Saturday, August 28, 2004

The musical phrase

Like speech or writing, music contains phrases. Also similar to the written and spoken arts, musical phrases express an idea, only instead of words a musical phrase uses harmony, rhythmn and cadential points (kind of like punctuation marks in writing). Musical phrases can be of varying length, but generally, they consist of a number of measures that is divisible by two. Phrases generally end with a cadadence that either resolves the phrase or leads into another phrase. Cadences are special chord combinations that are used to end phrases and pieces of music. (ex. V-I (Authentic cadence), I-V (Half cadence), etc.) A group of several phrases that fit together is called a period (very much like the written paragraph. Phrases are the basic unit of musical expression.

Source: The New Harvard Dictionary of Music 4th ed. Editor: Don Randel Article: Phrases.