Tonal Center
A pitch class that provides a center of gravity

Minor Sounding: Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian

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Major: Lydian, Mixolydian, Locrian

Hybrid Scales


Phrygian- Dorian

Pitch Symmetry
Any temporal and/or pitch structure that displays some kind of symmetrical structuring (inversional, retrograde, retrograde-inversional (rotational), etc.)
Octatonic Scale
An  eight-note scale composed of a repeated series of half-whole or whole-half successions
Hexaonic Scale
A six-note collection derived from the juxtaposition of two augmented triads in the interval of a half step
Pitch Collections
Diatonic modes; Pentatonic scales; Synthetic Scales
Lead Sheet Symbols (9th, 11th, 13th chords)
Used in jazz and most popular music styles to indicate chords o be played under a given melody
consists of two or more chords sounded simultaneously
Split-third chord
the sonority that results when the major and minor triad built on the same root are used simultaneously
two or more tonal centers heard simultaneously
Whole-tone chord
Vertical sonorities that can be derived from a whole-tone scale
Quartal Harmony
a sonority derived from stacked 4ths
Quintal Harmony
a sonority derived from stacked 5ths
Secundal harmony/ cluster chords
A chordal sonority derived from stacked 2nds
Planing: Diatonic/Chromatic
The use of chords moving in parallel motion
The attempt to equalize the seven tones of the diatonic scale so that no single pitch is heard as a tone center. Some identifying characteristics include use of a key signature, absence of accidentals, free use of the 7 tones of the major scale associated with that key signature, and the absence of functional harmonic movement.
Golden Section (golden rati0
1: 618: 1, this porportion is found throughout nature and has been associated with proportional balance in art and architecture
An interaction between rhythm and meter that implies a 3:2 ratio
Asymmetrical Meter
Asymmetrical Meter
Meter that contains an odd number of beats, with the exception of triple meter
Mixed Meter
The use of rapidly changing meter signatures
Music that lacks an aurally percievable meter
The simultaneous presentation of of two or more aurally contrasting rhythmic streams
The simultaneous presentation of two or more meters
Metric Modulations
change in tempo, note value of previous tempo = different note value in new tempo. Elliot Carter
Added Value Rhythm
A process by which Rhythmic Irregularity is created through the addition of a note value or rest to a rhythmic figure
Non-retrogradable rhythm
Rhythmic pattern that is the same backwards or forwards
In twentieth century music, refers to a rhythmic technique (associated with Medieval motets and masses) that typically consists of a repeated rhythmic figure called the Talea in combination with a repeated pitch sequence of a different length called the color
Term used to group together all pitches that have an identical sound or that are identical except for the octave or octaves
Pitch-class set
Term used to describe pitch structures in atonal music; meaningful groups of related pitch classes
Interval class
The shortest distance (in semitones) between to pitch classes
Ordered Pitch-class interval
The distance between two pitch classes, expressed as an integer from 0 to 11
Prime form
A way of arranging a pc set so that it begins from 0 and is most packed to the left. (notated using parantheses but no interveneing commas or spaces)
Normal Order
The most compact arrangement of the members of a pc set, listed from left to right in ascending order within an octave (notated using suqare brackets with interveneing commas)
used when finding shortest span from 1st to last/normal order (0126=> 1260 => 2601 etc…)
Interval class vector
gives a rough approximation of the quality of a sonority by listing the number of occurances of each interval class in that sonority
Adjacency interval series (AIS)
the (ascending only) intervals between pitches in a 12-tone row
Transpositional equivalence
The same intervals in a different key
Inversional equivalence
if you can invert then transpose and have the same intervals
Abstract compliment
take the literal compliment and put it into prime forn
Forte names
Method of referring to a set class, developed by theorist Allen Forte.
Z-related sets
two sets that have the same interval class vector
A set of all 12 pitch classes
Literal compliment

every number that is not in the set. 

