DEFINITIONS OF MUSIC
Accidental: a sign — a sharp, flat, or natural — indicating the raising or lowering of a note.
Analogue sound: method of sound reproduction that imitates the original on electromagnetic tape or disc.
BeBop: jazz form of the 1940’s and 50’s, characterized by fast tempo and complex chord patterns, played by small ensembles with often dizzying instrumental virtuosity.
Blues: melancholic, usually guitar-based, modern folk music, originating in the work songs of the black American plantation workers. Typically constructed around a simple twelve-bar, three chord pattern on which a vast amount of popular music has been based ever since.
Bossanova: Brazilian dance of the 1950’s, closely related to the samba.
Cadence: a sequence of two chords that brings a phrase to an end, with an air of wither finality or partial completion.
Cadenza: originally an improvised decoration of a cadence by a soloist; later a more or less elaborate and written-out passage in a aria or concerto to display performance skills by a singer or an instrumentalist.
Can-can: a fast, boisterous dance of scandalous repute, characterized by high kicking, which originated in 19th century Paris and was immortalized in Offenbach’s opera Orpheus in the Underworld (1858).
Canon: a musical form in which a tune in imitated by individual parts at regular intervals; known as a round when each part is continuously repeated. In simple examples, such as “London Bridge is Falling Down,” the successive voices enter at a same pitch and at the same speed. In more elaborate examples, such as the canons in J.S. Bach’s keyboard work known as the Goldberg Variation, the voices may enter at different pitches and present the tune at different speeds or even backwards or upside down (in inversion).Cantabile: in a singing style.
Cantata: a vocal work, wither sacred or secular. Some early examples approach operatic style and may have narratives; others, such as Bach’s church cantatas, are inventions on chorales. Twentieth-century revivals of the form, most notably by travinsky and Webern, have been meditative rather than storytelling.
Cantus firmus: a preexisting tune, often familiar, used by edieval and Renaissance composers as the basis of a polyphonic position in which the other parts are invented.
Capriccio: a lighthearted, improvisational, usually quick instrumental or orchestral piece.Carol: originally a round dance with singing, later a popular song or hymn celebrating Christmas.
Castrato: male singers whose voices were preserved in the prano or alto range by early castration. The virtuosity attained by certain castrati can be gauged by parts of Handel’s operas that modern sopranos often find nearly unsinkable. The last castrati lived into the 20th century and were recorded.
Cavatina: a short, usually simple operatic aria, in one or two sections without repetition; occasionally, an instrumental piece in a songlike style.
Chamber music: music of an intimate character in which there is usually one player to a part, each of which is equal in importance to the others, written for from two to ten players, although “chamber symphonies” have been written for small orchestras.
Chant: unison singing of sacred texts in free rhythm similar to the rhythm of speech.
Charleston: popular 1920’s syncopated dance.
Chest voice: the lower part of the singing voice, as opposed to head voice.
Choir: a group of singer, usually more than one to a part.
Chorale: a hymn, especially a :Lutheran setting of sacred text.Chord: three or more note sounded simultaneously.
Chromatic: in tonal music, notes that do not belong to the key in which a piece is written. the chromatic scale includes all twelve notes in the octave.
Classicism: a period in music that extended from the middle of the 18th century to the first decade of the 19th. Its major figures were Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. although it characteristics are a concern for order and balance, its most important productions are notable as much for passion and feeling within considered forms.
Clavier: the keyboard of an instrument, or any keyboard instrument with strings.
Clef: a symbol at the beginning of a line of music that denotes the pitch of a particular note and thus also the pitches of the notes on all the other lines and spaces. the most common clefs are treble, bass, alto and tenor; some instruments commonly use two or ven three in succession to accommodate their wide range.Coda: the closing section of a movement.
Col legno: (of stringed instruments) tapping against or drawing across the strings with the wooden back of the bow rather than the hair.
Compound time: a time signature that indicates two, three, or four groups of three notes (or the equivalent) in each measure-for instance, 6/4 constitutes two groups of three quarter notes, and 9/8 three groups of three eighth notes.
Concert: a musical performance for an audience.Concertmaster: first violin in an orchestra, called the leader in Britain.
Concerto: a work for solo instrument (or occasionally, struments) and orchestra; usually in three movements, but sometimes four, as in Brahms, or more – Ferruccio Busoni’s piano concerto is in five movements. Generally designed to display virtuosity, it has been consistently popular form since the 18th century. Concertos have been written for every imaginable instrument as soloist; and here are also “concertos for orchestra” displaying virtuosity throughout the orchestra, written by such 20th century composers as Bartok, Roberto Gerhard, and Elliot Carter.
Conductor: – the director of a group of performers, indicating the tempo by beating and communicating phrasing, dynamics and style by gesture and facial expression.
Console: the keyboards, stops, and pedals of an organ, by which the player activates and controls the organ’s sounds.Consonance: in diatonic harmony, a group of tones that are heard as a compatible combination when sounded together; its opposite is dissonance.
Consort: a group of instruments, in Renaissance and early aroque music. A “whole consort” constitutes instruments of one sort (for instance, a consort of viols); a “broken consort” is made up of instruments of different sorts.
Continuo: the part played, in Baroque music, by a bass instrument and keyboard. Generally, only the bass line is written out, with the harmonics indicated by means of chord numbers, which the keyboard player fills in and decorates in appropriate style.
Contralto: the lowest female voice.
Cool: the term for California jazz in the 1950s, a reaction to the more frenetic style of bebop.
Counterpoint: the combination of simultaneous melodic line to form choral progressions and harmony.
Country music: white American folk music – a term preferred by fans to the more common Country and Western.
Courante: a Baroque dance form, utilizing a combination of three or two beats to the bar, often compound duple.
Crescendo: a steady increase in volume.Crotchet: the British term for a quarter note.Cycle: a sequence of pieces, particularly songs, with a common theme or subject.
Da capo: a term meaning “from the beginning” -an instruction to repeat the first section of a piece before stopping.
Downbeat: the beat given the strongest accent, at the beginning of a bar.
