stravinsky and Schoenberg.
1) Unnaturally high male voice.
2) Vocal phonation that enables the singer to sing notes beyond the vocal range of the normal or modal voice.
fantasy, fantasia, fantaisie
1) In the Renaissance and Baroque a relatively free form genre, usually contrapuntal.
2) From the Classical period and onward a much freer genre than the above, often highly expressive and usually for solo piano or orchestra.
Movement or passage that concludes a musical composition.
A flowery, embellished vocal line found in many arias from nineteenth-century opera.
One of the oldest remembered European musical themes, a standard chord progression that usually features a standard or 'stock' melody line, a slow sarabande. Many composers of the Baroque period used the follia in their compositions, plus later ones such as Beethoven, Liszt, and Rachmaninov.
Italian, secular song from the mid-Renaissance period, described as the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal.
Complex polyphonic composition based on themes in imitation by (usually) two to four parts, then undergoing contrapuntal development. Popular in the Baroque but also used later. Bach and Beethoven are notable in this genre.
In a fugue an exposition are parts entering one by one, the exposition ending when all have entered.
See style galante.
German term for a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. Wagner's Ring Cycle is a gesamtkunstwerk. A contemporary translation of this concept is 'multimedia art'.
Vocal composition written for three or more solo parts, usually without instrumental accompaniment.
Musical effect meaning to slide from one note to the other, e.g. achieved by sliding a finger across the keys of a piano or string of a harp.
Harmony is one of three core elements of music, the other two being melody and rhythm. It's the combination of melodies and chords, composed according to the principles of tonality and coordinated in such a way the music's considered harmonic and pleasing. Said combination of melodies and chords can be done in either a simultaneous (vertical) fashion, or in sequence (horizontal). Regarding the latter, see counterpoint.
An indicator of a works character meaning 'humor' used in titles of works by, for example, Schumann and Dvorák.
Song or ode in praise of God, an entity or a hero. The earliest known devotional music.
Art genre having elements of vagueness and imprecision coupled with a perceived excess of attention to color. Impressionist music is achieved through new chord combinations, ambiguous tonality, extended harmonies, use of exotic modes and scales, parallel motions, and extra-musically, evocative titles. Notable composers include Debussy, Ravel, Albéniz, Respighi, Falla, Dukas, and Delius.
Short instrumental piece designed to convey the impression of improvisation.
Music, usually orchestral and not seldom with choral/vocal parts, composed for use in a play, etc.
An aria sung in an opera for which it was not composed. Common in the 19th century to accommodate singer's individual vocal strengths and ranges and to augment their roles.
One of three superordinate genres of classical music, the other two being the Operatic and Vocal genres. Instrumental music is divided into Orchestral and Chamber and Solo Instrumental music, with certain compositions for chamber ensembles, such as the chamber concerto, being an intermediate sub-genre.
1) Short music piece played between acts of a play or opera, designed to bridge a gap. See also entr'acte.
2) Short music piece played between two instrumental works at a concert, or between two parts of a work.
1) Theatrical spectacle with music and dance performed between acts of a play at Renaissance courts. Regarded a precursor to opera.
2) In the late Baroque and Classical periods, a comic operatic interlude played between acts of an opera seria.
3) In the Romantic period an instrumental piece, either a movement in larger works or an independent piece.
Contrapuntal composition for keyboard in two or more parts, as in Bach's Inventionen & Sinfonien.
1) Means 'chapel master' and originally the musician in charge at a court, later meaning the director of a choir or ensemble.
2) More recently meaning the chief conductor at an opera house or of an orchestra.
A pejorative implication, suggesting that the music of certain Romantic composers are correct but uninspired.
The tonal disposition of a piece or work, gravitating around one of the twelve major or twelve minor scales of tonal music: If the named key is C major the composition will use notes close to the C major scale; the first movement of a larger work is usually in the named key, while other movements may explore other keys, to achieve contrast.
Family of instruments. The basic instruments in this family are various pianos, organs and harpsichords. There's also the clavichord, celesta and many more. In some of our sources this group is included in the strings family. See also clavier.
German for concertino.
Baroque musical piece in mourning of the dead. Notable composers are Monteverdi and Purcell.
Plainchant or polyphonic setting of the biblical Lamentations of Jeremiah, notably by Tallis, Byrd and Couperin.
Sacred polyphonic song from the Renaissance.
Medieval French verse form for songs.
Leading theme throughout a work, a musical tag usually associated with a character, but also with an idea, event or situation. Wagner used it in many of his operas.
