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ONLINE GLOSSARY

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Total Number of Terms : 1363
 
A Ballata -- In the style of a ballad. A simple song of natural construction
 
A Battuta -- As beaten; strictly in tempo
 
A Cappella -- One or more vocalists performing without an accompaniment
 
A tempo -- Return to the previous tempo
 
Accelerando -- A symbol used in musical notation indicating to gradually quicken tempo
 
Accent -- Emphasis placed on a particular note that gives it more stress than the others
 
Accesible -- Music that is easy to listen to and understand
 
Accompagnato -- Accompanied
 
Acid Rock -- Genre of American rock that emerged in the late 1960's, often associated with psychedelic drugs. Its style featured heavy amplification, instrumental improvisation, new sound technologies, and light shows
 
Acoustical Instrument -- Any musical instrument not relying on external power for operation. Virtually all standard orchestral instruments are acoustic instruments while most instruments used by Rock musicians are electric
 
Acoustics -- How a room sounds based on reverberation and other acoustical qualities
 
Action -- Term applied to the mechanical workings of an instrument, typically of keyboard instruments
 
Acutus -- The earliest form of musical notation from the two signs of Greek prosody (written text to be performed) indicating stress, pitch, length of syllables in the text. The acutus indicates a rising inflection of the voice
 
Ad Lib -- A term used in jazz music as a slang for an improvised solo, or a solo performed without written notation, but where the performer improvises a melody based around the melodic and harmonic structure of the original melody
 
Ad libitum -- Indication to omit a section or improvise
 
Adagietto -- A slow tempo marking between Largo and Andante, but slightly faster than Adagio
 
Adagio -- Quite slow
 
Adagissimo -- An extremely slow tempo marking slower than Largo
 
additive meter -- Groupings of beats that adds up to an overall
 
Aeolian -- A mode used in Gregorian chant based upon the sixth tone of the major scale. In the key of C, the Aeolian mode would be based on A, and would include A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A
 
Aerophone -- An instrument such as the flute, whistle, and horn that produces sound by using air as the primary vibrating means
 
Affabilita -- A directive to perform the indicated passage with ease and elegance; with affability; in a pleasing and agreeable manner
 
Affannoso -- A directive to perform the indicated passage with anxious expression
 
Affrettando -- A directive to perform the indicated passage in a hurried manner
 
Agilita -- A directive to perform the indicated passage with lightness or agility
 
Agitato -- Agitated or restless
 
Agrements -- The French term for ornament or embellishment. Originally, Embellishments introduced in French music of the 17th century typically in keyboard music
 
Air -- A tune, song or melody. Sometimes found in suites
 
Al Fine -- An indication to the performer to repeat a composition either from the beginning (da capo), or from the dal segno symbol, to the place marked fine (the end of the composition)
 
Alba -- In the repertory of the troubadours and Trouvères, a song dealing with a lover's morning departure from his beloved after an illicit tryst
 
Alberti Bass -- A stereotyped accompaniment played on a keyboard instrument with the left hand. The chords of the Alberti Bass are played as arpeggios, or broken chords. Named for Domenico Alberti ca. (1710 - 1740) who used them extensively, they are quite common to the works of Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and early Ludwig van Beethoven
 
Aleatory Music -- Music in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. This is not a 20th century invention as it was known in the 18th century in the form of dice music in which dice were used to determine which measures of the music would be performed
 
Alegria -- Joyful flamenco dance from the province of Cadiz
 
All Ottava -- This is a directive to perform an indicated note or passage of a composition one octave higher than notated. Typically, this is indicated by an 8va or 8 over the note or passage followed by a dotted line over the top of all notes to be transposed. The end of the dotted line has a downstroke indicating that the following notes should be performed as written. The directive loco ("at place") is often found at the end of an all' ottava passage that also directs the performer to perform the notes in their correct place or as written
 
Alla Breve -- A tempo marking indicating a quick duple meter with the half note rather than the quarter note getting the beat (2/2 rather than 4/4). Both the name and the sign are a vestige of mensural notation and of the proportions (Tempus imperfectum diminutum)
 
Alla Caccia -- A directive to perform the indicated passage in the style of hunting music
 
Alla Siciliano -- A directive to the musician to perform a composition in the style of a siciliana
 
Allant -- A directive to a musician to perform the indicated passage of a composition in a bustling or lively manner
 
Allargando -- Growing broader, getting slower and louder
 
Allegretto -- Just a "little allegro", slower than allegro
 
Allegro -- Fast, cheerful
 
Allemande -- German dance in 3/4 time, 16th/17th, rather slow. Like a landler. Often the first dance in the classic suite
 
Allemande -- A dance in moderate duple meter first appearing in the early 16th century and was frequently followed by a more lively dance in triple meter or, in the 17th century, by the courante. In the 17th century it became a stylized dance type that was regularly used as the first movement of a dance suite. These allemandes are in a very moderate 4/4 time
 
Alliteration -- A characteristic of ancient Northern European poetry such as Beowulf consisting of the use of words with the same initial letter. This principle was adopted by Richard Wagner in Der Ring des Nibelungen, for example, "Nach Welten-Wonne mein Wunsch verlangte aus wild webendem Bangen
 
Alternate Singing -- Two choirs singing in alternation in a religious service. The response made by one part of the choir to another, or the congregation responding to the priest in a Roman Catholic service
 
Alto -- Lowest of the female voices
 
Alto Crumhorn -- A Medieval and Renaissance wind instrument of the recorder family that plays in the alto range
 
Alto Flute -- Woodwind instrument of the flute family that plays in the alto register
 
Am Steg -- A directive to string players to play a particular passage very near, or directly on top the bridge
 
Ambrosian Chant -- A purely diatonic series of sacred melodies or chants collected and introduced into the Church by Saint Ambrose
 
Amorevole -- A directive to a musician to perform a selected passage of a composition in a loving manner
 
Anacrusis -- An Upbeat or a pickup note(s); a term used for unstressed notes at the beginning of a phrase of music
 
Analysis -- The study of music that focuses on the form or structure of the music itself. There are several methods of analysis, including analysis by harmonic structure, theme, by form, and by phrase
 
Anapest -- A musical foot consisting of two short notes or syllables, followed by one long
 
Andante -- Moderately slow or walking pace
 
Andante -- Word used to suggest the speed of a piece of music
 
Animé -- A directive to a musician to perform the indicated passage of a composition in a lively and animated manner
 
Anonymous -- Term attached to a musical composition when the composer is unknown
 
Answer -- Second entry of the subject in a fugue, usually pitched a fourth below or a fifth above the original subject. If the theme is altered slightly in the answer, then it is said to be a 'tonal' answer, if it is entirely unaltered, it is said to be a 'real' answer
 
Antara -- Andean panpipes typically made of cane or clay
 
Anthem -- Short vocal composition
 
Antibacchius -- A musical foot of three syllables, the first two long or accented, the third short, or unaccented
 
Anticipation -- A musical foot of three syllables, the first two long or accented, the third short, or unaccented
 
Antiphonal -- A performance style in which an ensemble is divided into two or more groups, performing alternately as separate groups and in unison
 
Antique Cymbals -- A set of two small disks of brass each held in one hand of the performer that are played by being struck together gently and allowed to vibrate. The antique cymbals are pitched percussion instruments and can be mounted as a chromatic set
 
Appassionato -- A directive to a performer to play a certain passage passionately, or with intense emotion or feeling
 
Appoggiatura -- Leaning note; grace note; note of embellishment usually one step above (sometimes, though seldom, it is one step below) the main note. Before an even or unaltered note, the appoggiatura generally receives its face value, that is one-half the value of the note that follows; before a dotted note it receives more than its face value, that is to say that it should be given two-thirds of the value of the following note. If the note is of the same pitch as the principal note of the appoggiatura, the grace note receives the entire value of its principal note, but is carried to the next note with strong portamento
 
Arabesque -- Decorative musical material
 
Architectural Acoustics -- The term used to describe how the structure of a room or building affects the flow of sound. Also, the study and design behind creating acoustically balanced concert halls and theaters
 
Arco -- Indication to string-players that they should use the bow
 
Aria -- Lyric song expressing intense emotion
 
Aria -- It indicates formally constructed songs in opera
 
Arpeggio -- When the notes of a chord are played individually (or one note at a time) as opposed to simultaneously
 
Arrangement -- The selection and adaptation of a composition or parts of a composition to instruments for which it was not originally designed or for some other use for which it was not at first written
 
Ars Antiqua -- Term used by 14th century writers to distinguish the French sacred polyphonic musical style of the 13th century (c. 1260 - 1320) from that of the Ars nova (new art). The term 'antiqua' is now generally extended to include the earlier music of the Notre Dame period (that of Léonin and Pérotin), thus covering the musical styles from c. 1160 - 1320
 
Ars Nova -- French musical style of the 14th century. The term is generally used to distinguish the music from the time period of c.1316 to the death of composer Guillaume de Machaut (1377) from the earlier musical style of the Ars antiqua. During the ars nova period, musical themes were transformed increasingly from religious to secular
 
Arsis and Thesis -- Terms used respectively for unstressed and stressed beats, or upbeats and downbeats
 
Art Rock -- Genre of rock music that uses larger forms and more complex harmonies than other popular styles; occasionally quotes examples from classical music
 
Art Song -- A song of serious artistic purpose designed for the concert hall as opposed to traditional songs or folk songs. An art song is usually sung by a solo voice with accompaniment. In German it is called lieder, in French, chanson. An art song is a complete composition in itself and is not part of a larger work such as an opera or and oratorio
 
Articulation -- Sign that affects how the music is played and connected together, consisting of accents, slurs, or phrase marks
 
Asperges me -- The opening of the Mass in the Catholic service; it is not a number of the musical Mass itself, but sung during the purification of the alter at the beginning of the service
 
Assai -- Indications to performers of the speed of a piece of music
 
Assembly -- A military bugle call, in the category of formation calls, played to signal troops to assemble at a designated location
 
Atonal -- Music that has no specific tonality
 
Attaca -- Proceed without a pause between movements
 
Attention -- A military bugle call, in the category of warning calls, played to warn the troops that they are about to be called to attention
 
Aubade -- Morning-song
 
Aubade -- A morning music, the opposite of a serenade
 
Autoharp -- A zither-type folk instrument of German origin, popular in the USA since the late 19th century. The player strums the strings with fingers or plectrum with one hand, while the other hand controls a system of dampers. Each damper dampens all the strings except those of the chord required. It is usually rectangular having 15 to 20 strings and a range of two to four octaves
 
Auxiliary Tone -- In part writing, an ornamentation such as a grace note, which is an unaccented, non-harmonic note immediately above or below a principal or harmonic note
 
Avec -- With, as in avec verve "with spirit"
 
Axe -- Slang for instrument
 
Backbeat -- A consistent rhythm that stresses beats 2 and 4 in common time. In other "common" time signatures, the backbeat will land elsewhere. For example, the backbeat lands on 4 and 10 in 12/8 time
 
Backfall -- A descending appoggiatura (17th century England) as opposed to a forefall or an ascending appoggiatura
 
Badinerie -- Indicates a piece of music of light-hearted character
 
Bagatelle -- Used as the title of a short light-hearted piece of music
 
Bagpipe -- Ancient instrument, at least in its most primitive form
 
Ballad -- Used primarily to describe a folk-song of narrative character
 
Ballad -- A slow tempo song
 
Ballade -- A French poetic style and chanson type of the Middle Ages and Renaissance usually having a text dealing with courtly love. The term is also applied to a Romantic genre, especially a lyric piano composition
 
Ballo -- A dance or dance tune
 
Band -- A group of instrumental musicians who perform music from early music through the modern era. Bands are typically limited to wind and percussion instruments, but can include other instruments including voice. Below are links to the most common types of bands
 
Barcarola -- Song in the style of the Venetian gondoliers
 
Baritone -- Male voice of moderately low range
 
Barline -- The common term meaning bar or the lines drawn perpendicularly across the staff to divide it into measures. The barline came into use in music after 1600. Other variants of the barline are the double barline and the final barline
 
Baroque -- A period of musical history from about 1600 to about 1750
 
Baroque -- Time in music history ranging from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th centuries. Characterized by emotional, flowery music; written in strict form
 
Barrelhouse -- A slang term for bar rooms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which also became synonymous with a style of jazz piano performance from the 1920s through the early 1940s. The barrelhouse music was similar to boogie-woogie and was characterized by a loud, raucous sound with a fast tempo
 
Bass -- Male voice of low range
 
Bass -- Lower register and lower sonorities in music
 
Bass Bar -- A strip of wood glued to the underside of the belly of a bowed stringed instrument that runs under the lower string. Its purpose is to help sustain the downward pressure exerted by the tension of the strings on the bridge
 
Bass Drum -- The lowest pitched drum in a marching band or with a drumset
 
Bass Drum Pedal -- Pedal used to play the bass drum
 
Bassa -- Low or deep. The notation 8va bassa tells the performer to play the notes an octave lower
 
Basse Dance -- A graceful, stately court dance of the early Renaissance (c.1400-1600) without the rapid steps and leaps of other dances of the era. This dance was the precursor of the pavane, the music to it was generally improvised over a cantus firmus
 
Basso Cantante -- A bass voice with a higher and lighter register who sings with more flexibility
 
Basso Continuo -- A characteristic of Baroque music consisting of a bass part that runs continuously throughout a work, also called thoroughbass. If it is figured to indicate the harmony, it is called figured bass
 
Basso Profundo -- The lowest male bass voice that emphasizes the low, rich tessitura
 
Bassoon -- Double-reed wind instrument
 
Bassus -- The lowest voice in a polyphonic composition
 
Bata Drums -- Double headed, hour glass shaped drum originating from Nigeria. It later migrated to Cuba and eventually to the US. These drums can be played in the lap or with a strap around the neck
 
Beat -- Regular rhythmic pattern of the music
 
Beat Displacement -- A term popularized in drumming over the last 10 years. It refers to permutation where all beats will move forward say, one eighth note. This method will create numerous variations of rhythmic possibilities on the drums
 
Bebop -- Complex jazz style developed in the 1940s
 
Beguine -- Music incorporating a bolero rhythm
 
Bel Canto -- Beautiful singing
 
Bell Lyre -- The marching version of a glockenspiel in the shape of a lyre. When used in a marching band it is held upright and supported by a strap around the performer's waist. Also known as a bell lyra
 
Bell Tree -- Long stick with bells suspended from it
 
Bells -- An instrument that consists of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular frame such as the glockenspiel, xylophone or marimba
 
Berceuse -- Cradle-song or lullaby, in lilting triple or compound time
 
Berceuse -- A crade song, a lullaby
 
Biwa -- Japanese lute, similar to the Chinese pipa
 
Bluegrass -- A form of country & western (C&W) music thought to have originated before WW II but actually developed during the mid 1940s. Fans, DJs, and record companies began using the term "Bluegrass" to describe a sound associated with the music of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. Monroe is ofted referred to as "The Father of Bluegrass." The term refers to Kentucky (the Bluegrass state), Bill Monroe's home state. Typically performed by a "string" band consisting of violin, mandolin, guitar, 5-string banjo, and string bass
 
Blues -- American form of folk music related to jazz. It is based on a simple, repetitive, poetic-musical structure
 
Blues Scale -- A diatonic major scale incorporating a flat or bent 3rd, a flat or bent 7th and sometimes a flat or bent 5th to approximate melodic notes that originated in African work songs. Since the actual pitch is unavailable on a piano, the flatted note is often played or "crushed" against the natural pitch to approximate the blue note
 
Bo Diddley Beat -- This beat was popularized by Bo Diddley, the famous blues guitar player. It stems from early forms of Latin and afro-Cuban rhythms (clave) derived from their respective countries. This rhythm was also used for years as the playful music knock,"Shave and a Haircut",..."Two Bits"
 
Bodhran -- An Irish drum covered with goatskin. Phonetically pronounced "bough-rawn"
 
