C is a note in the scale ( = French: ut; Italian:
A cadence usually consists of two chords that provide
musical punctuation at the end of phrases or musical sentences. Below
are descriptions of the different types of cadences.
Perfect Authentic Cadence (PAC)
Consists of a V - I (or V7 - I)
progression with both chords in root position and the tonic pitch sounding
as the highest pitch of the I chord
Imperfect Authentic Cadence (IAC)
Is usually defined simply as any authentic (V
- I) cadence that does not meet all the criteria for a PAC. (e.g.,
one or both chords not in root position; tonic pitch is not the highest-sounding
pitch of the I chord.)
Plagal Cadence (PC)
A typical PC is IV - I. They are
commonly found as a kind of tag following an authentic cadence (e.g., as
Half Cadence (HC)
Very commonly found at the end of an antecedent
phrase, it gives the sense of instability or incompletion (it needs to
"resolve" or "move on"). The HC ends with a V chord, having
been preceded by any other chord.
Phrygian Half Cadence
A special name given to the iv6 - V HC
in minor. The name refers to a cadence found in modal harmony (before
Deceptive Cadence (DC)
Name given to a cadence that occurs when an authentic
cadence (V - I) is expected but not heard. A typical DC is
- vi, but other chords can be used in place of the vi.
The DC is generally used to extend a phrase and not used as a final cadence
(in a tonal work).
A cadenza, based often on an extended and embellished
final cadence, at least in classical concertos, is a passage originally
improvised by a performer in which virtuoso ability might be shown. Cadenzas
are now more often written by the composer, although some modern performers
continue to improvise. In classical concertos the cadenza often leads to
the last section of a movement.
Camera (Italian: room,chamber) is found principally
in the phrase 'sonata da
camera', chamber sonata, to be distinguished in music of the baroque
period from the sonata da chiesa, church sonata. The secular sonata da
camera generally consists of dance movements.
A canon in music is a device in counterpoint in which
a melody announced by one voice or instrument is imitated by one or more
other voices or instruments, entering after the first has started, in the
manner of a round. The word canon may describe the device as it occurs
in a piece of music or a complete composition in this form, like Pachelbel's
well known Canon.
Cantabile (Italian: in singing style) appears often
at the beginning of movements as in andante cantabile - at walking speed
and in a singing style.
A cantata is generally a choral work of some length
that also uses solo voices, usually with instrumental accompaniment. The
texts used may be sacred or secular. Some cantatas use solo voices without
chorus or choir.
Cappella, meaning chapel, is found particularly in
the phrase 'a cappella' for unaccompanied choral singing. The words chapel,
cappella and Kapelle, indicate a musical establishment rather than a place,
as in the English Chapel Royal, the musicians of the monarch. The spelling
capella may also be found.
Capriccio (Italian: caprice; = French: caprice) appears
in a variety of musical meanings, used differently at different periods
and by different composers. In the later 16th century and 17th century
it generally indicated a fugal composition (see Fugue), but later came
to signify dances or dance suites or any composition that allowed a relatively
free play of fancy, as in the Capriccio espagnol (Spanish Caprice) of Rimsky-Korsakov
or the Capriccio italien (Italian Caprice) of Tchaikovsky.
The word 'cassation' is of disputed origin and was
used principally in the third quarter of the 18th century in South Germany
to describe a piece of music akin to a divertimento or serenade, music
intended primarily for entertainment. Mozart uses the word to describe
three of his own serenades.
A celesta (= French: céleste) is a small keyboard
instrument developed in the later 19th century and using hammers that strike
metal bars to give a ringing sound. Tchaikovsky used the celesta, then
a new instrument, in his Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy in his Nutcracker
The word cello is now in very general use instead
of the longer word violoncello, a diminutive of the word violone, indicating
the big viol, the double bass of the bowed viol family. The cello normally
plays the bass line of the string section in an orchestra, its register
the approximate equivalent of the lowest male voice.
The word 'cembalo' is usually used to indicate the
A chaconne (= Italian: ciaconna; earlier English:
chacony) is in origin a dance popular in Spain in the early 17th century.
It came to signify a form in which there are a series of variations over
a short repeated bass or chordal pattern. Famous examples of the form are
found in Bach's Chaconne for unaccompanied violin in his D minor Partita
or the earlier Chacony in G minor by Henry Purcell.
