A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a in (Italic) a cappella Unaccompanied vocal music. (means: in the church style) a capriccio Tempo and expression as performer wishes a piacere Playing as the player wishes and according to his or her taste (like "ad libitum") Absolute music Instrumental music without any extra-musical association. The opposite of program music Abstract music Instrumental music without any extra-musical association. The opposite of program music Accelrando Getting gradually faster. Becoming quicker and quicker Accent Emphasize a note. Playing with emphasis Accidentals The signs used to change the pitch of a note (flat, sharp) or to return it to its normal pitch (natural). Their effect lasts through the remainder of the measure Accord Chord. Three or more tones sounded at the same time Accordion Acoustics The theory of sound. The Physics of the sound - its source, the physical rules controlling it, etc. Adagietto Slightly faster than adagio. Rather slow Adagio Very Slow and calm tempo. Faster than largo. Slower than andante Adagissimo Very very Slow Adagio un poco mosso slow, but moving forward Ad libitum, (ad lib.) As the player or conductor wishes - he may decide whether to skip or perform a part of the musical piece, play rapidly, differently from what is indicated or improvise freely Agitato agitated Agnus dei The fifth part (means "Lamb of God") from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass. Air Simple tune for voice or instrument. See also Aria Al fine To the end Alla Breve two minim beats. Counting in half notes rather than the quarter notes Allargando Slow down Allegretto lively, slighly slower than Allegro Allegro fast, cheerful Allegro assai very fast Allegro non troppo fast, but not too much Allemande A German festive dance found in a suite since the 18th century. Usually in duple meter and binary form Alto, Alt a) Lowest female singing voice b) Viola sound c) High Amplitude A term in acoustics representing sound intensity in the string's rate of vibration Andante walking speed, moderately slow Andante maestoso Walking majestically Andante ma non troppo Walking but not too fast Andantino slightly faster than Andante Andantino cantabile moderately slow, singing Andantino grazioso gracefully, moderately slow Anima Soul With deep feelings Animato Lively, in a vivid manner Anthem A song of praise or loyalty. A Christian hymn Antiphonal, antiphone Singing in a form of answering. It is a chant in which two choirs (or a soloist and a choir) sing alternately. This kind of singing was commonplace in the synagogue and the Christian church. It can be found today in African and Middle Eastern music. Appasionato With passion, with enthusiasm Appoggiatura Neighboring tone. Playing next to the note Aquinaldo A style of Puerto Rican folk music Arco Play with the bow (in string instruments). This direction is opposite to pizzicato. Aria Simple tune for solo voice with instrumental accompaniment. Usually found in opera or oratorio Arpeggio The playing of a chord with its notes sounded out in succession (one after another), rather than simultaneously Ars antiqua (Latin: old art) A style of European music of the 13th century. It was particularly associated with composers of the Parisian school, such as Perotin and Leonin, and characterized by the use of complex forms of organum. It was succeeded by ars nova. Ars nova (Latin: new art) A style of European music of the 14th century, which succeeded 'Ars antiqua'. Its greatest French exponents were Machaut and Dufay. The name was taken from the title of a treatise by Philippe de Vitry, which redefined the principles for the motets composition and the notation of complex rhythms. Art song A song of serious artistic intent written by a trained composer, as distinct from a folk song Assai Quite ..., rather ... Atonal, atonality Music with no key (tonal center). 20th century genre Atempo Return to the original tempo Attack The start of a note or a phrase Autodidact A person who studies by himself
Bacchanalia Drunken singing, a wine song Backbeat The accentuation of beats two and four; usually found in the genres of rhythm and blues Bagatelle A miniature instrumental piece. Its form is usually ternary: a-b-a Bagpipes An originally Scottish wind instrument mainly used for folk music and military orchestras Ballad A simple narrative song Ballade A medieval French poetic song Ballata A medieval polyphonic form of Italian song and poetry Ballet Artistic dancing. Presenting a stage plot including dance and motion, usually accompanied by music Banjo Barcarola An Italian sailor chant, in the style of gondola sailors in Venice, characterized by a 6/8 rocking rhythm Baritone A masculine voice higher than the bass and lower than the tenor Baroque A period in the history of music (from the early 17th century to the mid 18th century). In this time Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and other composers lived and worked Bass The lowest voice in music. In vocal music it is the lower part in the men's voices Basso continuo Figured bass. A system in which one indicates harmony to a musical piece by numbers near the bass part. During the Baroque period, a harpsichord or an organ supplied chords for the basso continuo part. Since the late 18th century, the keyboard's role in filling in the harmonies was taken by the horns, since the basso continuo fell out of use and the keyboard was dropped out. Bassoon Beat The basic time unit of a piece. The "pulse" unit the conductor indicates to the orchestra Bebop Complex jazz style developed in the early 1940s by saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk and trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie. This school of jazz believed in innovation in harmony, rhythm and apects of performance practice. The bebop is characterized by improvised solo performances in dissonant and complex patterns, often by accentuation of the second and fourth beats in each four-four measures and by the twelve-bar “blues” phrase structure, and sometimes by the singing of nonsense syllables. Bemol Flat (French) Benedictus The conclusion (means "blessed") of the Sanctus from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass. Big Band A jazz band usually made up of 3 groups (brass, woodwind & percussion) that played music for dancing. During the 1920s and the 1940s Big Band were most popular in the USA and the Western world. Blues The music of sorrow and suffering of African Americans, both vocal and instrumental. The most persistent characteristic of the blues is a twelve-measure pattern and a slow tempo and the name is related to the “blue notes,” i.e., the third and seventh scale degrees which are used either as natural or flatted. Bolero A Spanish 3/4 meter dance Bongos Bourree A vivid French dance in 4/4 Brace A bracket connecting several staves and notes which will be played together Breve, brevis Eight quarter-notes. The time duration used in Ancient Time, and its meaning: a note of a double length of a whole note: semibreve Brio Energetically, vividly Burlesque A humorous musical movement