Bolero -- A slow ballad suitable for the bolero dance or similar music
 
Bolero -- A lively Spanish dance in 3/4 time. It is often accompanied by the castanets and sometimes with singing
 
bomba -- a style of Puerto Rican folk music derived primarily from African music and dominated by percussion instruments as well as call and response vocals
 
Bones -- A pair of wooden instruments that are held in the hand (between the thumb and forefinger) and are clicked together in rhythm
 
Bongo Drums -- A pair of small drums that are connected in the middle and played with your hands. Very common in Afro-Cuban music and Latin percussion
 
Bossa Nova -- Brazilian dance related to the samba
 
Bossa Nova -- The bossa nova rhythm accompanies the famous bossa nova dance. It stems from the Samba and has it's origins in Brazil
 
Bourree -- Old French dance, quick, in double time, often part of suites of pieces
 
Bravo -- An exclamation of approval often used after particularly moving opera performances (often after arias) meaning excellent or very good
 
Bravura -- Spirit; skill; requiring great dexterity and skill in execution
 
Break Strain -- A device used in marches and piano rags to introduce a contrast in style and break the flow of the composition with a loud and intense musical statement. Also known as a break-up strain, it is normally used to create a break between the repeats of the trio. The break strain reinforces the martial notion of the composition with the break strain often said to represent the battle. The dogfight is a special type of break strain characterized by a musical interaction between instruments or groups of instruments playing a short musical phrases that are followed by a short musical phrases from another group of instruments
 
Breath Mark -- A directive to the performer to break the phrase at that point in the composition and breathe, thus assisting in the production of a smooth phrase consistent with the composer's wishes. The breath mark looks like a large comma or apostrophe and should always be located at the end of the phrase above the staff
 
Breathing -- The techniques involved by musicians to provide air to a wind instruments. The techniques, although similar for all wind instruments, have unique aspects for each instrument. Combined with the techniques of tonguing and embouchure, breathing is a critical aspect of instrumental tone production. Some of the special breathing techniques include staggered breathing and circularbreathing
 
Breit -- A German term directing the musicians to perform the indicated passage of the composition with a broad tempo, or fairly slow. Similar to langsam, meaning slow, and is used to designate a tempo range from largo to lento or a metronome marking from around 40 to 60 beats per minute
 
Breve -- The modern term for brevis. From 13th century mensural notation, the breve indicates a note of the shortest duration
 
Brio -- A directive to perform the indicated passage with vigor, vivacity or spirit as in con brio (with spirit or vigorously
 
Brioso -- A directive to perform the indicated passage in a vivacious or spirited manner
 
Broken Chord -- A chord in which the notes are not played simultaneously but rather they are played successively
 
Broken Consort -- A Renaissance performing ensemble consisting of several different kinds of instruments. This is in opposition to a consort, which is a performing group consisting of different members of a single family of instruments (for example the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorder)
 
Cabasa -- A Latin percussion instrument consisting of a round cylinder on a handle. There are metal beads (actually a chain) that surround the corrugated cylinder. It is held with one hand and rubbed with the other to create various rhythms
 
Cadence -- Resting place in a musical phrase
 
Cadenza -- Passage originally improvised by a performer
 
Cadenza -- Initially an improvised cadence by a soloist; later becoming an elaborate and written out passage in an aria or concerto, featuring the skills of an instrumentalist or vocalist
 
Cajon -- A hollow wooden box that has the tone of a conga. Non-tuneable as it has no drumhead. Origin - Latin America
 
Canon -- Device in which a melody announced by one voice or instrument is imitated
 
Cantabile -- Songful, in a singing style
 
Cantabile -- Appears often at the beginning of movements as in andante cantabile - at walking speed and in a singing style.
 
Cantata -- A cantata is generally a choral work of some length that also uses solo voices, usually with instrumental accompaniment
 
Cantilene -- A ballad or light popular song
 
Cappella -- Cappella, meaning chapel, is found particularly in the phrase 'a cappella' for unaccompanied choral singing
 
Capriccio -- Short lyric piece of a free nature for piano
 
Carol -- A song or hymn celebrating Christmas
 
Cascara -- A Latin percussion pattern often played with the right hand on the side of a timbale. This rhythm can also be played on drumset
 
Cassation -- A piece of music akin to a divertimento or serenade, music intended primarily for entertainment
 
Castrato -- Male singers who were castrated to preserve their alto and soprano vocal range
 
Cavatina -- A short and simple melody performed by a soloist that is part of a larger piece
 
Cavatina -- A melody of a simple form. A song without a second part or a "Da Capo" a humorous fanciful composition with a somewhat irregular form
 
Celesta -- A celesta (= French: céleste) is a small keyboard instrument developed in the later 19th century and using hammers that strike metal bars to give a ringing sound.
 
Cello -- The word cello is now in very general use instead of the longer word violoncello, a diminutive of the word violone, indicating the big viol, the double bass of the bowed viol family.
 
Cembalo -- The word 'cembalo' is usually used to indicate the harpsichord
 
Chaconne -- A chaconne (= Italian: ciaconna; earlier English: chacony) is in origin a dance popular in Spain in the early 17th century. It came to signify a form in which there are a series of variations over a short repeated bass or chordal pattern
 
Chamber Music -- It is music for a small ensemble of instruments, intended for performance in a room or chamber, as opposed to a church or larger building
 
Chamber Orchestra -- It indicates an orchestra smaller in size than the usual symphony orchestra.
 
Chanson -- A chanson is a French song. The word is used to indicate songs from the troubadour compositions of the Middle Ages to the art-songs of the 19th and 20th centuries
 
Chant -- Singing in unison, texts in a free rhythm. Similar to the rhythm of speech
 
Chimes -- A row of small, thin tubular bells that are brushed with the hand or gently with a drumstick or mallet. Chimes are often used in a soft ballad
 
Choir -- A choir is a group of singers. The word is generally used to indicate such a group in a church, or the part of the church in which such a group is normally placed
 
Chorale -- A chorale is a German Lutheran hymn-tune, a number of which were composed or arranged by Luther himself and adapted in later centuries to various harmonies
 
Chorale Prelude -- The chorale prelude, an introduction to a chorale, was developed in 17th century Germany as an organ composition based on a chorale melody
 
Chord -- A chord is the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes. The adjective is chordal. The study of harmony involves the correct placing of chords with relation to each other
 
Chord Progression -- A string of chords played in succession
 
Choro -- A typical Brazilian music genre deriving from a mix of different European styles like polka, Scottish, tango and havanaise. Melodies emphasizing 16th notes. Choro means "crying"
 
Chorus -- A chorus is a group of singers. The word is also used to indicate a refrain in a song
 
Chromatic -- Chromatic notes are those that do not belong to the diatonic scale. If an ascending scale is taken from the note C, in the form C, D, E, F, etc., chromatic notes would be C# (C sharp), D# (D sharp), etc., notes not found in the diatonic scale of C major, which has no sharps or flats
 
Chromatic Scale -- Includes all twelve notes of an octave
 
Clarinet -- A clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a single reed, as opposed to the oboe, which has a double reed. The clarinet was developed from the year 1800 onwards from the earlier chalumeau, which played notes only in the lower register
 
Clarino -- Clarino was the word often used in the 17th and 18th centuries for trumpet. Now the word describes the upper register of the trumpet, much used in the baroque period, when the trumpet, lacking valves, could only produce successive notes in the highest register, an art that later fell into temporary disuse
 
Classical -- In the most general meaning of the word, classical music may designate fine music or serious music. More technically the word may refer to a period in the history of music, the later 18th century
 
Classicism -- The period of music history which dates from the mid 1800’s and lasted about sixty years. There was a strong regard for order and balance
 
Clave -- A rhythm made up of a 2 bar phrase played as 2:3 clave (ex: 1 2,1 2 3) or 3:2 clave (ex: 1 2 3,1 2). Once the song starts, the clave will not change. Latin American countries often clap their hands to clave during the music
 
Claves -- Percussion instrument; a pair of cylindrical wooden sticks (usually around an inch and half thick) that are clicked together to make a high pitched sound marking clave in Latin music. Sometimes made from synthetic material
 
Clavichord -- The clavichord is a small early keyboard instrument with a hammer-action. The strings are struck by a tangent, a small oblong strip of metal, eliciting a soft sound. The limited dynamic range of the clavichord make it unsuitable for public performance
 
Clavier -- The keyboard of a stringed instrument
 
Clef -- The five lines generally used in musical notation have no precise meaning without the addition at the left-hand side of a clef, a sign that specifies the note to be indicated by one of the lines, from which other notes may be gauged
 
Coda -- A coda (Italian: tail) is the ending of a piece of music. This may be very short, but in a composition on a large scale may be extended
 
Coloratura -- Originally signifying colouring, the word coloratura is generally used to describe vocal music that is extensively ornamented and calls for ability in a very high register
 
Common Time -- 4/4 time, indicating 4 beats to the measure with the quarter note receiving the beat
 
Concert Master -- The first violin in an orchestra
 
Concertante -- A concertante part in a piece of music is a part that calls for some element of solo performance, as in a classical concerto
 
Concertino -- The concertino is the small group of solo instruments used in a concerto grosso in contrast to the whole body of the orchestra, consisting of ripieno players
 
Concerto -- A concerto is a piece of instrumental music that contrasts a solo instrument or a small group of solo instruments with the main body of the orchestra
 
Concerto Grosso -- A small group of soloists, often two violins, cello and harpsichord, the concertino, is contrasted with the whole string orchestra, the concerto grosso, with its less skilled ripieno players. The concerto grosso may involve wind instruments as well as strings. The form has been revived by some 20th century composers, at least nominally
 
Conductor -- One who directs a group of performers. The conductor indicates the tempo, phrasing, dynamics, and style by gestures and facial expressions
 
Conga -- A drum with African/Cuban origin that is played with the hands. Shaped like a barrel, it sits on the floor or on a stand and can be played sitting or standing. It has a head on one side only. The conga is the "middle" drum of a typical conga set of drums
 
Conga -- A drum with African/Cuban origin that is played with the hands. Shaped like a barrel, it sits on the floor or on a stand and can be played sitting or standing. It has a head on one side only. The conga is the "middle" drum of a typical conga set of drums
 
Conguero -- One who plays the conga drums
 
Consonance -- Groups of tones that are harmonious when sounded together as in a chord
 
Consort -- Consort, used in earlier English, indicates a group of instruments, as, for example, a consort of viols in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. A broken consort is a consort of mixed instruments, strings and wind
 
Continuo -- A continuo part, a regular feature of much instrumental music in the 17th and 18th centuries, was played by a keyboard-player or performer on a chordal instrument such as a lute or harp, reading from the bass line of a composition, generally with numbers to indicate the choice of chords, which would then be filled out, with other melodic and contrapuntal embellishments
 
Contralto -- Lowest female singing voice
 
Cor Anglais -- The cor anglais is the English horn, a tenor oboe that sounds a fifth lower than it is written
 
Cornet -- The cornet is a valved brass instrument, resembling a trumpet but with a wider bore. It was used in the second quarter of the 19th century before the full development of the valved trumpet, but is now principally found in brass bands
 
Cornetto -- The cornetto or cornett is a wind instrument made of wood or ivory, or nowadays reproduced in fibre-glass. It has a cup-shaped mouthpiece, like brass instruments, but finger-holes, like a recorder, and was much used in the 17th and earlier 18th centuries, often to support or even replace treble voices. The bass of the cornetto family is the serpent, once found in village church bands in England and now revived
 
Counterpoint -- Counterpoint is the combination of two or more melodic lines, the second or later additional melodies described as counterpoints to the first. If harmony is regarded as vertical, as it is in conventional notation, signifying the simultaneous sounding of notes in chords, counterpoint may be regarded as horizontal
 
Countertenor -- A countertenor voice is that of a male alto. Sometimes a distinction is made between the two, the second indicating the English falsetto tradition and the first a natural voice of similar range
 
Courante -- The French courante, a triple-time dance movement found frequently in the baroque dance suite, generally follows the allemande, the opening German dance. It is sometimes not distinguished from the Italian corrente, although the corrente is generally simpler in texture and rhythm than its French counterpart
 
Crash -- (Or "crash cymbal"). A cymbal used for accentuation. A drummer will use this cymbal to emphasize a certain beat or accent beat one of the new measure. They generally come in sizes 15" to 18"
 
Crescendo -- Crescendo (Italian: growing, becoming louder) is frequently used as a dynamic instruction to performers
 
Crotales -- A chromatic set of small cymbals mounted on a frame
 
Cueca -- Chilian dance written in 6/8 time with the accompaniment in 3/4 time
 
Cuica -- A Latin percussion instrument which sound resembles a dog barking
 
Cycle -- A song cycle is a set of songs intended to be performed as a group
 
Cymbal -- A copper/bronze disk struck with a drumstick to ride or emphasize beats. With the hands. Two cymbals can also be played together such as in a marching band or hi-hat cymbals
 
Cymbals -- Cymbals (= Italian: piatti, German: Becken, French: cymbales) are pairs of round metal plates, generally made of an alloy of tin and copper, which may be struck together
 
Da Capo -- Da capo (Italian: from the beginning), abbreviated to the letters D.C. at the end of a piece of music or a section of it, means that it should be played or sung again from the beginning (De capo al fine) or from the beginning up to the sign (Da capo al segno). A da capo aria, often found in the later baroque period, is an aria in three sections, the third an ornamented repetition of the first
 
Da Capo Al Fine -- The sign at the end of a piece saying to begin over from the beginning up to where it says "Fine"
 
Deceptive Cadence -- A chord progression that seems to lead to resolving itself on the final chord; but does not
 
Decrescendo -- Decrescendo (Italian: growing less) is used as a direction to performers, meaning becoming softer
 
Decrescendo -- Gradually getting softer
 
Development -- Where the musical themes and melodies are developed, written in sonata form
 
Diminuendo -- Diminuendo (Italian: becoming less) is used as a direction to performers to play softer
 
Dissonance -- Chords or groups of notes that don't go well together or clash in some way, creating an unstable sound and in need of resolution
 
Dissonance -- Harsh, discordant, and lack of harmony. Also a chord that sounds incomplete until it resolves itself on a harmonious chord
 
Divertessement -- The French word divertissement (= Italian: divertimento) is used in English principally to indicate the additional dance entertainment that is often a part of classical ballet
 
Divertimento -- A divertimento is an instrumental composition intended for entertainment, usually in a number of movements. The term is used particularly in the second half of the 18th century. Haydn described his first string quartets as Divertimenti and the title is also used by Mozart and other composers of the period
 
Divertissement -- The French word divertissement (= Italian: divertimento) is used in English principally to indicate the additional dance entertainment that is often a part of classical ballet
 
Double Bass -- The double bass is the largest and lowest of the instruments of the string section of the orchestra. It has generally four or five strings and its music sounds an octave (eight notes) lower than it is written
 
Double Bass -- The use of two bass drums with a drum set. Double bass drumming can also be played with a twin or double bass pedal and just one bass drum
 
Double Bassoon -- A double bassoon plays an octave lower than the bassoon
 
Downbeat -- The "main" pulse as it relates to the rest of the measure. If you have 8 eighth notes in a bar of 4/4 time, beats 1, 2, 3 and 4 would be considered the downbeat. The "and" of 1, "and" of 2, "and" of 3, and "and" of 4 would be the upbeat. Also, the first beat of the measure
 
Drone -- Dull, monotonous tone such as a humming or buzzing sound. Also a bass note held under a melody
 
Drum -- The form of drum generally found in the orchestra is the kettledrum or, in incorrect Italian, timpani, since the Italian singular timpano seldom appears in English usage
 
Duet -- A duet is a piece of music written for two performers. On the piano such a piece would involve two players on one instrument
 
Duo -- A duo is a piece of music for two performers. Written for the piano such a piece would need two performers and two pianos
 
Dynamics -- Dynamics are the levels of sound, loud or soft, in a piece of music
 
Dynamics -- playing soft to loud (and visa versa) on a music instrument.
 