Drone: a held bass note under a melody, such as that heard in the playing of bagpipes.
Duet: a piece of music for two performers.Duple time: a tempo with two beats in a bar (for instance, 2/4, 2/2, or 6/8).
Dynamics: the loudness of softness of music, indicated by a system of gradations; from softest to loudest, these are pp, p, mp, f, ff. The extremes have been extended in both directions.
Ecossaise: a dance in duple time of the late 18th century, supposedly of Scottish origin.
Electronic music: music produced by live performers on electronic instruments; or sound manipulated by electronic means into a recording, which contains a piece of music rather than being a record of performance of a piece.
Elegy: an instrumental lament.
Embouchure: the position of the lips in wind instrument playing, by which the player controls the sound, especially for brass and the flute.
Encore: an extra piece played at the end of a recital in response to an audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the performance.
Energico: a tempo marking meaning “energetically”.
Enharmonic interval: two notes that sound the same (as played on a modern keyboard instrument) and differ from each other only in name-for instance, A sharp and B flat, or E sharp and F natural.
Ensemble: a group of performers; also, the term used to describe the quality of playing together with unanimity of attach and balance of tone.
Etude: literally, a “study,” A musical form originally intended solely to improve technique, it was raised to a level of musical interest by Chopin, and concert studies have been written by many composers since.
Exposition: the opening section in sonata form or a fugue, which sets out the initial thematic and harmonic material.
Expressionism: a school of German music at the beginning of this century, often atonal and violent in style, as a means of evoking heightened emotions and expressing states of mind.
Falsetto: a style of male singing in which, by only partial use of the vocal cords, the voice reaches the pitch of a female voice.
Fandango: a lively Spanish dance in triple time or 6/6 time.
Fanfare: a short exclamatory phrase on brass instruments, originally for eremonial occasions.
Fantasia: a piece in free form or of improvisational character, often for a single performer.
Fermata: a pause.
Fifth: the interval between notes that are three whole tones and a semitone apart is a perfect fifth-for instance, C natural to G natural. increased by one semitone, it becomes an augmented fifth-C natural to G sharp. Decrease by one semitone, it becomes a diminished fifth-C natural to G flat.
Finale: the last movement of a sonata-form work:also, a sequence of numbers at the end of an act in an opera.
Fingerboard: the long piece of hardwood over which the strings of a stringed instrument are stretched.
Fingering: a system of indicating by numbers which finger should play which note on keyboard, wind, or stringed instruments.Flat: a sign showing that a note should be lowered by one semitone.
Flutter-tonguing: in wind instruments, a colorist effect produced by the performer rolling “R” sound while playing.
Form: the structure or architecture of a piece of music.Forte: dynamic marking meaning “loud”, indicated by the letter f. May by strengthened to fortissimo (ff).
Fourth: the interval between notes two whole tones and a semitone apart is a perfect fourth – for example, C natural to F natural. Reduced by one semitone, it becomes a diminished fourth – C sharp to F natural. increased by one semitone, it becomes an augmented fourth-C natural to f sharp.
Foxtrot: a lively American popular dance in duple time.
Free Jazz: cutting itself loose from the harmonic and rhythmic shackles of the past, free jazz was a radical improvising style of the 1960’s.
Frequency: the rate of vibration that produces a particular pitch. On the piano, the lowest C has a frequency of 32 vibrations per second, the next C has 64 per second, and so on.
Fret: on some stringed instruments such as guitar, a metal band on the fingerboard to mark a particular position of the fingers.
Frog: the heel of the bow of a stringed instrument.
Fugue: a contrapuntal form, beginning with an exposition in which each voice enters with the same subject in turn and proceed in imitation. Unlike a canon, fugues have free passages of imitation and passages without imitation. They commonly have from three to six separate voices. In more complex examples a fugue may have two or three different themes, contrapuntally combined. These are known as double and triple fugues. Fugues were most regularly written in the later Baroque period, but, regarded as a demonstration of compositional virtuosity, have also been written by most composers since then.
Fundamental: the root of a chord, or its bass note
G.P.: general pauseGagaku: the ceremonial music of the Japanese court. It exerted a strong influence on some Western composers in the 1960’s, otably Karlheinz.
Gallaird: a Renaissance dance in triple or 6/8 time.
Galop: a lively 19th century round dance in duple time.
Gamelan: an Indonesian instrument similar to a xylophone; also, an Indonesian orchestra, consisting of such instruments as well as gongs, flutes, strings, drums, and voices. Notable for the prominence given to tuned gongs, its sounds have been used by many Western composers since it was first widely heard at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889. According to Suharto, actually, there are three kind of gamelan namely Gamelan Jawa (Javanese Gamelan), Gamelan Sunda (Sundanese Gamelan), and Gamelan Bali (Balinese Gamelan)
Gavotte: a 17th century dance in quadruple time, always beginning on the third beat of the bar.
Gigue: a lively dance in triple time or 6/8; the English jig, often incorporated in Baroque dance suites.
Giusto: exact, precise, as in “tempo giusto”Glee: unaccompanied male-voice composition of the late 18th and early 19th century in England, somewhat similar to the later barber shop quartet in America.
Glissando: sliding between two note.
Gopak: lively Russian in duple time.
Gospel: the hymn-based choral music of the African-American evangelical churches.Grace note: an ornamental fast note or notes immediately proceeding a main note.
Grandioso: grandlyGrave: very slowly and serious.
Grazioso: gracefullyGregorian Chant: the unison chant without strict rhythm collected and codified during the reign of Pope Gregory at the end of the 6th century for singing of psalms and other elements in the church service.
Griot: French term describing a traditional West African story-teller or praise singer.
Ground bass: a repeating phrase underneath freely varying upper parts in passacaglias or similar forms.
Grunge: rock hybrid of the 1990’s, combining punk anger with heavy metal guitar histrionics.
Habanera: a slow Cuban dance in duple time.Half note: a note equal in time value to two quarter notes or fourth eighth notes; in Britain it is called a minim.
