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DICTIONARY OF MUSIC


DICTIONARY OF MUSIC
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P

p Thumb of the right hand

p (Italian) soft

pp (Italian) softer than p

ppp (Italian) softer than pp

pppp (Italian) softer than ppp

Passacaglia an instrumental dance form similar to the chaconne in which there is continuing repetition of a theme

Passecaille (French) passacaglia

Passemezzo (Italian) a old dance in 2 beats in a bar

Passing note a note that is not part of the prevailing harmony but which, as the harmony changes, arrives at another note consonant with the new harmony

Pastoral an instrumental piece with rural connotations

Pastorale (French) pastoral; an instrumental piece, often written over long drone-like bass notes, with rustic overtones

Pausa (Italian) rest

Pause (English) the fermata sign

Pause (French) rest

Pause (German) rest

Pavan (English) a stately court dance of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries

Pavana (Italian) a stately court dance of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries

Pavane (French) pavan

Paven pavan

Perfect intervals of a unison, octave, fourth, and fifth when they are exactly in tune and neither augmented nor diminished

Perfect interval intervals of an octave, a fifth and a fourth

Period a complete musical thought, concluded by a cadence, having two phrases, each usually two to eight bars (measures) in length

Petit (French) small, little

Peu (French) little

Peu à peu (French) little by little

Phantasie (German) imagination, fancy, reverie

Phantasy (German) fantasia

Philharmonic a symphony orchestra

Phrase a short musical idea similar to a sentence in spoken language

Phrasing a style of performance that gives shape to the musical phrases

Phrygian cadence A chord progression where the subdominant chord (in first inversion) is followed by the dominant chord. The root of the final chord is approached from a half step  above. In the tonality of A minor, a phrygian cadence would be the subdominant A minor chord (F A D) moving to the dominant E major chord (E G# B). The Phrygian cadence is a special type of half cadence.  

Piano (Italian) soft

Pianissimo (Italian) softer than Piano

Pianississimo (Italian) softer than Pianissimo

Pianissississimo (Italian) softer than Pianississimo

Pianississississimo (Italian) softer than Pianissississimo

Pick-up a single or group of notes that come before the first strong metrical beat, usually the first beat of the measure; device which, when attached to an acoustic musical instrument, converts sound vibrations into an electrical signal

Piece any composition that is a complete in itself

Pitch The relative position of a tone within a range of musical sounds.

Pivot a chord that is placed in a transition between two keys, serving a different function in each key

Pivot chord a chord that is placed in a transition between two keys, serving a different function in each key

Pizz. (Italian) plucked

Pizzicato (Italian) plucked

Plagal Cadence A chord progression where the subdominant chord is followed by the tonic chord- In the tonality of C major, an plagal cadence would be the subdominant f major chord (F A C) moving to the tonic C major chord (C E G).

Poco (Italian) a little, rather

Poco a poco (Italian) little by little, gradually

Polka a round dance, of Bohemian peasant origin, in quick duple time

Polacca (Italian) a stately simple triple time Polish dance from the sixteenth-century

Polonaise (French) a stately simple triple time Polish dance from the sixteenth-century

Polonäse (German) a stately simple triple time Polish dance from the sixteenth-century

Polyphonic contrapuntal writing

Polyphony contrapuntal writing

Portamento (Italian) very legato, carrying a instrumental line without gaps

Position on a stringed instrument, where the left hand is placed to play particular notes

Pot-pourri a musical work made up of popular tunes

Praeludium (Latin) prelude

Präludium (German) prelude

Pre-classical music music predating the classical period

Prelude a piece that is played before another piece or group of pieces

Préluder to prelude, to tune up

Preludio (Italian) prelude

Premier first

Première first

Presto (Italian) quick

Primavera An alternative wood for the back and sides of a classical guitar.