Echappee -- Escaped note"; an ornamentation between notes proceeding in a step-wise fashion in which the ornamental note will go the opposite way of the progression, followed by the proper note in the progression
 
Echo -- A repetition or mimicking of a certain passage, usually with less force and volume than the original statement
 
Eilen -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage of music in a rushing style, to accelerate, or to increase the tempo
 
Eilig -- A directive to a musician to perform the indicated passage of a composition in a hurried, hasty, speedy, pressing, or urgent manner
 
Elaboration -- The development or expansion of a musical idea or theme. The development section of the sonata-allegro form is an elaboration of the thematic material stated in the exposition
 
Elegante -- A directive to a musician to perform a particular passage in an elegant, graceful manner
 
Elegy -- An elegy (= French: élégie) is a lament, either vocal or instrumental
 
Encore -- A piece of music played at the end of a recital responding to the audiences enthusiastic reaction to the performance, shown by continuous applause
 
Energico -- A symbol in sheet music a direction to play energetically
 
English Fingerings -- A system of notating keyboard fingering that is now obsolete. This system used the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 for the fingers and an (x) for the thumb. Modern fingering notation uses a 1 to notate the thumb, and 2, 3, 4, and 5 for the finger
 
English Flute -- A name used in the 18th century for the recorder to distinguish it from the transverse flute, (the ordinary orchestral flute) which was at that time called the German flute
 
English Horn -- The English horn is more generally known in England as the cor anglais. It is the tenor oboe
 
Enharmonic -- The phenomenon that two separate notations stand for the same sound. For example, the enharmonic spelling of F-sharp is G-flat
 
Enharmonic Interval -- Two notes that differ in name only The notes occupy the same position For example: C sharp and D flat
 
Ensemble -- The word ensemble is used in three senses. It may refer to the togetherness of a group of performers: if ensemble is poor, the players are not together. It may indicate part of an opera that involves a group of singers. It can also mean a group of performers
 
Ensemble -- The performance of either all instruments of an orchestra or voices in a chorus
 
Entracte -- As the word suggests, an entr'acte (= German: Zwischenspiel) is music between the acts of a play or opera
 
Entree -- An introduction, a march-like piece played during the entrance of a dancing group, or played before a ballet. Usually in 4/4 time
 
Episode -- An element found in music that is a digression from the main structure of the composition. It is a passage that is not a part of the main theme groups of a composition, but is an ornamental or constructive section added to the main elements of the composition. In a fugue, it is a connective passage or area of relaxation between entrances of the subject
 
Equal Temperament -- A method of tuning that involves tuning the octave exactly, and tuning each of the twelve semitones therein exactly equally in degree to one another. In this system, the thirds will be slightly under pitch. This is the modern tuning system
 
Espressivo -- A direction to play expressively
 
Estampie -- One of the oldest surviving purely instrumental forms of the 13th and 14th centuries. Estampies were constructed in three to seven separate sections called puncta, each repeated immediately with two closes, the first called ouvert, and the second called clos
 
Ethnomusicology -- A branch of musicology that involves the study of music of world cultures both of the past and of the present with an emphasis on cultural and racial influences and affects
 
Etude -- An tude is a study, intended originally for the technical practice of the player
 
Etwas -- A directive to a musician meaning "somewhat" or "a little bit" as in the directive Etwas Bewegt telling the musician to perform a certain passage "somewhat agitated"
 
Exoticism -- A genre of music in which the rhythms, melodies, or instrumentation are designed to evoke the atmosphere of far-off lands or ancient times
 
Exposed Octaves -- In a harmonic progression, hidden octaves between the outer voices
 
Exposition -- The exposition in sonata-allegro form is the first section of the movement, in which the principal thematic material is announced
 
Exposition -- The first section of a movement written in sonata form, introducing the melodies and themes
 
Expressionism -- Atonal and violent style used as a means of evoking heightened emotions and states of mind
 
Fagott -- Fagott (German) or fagotto (Italian) is the bassoon, the bass of the woodwind section in the orchestra (see Bassoon)
 
Falsetto -- A style of male singing where by partial use of the vocal chords, the voice is able to reach the pitch of a female
 
Fandango -- Lively Spanish dance in triple time, beginning slow and getting faster
 
Fanfare -- A fanfare is a flourish of trumpets or other similar instruments, used for military or ceremonial purposes, or music that conveys this impression
 
Fantasy -- Fantasy (= French: fantaisie; Italian: fantasia; German: Fantasie) is a relatively free form in the 16th and 17th centuries, in which a composer may exercise his fancy, usually in contrapuntal form
 
Fatback -- A thick 2 and 4, slightly behind the beat backbeat with a lot of soul. Common in funk and blues drumming
 
Fermata -- To hold a tone or rest held beyond the written value at the discretion of the performer
 
Fiddle -- A fiddle is a violin, but the word is used either colloquially or to indicate a folk-instrument
 
Fiddle -- A name for the violin, especially when used to perform folk music
 
Fiere -- A directive to a musician to perform a selected passage of a composition in a proud, haughty, or noble manner
 
Fife -- A small flute with a narrower bore, thus producing a higher, more piercing sound than a flute. Fifes are generally used in military bands, such as a fife and drum corps, they have six finger holes, and from one to six keys. Its range is from D in the treble clef to D two octaves above the treble clef
 
Fifth -- The interval between two notes. Three whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes
 
Figure -- A short musical phrase. Generally shorter than a theme but provides, through repetition, a unifying sound to the overall composition
 
Fill -- Short for drum fill or instrumental fill
 
Final Barline -- The last barline in a composition. This is a form of the double barline (or more commonly double bar) and has two bars with the second being thicker than the first. It indicates that this is the end of the composition or of a movement of a composition
 
Finale -- Movement or passage that concludes the musical composition
 
Fine -- The End. This is where to end a piece after a repeat or partial repeat
 
Fingerboard -- The part of the neck of a stringed instrument where the fingers of the left hand stop the strings
 
Fixed Do -- Do is the first scale degree in solmization (do, re, mi). A fixed do means the pitch is always "c" regardless of the tonal center of the composition. This is in contrast to a movable do , meaning do always represents the first scale degree of any scale
 
Flamenco -- A generic term for a genre of song, dance, and music of uncertain origin, mostly found in Andalusia. The Flamenco style is characterized by its use of modes, its unusual rhythm patterns, and its use of guitar accompaniment
 
Flat -- The word "flat", indicated by a sign derived from the letter b, shows that a note should be lowered by a semitone
 
Flautist -- A flautist is a player of the flute
 
Flue Pipe -- Flue pipe is the main class of organ pipework, whose pitch is produced by an air column striking the lip and causing the air to vibrate
 
Flute -- The word flute may indicate a variety of wind instruments without reeds
 
Folk Elements -- The incorporation of folk melodies or rhythms into orchestral or chamber music
 
Folk Instrument -- Folk instruments are those instruments made and used by the indigenous people throughout the world. Many of the instruments are simple percussion instruments, but others may include flute-type instruments, the bow, and various trumpet-type instruments as well as some quite complex instruments such as the bagpipe and the ban
 
Foot Pedal -- The accessory that depresses the bass drum or hi-hat cymbals
 
Form -- The structure of a piece of music
 
Formalism -- The tendency to elevate the formal aspects above the expressive value in music, as in Neo-classical music
 
Formes Fixes -- Fixed patterns or styles with which certain forms of music must comply. This term specifically applies to the music of France in the Renaissance, such as the ballade and the rondeau
 
Forte -- Forte (Italian: loud) is used in directions to performers. It appears in the superlative form fortissimo, very loud. The letter f is an abbreviation of forte, ff an abbreviation of fortissimo, with fff or more rarely ffff even louder
 
Fortepiano -- The word fortepiano, with the same meaning as pianoforte, the full name of the piano, with its hammer action and consequent ability to produce sounds both loud and soft, corresponding to the force applied to the keys, is generally used to indicate the earlier form of the piano, as it developed in the 18th century
 
Four Four Time -- Time signature indicating 4 beats to the measure where the quarter note receives the beat
 
Fourth -- The interval between two notes. Two whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes
 
Frame Drums -- Drums that consist of a head stretched over a narrow framed skeleton. Simple in design but capable of many types of sounds
 
Fugue -- Fugue has been described as a texture rather than a form. It is, in essence, a contrapuntal composition. The normal fugue opens with a subject or theme in one voice or part
 
Galliard -- The galliard is a courtly dance of the late 16th and early 17th century in triple metre usually following a slower duple metre pavan. The two dances are often found in instrumental compositions of the period, sometimes in suites
 
Galop -- The galop is a quick dance in duple metre, one of the most popular ballroom dances of the 19th century. The dance appears as a parody in Offenbach's operetta Orpheus in the Underworld in a can-can
 
Gamba -- Gamba (Italian: leg) is in English used colloquially to designate the viola da gamba or leg-viol, the bowed string instrument popular from the 16th until the middle of the 18th century and held downwards, in a way similar to that used for the modern cello, as opposed to the viola da braccio or arm-viol, the instrument of the violin family, held on the arm or shoulder
 
Gavotte -- A 17th century dance written in Quadruple time, always beginning on the third beat of the measure
 
German dance -- The German dance (= German: Deutsche, Deutscher Tanz) describes generally the triple metre dances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, found in the Ländler and the Waltz. There are examples of this dance in the work of Beethoven and of Schubert
 
Ghost Note -- (Or ghost stroke) - a note that is played extremely quiet. Similar to a grace note
 
Gigue -- The gigue (= Italian: giga; English: jig) is a rapid dance normally in compound duple metre (the main beats divided into three rather than two). The gigue became the accepted final dance in the baroque instrumental suite
 
Giocoso -- Giocoso (Italian: jocular, cheerful) is sometimes found as part of a tempo instruction to a performer, as in allegro giocoso, fast and cheerful. The same Italian adjective is used in the descriptive title of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, a dramma giocoso
 
Giusto -- Giusto (Italian: just, exact) is found in tempo indications, as, for example, allegro giusto, as in the last movement of Schubert's Trout Quintet, or tempo giusto, in strict time, sometimes, as in Liszt, indicating a return to the original speed of the music after a freer passage
 
Glee -- Vocal composition written for three or more solo parts, usually without instrumental accompaniment
 
Glissando -- Derived from the French glisser, to slide, the Italianised word is used to describe sliding in music from one note to another
 
Glockenspiel -- The glockenspiel is a percussion instrument similar in form to the xylophone, but with metal rather than wooden bars for the notes
 
Gong -- The gong is a percussion instrument originating in the East. In the modern orchestra it is usually found in the form of the large Chinese tam-tam. The gong appears in Western orchestral music in the late 18th century, and notable use of sets of gongs of varying size is found adding exotic colour to Puccini's oriental operas Madama Butterfly and Turandot
 
Gourd -- A hollowed out gourd that is corrugated and played with a stiff metal rod. It creates a "zip" type of sound often heard in Latin music
 
Grandioso -- Word to indicate that the movement or entire composition is to be played grandly
 
Grave -- Grave (Italian: slow, solemn) is used as an indication of tempo and mood, meaning slow and serious
 
Grazioso -- Grazia (grace) forms the Italian adjective grazioso, used as an indication of expression and of tempo, particularly in the 18th century
 
Gregorian Chant -- Plainchant, the modal chant of early Christian and continuing Catholic worship and its derivatives, is often known as Gregorian chant, after Pope Gregory the Great , St. Gregory, to whom the attempt at standardisation of the chant in the late 6th century is attributed
 
Groove -- A term used to describe the way a beat feels when it not only has a steady tempo, but "feels" incredibly good within the music
 
Guaguanco -- An Afro Cuban rhythm stemming from the rhumba
 
Guigue -- Lively Scottish or Irish dance in 6/8, 17th/18th century, often the last part in a suite (from English jig, Giga, Geige)
 
Guitar -- The modern concert guitar is a plucked string instrument generally with six strings. The instrument has a long history, in one form or another
 
Habanera (=Havaniese) -- The Habanera is a Cuban dance from Havana, later introduced to Spain
 
Hande Bells -- Tuned bells that are held in the hand and sounded by shaking them
 
Harmonica -- The Western harmonica or mouth-organ is an invention of the early 19th century, inspired by the ancient Chinese bamboo mouth-organ, the sheng. The 20th century chromatic harmonica, of which Larry Adler has been a leading exponent, has inspired a number of composers, including Vaughan Williams, who wrote a Romance for harmonica and orchestra
 
Harmoniemusik -- Harmoniemusik is music for wind band. In its more limited sense the term is used to signify music for wind bands or wind ensembles in the service of the nobility from the middle of the 18th century to the end of the third decade of the 19th century, and their popular counterparts
 
Harmonium -- The harmonium, developed in the early 19th century from experiments in the last quarter of the century before, is a keyboard instrument that produces its sounds by means of air from bellows passing through free reeds, metal tongues that are made to vibrate
 
Harmony -- Harmony describes the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes and the technique governing the construction of such chords and their arrangement in a succession of chords
 
Harp -- The harp is an instrument of great antiquity, represented from as early as 3000 B.C. in Sumeria. The form of the instrument has varied, but the modern double-action harp, a development of the early 19th century, is in general orchestral use
 
Harpsichord -- The harpsichord is a keyboard instrument with strings running from front to back of its wing-shaped horizontal box and soundboard. Unlike the piano and the earlier clavichord with its hammers that strike the strings, the harpsichord has a mechanism by which the strings are plucked
 
Heldentor -- The heroic tenor or Heldentenor is a tenor with a quality of voice suited to the heroic rôles of 19th century French Grand Opera and of the music-dramas of Wagner, as in the part of Tannhäuser in Wagner's opera of that name
 
Hi Hat -- The two cymbals on a stand that open and close together. They are operated by the foot. Generally used on the left side of a drumset (right handed drummers)
 
Homophony -- Music written to be sung or played in unison
 
Hornpipe -- The hornpipe is a rapid British dance that exists in various metres, triple, duple and quadruple. In its earlier English form it is found in the keyboard suites and stage music of the English composer Henry Purcell, and in keyboard and orchestral movements by Handel
 
Humoresque -- Schumann was the first composer to use the title Humoreske for a relatively long work for piano, the humour of the title used rather in the sense of a mood of one sort or another
 
Hymn -- A hymn is a song of praise, whether to a god, saint or hero. The plainchant hymn has a place in the Divine Office. In Protestant Christian worship, where the hymn assumed considerable importance, after the chorales of Martin Luther and his followers, the metrical homophonic form dominated
 
Improptu -- A short piano piece, often improvisational and intimate in character
 
Instrumentation -- Arrangement of music for a combined number of instruments
 
Interlude -- Piece of instrumental music played between scenes in a play or opera
 
Intermezzo -- Earlier signifying a comic interlude inserted between the acts of an opera seria, the 19th century intermezzo was often either a musical interlude in a larger composition or a piece of music in itself, often for solo piano. In this second sense it is used by Schumann and later by Brahms in their piano music, while both Mendelssohn and Brahms use the word as a movement title in chamber music
 
Interpretation -- The expression the performer brings when playing his instrument
 
Interval -- In music an interval is the distance in pitch between two notes, counted from the lower note upwards, with the lower note as the first of the interval
 
Intonation -- Intonation is the exactness of pitch or lack of it in playing or singing. Collective intonation is that of a group of instruments, where slight individual variations in pitch can be lost in a generally more favourable effect
 
Invention -- The two-part Inventions of Johann Sebastian Bach are contrapuntal two-voice keyboard compositions, and the word is often understood in this sense, although it had a less precise meaning in earlier music
 
Jazz -- A style of music native to America. Jazz was largely developed and popularized by African Americans in the 1900's. It comes out of New Orleans and grew from big band music to free- form improvisational jazz as it developed through the years
 
Jig -- The jig (= French: gigue; Italian: giga), a lively dance in compound time, became the usual final dance of the baroque dance suite
 
Jota -- The jota is a traditional Spanish dance, transmuted into an orchestral composition by the Russian composer Glinka in his Jota aragonesa
 
Kapelle -- Chapel (= German: Kapelle; Italian: cappella; French: chapelle) is a musical establishment, generally of a king, prince or other ruler
 