Caccia Chase, hunt, a two-voice canon form in which the voices chase each other Cacophony Grating, unpleasant music Cadence A melodic or harmonic (of chords) succession providing the sensation of conclusion Cadenza A section integrated in a concerto, in which the soloist can demostrate his or her ability as a virtuoso Calando Decrease both tempo and volume Calma, calmato, calmando, calmato, calmo Calm, calmly, quietening, relaxed Canon, cannon A polyphonic piece in which the exact same tune is played or sung by several voices one after another. The first voice opens, and several notes after, the second voice begins, and so forth. Cantabile In a singing-like manner Cantata A work for a choir and an orchestra, either religious or secular. Mostly written in the Baroque. Consisting of a number of movements (four to six or more) such as arias, recitatives, duets, and choruses. Bach was the most prominent of the cantata writers. Cantilanera Singing without instrumental accompaniment Cantilena A little song or vocal piece Cantillatio, cantillation Recited singing with no definite rhythm, in free rhythm Cantino A song or poem from the Middle Ages designated for singing outdoors Canto The instrument or voice with the melody. Melody. Song. The highest part Cantus figuratus Singing with trills on each syllable (as in church music) Cantus firmus A given tune. A tune on the basis of which polyphonic pieces used to be written. In Latin: "fixed song". Canzona, canzone a. An Italian secular song from the 16th century b. Late renaissance instrumental form using imitation between voices, which developed from Franco-Flemish chansons Capo Beginning Capriccio This term has different interpretations. Among which: a free form instrumental, brilliant composition Cassazione, cassatio Instrumental work meant to be played outdoors Castanetas Castrato Unique (castrated) singers who sang in high voices in 18th century operas, and on the other hand never participated in parents' night at school Cello Cha cha cha A social dance from Cuba that was very popular in the 1950s Chaconne A piece built on a bass pattern repeated again and again (like the passacaglia) Formerly a slow Spanish dance in a 3/4 metre. Chanson A secular French song. That was the term used for solo songs of troubadours and trouvers, who sang in medieval times, with an instrumentally improvised accompaniment Chanting Singing Chardash A Hungarian dance influenced by Gypsy dances. Its structure is binary, and it includes two contrasted sections: one slow and melancholy, and the second rhythmical and energetic Choir Group of singers Choral A hymn tune performed in the German Protestant church. Usually accompanied by an organ and sung in several different voices. Bach often includes chorals in the end of his cantatas Chord Three or more tones sounded at the same time Chromatics, chromaticism Using notes that are not diatonic (sounds augmented or diminished by a sharp or flat, respectively). Using raised or lowered notes; chromaticism often serves to heighten the emotional tension of music Clarinet Clef A sign written at the beginning of every musical line (stave), marking the pitch of every note Cluster Group of notes a second apart that are played simultaneosly Coda Tail, an addition, the ending of a movement or a piece, in the form of a short supplementary musical section. Codetto The intermediate coda at the end of the exposition in sonata form Col arco Play with the bow - indicating the violinist to go back to playing with the bow after pizzicato (plucking) Col legno del arc A direction to the violinist to play with the bow's wooden backside (bow-stick) Coloratura, coloration Singing with ornamentation, fast, viruoso-like vocal Comodo Leisurely, with no stress, comfortably Composer Writer of music Composition Written music. The creation of an art piece Con with Exmples: Con fuoco with fire Con motto In motion Con ottava Play with the octave Con spirito spirited, with spirit Concertante Orchestrated as a concerto Concertino a. The lesser orchestra in a concerto grosso (where two groups play - a small one versus a big one) b. A short concerto, simpler than the ordinary concerto Concerto A piece in which one or more instrumentalists play solo with an orchestra Concerto grosso, concerti grossi A baroque concerto that uses a full orchestra (ripieno) and a group of soloists (concertino) Conductor Conductus A medieval polyphonic composition, whose source is not in the Gregorian chant but a different text, Latin songs of varied forms and content Congas Consonance Agreeable, satisfactory, a compatible combination of notes sounding together, which the ear finds as easy for listening Consort A small instrumental ensemble; the term was used in the 16th and 17th centuries Contra-alto Alto. The lowest of women's voices Contrabass Another term for a double bass, or bass viol Counter-dance An English dance (also transferred to France and Germany), in which couples would dance one facing the other. A cheerful, even meter dance Counterpoint, contrapunt The art of adding voices to the given tune, so they would fit strict rules. Appears from the 14th century and on. Its meaning: point versus point Courante A quick, triple metre, French dance. Became one of the four standard movements of the suite Credo The third part (means "I believe") from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass. Crescendo..............................cresc. Gradually sing or play louder Cymbals