The text to be sung in an opera or another dramatic vocal work, such as an oratorio.
1) Traditional German song that during the Renaissance grew polyphonic and was regarded a genuine genre.
2) German art song from the Romantic period and onwards, accompanied by piano, sometimes but seldom by orchestra.
The enactment of insanity in an opera or play. The vocal writing is often exciting and highly demanding, requiring immense skill. Frequent during the bel canto era.
Secular choral/vocal music traditionally sung a capella. It's a polyphonic composition, commonly with three to six parts. Popular during the Renaissance and early Baroque. Monteverdi added basso continuo accompaniment, thus introducing the so called concerted madrigal.
Madrigal with sacred text, of the late Renaissance and early Baroque. Much less common than the original, secular madrigal.
Entertainment music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, with groups of madrigals combined to tell a story/plot. One of the origins of opera.
Biblical hymn of Virgin Mary found in both plainchant (monophonic) and polyphonic settings.
One of the two groups of keys of the tonal modes, the other one is minor. Major is viewed as the 'brighter' of the two. See also tonality.
A piece of music with a strong regular 'marching' rhythm.
Courtly spectacle with music, song, dance, poetry etc. Popular in England during the Renaissance and Baroque.
The main choral worship service of the Catholic church, including the movements (prayers) Kyrie eleison, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus and Agnus Dei. The Latin word for mass is missa, and is used for Medieval and Renaissance masses. These are often named by the material from which they derived or are inspired by, as in Missa Adieu mes amours, Missa Ave Regina and Missa Papae Marcelli.
Renaissance mass in which the prayers share a common musical theme, usually a so called cantus firmus.
Renaissance mass using very elaborate setting of cantus firmus as its basis.
Renaissance setting of the mass in which parts of the music is based on pre-existing pieces of music, such as fragments of motets. The term parody is based on a misreading, a better name would be 'imitation mass'.
Short mass, usually with only the first two prayers, the Kyrie and Gloria.
The 1st prayer of a setting of an ordinary Mass, not seldom named Kyrie eleison.
The 2nd prayer of an ordinary mass, a celebratory passage praising God the Father and Christ.
The 3rd prayer of an ordinary mass, a setting of the Nicene Creed, and the longest text of a sung mass.
sanctus and benedictus
The 4th prayer of an ordinary mass. The Sanctus is a doxology praising the Trinity, and the Benedictus is a continuation of the Sanctus.
The 5th prayer of an ordinary mass, a setting of the 'Lamb of God' litany and including the Dona nobis pacem.
Period of musical history stretching from about year 500 - on this website from around 1100 - to about 1400. The music of this period is solely vocal and usually without instrumental accompaniment.
Often used in overtures, a composition that uses passages from the composition in its entirety.
French art-song of the Romantic and Modern periods, counterpart to the German lied.
A musically meaningful sequence of tones. One of the three core elements in music, the other two being harmony and rhythm.
Female voice with a range between the higher soprano and lower contralto, often abbreviated 'mezzo'. The mezzo-soprano often does the secondary role in operas, the heroin role usually sung by a soprano.
minimalism, minimal music
Music style in which a basic theme is repeated over and over, creating a mesmeric ambience. Notable composer include the Americans Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams.
One of the two groups of keys of the tonal modes, the other one is major. Minor is viewed as the 'darker' of the two. See also tonality.
See dance music.
The first word in some psalms with the same name, the texts of which are used in polyphonic settings by, notably, Josquin des Prez and Allegri.
Period of musical history, stretching from about 1910 to about 1975, overlapped from circa 1945 by the current Contemporary period. The music is avant-garde, due to its break with traditional forms of composition. See also post romantic.
Medieval polyphonic composition in several parts, usually sung a capella but found in many different forms as it developed in consecutive periods, from a multi-vocal genre into a choral music one. It's regarded the sacred counterpart to the madrigal.
Renaissance music form in three parts with a tenor singing a sacred Latin text and two higher voices singing a French secular text, usually commenting on the Latin text.
More or less independent part of a large orchestral work. The name of a movement usually refers to it's tempo and mood.
Music style in which a Modern or Contemporary period composer returns to and gets inspired by music forms of the Baroque and Classical periods, as a protest of romantic music's lushness.
Music style in which a Modern or Contemporary period composer returns to and gets inspired by the music form of the Romantic period.
Work suggesting a mood resembling the calm of the night, often lyrical. Notable composers are Chopin and Field.
1) Composition for nine instruments.
2) Body of nine musicians performing such a composition.
