Glossary

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Coda
[ko:da] Italian for tail. In music, a coda refers to a passage that closes a piece. It functions like an expanded cadence and can span anywhere from a few measures to a full section. Some composers mark them in the sheet music, but many do not.
Counterpoint
A musical texture in which two or more musical lines (or voices) may be related harmonically but are each melodically and rhythmically independent. The music of J.S. Bach, for example, is typically contrapuntal. Like this:Like Loading...
Gruppetto
(pl. gruppetti, Italian) The turn. In music, an ornament in which the performer plays the note above the written one, then the written one, the note below it, and then the written note again. Performers typically perform turns in quick, single swooping motions. Like this:Like Loading...
Harmonic Function
Harmonic function refers to the tendency of chords in a key to either progress to specific chords or to rest as they are. It’s easy to think of them as hard and fast rules of “this chord can only go to this other chord,” but “rules” here are more of a list of what tends …

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Tonic
In diatonic music, the tonic is also called the “home” or “root” of a specific piece of music. The key of the piece uses the scale of the same name (e.g. the key of C major uses the C major scale, and the key of F♯ minor uses the F♯ minor scale). The tonic is the first step of that scale (so C in C Major and F♯ in F♯ minor). When we're talking about harmonic function (the tendency of certain chords to progress to other chords or to remain "at rest"), the tonic function is important because it defines some of those resting points. It feels odd to finish the song not on the tonic or the chord built from stacking thirds on top of the tonic (called the tonic triad).
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