Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Glossary of Music Terms

  • Accelerando (it.) - Gradually increasing the speed.
  • Adagio (it.) - Slowly. Also as a name for a piece written in that tempo.
  • Agitato - In an agitated, exited or restless style 
  • Air - a tune, song or melody. Sometimes found in suites.
  • Alegria (it.) - Joyful flamenco dance from the province of cadiz.
  • Allargando (it.) - Growing broader, getting slower and louder.
  • Allegretto (it.) - Just a "little allegro", slower than allegro.
  • Allegro (it.) - Quick, fast, but not as fast as presto.
  • Allemande (it.) - German dance in 3/4 time, 16th/17th, rather slow. Like a landler. Often the first dance in the classic suite. 
  • Amoroso (it.) - Amorous, loving, affectionately.
  • Andante (it.) - Rather slow, at a moderate pace.
  • Andantino (it.) - A little faster than andante. (Originally it meant just the opposite, slower than andante, but is no more interpreted like that.) 
  • Animato (it.) - Animated, with spirit, lively. (Originally it meant just the opposite, slower than andante, but is no more interpreted like that.) 
  • Aria (it.) - A melodic composition like an air, a song or a tune. Originally for a single voice with or without accompaniment. Often also an instrumental piece with a singable melody. 
  • Arietta (it.) - A small aria or air. 
  • Arpeggio (it.) - In the Style of a harp. The notes of a chord are struck consecutively one after the other. 
  • A tempo (it.) - In time, back to original tempo. 
  • Aubade (fr.) - a morning music, the opposite of a serenade. 

  • Barcarolle (fr.)/ Barcarola (it.) - Song in the style of the Venetian gondoliers. 
  • Berceuse (fr.) - A crade song, a lullaby. 
  • Bolero - Spanish dance in 3/4 time, 19th century. Also known as Cachuca. 
  • Bourree (fr.) - old French dance, quick, in double time, often part of suites of pieces 
  • Brillante (fr./it.) - In a bright, sparkling, brilliant manner. 

  • Cantilene (ger.) / Cantilena (it.) - A ballad or light popular song. 
  • Canzone (it.) - A song or folk song. 
  • Canconetta (it.) - A little song or folk song. 
  • Caprice (fr.) Capriccio (it.) Capricioso (it.) - a humorous fanciful composition with a somewhat irregular form. 
  • Cavatina - A melody of a simple form. A song without a second part or a "Da Capo" a humorous fanciful composition with a somewhat irregular form. 
  • Choro - A typical Brazilian music genre deriving from a mix of different European styles like polka, Scottish, tango and havanaise. Melodies emphasizing 16th notes. Choro means "crying". 
  • Courante (fr.) Corrente (it.) - From "running". Old French dance in AB-form and 3/2 time. The second dance in the classic suite. a humorous fanciful composition with a somewhat irregular form. 
  • Crescendo (it.) - Gradually getting louder. Abbreviated: cresc. 
  • Cueca - Chilian dance written in 6/8 time with the accompaniment in 3/4 time. 

  • Da Capo (it.) - The sign at the end of a piece saying to begin over from the beginning. Abbreviation: D.C. 
  • Da Capo Al Fine (it.) - The sign at the end of a piece saying to begin over from the beginning up to where it says "Fine". 
  • Deciso (it.) - Decided, energetic, with firmness. 
  • Delicato (it.) - Delicately. 
  • Diminuendo (it.) - Gradually getting softer. Abbreviated: dim. 
  • Divertimento (it.) - (1) A light composition, (1) A suite for instrument 
  • Decrescendo (it.) - Gradually getting softer. 
  • Dolce (it.) - Soft, sweetly. 
  • Doloroso (it.) - Sorrowful, sadly. 
  • Doppio movimento (it.) - Double the speed, twice as fast. 

  • Entree (fr.) - an introduction, a march-like piece played during the entrance of a dancing group, or played before a ballet. Usually in 4/4 time. 
  • Espressivo (it.) - With expression. 
  • Etude (fr.) / Study - a usually short composition meant to exercise some special difficulty or technique. 

  • Fandango (span.) - lively Spanish dance in triple time, beginning slow and getting faster. 
  • Fantasia (it.)/Fantasie (ger.)/Fantaisie (Fr.) - A compositions that is not in any of the regular forms. 
  • Fine (it.) - The End. This is where to end a piece after a repeat or partial repeat. 
  • Forte (it.) - Loud. Abbreviated: f 
  • Fortissimo (it.) - Very Loud. Abbreviated: ff 
  • Fortississimo (it.) - As loud as possible. Abbreviated: fff 
  • Fugue - A polyphonic composition with one or more short themes introduced first by a one voice and repeated by other voices in turn. All this happening with harmonization according to the rule of the counterpoint. 
  • Furioso (it.) - Furiously, wildly. 

  • Galop (fr.) - a lively round-dance in 2/4 time 
  • Gavotte (fr.) - French Dance in 4/4, 17th/18th century, still alive in the Bretagne, rather quick 
  • Gigue (fr.) - (Jig) lively Scottish or Irish dance in 6/8, 17th/18th century, often the last part in a suite (from English jig, Giga, Geige) 
  • Grandioso(it.) - Grand, noble, pompous. 
  • Grave (fr.) - Slow (the slowest tempo in music) or deep in pitch 
  • Grazioso (it.) - In a graceful style. 

