For other uses, see Tempo (disambiguation). "Beats per minute" redirects here. For the online publication, see Beats Per Minute (website). In musical terminology, tempo [ˈtɛmpo] ("time" in Italian; plural: tempi [ˈtɛmpi]) is the speed or pace of a given piece. In classical music, tempo is usually indicated with an instruction at the start of a piece (often using conventional Italian terms). Tempo is usually measured in beats per minute (BPM).
In modern classical compositions a "metronome mark" in beats per minute may supplement or replace the normal tempo marking, while in modern genres like electronic dance music, tempo will typically simply be stated in BPM. Tempo may be separated from articulation and metre, or these aspects may be indicated along with tempo, all contributing to the overall texture. While the ability to hold a steady tempo is a vital skill for a musical performer, tempo is changeable.
Depending on the genre of a piece of music and the performers' interpretation, a piece may be played with slight tempo rubato or drastic accelerando. In ensembles, the tempo is often indicated by a conductor or by one of the instrumentalists, for instance the drummer. Measurement Electronic metronome, Wittner model 120 bpm tempo 120 bpm tempo Problems playing this file? See media help.
While tempo is described or indicated in many different ways, including with a range of words (e.g., "Slowly", "Adagio" and so on), it is typically measured in beats per minute (bpm or BPM). For example, a tempo of 60 beats per minute signifies one beat per second, while a tempo of 120 beats per minute is twice as rapid, signifying one beat every 0.5 seconds. The note value of a beat will typically be that indicated by the meter signature.
For instance, in 44 the beat will be a crotchet or quarter note. This measurement of tempo became increasingly popular during the first half of the 19th century, after the metronome had been invented by Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. Beethoven was one of the first composers to use the metronome; in the 1810s he published metronomic indications for the eight symphonies he had composed up to that time. With the advent of modern electronics, bpm became an extremely precise measure.
Music sequencers use the bpm system to denote tempo. Instead of beats per minute, some 20th-century composers (e.g., Béla Bartók, Alberto Ginastera, and John Cage) specify the total playing time for a piece, from which the performer can derive tempo.Tempo is as crucial in contemporary music as it is in classical. In popular music genres such as electronic dance music, accurate knowledge of a tune's bpm is important to DJs for the purposes of beatmatching.
The speed of a piece of music can also be gauged according to measures per minute (mpm) or bars per minute, the number of bars of the piece performed in one minute. This measure is commonly used in ballroom dance music. Choosing speed In different musical contexts, different instrumental musicians, singers, conductors, bandleaders, music directors or other individuals will select the tempo of a song or piece.
In a popular music or traditional music group or band, the bandleader or lead singer may select the tempo. In popular and traditional music, whoever is setting the tempo often counts out one or two bars in tempo. In some songs or pieces in which a singer or solo instrumentalist begins the work with a solo introduction (prior to the start of the full group), the tempo they set will provide the tempo for the group.
In an orchestra or concert band, the conductor normally sets the tempo. In a marching band, the drum major may set the tempo. In a sound recording, in some cases a record producer may set the tempo for a song (although this would be less likely with an experienced bandleader). Musical vocabulary See also: Glossary of musical terminology In classical music it is customary to describe the tempo of a piece by one or more words, most commonly in Italian, in addition to or instead of a metronome mark in beats per minute.
Italian is typically used because it was the language of most composers during the time these descriptions became commonplace. Some well-known Italian tempo indications include "Allegro", "Andante" and "Presto".This practice developed during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque and Classical periods. In the earlier Renaissance music, performers understood most music to flow at a tempo defined by the tactus (roughly the rate of the human heartbeat).
 The mensural time signature indicated which note value corresponded to the tactus. In the Baroque period, pieces would typically be given an indication, which might be a tempo marking (e.g. Allegro), or the name of a dance (e.g. Allemande or Sarabande) - the latter being an indication both of tempo and of metre. Any musician of the time was expected to know how to interpret these markings based on custom and experience.
In some cases, however, these markings were simply omitted. For example, the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 has no tempo or mood indication whatsoever. Despite the increasing number of explicit tempo markings, musicians still observe conventions, expecting a minuet to be at a fairly stately tempo, slower than a Viennese waltz; a perpetuum mobile quite fast, and so on. Genres imply tempos.
Thus, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote "In tempo d'un Menuetto" over the first movement of his Piano Sonata Op. 54, though that movement is not a minuet. Many tempo markings also indicate mood and expression. For example, presto and allegro both indicate a speedy execution (presto being faster), but allegro also connotes joy (from its original meaning in Italian). Presto, on the other hand, simply indicates speed.
Additional Italian words also indicate tempo and mood. For example, the "agitato" in the Allegro agitato of the last movement of George Gershwin's piano concerto in F has both a tempo indication (undoubtedly faster than a usual Allegro) and a mood indication ("agitated"). Often, composers (or music publishers) name movements of compositions after their tempo (or mood) marking. For instance, the second movement of Samuel Barber's first String Quartet is an Adagio.
 Often a particular musical form or genre implies its own tempo, so composers need place no further explanation in the score.Popular music charts use terms such as bossa nova, ballad, and Latin rock in much the same way.Lead sheets and fake book music for jazz or popular music may use several terms, and may include a tempo term and a genre term, such as "slow blues", "medium shuffle" or "fast rock".
Basic tempo markings "Andante" redirects here. For other uses, see Andante (disambiguation). Here follows a list of common tempo markings. The beats per minute (bpm) values are very rough approximations for 44 time. These terms have also been used inconsistently through time and in different geographical areas. One striking example is that Allegretto hastened as a tempo from the 18th to the 19th century: originally it was just above Andante, instead of just below Allegro as it is now.
 As another example, a modern largo is slower than an adagio, but in the Baroque period it was faster. From slowest to fastest: Larghissimo – very, very slow (24 bpm and under) Adagissimo  Sostenuto  Grave – very slow (25–45 bpm) Largo – broadly (40–60 bpm) Lento – slowly (45–60 bpm) Larghetto – rather broadly (60–66 bpm) Adagio – slowly with great expression (66–76 bpm) Adagietto – slower than andante (72–76 bpm) Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm) Andantino – slightly faster than andante (although, in some cases, it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 bpm) Marcia moderato – moderately, in the manner of a march (83–85 bpm) Andante moderato – between andante and moderato (thus the name) (92–112 bpm) Moderato – at a moderate speed (108–120 bpm) Allegretto – by the mid 19th century, moderately fast (112–120 bpm); see paragraph above for earlier usage Allegro moderato – close to, but not quite allegro (116–120 bpm) Allegro – fast, quickly, and bright (120–156 bpm) (molto allegro is slightly faster than allegro, but always in its range) Animato Agitato Veloce Mosso Vivo  Vivace – lively and fast (156–176 bpm) Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 bpm) Allegrissimo or Allegro vivace – very fast (172–176 bpm) Presto – very, very fast (168–200 bpm) Prestissimo – even faster than presto (200 bpm and over) Additional terms A piacere – the performer may use his or her own discretion with regard to tempo and rhythm; literally "at pleasure" Con moto - Italian for "with movement"; can be combined with a tempo indication, e.
g., Allegro con moto Assai - (very) much A tempo – resume previous tempo L'istesso, L'istesso tempo, or Lo stesso tempo – at the same speed; L'istesso is used when the actual speed of the music has not changed, despite apparent signals to the contrary, such as changes in time signature or note length (half notes in 44 could change to whole notes in 22, and they would all have the same duration) Molto - very Poco - a little Subito - suddenly Tempo comodo – at a comfortable (normal) speed Tempo di.
.. – the speed of a ... (such as Tempo di valse (speed of a waltz, . ≈ 60 bpm), Tempo di marcia (speed of a march, ≈ 120 bpm)) Tempo giusto – at a consistent speed, at the 'right' speed, in strict tempo Tempo semplice – simple, regular speed, plainly Tempo primo – resume the original (first) tempo French tempo markings Several composers have written markings in French, among them baroque composers François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau as well as Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, Maurice Ravel and Alexander Scriabin.
Common tempo markings in French are: Au mouvement – play the (first or main) tempo. Grave – slowly and solemnly Lent – slowly Modéré – at a moderate tempo Moins – less, as in Moins vite (less fast) Rapide – fast Très – very, as in Très vif (very lively) Vif – lively Vite – fast Erik Satie was known to write extensive tempo (and character) markings by defining them in a poetical and literal way, as in his Gnossiennes.
 German tempo markings Many composers have used German tempo markings. Typical German tempo markings are: Langsam – slowly Lebhaft – lively (mood) Mäßig – moderately Rasch – quickly Schnell – fast Bewegt – animated, with motion One of the first German composers to use tempo markings in his native language was Ludwig van Beethoven. The one using the most elaborate combined tempo and mood markings was probably Gustav Mahler.
For example, the second movement of his Symphony No. 9 is marked Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers, etwas täppisch und sehr derb, indicating a slowish folk-dance-like movement, with some awkwardness and much vulgarity in the execution. Mahler would also sometimes combine German tempo markings with traditional Italian markings, as in the first movement of his sixth symphony, marked Allegro energico, ma non troppo.