Instrumental part of a work that stands out in the music and hence cannot be omitted, especially when a solo instrument adds an accompanying melody in some Baroque vocal forms.
1) Composition for eight instruments.
2) Body of eight musicians performing such a composition.
The entirety of works by a particular composer.
Dramatic stage music, performed by acting singers. Often with elaborate stage designs. Opera began in the Renaissance as an attempt to recreate the ancient Greek drama. In the Baroque this found the musical form usually associated with the genre. See also libretto, aria, recitative, chorus and oratorio.
18th/early 19th century short opera or pantomime performed after a full-length play.
azione teatrale, azione scenica
Small-scale one-act opera, or musical play. Early form of chamber opera. Notable composers include Gluck, Haydn and Mozart.
English stage entertainment, often short and highly satirical. Considered a precursor to the German singspiel. The first ballad opera is The Beggar's Opera of 1728, and one of the later, The Threepenny Opera of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, is actually a 1928 rewrite of the former.
bel canto opera
Early Romantic period operas with the bel canto style of singing. Championed by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti.
A brief and comic Italian or English opera. Also known as burla or burlettina.
Opera written to be performed with a chamber orchestra rather than a full orchestra.
1) French term used by, for example, Gluck and Chabrier, to describe their operas.
2) Term to describe late Romantic opera that developed out of opéra comique, influenced by Massenet et al, pointing towards the later verismo opera.
An 18th century sub-genre of opera buffa, marked by the addition of serious, even tragic roles and situations to the comic ones. Notable composers include Haydn, Mozart, Salieri, Rossini and Donizetti.
dramma per musica
Literally meaning ''drama for music', i.e. a libretto, however this term is mainly used as a synonym for opera seria.
A sub-genre of opéra comique based on French history, especially popular during the French revolution.
A form of one-act opera associated with Venice in the late Classical and early Romantic periods. Rossini composed many farsas.
favola in musica
The earliest form of opera, with reference to the operas by Peri and Monteverdi.
French development of the opera genre with historic/epic stories, spectacular stage design, big choruses, ballet parts etc. Often in five acts.
literaturoper, literature opera
An opera with music composed for a pre-existing text, as opposed to an opera with a libretto written specifically for the work.
A genre of 19th century opera usually with a supernatural, fairy-tale theme. Similar to zauberoper. Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel is the best known example.
General Italian term for opera.
Term associated with the later operas of Wagner. Frequently used by post-Wagnerian composers such as Strauss and d'Albert.
opéra à sauvetage
Alternative French term for rescue opera, featuring the rescue of a main character.
19th-century Italian grand opéra. Composers include Gomes, Verdi and Ponchielli.
Major genre of Italian comic opera popular during the late Baroque and Classical periods, derived from the operatic intermezzo. The opposite is opera seria. Notable composers are Pergolesi, Rossini, Mozart, Donizetti and many more.
Romantic French opera or opérette of a farcical and satirical nature, derived from opera buffa and conceived by Offenbach.
French opera associated with the Paris theatre Opéra-Comique, often with spoken dialogue and not necessarily comic, the most famous in this genre actually being a tragedy: Bizet's Carmen.
French opera, less grandiose than grand opéra, more like opéra comique but with sung dialogue. Rameau called this 'comédie lyrique'.
Serious Italian opera, the dominating operatic genre of the late Baroque and Classical periods. Has a formal and elaborate structure and often uses mythological themes. The opposite is opera buffa. Notable composers are Scarlatti, Hasse, Vivaldi, Handel, Gluck and Mozart.
Early Italian or French opera with pastoral topic.
Operatic works written specifically for the medium of radio. Toye's operetta The Red Pen from 1925 is considered the first.
A not always complimentary term to describe a director-led, modern opera that's staged so that the creator's original, specific intentions are changed, e.g. Carmen set in a car pound.
Transitional genre between opéra comique and grand opera, featuring the rescue of a main character. One example is Beethoven's Fidelio.
German opera genre, often with spoken dialogue, derived from French opéra comique and dealing with 'German' themes of nature, the supernatural, folklore etc. Weber's Der Freischütz is considered the first of this genre.
Spanish genre of comic opera in the smaller format, similar to the Italian intermezzo; performed together with larger works. Popular in Madrid in the Classical period. During the Romantic period, the sainete was synonymous with género chico.
Term coined to describe some English dramatic works - with singing, speaking and dancing roles - from the Baroque, e.g. Purcell's King Arthur and The Fairy Queen.
