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Discover the many varieties of music that has helped shape society today!

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Music without any written key or mode


Compositions written from 1908 to present.

Schoenberg preferred the term pantonal, denoting synthesis of all keys.

Twelve tone row is a style of atonal music that Schoenberg invented.


A song that narrates a story in short stanzas


The ballad is an enduring musical form and often the first type of song children hear, since many lullabies are ballads.

The first surviving examples date from medieval times, and typically consist of four-line stanzas.

It is often a story set to music.


"I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by Elvis Presley


"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston


"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion



  • Music that has been an established genre for a long period of time.

  • Facts:
  • The Classical music time period was from about 1750-1820.

Classical period ended before Beethoven died. This is because Beethoven was the one who ended it!

Listening to classical music helps you study. However, this is only when you’re writing a paper, organizing notes or assembling a presentation. If you’re memorizing facts, dates, math, science or a foreign language, you should turn off the tunes.


Song with two voices or instruments


In musical theatre and opera, duets are often written for love interests.

A common duet style is a motet (a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied).

Duet's are sung in multiple styles of music.


A song, typically written as a lament for the dead


"American Elegy" by Frank Ticheli (

This song was written in the remembrance of the students lost in the shooting at Columbine High School.


In its original sense, elegies are poems. 

Frank Ticheli--composer--is known for his musical elegies. 

The elegy has taken many musical forms; that of the vocal solo, duet, trio, quartet, etc.


A short, ceremonial tune


Fanfares are typically played by brass instruments, often with drums.

It is often played to announce the arrival of an important person, such as a king or queen.

The history of fanfare was traced back during the middle Ages.

Gregorian Chant

Church music sung as a single vocal line by monks in free rhythm and a restricted scale


Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory I.

Developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Hildegard is a famous composer of chant music.

A religious song, specifically written for the purpose of prayer


With the Reformation came the development of Protestant hymn.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the gospel hymn was developed.

Early Christian hymns consisted mainly of the Psalms.


Movement among various composers whose music focuses on suggestion and atmosphere, "conveying the moods and emotions aroused by the subject rather than a detailed tone‐picture."


Claude Debussy is a famous impressionistic composer.

It was mostly in France. It began in the late 19th century and ended in the middle of the 20th century.

The first pieces of impressionist music were composed by Franz Liszt.


A form of lively folk dance in compound meter, as well as the accompanying dance tune.  Often used in Irish culture.


An Irish jig is done to jig fiddle music, which often has a beat of 6/8.

A jig is danced with a lot of hopping, making it into a joyful dance; jigs are often danced at weddings and other types of celebrations.

It developed in 16th-century England, and was quickly adopted on mainland Europe where it eventually became the final movement of the mature Baroque dance suite.


A form of Japanese musical theatre known for elaborate makeup and costuming

Sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing"


Kabuku is the archaic word of katamuku (傾く), which means to lean.

Kabuki music is either sung by a person, or performed by small drums, the Japanese flute, shamisen, and so on.

Makeup of kabuki is distinct to the character. The less human the characters are, for example ghosts and demons, the more bizarre the makeup becomes.


Any music that comes from Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries of the world.


Some of the most famous styles are the Argentinean tango, the Cuban son, the Mexican ranchera, the Brazilian samba and bossa nova and the salsa, among others.

The Spanish guitar is the most common instrument.

Latin music is a part of world music, which is the study of popular and traditional music in all countries.

Musical Theater

a genre of drama in which singing and dancing play an essential part.


The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running Broadway show. Opening in 1988,

Stephen Sondheim redefined the Broadway musical form with his creative and award winning productions.

There are 40 Broadway theaters, but only 4 are actually on Broadway.


Relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of classical music. Neoclassical music is a twentieth-century trend.

Twentieth-Century Composers:

Aaron Copland


Igor Stravinsky

Leonard Bernstein

Ralph Vaughan Williams


Despite its practical and theoretical connections to the classical tradition of Western art, neoclassicism was perceived by eighteenth-century critics as a revolutionary rejection of the decadence of the baroque that had held sway since the early seventeenth century.

Neoclassical music emerged as a reaction to romanticism.

composers sought to return to aesthetic precepts associated with the broadly defined concept of “classicism,” namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint.


A dramatic work in one or more acts, set to music for singers and instrumentalists.

Famous songs:

"Song to the moon" by Dovořák

"Nessun dorma" by Puccini

"The Queen of the Night aria" by Mozart


A common form of Italian opera is "Bel canto," which means beautiful singing. Three famous Bel canto composers inculde: Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. 

During the seventeenth century, women were not allowed to sing onstage, not even in a chorus. Castrated males, or castrati, would sing the soprano/mezzo/alto parts.

Leontyne Price was the first African American to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera.


an introductory piece of music.