  • Hornpipe - An old English dance in a lively tempo written in triple and later also in quadruple time. 

  • Landler (ger.) - A dance in 3/4 or 3/8 time and lively and graceful character. Popular among Styrian peasants. 
  • Larghetto (it.) - Rather slow, but not as slow as largo
  • Largo (it.) - very slow, broadly. 
  • Legato (it.) - In a smooth, connected manner. Opposite of staccato
  • Lento (it.) - Slow 

  • Maestoso(it.) - Majestic, stately, with dignity. 
  • Marcato(it.) - With emphasis. 
  • Maxixe - A Brazilian dance first introduced in Paris in 1912. It is in 2/4 time of rapid tempo with a slight syncopation. 
  • Mazurka - A lively Polish dance in 3/8 or 3/4 
  • Meno mosso (it.) - Less movement, slower. 
  • Menuet / Minuet (fr.) - Old French dance, in triple time, 17th/18th century, (from menu pas - small step) 
  • Mezzo forte (it.) - Half loud, medium loud. Abbreviated: mf 
  • Mezzo piano (it.) - Half soft, medium softly. Abbreviated: mp 
  • Milonga (it.) - 1.the peppy, cheerful dance milonga as part of the tango; 2.the 'milonga campera' or 'milonga surena', an Argentinean folk music form, often performed just by a singer with a guitar, and of very clear Hispanic influence. The Milonga rhythm is characterized through the division of the 4/4 time in 3+3+2. 
  • Moderato - Moderately, in a moderate time. 
  • Modinha - Brazilian dance in a sentimental mood, Brazilian love song. 
  • Molto (it.) - Much, very much. 
  • Moerendo (it.) - Dying away, fading. 
  • Musette(fr.) - (1) A small bagpipe or (2) a melody or dance written over a ground note to imitate a the sound of a bagpipe 

  • Passepied (fr.) - French dance in 3/8 or 6/8 time, sometimes in the German Suites. 
  • Passionato (it.) - With passion, with favor. 
  • Partita (it) - A Suite. 
  • Pavane - Slow solemn dance in duple (or sometimes triple) time, of Spanish origin; generally in three sections, each one repeated. 
  • Pianissimo (it.) - Very softly. Abbreviated: pp 
  • Pianississimo (it.) - As softly as possible. Abbreviated: ppp 
  • Piano (it.) - Softly. Abbreviated: p 
  • Piu mosso, piu moto (it) - More motion, quicker. 
  • Polacca / Polonaise (fr.) - A Polish dance in moderate 3/4 time reapearting different short motives. 
  • Polka - A dance in 2/4 time coming from Bohemia. 
  • Prelude (it) - A piece to be played as an introduction or opening piece but often also a single romantic piece, following no specific form. 
  • Presto (it) - Rapidly, very fast, faster than vivace
  • Prestissimo (it) - As fast as possible. 

  • Quadrille (fr.) - French dance 

  • Rallentando (it.) - Getting gradually slower. 
  • Ritardando (it.) - Getting gradually slower. 
  • Ritenuto (it.) - Detained, held back, slowed down. 
  • Romance (fr.)/ Romanza (it.) / Romanze (ger.)- Romantic, sentimental melody. 
  • Rondo - from the French "rondeau". A piece where a main theme reappears in alteration with contrasting other themes. Most often in the form of ABABA or more modern ABACAB and coda. 

  • Sarabande (it.) - A dance of Spanish origin in 3/4 or 3/2 time. Often part of old suites. It has a steady pace and mostly two parts. 
  • Serenade (fr.) - An evening music. A composition for use in the open air at night. 
  • Siciliano (it.) Sicilienne (fr.) - - a soft, slow peasant dance in 6/8 or 12/8 time, often in a minor key. Rather similar to a Pastorale, usually in ABA form. It usually has a melody in dotted rhythms, with a broken chord accompaniment. 
  • Sonata (it.) - A composition for one or two instruments with several movements, each following specific forms and characteristics. 
  • Sonatina (it.) / Sonatine (fr.)- A short sonata, smaller, with less and shorter movements and the subjects not developed at length. 
  • Staccato (it.) - In a crisp, detached separated manner. Opposite of legato
  • Stringendo (it.) - hasting the movement, becoming faster, pressing. 
  • Study / Etude - a usually short composition meant to exercise some special difficulty or technique. 
  • Suite (fr.) - A set or series of movements, each consisting of a dance form (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, Gavotte, Menuet, Bourree, Passepied, etc.) and all in the same key. Often proceeded by a Prelude. 

  • Tango - A dance originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires, Argentine. It is characterized as very as passionate. 
  • Tarantella - A rapid Italian dance (supposed to cure the bite of a tarantula). 
  • Tempo (it.) - Time in the meaning of "rate of movement". 
  • Toccata (it.) - Brilliant, prelude-like composition. 
  • Tranquillo (it.) - Tranquilly, quietly, calmly. 

  • Valse(fr.) - See Waltz
  • Variations - A theme repeated several times, each time with modifications in time, melody or harmony, but still staying recognizable as the original theme. 
  • Vivace (it.) - Lively, very fast. 

  • Waltz / Valse (fr.) / Valce (it.) / Walzer (ger.)- A dance form said to originate in Bohemia or the German landler. It is in 3/4 time. "Classical" waltzes are compositions in waltz-form but not for dancing. 

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