Principal leader of the section of an orchestra

Programme music music that interprets an object of contemplation or an emotional experience

Pulgar a technique for playing the guitar using the thumb, most often a feature of flamenco

Q

Quadruple a prefix indicating four elements

Quadruple-croche (French) sixty-fourth note

Quadruplet
a group of four notes to be played in the time of three

Quarter note a note one quarter the time value of a whole note

Quarter rest a rest one quarter the time value of a whole rest

Quarter-tone a microtonal interval half that of a semitone

Quaver a eighth note

Quaver rest a eighth rest

Quintet (English) a work for five independent parts, a body of players who would perform such a work

Quintett (German) a work for five independent parts, a body of players who would perform such a work

Quintette (French) a work for five independent parts, a body of players who would perform such a work

Quintetto (Italian) a work for five independent parts, a body of players who would perform such a work

R

R & B abbreviation for rhythm and blues

Ragtime a musical syle of 1890s America, a forerunner of jazz

Rall. abbreviation of rallentando

Rallentamento (Italian) slow

Rallentando  (Italian) slowing

Rallentato (Italian) slowed

Rallentare (Italian) to slow

Range from the lowest note to the highest note whether in a piece of music, or an instrument

Rapido (Italian) rapid

Rasgueado (Spanish) a style of guitar playing in which the strings are strummed

Rasguedo (Spanish) a style of guitar playing in which the strings are strummed

Recital a musical performance usually involving a small number of performers

Redwood Lace Burl An alternative wood for the back and sides of a classical guitar.

Reggae a slow tempo rhythmic style that originated in Jamaica

Registro (Italian) register

Related keys musical keys that because of their similarity are easy to move between

Relative keys keys that share a common key signature, for example, C major and A minor

Relative pitch an ability to identify one pitch with reference to another given pitch

Religioso (Italian) religious

Renaissance (Italian) an era of music between the fifteenth- and sixteenth-centuries

Repeat a sign indicating that a section of a piece of music is to be played a second time. 

Repeat sign a sign indicating that a section of a piece of music is to be played a second time. 

Repeated notes reiteration of a tone at the same pitch level

Répertoire compositions prepared for performance

Repeticiôn (Spanish) repeat

Requiem musical composition honoring the dead

Requinto small guitar used in Spain, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico

Requinto jarocho small 4-string Mexican guitar from the Jarocho region

Resonator those parts of instruments which resonate or vibrate, thus enhancing the sound of the instrument, particularly the body of a guitar (an example of a resonator box)

Retardando (Italian) to hold back, holding back, held back (gradual change of tempo)

Retardation suspension in a harmony that resolves upwards rather than downwards; a slowing down of the tempo

Revenir (French) to return

Reverse motion imitation in contrary motion, that is, the ascending intervals are changed to descending intervals and the descending intervals changed to ascending

Rhapsody similar to fantasia applied to pieces from the nineteenth-century inspired by extroverted romantic notions

Rhythm the disposition of strong and weak beats in a piece of music

Rhythm and blues American pop music style popular between the 1940's and 1960's

Rhythm section the performers using percussion instruments; when applied to a jazz band, the rhythm section includes piano, double bass (or electric bass), guitar and drum kit

Ricercare (Italian) an elaborate contrapuntal piece of music

Riff a short music phrase, often repeated, particularly in jazz or blues

Rigadoon (Old English) a dance in simple duple or quadruple time

Rigaudon (French) a dance in simple duple or quadruple time

Rit. (Italian) Ritardando; to hold back, holding back, held back (gradual change of tempo)

Ritard. (Italian) Ritardando; to hold back, holding back, held back (gradual change of tempo)

Ritardando (Italian) to hold back, holding back, held back (gradual change of tempo)

Rock and Roll American popular music of the 1950's

Romance a short instrumental piece with the lyrical character of a vocal romance

Romantic era an era of music following the Classical era and ending around 1900

Romantic music nineteenth-century music that is lyrical, harmonically chromatic, emotionally charged and nationalistic

