Terms Relating To Vocal Music
Symbols Of Music Defined
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles
Chords Cadences Etc
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles (_continued_)
Symbols Of Music Defined Part Two
Terminology Adoptions 1907-1910
Some Principles Of Correct Notation
Rhythm Melody Harmony And Intervals
The History Of Music Notation
Random Music Terms
Miscellaneous Terms (_continued_)
Symbols Of Music Defined Part Two
Auxiliary Words And Endings
Abbreviations Signs Etc
A battuta--with the beat; in strict rhythm. [Transcriber's Note:
Corrected error battua in original.]
A quatre mains--for four hands.
Alla breve--2/2 measure.
The term alla breve is also sometimes used as a tempo
indication, to show a rate of speed so great that a half-note
has a beat, i.e., only two beats in a measure--hence twice as
fast as before.
Alla capella--usually the same as a capella (see p. 76, Sec. 162) but
sometimes used in the same sense as alla breve.
Alla marcia--in march style.
Alla zingara--in gypsy style.
Alt--see in alt.
Alto--the lowest female voice. Range approximately g-e''.
The word alto is derived from the Latin word altus, meaning
high, the term being formerly applied to the highest male
voice, which originally sang (and still does so in many male
choirs) the alto part.
Animato come sopra--in animated style as above.
Antiphony (antiphonal)--the responsive singing of two choirs,
usually one at either end of the church, or at either side of the
Arabesque--an instrumental composition in light, somewhat fantastic
The term arabesque is derived from the word Arabian, and
was originally applied to a style of decoration.
Arioso--in the style of an air or song, i.e., a flowing, vocal
Attacca--attack the next division without any pause.
Attacca subito--same as attacca.
Attacca subito il seguente--attack at once that which follows.
[Transcriber's Note: In last 3 entries, corrected misspelling attaca
Attack--the promptness or firmness with which a phrase is begun.
Bagpipe--A Scotch instrument on which the tone is produced by a
combination of bellows and reeds. Its characteristic effect is the
continuous sounding of a low tone (sometimes several tones) while the
melody is being played on the higher reeds.
Barcarole (or barcarolle)--a boat song. Also applied to a vocal or
instrumental composition in the style of the gondolier's boat song.
Baritone (or barytone)--the male voice having a range between that
of the tenor and that of the bass. Approximate range G-g'.
Bass--the lowest male voice. Approximate range E-e'.
Basso--same as bass.
Berceuse--a cradle song.
Binary form--a form in two parts.
Binary measure--a measure having two beats.
Bis--twice. Used to indicate a repetition. (Rare.)
Brace--the sign used to join several staffs, showing that all tones
represented on these staffs are to be performed together. The term is
often used also in referring to the music written on staffs so joined;
as--Begin with the upper brace.
Broken chord--a chord whose tones are not all sounded simultaneously,
as e.g., in an accompaniment group.
Broken octave--an octave whose tones are sounded one at a time instead
Cacophony--harsh, discordant, unpleasant, especially incorrect
combinations of tones. The opposite of euphony.
Cadenza--A brilliant passage, usually in an instrumental composition,
introduced just before the close of a movement. The cadenza was
formerly improvised by the performer, (thus giving an opportunity of
displaying his technical skill), but since Beethoven, composers have
usually written their own cadenzas.
Cantabile--in a singing style.
Cantando--same as cantabile.
Canto--the highest voice part; i.e., the soprano part.
Note the derivation of canto, cantabile, etc., from the
Latin word cantus, meaning a song.
Carol--a hymn of joyful praise, usually sung in connection with Easter
or Christmas festivities. The word carol meant originally a dance,
hence the happy character of songs of this type.
Catch--a round set to humorous words.
Chromatic (noun)--a term somewhat loosely applied to any tone not
belonging to the key as indicated by the signature. Many teachers are
replacing the word chromatic in this sense with the term intermediate
tone, this term being applicable whether the foreign tone is actually
used for ornamental purposes as a chromatic, or to effect a
modulation. Thus e.g., F[sharp] is the intermediate tone between F
and G in the key of C.
Clavichord--an instrument with keys, resembling the square piano in
appearance. The tone was produced by forcing wedge-shaped pieces of
metal against the strings, thus setting them in vibration. The
clavichord was one of the immediate predecessors of the piano, much of
the music written by Bach being composed for it, although this music is
now played on the modern piano.
Colla voce--with the voice: i.e., play the accompaniment according
to the soloist's performance rather than strictly according to the
rhythm indicated in the score.
Colla parte--same as colla voce.
Coloratura--florid passages in singing. Also applied to the style of
singing employed in rendering such passages. (See p. 76, Sec. 171.)
Consonance--A combination of tones agreeable to the ear and requiring
no resolution to other tone-combinations in order to give the effect of
finality. The major triad C--E--G is an example of a consonant chord.
Contralto--same as alto.
Con variazioni--with variations.
Direct--a sign ([direct symbol]) placed at the end of the last staff
on a page, to indicate what the first note on the next page is going to
be. This sign is now practically obsolete.
Dirge--a funeral chant. The dirge is named from the first word of a
chant used in the office for the dead, which begins--Dirige Domine,
Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam (Direct, O Lord, My God, my way
in Thy sight).
Discord--an ugly, unharmonious combination of tones.
Dissonance--a harmonic combination of tones giving rise to the feeling
of incompleteness or unrest, and therefore requiring resolution to some
other combination which has an agreeable or final feeling. (cf.
consonance.) The diminished triad C--E[flat]--G[flat] is an example of a
Divisi--divided. An indication showing that the first violins, or the
sopranos, or any other body of performers ordinarily sounding in unison
are now to divide into two or more parts.
Duet--a composition for two performers. (From the It. word
Ecole--a school or style of composition or performance.
Etude--a study. Also an instrumental composition in the style of a
study, but intended for artistic performance.
Euphony--agreeable tone combinations; the opposite of cacophony. (From
the Greek word meaning well-sounding.)
Fanfare--a trumpet call.
Fantasia--An instrumental composition not based on any regular form.
Fiasco--a complete failure or breakdown.
This use of the word fiasco (which means in Italian a flask,
or bottle) is said to have reference to the bursting of a
bottle, the complete ruin of the bottle being compared with
the complete failure of a performance.
Gamut--all the tones of a scale.
Glissando--playing a scale on the keyboard by drawing the finger along
over the keys, thus depressing them in very rapid succession. The word
is derived from the French word glisser--to glide.
Harpsichord--one of the immediate predecessors of the piano.
Humoresque--a capricious, fantastic composition. (Cf. fantasia.)
Idyl--a short, romantic piece of music in simple and unaffected style.
In alt--pitches in the first octave above the treble staff. Thus
e.g., C in alt is the C represented by the second added line above
the treble staff.
In altissimo--pitches in the octave above the alt octave.
Interlude--a short movement between two larger movements.
Loco--place; i.e., play as written. (See p. 15, Sec. 46.)
Lunga trillo--a long trill.
Next: Miscellaneous Terms (_continued_)
Previous: Chords Cadences Etc