Short Italian opera performed at courts for celebrations, similar to the azione teatrale.
German language opera with spoken dialogue instead of recitatives, generally comic or romantic. Especially popular during the Classical period. Developed into rescue opera and romantische oper. The best known example is Mozart's The Magic Flute. Kurt Weill called it songspiel, in an effort to update the concept.
An opera composed specifically for the medium of television. Britten's Owen Wingrave is one example.
tragédie en musique, tragédie lyrique
French merger of opera and ballet - but not an opera-ballet - from the middle and late Baroque, often with mythical themes. Usually in five acts, sometimes with a prologue. Short arias contrast with dialogue in recitative, with choral sections and dancing. Composers include Lully, Marais and Rameau.
Italian opera movement/genre associated with Italian post-romanticism, with highly realistic stories/plots. Two famous examples are Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Puccini's Tosca.
French merger of opera and ballet from the late Baroque and Classical periods, with more dancing than the predecessor tragédie en musique. Composers include Rameau and Destouches.
acte de ballet
French term for an opera-ballet with of a single entrée (act). Rameau is known for his acte de ballets.
A type of opéra-ballet featuring the heroic and exotic, of the late Baroque and early Classical period.
Type of ballet héroïque, i.e. an opéra-ballet that typically drew on classical themes associated with pastoral poetry. Composers include Lully and Rameau.
One of three superordinate genres of classical music, the other two being the Instrumental and Vocal genres. Operatic music is divided into Opera & Operetta plus Ballet music, with the opera-ballet as an intermediate genre.
A musically and thematically light sibling to opera, of the Romantic period and onwards, often with partially spoken dialogue. It derived from the French opéra bouffe and is a precursor to the modern musical. Notable composers are Offenbach, Hervé, Sullivan, Johann Strauss, Suppé, Lehár, and Bernstein.
Subgenre of the French opérette of the Romantic period, often with partially spoken dialogue. Notable composers include Offenbach, Hervé and Messager.
Subgenre of the French opérette.
English term for operetta comprising the works of Gilbert & Sullivan and other operatic works that were performed at the Opera Comique and then the Savoy Theatre in London.
French for sainete. Description used for a particular style of opérette in the Romantic period.
Method of identifying a musical work. Works are given an opus number, usually following the order of publication. Abbreviated Op and Opp, the latter being plural.
Musical setting of Baroque origin, with a usually religious text. With solo voices, chorus and orchestra. Similar to opera but with more emphasis on the choral parts and performed as a concert, not as a stage drama.
With reference to the so called symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra, this is a body of musicians in size of about a hundred players, generally comprising four main groups: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. A fifth group, keyboards are present ad lib; the exact size and layout of an orchestra varies with the requirements of the composition. See also ensemble, chamber orchestra and string orchestra.
Music composed for an orchestra. There are many sub-genres, especially the symphony and concertante genres, plus suites, overtures, symphonic poems, waltzes and so on.
The arrangement and scoring of an orchestral composition; the disposition of music among instruments. Which particular instrument that is chosen to play a certain part of an orchestral composition is of course vital to how a work is perceived. Orchestration - or 'instrumentation' if it's a smaller ensemble - is thus second in importance only to composing with regards to the art of creating music. In the Renaissance instrumentation was ad hoc, then in the Baroque composers began to specify who should play what, thus achieving the desired 'color' in their music.
Medieval form of polyphony in which the lower voice sung the basic plainchant and the other voices moved freely above it. See also conductus.
Added notes used to embellish the principal melodic tone, to make the music fancier.
Orchestral composition being the prelude to an opera, oratorio and sometimes incidental music. The term was also used in the Baroque as a synonym for dance suite, especially by Bach and Telemann.
Orchestral composition in one movement without reference to operas and such, in other words a free-standing overture.
The so called French overture were used during the Baroque by Lully, Bach, Handel et al in various compositions and were based on the fugue, i.e. in two parts.
A composition in three parts/movements used as overture in Italian opera and oratorios of the Baroque. Also called sinfonia and as such regarded the precursor to the symphony genre.
Music written for a specific instrument or voice, or groups thereof; a part is one of the melody lines of a piece of music. Note though that this term is also used as a synonym for section or movement, for the former in one-movement instrumental music and for the latter in operatic and vocal music.
Song with several parts for several voices, usually sung a capella.
Originally a name for a single music piece, Baroque composer and among them Bach used it as a synonym for suite.
Instrumental piece based on a slow Spanish dance, with repeated variations. Related to the chaconne.