EX: [0,1,2] => [3,4,5,6,7,8,9,T,E]

Inversionally symmetrical sets
Sets that map onto themselves under Tn1
12-Tone serialism
Invented by Arnold Schoenberg, Serialism using all 12 pitches; only has to do with pitches
Prime form on 12-tone matrix
Inverted form on 12-tone matrix
Retrograde form on 12-tone matrix
Retrograde inversion form on 12-tone matrix
chart showing all variants of a 12-tone series
Order Number
Indicate the relative order position of each pitch class within a particular series form
All-interval row
2 of each interval class (1-5) and one tritone (6)
Derived row
small chunks of music derived from the same Forte-name make up a row
Discrete subsets
unchangeable chunks of music in a derived row
Symmetrical row (“chunks”)
when you find the adjacency interval series and when you fold the row in half its the same
Hexachordal combinatoriality

2 halves of a row from the same matrix switch places and don’t have to stay in order 

Prime combinatorial 

Retrograde combinatorial 

Inversional combinatorial 

Retrograde-inversional combinatorial

Tonal Serialism
The method of ordering musical parameters other than pitch such as rhythm, dynamic, and articulation
Aleatoric music (indeterminancy)
music in which various elements of a composition are, in varying degrees, determined by chance. Can manifest itself in two ways in music: The compositional process itself, or the performer may be given the opportunity to make decisions during the performance of the piece.
Action Music
Performance art; Meredith Monk; set of instructions; Dr. Gable’s key piece
Specifically when the performers have the choice (subcategory of Aleatoric music)
the use of intervals smaller than the usual whole-tones and semitones of the best-known Western European compositional traditions, although the use of such intervals is a routine feature of many world musics.
Prepared piano
John Cage; piece where you put stuff in a piano in specific way to create a specific sound
Performance art
Same as action music, set of instructions; meredith monk
Graphic notation
a notational style that uses non-traditional symbols to represent musical information
Sound-mass composition
Ligetti; the importance of individual pitches,” is minimized, “in preference for texture, timbre, and dynamics as primary shapers of gesture and impact,” obscuring, “the boundary between sound and noise
Structured aleatoric music
not sure…. I think it’s just slightly more structured aleatoric music than regular aleatoric music because…. you know…. the name…
music characterised by the use of restricted pitch materials, static harmony, and rhythmic devices such as repitition, ostinato, polyrhythm, a steady pulse, and phasing
Rhythmic process in which two or more voices that have the same material begin in unison, but after a time begin to play at different tempos, moving in and out of alignment with one another
Tape Loop
A portion of recorded tape that is repeated over and over again
Theremin/ Ondes Martenot
Examples of early electronic instruments that used electronic oscillators as tone generators
Tape Music (fixed media)
music that exists in the medium of magnetic tape
Musique Concrete
music that is made up of “found sounds”, such as tape recordings, and is put together electronically by the composer
Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
Computer music
music created with the aid of a computer (self explanitory)
A software application that stores sequences of MIDI data and allows a composer to change MIDI note, key velocity, tempo, or controller information of a previously encoded performance
Tintinnabuli Style
Arvo Part; Bell music; two voices, one arpeggiated tonic triad and second voice moves diatonically in stepwise motion
voice part that carries stepwise diatonic melody of tintinnabuli music; Arvo Part
voice part that carries arpeggiated tonic triad of tintinnabuli music; Arvo Part
Music that seems to have its roots in the minimalist traditions of the 1960s and 1970s but is not as strict in its application of typical minimalist techniques
Bang on a Can
a multi-faceted contemporary classical music organization based in New York City. It was founded in 1987 by three American composers who remain its artistic directors: Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon
“Pierrot” ensemble
A Pierrot ensemble is a musical ensemble comprising flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, frequently augmented by the addition of a singer or percussionist, and/or by the performers doubling on other woodwind/stringed/keyboard instruments (chamber music)
John Adams

Life: American Composer; Massachusetts, 1947

Style: coined the term “Post-minimalist”

Major Works: Shaker Loops, El Nino

Thomas Ades

Born: London, England – 1971


Style: New complexity style 


Major Works: The Tempest, Asyla, Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra

Milton Babbit

American Composer, 1916-2011


Style: Serialism, electronic music


Major Works: All set

Bela Bartok

Born: Austria, Hungary – 1881


Style: Late romantic, archived Hungarian folk music, first ethnomusicologist


Major Works: Piano Concerto No. 3

Ablan Berg

Born: Italian Composer, Vienna – 1888


Style: Late romantic; mixed romanticism with 12-tone techniques


Major Works: Skandalkonzert (led to a riot), Wozzeck, Violin Concerto

Pierre Boulez

Born: French Composer, 1925-2016


Style: 20th century, Integral Serialism, Post-tonal


Major Works: “Structures”-for 2 pianos, Pli Selon Pli, Third Piano Sonata, Le Marteau Sans Maitre

Benjamin Britten

Born: England 1913-1976


Style: 12-tone


Major Works: War requiem, Peter Grimes, The young person’s guide to orchestra

John Cage

Born: American Composer 1912-1992


Style: Avant-garde, Indeterminancy


Major Works: 4’33”, Music of Changes

Ruth Crawford Seeger

Born: American Composer 1901-1953


Style: Modernist, Folk music (archived folk music for the library of congress)


Major Works: String Quartet, Piano Prelude, Wrote the book – American Folk Songs for Children

Claude Debussy

Born: French Composer 1862-1918


Style: Impressionist music, used non-traditional scales (modes) and chromatisism


Major Works: Clair de Lune, String Quartet in G minor

Philip Glass

Born: American Composer 1937


Style: Minimalism, film scores 


Major Works: Glassworks

Henryk Gorecki

Born: Poland 1933-2010


Style: Vital-Explosive, Post-Webern expressionism/serialism, Religious Minimalism


Major Works: Symphony No.3 “Symphony of Sorrowful Song”, Symphony No.4, Genesis 1

Charles Ives

Born: American Composer 1874-1954


Style: Pioneer of Modernism, Avant-garde, aleatoric


Major Works: Central Park in the Dark, Symphony No.3

Gyorgy Ligeti

Born: Transylvania, Romania 1923-2006


Style: Modernist/avant-garde, Tonal clusters, microtonality, polyphony, “clocks and clouds”


Major Works: Atmospheres, Ramifications

Witold Lutoslawski

Born: Poland 1913-1994


Style: Structured Aleatory, 12-tone, tone clusters


Major Works: Concerto for Orchestra, He was often inspired by Polish folk music

Gustav Mahler

Born: Austria 1860-1911


Style: Late romantic, modernist


Major Works: Symphony No.2

Olivier Messiaen

Born: French Composer 1908-1992


Style: Total Serialism


Major Works: Quator pour le fin du temps

He was the guy who had synesthesia and could see colors with pitches and wrote bird songs based on the color of the birds.

Meredith Monk

Born: American Composer


Style: Extended Vocal Technique, interdisciplinary, avant-garde, performance music


Major Works: Girlchild

Arvo Part

Born: Estonia 1935


Style: classical and sacred music, minimalism, Tintinnabuli


Major Works: Magnificat, Spiegel im Spiegel

Krysztof Penderecki

Born: Polan 1933


Style: avant garde, tone clusters, graphic notation, 


Major Works: Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, St.Luke Passion, Polish Requiem

Sergei Prokofiev

Born: Russia 1891-1953


Style: Avant-garde, counterpoint


Major Works: The Love For Three Oranges, Dance of the Knights

Steve Reich

Born: American Composer 1936


Style: minimalism, phasing


Major Works: clapping song, come out, different trains

Arnold Shoenberg

Born: Austria 1874 – 1951


Style: Expressionism, atonality, 12-tone


Major Works: Verklarte Nacht, pierrot lunaire

Dmitri Shostakovich

Born: Russia, 1906-1975


Style: Avant-garde


Major Works: Symphone No.5, Piano trio

Richard Strauss

Born: Germany 1864-1949


Style: Late-romantic, avant-garde


Major Works: Four Last Songs, Oboe Concerto

Igor Stravinsky

Born: Russia 1882-1971


Style: Late-romantic, serialism


Major Works: The Rite of Spring, The Firebird, Renard

Anton Webern

Born: Austria 1883-1945


Style: atonality, 12-tone, serialism


Major Works: String Quartet, variations for piano

Julia Wolfe

Born: American Composer 1958


Style: Minimalist/modernist, influenced by folk, classic, rock


Major Works: Anthracite Fields, Steel Hammer, She helped found Bang on a Can