Da Capo..............................D.C. From the beginning, Go back to beginning (direction) D.C. al Coda Play / sing from the beginning to the Coda. D.C. al Fine (Da Capo al fine) Play / sing from the beginning to the Fine. Return to beginning and play till the place marked end. D.C. al segno (Da Capo al segno) Return to beginning and play till the sign (usually you skip from the sign to the Coda) Dal Segno..............................D.S. From the Segno D.S. al Coda Play / sing from the Segno to the Coda D.S. al Fine Play / sing from the Segno to the Fine (Repeat from the place marked by the sign and until the marking "fine") Deciso In an emphasized rhythm Declamation Reciting. Singing speech. In the opera, there are many declamation sections designated to prompt the plot and story Decrescendo, de-crescendo..............................decresc Gradually sing softer, Italian for "getting smaller". In a weakening volume (opposite of crescendo, also called diminuendo) Diapason Range - the range of sounds an instrument or singer can play or sing, from lowest to highest Diatonic A course written in the key's notes only, with no deviation to other notes - the complete opposite of chromatic Diminuendo..............................dim. Becoming gradually softer. Italian for "getting smaller". In a weakening volume (opposite of crescendo, also called de-crescendo) Discant An ancient form of accompaniment, from the Middle Ages (the 12th century). Early polyphony Disco A kind of popular dance music with a strong beat and simple repetitous lyrics Dissonance Grating on the ear, discordance in the combination of sounds in a certain interval (opposite of consonance). Among intervals seconds and sevenths are dissonant Divertimento A collection of playing movements that were originally entertaining. Later in history, serious divertimento were composed, especially those by Mozart. Dodecaphonic, Twelve-tone system Serial music, 12-tone system - a technique of composing pieces based on a series of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. In this system, there is no tonally central tone, and all notes are equally important Dolce Sweetly, pleasantly, softly Dominant The fifth tone in the scale or the chord built on this tone Double Bass Drama (musical drama) Combination of stage arts similar to opera, with more emphasis to the dramatic side Drum Duet, duo A playing or singing movement performed in a pair Dynamics Changes in sound volume within a musical piece
Effects Sound imitating sounds from nature (wind, rain, sea). Existent in both programme music and also multi-media English Horn Enharmony Two notes or intervals' being identical but with different names. C sharp, for example, is enharmonic to D flat. Ensemble A band (French for "together") Envelope The sound's changing graph along the time axis Espressivo With expression Etude A study. A composition practices specific technic or playing style Eurhythmics A system that teaches rhythm through the movement of the human body. Developed by Emile Dalcroze Expressionism A trend in music of the early 20th century, particularly in Austria and Germany. Taken over from the German visual arts in which painters cultivated a style of emotionalism and deeply probing self-expression.
Fagot Falsetto, falzett The high notes a singer can produce, that are not in his normal singing range. Boys who sing soprano use falsetto Fanfare A short trumpeted (or another brass instrument) ceremonial prelude or flourish Fantasy, fantasia A free movement. A musical piece in an indefinite structure, or that stands on its own, rather than being part of a larger work. Sometimes a piece based on opera themes is called a fantasy Farandola, Farandole A French quick circle dance originating in Greece. 6/8 metre. Fastoso Gallant, magnificent Fermata Hold longer. Waiting, lingering on the note above which the indication is marked Feroce wildly Festivo festively Figuration Ornamentation of a musical piece Figured bass Basso continuo. A system in which one indicates harmony to a musical piece by numbers near the bass part. Was used in the Baroque period Finale Conclusion. The final movement of a musical piece Fine The end. End of song after a redirection Flageolet, flageolet-tones The harmonics (overtones) produced in a string instrument by weak pressing Flat A sign indicating to play the note to which it is attached a semitone lower Flautando An indication to play the violin like a flute Flebile Sad, melancholy Flemish school Composers from the Netherlands and Belgium (Josquin des Préz, Ockeghem and others) who developed the polyphonic style of the Renaissance Flessibile flexibly Flute Forte..............................f Loud Forte-Fortissimo..............................fff As loud as possible Forte Piano..............................fp Loud, then soft Fortissimo..............................ff Very loud Forza With force Forzando..............................fz Forcing, a sudden accent Fourth An interval between two notes four steps apart on the scale. In C major, there would be a fourth between C and F or E and A Freddo Chilly French Horn Frequency Fretta, con- Hastily, speed up, accelerate Fugue A polyphonic texture includes subject strict treatment in 2 or more parts. Fugato A small fugue, a section in a piece written in the form of a fugue Fuoco Loud and fast Fusion A trend in jazz combining jazz with elements of rock and folk music
Galliard A rapid Italian triple metre dance, from the 15th century Galop, Galope, Gallop A fast, cheerful dance in an even metre, performed in a circle. Characteristic rhythmic pattern executed with hopping movements and frequently changing steps. Originated in Germany Gavotte A moderate French dance in an even metre (4/4 or 2/4) Gigue A fast, cheerful dance originating in England or Scotland. Usually in a triple metre and in a binary form (a-b). Most of Bach's and Baroque suites end with a gigue Glissando Sliding from note to note smoothly by slipping. The trombone plays glissando with particular easiness Gloria The second part (means "Glory to God in the highest") from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass. Gong Grave A very heavy, slow, serious rhythm tempo Grazioso, Grazia With grace, graceful Gregorian chant Monophonic singing performed without instrumental accompaniment and with no definite musical metre - free singing Guarneri, Guarnerius A famous violin maker from Cremona, Italy. Viewed as second only to his rival Stradivarius Guerriero In a warrior mood Guitar
