1. A high male voice between alto and baritone. In early polyphonic music, it sang the cantus firmus in long held notes.
  2. Instruments in the tenor range.


  1. A phrase that serves as the subject, or melody for a given work, as in a fugue, or sonata.
  2. A conceptual idea that motivates a given work.


The interval of three diatonic scale degrees.

time signature

The numbers written on staff of any piece indicating which type of note gets a single beat and how many beats are in each measure.


Music with a center, or tonic, which employs tones which relate to that tonic in a predictable and measurable manner.


The key center, or foundation of, a scale or melody.


The highest voice, instrument, or part.

treble clef

The G clef falling on the second line of the staff.


A chord consisting of a root, and two other members, usually a third and a fifth.


An ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between two adjacent notes—the main note and the note a half or whole step above it.


An ornament consisting of four to five notes that make a “turn” around a note.

twelve-tone technique

In composition, the arrangement by the composer of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale into a tone row, which serves as the basis for composition.