Multilingual Music Glossary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Found a word you don't know? No problem. Look it up in the Music Glossary!

We are currently providing explanations for 2449 terms from 12 languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Latin…

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If you are looking for a symbol, check out our Guide to Musical Symbols.

Please note: a music glossary is just like a dictionary. It contains explanations to musical terms. If you are looking for a piece, please go here instead: search tunes.

Some random terms

  • risoluto [Italian] Bold, resolute.
  • neoromantic A compositional style of the 20th century embodying the techniques and characteristics of the romantic period.
  • sostenuto [Italian] Sustained.
  • concertmaster The term used to address the principal first violinist of an orchestra.
  • reggae Jamaican popular music style characterized by offbeat rhythms and chanted vocals over a strong bass part.
  • madrigal Renaissance secular work originating in Italy for voices, with or without instruments, set to a short, lyric love poem.
  • walking bass In baroque music, a bass line that moves steadily in a rhythm contrasting to that of the upper parts.
  • alborada [Spanish] Literally, “dawn”. Lively instrumental composition to be played at daybreak, usually in 6/8 time.
  • ostinato [Italian] Literally, “obstinate”. A short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout a composition.
  • irato [Italian] Irate, angry.
  • lyric opera Hybrid form combining elements of grand opera and opéra comique and featuring appealing melodies and romantic drama.
  • sharp An accidental symbol that raises the pitch of a note by a semitone.
  • ballet [French] A representation of a story by means of dances or pantomimic action accompanied by music.
  • custos [Latin] (Plural: custodes.) A symbol that appears at the end of a staff line with a single voice). It anticipates the first note of the following line and thus helps the player or singer to manage line breaks during performance. Custodes were frequently used until the 16th century.
  • formalism The tendency to elevate the formal aspects above the expressive value in music, as in Neoclassical music.