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 2430 terms from 12 languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Latin…

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Some random terms

  • art song A vocal music composition, usually written for one singer with piano or orchestral accompaniment.
  • all'ottava [Italian] Literally, “at the octave”. Directive to perform an indicated passage of a composition one octave higher than notated. Typically, this is indicated by an “8va” or “8” over the passage followed by a dotted line over the top of all the notes to be transposed.
  • Middle Ages A period from about 600 AD until about 1450 AD. Sometimes divided divided into two periods, the early middle ages (ca. 600–1100) and the late middle ages or Gothic Period (ca. 1100–1450).
  • attack The method of beginning a phrase.
  • pibroch Scottish traditional theme and variation form music to be performed on the bagpipe. This term refers to the more serious, courtly music rather than to dance music and military music.
  • key On a woodwind instrument, the keys are the metal disks that close or open soundholes by means of levers operated by the performer's fingers.
  • prelude An instrumental composition intended to introduce a larger composition or a set of compositions.
  • dirge A generic term used for a composition designed specifically for a funeral or in commemoration of the dead.
  • polycoral Performance style developed in the late sixteenth century involving the use of two or more choirs that alternate with each other or sing together.
  • labium [Latin] Literally, “lip”. The part of an edge-blown aerophone (such as a flute, recorder or whistle) that splits the air column.
  • ritardando [Italian] Gradually delaying the tempo.
  • shanty A song sung by sailors while working on a ship. A shanty has a chorus, which is sung by all, and verses that are usually sung by one voice.
  • rhythm The subdivision of time into a defined pattern.
  • polka A lively ballroom dance of Bohemian origin in duple meter greatly, popular in the 19th century. Also a short, lyric piano composition.
  • con tenerezza [Italian] “With tenderness”.