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Musical Dictionary: I



Imitation: A fugal technique of composition, in which one part introduces a theme, or subject which is then answered by the other parts by reiterating the same theme later in the work. This term is usually applied to fugal passages in choral music.

Imperfect Cadence: See half-cadence.

Impressionism: A musical movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by the French impressionist painters, the movement had its impetus in the music of Debussy and Ravel.  A stylistic period of composition that sought to put to music only the most immediate, direct impressions, upon the composer, of a given subject. Impressionism avoided traditional harmony of thirds, employing more often quartal or quintal tonality.

Impromptu: A short, improvisational-sounding piece.

Improvisation: Spontaneous Composition. The performance of music that is composed on the spur-of-the moment by the performer, usually as a solo, or cadenza. Also used extensively in jazz.

Incidental Music: Short musical segments that accompany, or highlight dramatic moments in, a play, or other stage work.

Instrument: Any device that produces a musical sound.

Instrumental: Music performed on instruments, not sung.

Instrumentation: The art of composing, orchestrating or arranging works for an instrumental ensemble.

Interlude: Short music used to bridge the acts of a play, or the verses of a hymn.

Introduction: The preparatory section, movement, or phrase of a musical work.

Interval: The distance between two notes, in terms of oscillations per second. The difference in one half-step is about 35 beats per second. eg: The difference in pitch between two tones.

Introit: "Entrance". A psalm sung at the start of the Roman Catholic Mass.

Invention: A short, contrapuntal piece.

Inversion: As applied to music the term may be used in both melody and harmony. Melodic inversion: an exchange of ascending and descending movement, e.g. C up to F in descending becomes C down to G. Harmonic inversion: the position of the chord is changed from root position (root on the lowest pitch) to first inversion, with the third, or second inversion, with the fifth in the lowest voice. An example: root position C-E-G; first inversion e-g-C; second inversion G-C-E. To sum up it is the different forms that a chord may take by changing the chord member that is the bass of the chord.

Invertible Counterpoint: counterpoint in which two or more voices can be interchanged for one another.

Ionian Mode: A medieval mode whose scale pattern is that of playing C to C on the white keys of a Piano. This scale is identical to a major scale.

Irish Harp: This instrument became a national symbol. The Irish harp is carved from a single piece of wood and originally had 30 to 36 metal strings. Gut or synthetic strings are used now.

Ironico:  (Ita) Ironical.

Italian Sixth Chord: An augmented sixth chord, which contains a only three tones, as opposed to a German Sixth Chord, or a French Sixth Chord.

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