Prelude means "played beforehand," or, "to play beforehand."

In early compositions for the organ, preludes were short pieces of an improvisatory, often virtuosic character which were intended to be played before the beginning of a church service, or prior to some musical element of the service.

 most commonly an orchestral opening to an act of an opera, the first movement of a suite, or a piece preceding a fugue.


Music with five voices/instruments. 


A woodwind quintet is composed of five instruments: a flute, an oboe, a bassoon, a clarinet, and a horn.

A brass quintet is composed of five instruments: two trumpets, a trombone, a tuba, and a horn.

Since wind ensembles first took shape in an age where there was no clear sense of any distinction between woodwinds and brass, a horn was included in woodwind quintet.


Musical declamation of the kind usual in the narrative and dialogue parts of opera and oratorio, sung in the rhythm of ordinary speech with many words on the same note.


Two types of recitative:

1. Secco ("dry recitative")-is sung with a free rhythm dictated by the accents of the words and has simple chords.

2. Accompagnato-Recit accompanied by orchestra.

It developed at the close of the 16th century, which made it possible for the rise of opera.

Recitative does not repeat lines as formally composed songs do. It resembles sung ordinary speech more than a formal musical composition.


An elaborate musical composition for full orchestra, typically in four movements, at least one of which is traditionally in sonata form.


It was not until the 16th century that composers started defining their works as symphonies.

In the 18th century, the first symphonies were string symphonies, written in just four parts: first violin, second violin, viola, and bass.

A major composer of symphonies was Ludwig van Beethoven.

Trio Sonata

A baroque composition written in three parts, two upper parts and one bass.


Trio sonata was a major chamber-music genre in the Baroque era.

The sonata da camera, or chamber sonata, intended for secular performance, consisted of several mostly dancelike movements, and the sonata da chiesa, or church sonata, was as a rule more contrapuntal.

Notable composers of trio sonatas include Arcangelo Corelli, George Frideric Handel, François Couperin, and Antonio Vivaldi.


Simultaneous performance of action or utterance of speech.


two or more musical parts sounding the same pitch or at an octave interval, usually at the same time. 

Rhythmic patterns which are homorhythmic are also called unison.

Most children's songs are written in unison.


formal technique where material is repeated in an altered form. The changes may involve melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, timbre, orchestration or any combination of these. The two types of variations include, sectional and continuous. Each form has many characteristics that distinguish their differences.


A variation may play the tune much faster or much slower, it may change the tune by adding extra sharps and flats or other ornamental notes, or by playing the tune in octaves.

George Frideric Handel wrote a famous set of variations for harpsichord called Harmonious Blacksmith.

Other composers who wrote variations include Brahms, Elgar, Schoenberg, Britten and many more.

Sectional variation example:

"Variations on a Korean folk song" by John barnes chance

Continuous variation example:

"Music for a While" by Henry Purcell


Waltz music is in triple meter with a dance feel. A dance performed by a couple who as a pair turn rhythmically around and around as they progress around the dance floor.


Before waltz became popular as a court dance, all court dances were procession-based, tightly controlled and largely consisted of complicated moves and timings.

Waltz originated among peasants.

Waltz was created, moved from folk roots to royal ballrooms, and helped to kickstart new era of social dances and music styles.


A type of throat singing; variant of overtone singing.

A musical tone that is a part of the harmonic series above a fundamental note and may be heard with it.


A guttural style of singing or chanting, is one of the world's oldest forms of music.

For those who think the human voice can produce only one note at a time, the resonant harmonies of throat-singing are surprising. In throat-singing, a singer can produce two or more notes simultaneously through specialized vocalization technique taking advantage of the throat's resonance characteristics.

Throat-singing is most identified with parts of Central Asia, but it is also practiced in northern Canada and South Africa where the technique takes on different styles and meanings.


A form of singing or calling marked by rapid alternation between the chest voice and falsetto.


Yodeling developed into a form of singing in the 19th century.

Yodeling is most famous in Switzerland.

There is a yearly yodeling competition in Switzerland.


Gypsy music

Gypsy-A member of a traveling people traditionally living by itinerant trade and fortune telling .


Started in India and has moved to different parts of Europe.

Originated for entertainment at parties and celebrations.

Lyrics to Zigeunermusik songs are often sung in one or more dialects of the Romani language, and dance frequently accompanies.

Thus ends the ABC's of Musical style

Don't worry! There are plenty more. :)

Ohio Department of Education Standards

1CE Describe distinguishing characteristics of music forms (e.g., verse-refrain,
AB, ABA, rondo, canon, theme and variation) from various cultures and
historical periods.

4CE Identify the major periods, genres and composers in the development of
Western and non-Western music.

2RE Reflect on a variety of live or recorded music performances.

4RE Describe ways that music relates to other art forms using appropriate terminology.