Heftig, aber markig (Energetically quick, but not too much. Violent, but vigorous). English tempo markings English indications, for example quickly, have also been used, by Benjamin Britten and Percy Grainger, among many others. In jazz and popular music lead sheets and fake book charts, terms like "fast", "laid back", "steady rock", "medium", "medium-up", "ballad", "brisk", "up", "slowly", and similar style indications may appear.
In some lead sheets and fake books, both tempo and genre are indicated, e.g., "slow blues", "fast swing", or "medium Latin". The genre indications help rhythm section instrumentalists to use the correct style of playing. For example, if a song indicates "medium shuffle", the drummer will know to play a shuffle drum pattern. Similarly, if another song is labeled "fast boogie-woogie", then the piano player will know to play a boogie-woogie bassline.
Tom Lehrer's anthology Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer, uses fake English tempo markings to humorous effect. For example, Lehrer specifies that the song "National Brotherhood Week" should be played "fraternally" or "We Will All Go Together" be played "eschatologically" (and "Masochism Tango" be played "painstakingly"). Variation through a piece Tempo is not necessarily fixed. Within a piece (or within a movement of a longer work), a composer may indicate a complete change of tempo, often by using a double bar and introducing a new tempo indication, often with a new time signature and/or key signature.
It is also possible to indicate a more or less gradual change in tempo, for instance with an accelerando (speeding up) or ritardando (rit., slowing down) marking. Indeed some compositions - for instance, Monti's Csárdás or the Russian Civil War song Echelon Song- are mainly composed of accelerando passages. On the smaller scale, tempo rubato refers to changes in tempo within a musical phrase, often described as some notes 'borrowing' time from others.
Terms for change in tempo Composers may use expressive marks to adjust the tempo: Accelerando – speeding up (abbreviation: accel.) Allargando – growing broader; decreasing tempo, usually near the end of a piece Calando – going slower (and usually also softer) Doppio movimento / doppio più mosso – double speed Doppio più lento – half speed Lentando – gradual slowing and softer Meno mosso – less movement or slower Meno moto - less motion Mosso – movement, more lively, or quicker, much like più mosso, but not as extreme Più mosso – more movement or faster Precipitando – hurrying, going faster/forward Rallentando – gradual slowing down (abbreviation: rall.
) Ritardando – slowing down gradually; also see rallentando and ritenuto (abbreviations: rit., ritard.) Ritenuto – slightly slower, but achieved more immediately than ritardando or rallentando; a sudden decrease in tempo; temporarily holding back. (Note that the abbreviation for ritenuto can also be rit. Thus a more specific abbreviation is riten. Also sometimes ritenuto does not reflect a tempo change but a character change instead.
) Rubato – free adjustment of tempo for expressive purposes (literally "theft", so more strictly, take time from one beat to slow another) Stretto – in faster tempo, often near the conclusion of a section. (Note that in fugal compositions, the term stretto refers to the imitation of the subject in close succession, before the subject is completed, and as such, suitable for the close of the fugue.
 Used in this context, the term is not necessarily related to tempo.) Stringendo – pressing on faster (literally "tightening") Tardando – slowing down gradually (same as ritardando) While the base tempo indication (such as allegro) appears in large type above the staff, these adjustments typically appear below the staff or (in the case of keyboard instruments) in the middle of the grand staff.
They generally designate a gradual change in tempo; for immediate tempo shifts, composers normally just provide the designation for the new tempo. (Note, however, that when Più mosso or Meno mosso appears in large type above the staff, it functions as a new tempo, and thus implies an immediate change.) Several terms, e.g., assai, molto, poco, subito, control how large and how gradual a change should be (see common qualifiers).
After a tempo change, a composer may return to a previous tempo in two different ways: a tempo – returns to the base tempo after an adjustment (e.g. ritardando ... a tempo undoes the effect of the ritardando). Tempo primo or Tempo Io – denotes an immediate return to the piece's original base tempo after a section in a different tempo (e.g. Allegro ... Lento ... Moderato ... Tempo Io indicates a return to the Allegro).
This indication often functions as a structural marker in pieces in binary form. These terms also indicate an immediate, not a gradual, tempo change. Although they are Italian, composers typically use them even if they have written their initial tempo marking in some other language. Modern classical music 20th-century classical music introduced a wide range of approaches to tempo, particularly thanks to the influence of modernism and later postmodernism.
While many composers have retained traditional tempo markings, sometimes requiring greater precision than in any preceding period, others have begun to question basic assumptions of the classical tradition like the idea of a consistent, unified, repeatable tempo. Graphic scores shows tempo and rhythm in a variety of ways. Polytemporal compositions deliberately utilise performers playing at marginally different speeds.
John Cage's compositions approach tempo in diverse ways. For instance 4′33″ has a defined duration, but no actual notes, while As Slow as Possible has defined proportions but no defined duration, with one performance intended to last 639 years. Electronic music Extreme tempo More extreme tempos are achievable at the same underlying tempo with very fast drum patterns, often expressed as drum rolls.
Such compositions often exhibit a much slower underlying tempo, but may increase the tempo by adding additional percussive beats. Extreme music subgenres such as speedcore and grindcore often strive to reach unusually fast tempo. The use of extreme tempo was very common in the fast bebop jazz from the 1940s and 1950s. A common jazz tune such as "Cherokee" was often performed at quarter note equal to or sometimes exceeding 368 bpm.
Some of Charlie Parker's famous tunes ("Bebop", "Shaw Nuff") have been performed at 380 bpm plus. Beatmatching Main article: Beatmatching In popular music genres such as disco, house music and electronic dance music, beatmatching is a technique that DJs use that involves speeding up or slowing down a record (or CDJ player, a speed-adjustable CD player for DJ use) to match the tempo of a previous or subsequent track, so both can be seamlessly mixed.
Having beatmatched two songs, the DJ can either seamlessly cross fade from one song to another, or play both tracks simultaneously, creating a layered effect. DJs often beatmatch the underlying tempos of recordings, rather than their strict bpm value suggested by the kick drum, particularly when dealing with high tempo tracks. A 240 bpm track, for example, matches the beat of a 120 bpm track without slowing down or speeding up, because both have an underlying tempo of 120 quarter notes per minute.
Thus, some soul music (around 75–90 bpm) mixes well with a drum and bass beat (from 150–185 bpm). When speeding up or slowing down a record on a turntable, the pitch and tempo of a track are linked: spinning a disc 10% faster makes both pitch and tempo 10% higher. Software processing to change the pitch without changing the tempo, or vice versa, is called time-stretching or pitch-shifting. While it works fairly well for small adjustments (± 20%), the result can be noisy and unmusical for larger changes.
See also A capriccio Alla breve As Slow as Possible Bell pattern Half-time (music) Multitemporal music Stop-time References ^ Some of these markings are today contentious, such as those on his "Hammerklavier" Sonata and Ninth Symphony, seeming to many to be almost impossibly fast, as is also the case for many of the works of Schumann. See "metronome" entry in Apel (1969), p. 523. ^ Randel, D., ed.
, The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, Harvard University Press, 1986, Tempo ^ Haar, James. The Science and Art of Renaissance Music. Princeton University Press. p. 408. ISBN 1-40-086471-2. ^ Heyman, Barbara B. (1994-05-12). Samuel Barber: the composer and his music. Oxford University Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-19-509058-6. ^ For extensive discussion of this point see Rosen (2002:48-95). Rosen suggests that many works marked "Allegretto" are nowadays played too quickly as a result of this confusion.
Rosen, Charles (2002) Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion. New Haven: Yale University Press. Excerpts on line at Google Books: . ^ music theory online: tempo, Dolmetsch.com ^ Kleine Trommel (Side Drum), Eckehardt Keune ^ Kleine Trommel (Side Drum), Eckehardt Keune ^ Elson, Louis Charles (1909). Elson's Pocket Music Dictionary: The Important Terms Used in Music with Pronunciation and Concise Definition, Together with the Elements of Notation and a Biographical List of Over Five Hundred Noted Names in Music.
Oliver Ditson. ^ American Symphony Orchestra League (1998). Journal of the Conductors' Guild, Vols. 18–19. Viena: The League. p. 27. ISSN 0734-1032. ^ William E. Caplin; James Hepokoski; James Webster (2010). Musical Form, Forms & Formenlehre: Three Methodological Reflections. Leuven University Press. p. 80. ISBN 905-867-822-9. ^ Kleine Trommel (Side Drum), Eckehardt Keune ^ Apel (1969), p.
42; for the literal translation see the online Italian–English dictionary at WordReference.com. ^ "Istesso tempo" entry in Sadie (2001). ^ For a modern example of L'istesso, see measures 4 and 130 of Star Wars: Main Title, Williams (1997), pp. 3 and 30. ^ Gnossiennes music sheet, IMSLP Music Library ^ Apel (1969), p. 92. ^ Italian translation, WordReference.com; German, Apel (1969). ^ "Ritenuto" entry in Sadie (2001).
^ Apel (1969), p. 809. ^ David Fallows. "Ritardando". In L. Root, Deane. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required) Sources Books on tempo in music: Epstein, David (1995). Shaping Time: Music, the Brain, and Performance. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-873320-7. Marty, Jean-Pierre (1988). The tempo indications of Mozart. New Haven: Yale University Press.