Harmonics: When a note is played on an instrument, along with the fundamental there may often be heard higher pitches, extending in a series up to four octaves above the note. The sounds are known as harmonics, or overtones. In some instruments, such as a bell, they may be heard strongly; in others, they are relatively faint.
Harmony: the combination of sounds of different pitch to form chord, which eveloped initially from the weaving together of two or more melodic lines; and, within the tonal system, the interrelationship of the major and minor chords based on each of the seven degrees of the scale. Although a sophisticated harmonic sense may be discerned in relatively early music, the modern sense of tonal harmony dates back only to the 17th century.
Heavy metal: loud, riff-centered rock, fixated on the power and symbolism of the electric guitar.
Hip-hop: another name for rap music.
Homophony: a non-contrapuntal chordal style, in which all the parts move together in the same rhythm (as in hymns); or a melody with a chordal accompaniment.Hornpipe: a lively British folk dance in duple or triple time, originally accompanied by a reed instrument of the same name, and which became popular among sailors.
House music: a form of disco music, with dominant bass motifs, developed in Detroit in the early 1980’s.
Humoresque: an instrumental composition of playful or unpredictable nature.Hymn: a church song, often choral.
Idee fixe: a recurring motto or theme (literally, “fixed idea” or obsession) in a large-scale work, somewhat like the later leitmotif. The term was invented by Berlioz for his Symphonie Fantastique.Idiophone: an instrument consisting of material producing a simple sound, such as a bell.
Imitation: in counterpoint, when a phrase or theme introduced by one voice is repeated almost exactly (but higher or lower) by a second voice. If it is repeated exactly, with part of it overlapping in each voice, as in the stretto of a canon or round, then it is strict imitation.
Impressionism: a term borrowed from painting and applied, often inappropriately, principally to the works of Debussy and Ravel. Characteristics are often a shimmering texture and loose tonality. Other composers who may be classed as Impressionist are Frederick Delius, Emmanuel Chabrier, and Karol Szymanowski.
Impromptu: a short piano piece of improvisatory or intimate character, there are examples by Schubert and Chopin.
Improvisation: creating music spontaneously, with the player inventing as he or she plays. It has been a common element in much music, and composers including Bach, Handle, Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt have been celebrated for their ability to improvise. Many forms, such as the classical piano concerto, incorporate opportunities for improvisations. In the postwar period, aleatoric music raised improvisation to a more important place than it had occupied for many years, as in music by Cage, Stockhausedn, and Xenakis.
Incidental music: music written to be performed with a stage play.Instrumentation: the art of assigning appropriate parts of a composition to individual instruments within an ensemble.
Interlude: a piece of instrumental music played between scenes in a play or an opera.Intermezzo: either an interlude in a play or opera, or a short comic opera of the 18th century Italy, performed originally a s part of a longer evening. Nineteenth-century composers such as Brahms have used the term for a short, intimate piano work.
Interpretation: the art of bringing expression to the performance of a work. Although a composer will probably indicate, in addition to the notes to be played, an appropriate tempo, some articulation, and the dynamic markings for each passage in more or less detail, the performer inevitably has a good detail if leeway, within these indication where his or her powers of interpretation and skill become important.
Interval: the difference in pitch between two notes, expressed as a second, third, fourth and so on. These intervals, if altered by a semitone in either direction, may be qualified as major or minor, augmented or diminished.
Intonation: singing or playing in tune.
Introduction: an opening section of a piece or a movement, formally separate often containing themes or passages that do not recur. In sonata forms, the introduction to a fast movement is very often on a slow tempo.
Invention: the term used by Bach for his fifteen short keyboard pieces in two contrapuntal parts.
Inversion: the tuning of a musical line upside down, so that an interval moving upward in a melody becomes the same interval downward in its inversion, and vise versa. Invertible counterpoint means that a piece is written in such a way that the individual parts may be exchanged, so that the bass part may be reassigned to the soprano and the result is harmonically satisfactory.
Jam session: a term used, especially in jazz, when two or more players get together to improvise.
Jazz: a strongly influential musical form, emerging shortly after World War I from black communities in America, incorporating many styles, including blues and ragtime. Taken up by commercial musicians, it was disseminated into the wider musical culture. Originally highly improvisational in character and played only on a small group of instruments, it developed into several forms, such as swing and bebop, and became popular as a form for big band ensembles. It was a big influence on the composers of the interwar period, many of whom wrote in a jazz idiom. Similarly, many musician whose origins were in jazz produced works that have proved lasting in the context of art music, most notably George Gershwin.
Jig: a lively English dance, originating in the 16th century; it became the gigue.
Jongleur: a wandering musician in the Middle Ages of relatively low status, possibly also capable of juggling, acrobatics, and general entertainment.Jota: a quick Spanish dance in triple time.
Key: in tonal music, the concept of interrelated chords based on the notes of the major and minor scales, and centered on the tonic (the fist note of the scale, also called the undamental). A key is indicated at the beginning of each piece by means of a key signature. Other notes, foreign to the key, may be used in a piece, but the nomination of all else b the basic key-exerted by gravitational pull of the tonic-is virtually constant. Most tonal works, even a very substantial piece such as a symphony or, on occasion, an entire opera, are written in a single key. Although the piece may in its course move far away from the fundamental key for the sake of variety, the unity imposed by the fundamental key is always felt.
Keyboard: the range of levers pressed by the player on an instrument such as a piano or harpsichord to sound the note; also; generically, an instruments having such a keyboard.
Key signature: the sharps or flats at the beginning of each line of music to indicate the key of the music.
Klangfarbenmelodie: literally, “melody of tone colors.” A term invented by Schoenberg to describe the technique of altering the tone color of a single note or musical line by changing from one instrument to another in the middle of the note or line.
Klavier: any keyboard instrument; in German, the piano.
Landler: an Austrian or Bavarian dance in tripletime, a precursor of the waltz. There are examples byBeethoven and Schubert.
Leader: British term for the concertmaster (first violinist) in an orchestra or ensemble.
