World of Music Glossary


Learning by Ear – The Oral Tradition: To learn by ear is to listen to music and to copy it until you remember the song! When we sing along with a song on the radio, we have learnt it by ear. We call this process the oral tradition as it is the way music was passed from person to person, generation to generation, throughout history. How? It is often best to do this in small sections, for example, by listening to one line of a song, pausing the song and singing or playing what you just heard, and then going back and doing the same thing again. You may also find that writing lyrics down as you hear them will help you to remember them. Why? When you learn a song by ear, you won’t forget it! And you don’t need to rely on having notated music with you when you want to share your music with other people.

Genre: “A particular type or style of literature, art, film or music that you can recognise because of its special features” – Oxford Learners Dictionary

Syncopation/Syncopated Rhythm: A deviation from a regular expected rhythmic pattern, often placing stress (through dynamic accents) on weaker beats or omitting stronger beats.

Offbeat: The beat of the music that is not usually accentuated, such as beats 2 and 4 in 4/4 time signature

World of Music Passport: Caribbean

Colonialism: “The practice by which a powerful country controls another country or other countries” – Oxford Learner’s Dictionary

Plantations: Large areas of land used for farming crops such as sugarcane, cotton, and coffee

Indentured Labour: When a person is bound by a signed or forced contract (indenture) to work without pay for the owner of the indenture for a specific length of time

Rumba Box: A percussion instrument; a box on which the player sits, which has a hole to the front with metal strips tuned to different notes to be plucked, much like a thumb piano; known in Cuba as the marímbula