ISBN 0-300-03852-6. Sachs, Curt (1953). Rhythm and Tempo: A Study in Music History. New York: Norton. OCLC 391538. Snoman, Rick (2009). The Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques – Second Edition. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press. ISBN 0-9748438-4-9. Music dictionaries: Apel, Willi, ed., Harvard Dictionary of Music, Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1969.
ISBN 978-0-674-37501-7 Sadie, Stanley; John Tyrrell, eds. (2001). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition. NewYork: Grove's Dictionaries. ISBN 1-56159-239-0. Examples of musical scores: Williams, John (1997). Star Wars: Suite for Orchestra. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp. ISBN 978-0-793-58208-2. External links Research group specializing in rhythm, timing, and tempo, University of Amsterdam Tempo Terminology, Virginia Tech department of music Tempo indications for social dances Tempo variation among and within 300+ recorded performances of Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony Dolmetsch article on tempo Understanding Musical Tempo v t e Musical notation Staff 8va 15ma Abbreviation Bar / barline / measure Clef Da capo Dal segno Key signature Ledger line Mode Ossia Scale Rehearsal letter Repeat sign Tempo Time signature Transposition Transposing instrument Musical notes Accidental (flat natural sharp) Cue note Dotted note Grace note Note value (beam notehead stem) Pitch Rest Tacet Tuplet Tremolo Interval Helmholtz pitch notation Letter notation Scientific pitch notation Articulation Accent Sforzando (musical direction) Caesura Damping Dynamics Fermata Fingering Legato Marcato Ornament (appoggiatura glissando grace note mordent slide trill) Portato Slur Staccato Tenuto Tie Tonguing Sheet music History of music publishing Music engraving Popular-music publisher Sheet-music publisher Scorewriter Alternative Braille music Chord chart Fake book Figured bass Graphic notation Lead sheet Eye music Nashville number system Numbered musical notation Klavarskribo Tablature ("Tab") Parsons Percussion notation Simplified Non-Western and ancient Chinese Kepatihan Kunkunshi Neume Swaralipi Shakuhachi Znamenny Related Mensural notation Music stand Sight-reading Sight singing Transcription List of musical symbols Category:Musical notation v t e Musical terminology Glossary of musical terminology Intervals List of pitch intervals Musical prefix Tempo v t e Rhythm and meter Additive and divisive Bar Beat Canter rhythm Colotomy Composite rhythm Counting Count off Cross-beat Duration Note value Gatra Groove Half-time Harmonic rhythm Hemiola Homorhythm Iqa' Isorhythm Metric modulation Non-retrogradable rhythm Notes inégales Note values Pickup Polyrhythm Prosody Pulse Rhythmic gesture Rhythmic mode Rhythmic unit Stop-time Swing Syncopation Tala Tempo Time point Time scale Time signature Tuplet Authority control BNF: cb11978569k (data) NDL: 00575377 Retrieved from "https://en.
wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tempo&oldid=816916118"See Also: Motorcycle Riding Suit
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This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores, music reviews, and program notes. Most of the terms are Italian (see also Italian musical terms used in English), in accordance with the Italian origins of many European musical conventions. Sometimes, the special musical meanings of these phrases differ from the original or current Italian meanings. Most of the other terms are taken from French and German, indicated by "Fr.
" and "Ger.", respectively. Unless specified, the terms are Italian or English. The list can never be complete: some terms are common, and others are used only occasionally, and new ones are coined from time to time. Some composers prefer terms from their own language rather than the standard terms listed here. 1–64 On these organ stops, some of the knobs have numbers indicating the length in feet of the longest (the lowest note) organ pipe of the stop I in violin family instrument music, used to indicate that the player should play the passage on the highest-pitched, thinnest string 1′ "Sifflet" or one foot organ stop 1 3⁄5′ Tierce organ stop 2′ Two feet – pipe organ indication; see Organ stop § Pitch and length II in violin family instrument music, used to indicate that the player should play the passage on the string adjacent to the highest-pitched, thinnest string 2 2⁄3′ Pipe organ stop for the twelfth interval IV–VI Mixture stop on pipe organ II Cymbal stop on pipe organ III in violin family instrument music, used to indicate that the player should play the passage on string adjacent to (but higher in pitch) than the lowest-pitched, thickest string IV in violin family instrument music, used to indicate that the player should play the passage on the lowest-pitched, thickest string 4′ Four feet – pipe organ rank that speaks one octave higher than 8′ 8′ Eight foot pipe – pipe organ indication 16′ Sixteen foot pipe – pipe organ indication calling for one octave below 8′ 32′ Thirty-two foot pipe – pipe organ indication calling for two octaves below 8′, also called sub-bass (on most organs this is the lowest, deepest pitch) 64′ Sixty-four foot pipe – pipe organ indication (only a few organs have this deep a pitch) A a or à (Fr.
) at, to, by, for, in, in the style of... a 2 see a due a battuta Return to normal tempo after a deviation. Not recommended in string parts, due to possible confusion with battuto (qv.); use a tempo, which means the same thing. a bene placito Up to the performer a cappella (i.e. without instrumental accompaniment) a capriccio A free and capricious approach to tempo a due intended as a duet; for two voices or instruments; together; two instruments are to play in unison after a solo passage for one of the instruments a niente To nothing; indicating a diminuendo which fades completely away For accompanists, being able to play a piano score "a prima vista" (sightreading) is an important skill.
a piacere At pleasure (i.e. the performer need not follow the rhythm strictly, for example in a cadenza) a prima vista Sight-read (lit. "at first sight") (i.e. played or sung from written notation but without prior review of the written material) a tempo In time (i.e. the performer should return to the main tempo of the piece, such as after an accelerando or ritardando); also may be found in combination with other terms such as a tempo giusto (in strict time) or a tempo di menuetto (at the speed of a minuet) ab (Ger.
) off, organ stops or mutes abafando (Port.) muffled, muted abandon or avec (Fr.) free, unrestrained, passionate abbandonatamente, con abbandono free, relaxed aber (Ger.) but accarezzevole Expressive and caressing accelerando (accel.) Accelerating; gradually increasing the tempo accelerato suddenly increasing the tempo accent Emphasize, make a particular part more important accentato/accentuato Accented; with emphasis acceso Ignited, on fire accessible Music that is easy to listen to/understand acciaccato Broken down, crushed; the sounding of the notes of a chord not quite simultaneously, but from bottom to top.
acciaccatura Crushing (i.e. a very fast grace note that is "crushed" against the note that follows and takes up no value in the measure) accompagnato Accompanied (i.e. with the accompaniment following the soloist, who may speed up or slow down at will) accuratezza Precision; accuracy con accuratezza: with precision acoustic Relating to music produced by instruments, as opposed to electric or electronic means ad libitum (commonly ad lib; Latin) At liberty (i.
e. the speed and manner of execution are left to the performer) adagietto Fairly slow (but faster than adagio) adagio At ease (i.e. play slowly) adagissimo Very, very slow affannato, affannoso Anguished affetto or con affetto with affect (that is, with emotion) affettuoso, affettuosamente, or affectueusement (Fr.) With affect (that is, with emotion); see also con affetto affrettando Hurrying, pressing onwards agile Swiftly agitato Agitated al or alla To the, in the manner of (al before masculine nouns, alla before feminine) alcuna licenza lit.
"no restriction", used in con alcuna licenza to mean (play) with some freedom in the time, see rubato all' ottava "at the octave", see ottava alla breve In cut-time; two beats per measure or the equivalent thereof alla marcia In the style of a march alla polacca In the style of a Polonaise, a 3/4 dance allargando Broadening, becoming a little slower each time allegretto A little lively, moderately fast allegretto vivace A moderately quick tempo allegrezza Cheerfulness, joyfulness allegrissimo Very fast, though slower than presto allegro Cheerful or brisk; but commonly interpreted as lively, fast als (Ger.