Leading note: the seventh note of the scale,characterized by a strong tendency to lead upward tothe tonic.
Leger line: short line which indicates the pitch of anote above or below the five-line staff.Leggiero: lightly.Libretto: the text of an opera.
Lied: “song.” A German art song with pianoaccompaniment, such as those by chubert,Schumann, and Hugo Wolf.
Ligature: a form of plainchant notation combining two notes in a single symbol.
Madrigal: a secular composition of the 14th through 17th centuries, written for four, five, or six unaccompanied voices.
Maestoso: majestically.Maestro: the Italian term given to a distinguished inusician, usually a conductor.
Major: one of the two modes of the tonal system; the other is the minor mode. The sequence of degrees in the major scale is always as follows:whole tone, whole tone. semitone, whole tone,whole tone, whole tone. semitone. Works written in major keys are often felt by listeners to have a positive, affirming character.
Malaguena: in the style of the music of Malagaoccasionally refers to a type of fandango.
Manual: an organ or harpsichord keyboard.March: music for marching to, in quadruple time,originally for military use.
Masque: an allegorical court show of the Renaissance and early Baroque, which almost invariably includedmusic and songs as an essential part of the spectacle.
Mazurka: a Polish dance in triple time, with much use of rubato; the most celebrated examples are by Frederic Chopin.
Medley: a sequence of tunes, often used in overtures of musicals or operettas.Melisma: several notes sung to a single syllable.
Melodrama: spoken text over music, popular fromthe late 18th century onwards.
Melody: a particular, identifiable association of notes and pitches; a tune.
Meno: less (for example, meno vivo, “less fast”).
Mesto: mournfully.Metronome: a pendulum-like instrument datingfrom the early 19th century, used to regularize and measure tempo.
Mezzo: half (for example, mezzo tempo, “halfspeed”; mezzo soprano, a voice between soprano and alto in pitch).
Microtone: an interval between semitones.
Middle C: the C more or less at the center of thepiano keyboard (about 262 vibrations per second).
Minim: the British term for a half note.
Minor: one of the two modes of the tonal system.The melodic minor scale differs from that of the major scale in having a flattened third degree (and, in the harmonic minor, a flattened sixth). When used melodically, the sixth and seventh degrees are the same as the major scale when ascending, but both areflattened when descending. The minor mode is often felt by listeners to have a more poignant, less positive sense than the major mode, and in Classical usage, a piece in the minor mode would often have a conclusion in the major, which was felt to have more final effect.
Minstrel: a singer of verses ac companied by harp in the Middle Ages.
Minuet: a formal 18th-century court dance in triple time, very commonly used in substantial Classical sonata-form works.Moderato: moderate tempo.
Modes: the system that predated the tonal system. In each mode, the ordering of tones and SCMiLones in thescale differed somewhat. Tonal music consists ofonly two modes, major and minor. In post-tonal music some composers (such as Messiaen) havewritten pieces using artificially constructed scales asmodes.
Modulation: changing from one key to a related key in the course of a musical passage.
Monotone: the repetition of a single pitch.
Morden: a formalized ornament in Baroque music, involving a quick alternation between the principal note and the note immediately above or below it in the scale.
Morendo: diminishing to nothing.
Motet: an accompanied or unaccompanied choral work, in a single, usually fairly short movement on a sacred text, of polyphonic character.
Mosso: literally, “moved” (for example, piu mosso, “quicker”).
Motif or Motive: a short melodic or harmonic idea, perhaps a fragment of a larger theme in a symphonic development. Wagner’s leitmotifs are short themes associated with particular characters or certain psychological or symbolic elements in his operas.
Moto: motion (for example, con moto, “moving onwards”).Movement: a separate section of a large work.
Musette: an instrumental Baroque dance with a bagpipe-like drone bass.
Musicology: the theoretical and historical study of music.
Mute: a device used to dampen the tone of an instrument, affecting its volume and tone color.
Nationalism: a 19th-century political movement that led to investigation of native folk music by musicologists, and the incorporation of folk material into art music. The most notable musical nationalists were in Russia (Glinka, Mussorgsky), Czechoslovakia (Smetana, Dvordk, Jangcek), Scandinavia (Gfieg, Nielsen, Sibelius), Hungary (Kodaly, Bart6k), America (Ives), and Britain (Vaughan Williams, Hoist).Natural: a sign that, after a particular note has been raised by a sharp or lowered by a flat, restores it to its original pitch.
Neck: the narrow part of a stringed instrument extending from the body.Neoclassicism: a movement in music which sought, during the period between the two world wars, to use past forms and styles in more or less stylized and even ironic ways. Its traces may be found in composers as varied as BarL6k, Schoenberg, and Poulenc, but the composer most associated with Neoclassicism is Stravinsky, who wrote several compositions reinterpreting the works of previous composers, including Bach, Pergolesi, Gounod, and Tchaikovsky. Its characteristic manner is crisp and direct, and only rarely are Neoclassical works written for large orchestra.
Neumes: the ancient system of notation, indicating the rise in pitch of plainchant.
Niente: nothing (as in a niente, “diminishing to nothing”).
Nocturne: originally a salon piano work, as in examples by John Field and Chopin, with nighttime associations. Mozart’s Nottumi are small chamber pieces. A celebrated orchestral set by Debussy owes more to the paintings so titled by Whistler than to previous musical examples.
Nonet: a work for nine instruments.
Notation: methods of writing music. Notation was first developed in the 8th century with neumes, and slowly evolved into the present system by the middle of the 17th century.
Obbligato: an occasional but extended instrumental solo, often to accompany the vocal part in an aria.Octave: the interval between two notes six whole tones apart that bear the same name; thus, C natural to C natural. An augmented octave is C natural to C sharp; a diminished octave, C natural to C flat.
Octet: a work for eight instruments.
Ode: a formal celebratory address to a person or on the subject of an abstract quality. There are several examples by Purcell, and the form was revived by Schoenberg and Stravinsky in this century.
Open strings: the strings of a stringed instrument when played without being fingered.