Chamber music is music for a small ensemble of instruments,
intended for performance in a room or chamber, as opposed to a church or
A chamber orchestra has come to indicate an orchestra
smaller in size than the usual symphony orchestra.
A chanson is a French song. The word is used to indicate
songs from the troubadour compositions of the Middle Ages to the art-songs
of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Plainchant and Gregorian Chant)
The word chapel (= Latin: cappella, capella; French:
chapelle; German: Kapelle) signifies, in the ordinary sense, a place of
worship. In music it may be used to indicate a group of musicians employed
by the church or by the court, as in the English Chapel Royal, the group
of musicians employed by the English monarch, or, in later continental
terminology, any musical establishment.
A choir is a group of singers. The word is generally
used to indicate such a group in a church, or the part of the church in
which such a group is normally placed.
A chorale is a German Lutheran hymn-tune, a number
of which were composed or arranged by Luther himself and adapted in later
centuries to various harmonies, the most famous of all by Johann Sebastian
Bach. The word is also used in America to signify a choir or chorus.
The chorale prelude, an introduction to a chorale,
was developed in 17th century Germany as an organ composition based on
a chorale melody. The form is found in the later 17th century in the work
of Buxtehude and in the early 18th century most notably in the 45 chorale
preludes of Johann Sebastian Bach.
A chord is the simultaneous sounding of two or more
notes. The adjective is chordal. The study of harmony involves the correct
placing of chords with relation to each other.
A chorus is a group of singers. The word is also
used to indicate a refrain in a song.
Chromatic notes are those that do not belong to the
diatonic scale. If an ascending scale is taken from the note C, in the
form C, D, E, F, etc., chromatic notes would be C# (C sharp), D# (D sharp),
etc., notes not found in the diatonic scale of C major, which has no sharps
A clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a single
reed, as opposed to the oboe, which has a double reed. The clarinet was
developed from the year 1800 onwards from the earlier chalumeau, which
played notes only in the lower register. The new instrument added notes
in the higher register. Clarinets are built in different keys, most commonly
in B flat and in A.
Clarino was the word often used in the 17th and 18th
centuries for trumpet. Now the word describes the upper register of the
trumpet, much used in the baroque period, when the trumpet, lacking valves,
could only produce successive notes in the highest register, an art that
later fell into temporary disuse.
In the most general meaning of the word, classical
music may designate fine music or serious music. More technically the word
may refer to a period in the history of music, the later 18th century,
the age of Haydn, Mozart andBeethoven. The classical may be differentiated
from the so-called romantic, the relatively experimental and less formally
restricted kinds of music that became current in the 19th century.
The clavichord is a small early keyboard instrument
with a hammer-action. The strings are struck by a tangent, a small oblong
strip of metal, eliciting a soft sound. The limited dynamic range of the
clavichord make it unsuitable for public performance, but it was historically
much favoured by composers such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, second son
of Johann Sebastian Bach and a leading keyboard-player in the middle of
the 18th century.
The five lines generally used in musical notation
have no precise meaning without the addition at the left-hand side of a
clef, a sign that specifies the note to be indicated by one of the lines,
from which other notes may be gauged. The so-called treble clef, familiar
to pianists and violinists, otherwise known as a G clef, is used to show
that the second line from the bottom is G. The so-called bass clef, otherwise
known as an F clef, shows that the second line from the top is the F below
middle C. C clefs are used on any line to show the position of the note
known as middle C. Most frequently found are the alto clef, a C clef on
the middle line of the stave (the group of five lines) and the tenor clef,
a C clef on the second line from the top. The alto clef is the principal
clef used for the viola, the tenor of the string family, while the tenor
clef is used for the upper register of instruments like the cello and the
bassoon. In plainchant, with its four-line stave, there are C clefs and
F clefs which may appear on any line.
A coda (Italian: tail) is the ending of a piece of
music. This may be very short, but in a composition on a large scale may
be extended. The diminutive codetta may be used to indicate the closing
part of a section of a composition.
Originally signifying colouring, the word coloratura
is generally used to describe vocal music that is extensively ornamented
and calls for ability in a very high register. A typical part for a coloratura
soprano is that of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute
A term coined by Milton
Babbitt -- references the operations by which one hexachord
of a twelve-tone row can be transformed
to match the other hexachord in the row. Combinatorial operations
center primarily around TTOs.