Habanera A slow Spanish dance in an even meter. Originating in Cuba Harmonica Harmonic series A series of overtones (notes that vibrate above the fundamental note) Harmony A combination of musical tones heard simultaneously, as opposed to melody Harp Harpsichord - clavicembalo, cembalo (harpsichord in Italy) clavecen (harpsichord in France) Helicon A type of sousaphone. A tuba built as a ring placed on the player's shoulders. Used for playing in marches Hemiola Introducing an even metre into a triple one, or vice versa: two notes in a tree notes' duration time or three in a two notes' duration. Usually, the case is a metre switch from 6/8 to 3/4 or vice versa. An example for this is the first movement of the "Concierto di Aranjuez" by Rodrigo Heterophony Multiple voices that are not based on rules, and in which each performer changes the tune in order to diversify and ornament it, versus other performers Hexachord A six-note scale used in the Ancient times Homophony Music in which one voice sings the melodic part and the rest accompany it by chords or other subordinate material. The opposite of polyphony Hornpipe An English dance whose origin is a sailor dance. Until the end of the 18th century, it was in a triple metre; in later times such dances were composed in an even, light metre Humoresque A prank. A short, cheerful musical piece Hymn A song of praise or joy
Impressionism A French compositional style in which the composer uses unique instrumentation and unusual harmonies to demonstrate his impressions. Impromptu A free-form piece that sounds like an improvisation. Improvisation Music that is played without any written notes. The performer plays spontaneously and invents while playing. Popular in Jazz and folk music Interlude An instrumental piece played between the acts of a play Intermezzo A short piece or comic interlude performed between movements or acts of the opera Interpretation The decisions made in performance that come from the performer rather than the composer Interval The distance in pitch between two notes Intonation The degree of adherence to correct pitch Invention A short composition uses counterpoint. Most of the inventions were written for keyboard instruments. J.S.Bach was the main composer of inventions in the history of music.
Jazz A musical style whose origins are in America, and its characteristics are syncopated rhythms and much improvisation by players
Key The tonal center of a composition Klavier harpsichord in German Koto Japanese string instrument of the Zither family. Came into use in the 16th century. Used for both accompaniment and solo performance, is regarded as Japan's national instrument Kodaly method A system of teaching music based, among other things, on singing solfegio and ear development, through hand signals Kyrie The first part (means "Lord have mercy") from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass.
Lamentoso Mournful Landler A slow dance originating in Austria Larghetto Slightly faster than largo. Broad, but not as much as largo Largo Very slow, broad Ledger lines Short lines drawn underneath or above the staff for notes too high or too low to appear on the staff Legato Tied together. Play or sing a group of notes without seperate attacks, very smoothly. Playing in which there are no breaks between notes but a musical phrase played continuously. Usually marked by an arch Leggero, leggiero Light Lento Slow, moderately Les Six A group of young French composers who in 1918 decided to react against the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. In the group: Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre, and Louis Durey. Lesto Fast Libretto The text of an opera or oratorio Lied The German art song. An art song designated for a solo singer accompanied by a piano. Schubert was the most important of the art lied writers. Ligature An arch above two or more notes, that combines them into one tone. Leitmotif A leading theme. A motif representing (mostly in Wagner's operas) the character of a hero in the opera; this motif appears every time the hero is either mentioned or appears on stage. Also called idee fixe Loco Place - a direction canceling an octave change (ottava alta, ottava bassa), and it means that the player must go back to the normal sound pitch Lute An ancient string instrument, the father of modern guitar and son of the oriental oud
Ma but Madrigal A non-religious song for several singers popular in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Performed by a number of solo singers and includes imitation. Not accompanied by instruments but performed a-cappella (sung only)
Majestic, with glory, festive Maestro Conductor, a specialist artists Major The best known diatonic scale. Played on the white keys of any keyboard from c to the next c Mambo Modern Cuban popular dance music; an instrumental big band style Mandolin Maracas A rattle-like Latino instrument Marcato..............................^ Emphasized, underlined and explicit. A direction to accentuate every note March A walking (marching) song. Originally meant to excite armies. Later became an accepted artistic form Marchiella, Marciale, Marziale In a march style Marimba Mass A festive Christian prayer. In times when the Roman Catholic Church ruled the world of art, masses were composed as impressive musical works, combining playing and singing. Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are the parts of the mass. Guillaume de Machaut, with his "Messe de Notre Dame" for 4 voices, is probably the first composer to create a polyphonic setting of the ordinary of the Mass in the 14th century. Mazurka A slow, national Polish dance, in a tripled metre, with accenting on the second or third beat Measure The notes and rests between two bar lines. Melody A tune, a sequence of ascending and descending notes (tones), as opposed to harmony Meno Less Meno mosso With less motion. Not so fast Mensural notation Notation system that indicates the duration of each note, in contrary to the neumes that indicated no durations. (13th century to 16th) Menuetto see: minuet Merengue A popular folk dance-music genre of the Dominican Republic Meter, metre The regularity and cyclic nature of downbeats Metronome A device allowing the beating of the tempo required, thus assisting a student keep the right speed. Invented by the Bavarian Johann Maelzel. Mezzo Half. Mezzo forte - half loud, mezzo soprano - mid soprano Mezzo forte..............................mf Medium loud Mezzo piano..............................mp Medium quiet Microtone Interval smaller than the semitone. Frequently used in Eastern European and Oriental music. MIDI The initials of "musical instruments digital interface". It is a system of communication between synthesizers, sound modules and computers Mighty Handful A group of composers who wrote Russian national music (as part of the national music trend in the 19th century), grouped under the influence of Balakirev Minesinger German term for the composers and poets of the Middle Ages (troubadours) Miniature Small musical piece Minimalism A modern composition technique in which a pattern repeats itself again and again with small changes Minor A common scale played on the white keys of the keyboard from the note A to the next A (natural minor), and there are developments of this scale, the harmonic and melodic minor Minuet, Minuette A refined French dance customary in noble courts in the 17th and 18th century. Tripled meter and medium tempo. Later introduced into classical symphony as the 3rd movement Modal In the character of a mode, either a church mode, or of a rhythmic mode Mode The words meaning is "system". Modes are the ancient "keys" common in western music until the end of the Middle Ages, a time when European music became more and more based solely on the major and the minor, two of the ancient modes called Ionic and Aeolian Moderato Moderate, medium tempo, average speed Modulation A shift in the course of a piece from one key to another Molto Much, a lot, very Monody Sung monophonic music, a-cappella, or homophonic music in which there is a leading part and the rest serve as its accompaniment Monotony Performance in one note only Monophony One voice music, sung a-cappella. Single melodic line without additional parts or chordal accompaniment; the oldest type of music Monothematic A Composition based on one theme Monotone Reciting text on one pitch Mordent An ornament consisting of the alternation of the written note with the one immediately below it Mosso In motion Motet Unaccompanied church piece for choir Motif A melodic or rhythmic nucleus serving as a basis for a movement or an entire musical piece Moto Motion Musette A quiet, medium tempo movement sounded as if played a Scottish bagpipes - a long sound played in the bass and an abundant, ornamented melody Music Aleatory Music based on random elements, that is elements set by accident, in the course of composition or performance Applied, functional, useful A musical school of artists from the beginning of the century, who believed in composing for the sake of society and serving its needs. Leaders of this trend were Hindemith and Kurt Weill(German: Gebrauchmusik) Chamber Music performed by a small ensemble and usually in small salons or small concerts halls Concrete Music produced of noises and sounds recorded and processed in a recording studio Didactic Music written for educational and learning purposes Dodecaphonic Electro-acoustic Music combining electronic music and concrete music (music using noises, sounds and voices recorded into recording means), played in electronic apparatuses Electronic Music produced by electric means and by electronic instruments Functional see: applied National Music meant to express the spirit of the composer's people, and effected by its folk music. Composers who created such music: Smetana, Grieg, Dvorak, Bartok and others Programme Music written to describe a subject, a story, a picture etc. For example, Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", and "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev. Sacred Music that was written for use in religious services Secular Non-religious music Serial Symphonic Music performed by a symphonic orchestra Twelve-tone Musical The popular development of the operetta (mainly American and British) Musical form The structure and rules according to which a work is written. Among the known forms - the sonata form and the strophic song
Nationalism The love of one’s country as expressed in music history by composers of the Romantic period and the 20th century. They tend to explore folk songs and dances, and use elements from the materials they found in their own national music. Natural A mark canceling a sharp or a flat appeared before, returning the note to its normal value Neoclassicism A 20th century reaction against the subjectivity and unrestrained emotionalism of Romanticism. It is characterized by the revival of aesthetic ideals, forms and methods of the classical period Neumes An ancient form of notation, began being used in the 7th century, first indicated above the sung text, and the stave lines were added later on. Indicates no durations. Ninth An interval of 9 steps in the scale (an octave and a second) Nocturne, nocturno A night tune Non no (Italian) Non troppo Not too much (Italian) Nona see: ninth