Opera: a drama in which the actors sing and are accompanied by an orchestra. It was invented at the beginning of the 17th century in Italy as a court entertainment by composers such as Monteverdi, who were attempting to revive classical Greek drama. By the end of the century it became a widespread public entertainment. In the first half of the next century, in the works of Handel and Alessandro Scarlatti, it was characterized by spectacle and vocal virtuosity. In the reforming spirit of Gluck and the operas of Mozart that followed, a new simplicity and psychological penetration entered into opera. In the 19th and 20th centuries, opera has been written by practically every major composer, and, in the hands of Wagner. became the focal point of some of the most advanced musical thinking of the day. Opera continues tofascinate composers, despite the complexity, difficulty, and expense of mounting new works.
Operetta: a light and perhaps short opera, often comic, usually with spoken dialogue instead of recitative. There are familiar examples by Jacques Offenbach, Johann Strauss, Arthur Sullivan, Franz Lehdr, and Sigmund Romberg.
Opus: literally, a work; shortened to Op., a convenient method of numbering a composer’sworks. Thus, Beethoven’s Op. 111 is his last piano sonata.
Oratorio: an extended cantata on a sacred subject, such as Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, or Sir William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
Orchestra: a large group of instrumentalists, at least some of whom are normally playing more than one to a part. Chamber orchestras may have only twenty players, but a large symphony orchestra may consist of more than a hundred players. The basic instruments that make up its regular membership have remained constant since the late 18th century, although the orchestra since then has been increasing steadily in size. Instruments are occasionally added and ultimately become a fundamental part of the orchestra. The clarinet was added in the last years of the 18th century; the trombone in the first years of the 19th; then the tuba, the harp, numerous percussion instruments, and so on.Ornaments: formalized decorations of a melodic line, such as the trill or the mordent.
Ostinato: a repeated phrase.
Overture: an extended prelude to an opera also, the term for a Baroque suite or an independent orchestra] work, often on a literary theme. There are examplesof the latter by Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Elgar, and many others.
Pariando: a rhythmically free or even semi-spoken way of singing.
Parody: as in “parody mass,” a work based on previous material, one of the three common techniques of composition in medieval and Renaissance sacred music.
Part: an individual voice, or instrument, in a piece; or a line in a contrapuntal work.
Partial: a harmonic given off by a note when it is sounded.
Partita: a Baroque suite of dances, adapted by Bachas a suite for keyboard instruments.
Part-song: an unaccompanied vocal work inharmonic style.
Pasodoble: a fast 1920s dance in 6/8 time.
Passacaglia: a set of variations over a repeating bass; virtually identical to the chaconne, but with a theme rather than a chord sequence in the bass. There is a celebrated example by Anton Webern.
Passe-pied: a French Baroque dance in triple time.
Pastorale: a theatrical piece, song, or instrumental piece on a pastoral theme or idyllic in character.
Pause: a held note, or a moment of silence.Pedal: the foot-operated mechanisms on piano, organ, or timpani; also, the term for a long-held bass note.
Pentatonic scale: a five-note scale on which much folk music is based: the most common corresponds tothe black keys on the piano.
Phrase: a single line of music, usually played or sung by a single musician in one real or metaphorical breath.Piano: instruction to play softly, abbreviated p; more quietly, pianissimo, abbreviated pp.
Pitch: the frequency of a note; how high or deep it sounds.
Piu: more (for example, piu mosso, “faster”).
Pizzicato: of stringed instruments, plucked rather than bowed.
Plainchant: unaccompanied church singing.
Poco: little (for example, poco a poco crescendo, “getting louder little by little”).
Polka: a fast 19th-century middle-European dance in duple time.
Polonaise: heroic or ceremonial Polish dance in triple time, transformed in the examples for piano by Chopin into a kind of ceremonial rhapsody.
Polyphony: the art of counterpoint, or combining melodies.
Polytonality: the combination of two or more keys simultaneously. Twentieth-century music has often used the technique-for instance, the simultaneous sounding of C major and F sharp major in Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka, or many examples by Milhaud.
Portamento: a mild glissando between two notes for expressive effect.
Prelude: a short piece, originally preceding a more substantial work, for instance Bach’s Preludes and Fugues; also, an orchestra] introduction to an opera not substantial enough to merit the term overture, or a short independent piano piece, often collected into sets, such as those by Chopin, Debussy, and Messiaen.
Presto: tempo marking, meaning “very fast.”
Program music: music on a particular non-literary subject, usually with a narrative-for instance, some of Couperin’s keyboard works, or Richard Strauss’s symphonic poems.Progression: a series of harmonies.
Punk: a fiery, high-speed variant of rock that values excitement and energy above technique.
Quadrille: a French 19th-century dance in duple time.
Quadruplet: a group of four notes played in the time normally occupied by three.
Quarter note: a note equal in time value to two eighth notes or four sixteenth notes; in Britain, it is called a crotchet.
Quartet: a work for four instruments, such as a string quartet, consisting of two violins, viola, and cello or, in opera, an ensemble for four singers.Quasi: almost (for example, quasi forte, “almost loudly”).
Quaver: the British term for an eighth note.Quintet: a work for five instruments, such as a string quintet, consisting of two violins, two violas, and one cello, or two violins, one viola, and two cellos, or a wind quintet. for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn.
Quintuplet: a group of five notes played in the time normally occupied by three or four notes.Quodlibet: a medley, or a polyphonic combination of well-known tunes.
Raga: an ancient traditional melodic pattern or modein classical Indian music; also, an instrumental improvisation based on a traditional raga, in which a melody is usually played over a pedal note without change of key.
Ragtime: a style of music with a characteristic syncopation in duple time, predating jazz but sharing some of its characteristics. Its most famous composer was Scott Joplin. Igor Stravinsky wrote two compositions based loosely on the style, Ragtime and Piano Rag Music.
Rallentando: getting slower.
Rap music: a form of pop music based on chanted street poetry and rhymes accompanied by a thumping rhythmic backbeat.Recital: a concert by a soloist, with or without accompaniment. The term was invented by Liszt for his solo performances.