Kapellmeister -- The Kapellmeister is the director of music (= Italian: maestro di cappella; French: maître de chapelle) of a musical establishment, either of a king or prince, or of an opera-house or municipality
 
Kettle Drums -- (Or tympani). A very large drum made of copper or brass. Most often used in orchestras and symphonies. This drum has a foot pedal that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal is depressed, the kettle drum makes a unique, "boing" type of sound
 
Key -- Keys on a musical instrument are the levers which when depressed produce a particular pitch of note
 
Key Signature -- The key signature is the sharps or flats, or absence of either, at the beginning of a piece of music, indicating the sharps, flats and naturals belonging to the key of the music
 
Key Signature -- Sharps or flats that are placed at the beginning of a staff to indicate the key of a musical composition or a musical passage in the song
 
Kick Drum -- Another word for "bass drum". This is the largest drum on a typical drumset and it sits on the floor
 
Konzertmeister -- The leader of an orchestra (that is, the principal first violin) is known in German as a Konzertmeister and in the United States as a concertmaster, the latter term now finding more general favour in other English-speaking countries, apart from Great Britain, where the word leader is still preferred
 
L'istesso -- L'istesso tempo, the same speed, is found as an instruction to the player to return to the previous speed of the music
 
La Follia -- The Italian La Follia, (= Spanish: Fola; French: Folie d'Espagne) is a well known dance tune popular from the 16th century or earlier
 
Labium -- The part of an edge-blown aerophone (such as a flute, recorder or whistle) that splits the air column
 
Lament -- Dirges or laments are an important element in primitive musical practice in mourning the dead or at other moments of parting
 
Lamentations -- The Lamentations of Jeremiah form part of the Catholic liturgy of Holy Week, the week before Easter, traditionally chanted, but from the middle of the 15th century providing material for polyphonic setting
 
Lamentoso -- A directive to perform the designated passage of a composition in a lamentable, or mournful manner
 
Landler -- The Ländler is an Austrian country dance in a slow triple metre, a precursor of the waltz
 
Langsam -- A German term directing the musicians to perform the indicated passage of the composition with a broad tempo, or fairly slow. Similar to breit, meaning slow, and is used to designate a tempo range from largo to lento or a metronome marking from around 40 to 60 beats per minute
 
Languendo -- A directive to perform the designated passage of a composition in a languid, feeble, dramatic style
 
Large -- A French term directing the musicians to perform the indicated passage of the composition with a broad tempo, or fairly slow. Similar to lent, meaning slow, and is used to designate a tempo range from largo to lento or a metronome marking from around 40 to 60 beats per minute
 
Larghetto -- Larghetto is a diminutive form of Largo (Italian: broad, wide, large) usually a direction of tempo, meaning slow. Larghetto is slowish, not as slow as Largo
 
Largo -- Largo (Italian: broad, wide, large and consequently slow) is used as a frequent instruction to performers. Handel's Largo, an aria from his opera Serse, is in fact marked Larghetto, although this does not seem to affect its speed in popular performance
 
Larigot -- Term for a shepherd's flute or pipe; also, an organ stop with a mutation of two octaves and a fifth above the fundamental
 
Lascia Vibrare -- A directive to the performer of a harp, piano, cymbal, or other struck or plucked instrument that the sound should not be damped or stopped after the initial attack, but should be allowed to die away naturally. This is often indicated by the abbreviation "l.v.." Lascia vibrare can also be indicated by a tie symbol that does not connect to another note. The symbol will continues out past the end of the that note, indicating that the sound should continue past the indicated duration of the note. It is generally up to the discretion of the performer to determine if the sound should be damped
 
Latin Percussion -- A common sub-classification of percussion instruments that is comprised of percussion instruments that are used in popular Latin music. Some of these instruments are tuned (able to produce a specific pitch) and others are untuned (unable to produce a specific pitch), but all of them are notated without specific pitches. Their main function is to provide a solid foundation to the rhythmic character of the composition
 
Leading Note -- Also called "leading tone"; the major seventh of a scale, so called because it lies a semitone below the tonic and "leads" towards it
 
Leap -- A skip; the movement from one note to another through means of an interval that is greater than a second
 
Lebhaft -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a lively, quick, vivacious style
 
Left Hand -- Term used in piano music indicating that a specific passage is to be played by the left hand. This term is typically designated with the initials, L.H
 
Legato -- Legato (Italian: smooth) is used as an instruction to performers. It is the opposite of staccato, which indicates a shortening and consequent detaching of notes
 
Legende -- A legend; a composition written in a narrative, romantic style; a composition with legendary character or which depicts a legend. This term was used mostly by composers of the Romantic era
 
Leggero -- Leggero means light (= French: léger) and is used as a direction to performers
 
Legno -- Legno, wood, appears in the phrase 'col legno', with the wood, an instruction to string players to hit the strings with the back of the bow. Examples of col legno are found in the Danse macabre of Saint-Säens and at the opening of Holst's The Planets
 
Leitmotif -- A musical theme given to a particular idea or main character of an opera
 
Lento -- Lento (Italian: slow; = French: lent, lentement) is used in instructions to performers
 
Lesto -- A directive to perform the designated passage of a composition in a gay, lively or brisk manner
 
Lever -- Key mechanism used on a clavichord. It is a wooden rod that has a metal bar (the key) on one end, and when depressed, a fulcrum in the center of the rod raises it's back end to touch the strings and fret the string at a given length
 
Libretto -- The libretto, the little book, is the text of an opera or similar vocal work, originally issued in a small printed book
 
Libretto -- A book of text containing the words of an opera
 
Licenze -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition with some freedom of manner
 
Lick -- Drum lick or short drum fill. A lick can also be a quick "riff" or fancy beat
 
Ligature -- Curved line connecting notes to be sung or played as a phrase
 
Lira Da Braccio -- Also called viola da braccio, this instrument, popular in the Renaissance, is related to the violin. It has a similar shape to the violin, with seven strings, a wider neck than the violin, and a flatter bridge
 
Lira Organizzata -- A hurdy-gurdy popular around 1780 with organ pipes and bellows encased within the body of the instrument
 
Lirico Spinto -- A female voice that has the basic characteristics of a Lyric Soprano but that can "push" into a more powerful and dramatic climax
 
Lirone -- The bass member of the lira da braccio family. It is held between the knees of the performer rather than under the chin. It is usually fretted and has between nine to sixteen strings
 
Litany -- A prayer or processional of supplication to God, to Mary, or to the saints in which the priest or deacon chants the supplication and the congregation responds with "ora pro nobis," "Kyrie eleison" etc. The melodies of the litanies are usually syllabic
 
Lituus -- An ancient Roman brass instrument having the shape of the letter "J" used for marital purposes. Bach used the term lituus in his Cantata No. 118, but it is uncertain to what instrument he is referring
 
Loco -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in the normal playing position following a directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in an unusual position. Also, it cancels a previous directive such as 8va
 
Locrian -- A mode based upon the seventh tone of the scale. This mode, using B as the tonic, includes all the tones on the C major scale
 
Long Pause -- The long pause or the generalpause serve the same function, and are identical in function to the fermata when used over a rest or barline. The function of these pauses is to create a silence for a period of time at the discretion of the performer (or conductor with an ensemble). As indicated in the name, these are intended to be pauses of longer duration than any of the others. These marks are always shown over rests. They also interrupt the normal tempo of a composition
 
Lullaby -- A cradle song. A song sung to a child to soothe him to sleep, or a gentle, quiet song. The instrumental lullaby (most often for piano) is based on Frédérick Chopin's Berceuse opus 57 and is characterized by a rhythmic ostinato that suggests a gentle and steady rocking feel. Many composers have written in this genre including Frédérick Chopin, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy along with many others
 
Lusingando -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a coaxing, caressing, flattering, or alluring style
 
Luttuoso -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a mournful, sorrowful style
 
Lydian -- The fifth church mode, the lydian mode based on F, contains the notes of the C major scale, yet uses F as the tonic
 
Lyre -- The lyre, the symbol of a musician in Western cultural tradition, is an ancient instrument, found in characteristic form in ancient Greece, where it was the instrument of Apollo. Similar instruments, with strings stretched from a cross-bar to a lower sound-box, to be held in the left arm and plucked with the right hand, are found in other cultures
 
Lyric Opera -- A form of opera that combines elements of grand opera and opera comique. It features witty tunes and romantic drama
 
Mace -- The large ornamented tapered rod or baton used by a drum major to signal musical and marching directions in a marching band or military band
 
Madrigal -- A contrapuntal song written for at least three voices, usually without accompaniment
 
Madrigal Choir -- Small vocal ensemble that specializes in a cappella secular works
 
Maestoso -- Maestoso (Italian: majestic) is used to suggest a majestic manner of performance, either in mood or speed
 
Maestro -- Refers to any great composer, conductor, or teacher of music
 
Main Droite -- French term used in piano music indicating that a specific passage is to be played by the right hand. The French words main droite are translated as "right hand " (main means hand and droite means right). This term is typically designated with the initials M.d
 
Main Gauche -- French term used in piano music indicating that a specific passage is to be played by the left hand. The French words main gauche are translated as "left hand " (main means hand and gauche means left). This term is typically designated with the initials M.g
 
Major -- Major (= Latin: greater) is used in musical terminology to describe a form of scale that corresponds to the Ionian mode, the scale on the white notes of the keyboard from C to C
 
Major Scale -- A collection of seven different pitches ordered in a specific pattern of whole and half steps
 
Malagueña -- A malagueña is a Spanish dance from the region of Málaga. The word is later used to indicate a form of Spanish gypsy song. There is an example of the mood and rhythm of the Malagueña in Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole
 
Malinconia -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a melancholy style or gloomily. This term is a noun, typically used with the term "con" (con malinconia) meaning to perform "with melancholy"
 
Malinconico -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a melancholy style
 
Mallet -- A type of drumstick used to strike a percussion instrument; particularly a bell instrument such as the marimba or xylophone
 
Mambo -- Dance of Afro-Cuban origin with a characteristic quadruple-meter rhythmic pattern
 
Mandolin -- The mandolin, a plucked string instrument similar to the lute, exists in various forms. It has fixed metal frets and metal strings in pairs. The prevalent method of playing is tremolando, the notes rapidly repeated with a plectrum. It has been used in opera, notably in Verdi's Otello and in Falstaff, and in the concert-hall in Mahler's Seventh and Eighth Symphonies
 
Mannerism -- Term used to describe aspects of Renaissance and Baroque music such as madrigalism and text painting, that emphasize textual points through musical medium
 
Manual -- The manual is a keyboard for the hands, the word used for instruments such as the organ or harpsichord that often have more than one keyboard. It is opposed to the pedal-board found generally on the organ and much more rarely on the harpsichord or fortepiano
 
Maracas -- Ahollowed out gourd on a stick (rattle). Usually filled with seeds or pebbles. Another simply designed instrument but capable of many different types of sounds through various skillful techniques used by the drummer
 
March -- Style incorporating characteristics of military music, including strongly accented duple-meter in simple, repetitive rhythmic patterns
 
Marching Band -- Instrumental ensemble for entertainment at sports events and parades, consisting of wind and percussion instruments, drum majors/majorettes, and baton twirlers
 
Mariachi -- Traditional Mexican ensemble popular throughout the country, consisting of trumpets, violins, guitar and bass guitar
 
Marimba -- Percussion instrument that is a mellower version of the xylophone; of African origin
 
Marimba -- An instrument that consists of a large frame holding wooden resonator bars. This musical instrument is played with mallets
 
Martellato -- Strongly marked; This is a term used in string playing indicating heavy, detached strokes and in piano playing, indicating a forceful, detached touch
 
Masque -- English genre of aristocratic entertainment that combined vocal and instrumental music with poetry and dance, developed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
 
Maxixe -- A Brazilian dance first introduced in Paris in 1912. It is in 2/4 time of rapid tempo with a slight syncopation
 
Mazurka -- Type of Polish folk dance in triple meter
 
Mazurka -- Lively Polish dance in 3/8 or 3/4
 
Mbube -- Lion"; a cappella choral singing style of South African Zulus, featuring call and response patterns, close-knit harmonies and syncopation
 
Measure -- A measure is, in English, a bar, in the sense of the music written between the vertical bar-lines written on the stave to mark the metrical units of a piece of music
 
Measure -- A rhythmic grouping or metrical unit that contains a fixed number of beats; in notated music, it appears as a vertical line through the staff
 
Medium -- Performing forces employed in a certain musical work
 
Medley -- Often used in overtures, a composition that uses passages from other movements of the composition in its entirety
 
Melismatic -- Melodic style characterized by many notes sung to a single text syllable
 
Melody -- Succession of single tones or pitches perceived by the mind as a unity
 
Membranophone -- World music classification for instruments that produce sound from a tightly stretched membrane that can be struck, plucked, rubbed or sung into (setting the "skin" in vibration). The most common Western instruments of this category belong to the percussion family (timpani, bass drum). The conga drum is a membranophone often used in popular music
 
Meno Mosso -- Less movement, slower
 
Merengue -- An upbeat Afro-Cuban rhythm
 
Mesto -- Mesto (Italian: sad) is used in directions to performers as an indication of mood, as in the slow movement of the Horn Trio of Brahms, which is marked Adagio mesto
 
Metallophone -- Percussion instrument consisting of tuned metal bars, usually struck with a mallet
 
Metamorphosis -- Metamorphosis, change of shape, is used particularly to describe the process of thematic metamorphosis, the transformation of thematic elements used by composers such as Liszt, a procedure unkindly satirised by one contemporary critic as the life and adventures of a theme
 
Meter -- Organization of rhythm in time; the grouping of beats into larger, regular patterns, notated as measures. In simple meters, such as duple, triple, and quadruple, each beat subdivides into two; in compound meters, such as sextuple, each beat divides into three
 
Metronome -- The metronome is a device, formerly based on the principle of the pendulum, but now controlled more often by electronic means, which measures the equal beats of a piece of music, as a guide to players
 
Mezzo -- Mezzo (Italian: half) is found particularly in the compound words mezzo-forte, half loud, represented by the letters mf, and mezzo-piano, half soft, represented by the letters mp. Mezzo can serve as a colloquial abbreviation for mezzo-soprano, the female voice that employs a generally lower register than a soprano and consequently is often, in opera, given the parts of confidante, nurse or mother, secondary rôles to the heroine, usually a soprano
 
Mezzo Forte -- Moderately loud
 
Micropholyphony -- Twentieth century technique encompassing the complex interweaving of all musical elements
 
Mics -- Short for microphone / drum mics, microphones for micing drums
 
MIDI -- Acronym for musical instrument digital interface; technology standard that allows networking of computers with electronic musical instruments
 
Milonga -- The peppy, cheerful dance milonga as part of the tango; 2.the 'milonga campera' or 'milonga surena', an Argentinean folk music form, often performed just by a singer with a guitar, and of very clear Hispanic influence. The Milonga rhythm is characterized through the division of the 4/4 time in 3+3+2
 
Minimalist Music -- Contemporary musical style featuring the repetition of short melodic, rhythmic and harmonic patterns with little variation. See also spiritual minimalism
 
Minnesingers -- Late medieval German poet-musicians
 
Minnesingers -- Late medieval German poet-musicians
 
Minor -- Minor (= Latin: smaller) is used in musical terminology to describe a form of scale that corresponds, in its natural form, to the Aeolian mode, the scale on the white notes of the keyboard from A to A
 
Minstrel -- The word minstrel has been used loosely to indicate a musical entertainer, providing his own accompaniment to his singing. The medieval minstrel, a secular musician, flourished between the 13th and 15th century, generally as an itinerant singer
 
Minuet -- Slow and stately dance music written in triple time
 
Minuet and Trio -- A moderate triple-meter dance form with two main sections (minuet = A, trio = B) that often occurs as the third movement of a symphony
 
Modal -- Characterizes music that is based on modes other than major and minor, especially the early church modes
 
Mode -- Scale or sequence of notes used as the basis for a composition; major and minor are modes
 
