APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Note: In this glossary, words indicated by * are used with a particular meaning in the context of this site, the thesis and Syntactic Structures in Music. Others are general terms included for completeness.
Chord names identified by the note which is the root of the chord where this note is described by its alphabetic name. For example: A , A7, B min. Sometimes, lower case letters are used to denote minor chords and uppercase letters are used to denote major chords. This system avoids the need to refer to the prevalent key as is the case with relative (or Roman numeral) naming. This method is useful where modulation is involved. It also helps to easily identify root progressions. This method is common in pop and rock music but is also useful in classical analysis where modulation is involved.
A succession of two functional chords where the root of the second chord is an interval of a perfect fourth higher or perfect fifth lower. This is the most common type of chord progression and is the basis of the perfect cadence. Due to similarity in usage, can also be used to describe root movement by diminished fifth or augmented fourth higher or lower. See Chapter 2 (part 2).
A note, not normally part of a chord, which displaces a normal note of a chord. The appoggiatura resolves onto the displaced note whilst the chord is still sounding. If the appoggiatura is prepared, by the same note being present in the previous chord, then the appoggiatura is normally referred to as a suspension. Although, true suspensions are tied to their preparing note. Conversely, an appoggiatura may be referred to as an unprepared suspension. The appoggiatura usually (but not always) creates a dissonance with the normal notes of the chord. More than one appoggiatura may be deployed concurrently. See Chapter 3 (part 4). See also Appoggiatura chord (below). The appoggiatura is one of the voice leading patterns (or "diminutions") used to elaborate on underlying root progression patterns. See Voice Leading Appendix: Appoggiatura.
A note combination created by one or more appoggiaturas (see above) where the character or duration of the result has the appearance of creating an independent chord in its own right. One of the three main types of non-functional chord. The most common example is the cadential 6 4 chord. The appoggiatura chord arises from voice leading rather than root progression syntax. See Chapter 3 (part 4). Also, see Voice Leading Appendix.
The transformation of a chord into a series of notes played one after another. The idea is that, even though the notes are not played simultaneously, they are still understood, in some way, as constituting chordal harmony. The term originates from the word "harp" i.e. in the style of a harp. The term is also used to signify the movement of one or more voices from one note of a chord to another note of the same chord whilst other voices remain on the same notes. The arpeggio is one of the voice leading patterns (or "diminutions") used to elaborate on underlying root progressions patterns. They are frequently used in combination with other voice leading patterns. See Voice Leading Appendix.
The augmented 5th chord (also referred to just as the augmented chord) is a chromatic chord made up of two major thirds which added together make up the interval of an augmented 5th. In equal temperament, if a further major third is added, the pitch arrives at an octave above the original note. Because of this, augmented 5th chords can only be formed on four different notes, without duplication (enharmonically, at least). Augmented 5th chords formed on the three notes: C, C#, D, D# are consequently the only distinct possibilities. The augmented 5th chord does not occur in the diatonic scale but occurs on the 3rd degree of the harmonic minor scale as in the following example in the key of A minor:
The augmented 6th chord occurs only chromatically. It is a discord which contains the interval of an augmented 6th in combination with other notes. There are 3 main forms of the chord, normally described as follows:
The interval of an augmented 6th is identical (in equal temperament) to the interval of a minor 7th but whereas the minor 7th normally resolves inwards, the augmented 6th resolves outward (to an octave E - E, in the examples above.) It is normally used as a chromatic non-functional chord. The "German" form of the chord is enharmonically the same as the dominant 7th chord and can be reinterpreted and resolved like a true dominant 7th chord, in a new key. However, it is more commonly used in the same way as the other two versions. See Chapter 3: Non-functional Chords and Chapter 7: Modulation via Chromatic Chords.
A note combination created by one or more auxiliary notes (see below) where the character or duration of the result has the appearance of being a chord in its own right. One of the three main types of non-functional chord. This type of auxiliary chord arises from voice leading rather than root progression syntax. Also, by analogy with the auxiliary note, any chord which returns to its preceding chord. Commonly used to prolong the tonic by creating tonic based static harmony or to prolong the dominant to create a dominant prolongation. See Chapter 2 (part 1) and Chapter 3 (part 2). Also, see Voice Leading Appendix.