Oratorio based on one of the Gospels of the suffering of Christ. Developed from Medieval 'passion plays' using plainchant into elaborate Baroque settings with solo voices, chorus and orchestra. The genre culminated with Bach.
1) An adaptation of an existing work that is loose, unauthorized, or inauthentic.
2) A single work by a number of different composers.
A piece of music that offers a pastoral atmosphere.
Family of instruments. The setting of the percussions varies heavily according to composer's needs. Examples of instruments to choose from are timpani/kettledrums and other drums, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, glockenspeil, xylophone, vibraphone, chimes, marimba and so on. The percussionist in an orchestra also plays wind instruments such as whistles and sirens.
The ability of a person to determine the pitch of and identify a single note, in relation to the notes that surrounds it, e.g. in a chord. This is the intuitive artistic understanding of 'color' in music. See also relative pitch.
Performing music in the way the composer intended. Includes making copies of early instruments and the study of methods of playing these.
1) Music played at rapid tempo and repeatedly, often an indefinite number of times.
2) As a genre often performed as virtuoso encores, in some cases increasing the tempo along the repeats. Popular by the end of the 19th century.
Playing a bowed instrument, such as a violin, by plucking the strings with the fingers.
Medieval liturgical monophony, i.e. piece sung a capella in a single melody line (part) either by one voice or a choir. The best known plainchant genre is Gregorian chant.
A transitional phase overlapping the joint between the late Romantic and early Modern periods, stretching from 1890 to 1935, including composers such as Puccini, Mahler, Sibelius, and Strauss, but defined even more by the French impressionists Debussy and Ravel. The music of this phase is essentially impressionistic and/or expressionistic, and can be described as expanded tonality.
Section played as the end of a piece. The opposite is prelude.
1) Piece of music used as an introduction to another work, such as a suite or fugue. See also overture.
2) Short composition, usually for piano.
Term for the leading female singer in an opera company, the woman to whom the prime roles usually are given.
Prix de Rome
French scholarship for arts, architecture and music students, awarded between 1663 and 1968. Notable composers receiving it are Halévy, Berlioz, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet, Debussy, Charpentier, Boulanger, Ibert and Dutilleux.
Music conveying outer sources of inspiration such as events, art, people, ideas, drama etc. The examples are many, with opera and ballet as the more obvious, along with symphonic poems, many overtures, suites and songs, and some symphonies. The opposite is absolute music.
1) Music for four parts, e.g. string quartet.
2) Body of four musicians or singers.
Light composition quoting a combination of popular tunes.
1) Music for five parts, e.g. piano quintet.
2) Body of five musicians or singers.
The parts in an opera or oratorio that is sung between arias or choruses, adopting the pattern of speech and expressing the dramatic dialogue.
Recitative that employs the orchestra as an accompanying body. As a result, it is less improvisational and declamatory than its precursor recitativo secco, and more song-like.
This 'dry recitative' is sung with a free rhythm dictated by the accents of the words. Accompaniment, usually by continuo, is simple and chordal.
The ability of a person to determine how pitches relate to one another, to identify chords and intuitively understand which should or could precede or follow. In short, this is to understand the 'language' of music. See also perfect pitch.
Period of musical history stretching from about 1400 to about 1600, with mostly vocal music, not seldom with instrumental accompaniment. This period saw the birth of instrumental music, plus the predecessors of opera and ballet.
Musical setting of a mass for the repose of the dead. Notable composers are Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms, Fauré and Britten.
The most general definition of a responsory is any psalm, canticle, or other sacred musical work sung responsorial, that is, with a cantor or small group singing verses while the whole choir or congregation respond with a refrain.
Music work fairly free in form, not seldom in two movements, a slow followed by a fast. Equally often with a national connotation, e.g. Dvorák's Slavonic Rhapsodies.
Organization of notes in relation to time. Notes are grouped in measures and the rhythm is based on the number of beats (notes) in a measure added with the duration of those beats, creating perceived 'rhythm'. Rhythm is one of three core elements of music, the other two being harmony and melody.
1) Instrumental composition of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, usually referring to a contrapuntal early kind of fugue.
2) A homophonic piece resembling a toccata.
1) Baroque concerto without a solo instrument, thus reminiscent of a symphony.
2) The larger group of musicians performing in a concerto grosso. The smaller group is a concertino.
3) The main body of musicians in any Baroque orchestra.
Recurrent section or phrase used during the Baroque, punctuating arias in operatic works or used in solo concertos, notably by Vivaldi.
A late Baroque art style, in the world of music better known as style galante.