) Than alt (Eng.), alt dom, or altered dominant A jazz term which instructs chord-playing musicians such as a jazz pianist or jazz guitarist to perform a dominant (V7) chord with at least one (often both) altered (sharpened or flattened) 5th or 9th altissimo Very high alto High; often refers to a particular range of voice, higher than a tenor but lower than a soprano alzate sordini Lift or raise the mutes (i.
e. remove mutes) am Steg (Ger.) At the bridge (i.e. playing a bowed string instrument near its bridge, which produces a heavier, stronger tone). See sul ponticello. amabile Amiable, pleasant ambitus Range between highest and lowest note amore or amor (in Spanish/Portuguese and sometimes in Italian) Love, con amore: with love, tenderly amoroso Loving anacrusis A note or notes that precede the first full bar; a pickup andamento Used to refer to a fugue subject of above-average length andante At a walking pace (i.
e. at a moderate tempo) andantino Slightly faster than andante (but earlier it is sometimes used to mean slightly slower than andante) ängstlich (Ger.) Anxiously anima Life; feeling con anima : With feeling animandosi Animated, lively animato Animated, lively antiphon A liturgical or other composition consisting of choral responses, sometimes between two choirs; a passage of this nature forming part of another composition; a repeated passage in a psalm or other liturgical piece, similar to a refrain.
 antiphonal A style of composition in which two sections of singers or instrumentalists exchange sections or music one after the other; typically the performers are on different sides of a hall or venue apaisé (Fr.) Calmed appassionato Passionately appoggiatura or leaning note One or more grace notes that take up some note value of the next full note. arco The bow used for playing some string instrument (i.
e. played with the bow, as opposed to pizzicato, in music for bowed instruments); normally used to cancel a pizzicato direction aria Self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment (which may be provided by a pianist using an orchestral reduction) arietta A short aria arioso Airy, or like an air (a melody) (i.e. in the manner of an aria); melodious armonioso Harmoniously arpeggio, arpeggiato like a harp (i.
e. the notes of the chords are to be played quickly one after another instead of simultaneously). In music for piano, this is sometimes a solution in playing a wide-ranging chord whose notes cannot be played otherwise. Arpeggios are frequently used as an accompaniment. See also broken chord. articulato Articulately assai Much, Very much assez (Fr.) Enough, sufficiently attacca Attack or attach; go straight on (i.
e. at the end of a movement, a direction to attach the next movement to the previous one, without a gap or pause) Ausdruck (Ger.) Expression ausdrucksvoll or mit Ausdruck (Ger.) Expressively, with expression avec (Fr.) With or with another B B German for B flat (also in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, Danish, Croatian, Estonian and Hungarian); H in German is B natural ballabile (from the Italian Ballabile meaning "danceable") In ballet the term refers to a dance performed by the corps de ballet.
The term Grand ballabile is used if nearly all participants (including principal characters) of a particular scene in a full-length work perform a large-scale dance. barbaro Barbarous (notably used in Allegro barbaro by Béla Bartók) Bartók pizzicato A term that instructs string performers to play a pizzicato note to pull the string away from the fingerboard so that it snaps back percussively on the fingerboard.
bass The lowest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano); the lowest melodic line in a musical composition, often thought of as defining and supporting the harmony; in an orchestral context, the term usually refers to the double bass. basso continuo Continuous bass (i.e. a bass accompaniment part played continuously throughout a piece by a chordal instrument (pipe organ, harpischord, lute, etc.
), often with a bass instrument, to give harmonic structure), used especially in the Baroque period battement (Fr.) Used in the 17th-century to refer to ornaments consisting of two adjacent notes, such as trills or mordents battuto (Ital.) To strike the strings with the bow (on a bowed stringed instrument) beat 1. The pronounced rhythm of music 2. One single stroke of a rhythmic accent belebt or belebter (Ger.
) Spirited, vivacious, lively bellicoso Warlike, aggressive (English cognate is "bellicose") ben or bene Well; in ben marcato ("well marked") for example bend Jazz term referring either to establishing a pitch, sliding down half a step and returning to the original pitch or sliding up half a step from the original note. beschleunigte (Ger.) Accelerated, as in mit beschleunigter Geschwindigkeit, at an accelerated tempo bewegt (Ger.
) Moved, with speed binary A musical form in two sections: AB bird's eye A slang term for fermata, which instructs the performer to hold a note or chord as long as they wish of following cues from a conductor bis (Lat.) Twice (i.e. repeat the relevant action or passage) bisbigliando Whispering (i.e. a special tremolo effect on the harp where a chord or note is rapidly repeated at a low volume) bocca chiusa with closed mouth (sometimes abbreviated B.
C.) bravura Boldness; as in con bravura, boldly breit (Ger.) Broad bridge 1. Transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, or between two A sections (e.g., in an A/B/A form). 2. Part of a violin family or guitar/lute stringed instrument that holds the strings in place and transmits their vibrations to the resonant body of the instrument. brillante Brilliantly, with sparkle.
Play in a showy and spirited style. brio or brioso Vigour; usually in con brio: with spirit or vigour broken chord A chord in which the notes are not all played at once, but in some more or less consistent sequence. They may follow singly one after the other, or two notes may be immediately followed by another two, for example. See also arpeggio, which as an accompaniment pattern may be seen as a kind of broken chord; see Alberti bass.
bruscamente Brusquely C cabaletta The concluding, rapid, audience-rousing section of an aria cadence A melodic or harmonic configuration that creates a sense of resolution cadenza A solo section, usually in a concerto or similar work, that is used to display the performer's technique, sometimes at considerable length calando Falling away, or lowering (i.e. getting slower and quieter; ritardando along with diminuendo) calma Calm; so con calma, calmly.
Also calmato meaning calmed, relaxed calore Warmth; so con calore, warmly cambiare To change (i.e. any change, such as to a new instrument) canon or kanon (Ger.) A theme that is repeated and imitated and built upon by other instruments with a time delay, creating a layered effect; see Pachelbel's Canon. cantabile or cantando In a singing style. In instrumental music, a style of playing that imitates the way the human voice might express the music, with a measured tempo and flexible, legato.
canto Chorus; choral; chant capo 1. capo (short for capotasto: "nut") : A key-changing device for stringed instruments (e.g. guitars and banjos) 2. head (i.e. the beginning, as in da capo) capriccio "A humorous, fanciful, or bizarre, composition, often characterized by an idiosyncratic departure from current stylistic norms."See also: Capriccio (disambiguation) capriccioso Capriciously, unpredictable, volatile cavalleresco Chivalrous (used in Carl Nielsen's violin concerto) cédez (Fr.
) Yield, give way cesura or caesura (Lat.) Break, stop; (i.e. a complete break in sound) (sometimes nicknamed "railroad tracks" in reference to their appearance) chiuso Closed (i.e. muted by hand) (for a horn, or similar instrument; but see also bocca chiusa, which uses the feminine form) coda A tail (i.e. a closing section appended to a movement) codetta A small coda, but usually applied to a passage appended to a section of a movement, not to a whole movement col or colla with the (col before a masculine noun, colla before a feminine noun); (see next for example) col legno With the wood (i.
e. the strings) (for example, of a violin) are to be struck with the wood of the bow, making a percussive sound; also battuta col legno: beaten with the wood col pugno With the fist (i.e. bang the piano with the fist) coll'ottava With the addition of the octave note above or below the written note; abbreviated as col 8, coll' 8, and c. 8va colla parte With the soloist; as an instruction in an orchestral score or part, it instructs the conductor or orchestral musician to follow the rhythm and tempo of a solo performer (usually for a short passage) colla voce With the voice; as an instruction in a choral music/opera score or orchestral part, it instructs the conductor or orchestral musician to follow the rhythm and tempo of a solo singer (usually for a short passage) coloratura Coloration (i.
e. elaborate ornamentation of a vocal line, or a soprano voice that is well-suited to such elaboration) colossale Tremendously come prima Like the first (time) (i.e. as before, typically referring to an earlier tempo) come sopra As above (i.e. like the previous tempo) common time The time signature 44: four beats per measure, each beat a quarter note (a crotchet) in length. 44 is often written on the musical staff as .
The symbol is not a C as an abbreviation for common time, but a broken circle; the full circle at one time stood for triple time, 34. comodo Comfortable (i.e. at moderate speed); also, allegro comodo, tempo comodo, etc. comp 1. abbreviation of accompanying, accompanying music, accompaniment 2. describes the chords, rhythms,and countermelodies that instrumental players used to support a musician's melody and improvised solos.
3. Ostinato comping 1. to comp ; action of accompanying. con With; used in very many musical directions, for example con allegrezza (with liveliness), con amore (with tenderness); (see also col and colla) con sordina or con sordine (plural) With a mute, or with mutes. Frequently seen in music as (incorrect Italian) con sordino, or con sordini (plural). conjunct An adjective applied to a melodic line that moves by step (intervals of a 2nd) rather in disjunct motion (by leap).
contralto Lowest female singing voice type contrapuntalism See counterpoint coperti (plural of coperto) covered (i.e. on a drum, muted with a cloth) corda String. On piano refers to use of the soft pedal which controls whether the hammer strikes one or three strings; see una corda, tre corde below. count Series of regularly occurring sounds to assist with ready identification of beat crescendo Growing; (i.
e. progressively louder) (contrast diminuendo) cuivré Brassy. Used almost exclusively as a French Horn technique to indicate a forced, rough tone. A note marked both stopped and loud will be cuivré automatically custos Symbol at the very end of a staff of music which indicates the pitch for the first note of the next line as a warning of what is to come. The custos was commonly used in handwritten Renaissance and typeset Baroque music.
cut time Same as the meter 22: two half-note (minim) beats per measure. Notated and executed like common time (44), except with the beat lengths doubled. Indicated by . This comes from a literal cut of the symbol of common time. Thus, a quarter note in cut time is only half a beat long, and a measure has only two beats. See also alla breve. D da capo From the head (i.e. from the beginning) (see also capo) Dal segno (D.