A note resulting from a step wise movement away from a harmony note. The auxiliary note returns to the original harmony note within a short time interval. A type of melodic elaboration similar to, but not as rapid as a mordent. See Chapter 3 (part 2). See also Auxiliary chord (above). The auxiliary note is one of the voice leading patterns (or "diminutions") used to elaborate on underlying root progression patterns. See Voice Leading Appendix.
A succession of two functional chords where the root of the second chord is an interval of a third lower or an interval of a sixth higher than the first chord. Either interval may be major or minor. The second most common type of chord progression in tonal music. See chapter 2 (part 2).
The cadence is a component of the syntactic phrase structure. It is made up of the chord progression which ends the complete musical phrase. In tonal music this progression is normally chord V to I. Each of these chords may be elaborated in some way, for instance by an appoggiatura chord or static harmony. These expand the V and I chords into the dominant prolongation and static coda.
In the true plagal cadence the chord V is replaced by chord IV. However, most so called plagal cadences are in reality I - [IV] - I static codas which elaborate the chord I of the normal cadence. See static coda.
In modal music the chord V of the cadence is sometimes replaced by chord bVII, V minor or II etc. See Pop Music - Modal Harmony
An imperfect cadence (e.g. chord II to V) is created when the final I of the cadence is missing so that the phrase is left incomplete, usually to be completed on a repetition or by a different phrase.
Sometimes the tonic chord of the cadence overlaps with the static harmony of the next phrase.
The interrupted cadence occurs when a dominant chord is followed by a gamma progression (V - VI) or beta progression (V - III) or gamma' progression (V - IV) rather than the normal alpha progression (V - I) which could form the syntactic cadence. The interrupted cadence is not a true cadence in syntactic terms as it serves only to extend the dynamic harmony of the closing section of the phrase.
A combination of concurrently sounding or arpeggiated notes, the identity of which is understood and named without taking account of any foreground elaboration (such as suspensions, appoggiaturas, passing notes, auxiliary notes etc.). A chord may be functional or non-functional depending on type and context.
A succession of functional chords proceeding by strong root movements. The functional chords may be elaborated by intervening non-functional chords (auxiliary chords, passing chords or appoggiatura chords). These chord progressions are used to form dynamic harmony. See Chapter 2 (part 2)
A term referring to any set of chords following on from each other in any way.
Involving notes which are not part of the diatonic scale. For example, the notes C# and E-flat are chromatic in C major whereas the notes C and D are diatonic (see below). The term can also refer to chords which contain one or more chromatic notes.
The term clustering is used in the thesis on this site to refer to the degree to which paired and non-paired progressions occur adjacently in tonal music. These clusters form the syntactic elements which are necessary for phrase syntax in music. An example of a paired progression would be the progression: C - G - C where a falling fourth progression (C to G) is paired with the reverse progression, a rising fourth progression (G to C) by the use of the auxiliary chord G. Hence auxiliary chords create paired progressions and clusters of paired progressions create static harmony. Clusters of non-paired progressions create dynamic harmony.
See Thesis: 4.2. Analysis of Root Progressions for a more detailed explanation of clustering.
Describes the way two or more phrases are linked together to create a larger extended phrase structure. Each sub-phrase is distinct in that it has its own cadence. However, all but the last of the group is incomplete in some way. The simplest and most common examples are:
The imperfect phrase ends on an imperfect cadence i.e. on the dominant chord. Hence the first phrase is incomplete and needs to be followed by a complete phrase structure. This complete phrase is often the same as the imperfect phrase but with the final tonic in place.
The closing section (dynamic phrase) has no opening section static harmony. Hence the first phrase is incomplete and needs to be followed by a complete phrase structure. This complete phrase is usually melodically different from the closing section but may have motivic connections. The closing section forms a lead in to the main phrase but separated by a cadence.