Intended to express a sentiment, a romance is often light and pleasing and in this respect similar to the serenade and the divertimento.
Period of musical history stretching from about 1810 to about 1915, a development of the previous period but with 'program music', not 'absolute music'. See also post romantic.
1) French verse form, used in poetry and in chansons during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Notable composers include Machaut and Dufay. See formes fixes.
2) In the Baroque the label 'rondeau' or 'en rendeau' was applied to dance movements in simple refrain form, by such composers as Lully and Couperin.
Instrumental music in which a basic theme is repeated and alternated with contrasting themes. Used in the last movement of sonatas, symphonies and concertos during the Classical and Romantic periods.
Music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. The opposite is secular music.
Light, independent music piece or movement (scherzo and trio) similar to the minuet however much quicker and less fancy. Chopin expanded the form considerably.
The so called schools are musical ideals and/or style traits around which certain groups of composers gather. Most schools are named, and some even invented, posthumously by musicologists. Below you find the major ones, in chronological order. Note that 'Ars antiqua' and 'Ars nova', by some regarded as schools, are missing here.
Notre Dame School
This term refers to the group of composers, predominantly Léonin and Pérotin, working at or near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from about 1160 to 1250, notable for the use of conductus, the development of organum and, more importantly, polyphony.
The 'first generation' (1420-1450) of the Franco-Flemish School, including the composers Dufay, Binchois, Busnois and Dunstaple. Burgundian composers favored secular forms, especially the chanson.
Also known as the Netherlandish School it refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the composers of mainly polyphonic music in the Netherlandish States from 1420-1615. The composers include, but are not limited to: Dufay, Binchois, Busnois, Dunstaple, Ockeghem, Agricola, Obrecht, Josquin, Gombert, Rore, Willaert, Clemens non Papa and Lasso.
A group of Italian composers of conservative church music - smooth, clear, polyphony - during the 16th and 17th centuries. By far the most famous composer of the Roman School is Palestrina. Other 'members' include, but are not limited to, Victoria, Allegri (both of them) and Carissimi.
The body and work of composers working in Venice from about 1550 to around 1610. The Venetian polychoral style is essential here. Another major factor was printing. In the early 16th century, Venice, prosperous and stable, had become an important center of music publishing. Famous composers of this school are Willaert, Gabrieli (both of them), Rore and Monteverdi.
A group of composers from Naples, best known of whom is Alessandro Scarlatti, that influenced Italian opera considerably. Pergolesi was also part of this group/school.
Group of composers - Cazzati, Perti, Vitali, Torelli and Corelli - active in Bologna in the mid-late 17th century. The school is associated particularly with the rise of the instrumental concerto and sonata.
Old German School
Formulated as an opposite to the New German School, this one describes the late Baroque and the music of Bach and Handel.
First Viennese School
A name mostly used to refer to three composers of the Classical period in late-18th-century Vienna: Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, with Schubert occasionally added to the list.
New German School
German classical music of the early Romantic period. Not an actual group of composers, more an attempt to unite composers such as Wagner, Liszt and Berlioz under a common German ideal based on Beethoven's musical heritage.
The Five, The Mighty Handful
A circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the mid 1800s: Mily Balakirev (the leader), César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin. The group had the aim of producing a specifically Russian kind of art music. In a sense, they were a Russian branch of the Romantic Nationalist movement. Also referred to as The New Russian School.
Second New England School
Also known as the New England Classicists, sometimes specifically the Boston Six, pivotal in the development of an American classical idiom that stands apart from its European ancestors. The six are Paine, Foote, Chadwick, Beach, MacDowell and Parker.
A school that gathered the composers Ives, Becker, Riegger, Cowell and Ruggles. It was known for its modernist and often dissonant compositions which broke away from European compositional styles to create a distinctly American style.
A group of French composers - Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, Tailleferre - joined by their wish to distance themselves from the musical style of Wagner and the impressionist music of Debussy and Ravel.
Second Viennese School
A group of composers that comprised Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils and close associates. Their musical aim was initially characterized by post romantic expanded tonality and later, following Schoenberg's own evolution; atonality. Later still it included Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. The most famous 'members' include Berg, Webern, Eisler, Skalkottas and Cage, plus that Zemlinsky is also sometimes included.
The 'Darmstadt School' describes the uncompromisingly serial music written by composers such as Nono, Boulez, Maderna, Stockhausen, Berio, Cage, Kagel, et al, from the early 1950s to the early 1960s.