Romanza (Italian) romance

Rondeña a flamenco fandango from Ronda

Rondo an instrumental form in which the first or main section is repeated between subsidiary sections and to conclude the piece; usually in lively tempo

Rubato (Italian) a limited freedom of rhythm and tempo when performing a piece of music; the time extension applied to one note is taken from an adjoining note or notes

Rumba flamenca a rumba style from southern Spain

S

Saddle Typically made of bone ivory or plastic, the saddle transfers the vibrating energy of the string to the top of the guitar. The bridge saddle is not glued to the bridge, but rather held in place by the tension of the strings. The height of the saddle is determined by the guitar's angle of the neck, therefore it is not measured upon itself but rather measured for an optimal string height at the twelfth fret. Traditionally the bass strings are higher than the trebles, but crossover players are setting their heights more equal.

Samba a dance and type of music from Brazil of African slave origin. in double time and highly syncopated

Sans (French) without

Saraband a dignified, steady dance usually in triple time

Sarabande a dignified, steady dance usually in triple time

Satinwood Ceylon An alternative wood for the back and sides of a classical guitar.

Saudades (Portuguese) sadness associated with a longing for times past

Scherzando (Italian) jokingly, playfully

Scherzino (Italian) a little scherzo

Score a representation on the page of a whole musical work

Seconda  (Italian) second

Secondary dominant the dominant of the dominant

Secular music compositions that have no connection with religion

Seguidilla old Spanish dance in simple triple time

Semibiscroma (Italian) a sixty-fourth rest

Semibreve a whole note

Semibreve rest a whole rest

Semicroma (Italian) a sixteenth note

Semidemisemiquaver sixty-fourth note

Semifusa (Latin) sixteenth note

Semiminima (Italian) quarter note

Semiquaver a sixteenth note

Semiquaver rest a sixteenth rest

Semitone half the interval of a tone

Sempre (Italian) always

Septet (English) a group of seven instrumentalists, a work written for a group such as this to perform

Sequencer device or program that records and plays back user-determined sets of music performance commands, usually in the form of MIDI data

Serenade a light and/or intimate piece of no specific form to be played in an open-air evening setting, music properly played in the evening under a lady's window

Serenata a dramatic cantata

Seventh a major seventh is a semitone smaller than an octave; a minor seventh is a whole tone smaller than an octave

Seventh chord a chord consisting of a root note, the third above the root, the fifth above the root and the seventh above the root

Sevillanas very popular colorful and festive Spanish folk dance from Seville

Sextet (English) a group of six instrumentalists, a piece of music written for such a group to play

sf. abbreviation for sforzando

Sfogato (Italian) light and easy style

Sfoggiando (Italian) flauntingly, ostentatiously

Sforzando (Italian) strongly accented

Sforzato (Italian) strongly accented

Shape the direction of a melody; the abstract quality of the motion and figure of a composition, achieved through dynamics, pitch direction and tempo

Sharp a term applied to a note slightly above its expected pitch, a sign to show that a note should be raised one semitone in pitch

Sight reading to perform a piece of music never seen before

Signs symbols placed on or near a staff indicating performance specifications for pitch, dynamics, time duration, accidentals, phrasing, manner of attack, timing, tempo, repeats, fingering, ornamentation…..

Sinfonia concertante a concerto with several soloists

Sixteenth note a note one sixteenth the time value of a whole note

Sixteenth rest a rest one sixteenth the time value of a whole note rest

Slide guitar bottleneck guitar

Slur notes move smoothly one to the other with no perceptible break.

Snake Wood An alternative wood for the back and sides of a classical guitar.