Modhina -- Brazilian dance in a sentimental mood, Brazilian love song
 
Modified Strophic Form -- Song structure that combines elements of strophic and through-composed forms; a variation of strophic form in which a section might have a new key, rhythm, or varied melodic pattern
 
Modulation -- The process of changing from one key to another
 
Monody -- Vocal style established in the Baroque, with a solo singer and instrumental accompaniment
 
Monophonic -- Single-line texture, or melody without accompaniment
 
Monothematic -- Work or movement based on a single theme
 
Motet -- Polyphonic vocal genre, secular in the Middle Ages but sacred or devotional thereafter
 
Motive -- Short melodic or rhythmic idea; the smallest fragment of a theme that forms a melodic-harmonic-rhythmic unit
 
Movement -- Complete, self-contained part within a larger musical work
 
Mozambique -- A rhythm from Africa commonly used in Afro-Cuban music
 
MTV -- Acronym for music television, a cable channel that presents non-stop music videos
 
Musette -- A Boroque dance with a drone-bass
 
Music Drama -- Wagner's term for his operas
 
Music Video -- Video tape or film that accompanies a recording, usually of a popular or rock song
 
Musical -- Genre of twentieth century musical theater, especially popular in the United States and Great Britain; characterized by spoken dialogue, dramatic plot interspersed with songs, ensemble numbers and dancing
 
Musical Autograph -- The manuscript or score of a composition written in the composer's hand
 
Musical Saw -- Handsaw that is bowed on its smooth edge; pitch is varied by bending the saw
 
Musicology -- The study of forms, history, science, and methods of music
 
Musique Concrete -- Music made up of natural sounds and sound effects that are recorded and then manipulated electronically
 
Mussette -- A small bagpipe or (2) a melody or dance written over a ground note to imitate a the sound of a bagpipe
 
Mute -- Mechanical device used to muffle the sound of an instrument
 
Nacaire -- A brass drum once much used in France and Italy. It has a loud, metallic sound
 
Nakers -- Medieval percussion instruments resembling small kettledrums, played in pairs; of Middle Eastern origin
 
Nakers -- Small Medieval kettledrums used mainly for martial music, but also for processionals, dance music, and ensemble music
 
Natural -- A symbol in sheet music that returns a note to its original pitch after it has been augmented or diminished
 
Natural -- A symbol placed by a note signifying that the note itself should be played as opposed to the sharp or flat of the note. This symbol is usually seen only where an accidental such as a sharp or flat is expected, thus assuring the performer that the note should be played without such an accidental
 
Natural Horn -- A horn without valves, keys, or slides; the old French horn
 
Natural Keys -- Those keys whose signature contains no sharps or flats; C major and A minor
 
Natural Minor Scale -- The natural minor scale has the same tones as the major scale, but uses the sixth tone of the major scale as its tonic. Thus, the semitones (half steps) are between the second and third tones and the fifth and sixth tones
 
Natural Trumpet -- A brass instrument from the trumpet family that lacks valves or keys to change pitches. These instruments only produce the pitches that are contained in the natural overtone series. These "natural" instruments often have crooks, or alternate lengths of tubing that change the key of the instrument, or the inherent pitches that the instrument can play. Experiences players can also produce tones outside of the overtone series through lipping techniques
 
Neapolitan Sixth -- A chord composed of a minor third and a minor sixth, based on the subdominant. In the key of C, the Neapolitan sixth would be F, A-flat, D-flat
 
Neck -- The part of a guitar, violin, lute, or other related instrument that extends from the pegbox to the body of the instrument and upon which the fingerboard is found
 
Negligénte -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a negligent, unrestrained manner
 
Neoclassical -- Movement in music where the characteristics are crisp and direct
 
Neumatic -- Melodic style with two to four notes set to each syllable
 
Neumatic -- A style of plainchant that sets one syllable of text to one neume. A neume is a symbol that denotes two to four notes in the same symbol, thus each syllable is sung to two to four notes. This style is opposed to syllabic, in which each syllable has one note, and melismatic, where one syllable has many notes
 
Neumes -- Early musical notation signs; square notes on a four-line staff
 
New Age -- Style of popular music of the 1980s and 1990s, characterized by soothing timbres and repetitive forms that are subjected to shifting variation techniques
 
New Age Music -- Compositions produced by the New Age movement that is conducive to meditation. Usually New Age music is produced by layering sounds over sounds to produce a deep, many-faceted wave of music. Often natural sounds such as waves, rain, birds, wind, etc. are used in the production of this music. Often the sounds are soothing and mellow, and almost religious in nature
 
New Orleans Jazz -- Early jazz style characterized by multiple improvisations in an ensemble of cornet (or trumpet), clarinet (or saxophone), trombone, piano, string bass (or tuba), banjo (or guitar) and drums; repertory included blues, ragtime, and popular songs
 
New Wave -- Subgenre of rock popular since the late 1970s, highly influenced by simple 1950s-style rock and roll; developed as a rejection of the complexities of art rock and heavy metal
 
Niente -- A directive to perform the indicated passage of a composition in a whisper with almost no sound
 
Nine Stroke Roll -- A standard drum rudiment in the category of roll rudiments and the sub-category of double stroke open roll rudiments that creates a sustained sound on a percussion instrument by rapidly alternating two strokes from each stick. The sticking pattern (shown below) is the accepted method of producing a nine stroke roll and consists of two strokes from each hand repeated and finished with an accented stroke (i.e. RRLL-RRLL-R) for a total of nine strokes
 
Ninth Chord -- Five-tone chord spanning a ninth between its lowest and highest tones
 
Ninth Chord -- A chord having usually, but not necessarily, five tones, the interval between the base note and the highest note being a ninth
 
No Chord -- A directive placed over a note (or a series of notes) in a composition signifying that the note (s) should be performed without accompaniment. This is typically found in popular music notation with either a melody with chordal accompaniment, two-staff score with chordal accompaniment, or a simple chord progression. N.C. is the abbreviated form of No Chord
 
Nocturne -- Night piece"; common in the nineteenth century, often for piano
 
Noh Drama -- Major form of Japanese theater since the late fourteenth century; based on philosophical concepts from Zen Buddhism
 
Non -- A term meaning not, and used to qualify a directive in the performance of a certain passage of a composition. For example, the term allegro non troppo would mean a fast tempo (allegro) but not too fast
 
Non Harmonic Note -- In part writing, a non-harmonic note is a note that is dissonant with other notes in the same chord, usually resolved in the next chord. Usually, but not always, a non-harmonic note is a style of ornamentation, such as an appoggiatura, anticipation, auxiliary tone, etc
 
Non Troppo -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition "moderately" or combined with other directives to mean "not too much"
 
Nonet -- A composition written for nine instruments
 
Nonmetric -- Music lacking a strong sense of beat or meter, common in certain non-Western cultures
 
Notation -- Referring to music notes on sheet music
 
Note Cluster -- An effect (typically on a piano) that is comprised of a dissonant group of notes that are very close together. It is usually performed by striking the piano keys with a fist or forearm. This effect can also be produced by using a strip of wood at the necessary length. This term was coined by Henry Cowell
 
Note Values -- The note value is the duration of a note, or the relationship of the duration of the note to the measure. The duration of a note is as follows in common time or 4/4 time
 
Obbligato -- An extended solo, often accompanying the vocal part of an aria
 
Oblique Motion -- In part-writing, oblique motion occurs when one voice (or more) remains on the same pitch while the other ascends or descends
 
Oboe -- A double-reed instrument made of wood with a nasal, "reedy" timbre. The player blows directly into a double reed (two thin strips of cane bound together), setting them in vibration
 
Oboe Da Caccia -- A baroque instrument of the oboe family. It has an alto/tenor range pitched a fifth below the oboe. The English horn usually takes the place of the oboe da caccia in the modern orchestra
 
Ocarina -- A flute-like instrument in a globe or potato shape made from clay or other hard material with a whistle mouthpiece. Many attribute the invention of this instrument to Guiseppe Donati in the 19th century however there is considerable evidence that the Ocarina may be more than 12000 years old and originated in many cultures. Examples have been found shaped like birds or other animals
 
Octave -- Interval between two tones seven diatonic pitches apart; the lower note vibrates half as fast as the upper and sounds an octave lower
 
Octet -- A composition written for eight instruments
 
Odd Time -- Referring to an odd or uneven time signature (not 4/4), such as 7/4 or 5/8
 
Ode -- Secular composition written for a royal occasion, especially popular in England
 
Offbeat -- Weak beat or any pulse between the beats in a measured rhythmic pattern
 
Offertory -- A composition performed during the collection of the offering in the Mass. The Offertory follows the Credo
 
Officer's Call -- A military bugle call, in the category of service calls, played to signal all officers to assemble at a designated place
 
Ondes martenot -- Electronic instrument that produces sounds by means of an oscillator
 
Open Ending -- The first ending in a medieval secular piece, usually cadencing on a pitch other than the final
 
Open Fifth -- A chord comprised of the tonic and the fifth with no third present
 
Open Form -- Indeterminate contemporary music in which some details of a composition are clearly indicated, but the overall structure is left to choice or chance
 
Open Form -- Indeterminate contemporary music in which some details of a composition are clearly indicated, but the overall form is left to choice or chance
 
Opera -- Music drama that is generally sung throughout, combining the resources of vocal and instrumental music with poetry and drama, acting and pantomime, scenery and costumes
 
Opera Ballet -- A popular French music drama which makes use of musical forms found in a ballet (instrumental composition and dances) and those forms found in an opera (aria and choruses). Popular from about the 1680's to the 1730's
 
Opera Buffa -- Italian comic opera, sung throughout
 
Opera Comique -- French comic opera, with some spoken dialogue
 
Opera Comique -- French comic opera that is not necessarily sung throughout. The early opéra comique had spoken dialogue interspersed with songs, and was mainly comic, the later ones (those written around the late 19th century) usually had continuous music, and was not necessarily humorous (for example, Bizet's Carmen
 
Opera Seria -- Tragic Italian opera
 
Operetta -- A short light musical drama
 
Opus -- Convenient method of numbering a composer’s works where a number follows the word “opus”. For example, Opus 28, No. 4
 
Oral Tradition -- Music that is transmitted by example or imitation and performed from memory
 
Oral Transmission -- Preservation of music without the aid of written notation
 
Oratorio -- Large-scale dramatic genre originating in the Baroque, based on a text of religious or serious character, performed by solo voices, chorus and orchestra; similar to opera but without scenery, costumes or action
 
Orchestra -- Performing group of diverse instruments; in Western art music, an ensemble of multiple string parts with various woodwind, brass and percussion instruments
 
Orchestra Bells -- Bells consisting of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular frame and played with a mallet
 
Orchestration -- The technique of setting instruments in various combinations
 
Ordinary -- Sections of the Roman Catholic Mass that remain the same from day to day throughout the church year; as distinct from the Proper, which changes daily according to the liturgical occasion
 
Organ -- Wind instrument in which air is fed to the pipes by mechanical means; the pipes are controlled by two or more keyboards and a set of pedals
 
Organ Point -- Term used for a drone (a low, sustained tone) that remains steady in the bass of a composition while other voices move about above it. An organ point is also called a pedal tone, a pedal, or a drone
 
Organ Verset -- A short organ composition that is usually improvised and used in place of a verse that would have been sung by the choir
 
Organal Style -- Organum in which the tenor sings the melody (original chant) in very long notes while the upper voices move freely and rapidly above it
 
Organal Style -- Organum (the earliest style of polyphonic music) in which the tenor sings the melody (the original chant) in very long notes while the upper voices move freely and rapidly above it
 
Organology -- The science of musical instruments including their classification and development throughout history and cultures as well as the technical study of how they produce sound. The Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification is probably the best-known system in use today
 
Organum -- Earliest kind of polyphonic music, which developed from the custom of adding voices above a plainchant; they first ran parallel to it at the interval of a fifth or fourth and later moved more freely
 
Ornaments -- Tones used to embellish the principal melodic tone
 
Ostinato -- A short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout a work or a section of one
 
Overblowing -- A technique employed by woodwind players (flutes in particular) in which the player directs the flow of air to obtain the pitch of the first overtone or harmonic rather than the fundamental pitch which would normally be sounded
 
Overstrung -- A method of stringing (or attaching the strings across the soundboard) a piano in which the bass strings pass diagonally over the mid-range strings
 
Overture -- An introductory movement, as in an opera or oratorio, often presenting melodies from arias to come. Also an orchestral work for concert performance
 
Pandeiro -- Tambourine; a round hoop (usually wooden) with metal discs or jingles attached. Common in Afro-Cuban and Brazillian music
 
Panpipe -- Wind instrument consisting of a series of small vertical tubes or pipes of differing length; sound is produced by blowing across the top
 
Pans -- (Steel drums) large oil drums that have had the tops cut off and hammered into a tuned percussion instrument. Common in the Caribbean Islands. Played with mallets
 
Pantomime -- Theatrical genre in which an actor silently plays all the parts in a show while accompanied by singing; originated in ancient Rome
 
Parody -- A composition based on previous work. A common technique used in Medieval and Renaissance music
 
Part -- A line in a contrapuntal work performed by an individual voice or instrument
 
Part Song -- Secular vocal composition, unaccompanied, in three, four or more parts
 
Partial -- A harmonic given off by a note when it is played
 
Partita -- Suite of Baroque dances
 
Passacaglia -- Baroque form (similar to the chaconne) in moderately slow triple meter, based on a short, repeated base-line melody that serves as the basis for continuous variation in the other voices
 
Passepied -- French Baroque court dance type; a faster version of the minuet
 
Pastorale -- Pastoral, country-like
 
Pattern Generator -- An electronic or computerized device or program that generates a multitude of rhythms
 
Pavane -- Slow solemn dance in duple (or sometimes triple) time, of Spanish origin; generally in three sections, each one repeated
 
Pax De Deux -- Dance for two that is an established feature of classical ballet
 
Pedal -- (Or foot pedal) - used to play the bass drum or hi-hat. A pedal can also be for guitar. Guitar players use effects pedals
 
Pedal Point -- Sustained tone over which the harmonies change
 
Pentatonic Scale -- Five-note pattern used in some African, Far Eastern and Native American musics; can also be found in Western music as an example of exoticism.
 