Also known as 'New Music Manchester', principally identified with the composers Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies and Goehr, together with the pianist John Ogdon and the conductor and trumpeter Elgar Howarth.
Non-religious music. Secular means being separate from religion. The opposite is sacred music.
1) Music for seven parts.
2) Body of seven musicians or singers.
Light and pleasing orchestral work similar to the divertimento, originally intended to be performed outdoors and directed to a certain individual. Mozart composed many popular serenades.
serialism & total serialism
Serialism is an extension of twelve-tone music, or rather the twelve-tone composing technique. Both are based on atonalism, using all twelve notes of the chromatic scale in a composition without repeating any note and without having anyone dominating the music. The difference it that serialism extend the technique to include also aspects such as rhythm, dynamics, and timbre, while twelve-tone focuses mainly on pitch.
1) Music for six parts.
2) Body of six musicians or singers.
1) Italian composition in three movements used as overture in Baroque opera and oratorios, thus referred to as 'Italian overture'. This is the precursor to the modern symphony (Haydn added a fourth movement and the sonata form to it).
2) Instrumental composition in one movement used in France and Germany during the Baroque.
A concertante that uses two or more solo instruments, a developed concerto grosso that was common during the Classical period.
1) Short orchestral work in symphonic form. Janácek's Sinfonietta is perhaps the most famous example.
2) Sometimes used as a fancier name for orchestra.
Solo Instrumental music
Music performed by one instrumentalist (musician). The main genre is piano music, with the piano sonata as the dominating sub-genre, but included is also solo music for other instruments, plus the piano duet and duo.
Solo Vocal music
Music performed by one singer, with instrumental accompaniment, in which the vocal performance provides the main focus of the piece. Genres include the art song, the aria, etc.
1) Music piece intended to be played on instruments, as opposed to a cantata that's intended to be sung.
2) A chamber or solo instrumental composition in several, usually four contrasted but related movements, with some of them using the sonata form. This particular sonata genre was invented in the Classical period.
sonata da camera
Secular Baroque sonata also called 'chamber sonata', in essence a dance suite.
sonata da chiesa
Sacred Baroque church sonata in four movement.
Small sonata, simpler in structure (without the middle development section) hence shorter than the regular sonata.
Sequence of art songs on a single theme, intended to be performed as a whole.
1) The highest of the three female voices, the other two are mezzo-soprano and contralto. Soprano is also the highest choral music voice, where mezzo-soprano and contralto are grouped together as 'alto' voices. The soprano often does the leading, heroine role in operas.
2) Description of an instrument with the same range, the highest register.
Stock operatic figure, usually a sharp-witted maid such as Mozart's Susanna or Zerbinetta, often but not necessarily a soprano.
Music that moves or appears to move through space, e.g. Gabrieli's antiphonal brass music, or contemporary electronic music shifting between speakers.
Medieval Latin hymn to Mary at the cross, set to music by many composers. The name is abbreviated from Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the Sorrowful Mother Stood.
An additional 'genre' comprising music for the stage other than opera and ballet, such as incidental music.
German for serenade, however used mostly to describe vocal music pieces.
stile antico, prima practica
Meaning 'ancient style' and 'first practice', both these terms refer to a style of composition with controlled dissonance, avoiding overtly instrumental textures and lavish ornamentation, to imitate the compositional style of e.g. Palestrina. See also stile moderno, seconda practica.
stile moderno, seconda practica
Meaning 'modern style' and 'second practice', both terms refers to a style of composition which encouraged more freedom from the rigorous limitations of dissonances and counterpoint characteristic of the stile antico/prima practica. Claudio Monteverdi and Giulio Caccini promoted this style, which also marks the starting point of basso continuo.
Orchestra with instruments primarily of the string family, with piano, harp and percussion ad lib. The size varies considerably, between a dozen instruments and up to almost a hundred (Schoenberg's Gurrelieder calls for eighty-four players). See also ensemble, chamber orchestra and orchestra.
1) The most cultivated chamber music genre. For four parts, i.e. two violins, viola and cello.
2) Body of four musicians playing these instruments.
The instruments in the string family are basically those of the bow played viol family, i.e. violin, viola, cello and double bass. There are also stricken or plucked string instruments such as harp, guitar, mandolin, etc, plus older instruments like the lute, viola da gamba and violone.
French music of the Rococo art period, ca 1720-1770, characterized by simplicity, immediacy of appeal, and elegance, within a homophonic structure. In Germany known as empfindsamer stil. Notable composers in France are Couperin and Rameau, plus in Germany CPE Bach and JC Bach. See also barococo.
