iPhone and iPad

Songwriters Glossary

We all need a songwriters glossary at some point; there’s always one bit of jargon we can’t figure out.

  • Accent – when one beat is louder / has more emphasis than the others
  • Arpeggio – playing the notes of a chord individually one after the other
  • Bar (or Measure) – a unit of time with a certain number of beats in it. For example, a certain song has four beats to the bar.
  • Beat – a unit of rhythm.
  • Bridge – a section in the song providing a break from the repetition of the verse and chorus.
  • Chord – a set of notes played at the same times.
  • Chorus – usually the most energetic and memorably section of a song. Generally contains the hook and is usually easy to sing along with.
  • Coda (or outro) – a section at the end of a song that brings the song to a musically satisfying finish.
  • First Person – The singer telling the story from their own perspective, i.e. using β€˜I’ or β€˜me’. I have a song that starts with the line, ‘I’ve come to kill the king’.
  • Harmony – in relation to songs – usually it means the chords – but more generally when two or more notes are playing together and the sound nice we say they are in harmony with each other.
  • Interval – the distance between two notes.
  • Key – the set of notes in a scale; the key note in the scale is called a tonic (e.g. C is the tonic is the key of C – it is the main note in that key). All of the other notes in the scale ar related to the tonic.
  • Melisma – Singing two or more notes for a single syllable.
  • Melody – the arrangement of notes /pitches that create a tune.
  • Meter – number of beats per bar
  • Minor – Although there are several minor scales – for our purposes it is when a scale contains a flattened 3rd (in comparison with Major), 6th and 7th. Minor scales are traditionally said to sound sad when compared to major scales.
  • Mode – a scale with particular musical qualities.
  • Octave – the interval between 12 semitones, for example, C to C.
  • Pitch – The frequency of a note.
  • Phrase – a self contained musical section
  • Pre-Chorus – a relatively recent addition to popular song form; it comes just before the chorus and is designed to ramp up anticipation for the chorus and ramp up the energy at that point in the song.
  • Primary chords – The 3 most commonly used chords in music. In the key of C that would be C, F and G.
  • Prosody – The patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry. properties of speech such as intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm.
  • Syncopation – accenting the off-beat
  • Scansion – The accents in the line of words in a lyric
  • Tempo – the speed of a piece of music. Is it fast or is it slow?
  • Triad – a three note chord
  • Time Signature – and indication of the beats per bar in the music

Leave a Reply