About the earsense vocabularies

This vocabulary, like all the earsense vocabularies, is a bit atypical in its organization and its intent. Please take a moment to read following to ensure that you are getting the most out of earsense.

Every discipline has its specialized vocabulary whether that "discipline" is physics, bird watching, knitting, cooking or baseball. A modest, well-chosen vocabulary can build meaningful assertions, make useful observations and highlight the essential and prominent aspects of that discipline. In many cases, there is a minimal vocabulary whose definition is necessary before just about anything of any meaning within that discipline can be uttered. Exploiting this as an opportunity: a basic technical vocabulary can serve as a road map, a list of attractions and highlights that must be visited to gain a sufficient view of a particular discipline; a basic vocabulary is a checklist of things you ought to know.

The earsense vocabularies are modest lists of technical terms necessary and reasonably sufficient to meaningfully describe the essential area of a particular musical domain. They are chosen carefully to be adequate but not overwhelming, revealing without being exhaustive. The words in a particular vocabulary are further partitioned to help you divide and conquer, to tackle the bare essentials while feeling comfortable to explore further when you are up to it. While every term is recommended, you needn't absorb them all in one go. For your convenience, they are grouped into following categories in ascending order of complexity and subtlety, from basic to esoteric, from immediately relevant to food for future thought.

essential - the minimal subset, just about all you need to have meaningful fun

basic - fundamental ideas that flesh out the vocabulary to an intelligent working set

additional - more detail, related ideas, suggestions for further research

You will notice that the terms are not listed alphabetically. Rather, they are listed in the order that they might appear in a story about the subject. They are listed to emphasize their logical ordering in a narrative. To further support this, each term's definition page has links for the next and the previous term, the most relevant neighbor terms in a window of meaning: the pages are stitched together to create a sort of story. You can follow the links just like you would turn pages in a book.

Each term definition page is devoted to defining that term with brevity as well as sufficient depth, scope and relationship to other terms in the language. For brevity, every term has a one sentence definition at the top of the page. This is a useful summary when referring to the term for a quick reminder or even just enough of a definition to move on with the core of the idea. The one sentence definition uses only terms previous exposed in the vocabulary with back links. Following the minimalistic one sentence definition is a manageable essay giving the term full play in terms of explanation, subtleties, exceptions, related terms and plenty of examples for exploration. Like all of the presentations on earsense, the definitions use multi-modalities: words, images, musical snippets (notation and sound), and meaningful associations for comparison, contrast, examples and further exploration. Key to this mandate is a list of examples to show the terms in action: to show how the term plays an active role in musical construction and the musical experience. Nearly every term has a generous list of musical examples.

Overall, general, with reasonably complete explanations including subtleties, exceptions, and pointers for further study. They will make you strongly conversant with the particular area, enough to begin to form deeper observations, raise more probing questions, make sense of additional resources you might care to explore.

If you find a key term or concept missing, we would love to hear about it. Please contact us.

Currently, there are three separate vocabularies at earsense. They are partitioned, once again, to group a small set of meaningful terms within the practical relevance of a particular musical domain. Though you stay within a particular vocabulary, your literacy with that domain will be useful. As you absorb multiple vocabularies, you will see how, even within a particular musical domain, they all become relevant and revealing either by highlighting some aspect of the art or suggesting something that is not part of that particular art, refining your definition by learning about something that the matter at hand is not.

Music Mindfulness: the First Principles of Music
Contrapuntal Texture: The Art of Fugue
Sonata Forms and the Classical String Quartet