Of the words and phrases defined below, some are my own coinages, others the invention of earlier scholars (to whom I have tried to give due credit), and yet others standard musical terms with a change of meaning.
In addition to elucidating what would otherwise be puzzling in the text, this glossary may serve as a tentative contribution to the much-needed reform of our ramshackle musical vocabulary. Many of the terms listed below are, quite frankly, makeshifts, but they are at least makeshifts into which a great deal of thought has gone. If anyone can improve on them, please do so.
acoustic mode. The mode c–d–e–f♯–g–a–b\,, so named, apparently by east European scholars, from a resemblance to the fourth octave of the natural harmonic series. It is based on the HEPTATONIA SECUNDA SCALE.
alphabetical notation. A notation employing the letters a–g or A-G, used to describe music in which the position of the TONIC (if present at all) is of secondary importance. Cf NUMERICAL NOTATION.
ambiguity. The multiplicity or vagueness of PATTERN present in all music.
ambit. The range between the focal notes bounding a melody; usually comprises an octave (from the Latin ambitus, used by medieval theorists). See also OCTAVE PATTERN.
apical seventh. A prominent 7 at the apex of a melodic phrase. It differs from the conventional LEADING NOTE precisely because it does not 'lead'. Instead, it bears the same relation to 5 as 3 does to /. Cf. BLUE SEVENTH.
attractor. In complexity theory, a simple pattern to which an evolving system recurs between episodes of greater complexity.
Bar form. A melodic form consisting of three strains in an AAB pattern (mistakenly adopted by German scholars from sixteenth-century Meistersinger usage). It is one of the ancestors of the TWELVE-BAR BLUES. Cf. GEGENBAR FORM.
bass, Bass. (1) With a small 'b': the deepest melodic line of a polyphonic passage. (2) With a capital 'B': the melodic line supporting the harmony. In the latter sense, it often (but not invariably) coincides with the FUNDAMENTAL BASS, and is in TONAL COUNTERPOINT with the MELODY.
bass filler. A bass figure filling the gap between the end of the Melody and the end of the strain. Cf. BASS RUN.
bass run. A showy BASS FILLER found especially in Sousa-type marches, ragtime, and jazz.