Choose the letter which begins musical term that you would like to learn about:
Abbreviation for "segno", sign; "senza", without; "sinistra", left; "subito", suddenly.
A succession of tones. The scale generally used
in Western music is the diatonic scale, consisting of whole
and half steps in a specific order.
"Joke." A piece in a lively tempo.
A movement of a symphony, sonata, or quartet in quick triple time,
replacing the minuet.
The written depiction of all the parts of a musical
ensemble with the parts stacked vertically and rhythmically aligned.
The second degree of the diatonic scale. Also,
the interval formed by a given tone and the next tone above or
below it, e.g. c up to d, or c down to b. Interval of the second
may be major, diminished, or augmented.
A division of a musical composition.
A half step. The smallest interval on the keyboard.
Always. Used with other terms, e.g. sempre staccato.
Without. Used with other terms, e.g. senza crescendo.
A piece for seven instruments or voices. Seven
The repetition of a melodic pattern on a higher
or lower pitch level.
A love song or piece, usually performed below
someone's window in the evening.
The seventh degree of the diatonic scale. Also,
the interval formed by a given tone and the seventh tone above
or below it, e.g. c up to b, or c down to d. Intervals of the
seventh may be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.
When a seventh (above the root) is added
to a triad (root, third, fifth), the result is a seventh chord,
e.g. the dominant triad in the key of C major, g-b-d, with the
added seventh becomes g-b-d-f and is labelled V7.
Sforzando, Sfz, Sf
Sudden strong accent on a note or
A symbol which raises
the pitch of a note one-half step.
An individually printed song, most often
for voice, piano, guitar,or a combination of the three. Any printed
The changing of meter within a composition.
Synonymous with changing meter.
An indication to continue in the same manner.
The second inversion of a triad, made
by placing the fifth of the chord in the lowest voice, e.g. Cis
Sixteenth note and rest
A note and rest half the length of an
eighth note and a sixteenth the length of a whole note.
Sixteenth notes beamed together. These 4, in 4/4 time, are equal to one
The sixth degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the
interval formed by a given tone and the sixth tone above or below
it, e.g. c up to a, or c down to e. Intervals of the sixth may
be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.
The first inversion of a triad, made by placing
the third of the chord in the lowest voice, e.g. C6
Melodic movement of more than one whole step.
A curved line placed above or below two or more
notes of different pitch to indicate that they are to be performed
in legato style.
In solmization, the fifth degree of the major scale.
The term for the use of syllables for the
degrees of the major scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la ti, do. The
minor scale (natural) is la, ti, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la.
To perform alone or as the predominant part.
An instrumental piece, often in several movements.
A short sonata.
Sustaining of tone or slackening of tempo.
On string instruments, a bowing technique wherein
the bow is bounced on the string at moderate speed.
Detached sounds, indicated by a dot over or
under a note. The opposite of legato.
The most frequently used staff has five horizontal
lines, with four spaces, upon which the notes and other musical
symbols are placed. The plural of staff is staves.
A selection of a song, two or more lines long,
characterized by a common meter, rhyme, and number of lines.
String instrument family
Instruements with strings that
produce sound when plucked, bowed, or struck.
A term used to describe a song in which all
the stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite
The fourth degree of the major or minor scale.
Also, the name of the triad built on the fourth degree of the
scale, indicated by IV in a major key and by iv in a minor key.
The sixth degree of a major or minor scale.
Also, the name of the triad built on the sixth degree of the scale,
indicated by VI in a major key and by vi in a minor key.
The second degree of the major or minor scale.
Also, the name of the triad built on the second degree of the
scale, indicated by II in a major scale and iio in
a minor scale.
The use of a nonharmonic tone to delay the
resolution of a chord, frequently as it occurs in a cadence.
A piece for large orchestra, usually in four
movements, in which the first movement often is in sonata form.
A large orchestra.
Accent on an unexpected beat.
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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