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Resources

This is a little collection of theory and music information for students and teachers alike.
Feel free to link to this page, and the musical terms pages.

Key signature checker

Check your keys one of two ways

 1. By key

2. By key signature

Dynamics

mf
mezzo-forte
Moderately loud
mp
mezzo-piano
Moderately soft
f
forte
Loud
p
piano
Soft
ff
fortissimo
Very loud
pp
pianissimo
Very soft
fff
fortississimo
Very very loud
ppp
pianississimo
Very very soft
cresc.
crescendo
Getting louder
dim.
diminuendo
Getting softer

Tempo

Largo
Slow
Allegro
Fast
Moderato
Moderately
Larghetto
Almost largo
Allegretto
Almost allegro
Molto
Very
Adagio
Moderately slow
Vivace
Lively
Accellerando
Getting faster
Andante
Walking tempo
Presto
Very fast
Ritardando
Getting slower
Andantino
Almost andante
Prestissimo
Very very fast
Rallentando
Gradually slower

Musical games

Dance 2 the BeatDance 2 the Beat
Dance in time with the music to get the highest score possible


Up BeatUp Beat
Keep the rhythm and rock the party! Good game for younger musicians

 

Note durations

Note durations are referred to in two different ways. The British system is also followed in Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. The American system is given alongside the British system below

Note
Rest
Name
Duration
Breve
Breve rest
Breve / Double Whole note
8 crotchets in length
Semibreve
Semibreve rest
Semibreve / Whole note
4 crotchets in length
Minim
Minim rest
Minim / Half note
2 crotchets in length
Crotchet
Crotchet rest
Crotchet / Quarter note
1 crotchet in length
Quaver
Quaver rest
Quaver / Eighth note
Half a crotchet in length
Semiquaver
Semiquaver rest
Semiquaver / Sixteenth note
Quarter of a crotchet in length
Note durations

Note names

Note names in English are displayed below on the relevant note of a keyboard. The black keys can be referred to as being a sharp (related to the note below them) or a flat (related to the note above them). These are called "enharmonics"

Note names

Musical note names are different in each language, as are the common words for many other musical things. Below is a table outlining some of these words across several languages. In German, the note B natural is referred to as H, and B flat is B

English
French
German
Italian
major
majeur
Dur
maggiore
minor
mineur
Moll
minore
sharp
dièse
-sis
diesis
flat
bémol
-es
bemolle
A
la
A
la
B
si
H
si
C
ut/do
C
do
D
D
re
E
mi
E
mi
F
fa
F
f
G
sol
G
sol
 

Musical forms

A few of the most common forms in classical music, and how they are constructed. Analysis of form in music generally involves the splitting up of the piece into various sections related by theme or mood. The first is designated the "A" section, the second the "B" section and so forth

Binary form

'A' section 'B' section

A form in two sections, with either being repeated. The sections should contain thematically related material and be of roughly the same length. The first section begins in the tonic and modulates to a related key, whilst the second finds its way back to the main key.

Simple binary - the material comprising the first section does not return at the close of the second. A very common form in the Baroque period

Rounded binary - the second section culminates with a return of the opening material, rather like a small recapitulation

Ternary form

'A' section 'B' section 'A' section

A form in three sections, with the middle section containing different, contrasting material to the outer two. The third brings a return of the opening section's themes, which may be embellished slightly or be exactly the same. This form manifested itself in several very common types of classical music, including:

Minuet and trio - a short movement in triple time. The opening "A" section comprises the minuet, with the trio being different in character. The return to the minuet is the final "A" section, usually simply marked as "da capo" at the end of the trio

Da capo aria - from opera in the Baroque and Classical eras. The "A" section is the main body of the aria, with the "B" section a contrasting episode prior to the return to the beginning. In time the da capo was written out, to incorporate a stronger finish to the movement and more vocal virtuosity

March - a piece of military music in duple time. The "B" section again represented as a trio, with music of a more relaxed and smooth character, before a return to the main march theme

Rondo form

'A' section 'B' section 'A' section 'C' section 'A' section

A form involving two or more contrasting episodes interspersed amongst a recurring main theme. Thematically the "B" and "C" sections should contain different material to each other, whilst the "A" section may be slightly changed in each of its reiterations. This is a common 'finale' form for concertos, with the orchestra playing the main theme and the soloist playing the episodes. Sometimes the final "A" section also brings a recapitulation of material heard in the other episodes

Ritornello form - an earlier Baroque version of Rondo form. In Latin 'ritornare' means 'to return', hence the theme was reiterated in between each different episode

Rondeau - French spelling of the word Rondo. Also an earlier form from the Renaissance, linked to poetry

Sonata rondo form - a movement incorporating elements of both sonata and rondo forms, much favoured by Mozart

Sonata form

Introduction Exposition Development Recapitulation Coda

A form developed in the Classical era, incorporating several linked sections with the possibility of smaller sections at the beginning and end. This form was favoured by symphonists and chamber music composers alike, and is outlined below

Introduction - an opening passage of music to set the mood and paint a picture, or even to let the audience know the music had started! This section was not always used, but by the Romantic era had become a major compositional feature

Exposition - the main thematic material, comprising a main subject upon which the whole character of the movement rests, and a second subject in a related key. The second subject frequently culminates in a codetta or small ending, tying up the exposition

Development - a section in which the material is developed, variated or even added to with new material. This section enables composers to let their imagination run wild. By the late Romantic era this was the longest part of the movement, and could digress quite far from the original material

Recapitulation - the return of the main themes of the movement. The main subject returns first, followed by the second subject now played in the tonic. Sometimes these themes may be changed slightly, affected by the development in the middle of the movement

Coda - like the introduction, not a mandatory element in the form. Coda literally means 'end' and acts as a structured tying up of the material, usually with an affirmation of the tonic key of the movement

 

Table of composers

Click the heading of any column to sort by that column. Click again to reverse the order

Composer Born Died Musical era Nationality Symphonies Operas Other
Adams, John Coolidge 1947 - Twentieth cen American - 4 Orch mus
Bach, Johann Sebastian 1685 1750 Baroque German - 224 cant Organ mus
Beethoven, Ludwig van 1770 1827 Early Romantic German 9 1 32 pno son
Bernstein, Leonard 1918 1990 Twentieth cen American 3 2 5 musicals
Brahms, Johannes 1833 1897 Romantic German 4 - Cham mus
Broadstock, Brenton 1952 - Twentieth cen Australian 5 1 Brass mus
Copland, Aaron 1900 1990 Twentieth cen American 3 2 3 ballets
Dvorak, Antonin Leopold 1841 1904 Romantic Bohemian 9 9 Cello con
Haydn, Franz Joseph 1732 1809 Classical Austrian 104 16 68 str qt
Hovhaness, Alan 1911 2000 Twentieth cen American 67 7 2 filmscores
Kancheli, Giya 1935 - Twentieth cen Georgian 7 1 Filmscores
Mahler, Gustav 1860 1911 Late Romantic Bohemian 9 - 5 song cyc
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 1756 1791 Classical Austrian 41 23 Everything
Rossini, Gioachino Antonio 1792 1868 Classical Italian - 39 Sacred mus
Schubert, Franz Peter 1797 1828 Romantic Austrian 9 10 Lieder
Schumann, Robert 1810 1856 Romantic German 4 1 Lieder
Strauss, Richard Georg 1864 1949 Late Romantic German - 15 10 tone p
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich 1840 1893 Romantic Russian 6 10 3 ballets
Vine, Carl 1954 - Twentieth cen Australian 6 - Film+TV
Wagner, Wilhelm Richard 1813 1883 Romantic German 1 13 Influence