Glossary of Elements of Music and other terms.docx -...

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Elements of Music: Music: Organized sound. Sounds may be perceived as “pleasant” or “unpleasant.” What are these sounds that we hear? What is "sound"? What causes it, and how do we hear it? -Sound begins with the vibration of an object, such as a table that is pounded or a string that is plucked. -The vibrations are transmitted to our ears by a medium, which is usually air. -As a result of the vibrations, our eardrums start vibrating too, and impulses, or signals, are transmitted to the brain. There the impulses are selected, organized, and interpreted. -Music is part of this world of sound, an art based on the organization of sounds in time. Properties of musical sounds: -We distinguish music from other sounds by recognizing the four main properties of musical sounds: pitch, dynamics (loudness or softness), tone color, and duration. Duration: the length of time a musical sound lasts Pitch is the relative highness or lowness that we hear in a sound -The pitch of a sound is determined by the frequency of its vibrations. -The faster the vibrations, the higher the pitch; the slower the vibrations, the lower the pitch. -Vibration frequency is measured in cycles per second. -On a piano the highest-frequency tone is 4,186 cycles per second, and the lowest is about 27 cycles per second. In general, the smaller the vibrating object, the faster its vibrations and the higher its pitch. All other things being equal, plucking a short string produces a higher pitch than plucking a long string. The relatively short strings of a violin produce higher pitches than do the longer strings of a double bass.
In music, a sound that has a definite pitch is called a tone . It has a specific frequency, such as 440 cycles per second. The vibrations of a tone are regular and reach the ear at equal time intervals. Noiselike sounds (squeaking brakes or clashing cymbals) have an indefinite pitch because they are produced by irregular vibrations. -Two tones will sound different when they have different pitches. -The "distance" in pitch between any two tones is called an interval . - When tones are separated by the interval called an octave (8 tones apart) they sound very much alike. The distance between the lowest and highest tones that a voice or instrument can produce is called its pitch range, or simply its range . -The range of the average untrained voice is between 1 and 2 octaves. -A pianos range is over 7 octaves. -When men and women sing the same melody, they usually sing it an octave apart. Though most music we know is based on definite pitches, indefinite pitches such as those made by a bass drum or by cymbals are important as well. Some percussion instruments, such as gongs, cowbells, and wood-blocks, come in different sizes and therefore produce higher or lower indefinite pitches. Contrasts between higher and lower indefinite pitches play a vital role in twentieth-century western music and in musical cultures around the world.

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