A concertante part in a piece of music is a part
that calls for some element of solo performance, as in a classical concerto.
The word is found in the phrase Sinfonia concertante, which is used to
indicate an orchestral composition with two or more solo instruments, a
title used from the late 18th century onwards.
The concertino is the small group of solo instruments
used in a concerto grosso in contrast to the whole body of the orchestra,
consisting of ripieno players (see Concerto grosso). A concertino may also
be a small concerto (see Concerto).
A concerto is a piece of instrumental music that
contrasts a solo instrument or a small group of solo instruments with the
main body of the orchestra. In the earlier 17th century the word had a
more general significance, but in the early 18th century it came to mean
primarily a work as described above.
The concerto grosso developed towards the end of
the 17th century, particularly with the works in this form by Corelli,
followed by Handel and many other composers. A small group of soloists,
often two violins, cello and harpsichord, the concertino, is contrasted
with the whole string orchestra, the concerto grosso, with its less skilled
ripieno players. The concerto grosso may involve wind instruments as well
as strings. The form has been revived by some 20th century composers, at
Consort, used in earlier English, indicates a group
of instruments, as, for example, a consort of viols in the late 16th and
early 17th centuries. A broken consort is a consort of mixed instruments,
strings and wind.
A continuo part, a regular feature of much instrumental
music in the 17th and 18th centuries, was played by a keyboard-player or
performer on a chordal instrument such as a lute or harp, reading from
the bass line of a composition, generally with numbers to indicate the
choice of chords, which would then be filled out, with other melodic and
contrapuntal embellishments. The continuo or basso continuo was a necessary
part of instrumental music, but gradually fell into disuse towards the
end of the 18th century, while remaining an important element in the accompaniment
of operatic recitative.
Contralto (see Alto)
The cor anglais is the English horn, a tenor oboe
that sounds a fifth lower than it is written.
The cornet is a valved brass instrument, resembling
a trumpet but with a wider bore. It was used in the second quarter of the
19th century before the full development of the valved trumpet, but is
now principally found in brass bands.
The cornetto or cornett is a wind instrument made
of wood or ivory, or nowadays reproduced in fibre-glass. It has a cup-shaped
mouthpiece, like brass instruments, but finger-holes, like a recorder,
and was much used in the 17th and earlier 18th centuries, often to support
or even replace treble voices. The bass of the cornetto family is the serpent,
once found in village church bands in England and now revived.
Counterpoint is the combination of two or more melodic
lines, the second or later additional melodies described as counterpoints
to the first. If harmony is regarded as vertical, as it is in conventional
notation, signifying the simultaneous sounding of notes in chords, counterpoint
may be regarded as horizontal. The adjective from counterpoint is contrapuntal.
The phrase modal counterpoint is used to indicate 16th century counterpoint
or Palestrina counterpoint and the phrase tonal counterpoint is used to
indicate the later baroque counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach and his
A countertenor voice is that of a male alto. Sometimes
a distinction is made between the two, the second indicating the English
falsetto tradition and the first a natural voice of similar range.
The French courante, a triple-time dance movement
found frequently in the baroque dance suite, generally follows the allemande,
the opening German dance. It is sometimes not distinguished from the Italian
corrente, although the corrente is generally simpler in texture and rhythm
than its French counterpart.
Crecendo (Italian: growing, becoming louder) is frequently
used as a dynamic instruction to performers.
A song cycle is a set of songs intended to be performed
as a group, as in Schumann's Dichterliebe (The Poet's Love) or Schubert's
Winterreise (Winter Journey). The 19th century Czech composer Smetana wrote
a cycle of symphonic poems, Ma Vlast (My Country).
Cymbals (= Italian: piatti, German: Becken, French:
cymbales) are pairs of round metal plates, generally made of an alloy of
tin and copper, which may be struck together. A single cymbal may be suspended
and struck with a hard or soft stick. The instrument is of ancient origin,
but its more modern use occurs first principally in the later 18th century,
as part of the Turkish music used, for example, by Mozart in The Abduction
from the Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). It found much fuller
and more varied use in the 19th and 20th centuries.