Glossary

This term popularized in Europe by Pierre Boulez means a musical result of actions made by chance ("alea" is Latin for "dice") or choice. 

Also Aleatoric music

This term popularized in Europe by Pierre Boulez means a musical result of actions made by chance ("alea" is Latin for "dice") or choice. The composers offered the players, for example, choices of route through the fragments of their work, allowed them to join these elements freely but, at the same time, they were completely responsible for the overall shape of the work. Aleatory music is sometimes treated as a synonym of indeterminate music (indeterminacy) but the latter term was preferred by John Cage and meant not only performance liberties but also the use of chance element in the process of composition. Although aleatoricism is an extremely different musical concept than serialism, the end result of both ideas may sound surprisingly alike.

This term (from the Greek antiphōna: anti, opposite of + phone, voice) means a liturgical chant with a prose text, sung in association with a psalm.

This term (from the Greek antiphōna: anti, opposite of + phone, voice) means a liturgical chant with a prose text, sung in association with a psalm. Antiphon means also a psalm or hymn alternately sung by two choirs. 

In the Orthodox Church this term (from the Greek kanōn, "rule") means a collection of songs, which are combined together following a special order in praise of Jesus Christ, the Madonna or the saints.

In the Orthodox Church this term (from the Greek kanōn, "rule") means a collection of songs, which are combined together following a special order in praise of Jesus Christ, the Madonna or the saints.

This term (from the Latin) means "fixed song", a pre-existing melody used as the basis of a new composition.

This term (from the Latin) means "fixed song", a pre-existing melody used as the basis of a new composition. It is associated mainly with polyphonic Medieval and Renaissance music.

A musical scale of 12 semitones to the octave.

A musical scale of 12 semitones to the octave.

Collage (from the French: coller, "to glue") is a technique primarily used in 20th century visual arts, where different materials are used in one artwork. 

Collage (from the French: coller, "to glue") is a technique primarily used in 20th century visual arts, where different materials are used in one artwork. In music, collage usually means the playful usage of contrasting musical material of different periods and styles of music history, as well as combining fragments of the works by different composers for creating a new piece.

This term is commonly used to describe an unconventional technique of playing a musical instrument or of singing.

This term is commonly used to describe an unconventional technique of playing a musical instrument or of singing.  Extended techniques are used in works for various instruments and groups of them. Extended techniques for piano include e.g. performance inside the instrument or special effects produced on the keyboard; for wind and brass instruments – multiphonics (the production of more than one pitch at the same time), playing without blowing, playing on the mouthpiece alone; for strings – percussive effects on the strings or body of the instrument, unconventional bowing. Extended vocal techniques contain a variety of articulations changing the timbre of a human voice. Since a traditional music notation seems inadequate to depict these techniques composers often invent new notational signs and append to the scores performance instructions.

A division of a line into two parts such that the ratio of the smaller part to the larger is the same as that of the larger to the whole.

A division of a line into two parts such that the ratio of the smaller part to the larger is the same as that of the larger to the whole (0,618 to 1). The arithmetical expression of golden ratio is a ratio between the succesive elements of the Fibonacci series (a sequence of numbers in which each is the sum of the previous two: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 etc.). Some 20th-century composers, as Debussy and Bartók, used this principle to shape the musical form of their works.

Musical scores using something more than the conventional musical notation.

Musical scores using something other or more than the conventional musical notation. The graphic symbols used in them meet specific compositional needs and communicate particular compositional intentions. Used symbols can serve also as inspirations for performers.

A monophonic, unaccompanied music of Christian liturgy.

A monophonic, unaccompanied music of Christian liturgy. 

A drone note or a slow-moving lower vocal part used in Byzantine chant and some selected musical traditions to accompany the melody.

A drone note or a slow-moving lower vocal part used in Byzantine chant and some selected musical traditions to accompany the melody.

A type of electroacoustic music that uses electronic means in combination with real-time performance.

A type of electroacoustic music that uses electronic means in combination with real-time performance. As the first example of live electronic work John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape no.1 (1939) for piano, cymbal, and two turntables may serve.

Intervals smaller than a semitone, like quarter-tones.

Intervals smaller than a semitone, like quarter-tones or sixth-tones. In early 20th-century music microtonal composition was of interest to such composers as Charles Ives and Alois Hába. Composers of the second half of the century also were interested in the use of microtones both in music composed for traditional instrumental forces and in electronic music.

A term used to describe a style of composition in ehich the musical material is simplified and/or based on the repetition.

A term used to describe a style of composition in ehich the musical material is simplified and/or based on the repetition. Historically it is associated with the music of American composers like La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. However, this technique influenced numerous composers in Europe, like Louis Andriessen and Arvo Pärt.

Folklorism in music means a specific composers' attitude to folk music which functions as a creative stimulus, a source of ideas to refresh the musical language. 

Folklorism in music means a specific composers' attitude to folk music which functions as a creative stimulus, a source of ideas to refresh the musical language. Folkloristic music is often a result of desire to create a national style. Folkloristic inspirations played very important role especially in the music of the early post-war period in Central and East-European countries. Created compositions ranged from simple arrangements of folk songs to autonomous art music which testified artistic elaboration of folkloristic impulses.

A term associated with the works of Igor Stravinsky written between 1920 and 1951. It means a consious use of techniques, genres and forms from the earlier periods of music history.

