The Little Book Of Musical Terms

Music->Terminology: Books
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Term Definition A cappella -. One or more vocalists performing without an accompaniment.


A symbol used in musical notation indicating to gradually quicken tempo. Music that is written and performed without regard to any specific key. Time in music history ranging from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th centuries. Characterized by emotional, flowery music; written in strict form. A sequence of chords that brings an end to a phrase, either in the middle or the end of a composition. Initially an improvised cadence by a soloist; later becoming an elaborate and written out passage in an aria or concerto, featuring the skills of an instrumentalist or vocalist.

Originally an improvised cadence by a soloist. Later it became a written out passage to display performance skills of an instrumentalist or performer. A musical form where the melody or tune is imitated by individual parts at regular intervals. The individual parts may enter at different measures and pitches. The tune may also be played at different speeds, backwards, or inverted.

A style of singing which is characterized by the easy and flowing tone of the composition. Music written for chorus and orchestra.

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Most often religious in nature. A quick, improvisational, spirited piece of music. Male singers who were castrated to preserve their alto and soprano vocal range. A short and simple melody performed by a soloist that is part of a larger piece. Written for 2 to 10 solo parts featuring one instrument to a part. Each part bears the same importance. Singing in unison, texts in a free rhythm. Similar to the rhythm of speech. A hymn sung by the choir and congregation often in unison.

The music was spare and emotionally reserved, especially when compared to Romantic and Boroque music. There was a strong regard for order and balance. In sheet music, a symbol at the beginning of the staff defining the pitch of the notes found in that particular staff. A composition written for a solo instrument. The soloist plays the melody while the orchestra plays the accompaniment. One who directs a group of performers.

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The conductor indicates the tempo, phrasing, dynamics, and style by gestures and facial expressions. Groups of tones that are harmonious when sounded together as in a chord. Two or three melodic lines played at the same time. A piece of music written in triple time. Also an old French dance. In sheet music, an instruction to repeat the beginning of the piece before stopping on the final chord.


A chord progression that seems to lead to resolving itself on the final chord; but does not. Where the musical themes and melodies are developed, written in sonata form. Harsh, discordant, and lack of harmony. Also a chord that sounds incomplete until it resolves itself on a harmonious chord. Dull, monotonous tone such as a humming or buzzing sound. Also a bass note held under a melody. A piece of music written for two vocalists or instrumentalists.

Pertaining to the loudness or softness of a musical composition.

Also the symbols in sheet music indicating volume. A piece of music played at the end of a recital responding to the audiences enthusiastic reaction to the performance, shown by continuous applause. A symbol in sheet music a direction to play energetically.

Two notes that differ in name only. The notes occupy the same position. For example: C sharp and D flat. The performance of either all instruments of an orchestra or voices in a chorus. A musical composition written solely to improve technique. Often performed for artistic interest. The first section of a movement written in sonata form, introducing the melodies and themes. Atonal and violent style used as a means of evoking heightened emotions and states of mind.

The Little Book Of Music Theory And Musical Terms

A style of male singing where by partial use of the vocal chords, the voice is able to reach the pitch of a female. To hold a tone or rest held beyond the written value at the discretion of the performer. The interval between two notes. Three whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes.

Movement or passage that concludes the musical composition. A symbol indicating that the note is to be diminished by one semitone.

Two whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes. A composition written for three to six voices. Beginning with the exposition, each voice enters at different times, creating counterpoint with one another. Music written for a lively French dance for two performers written in triple time.

A 17th century dance written in Quadruple time, always beginning on the third beat of the measure. Vocal composition written for three or more solo parts, usually without instrumental accompaniment.

10 Essential Musical Terms

Word to indicate that the movement or entire composition is to be played grandly. Word to indicate the movement or entire composition is to be played very slow and serious. Word to indicate the movement or entire composition is to be played gracefully. Singing or chanting in unison without strict rhythm. Pleasing combination of two or three tones played together in the background while a melody is being played.

Harmony also refers to the study of chord progressions. A song of praise and glorification. Most often to honor God.

The Little Book of Music Theory and Musical Terms

The Little Black Songbook: Donovan. Recommended Sites. Brass Exam Material. Joe Satriani. Countertenor The highest male vocal type, with a range equivalent to a female mezzo-soprano or soprano. Thankfully, the star became ill and the show closed out of town, leaving the book writer's reputation intact for better projects. Chords for Guitar.

A short piano piece, often improvisational and intimate in character. Arrangement of music for a combined number of instruments.