S.) From the sign () dal segno al coda (D.S. al coda) Repeat to the sign and continue to the coda sign, then play coda dal segno al fine (D.S. al fine) From the sign to the end (i.e. return to a place in the music designated by the sign and continue to the end of the piece) dal segno segno al coda (D.S.S. al coda) Same as D.S. al coda, but with a double segno dal segno segno al fine (D.S.S.
al fine) From the double sign to the end (i.e. return to place in the music designated by the double sign (see D.S. al coda) and continue to the end of the piece) decelerando Slowing down; decelerating; opposite of accelerando (same as ritardando or rallentando) deciso Decisively declamando Solemn, expressive, impassioned decrescendo (decresc.) Gradually decreasing volume (same as diminuendo) deest From the Latin deesse meaning to be missing; placed after a catalogue abbreviation to indicate that this particular work does not appear in it.
 The plural, desunt, is used when referring to several works. delicatamente or delicato Delicately détaché (Fr.) Act of playing notes separately devoto Religiously diminuendo, dim. Dwindling (i.e. with gradually decreasing volume) (same as decrescendo) disjunct An adjective applied to a melodic line which moves by leap (intervals of more than a 2nd) as opposed to conjunct motion (by step) di Of dissonante Dissonant divisi (div.
) Divided (i.e. in a part in which several musicians normally play exactly the same notes they are instead to split the playing of the written simultaneous notes among themselves). It is most often used for string instruments, since with them another means of execution is often possible. (The return from divisi is marked unisono.) doit Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically upwards.
dolce Sweetly dolcissimo Very sweetly dolente Sorrowfully, plaintively dolore Pain, distress, sorrow, grief con dolore: with sadness doloroso Sorrowfully, plaintively doppio movimento Twice as fast double dot Two dots placed side by side after a note to indicate that it is to be lengthened by three quarters of its value. double stop The technique of playing two notes simultaneously on a bowed string instrument downtempo A slow, moody, or decreased tempo or played or done in such a tempo.
It also refers to a genre of electronic music based on this (downtempo). drammatico Dramatically drone Bass note or chord performed continuously throughout a composition drop Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically downwards duolo (Ital.) grief dumpf (Ger.) Dull Dur (Ger.) major; used in key signatures as, for example, A-Dur (A major), B-Dur (B♭ major), or H-Dur (B major).
(see also Moll (minor).) dynamics The relative volume in the execution of a piece of music E e (Ital.) or ed (Ital., – used before vowels) And eco The Italian word for "echo"; an effect in which a group of notes is repeated, usually more softly, and perhaps at a different octave, to create an echo effect ein wenig (Ger.) A little Empfindung (Ger.) Feeling en dehors (Fr.) Prominently en pressant (Fr.
) Hurrying forward en retenant (Fr.) Slowing encore (Fr.) Again (i.e. perform the relevant passage once more); a performer returning to the stage to perform an unlisted piece energico Energetic, strong enfatico Emphatically eroico Heroically espansivo Effusive; excessive in emotional expression; gushy. espirando Expiring (i.e. dying away) espressione Expression; expressively (e.g.
con (gran, molta) espressione: with (great, much) expression) espressivo, espress. or espr. (Italian) Expressively estinto Extinct, extinguished (i.e. as soft as possible, lifeless, barely audible) esultazione With Exultation etwas (Ger.) Somewhat F facile Easily, without fuss fall Jazz term describing a note of definite pitch sliding downwards to another note of definite pitch. falsetto vocal register above the normal voice fantasia A piece not adhering to any strict musical form.
Can also be used in con fantasia: with imagination feierlich (Ger.) Solemn, solemnly fermata Finished, closed (i.e. a rest or note is to be held for a duration that is at the discretion of the performer or conductor) (sometimes called bird's eye); a fermata at the end of a first or intermediate movement or section is usually moderately prolonged, but the final fermata of a symphony may be prolonged for longer than the note's value, typically twice its printed length or more for dramatic effect.
feroce Ferociously festivamente Cheerfully, celebratory feurig (Ger.) Fiery fieramente Proudly fil di voce "thread of voice", very quiet, pianissimo fill (Eng.) A jazz or rock term which instructs performers to improvise a scalar passage or riff to "fill in" the brief time between lyrical phrases, the lines of melody, or between two sections fine The end, often in phrases like al fine (to the end) flat A symbol (♭) that lowers the pitch of a note by a semitone.
The term may also be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a singer or musician is performing a note in which the intonation is an eighth or a quarter of a semitone too low. flautando or flautendo Flutelike; used especially for string instruments to indicate a light, rapid bowing over the fingerboard flebile Mournfully flessibile flexible focoso or fuocoso Fiery (i.e. passionately) forte (f) Strong (i.
e. to be played or sung loudly) forte piano (fp) Strong-gentle (i.e. loud, then immediately soft (see dynamics), or an early pianoforte) fortissimo (ff) Very loud (see note at pianissimo) fortississimo (fff) As loud as possible forza Musical force con forza: with force forzando (fz) See sforzando freddo Cold(ly); hence depressive, unemotional fresco Freshly fröhlich (Ger.) Lively, joyfully fugue (Fr.
), fuga (Latin and Italian) Literally "flight"; hence a complex and highly regimented contrapuntal form in music. A short theme (the subject) is introduced in one voice (or part) alone, then in others, with imitation and characteristic development as the piece progresses. funebre Funeral; often seen as marcia funebre (funeral march), indicating a stately and plodding tempo. fuoco Fire; con fuoco: with fire, in a fiery manner furia Fury furioso Furiously G G.
P. Grand Pause, General Pause; indicates to the performers that the entire ensemble has a rest of indeterminate length, often as a dramatic effect during a loud section gaudioso With joy gemächlich (Ger.) Unhurried, at a leisurely pace gemendo Groaningly gentile Gently geschwind (Ger.) Quickly geteilt (Ger.) See divisi getragen (Ger.) Solemnly, in a stately tempo giocoso or gioioso Gaily giusto Strictly, exactly (e.
g. tempo giusto in strict time) glissando A continuous sliding from one pitch to another (a true glissando), or an incidental scale executed while moving from one melodic note to another (an effective glissando). See glissando for further information; and compare portamento. grace note An extra note added as an embellishment and not essential to the harmony or melody. grandioso Grandly grave Slowly and seriously grazioso Gracefully guerriero War-like, militarily gustoso With happy emphasis and forcefulness H H German for B natural; B in German means B flat Hauptstimme (Ger.
) Main voice, chief part (i.e. the contrapuntal line of primary importance, in opposition to Nebenstimme) hemiola (English, from Greek) The imposition of a pattern of rhythm or articulation other than that implied by the time signature; specifically, in triple time (for example in 34) the imposition of a duple pattern (as if the time signature were, for example, 24). See Syncopation. hervortretend (Ger.
) Prominent, pronounced Hold, see Fermata Homophony A musical texture with one voice (or melody line) accompanied by subordinate chords; also used as an adjective (homophonic). Compare with polyphony, in which several independent voices or melody lines are performed at the same time. I immer (Ger.) Always imperioso Imperiously impetuoso Impetuously improvvisando With improvisation improvvisato Improvised, or as if improvised improvise To create music at the spur of the moment, spontaneously, and without preparation (often over a given harmonic framework or chord progression) in alt octave above the treble staff, G5 to F6 in altissimo Octave above the in alt octave, G6 to F7 in modo di In the art of, in the style of in stand A term for brass players that requires them to direct the bell of their instrument into the music stand, instead of up and toward the audience, thus muting the sound but without changing the timbre as a mute would incalzando Getting faster and louder innig Intimately, heartfelt insistendo Insistently, deliberate intimo Intimately intro Opening section of a piece irato Angrily -issimamente A suffix meaning as .
.. as can be (e.g. leggerissimamente, meaning as light as can be) -issimo A suffix meaning extremely (e.g. fortissimo or prestissimo) J Jazz standard (or simply "standard") A well-known composition from the jazz repertoire which is widely played and recorded. jete (Fr. jeté) Jump; a bowing technique in which the player is instructed to let the bow bounce or jump off the strings. K keyboardist (Eng.
) A musician who plays any instrument with a keyboard. In Classical music, this may refer to instruments such as the piano, pipe organ, harpsichord, and so on. In a jazz or popular music context, this may refer to instruments such as the piano, electric piano, synthesizer, Hammond organ, and so on. Klangfarbenmelodie (Ger.) "tone-color-melody", distribution of pitch or melody among instruments, varying timbre kräftig (Ger.
