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"Structure & Style" Day 1 - Vocabulary

The Building Blocks of Music

Ben Jones

on 1 August 2014

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Transcript of "Structure & Style" Day 1 - Vocabulary

The Building Blocks
of Music

Smallest unit of construction in music
consists of at least one characteristic rhythm and one characteristic interval
may include as few as two tones or as many as twelve (the brain tends to subdivide after 7 or 8 tones)
contrary motion
corresponding metric groupings
figure group
the multiple figure
in renaissance vocal music
as a self-contained thematic unit
in the etude or toccata
motivic cell (12-tone)
accompaniment patterns
Uses of the Figure
point of repose marking the end of a phrase or section
derived from the latin, "cadere," "to fall," since the feeling of caesura, or rest, is implicit in the sound of a lower note immediately following a higher one (i.e. scale degrees 4-3)
"The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
and as imagination bodies forth
the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
a local habitation and a name."
some authors use synonymously with "figure"
thematic "motive" may consist of 2 or 3 figures
"motive" is also used to describe the subject of an invention
3 rules (
tacit assumptions
1. cadence group consisted of a formula involving essentially 2 or 3 chords (e.g. V-I or I64-V-I)
2. cadence chord at the end of any phrase was a consonant triad, or sometimes V7
3. final chord of any composition was invariably either a major or minor triad
In general, though, most POLYPHONIC forms and practically all IMITATIVE FORMS are divided into SECTIONS, rather than PHRASES.
in the 16th century, a final chord, regardless of the mode, was always MAJOR ("Tierce de Picardie," or "Picardy Third")
shortest unit terminated by a cadence
generally associated with one or more other phrases
structural basis of homophonic forms and is also utilized in certain polyphonic structures
4 types of Cadences
1. Authentic: V-I (V represents any dominant)
Perfect (root is present in outside voices)
Imperfect (3 or 5 in soprano, or 3 in bass)
2. Plagal: IV-I
3. Deceptive: V-VI or V to any unexpected harmony
4. Half: progression of any chord to V
In 19th- and 20th-century music, phrase endings on II, III and IV are found
in minor, IV6-V and II6/5-V are PHRYGIAN
The problem of disguising or modifying the cadence in order to maintain continuity was addressed in "Le Institutioni Harmoniche" (Zarlino, 1558) in a section called "Ways to Avoid the Cadence."
(In contrapuntal vocal music, cadences are often disguised by an overlapping in one or more voices.)
Let's not confuse "Figure" & "Motive."
Treatment of the Phrase
The phrase as a component of a larger pattern
1. a period (or sentence) of 2 phrases
2. a group of 3 or more phrases
3. a double period consisting of 4 phrases

The phrase as an independent unit
1. an independent introduction
2. a postlude
3. a coda or codetta
4. part of a song form or a theme in itself
5. an interlude
6. a transition or retransition

the phrase as the structural basis of homophonic forms

repetition of the phrase
1. Identically
2. With embellishment
3. With change of harmony
4. with change of style & accompaniment
5. with change of register
6. with change of color
...but that doesn't mean we can't discuss "phrases" in rehearsal when singing these forms.
William Shakespeare
"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
15 distinct pitches
9 distinct figures
Full transcript