Chapter 6: Extensions to the Basic Structure will include examples of these. See also: Embedding
A term used to refer to a scale spanning an octave of tones and semitones, in equal temperament, as follows: Tone - Tone - Semitone - Tone - Tone - Tone - Semitone, where two semitones make up a tone. An example of this is the white notes of the keyboard starting on C.
The diatonic scale arises from 3 major triads a perfect fifth apart from each other. For instance, the C major scale is made up from the notes of the following three triads: C major, G major (a fifth higher) and F major (a fifth lower).
The descending melodic minor scale and the western modes (without chromatic alteration) are also diatonic.
Diatonic chords are those that can be created from the diatonic scale without chromatic alteration (i.e. The use of additional flats or sharps). These would include the three major triads mentioned, three minor triads (in C major: D minor, E minor and A minor) and the diminished triad (in C major: B diminished). this scale does not include the augmented triad. This scale (along with the minor scale) forms the basis of the tonal system of music.
The diminished 7th chord is a chromatic chord made up of 3 minor thirds piled on top of each other. In equal temperament, if a further minor third is added, the pitch arrives at an octave above the original note. Because of this, diminished 7th chords can only be formed on three different notes, without duplication (enharmonically, at least). Diminished 7th chords formed on the three notes: C, C#, D are consequently the only distinct possibilities. The diminished 7th chord occurs on the 7th degree of the harmonic minor scale as in the following example in the key of C minor:
The fifth degree of the major or minor scale. The chord on that degree of the scale, usually described as chord V. The dominant chord often contains an added 7th. The chord is then referred to as the 'dominant 7th chord' or V7.
A term used to easily identify one of the three possible diminished 7th chords in any key. The term applies to the combination which contains the note one semitone below the dominant scale step regardless of the way the chord is spelt. When applied to augmented 6th chords the term applies to the chord where the upper note in the augmented interval is one semitone below the dominant scale step. See book Chapter 3 - Description of Chromatic Chords.
A syntactic element which extends the cadential dominant chord, normally by the use of voice leading elaboration or by static harmony created by an oscillation between the dominant and auxiliary chords. The most common type of dominant prolongation is V - I - V etc. These dominant and auxiliary chords are functional chords which can be further elaborated by voice leading patterns or intervening passing chords. Short dominant prolongations can also be created by the use of cadential 6 4 chords or linear progressions. See Chapter 5 (Part 2) and Demo 4.
A term used by the theorist Rameau to describe a concept whereby he considers that chords have two different roots (fundamental basses) simultaneously. An example of this would be the added 6th chord based on the subdominant (in C major: F, A, C, D). According to Rameau, this chord could be interpreted either as being a subdominant chord (root = F) with an added 6th or a supertonic chord (root = D) with an added 7th. This concept is seen as a weakness in Rameau's theory of root progression.
Harmony that is made up of chord progressions rather than a prolongation of one harmony. In tonal music, dynamic harmony is most commonly made up of the α, β and γ strong chord progressions in that order of frequency of use. See Chapter 2 (part 2)syntactic element which is sometimes present in the opening section of the phrase where it precedes the static harmony. In its simplest form, it exists as a single dominant upbeat chord . In longer phrases, the dynamic introduction can include dynamic harmony and sometimes a dominant prolongation. The general form of a dynamic introduction is thus that of a closing section where the cadential tonic chord overlaps with the opening section static harmony. A dynamic introduction is an integral part of the phrase, it is a closing section that is embedded within the phrase. (See below). Phrases can also be extended internally by the dominant prolongation and the static coda. See Chapter 6 and Demo 3.
Describes the way an incomplete phrase (usually a closing section) is connected to another phrase, but in such a way that the two form a single unit. In this type of joining, there is only one cadence for the overall structure. The embedded phrase forms an integral part of the melodic structure of the main phrase. The most common examples are:
In this situation the final dominant chord of the dynamic introduction leads directly to the first tonic chord of the static harmony of the main phrase, thus forming an overlapping cadence. The dynamic introduction forms part of the melodic structure of the main phrase.
In this situation, the tonic or dominant of the cadence is followed by a further brief phrase or closing section which extends the phrase. The cadence of the main phrase is usually weakened in some way. The final tonic chord of the main phrase overlaps with the start of the extension.