Pentatonic Scale -- A musical scale containing 5 distinct pitches, considered more exotic in Western music
 
Percussion Clef -- The staff commonly used in percussion (as opposed to bass clef) where it is not necessary to notate pitched instruments
 
Percussion Instrument -- Instrument made of metal, wood, stretched skin or other material that is made to sound by striking, shaking, scraping or plucking. The many varied percussion instruments fall into two basic categories: pitched (such as timpani and xylophone) and unpitched (snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine)
 
Percussion Instrument -- An instrument that is struck with your hands or an object such as a drumstick or mallet. Examples include a drum, cymbal, tambourine, bell, triangle, etc
 
Performance Art -- Multimedia art form involving visual as well as dramatic and musical elements
 
Permutation -- A term popularized in drumming over the last 10 years. It refers to beat displacement where all beats will move forward say, one eighth note. This method will create numerous variations of rhythmic possibilities
 
Perpetuum Mobile -- Type of piece characterized by continuous repetitions of a rhythmic pattern at a quick tempo; perpetual motion
 
Phasing -- A technique in which a musical pattern is repeated and manipulated so that it separates and overlaps itself, and then rejoins the original pattern; getting "out of phase" and back "in sync"
 
Phrase -- Musical unit; often a component of a melody
 
Phrasing -- How beats are distributed by the musician around on their instrument in context to the song or drum solo
 
Pianissimo -- The Italian term for "very soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "pp"
 
Piano -- Italian term for "soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "p"
 
Piano -- Keyboard instrument whose strings are struck with hammers controlled by a keyboard mechanism; pedals control dampers in the strings that stop the sound when the finger releases the key
 
Piano Quartet -- Standard chamber ensemble of piano with violin, viola and cello
 
Piano Quintet -- Standard chamber ensemble of piano with two violins, viola and cello
 
Piano Trio -- Standard chamber ensemble of piano with violin and cello
 
Piccolo -- The highest member of the orchestra, the piccolo is a little flute whose shrill timbre stands out against the full ensemble
 
Pipa -- Chinese lute with four silk strings; played as solo and ensemble instrument
 
Pizzicato -- Performance direction to pluck a string of a bowed instrument with the finger
 
Polka -- Lively Bohemian dance; also a short, lyric piano piece
 
Polonaise -- Stately Polish processional dance in triple meter
 
Polychoral -- Performance style developed in the late sixteenth century involving the use of two or more choirs that alternate with each other or sing together
 
Polyharmony -- Two or more streams of harmony played against each other, common in twentieth century music
 
Polyrhtym -- The simultaneous use of several rhythmic patterns or meters, common in twentieth-century music and in certain African musics
 
Polytextual -- Two or more texts set simultaneously in a composition
 
Polytonality -- The simultaneous use of two or more keys, common in twentieth century music
 
Portamento -- A mild glissando between two notes for an expressive effect
 
Prelude -- Instrumental work intended to precede a larger work
 
Prepared Piano -- Piano whose sound is altered by the insertion of various materials (metal, rubber, leather and paper) between the strings; invented by John Cage
 
Presto -- A direction in sheet music indicating the tempo is to be very fast
 
Program Music -- Instrumental music endowed with literary or pictorial associations, especially popular in the nineteenth century
 
Program Symphony -- Multimovement programmatic orchestral work, typically from the nineteenth century
 
Progression -- The movement of chords in succession
 
Psaltery -- Medieval plucked-string instrument similar to the modern zither, consisting of a sound box over which strings were stretched
 
Pulse -- The consistent "heartbeat" of a rhythm
 
Punk Rock -- Subgenre of rock popular since the mid 1970s, characterized by loud volume levels, driving rhythms and simple forms typical of earlier rock and roll; often contains shocking lyrics and offensive behavior
 
Pure Music -- Music that has no literary, dramatic, or pictorial program. Also pure music
 
Quadrille -- A 19th century square dance written for 4 couples
 
Quadrille -- An early 19th century ballroom dance for four or more couples. music of which was usually adapted from popular melodies of the day
 
Quadrivium -- One of the divisions of the seven liberal arts studied in medieval times. The seven were divided into the mathematical four, the quadrivium, which included arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music, and the trivium (rhetorical three), grammar, logic, and rhetoric
 
Quadruple Meter -- Basic metrical pattern of four beats to a measure; also common time
 
Quadruple Stop -- Playing four notes simultaneously on a string instrument
 
Quadruple Time -- 4/4 time or time signature equaling 4 beats to a measure. Quad meaning "4"
 
Quadruplum -- Fourth voice of a polyphonic work
 
Quads -- Consisting of 4 drums and often played in marching band or drumline
 
Quartal Harmony -- Harmony based on the interval of the fourth as opposed to a third; used in twentieth century music
 
Quarter Rest -- A pause or rest having the time duration of one fourth of the time duration of a whole rest
 
Quarter Tone -- An interval that is one half of a semitone or half of a half step. This interval is not commonly used in Western music
 
Quartet -- A set of four musicians who perform a composition written for four parts
 
Quatreble -- Term in Medieval and Renaissance music for a voice pitched a fifth above the treble
 
Quena -- A South American folk instrument from the Andes mountains (Bolivia and Peru). Similar to a flute, it is made out of cane, 25 to 50 cm. long with five or six finger holes and a thumb hole. A notch in the upper rim allows the performer to blow across the sharp edge to create the sound. It is commonly heard as a solo instrument and in ensembles. Pre-Columbian versions have been found dating back to 900 B.C. and were made of bone and clay
 
Quickstep -- A dance popular in the 1920's in duple meter, a version of the foxtrot. Also, a fast march
 
Quilisma -- A neume used in notation of Gregorian chant, probably denoting a trill or tremolo
 
Quill -- The part of a harpsichord jack that actually plucks the string. Traditionally made from a feather, the quill is now typically made from a synthetic such as nylon
 
Quinta -- (Or quinto) - The smallest conga drum
 
Quintet -- A set of five musicians who perform a composition written for five parts
 
Quinton -- A hybrid instrument that was in use during the 18th century, having characteristics of both the violin and the viol. It had the body of the violin, but the sloping shoulders of the viol, and five strings tuned (lowest to highest) g, d1, a1, d2, g2
 
Quints -- Consisting of 5 drums and played in marching band or drumline
 
Quintus -- Term used in the16th century for the fifth voice in a composition having five or more vocal parts. The quintus sometimes was a descant or countermelody added on top of the usual four voices
 
Quodlibet -- A humorous composition that contains snatches of popular melodies and texts presented concurrently or consecutively. The term was first used in 1544 in Germany
 
Quotation Music -- Music that parodies another work or works, presenting them in a new style or guise
 
Rackett -- An organ stop played at the sixteen-foot pitch with a gentle tone and distinctive timbre. The resonators were not of a consistent shape or material from organ to organ but they were always short. This stop was common on small northern European organs and on the secondary manuals of large organs at the end of the 16th century
 
Raddolcendo -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition with a gradually reduced volume; increase in softness; grow gentler, sweeter, and calmer
 
Radical Bass -- An bass line produced by linking the fundamentals of the chords in a progression, as described in Rameau's theory of harmony (Traité de l'harmonie, 1722)
 
Raga -- Melodic pattern used in music of India; prescribes pitches, patterns, ornamentation and extramusical associations such as time of performance and emotional character
 
Ragtime -- Late nineteenth century piano style created by African-Americans, characterized by highly syncopated melodies; also played in ensemble arrangements. Contributed to early jazz styles
 
Rain Stick -- A long hollowed out piece of wood that is filled with beads or pebbles. When turned upside down, it makes the sound of rain falling. This instrument is often used in band and orchestra for special percussion effects
 
Raking -- A technique of performing broken chords on the lute
 
Rallentando -- Getting gradually slower
 
Range -- Distance between the lowest and highest tones of a melody, an instrument or a voice. This span can be generally described as narrow, medium or wide in range
 
Rant -- A country dance of Scotland and Northern England related to the jig. The rant is in duple meter and binary form. Surviving examples are dated from the 17th and 18th centuries
 
Rap -- Subgenre of rock in which rhymed lyrics are spoken over rhythm tracks; developed by African-Americans in the 1970s and widely disseminated in the 1980s and 1990s
 
Rap -- An American style of rhythmic chanting consisting of improvised rhymes performed to rhythmic accompaniment
 
Rasch -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition in a spirited, swift style
 
Ravvivando -- A directive to perform a certain passage of a composition with a quickening pace
 
Realize -- Term used for the performing of a composition that is not notated in its entirety. For example, a figured bass may be realized by the continuo performer, even though the entire harmonization is not notated. Also, a solo performer will realize ornamentation that is not notated, but left to the taste and fancy of the performer
 
Rebec -- Medieval bowed-string instrument, often with a pear-shaped body
 
Recapitulation -- Third section of sonata-allegro form, in which the thematic material of the exposition is restated, generally in the tonic. Also restatement
 
Recital -- A solo concert with or without accompaniment
 
Recitative -- Solo vocal declamation that follows the inflections of the text, often resulting in a disjunct vocal style; found in opera, cantata, and oratorio
 
Recorder -- End-blown woodwind instrument with a whistle mouthpiece, generally associated with early music
 
Reed -- Flexible strip of cane or metal set into a mouthpiece or the body of an instrument; set in vibration by a stream of air
 
Reel -- Moderately quick dance in duple meter danced throughout the British Isles; the most popular Irish traditional dance type
 
Refrain -- Text or music that is repeated within a larger form
 
Regal -- Small medieval reed organ
 
Reggae -- Jamaican popular music style characterized by offbeat rhythms and chanted vocals over a strong bass part; often associated with the Christian religious movement Rastafarianism
 
Register -- Specific area in the range of an instrument or voice
 
Registration -- Selection or combination of stops in a work for organ or harpsichord
 
Reinassance -- A period in history dating from the 14th to 16th centuries. This period signified the rebirth of music, art, and literature
 
Relative Key -- The major and minor key that share the same key signature; for example, D minor is the relative minor of F major, both having one flat.
 
Relative Major & Minor -- The major and minor keys that share the same notes in that key. For example: A minor shares the same note as C major
 
Relative Pitch -- Ability to determine the pitch of a note as it relates to the notes that precede and follow it
 
Reng -- A reed mouth organ from China
 
Repeat Sign -- Musical symbol that indicates repetition of a passage in a composition
 
Repetition -- Within a form, repetition fixes the musical material in our mind and satisfies our need for the familiar; it provides unity to a form
 
Reprise -- To repeat a previous part of a composition generally after other music has been played
 
Requiem -- A dirge, hymn, or musical service for the repose of the dead
 
Resolution -- Conclusion of a musical idea, as in the progression from an active chord to a rest chord
 
Resonance -- When several strings are tuned to harmonically related pitches, all strings vibrate when only one of the strings is struck
 
Response -- Short choral answer to a solo verse; an element of liturgical dialogue
 
Responsorial Singing -- Singing, especially in Gregorian chant, in which a soloist or a group of soloists alternates with the choir.
 
Retrograde -- Backward statement of melody
 
Retrograde Inversion -- Mirror image and backward statement of a melody
 
Rhythm -- The controlled movement of music in time
 
Rhythm & Blues -- Popular African-American music style of the 1940s through 1960s featuring a solo singer accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble (piano, guitar, acoustic bass, drums, tenor saxophone), driving rhythms, and blues and pop song forms
 
Ricercar -- Elaborate polyphonic composition of the Boroque and Renaissance periods
 
Ride -- (Ride cymbal) - the primary cymbal that you "ride" much of the time while playing a standard beat. It is usually larger than the rest at around 18" to 22"
 
Rigaudon -- A quick 20th century dance written in double time
 
Rimshot -- Hitting the snare head and the snare drum rim at the same time. The effect is a louder, punchier sound or backbeat
 
Ring Shout -- Religious dance performed by African-American slaves, performed with hand clapping and a shuffle step to spirituals
 
Ritard -- Gradually slowing the tempo down, often at the end of a piece
 
Ritornello -- Short recurring passage that unifies an instrumental or vocal work
 
Rock Band -- Popular music ensemble that depends on amplified strings, percussion, and electronically generated sounds
 
Rock'n Roll -- American popular music style first heard in the 1950s; derived from the union of African-American rhythm and blues, country-western, and pop music
 
Roll -- Drum roll. Rolls (single stroke, double stroke, 5 stroke, etc.) that help make up the 40 drum rudiments
 
Romance -- Originally a ballad; in the Romantic era, a lyric instrumental work
 
Ronde -- Lively Renaissance "round dance", associated with the outdoors, in which the participants danced in a circle or a line
 
Rondo -- Musical form in which the first section recurs, usually in the tonic. In the Classical sonata cycle, it appears as the last movement in various forms, including A-B-A-B-A, A-B-A-C-A, and A-B-A-C-A-B-A.
 
Roneat-Ek -- Cambodian xylophone with 21 tuned wooden keys
 
Root -- The principal note of a triad
 
Rosin -- Substance made from hardened tree sap, rubbed on the hair of a bow to help it grip the strings
 
Roto Toms -- Mounted, shell-less drums that changes pitch when rotated by hand
 
Round -- Perpetual canon at the unison in which each voice enters in succession with the same melody (for example, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")
 
Rounded Binary -- Compositional form with two sections, in which the second ends with a return to material from the first; each section is usually repeated
 
Rubato -- Borrowed time", common in Romantic music, in which the performer hesitates here or hurries forward there, imparting flexibility to the written note values. Also tempo rubato
 
Rudiments -- Rudimentary beats used to create independence between the two hands (and feet) in drumming. These beats can then be manipulated around the drumset. There are currently 40 drum rudiments (or standardized drum rudiments)
 
Rumba -- Latin-American dance of Afro-Cuban origin, in duple meter with syncopated rhythms
 
Rural Blues -- American popular singing style with raspy-voiced male singer accompanied by acoustic steel-string guitar
 
Sackbut -- Early brass instrument, ancestor of the trombone
 
Sacred Music -- Religious or spiritual music, for church or devotional use
 
Salsa -- Spicy"; collective term for Latin-American dance music, especially forms of Afro-Cuban origin
 
Saltarello -- Italian "jumping dance", often characterized by triplets in a rapid 4/4 time
 
Samba -- Afro-Brazilian dance, characterized by duple meter, responsorial singing, and polyrhythmic accompaniments
 
Sampler -- Electronic device that digitizes, stores and plays back sounds
 
Sarabande -- Stately Spanish Baroque dance type in triple meter, a standard movement of the Baroque suite
 
Sarangi -- Bowed chordophone from north India with three main strings and a large number of metal strings that vibrate sympathetically
 
Sarrusophone -- A wind instrument designed by Sarrus in 1856. The sarrusophone has a double reed similar to a bassoon or oboe, but is made of brass, and resembles the saxophone in fingering and range. The sarrusophone was mainly invented as a substitute for oboes and bassoons in military bands
 
Savart -- Term describing the logarithmic measurement system of intervals invented by Felix Savart. In an octave, there are 301.03 savarts
 
Saxhorn -- A family of wind instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in 1845. There have been at least seven sizes of saxhorn ranging from sopranino to contrabass, and have been confused with the flugelhorn. The saxhorn has a cup mouthpiece, valves, and a tapered bore
 
Saxophone -- Woodwind instrument made of metal and sounded with a single reed; the saxophone is a more recent instrument addition to the orchestra
 
Scale -- Series of tones or pitches in ascending or descending order. Scale tones are often assigned numbers (1-8) or syllables (do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do)
 
Scat Singing -- A jazz style that sets syllables without meaning (vocables) to an improvised vocal line
 
Scherzo -- Composition in A-B-A form, usually in triple meter; replaced the minuet and trio in the nineteenth century
 
Scherzo -- Pertaining to the sonata form, a fast movement in triple time
 
Scordatura -- The retuning of a stringed instrument in order to play notes below the ordinary range of the instrument or to produce an usual tone color
 
Secco -- Operatic recitative that features a sparse accompaniment and moves with great freedom
 
Secular Music -- Nonreligious music; when texted, usually in the vernacular
 
Semitone -- Also known as a half step, the smallest interval commonly used in the Western musical system
 
Septet -- A set of seven musicians who perform a composition written for seven parts
 
Sequence -- A successive transposition and repetition of a phrase at different pitches
 
Serenade -- Classical instrumental genre that combines elements of chamber music and symphony, often performed in the evening or at social functions. Related to divertimento and cassation
 
Serialism -- Method of composition in which various musical elements (pitch, rhythm, dynamics, tone color) may be ordered in a fixed series.
 