Recitative: a form of vocal writing in opera or concert works close to the manner of speech. It is rhythmically free, and simply accompanied either by a sinale keyboard instrument or by a small group of instruments. By the Classical period it had become a means of conveying information rapidly about the narrative, while arias and ensembles evoked the emotional states of the characters in a more expansive manner and a more complex musical style. In the19th century, the distinction between recitative and melodic forms diminished, and in the operas of Wagner, the vocal style might be said to move freely between the styles of recitative and aria. Since then, recitative has been occasionally used for specialpurposes, as in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Berg’s Lulu.
Reed: in wind instruments, the piece of cane that the player causes to vibrate by blowing through it, in order to produce sound.Reel: i Scottish or Irish folk dance in duple time.
Refrain: a repeating phrase that occurs at the end of each verse in a song.
Reggae: Jamaican popular music, associated with Rastafarianisni, which achieved great popularity in the United States and Europe in the 1970s.
Register: a portion of the range of an instrument or voice; thus, the bottom octave of the clarinet is known as the chaltimeau register.
Relative major and minor: the major and minor keys that share the same key signature. Thus, E major is the relative major of C sharp minor, since both have four sharps.
Relative pitch: the ability to determine the pitch of a note in terms of its relationship to the notes that precede and follow it.
Repeat signs: the signs at the beginning and end of a section of music, indicating that the section in between should be played twice.
Reprise: a repeat of some earlier material. generallyafter some different music has intervened.
Requiem: a mass for the dead in the Roman Catholic liturgy, although works that are not settings of the mass text may also be called requiems, such as those by Brahms, Delius, and Hans Werner Henze.
Resonance: the phenomenon by which several strings tuned to pitches that are harmonically related will vibrate even if only one of the strings is struck. Thus, if a note is struck on a piano, with the strings undamped, the strings tuned to pitches that belong to the harmonic series of that note will also vibrate.
Rest: a period of silence within a piece of music. The various lengths of rests correspond to note lengths.
Rhapsody: a musical composition of irregular form, and having a dramatic, improvisatory character, usually either for a solo performer or a soloist with orchestra.
Rhythm: the element of music pertaining to time and expressed as grouping of notes into accented and unaccented beats, of beats into measures, etc.
Ricercar: an elaborate polyphonic or imitative instrumental composition of the Renaissance or Baroque period.Riff: a repeating motif or refrain in a modern pop song or jazz piece.
Rigaudon: a fast 17th-century dance in duple or quadruple time, of French origin.Pitardando (ritenuto) – slowing down, perhaps for less time or less forcefully than would be implied by rallentando.
Ritornello: a passage that returns repeatedly in a rondo-like form-. also, a tutti passage in a concerto.
Rococo: a short-lived musical style that occurred roughly between the end of the high Baroque and the beginnings of the Classical period, most often applied to the music of such French composers as Couperin, Claude Daquin, and Rameau. Often characterized as trivial, ornamental, or lightweight, it is sometimes called the gallant style.
Rondo: a musical form in which the principal theme is repeated several times, with short sectionsbased on different themes (called episodes) in between each restatement of the opening theme; sometimes one or more of the episodes is also repeated, a common pattern being ABACABA. The rondo was often used for the final movements of Classical sonata-form works.
Root: the principal note of a triad or triad-derived chord.
Round: a canon in which the melody is sung by two or more voices in strict imitation (i.e., using the same notes) of the original statement, and in which all the parts repeat continuously. (See Canon.)
Rubato: literally, “robbed.” A style in which the strict tempo is temporarily loosened by either speed- ing up or slowing down.
Rumba: a lively Cuban dance, in quadruple time, divided into a characteristic 3 + 3 + 2 pattern of eighth notes.
Saltarello: a fast Italian dance in 6/8 time.
Samba: a fast, syncopated Brazilian dance in duple time, based on an Afro-Brazilian ring dance.
Sarabande: originally a fast triple dance, by the 17th century it had become a grand slow dance, regularly featuring in Baroque dance suites.
Scale: the successive notes of a key or mode.
Scat singing: a style of jazz singing with nonsense syllables, popularized by Cab Calloway in the 1920s.
Scherzando: jokingly, or in scherzo style.
Scherzo: a fast movement in triple time that replaced the minuet in sonata-form works from the beginning of the 19th century on. Unlike the minuet, it was never a dance, and is generally faster and more elaborate in structure, replacing the ABA ofthe minuet with an ABABA form. Later, scherzo were written as independent works, by Chopin and other composers.
Scordatura: retuning the strings of a stringed instrument, either to obtain notes ordinarily below the range of the instrument (Berg wrote B naturals belowthe lowest C for the violoncello in his Lyric Suite) or to produce an unusual tone color (the solo violin in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony is retuned up a wholetone to harshen its sound).
Score: the full copy of all notes to be played in a musical work. This may be in the form of a large “full score,” or a reduced “miniature score,” or a”vocal score” for use in rehearsal (with instrumental parts reduced to a piano part).
Seguidilla: a fast Spanish dance in triple time.
Semibreve: the British term for a whole note.Semiquaver: the British term for a sixteenth note.
Semitone: normally, the smallest notated pitch difference in Western music-for instance, G to G sharp.
Sempre: always, or still (for example, sempre piano, “still quietly”).Senza: without (for example, senza sordo, “without mute”).
Septet: a composition for seven players.
Sequence: a successive transposition and repetition ol’ a phrase at different pitches.Serenade: a somewhat lighthearted piece, either a song or an instrumental work in several movements, such as those by Mozart, Brahms, or Schoenberg.