Sociology of music an area of study that examines the effects, now and in the past, that music has upon society and similarly the effect that society has upon music

Soleares a flamenco singing style in triple time

Solo a part for one player with or without accompanying instruments

Soloist the player who performs the solo part

Solo part a part for one player with or without accompanying instruments

Son (French) sound

Sons (French) sounds

Sonata an extended piece in several movements for a number of instrumental soloists, most commonly one, with instrumental accompaniment

Sonata-rondo a musical work that combines sonata and rondo forms

Song without words a piece for solo piano

Sostenendo (Italian) sustaining
Sostenente (Italian) sustained

Sound board a wooden board in a stringed instrument that enhances its resonance

Sound Hole A hole in the soundboard of a stringed instrument that enhances its volume and tone. A vibrating guitar top creates sound. The air displacement, through the Sound Hole, is what amplifies the sound. Making the hole too small reduces the displacement and lowers volume. A too large of a hole reduces velocity and in turn also loses volume. The ideal size of Sound Hole can vary with the size of the sound chamber

Soundboard Resonator consisting of a thin board whose vibrations reinforce the sound of the instrument. The guitar top.

Spanish Cypress Also known as Mediterranean Cypress, it was originally introduced into Spain from Asia Minor centuries ago. Most flamenco makers prefer this traditional wood, but it’s becoming scarce and expensive. It has a creamy-yellowish color with occasional strong growth lines.

Square dance a form of American dance, from folk genres and played on a fiddle, piano, guitar or banjo, usually performed by four couples facing each other, arranged in a square

Staccatissimo (Italian) an extreme form of staccato, often taken to indicate that one should shorten the note thus marked to one quarter of its written length, the remaining three-quarters replaced with silence

Staccato (Italian) a dot above the note indicating that the note thus marked should be shortened to half its written length, the second half replaced with silence

Staff a framework of five lines on which musical notation is written.

String(s) A strand of gut, wire, silk or nylon that, when bowed, plucked or struck, produces a sound determined by its tension, length and density.

String music Music especially composed for string instruments

String orchestra a moderately large ensemble form only of first and second violins, cellos and double basses

String quartet a quartet formed of one first violinist, one second violinist, one violist and one cellist

Stringed instruments any musical instrument that produces sound by means of strings under appropriate tension that are set into vibration by being plucked   strummed, struck or bowed  

Style the way musical elements (melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, form, etc.) are presented; what distinguishes one performance from another

Subdivision breaking up a larger metrical pattern into smaller parts

Sub-dominant the fourth degree of the scale

Subito (Italian) suddenly

Sub-mediant the sixth degree of the scale

Sub-mediant chord the chord which uses as its root the submediant note of a key

Sub-mediant triad triad built on the sixth degree of the scale

Subwoofer Speaker dedicated to reproducing very low frequencies. often placed on the floor

Suite a set of unrelated and usually short instrumental pieces

Suite de dances (French) a set of dances

Sulla (Italian) on, near, up, above, upon

Suspension a note that is held over, that is approached by itself, and resolved to the chord note by a tone or semitone after the chord is played

Swing American style of jazz music characterized by big band instrumentation

Symphonia (Greek) symphony

Symphonie symphony

Symphonie concertante (French) featuring a few solo instruments and orchestra

Symphonique (French) symphonic

Symphonisch (German) symphonic

Symphony an extended piece for full orchestra, usually serious in nature and in several movements

Symphony orchestra an ensemble of instruments which may have in excess of 100 members

Syncopation where a silence or weak beat replaces the expected strong beat

Synthesizer an instrument that uses electronics to generate a large range of sounds, some meant to mimic real instruments and others that are completely new

System notation of a line of music including all the parts and voices involved, presented in a group of two or more staves which are joined together on the left hand side by a vertical bar and a brace

T

Tablature a notational system that uses letters, figures and other symbols to indicate how a piece might be performed, for instance by showing the position of a player's fingers on a representation of the strings of a guitar or lute

Table the belly of a stringed instrument

Tacet (Latin) silent

Tambura Accompanying drone instrument from India, a large lute with 4-6 strings; five-string Egyptian lyre, long-necked fretted lute from Bulgaria, Croatia and other European countries