Seventh Chord -- Four-note combination consisting of a triad with another third added on top; spans a seventh between its lowest and highest tones
 
Sextet -- A set of six musicians who perform a composition written for six parts
 
Sextuple Meter -- Compound metrical pattern of six beats to a measure
 
Sforzando -- Sudden stress or accent on a single note or chord, indicated in the musical score by the marking "sf" or "sfz"
 
Shacker -- Any percussion instrument that can be shaken. Usually a hollowed out container filled with beads or pebbles
 
Shakuchaki -- A Japanese end-blown flute
 
Shamisen -- Long-necked Japanese chordophone with three strings
 
Shape Note -- Music notation system originating in nineteenth century American church music in which the shape of the note heads determines the pitch; created to aid music reading
 
Sharp Sign -- Musical symbol (#) that indicates raising a pitch by a semitone
 
Shawm -- Medieval wind instrument, the ancestor of the oboe
 
Shekere -- A large hollow gourd surrounded by woven beads. Common in Afro-Cuban music
 
Siciliano -- A soft, slow peasant dance in 6/8 or 12/8 time, often in a minor key. Rather similar to a Pastorale, usually in ABA form. It usually has a melody in dotted rhythms, with a broken chord accompaniment
 
Simple Meter -- Grouping of rhythms in which the beat is subdivided into two, as in duple, triple, and quadruple meters
 
Sinfonia -- Short instrumental work, found in Baroque opera, to facilitate scene changes
 
Sinfonia -- Short instrumental work, found in Baroque opera, to facilitate scene changes
 
Singspiel -- Comic German drama with spoken dialogue; the immediate predecessor of Romantic German opera
 
Sitar -- Long-necked plucked chordophone of northern India, with movable frets and a rounded gourd body; used as solo instrument and with tabla
 
Ska -- Jamaican urban dance form popular in the 1960s, influential in reggae
 
Slide -- Glissando or portamento. Also refers to the moving part of a trombone
 
Slide Trumpet -- Medieval brass instrument of the trumpet family
 
Slur -- A curve over notes to indicate that a phrase is to be played legato
 
Snare Drum -- Small cylindrical drum with two heads stretched over a metal shell, the lower head having strings across it; played with two drumsticks
 
Snare Drum -- One of the more common drums in marching bands and drumlines and the primary drum of a drumset. The "snares" are the wires on the bottom of the drum that give it that "buzz" sound. Standard size is usually 14" diameter by 5 1/2" in depth but can vary greatly
 
Snares -- The long wiggly shaped wires stretched across the bottom of a snare drum. These wires create a preferred buzz sound
 
Soft Rock -- Lyrical, gentle rock style that evolved around 1960 in response to hard-driving rock and roll
 
Sonata -- Instrumental genre in several movements for soloist or small ensemble
 
Sonata Allegro -- The opening movement of the sonata cycle, consisting of themes that are stated in the first section (exposition), developed in the second section (development), and restated in the third section (recapitulation). Also sonata form or first-movement form
 
Sonata Cycle -- General term describing the multimovement structure found in sonatas, string quartets, symphonies, concertos and large-scale works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
 
Sonata da Camara -- Baroque chamber sonata, usually a suite of stylized dances. Also chamber sonata
 
Sonata Da Chiesa -- Baroque instrumental work intended for performance in church; in four movements, frequently arranged slow-fast-slow-fast. Also church sonata
 
Sonata Form -- A complex piece of music. Usually the first movement of the piece serving as the exposition, a development, or recapitulation
 
Sonatina -- A short or brief sonata
 
Sonatina -- A short sonata, smaller, with less and shorter movements and the subjects not developed at length
 
Song Cycle -- Group of songs, usually Lieder, that are unified musically or through their texts
 
Sousaphone -- Brass instrument adapted from the tuba with a forward bell that is coiled to rest over the player's shoulder for ease of carrying while marching
 
Spiritual -- Folklike devotional genre of the United States, sung by African-Americans and whites
 
Spiritual Minimalism -- Contemporary musical style related to minimalism, characterized by a weak pulse and long chains of lush progressions, either tonal or modal
 
Sprechstimme -- A vocal style in which the melody is spoken at approximate pitches rather than sung on exact pitches; developed by Arnold Schoenberg
 
Staccato -- Short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them
 
Staff -- Made up of five horizontal parallel lines and the spaces between them on which musical notation is written
 
Steel Drum -- (Pans) large oil drums that have had the tops cut off and hammered into a tuned percussion instrument. Common in the Caribbean Islands. Played with mallets
 
Steliconcitato -- Baroque style developed by Monteverdi, which introduced novel effects such as rapid repeated notes as symbols of passion
 
Stile Reppresentativo -- A dramatic recitative style of the Baroque period in which melodies move freely over a foundation of simple chords
 
Stopping -- On a string instrument, altering the string length by pressing it on the fingerboard. On a horn, playing with the bell closed by the hand or a mute
 
Strain -- Series of contrasting sections found in rags and marches; in duple meter with sixteen-measure themes or sections
 
Stretto -- Pertaining to the fugue, the overlapping of the same theme or motif by two or more voices a few beats apart
 
String Family -- The members of the string family include two types of instruments: bowed and plucked. The standard bowed string instruments, from highest to lowest, are violin, viola, cello and double bass. The harp and guitar are common plucked string instruments. String instruments often play special effects, including trill, pizzicato, harmonic and arpeggio
 
String Quartet -- The string quartet was one of the most common chamber ensembles. Its makeup is two violins, viola and cello
 
String Quintet -- Standard chamber ensemble made up of either two violins, two violas and cello, or two violins, viola and two cellos
 
String trio -- Standard chamber ensemble made up two violins and cello, or violin, viola and cello
 
Strophic Form -- Song structure in which the same music is repeated with every stanza (strophe) of the poem
 
Sturm and Drang -- Storm and stress"; late eighteenth century movement in Germany toward more emotional expression in the arts
 
Style -- Characteristic manner of presentation of musical elements (melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, form, etc.)
 
Subdominant -- The fourth scale step, fa
 
Subdominant Chord -- Chord built on the fourth scale step, the IV chord
 
Suite -- Multimovement work made up of a series of contrasting dance movements, generally all in the same key.
 
Swing -- Jazz term coined to describe Louis Armstrong's style; more commonly refers to big band jazz
 
Swing -- In drumming it refers to the swing cymbal rhythm or what the old masters would call "spang-a-lang". This rhythm and variations of it is the driving force behind swing (jazz) music
 
Syllabic -- Melodic style with one note to each syllable of text
 
Symphonic Poem -- One-movement orchestral form that develops a poetic idea, suggests a scene or creates a mood, generally associated with the Romantic era. Also tone poem
 
Symphony -- Large work for orchestra, generally in three or four movements
 
Syncopation -- Deliberate upsetting of the meter or pulse through a temporary shifting of the accent to a weak beat or an offbeat
 
Synthesizer -- Electronic instrument that produces a wide variety of sounds by combining sound generators and sound modifiers in one package with a unified control system
 
System -- A combination of two or more staves on which all the notes are vertically aligned and performed simultaneously in differing registers and instruments
 
Tabla -- Pair of single-headed, tuned drums used in north Indian classical music
 
Tablature -- A system of notation for stringed instruments. The notes are indicated by the finger positions
 
Table Book -- A form of written music popular in the Renaissance printed in such a way that the performers could sit around a table and read their own various parts
 
Tabor -- Cylindrical medieval drum
 
Tacet -- An indication in the music that a performer is to be silent for some time. Typically, for an entire section or movement of a composition
 
Tag -- Jazz term for a coda, or a short concluding section
 
Tailgate -- A slang term for a trombone Glissando in Dixieland jazz and is the basis for the tailgate trombone style of performing in Dixieland jazz
 
Tala -- Fixed time cycle or meter in Indian music, built from uneven groupings of beats
 
Tala -- Fixed time cycle or meter in Indian music, built from uneven groupings of beats
 
Tam-Tam -- A percussion idiophone similar to a gong. Although it looks very similar to the gong, it is typically thinner with a smaller rim and has no nipple or protrusion in the center. The tam-tam tends to be either flat or saucer-shaped. The shape and construction produce a great difference in sound. The gong has a definite pitch center with a fundamental note producing rich overtones, and the tam-tam should have no discernable pitch or fundamental note, simply a crash of dissonant frequencies
 
Tambourine -- Percussion instrument consisting of a small round drum with metal plates inserted in its rim; played by striking or shaking
 
Tango -- A dance originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires, Argentine. It is characterized as very as passionate
 
Tanto -- A term meaning so much or as much and used to qualify a directive in the performance of a certain passage of a composition. For example, the term allegro non tanto would mean a fast tempo (allegro) but not so much (or so fast). The term allegro tanto possibile would mean a fast tempo (allegro) as much as possible. This term can be used in the same way as troppo
 
Tantum Ergo -- A hymn of the Roman Catholic Church sung at the Benediction
 
Tarantela -- Rapid Italian dance (supposed to cure the bite of a tarantula)
 
Te Deum -- Song of praise to God; a text from the Roman Catholic rite, often set polyphonically
 
Temperament -- Refers to the tuning of an instrument
 
Tempo -- Rate of speed or pace of music. Tempo markings are traditionally given in Italian; common markings include grave (solemn; very, very slow); largo (broad; very slow); adagio (quite slow); andante (a walking pace); moderato (moderate); allegro (fast; cheerful); vivace (lively); presto (very fast); accelerando (getting faster); ritardando (getting slower); and a tempo (in time; returning to the original pace)
 
Tenor Drum -- Percussion instrument, larger than the snare drum, with a wooden shell.
 
Tenso -- A stylized, poetic debate between troubadours or trouveres in which the participants argue opposing views on a given topic
 
Tenth -- An interval spanning the distance of 10 pitches away from the original pitch
 
Tenuto -- A directive to perform a certain note or chord of a composition in a sustained manner for longer than its full duration
 
Terce -- The fourth service of the Divine Office, usually performed at 9:00 a.m. The service consists of several responsories and psalms which are sung
 
Ternary Form -- Three-part (A-B-A) form based on a statement (A), contrast or departure (B), and repetition (A). Also three-part form
 
Terraced Dynamics -- Expressive style typical of Baroque music in which volume levels shift based on the playing forces used
 
Tertian Harmony -- Harmony based on the interval of the third, particularly predominant from the Baroque through the nineteenth century
 
Tessitura -- The range of an instrumental or a vocal part
 
Texture -- The interweaving of melodic (horizontal) and harmonic (vertical) elements in the musical fabric. Texture is generally described as monophonic (single line), heterophonic (elaboration on a single line), homophonic (single line with accompaniment), or polyphonic (many voiced)
 
Texture -- Term which refers to the vertical structure of a composition. That is to say, how many parts or voices there are, what the configuration (close, open, etc.) of the voices is, how the voices interact, etc
 
Thematic Development -- Musical expansion of a theme by varying its melodic outline, harmony or rhythm. Also thematic transformation
 
Theme -- Melodic idea used as a basic building block in the construction of a composition
 
Theme -- A melodic or, sometimes a harmonic idea presented in a musical form
 
Theme Group -- Several themes in the same key that function as a unit within a section of a form, particularly in sonata-allegro form
 
Theme Variations -- Compositional procedure in which a theme is stated and then altered in successive statements; occurs as an independent piece or as a movement of a sonata cycle
 
Third -- Interval between two notes that are two diatonic scale steps apart
 
Third Stream -- Jazz style that synthesizes characteristics and techniques of classical music and jazz; term coined by Gunther Schuller
 
Through- composed -- Song structure that is composed from beginning to end, without repetitions of large sections
 
Tibia -- Wind instrument of the ancient Romans. The tibia consisted of two pipes and was used in religious ceremonies, rituals, and theatre
 
Timbales -- Shallow, single-headed drums of Cuban origin, played in pairs; used in much Latin-American popular music
 
Timbre -- The quality of a sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another. Also tone color
 
Timbre -- The quality of a sound; that component of a tone that causes different instruments (for example a guitar and a violin) to sound different from each other while they are both playing the same note
 
Timbrel -- Ancient percussion instrument related to the tambourine
 
Time Signature -- A numeric symbol in sheet music determining the number of beats to a measure
 
Timpani -- Percussion instrument consisting of a hemispheric copper shell with a head of plastic or calfskin, held in place by a metal ring and played with soft or hard padded sticks. A pedal mechanism changes the tension of the head, and with it the pitch
 
Tin Whistle -- Small metal end-blown flute commonly used in Irish traditional music
 
Toccata -- Virtuoso composition, generally for organ or harpsichord, in a free and rhapsodic style; in the Baroque, it often served as the introduction to a fugue
 
Toccata -- Brilliant, prelude-like composition
 
Tom-tom -- Cylindrical drum without snares
 
Tombeau -- An Instrumental funeral composition or a composition which commemorates the death of someone
 
Tonal -- Based on principles of major-minor tonality, as distinct from modal
 
Tonality -- Principle of organization around a tonic, or home, pitch, based on a major or minor scale
 
Tone -- A sound of definite pitch
 
Tone Cluster -- Highly dissonant combination of pitches sounded simultaneously
 
Tone row -- An arrangement of the twelve chromatic tones that serves as the basis of a twelve-tone composition
 
Toneless -- Unmusical, without tone
 
Tonic -- The first note of a scale (the tonic or keynote do), which serves as the home base around which the other pitches revolve and to which they ultimately gravitate
 
Total Serialism -- Extremely complex, totally controlled music in which the twelve-tone principle is extended to elements of music other than pitch
 
Track -- A single song, or continuous musical selection on a vinyl record, or a single continuous musical selection on a CD or other recording medium
 
Tract -- A Chant in the Proper of the Roman Mass performed in place of the Alleluia on special days
 
Traditional Music -- Music that is learned by oral transmission and is easily sung or played by most people; may exist in variant forms. Also folk music
 
Tragedie Lyrique -- French serious opera of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with spectacular dance scenes and brilliant choruses on tales of courtly love or heroic adventures; associated with J.B. Lully
 
Transcription -- The result of transcribing a piece of music
 
Transposition -- Shifting a piece of music to a different pitch level
 
Treble -- The playing or singing the upper half of the vocal range. Also the highest voice in choral singing
 
Tremolo -- Rapid repetition of a tone; can be achieved instrumentally or vocally
 
Tremolo -- Quick repetition of the same note or the rapid alternation between two notes
 
Triad -- A common chord type consisting of three pitches built on alternate scale tones of a major or minor scale (e.g., 1 - 3 - 5 or 2 - 4 - 6)
 
Triangle -- The triangle is a slender rod of steel bent into a three-cornered shape and struck with a steel beater; its sound is bright and tinkling in this march
 
Trill -- Ornament consisting of the rapid alternation between one tone and the next above it
 
Trio Sonata -- Baroque chamber sonata type written in three parts: two melody lines and the basso continuo; requires a total of four players to perform
 
Triple Meter -- Basic metrical pattern of three beats to a measure
 
Triple Stop -- Playing three notes simultaneously on a string instrument
 
Triple Time -- Time signature with three beats to the measure
 
Triplet -- Group of three equal-valued notes played in the time of two; indicated by a bracket and the number 3
 
Triplum -- Third voice in early polyphony
 
Tritone -- A chord comprised of three whole tones resulting in an augmented fourth or diminished fifth
 
Tritonic -- Three-note scale pattern, used in the music of some sub-Saharan African cultures
 
Trobadours -- Medieval poet-musicians of southern France
 
Trombone -- The trombone (Italian for "large trumpet") features a moveable U-shaped slide that alters the length of the vibrating tube. Its timbre, illustrated here, is rich and full
 
Trouvéres -- Medieval poet-musicians of northern France
 
Trumpet -- The trumpet is the highest pitched member of the brass family; this example illustrates its clear and brilliant sound
 
Tuba -- Bass-range brass instrument that changes pitch by means of valves
 
Tubular Bells -- A member of the chimes family, tubular bells are long metal tubes (around 5' or more) that are struck with a special hammer. This percussion instrument is common in school bands, marching bands (pit), and orchestras, as well as symphonies
 
Tumba -- (Or tumbadora) - the largest of the typical 3 conga drums family
 
Tune -- A rhythmic succession of musical tones, a melody for instruments and voices
 
Tuning -- The raising and lowering a pitch of an instrument to produce the correct tone of a note
 
Tutti -- Passage for the entire ensemble or orchestra without a soloist
 
Twelve Tone Music -- Compositional procedure of the twentieth century based on the use of all twelve chromatic tones (in a tone row) without a central tone, or tonic, according to prescribed rules
 
Twelve Tone Music -- Music composed such that each note is used the same number of times
 
Twelve-bar Blues -- Musical structure based on a repeated harmonic-rhythmic pattern that is twelve measures in length (I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I)
 
Tympani -- (Kettle drums) Kettle drums are pitched instruments that are considered a part of the melodic percussion family. They are very large drums made of copper or brass, most often used in orchestras and symphonies. These drums have a foot pedal that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal is depressed, the kettle drums make a unique, "boing" type of sound back to top
 
Udu Drums -- Udu" means "pot". an oblong drum (or pot) made of clay. It has a hole on top that resonates the sound when the drum is struck with a hand. It generally makes a deep sound
 
Ukelele -- A small guitar with four strings of Portuguese origin. It became popular in the South Pacific islands and by the early 1900's was a staple in many of these cultures including Hawaii. Because the ukelele was portable, small, and light, cheap, easily played and simply tuned, it became a popular instrument in the United States for accompanying folk songs after World War I
 
