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Words to describe music

  1. 1. Dynamics- descriptive words Soft: quite, whispering, hushed, piano, muted, subdued, ghostly, delicate Loud: intense, powerful, forte, thundering, strong, booming Getting louder: crescendo, increase in volume, intensification of sound, rise/swell/surge of sound. Getting softer: decrescendo, decrease in volume, diminuendo, dying away, wane, recede, taper off. Timbre (Tone colour)- descriptive words Dark: mellow, warm, resonant, rich, velvety, muddy, lush Light: pure, clean, ringing, bright, vibrant, ethereal, clear, breathy Unpleasant: harsh, coarse, rough, brassy, shrill, thin, heavy, piercing, grating, aggressive, abrasive, raspy, scratchy, dry, dull Structure Terms for small segments: Phrase, question and answer, theme, ostinato/loop/motif/hook/riff, cadence point, solo, statement/reinstatement, repetition/difference, transition, climax point. Terms for larger segments: Introduction, verse, pre-chorus, chorus/refrain, bridge/development section, coda/outro. Classical forms: binary, ternary, rondo, sonata form, theme and variations Modern forms: verse-chorus, 32 bar form, AABA, 12-bar blues, free-form Melody- descriptive words Small intervals between the notes: Stepwise motion, scalic, smooth line Big intervals between the notes: Leaps, angular, jagged Lyrical, singable, tuneful, lilting, melodious, diatonic, repetitive Disjointed, fragmented, chromatic, constantly changing
  2. 2. Duration- descriptive words Fast tempo: quick, lively, spirited, hurried, rapid, speedy, frantic, animated, busy, active. Moderate tempo: ambling, relaxed, laid-back, steady. Slow: dignified, stately, drawn-out, leisurly, sluggish Get faster: accelerate, speed up, gather momentum, hasten Get slower: decelerate, slacken, reduce speed, loose momentum Separated notes notes: staccato, choppy, percussive, sharp, abrupt, disconnected, fragmented Joined notes: long, smooth, flowing, blended, sustained, legato, flowing, connected Pitch- descriptive words High pitched: soaring, soprano, shrill, treble, piping Low pitched: deep, bass, boomy, sonorous Harmony Clashing, dissonance, discordant, harmonic tension/resolution. Tonal, harmonious, consonant, harmonious Terms: Major, minor, modal, key changes, modulation, transposition, chord progression, cadence point Rhythm Strong beats/weak beats, on the beat/ off the beat, syncopated, steady pulse/free rhythm, regular rhythm/ irregular rhythm, fragmented Texture Dense, heavy, thick, full, weighty, fat Light, thin, sparse, spare, delicate, open. Terms: Monophonic, homophonic, melody-dominated homophony, polyphonic, counterpoint

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