Chapter 6: Extensions to the Basic Structure will include examples of these. See also: Conjoining.
A system of harmonic notation used in the 17th and 18th centuries whereby figures placed below the bass of a keyboard part (continuo) indicate the intervals above the bass that are to be used to make up the accompaniment.
An episode of strong and/or long dynamic harmony that introduces the final entry of the main subject or recapitulation. This may or may not include a dominant prolongation.
A term used by by the theorist Heinrich Schenker. Schenker divides music into three hierarchical levels: The background, the middleground and the foreground. The foreground represses the greatest level of detail.
A chord which has a structural significance in the phrase and which is not created by voice leading (such as auxiliary notes, passing notes or appoggiaturas). A functional chord can exist on any degree of the musical scale.
The concept that some chords are structurally significant in a musical phrase whereas other chords are the result of elaboration of structural chords (i.e. voice leading). The non-structural or non-functional chords are most commonly created by auxiliary notes, passing notes or appoggiaturas acting on or filling in between the structural or functional chords. See Chapter 3.
A term used by the theorist Rameau to describe more-or-less what we would now describe as the root of a chord. I say more-or-less because Rameau at different points used slightly different rules for determining what we would describe as the root. See also Double emploi.
A succession of two functional chords where the root of the second chord is an interval of a second higher or an interval of a seventh lower than the first chord. (Either may be major or minor). The third most common type of chord progression. See chapter 2 (part 2).
A succession of functional (or structural) harmonies.
Music stripped of its foreground detail to highlight the underlying harmony. The foreground detail is governed by the rules of voice leading whereas the underlying harmony is governed by the principles of root progression syntax.
A succession of chords arising out of a series of stepwise movements in one or more voices. The step wise movement may be diatonic, chromatic or a combination of both. The resulting harmonies form a set of non-functional chords linking together two functional harmonies. The interpolated chords are normally made up only of notes taking part in the movement plus notes from the starting chord although in some cases chromatic auxiliary notes are also involved. The important point about linear progressions is that they are governed by the rules of voice leading rather than the principles governing root progressions. See Chapter 4. Also, see Voice Leading Appendix.
Those readers who are familiar with Schenker's theory should note that the use of the term linear progression in this book is similar to, but not exactly the same as, that used by Schenker. Here the term is used in a more limited sense to describe patterns closer to traditional voice leading theory than in Schenker. By limiting its use in this way, the true relationship between root progressions and voice leading can be more clearly described than in pure Schenkerian theory.
These are small units of melody that combine to form larger melodic structures. Some or all of the following: Voice leading, rhythmic, and harmonic components can combine to form motivic patterns. The motivic patterns are developed throughout a melody and composition to give a composition unity.
Motivic patterns are often shared with other voices (bass, middle voices).
See Full Analysis Chapter for examples.
An note combination created by one or more passing notes (see below) where the character and duration of the result has the appearance of being an independent chord in its own right. One of the three main types of non-functional chord. Frequently used in both static and dynamic harmony. Passing chords may be created by passing notes in one or more voices in similar or contrary motion. Consequently, the passing chord arises from voice leading rather than root progression syntax. A succession of passing chords may be created by multiple passing notes. These multi-step passing chords are referred to as a linear progression. See Chapter 3 (Part 3). Also, see Voice Leading Appendix.
A note resulting from a step wise filling in between harmony notes. The harmony notes can either belong to the same chord or different chords. The movement is normally of a relatively short time duration in relation to the prevailing harmonic rhythm. See also passing chord (above). The passing note is one of the voice leading patterns (or "diminutions") used to elaborate on underlying root progression patterns. See Voice Leading Appendix.
For the purposes of this site, the following is a definition of a musical phrase, for tonal music:
Except in short pieces of music, an incomplete phrase requires completion by conjoining with a complete phrase. Complete and incomplete phrases may thus join together as sub-phrases of a larger extended phrase. See conjoining and embedding. Phrases may overlap. When they do, the final tonic of the cadence becomes the tonic of the ensuing phrase.
For more on cadences, see cadence.
