Multilingual Music Glossary
Found a word you don't know? No problem. Look it up in the Music Glossary!
We are currently providing explanations for 2471 terms from 12 languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Latin…
You may browse the glossary alphabetically, or directly search for a term by using the search box above.
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
- sforzando Literally, “forcing”. Dynamic marking indicating a strong, sudden accent.
- transverse flute The regular orchestral flute, as distinct from the recorder.
- grand opera A style of opera that was developed in France in the 19th century that involved no spoken dialogue. It contained huge choruses, serious plots, elaborate dance episodes, ornate costumes and spectacular scenery.
- mixolydian The Gregorian mode based upon the fifth tone of the scale. This mode, based on G, includes all the tones of the C major scale.
- ritmico Literally, “rhythmic”. A directive to strictly conform to the written rhythm, emphasizing it.
- close harmony Harmony written so that the parts are as close together as possible, usually with the upper voices very tight together, and the bass somewhat more distantly spaced.
- fife A small flute with a narrower bore, thus producing a higher, more piercing sound than a flute. Generally used in military bands.
- pianissimo Very soft, softer than piano.
- octave Interval between two tones seven diatonic pitches apart; the upper tone vibrates twice as fast as the lower one.
- sgarbato Rude, unkind, impolite.
- mit “With”.
- gai Gay, merry.
- variation An altered version of a rhythm, motive, or theme.
- responsorial singing Singing, especially in Gregorian chant, in which a soloist or a group of soloists alternates with the choir.
- verse anthem Anglican devotional composition for solo voices with a choral refrain.