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 2456 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
- ad libitum Literally, “at will”. At the discretion of the performer. At pleasure, changing the tempo of a particular passage. Sometimes, a part that may be omitted if desired.
- whole tone An interval of two semitones, a major second.
- adagissimo An extremely slow tempo marking, slower than adagio.
- breath mark Indication of where to breathe in vocal and wind instrument parts. It may look like a large comma or apostrophe or like a tick/checkmark (✓), and is always written above the staff.
- hemiola In modern musical parlance, a metrical pattern in which two bars in simple triple time are articulated as if they were three bars in simple duple time.
- mosso Moved, agitated.
- geschwind Swift, swiftly.
- cantor Solo singer or singing leader in Jewish and Christian liturgical music.
- new age Style of popular music of the 1980s and 1990s, characterized by soothing timbres and repetitive forms that are subjected to shifting variation techniques.
- inflection Small alteration of the pitch by a microtonal interval.
- sheet music A generic term to mean any piece of paper with the notation of a composition printed on on it.
- Rococo A term applied to French compositions of the 18th century, implying light, airy, graceful, and ornamented style, in response to the rigid, severe lines of the previous era.
- lip plate The part of a flute which contacts the player's lower lip, allowing precise positioning and direction of the air stream.
- sin' al fine Literally, “to the end”. Usually attached to another directive, implying that whatever the other directive stated should be carried out to the end of the composition.
- subject The melody upon which a fugue is based; a melody, motive, or theme. The theme or melody upon which any composition is based.