Glossary

parallel chords

The movement of specific chords or chord combinations up and down the scale.

parallel intervals

The movement in two or more parts of the same interval in the same direction.

parallel keys

Major and minor keys having the same tonic note.

parallel motion

The movement in two or more parts in the same direction with the same intervallic separation.

partial

Either the fundamental or an overtone in the harmonic series.

partita

  1. A set of variations.
  2. A suite.

part song

An unaccompanied homophonic song for three or more voices.

perfect pitch

The ability to hear and identify a given note without any musical or tonal support.

period

A musical statement, made up of two or more phrases, and a cadence.

phrase

A musical idea; a natural unit of a melodic line.

Phrygian

A medieval mode, starting on the third degree of the diatonic scale, whose half steps fall between the first and second degrees and fifth and sixth degrees.

plainchant, plainsong

A monophonic chant, unmeasured and unaccompanied.

polonaise

A stately Polish dance in moderate triple time, often with a repeated rhythmic pattern.

polychoral

A style in which an ensemble is divided into groups that may perform individually, alternately, or together.

polyphony

Music that combines two or more melodic lines simultaneously.

prelude

“Play before.” An introductory movement or work.

Presto

At a rapid tempo

program music

A piece that conveys a picture or story. In contrast to absolute music.

Proper

The parts of the Mass whose texts change from day to day, as distinct from the Ordinary. The Proper consists of the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Offertory, and Communion.