1) Instrumental work from the Baroque and Classical period with stylized dance movements (usually the allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue), known as a dance suite.
2) Instrumental work in several movements known as an orchestral suite, often but not always based on extracts from an opera, ballet or incidental music. Especially popular during the Romantic period.
Orchestral program music composition, usually in one movement and often influenced by a certain poem. Also called 'tone poem', in German 'tondichtung', a term preferred by Richard Strauss, a master of the genre.
Orchestral composition, based on the Italian sinfonia of the Baroque. Usually in four movements with the same structure as a sonata. Perfected by Haydn and Mozart in the Classical period, developed by Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner, that included the program music element, and expanded by Mahler, Shostakovich et al, with a varied number of movements and unconventional orchestration an so on.
Symphony with choral parts. There are also symphonies with parts for vocal soloists.
Baroque music used to entertain at banquets, usually a varied set including a suite, a quartet, a concerto etc, as in the most famous example, Telemann's Musique de Table.
Early Latin hymn of praise/thanksgiving, short for Te Deum Laudamus (Thee, O God, we praise). Notable settings by Handel, Haydn, Berlioz and Bruckner.
1) The second highest male voice, in range between the higher countertenor and the lower baritone. The tenor often does the main male character, the hero, in operas.
2) Description of an instrument with approximately the same range.
Meaning 'heroic tenor' and referring to a tenor with voice suited for grand opera and the music-dramas of Wagner.
A synonym to tune or melody, which is of fundamental importance to a piece of music.
theme and variations
An instrumental work with an initial theme followed by a number of variations, as in Bach's Goldberg Variations or in Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the latter borrowing its theme from a work by another composer, quite common in this genre.
Spanish genre of the Renaissance, usually with reference to organ music.
Instrumental piece of Renaissance origin, designed to display the virtuoso proficiency of the performer, usually for keyboard and featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered sections.
Genre title used for pieces in tribute of predecessors or contemporaries. Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin is a well-known example.
Spanish 18th century miniature satirical genre that developed out of the sainete. Performed in between longer works.
The use of a number of keys, one of which is dominant, to compose harmonic music, with reference to consonance and dissonance. Tonality is the organization principle of conventional classical music. The opposite is atonality.
See symphonic poem.
Composition in an arrangement for other instrument(s) than it was originally written for.
Male character in opera that's performed and sung by a woman, e.g. Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro or Octavian in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. Also known as pants role and breeches role.
1) The highest voice in choral music; the voice of young people, aged eight to sixteen.
2) Description of an instrument with approximately the same range.
The Italian parallel to the French Ars Nova and referring to the 1300s, thus ending the Medieval period. Based on conductus, this Italian polyphonic era's most famous composer is Landini.
1) Music for three parts.
2) Body of three musicians or singers.
The dominant chamber music genre of the Baroque. In three parts, usually played by four musicians; on two treble instruments, usually violins, with one part each, plus basso continuo with cello and keyboards for the lower part. Bach's Trio Sonatas for organ are performed by one musician. A good one.
Music not composed in keys, instead using the chromatic scale, i.e. all twelve notes (naturals, sharps, flats) in an octave and without any note dominating the music. This is the simplest form of serialism. See also atonality.
See theme and variations.
Liturgical evening prayer service set to music by many composers, notably Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Mozart and Rachmaninov.
Light secular, Italian song of satirical and comic nature, from the early Renaissance. It influenced the later canzonetta, and from there also the madrigal.
A form of Medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. Notable composers include Machaut and Dufay. See formes fixes.
Music performer with remarkable technical skills.
One of three superordinate genres of classical music, the other two being the Instrumental and Operatic genres. Vocal music is divided into Choral music and Solo Vocal music, with the part-song, the madrigal, etc, as intermediate genres between the two.
Singing without words, i.e. using only vowels.
Alternative name for märchenoper.
See dance music.
Family of instruments. Basic instruments here are oboe, clarinet, bassoon, English horn and various flutes, including recorder and piccolo. Not all woodwinds are made of wood, e.g. the modern flute and the saxophone is of metal. The dividing line between woodwinds and brass deals with how the instruments are played, how the sound is made.
Spanish dramatic genre of Baroque origin, similar to opera. This form includes both singing and spoken dialogue, also dance. Local traditions of this genre are found in Cuba and the Philippines. Composers include Hidalgo and Barbieri.
A type of zarzuela, differing from zarzuela grande by its brevity and popular appeal. See also sainete.
German for intermezzo or entr'acte.