) Strongly L lacrimoso or lagrimoso Tearfully (i.e. sadly) laissez vibrer, l.v. (Fr.) French for lasciare suonare ("let vibrate"). lamentando Lamenting, mournfully lamentoso Lamenting, mournfully langsam (Ger.) Slowly largamente Broadly (i.e. slowly) (same as largo) larghetto Somewhat slowly; not as slow as largo larghezza Broadness; con larghezza: with broadness; broadly larghissimo Very slowly; slower than largo largo Broadly (i.
e. slowly) lasciare suonare "Let ring", meaning allow the sound to continue, do not damp; used frequently in harp or guitar music, occasionally in piano or percussion. Abbreviated "lasc. suon." leap or skip A melodic interval greater than a major 2nd, as opposed to a step. Melodies which move by a leap are called "disjunct". Octave leaps are not uncommon in florid vocal music. lebhaft (Ger.) Briskly, lively legato Joined (i.
e. smoothly, in a connected manner) (see also articulation) leggierissimo Very lightly and delicately leggiero, leggiermente or leggiadro Lightly, delicately (The different forms of this word, including leggierezza, "lightness", are properly spelled without the i in Italian, i.e. leggero, leggerissimo, leggermente or leggerezza.) leidenschaftlich(er) (Ger.) Passionately lent (Fr.) Slowly lentando Gradual slowing and softer lentissimo Very slowly lento Slowly liberamente Freely libero Free, freely lilt A jaunty rhythm l'istesso, l'istesso tempo, or lo stesso tempo The same tempo, despite changes of time signature, see metric modulation lo stesso The same; applied to the manner of articulation, tempo, etc.
loco [in] place (i.e. perform the notes at the pitch written, generally used to cancel an 8va or 8vb direction). In string music, also used to indicate return to normal playing position (see Playing the violin). long accent Hit hard and keep full value of note (>) lontano From a distance; distantly lugubre Lugubrious, mournful luminoso Luminously lunga Long (often applied to a fermata) lusingando, lusinghiero Coaxingly, flatteringly, caressingly M ma But ma non troppo, ma non tanto But not too much maestoso Majestically, in a stately fashion maggiore The major key magico Magically magnifico Magnificent main droite (Fr.
) [played with the] right hand (abbreviation: MD or m.d.) main gauche (Fr.) [played with the] left hand (abbreviation: MG or m.g.) malinconico Melancholic mancando Dying away mano destra [played with the] right hand (abbreviation: MD or m.d.) mano sinistra [played with the] left hand (abbreviation: MS or m.s.) marcatissimo With much accentuation marcato, marc. Marked (i.e. with accentuation, execute every note as if it were to be accented) marcia A march; alla marcia means in the manner of a march martellato Hammered out marziale Martial, solemn and fierce mäßig (Ger.
) (sometimes given as "mässig", "maessig") Moderately MD See mano destra or main droite measure (Eng.) Also "bar" the period of a musical piece that encompasses a complete cycle of the time signature (e.g. in 44 time, a measure has four quarter note beats) medesimo tempo Same tempo, despite changes of time signature medley Piece composed from parts of existing pieces, usually three, played one after another, sometimes overlapping.
melancolico Melancholic melisma The technique of changing the note (pitch) of a syllable of text while it is being sung meno Less; see meno mosso, for example, less mosso messa di voce In singing, a controlled swell (i.e. crescendo then diminuendo, on a long held note, especially in Baroque music and in the bel canto period) mesto Mournful, sad meter or metre The pattern of a music piece's rhythm of strong and weak beats mezza voce Half voice (i.
e. with subdued or moderated volume) mezzo Half; used in combinations like mezzo forte (mf), meaning moderately loud mezzo forte (mf) Half loudly (i.e. moderately loudly). See dynamics. mezzo piano (mp) Half softly (i.e. moderately softly). See dynamics. mezzo-soprano A female singer with a range usually extending from the A below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a darker vocal tone than sopranos, and their vocal range is between that of a soprano and that of a contralto.
MG See main gauche misterioso Mysteriously mit Dämpfer (Ger.) With a mute M.M. Metronome Marking. Formerly "Mälzel Metronome." mobile Flexible, changeable moderato Moderate; often combined with other terms, usually relating to tempo; for example, allegro moderato modere (Fr.) Moderately modesto Modest modulation The act or process of changing from one key (tonic, or tonal center) to another.
This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Moll (Ger.) minor; used in key signatures as, for example, a-Moll (A minor), b-Moll (B♭ minor), or h-Moll (B minor) (see also Dur (major)) molto Very mordent Rapid alternation of a note with the note immediately below or above it in the scale, sometimes further distinguished as lower mordent and upper mordent. The term "inverted mordent" usually refers to the upper mordent.
morendo Dying (i.e. dying away in dynamics, and perhaps also in tempo) mosso Moved, moving; used with a preceding più or meno, for faster or slower respectively moto Motion; usually seen as con moto, meaning with motion or quickly movement A section of a musical composition (such as a sonata or concerto) MS See mano sinistra munter (Ger.) Lively Musette (Fr.) A dance or tune of a drone-bass character, originally played by a musette muta [in.
..] Change: either a change of instrument (e.g. flute to piccolo, horn in F to horn in B♭); or a change of tuning (e.g. guitar muta 6 in D). Note: does not mean "mute", for which con sordina or con sordino is used.Muta comes from the Italian verb mutare (to change into something). N nach und nach (Ger.) Literally "more and more" with an increasing feeling. Ex. "nach und nach belebter und leidenschaftlicher" (with increasing animation and passion) narrante Narratingly natural A symbol (♮) that cancels the effect of a sharp or a flat naturale (nat.
) Natural (i.e. discontinue a special effect, such as col legno, sul tasto, sul ponticello, or playing in harmonics) N.C. No chord, written in the chord row of music notation to show there is no chord being played, and no implied harmony Nebenstimme (Ger.) Secondary part (i.e. a secondary contrapuntal part, always occurring simultaneously with, and subsidiary to, the Hauptstimme) nicht (Ger.) Not niente "nothing", barely audible, dying away, sometimes indicated with a dynamic n nobile or nobilmente (Ital.
) or Noblement (Fr.) In a noble fashion noblezza Nobility nocturne (Fr.) A piece written for the night notes inégales (Fr.) Unequal notes; a principally Baroque performance practice of applying long-short rhythms to pairs of notes written as equal; see also swung note notturno See nocturne. number opera An opera consisting of "numbers" (e.g. arias, intermixed with recitative) O obbligato Required, indispensable octave Interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency.
Twelve semitones equals an octave, so does the first and eighth (hence "oct"ave) note in a major or minor scale. ohne Dämpfer (Ger.) Without a mute omaggio Homage, celebration one-voice-per-part (OVPP) The practice of using solo voices on each musical line or part in choral music. ordinario (ord.) (Ital.) In bowed string music, an indication to discontinue extended techniques such as sul ponticello, sul tasto or col legno, and return to normal playing.
The same as "naturale". organ trio In jazz or rock, a group of three musicians which includes a Hammond organ player and two other instruments, often an electric guitar player and a drummer. ossia or oppure Or instead (i.e. according to some specified alternative way of performing a passage, which is marked with a footnote, additional small notes, or an additional staff) ostinato Obstinate, persistent (i.
e. a short musical pattern that is repeated throughout an entire composition or portion of a composition) ottava Octave (e.g. ottava bassa: an octave lower) overture An orchestral composition forming the prelude or introduction to an opera, oratorio, etc. P parlando or parlante Like speech, enunciated Partitur (Ger.) Full orchestral score passionato Passionately pastorale In a pastoral style, peaceful and simple patetico Passionately, with great emotion.
A related term is Pathetique: A name attributed to certain works with an emotional focus such as Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony. pausa rest pedale or ped In piano scores, this instructs the player to press the damper pedal to sustain the note or chord being played. The player may be instructed to release the pedal with an asterisk marking (*). In organ scores, it tells the organist that a section is to be performed on the bass pedalboard with the feet.
penseroso Thoughtfully, meditatively perdendosi Dying away; decrease in dynamics, perhaps also in tempo pesante Heavy, ponderous peu à peu (Fr.) Little by little pezzo A composition piacevole Pleasant, agreeable piangendo Literally 'crying' (used in Liszt's La Lugubre Gondola no. 2). piangevole Plaintive: pianissimo (pp) very gently (i.e. perform very softly, even softer than piano).
This convention can be extended; the more ps that are written, the softer the composer wants the musician to play or sing, thus ppp (pianississimo) would be softer than pp. Dynamics in a piece should be interpreted relative to the other dynamics in the same piece. For example, pp should be executed as softly as possible, but if ppp is found later in the piece, pp should be markedly louder than ppp.
More than three ps (ppp) or three fs (fff) are uncommon. piano (p) Gently (i.e. played or sung softly) (see dynamics) piano-vocal score The same as a vocal score, a piano arrangement along with the vocal parts of an opera, cantata, or similar Picardy third A Picardy third, Picardy cadence (ˈpɪkərdi ) or, in French, tierce picarde is a harmonic device used in Western classical music.It refers to the use of a major chord of the tonic at the end of a musical section that is either modal or in a minor key.
pienna (Ital.) Full, as, for example, a voce pienna = "in full voice" pietoso Pitiful, piteous più More; see mosso piuttosto Rather, somewhat (e.g. allegro piuttosto presto) pizzicato Pinched, plucked (i.e. in music for bowed strings, plucked with the fingers as opposed to played with the bow; compare arco, which is inserted to cancel a pizzicato instruction; in music for guitar, to mute the strings by resting the palm on the bridge, simlulating the sound of pizz.
of the bowed string instruments) plop Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically downwards. pochettino or poch. Very little; diminutive of poco pochissimo or pochiss. Very little; superlative of poco poco A little, as in poco più allegro (a little faster) poco a poco Little by little poetico Poetic discourse poi Then, indicating a subsequent instruction in a sequence; diminuendo poi subito fortissimo, for example: getting softer then suddenly very loud pomposo Pompous, ceremonious ponticello (pont.
