alto: a female singer with a low range

ancestor: a person who is related to someone, but lived in the distant or very distant past

aria: a song sung in an opera, usually by one person

baritone: a male singer with a medium range

basers: in the ring shout, the group who sings a response to the songster

bass: a male singer with a low range

bluegrass: a genre of American music, originating in the mid-20th century, following the improvisational form of jazz and influenced by traditional Irish and Scottish music

blues: a genre of music originating in African American communities in the southern United States, characterized by narrative lyrics, 12-bar form, and blues scale

call and response: a common way to learn music in which one person sings part of the song (call), and another person repeats it (response)

chorus: the part of a song that repeats throughout

contour: the shape of the music

dynamics: volume (loud or quiet)

emotions: feelings

emphasis: special importance

explorer: a person who uses his or her senses to learn about something

expression: the way someone says something to communicate emotion or feeling

gospel music: a genre of American folk music with influences from African American spirituals, folk, and call and response church music. The music is often repetitive with dominant vocals and strong harmonies

gourd: large fruit with a hard shell, sometimes hollowed out to hold things (such as water)

Gullah Geechee: direct descendants of Africans brought to the United States as slaves, living in the Lowcountry and the Georgia Sea Islands

harmony: when more than one note is heard at a time, often creating harmonious or pleasing sound

humming: singing without opening one’s lips

improvisation: the act of making up something on the spot

interpretation: when a performing artist, such as a musician or dancer, brings his or her own ideas to the way he or she performs the piece

legato: playing or singing without breaks between the notes; smooth and connected

lyrics: the words in a song

melody: the tune in a piece of music, made up of pitches that go up and down

mezzo-soprano: a female singer with a medium range

mood: the feeling of a piece of music

opera: a theatrical art form where everything is sung and set to music

opposite: things that are related but are very different from each other

pattern: a distinct arrangement of visual designs or sounds, often repeating

phrase: a short portion of a melody

pitch: how high or low a sound is

range: the distance between the lowest and the highest note played or sung

rhythmic pattern: pattern of sound and silence

ring shout: musical practice of American slaves of West African origin characterized by call and response and counter-clockwise shuffling

scat: improvising with the voice using “nonsense” syllables

songster: in the ring shout, the person who leads the rest of the musicians in call and response

soprano: a female singer with a high range

spirituals: music originally sung by African American slaves as a way to express their emotions during times of difficulty, often contained coded messages

staccato: playing or singing with short, disconnected notes

steady beat: the pulse in music

stickman: in the ring shout, the person that keeps the steady beat

tempo: the speed of music

tenor: a male singer with a high range

Underground Railroad: a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped slaves escape to free states and Canada in the 19th century

verse: the part of a song that is different each time and tells the story of the song

vibrations: the movement of air