Anacrusis   A note or group of notes that form an upbeat or lead-in (pick-up) toward the strong beat of the first measure.

Cadence   The harmonic-melodic punctuation in a progression.  The last two chords of a progression define the cadence.  It can be conclusive (perfect, imperfect, plagal) or inconclusive (toward the dominant or deceptive).

Cadence – Deceptive   A progression that ends with the chords “V – X,” where X is a substitute of the tonic chord.  Most of the time, X is a VI chord.

Cadence to the Dominant   A progression that ends with the chords “X – V,” with X being any natural chord of the given tonality.  Synonym:  “half cadence”

Cadence – Imperfect   A progression ending with “V – I,” where one of the two criteria (or both) for the perfect cadence (see below) are not filled.

Cadence – Perfect   A progression ending with “V – I,” where the following criteria are met:  1. the fundamentals (5-1) are in the bass, and 2. the tonic scale degree is found in the soprano in the I chord.

Cadence – Plagal   A progression that ends with the chords “IV – I.”

Chord Function   The placement of a chord within a musical phrase in consideration of the tonality to which it belongs.  A chord function may be natural (diatonic) or foreign.

Chord Inversion    A chord is considered inverted when the bass note (or the lowest note of the chord) is not the root of the chord. (In other words, the lowest note is the 3rd, 5th, or 7th).

Chord Structure Chord structure and its nature (major, minor, diminished, augmented, dominant 7th, minor 7th, etc.) are determined by the type of 3rds as well as by the general intervallic spacing on which chords are built. When analyzing chord structure, the figures used for all triads are identical (5/3, 6/3, 6/4). Note the presence of a 7th or a 9th by making the distinction between dominant and non-dominant.  In all cases, the figures indicate whether or not the chord structure contains an inversion.

Circle of Fifths (non-modulating) This cycle is the background fabric on which the harmonic language is spoken.  Chords have a “natural” tendency to link themselves by a movement of descending 5ths at the chord’s root level.  The cycle corresponds to the following sequence: I-IV-VII-III-VI-II-V-I.

Conjunct Motion   Any melodic motion that moves by steps of major or minor 2nds.  Note: a melody that moves by an augmented 2nd is considered to be a motion that is non-melodic (it belongs to the harmonic minor).

Disjunct Motion   Any melodic motion with adjacent intervals greater than a major or minor 2nd.

Dominant   A chord situated at a 5th above the tonic that is attracted to the tonic.  The dominant chord contains the leading tone and can be formed in several structures: major triad (three notes), dominant 7th chord (four notes), dominant 7th without root, dominant 9th (five notes), and dominant 9th chord without root.  The 9th may be major or minor, depending on the mode of the tonic to which it relates.

Dominant – Secondary   A type of substitution.  A secondary dominant (sometimes referred to as “applied dominant”) is a chord that possesses the characteristics of a dominant but which resolves to a degree other than the original tonic (secondary key area).  With the exception of V/III in minor, a secondary dominant possesses at least one foreign accidental that confirms the secondary key area.

Duplet   A pair of notes of equal value found in a non-binary context.  The most common duplet is an eighth note duplet equivalent to one beat in a measure of 6/8, 9/8, or 12/8.  The duplet can also be written with two dotted eighth notes.

Natural Chord Function   A chord normally found in a tonal context whose structure is prescribed by the key (i.e., a diatonic harmony).  Note: Use of raised scale degree 6 and 7 in minor keys, although chromatic notes, still imparts a natural function to their respective predominant and dominant harmonies. This is especially true for V, V7, V9 or other dominant harmonies that commonly employ the leading tone.

Meter – Compound Meter   A meter in which the beat (which has a dotted value) is divisible by three. The upper number of the time signature must be divided by three to indicate the number of beats per measure.  The lower number of the time signature shows what type of note value is equal to one third of a beat. Synonym: “ternary meter”

Meter – Simple Meter   A meter in which the beat is divisible by two.  In simple meter, the lower number of the time signature indicates the value of each beat in the measure and the upper number indicates the number of those beats per measure. Synonym: “binary meter”

Mixed Mode   A type of chord substitution.  It refers to the interchangeability between major and minor modes for a given tonic.  The 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees, as well as the chords that contain them, are targeted by this phenomenon.  Note: Do not confuse with the use of the major 6th and 7th degrees in a melodic minor context.

Neapolitan Chord   A chord with a major quality built on the lowered 2nd degree of a major or minor key.  It functions as a substitute for II.  The lowered 2nd degree serves as a melodic attraction toward the tonic.

Ornamental Chromaticism   A phenomenon in which a note that is foreign to the key of the passage ornaments a harmony note at a distance of a half step (passing tone, neighbour tone, chromatic appoggiatura).

Outer Voices   The two voices forming the “contour” of a harmonic progression containing three voices or more.  In standard four-part texture, the outer voices are the soprano in the treble clef and the bass in the bass clef.

Resolution   Melodic motion that is propelled by attraction from one note toward another.  The most common resolutions are from the leading tone to the tonic (7-1) and from the subdominant to the mediant (4-3), both being connected to the progression from V7-I.

Sequence    A phenomenon in which a melodic motive connected to a given progression (a “melodic-harmonic motive”) is repeated at some consistent interval without regard to the harmonic logic of the cycle. Two of the most frequent harmonic models are V-I and I-V.  The melody of the sequence normally progresses by 2nds or 3rds, ascending or descending.  The sequential harmonies may or may not employ secondary dominants.

Substitution Chord   A chord that replaces another chord in a progression.  There are two families of substitution: 1. natural (diatonic) substitution, which operates by virtue of the notes it has in common with the chord it is replacing, and 2. foreign (chromatic) substitution, where a chord is borrowed from another tonality.  In foreign substitution, the three principal types are: the secondary dominant, mixed mode, and the Neapolitan chord.

Triplet   A group of three notes of equal value found in a binary context.  The most common triplets are eighth note triplets (that are equal to two eighth notes) and quarter note triplets (that are equal to two quarter notes).