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Musical Terms Beginning With I

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Impressionism

A term transferred from painting to music. Instead of lifelike paintings with hard outlines, Impressionist artists used dots, or shades of color to create the “impression” of a scene on canvas. Musical Impressionists used different chord combinations and scales to try and capture the same kind of mood in their compositions.

Music from the Impressionist period.

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Improvisation

The art of composing music while performing it, without the help of a written score.

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Incidental Music

Background music for a play, movie, or television show. It is used to set the mood and illustrate the action; for a play, the incidental music also includes the overture and music between acts.

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Instrument

An object used to make music. There three basic kinds of instruments: wind instruments, which use air to make the sound; percussion instruments, which involve something being hit to make the sound; and instruments with strings that are plucked or played with a bow.

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Instrumentation

Writing music that is right for each instrument so it sounds good when they all play together.

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Interlude

1. A piece of music played between two other larger sections. 2. Music played between acts in a play or opera.

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Intermezzo

Italian for “interlude.”

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Interval

The difference between two pitches. For example, pitches that are two steps apart are called seconds. There are three different kinds of intervals: major, minor, and perfect. Seconds, thirds, sixths, and sevenths exist as both major and minor intervals, the minor intervals being a half step smaller than the major ones.

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