Musical Terms

timbre – The character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity

throat-singing – type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody

ganga – It is characterized by a lone singer singing one line of lyrics and then others joining in for what can be best described as a wail. It is a very passionate form of singing. (polyphony)

gamelan – “musical ensemble”; involves sets of instruments tuned to each other, and not to any standard “objective” pitch

plainchant – single melody, sung in unison by a soloist or choir, often using Latin words and a liturgical text.

monophony – music in one part – a single unaccompanied line

heterophony – when two or more musicians simultaneously sing or play the same melody in different ways

homophony – texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords.

polyphony – Music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together

fugue – compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject (theme) that is introduced at the beginning in imitation (repetition at different pitches) and recurs frequently in the course of the composition.

canon – contrapuntal composition that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration

Source: Brettany Tu, 2011 – Music History Class Notes – Stony Brook University

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