See Chapter 1. for the basic phrase structure. Chapter 6: Extensions to the Basic Structure will include examples of these.
In conventional theory, the chord which is used to facilitate a modulation (or key change). The pivot chord is a chord which is common to the two keys involved. The chord is therefore ambiguous and takes on one function in the first key and is reinterpreted as a chord on a different degree of the scale in the new key. For the chord to be truly ambiguous then it should be neither the tonic nor dominant of either key. This process is said to smooth the flow from the first key to the second key. Pivot chords can be diatonic in which case they are made up of the normal notes of both keys. Or they can be chromatic in one or both keys. The importance of pivot chords is overstated in conventional theory. See Chapter 7 - Modulation and Chapter 7 - Basics
The term polarisation is used in the thesis on this site to describe the degree to which three of the possible 6 diatonic root progressions are used in preference to the other three progressions. Polarisation of chord progressions can be shown to increase considerably once non-functional chords (passing chords, appoggiatura chords and auxiliary chords) are eliminated from the analysis thus supporting the idea that these types of chords are non-structural in nature. This suggests that these chords arise out of voice leading rather than root progression principles. Total polarisation involves the use of three progressions (the rising fourth (α); falling third (β) and rising second (γ) progressions) to the total exclusion of the remaining reverse progressions (falling fourth (α'); rising third ( β') and falling second (γ') progressions). Tonal pieces of music are characterised by strong polarisation of chord progressions. In contrast, modal pieces of music are characterised by weaker polarisation of chord progressions.
see chord progression
The extension, over time, of the tonic or dominant chord by static harmony. This results from the repetition of the chord being prolonged or the elaboration of the chord with voice leading patterns or the oscillation of the chord with other chords. The chord being prolonged is thus extended to form a syntactic element. In some situations, prolongation can involve dynamic harmony over a tonic or dominant pedal note but this occurs more usually at cadences. See also dominant prolongation and static coda.
Those readers who are familiar with Schenker's theory should note that the use of the term prolongation in this book is different from that used by Schenker. Here the term is used in a more limited sense to describe a phenomenon that is observed when analysing root progressions. By limiting its use to the situation described above, it is possible to make the distinction between static harmony and dynamic harmony that is necessary in order to understand how chord progressions work and how musical phrases are constructed. This aspect of tonal syntax is normally hidden in a pure Schenkerian analysis.Absolute chord names.
The root of a chord is that note which is the lowest note in a chord once the chord has been rearranged into its fundamental triadic (or 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th) structure. The following figure shows three chords and their shared common root:
Similar examples could be shown for 7th and 9th chords etc. This concept is similar to, but not exactly the same as, Rameau's historical concept of the fundamental bass.
The movement from one chord to the next chord, taking into account the way the respective roots of the chords relate to each other. Root progressions can only be correctly identified once voice leading elaboration such as: arpeggiation, auxiliary notes, appoggiaturas and suspensions, passing notes and linear progressions and non functional chords such as: passing chords, auxiliary chords, appoggiatura chords have been accounted for.
Examples of root progressions would be: the root movement of an interval of a rising 4th from an A major chord to a D major chord or the root movement of a falling third from a C major chord to an A minor chord.
A term referring to the steps of the major or minor scale, usually designated by Roman numerals. For example, scale step I refers to the tonic, scale step II the supertonic etc. The term is most useful at points where a piece is not modulating.
The term is usually used to describe a dominant 7th chord (i.e. a chord which contains a major 3rd, a perfect 5th and a minor 7th) which is not on the dominant of the prevailing key. Secondary dominants are often employed as part of dynamic harmony and normally move to a chord with a root a 4th higher. They don't normally indicate modulation. They can occur on any degree of the scale.
Segmentation is used in the thesis of this website to refer to the way that clusters of static harmony and dynamic harmony divide up music into blocks of harmony that make up the syntactic elements that are necessary for phrase syntax in tonal music.
Please refer to the thesis section: 4.3. The Relationship Between Root Progressions and Musical Phrases for a more detailed description of segmentation.