Ulleann Pipes -- Type of bellows-blown bagpipe used in Irish traditional music; bellows are elbow-manipulated
 
Ulleann Pipes -- A species of bagpipe known in Ireland. The uilleann pipes is different from the Scottish bagpipe because it is filled with air by means of a bellows activated by the player squeezing the bellows against his side with his elbow. It has a softer, more melodic sound than the Scottish bagpipe
 
Una Corda -- In piano music, this directive indicates that the soft pedal is to be used. The words "una corda" are shown under the bass staff where the soft pedal is to be depressed and the words "tre corde" (three strings) under the bass staff where the soft pedal is to be released
 
Unison -- Interval between two notes of the same pitch; the simultaneous playing of the same note
 
Unison -- An interval of zero; i.e., the same pitch. Two instruments playing in unison are playing exactly the same notes
 
Up Bow -- The sign "V", indicating that a bowed string player should play that particular note by drawing the bow from the tip to the frog or moving the bow toward the body. This is opposed to a down-bow, where the player draws the bow from the frog towards the tip or away from the body
 
Upbeat -- Last beat of a measure, a weak beat, which anticipates the downbeat (the first beat of the next measure)
 
Upright Piano -- A piano on which the strings and soundboard are vertical rather than horizontal as on a grand piano
 
Vago -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage in a vague, rambling manner; in a fashion that is uncertain in timing or expression
 
Vamp -- Short passage with simple rhythm and harmony that introduces a soloist in a jazz performance
 
Variation -- A formal principle in which some aspects of the music are altered but the original is still recognizable; it falls between repetition and contrast
 
Varsovienne -- A French dance, named after the French word for "Warsaw" ("Varsovie "). It is in 3/4 time with a moderate tempo; the varsovienne originated in the 1850's and combined elements of the mazurka and the waltz
 
Vaudeville -- Variety show with unrelated acts consisting of stand-up comedy, virtuoso intrumental and vocal performance, and song and dance acts
 
Veloce -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage swiftly, with speed
 
Verbunkos -- A Hungarian dance with elements of Gypsy violin playing and rhythm. It has several sections, each with a specific tempo
 
Verbunkos -- A Hungarian dance with elements of Gypsy violin playing and rhythm. It has several sections, each with a specific tempo
 
Verismo -- Operatic "realism", a style popular in Italy in the 1890s, which tried to bring naturalism into the lyric theater
 
Vers -- A style of troubadour song that has five to ten verses and one or two tornadas (verses of conclusion that are shorter than the rest and usually dedicatory)
 
Verse -- In poetry, a group of lines constituting a unit. In liturgical music for the Catholic Church, a phrase from the Scriptures that alternates with the response
 
Verse Anthem -- Anglican devotional composition for solo voices with a choral refrain. The verse anthem is similar to the Catholic motet
 
Vespers -- One of the Divine Offices of the Roman Catholic Church, held at twilight
 
Vibes -- (Or vibraphone). Similar to a xylophone but having metal bars and resonators that are driven by a motor. This motor helps to create vibrato sound. Played with mallets
 
Vibraphone -- A percussion instrument with metal bars and electrically driven rotating propellers under each bar that produces a vibrato sound, much used in jazz
 
Vibraslap -- An instrument of percussion used for sound effect. It is held in the hand or can be mounted. When the ball of the vibraslap is struck, it vibrates the metal teeth inside and makes a long rattling sound
 
Vibrato -- Small fluctuation of pitch used as an expressive device to intensify a sound
 
Vibrato -- The pulsating or vibrating element of some sounds that is produced by a full, resonant quality of tone. Vibrato is a very slight fluctuation of the pitch of a note; it was known as early as the 16th century, but until the 19th century it was used mainly as ornamentation. Since the 19th century, vibrato has been used almost constantly because of its enhancement of tone
 
Vielle -- A Medieval a bowed stringed instrument of the upper classes, one of the ancestors of the violin. Also, a hurdy-gurdy
 
Vif -- French tempo directive meaning lively as in "très vif" or very lively
 
Vihuela -- A plucked stringed instrument of Spain popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. The vihuela was plucked like a guitar, but was of the viol family; it was tuned like a lute, but resembled the guitar in appearance
 
Villanella -- A Renaissance polyphonic vocal form, usually with a simple tune in the top voice, and somewhat homophonic, regular rhythms in the lower voices. The villanella was popular especially in Italy, and retained its separate identity through concurrent evolution of the madrigal
 
Villanelle -- A French term used in the 16th century for pastoral poems or songs. The term was later revived, and applied to compositions by composers such as Georg PhilippTelemann, Hector Berlioz, and Paul Dukas
 
Viola -- The second highest pitched member of the violin family. The viol is similar to the violin in most respects, however, it is larger and is a fifth lower in range (whereas the violin has strings tuned to g, d', a', and e'', the viola has strings tuned to c, g, d', and a'). Thus, the range of the viola is from C below middle C to A an octave above the treble clef
 
Violoncello -- Bowed-string instrument with a middle-to-low range and dark, rich sonority; lower than a viola
 
Virelai -- Medieval and Renaissance fixed poetic form and chanson type with French courtly texts
 
Virtuoso -- Performer of extraordinary technical ability
 
Virtuoso -- One who is extremely skilled at performing upon any certain instrument
 
Vivace -- Direction to performer to play a composition in a brisk, lively, and spirited manner
 
Vocal -- This term is used to refer to the voice as an instrument, or pertaining to the voice or music that is sung. For example, a piano/vocal score is sheet music with the piano part and voice part notated on the same score
 
Vocalise -- A textless vocal melody, as in an exercise or concert piece
 
Voice -- One of two or more parts in polyphonic music. Voice refers to instrumental parts as well as the singing voice
 
Voice as an Instrument -- A practice of using a voice or a number of voices with an instrumental result rather than using the voice in the conventional sense. This practice is used in 20th century music and in new age music with a mysterious, soothing, beautiful effect
 
Voice Leading -- Term used in America to refer to part-writing
 
Voices -- The standard voice types, from highest to lowest, are: (female) soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto; (male) tenor, baritone and bass
 
Voicing -- Term referring to the adjustment of the sound-producing mechanisms in an instrument so that the tone, volume, attack, and timbre of the sound are given their desired quality
 
Volte -- A court dance of the Renaissance originating in Province. The dance is characterized by three quarter turns, executed by jumps or by the male dancer lifting the lady dancer. The volte resembled the galliard and was in triple meter
 
Volti Subito -- A musical directive to the performer to turn the page of music quickly
 
Volume -- Degree of loudness or softness of a sound
 
Voluntary -- A composition for organ usually to be performed in the context of a church service. The voluntary originated in the Renaissance, and could be either improvised or written out. Some voluntaries resembled fantasias, others were in a fugal style
 
Vorspiel -- Prelude or introductory movement
 
Wagner Tuba -- A tuba invented by the composer Richard Wagner to be used in his operas. It is smaller than the orchestral tuba and has a range between that of the horn and the trombone. Its somber, majestic tone has inspired other composers such as Strauss, Bruckner, and Stravinsky to include it in compositions
 
Wait -- The shawm or the player of the shawm, especially a watchman who used it in his duties. Later (c. 1500 - 1700) the term was applied to civic minstrels. The term is also used for Christmas singers, after the civic musicians of earlier times
 
Wait -- The shawm or the player of the shawm, especially a watchman who used it in his duties. Later (c. 1500 - 1700) the term was applied to civic minstrels. The term is also used for Christmas singers, after the civic musicians of earlier times
 
Waldhorn -- The natural horn, that is, the horn (or French horn) without valves
 
Waltz -- Ballroom dance type in triple meter; in the Romantic era, a short, stylized piano piece
 
Washtub Bass -- A folk instrument constructed by the musicians themselves who do not have access to the traditional string or double bass. It is made from an overturned washtub (the resonator), a broom handle (the neck), and a single string. The tension on the string is provided by pulling back and forth on the handle
 
Wassail -- A Middle English term derived from the Old English "waes haeil ", or "be thou well". The Wassail is a song sung at Christmas time recalling the tradition of "wassailing", which is a tradition of going about the town from house to house in the evening at Christmas time, singing at the doors of all the neighbors, wishing them a good New Year and asking them for a treat (usually the treat was a spiced drink, also known as a "wassail"). This tradition is something of a mix between the modern traditions of caroling and trick-or-treating
 
Well-Tempered -- A term applied to an instrument that is voiced and tuned satisfactorily, with the pitches, tone, and timbre have the desired quality of sound
 
West Coast Jazz -- Jazz style developed in the 1950s, featuring small groups of mixed timbres playing contrapuntal improvisations; similar to cool jazz
 
West Coast Swing -- A specific style of contemporary swing dance made popular in the late 20th century
 
Western Music -- Music composed and produced in the Western hemisphere by trained musicians as opposed to Folk tradition or vernacular music
 
Whithorn -- A primitive oboe made from the bark and wood of the willow
 
Whole Note -- A whole note is equal to 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes, 8 sixteenth notes, etc
 
Whole Step -- Interval consisting of two half steps, or semitones
 
Whole Tone Scale -- Scale pattern built entirely of whole step intervals, common in the music of the French Impressionists
 
Wind Cap -- A device used from the 14th through 17th century to cover the double reed of the crumhorn and other similar instruments. It is basically a wooden tube that totally covers the double reed and prevents the performer from touching it. The performer blows through a hole at or near the top of the wind cap to play the instrument. Without the ability to touch the reed with the lips, the performer has limited control of the range of notes available to be sounded. Specifically, it prevents overblowing which limits the pitches to the first harmonic
 
Wind Chimes -- Term applied to a set of tubes suspended in a row or in a circle so they can be blown in the wind in a way that allows them to strike each other and create a random set of sounds. Although this is not technically a musical instrument (i.e. performed as a solo instrument or in an ensemble), it is similar to and often mistaken for the Mark Tree (sometimes called bell tree or bar chimes). The tubes may be made of metal, glass, bamboo, stone, porcelain or shell
 
Wind Ensemble -- An instrumental ensemble consisting of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. The wind ensemble is virtually identical to the American Symphonic Band and the European military band
 
Wind Machine -- Percussion instrument that creates the sound effect of a blowing wind
 
Windway -- The pathway or duct in the mouthpiece of a edge-blown aerophone that directs the air stream over the fipple and onto the labium where the air is split and vibrates to produce a sound
 
Women Composers -- Women have always been active in the composition and performance of music and, in the 20th century, have begun to receive the credit they are due
 
Wood Block -- A percussion instrument that is block of wood that is hollowed out and struck with a stick or mallet
 
Woodwind -- The woodwind family is less homogeneous in construction and sound production than the strings; it includes the piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet and bassoon. The saxophone is a more recent woodwind instrument that is frequently heard in jazz
 
Woodwind Instrument -- Those instruments that are made of wood and sounded by means of air. The clarinet and oboe families fall into this category, as do the saxophone and the flute families. Although the saxophone is made of brass, it is derived from the wooden clarinet, and is sounded by a reed, thus is is considered to be a woodwind instrument. As well, the flute is made of metal (usually silver), but since it is derived from a wooden ancestor, it too, is considered to be a woodwind instrument
 
Woodwind Quintet -- Standard chamber ensemble consisting of one each of the following: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn (not a woodwind instrument)
 
Word Painting -- Musical pictorialization of words from the text as an expressive device; a prominent feature of the Renaissance madrigal
 
Word Painting -- Musical depiction of words in text. Using the device of word painting, the music tries to imitate the emotion, action, or adjectival description in the text. This device was used often in madrigals and other works of the Renaissance
 
Work Song -- Communal song that synchronized group tasks
 
World Beat -- Collective term for popular third-world musics, ethnic and traditional musics, and eclectic combinations of Western and non-Western musics. Also ethno-pop
 
World Drumming -- Drumming that incorporates rhythms from around the world, utilizing world instruments originating from their prospective countries. Examples would be Afro-Cuban rhythms, Indian rhythms, Caribbean rhythms and so on
 
X-hat -- A set of hi hats positioned in a remote place on the drumset
 
Xylophone -- The xylophone, a pitched percussion instrument of African origin, consists of tuned blocks of wood laid out in the shape of a keyboard
 
Xylorimba -- A xylophone the range of which is extended downwards to include those pitches normally in the range of the marimba. This instrument is not a mix of the xylophone and the marimba, it is a xylophone with an extended range. The xylorimba has a range of four octaves (c to c4). It sounds one octaves higher than the written note
 
Yanginn -- Chinese hammered dulcimer with a trapezoidal sound box and metal strings that are struck with bamboo sticks
 
Yodel -- A style of singing or calling that involves switching the registers of the voice rapidly from head voice to chest voice (or falsetto and natural voice). Although this type of singing is typically associated with the high warbling of the Swiss and Tyrolean mountaineers, forms of yodeling can be found in several cultures, including African, Persian, and cowboy singers in the United States such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry
 
Yu -- A Chinese scraper carved in the shape of a tiger. The sound is produced by scraping it with a split bamboo stick It is used in Confucian temple worship
 
Yue Quin -- A Chinese mandolin named from its moon-shaped soundbox and similar to the long-necked Ruan. The soundbox is sometimes octagonal or hexagonal in shape with 2 strings normally tuned a 4th or 5th apart. Two additional strings can be added and are typically tuned in unison with the other 2 strings creating 2 courses of 2 strings each. The Yue Qin is commonly used to accompany performances such as operas and narratives. It is also known as a Moon mandolin
 
Zamponia -- An South American end-blown tubular aerophone consisting of several closed pipes of cane fastened together in two sections. It was also made out of ceramic, stone, and wood. The zamponia is divided into 2 parts; the upper part (consisting of 7 pipes) is commonly called the Ira and the lower part (consisting of 6 pipes) is called the arca. The instrument produces a sound by blowing across the ends of the pipes
 
Zart -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage of music tenderly, delicately, or softly
 
Zarzuela -- The zarzuela dates back to the mid-17th century. The name may have originated from a stage overgrown with bramble bushes (zarzas) at the royal hunting lodge or Palace of Zarzuela near Madrid, where actors gathered to present their plays to entertain King Philip IV and his court. It was initially a short court play with music, dancing and spoken dialogue, similar to the well-defined three act "comedia" genre
 
Zeloso -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage of music with zeal; ardently; earnestly
 
Zero Ring -- (Or "O" ring) - a plastic dampening device used by drummers for tone control
 
Zimbelstern -- Zimbelstern is a "stop" or a setting on a large pipe organ that produces sounds from a set of high-pitched, untuned (or tuned) bells. The name comes from the fact that the bells are rung (or sounded) by a rotating wheel that is often in the shape of a star. So it sounds like little cymbals being rung by a star. The revolving star was placed towards the top of the organ case (in view of the listeners) and a wind-blown driving-wheel behind the case was attached to the set of bells. This "stop" or setting is known as a "toy stop" because it is considered to be a toy or novelty sound (sound effect), not a real musical sound. It is found mostly on baroque and classical northern European organs (especially German and Dutch) and was popular from around 1490 to 1790. The bells were originally untuned but by around 1700, they began to add tuned bells
 
Zither -- A stringed instrument consisting of a wooden frame across which are stretched several (about thirty) strings. Five of these strings are used for the melody, they are above a fretted fingerboard. The rest of the strings are used for harmony and are not fretted
 
Zu -- When shown as zu2 or zu3, etc., it is a directive to indicate the number of musicians to perform the indicated passage of music. The musicians would perform the indicated passage in unison with two (2), three (3), or the number of musicians indicated. This is most often used with stringed instruments (i.e. violins, violas, cellos, basses), but can be used for any instrument in the ensemble where there are multiple musicians performing one part
 
Zusammen -- A directive to a musician to perform a certain passage of music together with other musicians in the section. This is typically used after a divisi
 
Zydeco -- A style of Cajun folk music developed in the area of New Orleans in Louisiana, USA. Common instruments include accordion, drum kit, and washboard
 
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