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Music glossary - Letter I

Music Glossary



Idée fixe: "Fixed idea", term coined by Berlioz for a recurring musical idea that links different movements of a work.

Imitation: Compositional technique in which a melodic idea is presented in one voice (or part), then restated in another while the first voice continues with new material.

Impromptu: A short piano piece, often improvisational and intimate in character.

Improvisation: Creation of a musical composition while it is being performed, seen in Baroque ornamentation, cadenzas of concertos, jazz, and some non-Western musics. See also embellishment.

Inflection: Small alteration of the pitch by a microtonal interval. See also blue note.

Instrumentation: Arrangement of music for a combined number of instruments.

Intermezzo: Short movement or interlude connecting the main parts of the composition.

Intonation: Degree of adherence to correct pitch. Good intonation implies close approximation of the pitch; poor intonation implies deviation from pitch.

Introduction: The opening section of a piece of music or movement.

Inversion: Mirror or upside-down image of a melody or pattern, found in fugues and 12-tone compositions.

Isorhythmic motet: Medieval and early Renaissance motet based on a repeating rhythmic pattern throughout one or more voices.

Istesso tempo: The same tempo. (The tempo remains as before, after a change was made)

Italian overture: Baroque overture consisting of three sections:
  • Fast - Slow - Fast