Obligato Necessary, binding. Not to be omitted. An essential part. Performance must be as indicated, and each section must be played. The opposite of ad libitum. Oboe Octave a) The eighth note in the diatonic scale b) An interval between two sounds, one of which having a double frequency than the other. For exaple: c' and c'' Octet A group of eight. A musical work for eight players (or an ensemble of eight) Opus A systematic method of numbering a composer's work, usually by order of publication (chronologically) Opera A theatrical stage piece all performed in singing and acting, and includes costumes, stage design and accompanied by an orchestra. Opera seria A serious opera Opera comique, opera buffa, buffo An opera with comical elements and a happy ending Operetta A short opera in a light style Oratorio, Oratoria, Oratory A sacred musical drama. Performed by voices and instruments. The religious sister of the Opera, although usually not including set and customs. Orchestration The arrangement of a musical piece for sake of its playing by an orchestra Organ Organ-point A very prolonged note, usually, but not always in the bass, played simultaneously with the music's development. There is also another type, which is not one long note but many identical ones repeated again and again versus the tune played in other voices. Organum One of the earliest polyphonic forms (middle ages between the 10-13 centuries) consists of a melody (plainchant) and another parallel voice (with an interval of fourth or fifth). Ornamentation To embellish a melody Ostinato Stubborn, Repeated. A musical section repeated over and over again as accompaniment Ottava Octave. The player has to play with octave shifting: ottava alta - play 1 octave higher. ottava bassa - play 1 octave lower. Al ottava - play an octave higher or lower, according to marking's location Overtones, harmonics The notes of the harmonic series (except for the fundamental note) Overture An instrumental movement usually opening a larger piece (opera or a concert) and often quoting it. Overtures were also written as independent works opening concerts and festive events
Partita Like the suite - a collection of dancing tunes played consecutively Passacaglia A slow dance whose origin is Spanish or Italian, in a 3/4 metre. A set of variations based on repeating a bass phrase of 4-8 measures. Similar to the chaconne. Passage A virtuoso section in a piece, or literally, a passage - a transitional section Passion Music written for the text describing the agony of Jesus Christ. Bach wrote wonderful passions Pastorale, Pastoralla, Pastoralgia A piece of an idyllic nature, or a scene from shepherds' life Pavane A dance probably originating in Italy. An even metre and a medium tempo. Used to be popular in the 16th and 17th century, revived in the 19th and 20th century Pedal A sign indicating the use of the piano's right pedal (prolongs the sound) Pentatonic Of five notes. The pentatonic scale served and still serves the music of many nations Perdendo, perdendosi Gradually fading away, to the lowest volume possible Period A short musical phrase, usually consisting of 8 measures, whereas the first 4 measures end in harmonic tension on the dominant, and the last 4 end with a relaxation on a tonic (possibly a new tonic). Listen to the first half --------------------> listen to the second half Pesante Heavy Piacere, a- Playing as the player wishes and according to his or her taste (like "ed- libitum") Piacevole Play pleasantly and gracefully Pianente Softly, gently Pianissimo..............................pp Very soft Piano..............................p Soft Piano Piano-Pianissimo..............................ppp As soft as possible Piccolo Pieno In its whole, full. A direction to use all of the instrument or choir's possibilities Pitch The high-low quality of a musical sound. Pitch is determined by the frequency of the tone, i.e., the number of vibrations per second Piu More Pizzicato Play a string instrument by plucking. The instrument is to be plucked with the fingers instead of being bowed. plainsong Gregorian chant. Monophonic, unmeasured chant Plectrum A prop used for plucking instruments such as the mandolin and guitar. Made of plastic, wood or bone Poco Slightly, a little beat. For instance - pocco adagio - play a little slow Poem, Symphonic poem An orchestral work based on a programme, and describing it by music (programme music) Polka A Bohemian (Czech) dance, dance in small steps, in 2/4 meter and quick tempo. Invented in about 1830, supposedly by a country housemaid, and was extremely popular until the end of the century Polka Mazurka A type of polka whose metre is triple and that accents the third beat Polonaise A Polish ceremonial dance in a triple metre. Chopin composed many such dances. Polytonality A method of composition in which different voices have different tonics. A 20th product, yet already implied by Bach Polyphony Multiple voices. Music written for a number of independent voices of equal musical importance (no leading voice and accompanying voices). Polyphony flourished in the 13th-16th centuries Pomposo Play majestically and magnificently Pop music Popular musical style Portamento To slide smoothly from one note to another Position The disposition of fingers. Different instruments have different placement options of the fingers Postlude A piece played at the end of the vocal section. Usually played on the organ in a church, after prayer is concluded Poussez Up-bow. A sign for violin to draw the bow upwards while playing Prelude A musical movement played before the piece. Usually of free form Pressando, pressez Accelerate, press (like accelerando) Prestissimo Very fast, As fast as possible Presto Very fast piu presto faster Prima, Primo first Prima donna The lady singer in the opera performing the lead Prima vista Playing a piece while reading the notes for the first time Prix de Rome A French prize of 3 years study in Rome for excellent musicians. Among the winners: Bizet, Gounod and Berlioz. Programme music Music written to describe a subject, a story, a picture etc. For example, Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", and "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev. Pronunciato, Pronunziato Sing explicitly, clearly Psalm Sacred hymns or songs Psaltery A medieval stringed instrument, resembles the harp. Played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a pick. In Arab music it exists to this very day, and called Kanun. The psaltery is the father of the harpsichord.
Qanun, qanoun Quartet A composition that is written for four instruments or voices (Most important type is the string quartet). Also the four performers assembled to play or sing such compositions.
A group of four notes equal in duration to three notes of the same length (in a 3/4 metre). The group is marked by a figure "4" above it Quasi As if, almost Quieto quietly Quietissimo totally quietly Quintet, quintour A composition that is written for five instruments or voices. Also the five performers assembled to play or sing such compositions.
