Glossary of Terms | NewMusicalsInc

glossary of terms

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A cappella

Singing which is without any accompaniment.

AABA

A refrain structure in which an initial A section is followed by a second A section of identical musical material, followed by a section of contrasting musical material, and concluded with a repetition of the initial A section. Lyrics change in each section, but there is usually a repeated lyric in the same location of each A section (e.g., lyric is repeated either the beginning or the end of the A sections). Generally this corresponds to a refrain of typically 8-bar sections. AABA refers to the structure of the Refrain, not the structure of the song.

Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered
My Pal Joey
Climb Every Mountain
The Sound of Music
Cock-Eyed Optimist
South Pacific
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
The Wizard of Oz
The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music
ABAB

A refrain structure in which an initial A section is followed by a section of contrasting musical material (“B section”), followed by a repetition of the initial A section, and concluded with a repetition of the “B section”. Lyrics change in each section, but there is usually a repeated lyric in the same location of each A section (e.g., lyric is repeated either the beginning or the end of the A sections). Generally this corresponds to a refrain of typically 8-bar sections. ABAB refers to the structure of the Refrain, not the structure of the song. An example is: Que Sera Sera (Livingston/Evans).

Que Sera Sera
Livingston/Evans
ABAC

A refrain structure in which an initial A section is followed by a section of contrasting musical material (“B section”), followed by a repetition of the initial A section, and concluded with new material (“C section”). Lyrics change in each section, but there is usually a repeated lyric in the same location of each A section (e.g., lyric is repeated either the beginning or the end of the A sections). Generally this corresponds to a refrain of typically 8-bar sections. ABAC refers to the structure of the Refrain, not the structure of the song.

Anyone Can Whistle
Anyone Can Whistle
There’s a Parade in Town
Anyone Can Whistle
When October Goes
Johnny Mercer
Accent – agogic

Agogic refers to duration. Agogic accents are a result of notes which are noticeably longer (or shorter) than the notes around them.

  • O-klahoma where the wind….
  • Maria, Maria Ma-reee-ia
  • Wou-ldn’t it be loverly?
  • Sunrise, sunset.  Swift-lee fly the years.
Agogic Accent
a video explanation
Accent – dynamic

Dynamic accents are a result of notes which are noticeably louder than the notes around them. Dynamic accents can be created by notation (placing accent marks over notes), by syncopation, or by observing the natural accents created by regular meter in which accented syllables fall on accented beats).

  • In Camelot.
  • The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
  • If I were a rich man.
  • I want to be in A-mer-i-ca
Dynamic accent – a video explanation
Accent – harmonic

A change in the expected harmony causes harmonic accents, or change in the harmonic rhythm. Perhaps a pattern has been established wherein the chords change only and always on the downbeat, so that when this harmonic rhythm is altered, an accent results. Or an deviation from the use of standard tonal harmony might cause an accent (e.g., a key change; an unexpected or unusual chord in the middle of standard tonal harmony; revoicing of a chord; etc.)

  • Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’, woo woo  (from Chattanooga Choo Choo)
  • Was it accidental, or accurately planned? (from You Were There)
Harmonic accent — a video example
Accent – tonic

Tonic accents are a result of notes which are noticeably different in pitch than the notes around them: either higher or lower. A higher pitch may be perceived as emphasized; likewise, a lower pitch may be perceived as emphasized.

  • But as long as you love me so (let it snow)
  • Pop-u-lar
  • Here’s to the ladies who lunch; every body laugh.
Tonic accent — a video explanation
Allegory

An extended or continued metaphor, in which the metaphor is consistent throughout the entire plot, such as in Urinetown, Pippin, Candide, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies.

Alliteration

The repetition of initial consonant sounds in a passage.

  • Luck be a lady tonight
  • Merry merry month of May
  • I Weave With
  • My Mind
  • So, Ladies, Let your fingers
  • Keep your fingers under Control. Cut the thread.
Alliteration – a video explanation
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