) On the bridge (i.e. in string playing, an indication to bow or to pluck very near to the bridge, producing a characteristic glassy sound, which emphasizes the higher harmonics at the expense of the fundamental); the opposite of sul tasto portamento Carrying (i.e. 1. generally, sliding in pitch from one note to another, usually pausing just above or below the final pitch, then sliding quickly to that pitch.
If no pause is executed, then it is a basic glissando; or 2. in piano music, an articulation between legato and staccato, like portato) portato or louré Carried (i.e. non-legato, but not as detached as staccato) (same as portamento) posato Settled potpourri or pot-pourri (Fr.) Potpourri (as used in other senses in English) (i.e. a kind of musical form structured as ABCDEF... etc.; the same as medley or, sometimes, fantasia) precipitato Precipitately prelude, prélude (Fr.
), preludio (It), praeludium (Lat.), präludium (Ger.) A musical introduction to subsequent movements during the Baroque era (1600's/17th century). It can also be a movement in its own right, which was more common in the Romantic era (mid-1700s/18th century) prestissimo Extremely quickly, as fast as possible presto Very quickly prima or primo (the masculine form) First prima donna Leading female singer in an opera company prima volta The first time; for example prima volta senza accompagnamento (the first time without accompaniment) Q quartal Composed of the musical interval of the fourth; as in quartal harmony quarter tone Half of a semitone; a pitch division not used in most Western music notation, except in some contemporary art music or experimental music.
Quarter tones are used in Western popular music forms such as jazz and blues and in a variety of non-Western musical cultures. quasi (Latin and Italian) As if, almost (e.g. quasi recitativo like a recitative in an opera, or quasi una fantasia like a fantasia) quintal Composed of the musical interval of the fifth; as in quintal harmony R rallentando or rall. Broadening of the tempo (often not discernible from ritardando); progressively slower rapide (Fr.
) Fast rapido Fast rasch (Ger.) Fast rasguedo (Spa) (on the guitar) to play strings with the back of the fingernail; esp. to fan the strings rapidly with the nails of multiple fingers ravvivando (Ital., "reviving") Quicken pace (as "ravvivando il tempo", returning to a faster tempo that occurred earlier in the piece) recitativo Recitatively; one voice without accompaniment religioso Religiously repente Suddenly reprise Repeat a phrase or verse; return to the original theme restez (Fr.
) Stay (i.e. remain on a note or string) retenu (Fr.) Hold back; same as the Italian ritenuto (see below) ridicolosamente or ridicolo Humorously, inaccurate, and loosely rilassato Relaxed rinforzando (rf or rinf.) Reinforced (i.e. emphasized); sometimes like a sudden crescendo, but often applied to a single note risoluto Resolutely rit. An abbreviation for ritardando; also an abbreviation for ritenuto ritardando, ritard.
, rit. Slowing down; decelerating; opposite of accelerando ritenuto, riten., rit. Suddenly slower, held back (usually more so but more temporarily than a ritardando, and it may, unlike ritardando, apply to a single note); opposite of accelerato ritmico Rhythmical ritmo Rhythm (e.g. ritmo di # battute meaning a rhythm of # measures) ritornello A recurring passage for orchestra in the first or final movement of a solo concerto or aria (also in works for chorus).
rolled chord See Arpeggio rondo A musical form in which a certain section returns repeatedly, interspersed with other sections: ABACA is a typical structure or ABACABA roulade (Fr.) A rolling (i.e. a florid vocal phrase) rubato Robbed (i.e. flexible in tempo), applied to notes within a musical phrase for expressive effect ruhig (Ger.) Calm, peaceful run A rapid series of ascending or descending musical notes which are closely spaced in pitch forming a scale, arpeggio, or other such pattern ruvido Roughly S saltando Bouncing the bow as in a staccato arpeggio, literally means "jumping" sanft (Ger.
) Gently scatenato Unchained, wildly scherzando, scherzoso Playfully scherzo A light, "joking" or playful musical form, originally and usually in fast triple metre, often replacing the minuet in the later Classical period and the Romantic period, in symphonies, sonatas, string quartets and the like; in the 19th century some scherzi were independent movements for piano, etc. schleppend, schleppen (Ger.
) In a dragging manner, to drag; usually nicht schleppen ("don't drag"), paired with nicht eilen ("don't hurry") in Gustav Mahler's scores schnell (Ger.) Fast schneller (Ger.) Faster schwer (Ger.) Heavy schwungvoll (Ger.) Lively, swinging, bold, spirited scioltezza Fluency, agility (used in con scioltezza) scordatura Altered or alternative tuning used for the strings of a string instrument) scorrendo, scorrevole Gliding from note to note secco (sec) (Fr.
) Dry (sparse accompaniment, staccato, without resonance); with basso continuo accompaniment, this often means that only the chordal instrument will play, with the sustained bass instrument not playing segno sign, usually Dal segno (see above) "from the sign", indicating a return to the point marked by segue Carry on to the next section without a pause sehr (Ger.) Very semitone The smallest pitch difference between notes (in most Western music) (e.
g. F–F♯) (Note: some contemporary music, non-Western music, and blues and jazz uses microtonal divisions smaller than a semitone) semplice Simply sempre Always sentimento Feeling, emotion sentito Expressively senza Without senza misura Without measure senza replica Without repetition: "when a movement, repeated in the first instance, must, on the Da Capo, be played throughout without repetition.
" senza sordina or senza sordine (plural) Without the mute. See sordina. serioso Seriously sforzando (sf or sfz) Made loud (i.e. a sudden strong accent) shake A jazz term describing a trill between one note and its minor third; or, with brass instruments, between a note and its next overblown harmonic. sharp A symbol (♯) that raises the pitch of the note by a semitone. The term may also be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a singer or musician is performing a note in which the intonation is somewhat too high in pitch.
short accent Hit the note hard and short (^) si (Fr.) Seventh note of the series ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in fixed-doh solmization. siciliana A Sicilian dance in 128 or 68 meter sign See segno silenzio Silence (i.e. without reverberations) simile Similarly (i.e. continue applying the preceding directive, whatever it was, to the following passage) sipario Curtain (stage) slancio Momentum, con slancio: with momentum; with enthusiasm slargando or slentando Becoming broader or slower (that is, becoming more largo or more lento) smorzando (smorz.
) Extinguishing or dampening; usually interpreted as a drop in dynamics, and very often in tempo as well soave Smoothly, gently sognando Dreamily solenne Solemn solo or soli (plural) Alone (i.e. executed by a single instrument or voice). The instruction soli requires more than one player or singer; in a jazz big band this refers to an entire section playing in harmony. In orchestral works, soli refers to a divided string section with only one player to a line.
solo break A jazz term that instructs a lead player or rhythm section member to play an improvised solo cadenza for one or two measures (sometimes abbreviated as "break"), without any accompaniment. The solo part is often played in a rhythmically free manner, until the player performs a pickup or lead-in line, at which time the band recommences playing in the original tempo. somma (Ital.) Sum; total, con somma passione: with great passion sonata A piece played as opposed to sung.
sonatina A little sonata sonatine A little sonata, used in some countries instead of sonatina sonore Sonorous (Deep or ringing sound) sonoro Ringing sopra Above sopra una corda or sull'istessa corda To be played on one string soprano The highest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano) sordina, sordine (plural) A mute, Note: sordina, with plural sordine, is strictly correct Italian, but the forms sordino and sordini are much more commonly used as terms in music.
Instruments can have their tone muted with wood, rubber, metal, or plastic devices, (for string instruments, mutes are clipped to the bridge; for brass instruments, mutes are inserted in the bell), or parts of the body (guitar; French Horn), or fabric (clarinet; timpani), among other means. In piano music (notably in Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata), senza sordini or senza sordina (or some variant) is sometimes used to mean keep the sustain pedal depressed, since the sustain pedal lifts the dampers off the strings, with the effect that all notes are sustained indefinitely.
sordino See sordina. sortita A principal singer's first entrance in an opera sospirando Sighing sostendo (Galican) holding back, (notably used in El Camino Real by Alfred Reed) sostenuto Sustained, lengthened sotto voce In an undertone (i.e. quietly) spianato Smooth, even spiccato Distinct, separated (i.e. a way of playing the violin and other bowed instruments by bouncing the bow on the string, giving a characteristic staccato effect) spinto Literally "pushed" spirito Spirit, con spirito: with spirit; with feeling spiritoso Spiritedly staccato Making each note brief and detached; the opposite of legato.
