Musical Terms

Word Definition
Absolute Does not tell a story
Alberti Bass Bass line on piano, repeated in the left hand.
Allemande German: Part of a suite, in 4/4 time, with a moderate tempo
Antiphonal 'Questions and Answers', a stereo effect
Aria Song
Atonal Total absence of key
Basso continuo Bass line that runs through a piece
Binary Musical Structure: AB
Bourrée Part of a Suite
Cadenza End of music which shows off the brilliance of the player
Camera Italian for chamber
Cantata To be sung
Chiesa Italian for church
Chord-streams Moving a chord shape in parallel motion
Chroma Greek for 'colour'
Concertino In a concerto: The small group of soloists
Concerto Means 'get together'
Conjunct Moving in small steps
Contrapuntal More than one melody line
Corrente Italian: Part of a Suite, in 3/2 time, with a moderately fast tempo
Counterpoint More than one melody line
Courante French: Part of a Suite, in 3/2 time, with a moderately fast tempo
Da capo Musical structure: ABA
Disjunct Moving in leaps
Dissonance Clashing notes that do not fit
Dominant Chord/Note V
Dynamics The louds and softs of a piece
Figured bass Numbers below the bass line, indicating which chords to play
French Overture An overture which has three sections, the first and the last being slow, and the middle being quick
Gavotte Part of a Suite
Gigue Part of a Suite, usually in compound time
Harmony The way the music fits together
Homophonic Moving in chords
Idée fixe Recurring theme
Imitation Lines of melody are repeated
Impressionism 'Blurred' music
Italian Overture An overture which has three sections, the first and the last being quick, and the middle being slow
Leading Note Chord/Note VII
Mediant Chord/Note III
Melody The tune
Metre Time signature
Minuet Part of a Suite, in 3 titne, and a slow and stately waltz
Monody Single voice line supported by an insumental bass line, upon which chords are constructed
Monophonic One melody line
Opera buffa Comic opera
Orchestration How the parts are arranged
Ornaments Musical enhancements (e.g. trill, mordent)
Passepied Part of a Suite
Polychoral More than one choir
Polyphonic More than one melody line
Polyphony More than one melody line
Polytonal More than one key at a time
Prelude An opening piece
Programmatic Tells a story
Recitative A style which is a cross between singing and reciting
Rhythm Refers to the beat either in a percussion line, or any other line
Ripieno In a concerto: The rest of the orchestra
Ritornello Italian for return, used to mean where a section returns
Rondo Musical Structure: ABACADA etc.
Sacred Religious
Sarrabande Spanish: Part of a Suite, in slow triple time
Secular Not religious
Singspiel An opera in which singing is mixed up with the dialogue
Sonata To be sounded (played) A work of several movements, for one or two instruments.
Sonata form See 'Classical Music'
Strophic Two or more verses set to the same music
Subdominant Chord/Note IV
Submediant Chord/Note VI
Supertonic Chord/Note II
Symphony Similar to a sonata, but for an orchestra.
Syncopation An off-beat rhythm
Tempo Speed
Ternary Musical Structure: ABA
Texture How 'thick' or 'thin' the music is
Through-Composed Different all of the way through
Timbre Type of sound given by an instrument
Tonic Chord/Note I
Tutti Means 'everyone'
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