Five notes played in the time of four notes of the same value. The group is marked by a figure "5" above it
Raga The scale in Hindu music. Nowadays, 132 ragas are customary, each used for a different time of the year or day, and for the expression of a different state of mind such as terror, anger, heroism, laughter etc. Ragtime An early jazz style usually performed on the piano. Its names means "rhythm of tears/rags", due to the lack of uniform rhythm. Rallenteto, rallentando Gradually slow down Range The notes that a voice or musical instrument is capable of creating, from the lowest to the highest Rap Rapid spoken rhyming vocals Rapidamente, rapido Quickly, swiftly Recorder Register a. A part of the human voice or instrument's range b. In an organ - one set of pipes that is controlled by one stop Reverberation Rallentando Decrease speed Rhapsody A free musical form used in the Romantic period for instrumental and especially orchestral ensembles, similar to the fantasy, yet unlike the latter the rhapsody is based on national tunes and rhythms Recitative A vocal style designed for the speechlike declamation of narrative episodes in operas, oratorios or cantatas, for the sake of telling a story or conversing in an opera Reggae Modern popular Jamaican music which emerged in the late 1960s Relative keys Minor and major keys that have the same key signature. C major and A minor are of such Repertory, repertoire The list of performed works, the performer's program for the night Reprise repetition Requiem An interment prayer, mass for the dead Rhythm The distribution of meter into long and short sounds, the texture of sound duration Ricercare, ricercata A polyphonic movement in which musical themes shift, along with imitation and constant pursuit Riff A short little passage of music that tends to repeat over and over, upon which other music can be played or composed. Mainly in Rock and jazz music. Rigaudon A cheerful dance with a typical leaping step. Its metre is even, and its origins are French Rigore, rigoroso Play meticulously, stick to correct rhythm Rinforzando..............................rfz Reinforcing Ripieno The bigger group in a concerto gross (tuti), unlike the smaller soloist group (concertino) Riposo Calmly Ritardando Gradually play slower, gradually slow down Ritenuto, ritenutto Hold back, immediately slow down Rock & Roll, Rock 'n' Roll A rhythmical musical style whose origins are Blues and black soul music in the United States Romance A piece in a singing-like style Rondeau A medieval French multi-verse polyphonic song Rondo A refrain form. A musical form in which after each new section, a fixed one repeats. The form used for the final movement of classical sonatas, string quartets, symphonies and concertos Rondo-sonata A musical form which is a perfection of the rondo form, and its characteristic structure is a-b-a-c-b-a, and a conclusion. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven used it in their works Round A short vocal canon that can be repeated indefinitely; at the unison. Rubato Freely, interruption of tempo in the form of free, flexible playing Rumba A Cuban dance which, in about 1930, became a popular ballroom dance form in the United States and Europe. It is of African origin, with strong emphasis on rhythm, complicated syncopation, and indefinite repetitions of an eight measure theme.
Sacred music Music that was written for use in religious services Saltarello An Italian triple meter cheerful, light dance Sampler A device enabling recording a natural sound (sample) and playing it in different pitches electronically Sanctus The fourth part (means "Holy") from the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass. Sarabande A slow, Spanish dance in a tripleed metre and a simple binary structure (a-b). characterized by accentuation of the second beat in every measure. Saxophone Scale The arrangement of notes in a specific order. These notes are the base for a musical part. Scherzo Originally, amusing, funny work, but Beethoven introduced it into his symphonies, and many other composers after him did the same. An energetic movement, usually written in a tripled metre. Score The note sheet on which the parts of all voices or instruments participating are written. A conductor uses the score in order to control the orchestra Secco Dry, with no expression Second The interval between two neighboring notes in a scale. Between C and D there is a major second; between E and F - a minor second. Secular music Non-religious music Segno Sign to indicate the beginning or ending of a section that is to be repeated Seguidilla A Spanish dance whose origins are in Andalusia. Its metre is triple and its tempo is fast Seminuendo, seminuito Like diminuendo - gradually becomes quiet Semitone One half step Semplice Simple, the marked part will be played with no change - without ornamentation or rhythm changes Sempre All the time. "Sempre legato", for example, means play legato all the time (until given a different notice) Senza Without (Italian) Septet A piece for seven instruments or singers, or a seven participant ensemble Sequence A motif repeated over and over in a different pitch Serenade An evening song, a light piece for a small orchestra (for example, Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik") Serenata An 18th century dramatic cantata (vocal form) Sereno Quiet, peaceful Serialism An a-tonal composition technique based on a consistent use of a specific series of notes played in the primary order with no repetition of any individual note Serio, Seriosso Serious, seriously Seventh A seven steps interval. In the C major key, for instance, a major seventh would be between C and B above it, and a minor seventh would be between E and D. Sextet A piece for six instruments or singers, or a six participant ensemble Sextuplet Six notes played in the time of four notes of the same value. The 1st, 3rd and 5th should be accented. Sforzando..............................sf Forcing, accented. To be accentuated hard, powerfully. Sforzato..............................sfz Forcing, accented Sharp A sign indicating to play the note to which it is attached a semitone higher Simile In a similar manner - meant to indicate that a prior direction (such as staccato or legato) will be valid until further notice Sin Until the ... (Italian) Sinfonia An instrumental piece used as an opening for the opera (or suite or cantata) since the early 18th century Sitar A Hindu string instrument Sixth The interval between six consecutive notes in a scale. In the C major , for example, a major sixth would be between C and the A above it, and a minor seventh would be between E and C. ska A Jamaican and British dance-hall music. Slentando Slargando, Slowing down gradually Slide The trombone's cylinder whose sliding in and out allows the player to alter sound pitch Smorzando Fading away Solfeggio, solfegio A series of exercises and graded training designated for learning singing, out of notes. Vocal exercises in which syllables are assigned to notes. Solmization (Italian word: solfeggio) A method of teaching singing that eliminates learning to read music notation. The tonic sol-fa system derived from the hexachord invented by Guido