In musical notation, a small dot under or over the head of the note indicates that it is to be articulated as staccato. stanza A verse of a song stentando or stentato (sten. or stent.) Labored, heavy, in a dragging manner, holding back each note stornello Originally truly 'improvised' now taken as 'appearing to be improvised,' an Italian 'folk' song, the style of which used for example by Puccini in certain of his operas.
strascinando or strascicante Indicating a passage should be played in a heavily slurred manner strepitoso Noisy, forceful stretto Tight, narrow (i.e. faster or hastening ahead); also, a passage in a fugue in which the contrapuntal texture is denser, with close overlapping entries of the subject in different voices; by extension, similar closely imitative passages in other compositions stringendo Gradually getting faster (literally, tightening, narrowing) (i.
e. with a pressing forward or acceleration of the tempo, that is, becoming stretto) strisciando To be played with a smooth slur, a glissando subito Suddenly (e.g. subito pp, which instructs the player to suddenly drop to pianissimo as an effect); often abbreviated as sub. sul (Ital.) Literally, "on", as in sul ponticello (on the bridge); sul tasto (on the fingerboard); sul E (on the E string), etc.
sul E "on E", indicating a passage is to be played on the E string of a violin. Also seen: sul A, sul D, sul G, sul C, indicating a passage to be played on one of the other strings of a string instrument. suono reale Actual sound. Primarily used with notated harmonics where the written pitch is also the sounding pitch. sur la touche (Fr.) Sul tasto syncopation A disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of downbeat rhythm with emphasis on the sub-division or up-beat (e.
g. in Ragtime music). T tacet Silent; do not play tasto or tastierra (tast.) On the fingerboard (i.e. in string playing, an indication to bow or to pluck over the fingerboard); playing over the fingerboard produces a duller, less harmonically rich, gentler tone. The opposite of sul ponticello. tasto solo 'single key'; used on a basso continuo part to indicate that the notes should be played only by the bass instrument, without harmony/chords played by the harpsichordist/organist tempo Time (i.
e. the overall speed of a piece of music) tempo di marcia March tempo tempo di mezzo The middle section of a double aria, commonly found in bel canto era Italian operas, especially those of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and their contemporaries as well in many early operas by Verdi. When present, the tempo di mezzo generally signals a shift in the drama from the slow cantabile of the first part to the cabaletta of the second, and this can take the form of some dramatic announcement or action to which the character(s) react in the cabaletta finale.
 tempo di valse Waltz tempo tempo giusto In strict time tempo primo, tempo uno, or tempo I (sometimes tempo I° or tempo 1ero) Resume the original speed tempo rubato "Robbed time"; an expressive way of performing a rhythm; see rubato teneramente; tendre or tendrement (Fre) Tenderly tenerezza Tenderness tenor The second lowest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano) tenuto Held (i.
e. touch on a note slightly longer than usual, but without generally altering the note's value) ternary Having three parts. In particular, referring to a three-part musical form with the parts represented by letters: ABA tessitura The 'best' or most comfortable pitch range, generally used to identify the most prominent / common vocal range within a piece of music Tierce de Picardie See Picardy third timbre The quality of a musical tone that distinguishes voices and instruments time In a jazz or rock score, after a rubato or rallentendo section, the term "time" indicates that performers should return to tempo (this is equivalent to the term "a tempo") tosto Rapidly tranquillo Calmly, peacefully trattenuto (tratt.
) held back with a sustained tone, similar to ritardando tre corde (tc) Three strings (i.e. release the soft pedal of the piano) (see una corda) tremolo Shaking. As used in 1) and 2) below, it is notated by a strong diagonal bar (or bars) across the note stem, or a detached bar (or bars) for a set of notes. A rapid, measured or unmeasured repetition of the same note. String players perform this tremolo with the bow by rapidly moving the bow while the arm is tense; A rapid, measured or unmeasured alternation between two or more notes, usually more than a whole step apart.
In older theory texts this form is sometimes referred to as a "trill-tremolo" (see trill). A rapid, repeated alteration of volume (as on an electronic instrument); vibrato: an inaccurate usage, since vibrato is actually a slight undulation in a sustained pitch, rather than a repetition of the pitch, or variation in volume (see vibrato). trill A rapid, usually unmeasured alternation between two harmonically adjacent notes (e.
g. a interval of a semitone or a whole tone). A similar alternation using a wider interval is called a tremolo. triplet (shown with a horizontal bracket and a '3') Three notes in the place of two, used to subdivide a beat. triste Sad, wistful tronco, tronca Broken off, truncated troppo Too much; usually seen as non troppo, meaning moderately or, when combined with other terms, not too much, such as allegro [ma] non troppo (fast but not too fast) turn Multi-note ornament above and below the main note; it may also be inverted tutti All; all together, usually used in an orchestral or choral score when the orchestra or all of the voices come in at the same time, also seen in Baroque-era music where two instruments share the same copy of music, after one instrument has broken off to play a more advanced form: they both play together again at the point marked tutti.
See also ripieno. U un, una, or uno One, as for example in the following entries un poco or un peu (Fr.) A little una corda One string (i.e. in piano music, depress the soft pedal, altering, and reducing the volume of, the sound). For most notes in modern pianos, this results in the hammer striking two strings rather than three. Its counterpart, tre corde (three strings), is the opposite: the soft pedal is to be released.
unisono (unis) (Fr.) In unison (i.e. several players in a group are to play exactly the same notes within their written part, as opposed to splitting simultaneous notes among themselves). Often used to mark the return from divisi. uptempo A fast, lively, or increased tempo or played or done in such a tempo. It is also used as an umbrella term for a quick-paced electronic music style. ut (Fr.
) First note of the series ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in fixed-do solmization. V vagans (Lat., "wandering") The fifth part in a motet, named so most probably because it had no specific range vamp Improvised accompaniment, usually a repeating pattern played before next musical passage. See vamp till cue. See comp and comping. vamp till cue A jazz, fusion, and musical theatre term which instructs rhythm section members to repeat and vary a short ostinato passage, riff, or "groove" until the band leader or conductor instructs them to move onto the next section variazioni Variations, con variazioni: with variations/changes veloce Velocity, con veloce: with velocity velocissimo As quickly as possible; usually applied to a cadenza-like passage or run via Away, out, off; as in via sordina or sordina via: 'mute off' vibrato Vibrating (i.
e. a more or less rapidly repeated slight variation in the pitch of a note, used as a means of expression). Often confused with tremolo, which refers either to a similar variation in the volume of a note, or to rapid repetition of a single note. vif (Fr.) Quickly, lively violoncello cello virtuoso (noun or adjective) performing with exceptional ability, technique, or artistry vite (Fr.) Fast vittorioso Victoriously vivace Very lively, up-tempo vivacissimo Very lively vivamente Quickly and lively vivezza Liveliness, vivacity vivo Lively, intense vocal score or piano-vocal score A music score of an opera, or a vocal or choral composition with orchestra (like oratorio or cantata) where the vocal parts are written out in full but the accompaniment is reduced to two staves and adapted for playing on piano voce Voice volante Flying volti subito (V.
S.) Turn suddenly (i.e. turn the page quickly). While this indication is sometimes added by printers, it is more commonly indicated by orchestral members in pencil as a reminder to quickly turn to the next page. W wenig (Ger.) A little, not much wolno (Pol.) Loose, slowly Z Zählzeit (Ger.) Beat zart (Ger.) Tender Zartheit (Ger.) Tenderness zärtlich (Ger.) Tenderly Zeichen (Ger.) Sign, mark Zeitmaß or Zeitmass (Ger.
) Time-measure (i.e. tempo) zelo, zeloso, zelosamente Zeal, zealous, zealously ziehen (Ger.) To draw out ziemlich (Ger.) Fairly, quite, rather zitternd (Ger.) Trembling (i.e. tremolando) zögernd (Ger.) Hesitantly, delaying (i.e. rallentando) zurückhalten (Ger.) Hold back See also Glossary of jazz and popular music Glossary of Schenkerian analysis List of musical symbols References ^ a b c d e Collins Music Encyclopedia, 1959.
^ "Capriccio" in The Harvard Dictionary of Music, ed. Don Michael Randel, Belknap Press ^ About the word deest ^ "Italian Musical Terms". www.musictheory.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-02. ^ Italian for Opera Lovers by Sasha Newborn, August 1994, at Academia.edu ^ Sussman, Richard; Abene, Mike (2012). "Muted Brass". Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age. Oxford University Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-19-538099-6.
^ The modern usage is L'istesso. See measures 4 and 103 of Star Wars: Main Title, in Williams, John (1997). Star wars: Suite for Orchestra. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp. ISBN 978-0-7935-8208-2. ^ Cole, Richard; Schwartz, Ed. "M.M". Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary. Archived from the original on April 1, 2013. ^ Eric Blom. "Ravvivando". In L. Root, Deane. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.
Oxford University Press. (subscription required) ^ musicdictionary; Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition; Gardner Read, Music Notation, 2nd edition, p. 282. ^ Dolmetsch Online, "Tempo"; Oxford American Dictionary; Collins English Dictionary. ^ Carl Orff, Carmina Burana ^ Hummel, quoted in Rudolf, Max (2001). A Musical Life: Writings and Letters, p.125. Pendragon.
ISBN 9781576470381. ^ Definition of Siciliano at Dictionary.com ^ Gossett, Philip, Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006 ISBN 978-0-226-30482-3, p. 618 ^ "uptempo" at Oxford Dictionaries Online ^ Page's Dictionary of Music and Musicians External links Classical musical terms Musical Terms Dictionary Definitions Music Dictionary, Dolmetsch Online Cole, Richard; Schwartz, Ed (October 22, 2012).
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