Serial music: a way of writing music in which unity is supplied by basing the entire composition on a short series of notes in which no pitch isrepeated until all are used once. Invented by Arnold Schoenberg in the 1920s as a way of ordering atonal music, the series originally consisted of the twelvetones of the octave (called a tone row). The series may be transposed to any other pitch, may be played backward, in inversion, or backward and in inversionto generate forty-eight separate forms from a single series. Schoenberg’s pupils Alban Berg and Anton Webem refined the technique. Webem worked withseries divided into three or four identical segments, to give the illusory sense that the work is written on a three- or four-note series. Berg used more than oneseries in each piece; in his opera Lulu. each character is identified by a particular series. In later developments, after World War 11, Olivier Messiaenextended the technique to apply to non-pitch elements such as rhythm and dynamic levels; and Igor Stravinsky, in his late works, often used series of fewer than twelve notes.
Sextet: a work for six players (for example, a string sextet, consisting of two violins, two violas, and two cellos).
Sforzando: a strong accent; writtenShake: a trill.
Shanty: a sailors’ song.
Sharp: a sign indicating that the pitch of a note should be raised by a semitone.
Siciliano: a fairly slow dance with swaying rhythm in compound time, usually 6/8 or 12/8.
Skiffle: hybrid of folk music and jazz played on improvised, nontraditional domestic instruments, such as washboards, jugs, etc.
Slide: a glissando or portamento; or the moving part of a trombone.
Slur: a curve over notes to indicate that a phrase is to be played legate.
Sonata: an instrumental work for a soloist or two players. In early examples by Domenico Scariatti. the piece is in one movement, but in general a sonata is in three or four movements. The first movement is generally in sonata form, followed by a slow movement. In a four-movement sonata, the third movement is usually a scherzo or minuet (although sometimes this is the second movement, preceding the slow movement). The sonata ends with a moreextended last movement, usually at a fast tempo. This is the structure that many sonatas follow, although the departure of many of Beethoven’s piano sonatas from the model suggests its limitations. Sonatas have been written more or less constantlyfrom the late 18th century onward, and are still being written; there are distinguished examples by such contemporary composers as Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraque, and Elliott Carter.
Sonata form: the musical form that evolved in the later years of the 18th century, used in almost every large-scale work-symphonies, quartets, piano concertos, and even ensembles in operas-well into the 19th century and beyond. Sonata form refers primarily to the organization of themes and harmonic relationships within a single movement, the general structure of which consists of an exposition, a development section, and a recapitulation. The exposition (which may be preceded by an introduction, usually in a slow tempo) presents the primary themes in the main key and a second group of themes in a subordinate key or keys, and a partial developments the entire exposition may be repeated, perhaps in different form (for instance, in a concerto,the exposition mav be played first by the orchestra alone and then again with a soloist). In the development section, any portion of one or more themes from the exposition may be presented with new or related material in any order and in any combination, moving through different keys but eventually returning to the original key of the movement. The recapitulation sets out the themes ol’the exposition in the same order as the exposition, but in somewhat different form, such as presenting both the primary and second group of themes in the main key; a short concluding passage, called a coda, may follow. This three-part structure is also known as ABA form. The sonata form lasted so long and produced so many masterpieces principally because it was capable of great variation.
Sonatina: a short sonata, sometimes with the implication that it is not too difficult to play, such as those by Muzio Clementi; there are also elaborate examples, not for beginners, by Maurice Ravel, Jean Sibelius, and, most notably, Ferruccio Busoni.
Song cycle: a sequence of songs, perhaps on a single theme, such as Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, or with texts all by one poet, for instance Debussy’s Fetes Galantes, or having a continuous narrative, such as Schumann’s Dichterliebe.
Soprano: the highest female voice.
Sordino: a mute.
Sostenuto: sustained, often with a suggestion of playing quietly or more slowly.
Soul: the pop refinement of church-based, African-American gospel music.
Soundboard: the part of a piano that amplifies the sound.
Spiccato: a type of bowing on stringed instruments in which the bow is allowed to bounce rather than be drawn across the string.
Staccato: abbreviated and detached notes.
Staff: the horizontal lines on which notes are set down; in modem notation, there are five lines on each staff.Steel band: an ensemble of beaten oil drums, played like tuned percussion instruments, originating in the Caribbean.
Stop: a device that controls the different sets of pipes (or strings) for each note on an organ (or harpsichord), enabling the player to temporary change the tone color.
Stretto: in fugue, the overlapping of the same theme or motif by two or more voices a few beats apart; also, more loosely, an accelerando, with the suggestion of an approaching close.
Suite: a loose collection of instrumental pieces. In the Baroque period, a collection of dances as in B.ich’s instrumental and orchestral suites; in the 19th and 20th centuries, a series of character pieces, as in Holst’s suite The Planets, or a set of excerpts from I larger work, e.g., the suites from Grieg’s music for Peer G.Ynt or Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe suites.
Swing: a form of big-band jazz, popular in the 1930s and ’40s. with a strong element of massed effects and less improvisation than in earlier forms of jazz.
Symphonic poem: a single-movement orchestral work with a narrative or a literary theme. Invented by Franz Liszt. it was taken up by such composers asC6sar Franck and, most notably, Richard Strauss, whose lonu and complex symphonic poems were popular and influential before World War 1.
Symphony: a three- or four-movement orchestral work, sometimes with choir, generally in sonata form. Early sinfonias were single-movement overtures; but by the middle of the 18th century, such composers as Karl Stamitz were writing elaborate symphonies in several movements. In the hands of Haydn, Mozart. and Beethoven, the symphony attained enormous depth, balance, and variety ofexpression, ensuring that it remained a common form for composers. The Romantic period both continued the Classical tradition of the symphony-in the works of Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms – and initiated a new kind of symphony with an implied or actual program, such as Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and the symphonies of Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler. Twentieth-centurycomposers have continued to write symphonies, and from Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen to Witold Lutoslawski and Peter Maxwell Davies, they have continually reconsidered and reinvented the form.
Syncopation: placing the strong beat on what are normally the weaker beats in a bar. Thus, in a normal four-beat bar, the accents would lie, in order of strength, 1423. A syncopated bar would place the strongest accent on the second or fourth beat, or even, as in the rumba, on beats which lie between the normal quarter-note beats.
Synthesizer: an electronic machine for producing artificial sounds and tones with any desired characteristic or quality, often recorded directly onto magnetic tape for future performance through amplifiers.