Tango the Argentinean samba, a passionate musical style, originating in the streets and brothels of Buenos Aires, Argentina, marked by strong syncopation and dotted rhythmic figures, in simple duple (2/4) time and, when danced, performed by a couple

Tango flamenco the only non-dramatic variety of the older flamenco genres, festive in style, with a faster rhythm

Tanz (German) dance

Tänze (German) dances

Tarantas flamenco style from Almería

Tarantella (Italian) a dance in 6/8 time from Southern Italy, which gets faster and faster and is supposed to cure the result of a poisonous bite from the tarantula spider

Tarantelle (French) a dance in 6/8 time from Southern Italy, which gets faster and faster and is supposed to cure the result of a poisonous bite from the tarantula spider

Tarantos an eastern Andalusian flamenco style

Technique the mechanical aspects of performance

Tempo (Italian) speed

Ternary form a three section form in which the first section A is repeated, often with some changes, after a middle section B, thus the form is called A B A

Thai Rosewood An alternative wood for the back and sides of a classical guitar.

Theme a group of notes, also called a melody, that will form the basis for a work that includes the theme's repetition and/or development

Theme and variations an extended work, sometimes in separated movements or sections, where the opening musical statement (theme) is subjected to development (variations)

Thirty-second note a note one thirty-second the time value of a whole note
Thirty-second rest one thirty-second the time value of a whole rest
Tie a sign that shows that the note being played or sustained, unbroken, throughout the total time value of the notes under the sign

Tiento a Spanish Renaissance composition  

Tientos flamenco style derived from tangos, although with a slower beat

Time Signature A symbol placed at the left side of the staff indicating the meter of the composition.

Tipico (Spanish)  typical or traditional

Toccata a rapid piece of music for keyboard intended as a display for virtuosity; a toccata is often the prelude to a fugue

Tombeau (French) a piece written in someone's memory

Tonality the sense of a particular key

Tone a sound of definite pitch; the quality of a sound; the American word for note.

Tonic chord the chord based on the tonic of a key or scale

Tonic triad triad built on the first degree of the scale

Tono (Italian) tone, key, mode

Top The soundboard of the guitar.A resonator consisting of a thin board whose vibrations reinforce the sound of the instrument. The guitar soundboard.

Transcribe to rearrange music for instruments other than those for which the work was originally written

Transcription music for instruments other than those for which the work was originally written

Transpose to move; to play a piece in a different key or one or more octaves higher or lower than it was originally written, the better to suit the instrument

Transposing instruments instruments that do not play the notes they read

Transposition the changing of the pitch of a piece without changing anything else

Treble the highest part

Tremolo rapidly-recurring slight raising and lowering of pitch, vibrato; the rapid reiteration of a single note

Très (French) very

Trill An additional elaboration added to a written melody.

Trio a piece played by three players; a piece of music to be play such a group; a contrasted section between two performances of a minuet

Trio sonata a chamber music form for two featured instruments and continuo accompaniment

Triple meter a time signature in which each measure has three beats

Triplet A group of three notes of equal time value performed in the time of two. One or two of the notes may be rests of equal value.

Triple time a time signature in which each measure has three beats

Troppo (Italian) too much; also non troppo, not too much

Tune air, melody; the process of adjusting the pitch of an instrument to itself

Tuners A set of devices located on the headstock of the guitar to attach and tune the strings.

Tuning temperament; the pitch to which various strings on a stringed instrument are to be set

Tuning fork a U-shaped steel device with a handle at its base, which when struck produces a relatively pure tone of definite pitch

Turns The note above, the note itself, the note below, then the note itself again. The turn may be inverted as in the preparation of an ascending trill when the note sequence becomes the note below, the note itself, the note above, then the note itself again.

Two-beat music in which the first and third beats of each four-beat bar (measure) are accentuated, for example, in marches

 

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