A term associated with the works of Igor Stravinsky written between 1920 and 1951. It means a consious use of techniques, genres and forms from the earlier periods of music history. Stravinsky's neo-classicism inspired many of his contemporaries, especially in France but also in other European countries and in the USA.

A form of musical work in which the sequence of sections is variable and depends on chace or choice.

A form of musical work in which the sequence of sections is variable and depends on chace or choice. This principle was used by European composers like Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kazimierz Serocki and others.

The term designates music in two or more relatively independent parts.

The derm designates music in two or more relatively independent parts, as opposed to monophony with single melody or homophpny with one, principal melodic line, while other parts serve as accompaniment.

A piano with objects inserted between the strings or placed on the strings.

A piano with objects inserted between the strings or placed on the strings. That can be bolts, screws, pieces of card-board, leather, felt. In consequence, the sound of the instrument is altered. The prepared piano was introduced by John Cage and used in his compositions ant the beginning of 1940s. Later, the prepared piano was used by many other composers from Europe and the USA, including Kazimierz Serocki and Arvo Pärt.

The term concerns a style in the 20th-century composition which is based not on a linear sequence of notes but on their isolation from one another. 

Also Pointilism, Point music, Punctual music

In music, the term concerns a style in the 20th-century composition which is based not on a linear sequence of notes but on their isolation from one another. The resulting musical texture is similar to the technique of painting developed at the end of 19th century and called pointilism.

In broad sense the term encompasses twelve-tone technique and is referred to as a twelve-tone serialism. In a narrower sense serialism means that serial organization is extended to musical elements other than pitch (such as duration, dynamics, register, or articulation). 

This term popularized in Europe by Pierre Boulez means a musical result of actions made by chance ("alea" is Latin for "dice") or choice. The composers offered the players, for example, choices of route through the fragments of their work, allowed them to join these elements freely but, at the same time, they were completely responsible for the overall shape of the work. Aleatory music is sometimes treated as a synonym of indeterminate music (indeterminacy) but the latter term was preferred by John Cage and meant not only performance liberties but also the use of chance element in the process of composition. Although aleatoricism is an extremely different musical concept than serialism, the end result of both ideas may sound surprisingly alike.

This pair of related terms originates from the French language (sonore) and is connected with the explorations of sound in 20th-century music.

This pair of related terms originates from the French language (sonore) and is connected with the explorations of sound in 20th-century music. The term sonoristics was created by the Polish music theorist Józef M. Chomiński. His original definition describes sonoristics as a technique, the essence of which is to "focus on purely sonorous values as the main means of expression, and thus a structural element of a composition". These means that in sonoristic music the dominance of timbral and textural concerns prevail, while questions of pitch are pushed into the background. Sonoristic devices include e.g. tone clusters and glissandi of various types, extended instrumental and vocal techniques, non-traditional approaches to musical time and rhythm, using sound masses etc. On the other hand, sonorism can be defined as a trend in contemporary music, avant-garde oriented, typical of Polish music in the 1960s and often associated with the so-called "Polish School of Composition". It was noted that Polish composers adopted sonoristic devices both with uncompromising logic and with full consciousness of the distinctiveness of their own proposals.

The term concerns music composed with consious use of location and movement of sound sources. 

The term concerns music composed with consious use of  location and movement of sound sources. Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question (1908) may serve as one of the first 20th-century examples of the phenomena, in which the strings are placed offstage in opposition to the on-stage trumpet and woodwind ensemble. 20th-century composers used spatial distribution of musicians or loudspeakers also to facilitate the audience’s perception of complicated, multi-layered musical textures.

This is a technique, which in essence unites two monodic lines of musical structure – melody and triad – into one, inseparable ensemble. 

This is a technique, which in essence unites two monodic lines of musical structure – melody and triad – into one, inseparable ensemble. Tintinnabuli (after tintinnabulum, the Latin for bell) creates an original duality of voices, the course and inner logic of which are defined by strict, even complicated mathematical formulas. Through that duality of voices Pärt has given a new meaning to the horizontal and vertical axis of music, and broadened our perception of tonal and modal music in its widest sense.

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A group of several adjacent notes played simultaneously.

A group of several adjacent notes played simultaneously. Usually cluster chords are based on the chromatic scale but the notes can be also separated with whole tones or microintervals. Early examples of clusters can be found in works of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, and Bela Bartók. Orchestral clusters were used by e.g. Iannis Xenakis, Krzysztof Penderecki, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and György Ligeti.

In the Byzantine liturgy, a kind of refrain used in the recitation of psalms, canticles and doxologies.

In the Byzantine liturgy it is a kind of refrain used in the recitation of psalms, canticles and doxologies.

A technique of composing with reference to all twelve notes of the chromatic scale which are ordered into series (also called tone row). Each note appears in the series only once. 

Also Twelve-note composition, Dodecaphony

A technique of composing with reference to all twelve notes of the chromatic scale which are ordered into series (also called tone row). Each note appears in the series only once. While the series may be used in musical composition in four forms (prime, retrograde – notes of the prime form are ordered from last to first, inversion – intervals between notes are reversed in direction, this is e.g. that descending major third in the prime form becomes ascending major third in the inversion, and retrograde inversion). Each of these may be transposed to any level of the chromatic scale, so that there are 48 forms of the series available. The technique was invented by Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) in the middle of the 1920s and described by himself as a “method of composing with twelve tones related only with one another”. Over time, the technique began to be used by many composers in Europe and the USA.