Choose the letter which begins musical term that you would like to learn about:
a1, equal to 440 vibrations per second, in unanimously adopted as the standard pitch.
Absolute music. Music which is inspired
by itself rather than extramusical implications such as the stories
legends of "program" music.
> placed above a note to indicate stress or
A short appogiatura or grace note sounded simulatneously with the following note.
A sharp, flat, or natural not included in
the given key.
A vocal or instrument part that supports
or is background for a solo part.
Less slow than than adagio, or a short piece in adagio tempo.
Slow; slower than andante, faster than largo.
Very slow and sustained, as if being sung.
Ad libitum, ad lib
A term which permits the performer
to vary the tempo and/or to include or omit a vocal or instrumental
part. Synonymous with a piacere.
Return to unison after divisi.
Agitated; with excitement.
Al, all', alla, alle
To; used with
other words, e.g. al Fine (to the end).
A full length recording. In pop music, it contains
a number of songs.
"To the coda."
Aleatory, or aleatoric music
Chance music in which
the performers are free to perform their own material and/or their
own manner of presentation.
To the end.
Cut time; meter in
which there are two beats in each measure and a half note receives
Slowing of tempo, usually with increasing
volume; most frequently occurs toward the end of a piece.
Slower than allegro.
Quick tempo; cheerful.
Return to the sign, Dal segno.
The raising or lowering of a note by means
of an accidental.
The C clef falling on the third line of the
staff. Most of the time is used by the viola.
Slightly faster than andante.
To nothing, e.g. to ppp.
Freedom in performance. Synonymous with ad libitum.
A nonharmonic tone, usually a half or whole
step above the harmonic tone, which is performed on the beat and
A fanciful piano piece. Ornate passage varying
or accompanying a theme.
A term used to describe the pitches of a chord
as they are sung or played one after the other, rather than simultaneously.
An adaption of a composition.
The degree to which notes are separated
or connected, such as staccato or legato.
Return to the previous tempo.
Lacking a tonal center.
Compositional technique in which a melodic
line is repeated in longer note values. The opposite of diminution.
The term for a major or perfect interval which
has been enlarged by one half-step, e.g. c-g ,
(an augmented fifth,) or c-d , (an augmented
second). Also used for a triad with an augmented fifth, e.g. the
augmented tonic triad in C major, C+, c-e-g.
The cadence composed of the progression from dominant (V) to tonic (I) harmonies.
Some definitions and terms excerpted from
Belwin Pocket Dictionary of Music: Music Theory Dictionary
By Dr. William Lee
Students may purchase a copy for home use at cost
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