System: a combination of two staves or more on which all the notes to be played simultaneously in different registers or on different instruments are vertically aligned.
Tablature: a system of notation for plucked stringed instruments, for instance lute or guitar, in which the notes are indicated by means of the finger position required.
Tango: a slow ballroom dance of Argentine origin in quadruple time, similar to the Cuban habanera.Tarantella: an Italian folk dance in rapid 6/8 time, characterized by light, quick hops and turns.
Temperament: tuning. Instruments may be tuned to the exact pitches of a specific key, which would make the intervals between different pairs of semitones not precisely equal; or, as has generally been the case since the 17th century, they may be tuned so that the interval between B and C is the same as the interval between C and C sharp, etc. This system, known as equal temperament, is necessary if modulations from the original key are to be possible.
Tenor: the highest natural male voice.
Tenuto: a marking that means “held,” indicating that the note should be sustained for its full value, and even a little more.
Ternary form: a simple, common three-part form, in the pattern ABA-that is, consisting of a first section, then a second, contrasting section, followed by a repetition of the first section.
Tessitura: the overall range of an instrumental or, more commonly, a vocal part.
Theme: a melodic or, occasionally, harmonic idea used as a fundamental unit in a musical form; also called sulliect.
Tie: a curved line indicating that two separate notes should be played as a single note, the length of which is the same as the sum of the length of the two individual notes.Timbre: the tone “color” of an instrument, voice, or register.
Time signature: the two numbers that indicate the numbey of beats per bar of a piece of music, given at the beginning of the first staff or system of staves, and whenever the number of beats changes. The lower number shows the length of note assigned one beat (i.e., 2 as the lower number refers to half notes, 4 refers to quarter notes, 8 to eighth notes, etc.) and the upper number shows how many of those notes are in a single bar. Thus, 3/4 means three quarter notes to the bar; 5/16 means five sixteenth notes. and so on.
Toccata: a fast keyboard piece, exploiting rapidity of performance, runs, and repeated notes.
Tonality: the system of major and minor keys.Tone: in American usage, a pitch; also the interval of a major second.Tone row: See Serial music.
Tonguing: in wind instruments, the articulation ol’a note or group of notes by the silent sounding of the consonant t or k.Tonic: the fundamental note of a key; also, the triad formed on that note.
Transcription: the rewriting of a piece of music for instruments other than those for which it was originally written.
Transition: a bridging passage between sections in a composition.
Transposition: changing the pitch of a piece of music up or down a given interval. so that the internal relationships remain precisely the same.
Treble: the upper half of an entire vocal or instrumental range, as opposed to bass; also, the highest voice in choral singing.Tremolo: the rapid repetition of a note, or the rapid slurred alternation between two notes.
Triad: the basic form of three-note chord on which all diatonic harmony is based; it consists of a tonic plus the notes that lie a major (or minor) third and a perfect fifth above it.
Trill: the quick repeated alternation between a note and the note a semitone or whole tone above or occasionally below it.
Trio: a work for three instruments; also, the middle, contrasting section of a minuet or a scherzo.
Triplet: a group of three notes to be played in the time normally taken by two.
Triple time: a time with three beats in the bar.Tritone: the interval of the augmented fourth or diminished fifth, equivalent to three whole tones.Trope: an addition to or extension of the standard plainchant.
Troppo: part of a tempo marking, meaning “too much”; for example, Allegro ma non troppo means “fast but not too fast.”Troubadours: court poet-musicians of southern France, northern Spain, and northern Italy during the Middle Ages, often of noble family themselves.
Tune: a melody.
Tuning: the raising or lowering of the pitch of an instrument. or its strings, to produce correct intonation.
Turn: a formal ornamentation of the notes around a principal note.
Tutti: a passage for the whole ensemble, or for the orchestra without a soloist in a concerto.
Una corda: the muting (or damping) mechanism on a piano.Unison: more than one instrument or voice playing the same notes simultaneously.Upbeat: the beat before a strong beat; also, the conductor’s signal immediately before the first entry.
Valves: on brass instruments, the pistons that alter the pitch by changing the length of the tube through which air passes.
Variation: a musical form consisting of a series of progressively developed versions of a complete self-contained theme, either an original one or, as is common, a preexisting theme. Variation form is a very widespread form in Classical slow movements. as in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
Verismo: a style of Italian opera from the last decade of the 19th century in which the setting is contemporary to the composer’s own time, the manner is, to some extent, realistic, and the characters are drawn from everyday life. Verismooperas, of which the most famous is I Pagliacci (1892) by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, are often strongly melodramatic.
Vibrato: a rapid undulation in the pitch of a note, or of two contiguous notes, made by an instrumentalist or a singer to increase the expressiveness of a passage.
Virtuoso: an instrumentalist or singer of great technical skill.
Vivace: a tempo marking meaning “lively.”Vivo: a tempo marking meaning “with life.”Vocalise: a vocal style of singing without words, or occasionally, a work for voice without words.Voice: one of two or more parts in polyphonic music.
Voluntary: a piece for organ played before, during, or after a church service.
Waltz: a dance in triple time of Austrian and Bavarian origin, popular throughout Europe in the 19th century and afterwards, especially the Viennesewaltzes of Johann Strauss, Sr. and Jr. The waltz was often incorporated into symphonic works in the place of a scherzo, and independent concert waltzeswere written by such composers as Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Richard Strauss, and Ravel.
Whole note: a note equal in time value to two half notes or four quarter notes; in Britain it is called the semibreve.
Whole-tone scale: a six-note mode that consists only of whole-tone steps (for example, C, D, E, F sharp, G sharp, A sharp), instead of the combination of whole tones and semitones in other modes.
Word painting: in vocal music, a passage that imitates some external element referred to in the words at that point.
Yodeling: a folk-singing style switching from falsetto to normal voice and back again; common in Switzerland and the Tyrol.
Zarzuela: traditional Spanish comic opera, from the 17th to the 19th century, that has spoken dialogue instead of recitative.