d'Arezzo and was systematized in the 1840s by John Curwen: the notes of the rising major scale are represented by the syllables doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, ti, and doh. The system can be applied in any key; modulation simply involves shifting doh to another pitch. Solo A show of a single performer or a lead in an orchestral musical performance Sonata A piece for one instrument in a predefined structure. Occasionally written with piano accompaniment. Sonata form, sonata allegro A particularly important musical form, used for the first movements of sonatas, symphonies, concertos and other works Sonatina A short, simple work written in the sonata form Soprano The highest female voice Sopranino Higher than the soprano. A term used for an especially small instrument playing very high notes Sordina, sordino A mute, a device for muffling the instrument's sounds Sostenuto Sustained. Held. Like tennuto, meaning keeping notes' full duration Sound envelope The sound's changing graph along the time axis Sound frequency Sousaphone Spiccato Staccato in string instruments. Bouncing the bow over the strings Spiritoso, spirito Powerfully, vigorously Spirituals The rebel and protest songs of black people in the US that spoke of biblical subjects and following Christ, but in fact were songs of hope for liberation from bondage, and after emancipation - songs of hope for improvement in the Negro's life in racist America Staccato Short, measured notes, unattached to each other (opposite of legato) Stave, staff Five horizontal lines, upon and between which musical notes are written, thus indicating their pitch Stradivarius A famous builder of violins and other strings from the town of Cremona, Italy. Built over 1000 instruments in his life, and they are considered the best instruments in the world. Even today, his secret of making such excellent instruments remains a mystery, and the ones he built are sold at extremely high prices. Strepituso In a burst Stretto Diminution and cramming-up together notes in a theme or a played section Stringendo Hurry up. In growing acceleration. Strophic A song in which each verse uses the same melody. Strophic songs includes folk songs, hymns and most of the art songs written before the Romantic period. The opposite of through composed. Subdominant The fourth scale on the key. In C major, for instance, F would be the subdominant Submediant The sixth of a key or minor third below the tonic. In C major, for instance, A would be the submediant Suite A sequence of dancing tunes from different countries, become a musical form Swing The "Big band" jazz music of the 1930's. This style of jazz is particularly identified with the Benny Goodman orchestra. Symphony A musical form designated for a large orchestra. Includes four movements, the first one written in the sonata form Symphonic poem Programme music. A type of music in which an extra musical idea (literary, descriptive, etc.) serves as the basis of an orchestral composition Syncope Accentuation in unexpected places in the measure (particularly commonplace in jazz), in contrast to the metre Synthesizerþ
Tact A musical measure Tala The Hindu metre system. A kind of a parallel to western metre, yet unlike its European counterpart emphasized beats do not come regularly but according to an altering arrangement. Today, 36 talas are in use. Tango An Argentinean dance which became popular in the beginning of the 20th century Tanto As much, Too much Tarantella A very quick dance, in a 6/8 metre, originating in Italy. Rather wild Tempo Speed Tenor The higher manly voice Tenunto Playing while hilding the notes their whole duration (complete opposite of staccato) Tonal, tonality Having a key. Reference to the basic note of the scale - the tonic Tambourineþ Tetrachord Four notes within the bounds of the perfect fourth Timbale Timbre Sound color (usually determined by the relative volumes of its overtones) Timpani Third The interval between three neighboring notes on a scale. Between C and E - a major third (2 tones). Between E and G - a minor third - 1.5 tones Through-composed Songs in which there is new music to each verse (the opposite of strophic song) Toccata A free, rapid, highly ornamented movement usually designated for a keyboard instrument. Originated in the sixteenth century but cultivated mainly in the Baroque period Tonic key The keynote. The first, or basic note of a diatonic scale Tranquillo Quiet Transposition Transferring a melody from one key to another. Used in case the player cannot perform a particularly high or low section, and it must be altered in order to allow him play Tremolo Tremble, a repeated playing of a note, quickly. Like a mandolin's long notes Triangle Trill A "curled" ornamentation between a note and its neighbor Trio A three-performer ensemble, either players or singers. Also the music for 3 players. The piano trio for piano, violin, and cello is the most important type Triton The three tones interval that was prohibited in the Middle Ages for use in Christian tunes, since it was unpleasant to the ear. Viewed as a diabolical interval and problematic for the ear. Considered either an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth Trombone Troppo Too much Troubadours Medieval composers and poets, in the 11th-13th centuries, who sang particularly about courtly love Trumpet Tuba Tune A melody, a sequence of ascending and descending notes Tutti All, everybody
Unison In one voice. All performers play one part in the same register un peu A little un poco A beat, a little
Valse see: Waltz Variation Alteration in the tune or musical theme, compared to the original. In a theme and variations form, first a given melody is presented (the theme) and then a number of modifications, each of which is a variation Verismo, Verissimo A 19th century trend in the art of opera that believed in writing operas on topics from daily life, instead of mythological and imaginary ones, as customary before. Vibraphone Vibrato Trembling, vibrating. A player producing a vibrato quivers the note while playing. Normally used for emotional expression Viola Violin Virtuoso A player excelling in an amazing technical ability. For example, Liszt was a virtuoso pianist and Paganini - a virtuoso violinist Vivaccissimo agitated Vivace lively, brisk Vivo Vivid, full of life Vocal Of the voice, sung Volta An ending within a musical piece. A sentence repeated several times with different endings will get different voltas
Wave form Wonder child A child whose artistic talent is extremely great Waltz A triple metered dance popular to this very day. The accompaniment pattern consisting of a low bass note on the first beat and two chords in the middle register on the second and third beats. Waltzes were not written only for dancing purposes. Its peak was in the late 19th century, and especially in the city of Vienna Wood Block
Yodel The singing style popular in the Alps of Austria and Switzerland
Zarzuela A type of Spanish opera Zither A string instrument similar to the harp, played on the player's lap or the table. It can be found today in Austria, Bavaria and Arab music (where it is called Qanun). A development of the Psaltery.
MusixCool© By Nadav Dafni