A syntactic element which extends the cadential tonic chord by one or more of the following: repetition, voice leading patterns or the use of static harmony created by an oscillation between the tonic and other chords. The most common examples of chord oscillations are: I - V - I and I - IV - I etc. The tonic and auxiliary chords are effectively functional chords that can be further elaborated by voice leading or intervening passing chords. See Chapter 5 (part 3). Some static codas are constructed by dynamic harmony over a tonic pedal note, but this is less common.
Harmony that is made up of the prolongation of one chord rather than a series of chord progressions. Static harmony based on tonic or dominant chords serve as syntactic elements within the syntactic structure. Static harmony is made up of a sustained tonic or dominant chord or the oscillation of the tonic or dominant chord with other chords. The chords may be further elaborated by voice leading patterns such as passing chords or linear progressions. See Chapter 2 (part 1).
This adjective can be used to qualify several musical terms as follows. The stronger the particular object is, the more significant it is likely to be in the syntactic structure.
The fourth degree of the major or minor scale. The chord on that degree of the scale, usually described as chord IV.
A term used to easily identify one of the three possible diminished 7th chords in any key. The term applies to the combination which contains the note one semitone below the supertonic scale step regardless of the way the chord is spelt. When applied to augmented 6th chords the term refers to the chord where the upper note in the augmented interval is one semitone below the supertonic scale step. Chapter 3 - Description of Chromatic Chords.
see chord succession
This word is used to describe the rules or patterns which describe musical grammars. In this work it is used to describe the patterns in: chords, root progressions, voice leading or phrase structure. Hence: chord syntax, root progression syntax, voice leading syntax, phrase syntax.
The cadence is an element of the syntactic structure and occurs after the dynamic harmony of the closing section. In tonal music, it is usually composed of chord V followed by chord I. These chords in turn can be further elaborated by appoggiatura chords or static harmony. See dominant prolongation and static coda see also cadence and Chapter 1.
The structure that defines the common harmonic syntax for all tonal musical phrases. Made up of syntactic elements such as: static harmony and dynamic harmony and cadential chords V and I. See Chapter 1.
Term used to denote the western system of music which is based on major and minor keys and a series of chords and notes related to a central tonic note which determines the key of a piece.
For a piece to sound truly tonal it must follow the tonal rules of chord syntax, voice leading syntax, chord progression syntax and phrase syntax. Whilst the first two are well documented, this site and book are the first to fully describe chord progression syntax and phrase syntax and their importance in the creation of language like structures in tonal music. See the Preface and rest of the book section.
The first degree of the major or minor scale. The note which denotes the key. The chord on that degree of the scale, usually described as chord I.
A term used to easily identify one of the three possible diminished 7th chords in any key. The term applies to the combination which contains the note one semitone below the tonic scale step regardless of the way in which the chord is spelt. When applied to augmented 6th chords the term refers to the chord where the upper note in the augmented interval is one semitone below the tonic scale step. Chapter 3 - Description of Chromatic Chords.
A chord made up of a three notes with an interval of a third between successive notes. A triad can be major, minor, augmented or diminished depending on the mixture of major and minor thirds deployed.
Sometimes referred to as "part writing". Either term refers to those principles which describe the way vocal or instrumental parts move from one note or chord to another taking into account the interaction between individual parts. Voice leading is thus a subset of, and is described by the rules of, counterpoint. Voice leading principles are concerned with matters such as:
Voice leading principles are described for 16th century polyphony in a system of 5 "species" (species counterpoint). However, some of the strict rules of species counterpoint are relaxed in later periods. Significant in this are the advent of the unprepared dominant seventh chord and other unprepared discords such as the appoggiatura. Voice leading is not concerned with root progression principles. This is probably because voice leading principles were originally codified for 16th century polyphony when root progression patterns were less significant. However, they become more important in later music. See polarisation of root progressions. For further details see Appendix A: Voice Leading Overview
The adjective can be used to qualify several musical terms (such as: inversion, chord, progression, beat, etc.). The weaker the particular object is, the less significant it is likely to be in the syntactic structure. See strong for examples.
Note: In this glossary, words indicated by * are used with a particular meaning in the context of this site, the thesis and Syntactic Structures in Music. Others are general terms included for completeness.