Multilingual Music Glossary

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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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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

  • pivot [French] A chord that is placed in a transition between two keys, serving a different function in each key and providing smooth movement between them.
  • con forza [Italian] “With force”, vigorously.
  • madrigal Renaissance secular work originating in Italy for voices, with or without instruments, set to a short, lyric love poem.
  • sight-reading The practice of playing or singing a composition at sight, without previous preparation.
  • perfect pitch The ability of certain people to identify a given pitch without reference to any other pitch.
  • über [German] “Above”, “over”.
  • deux [French] “Two”.
  • leading note The major seventh of a scale, so called because it lies a semitone below the tonic and “leads” towards it.
  • estinto [Italian] Literally, “extinguished”. A directive to perform as soft as possible.
  • ritenuto [Italian] Literally, “kept back”. Immediate reduction of speed.
  • avec [French] “With”.
  • sans [French] “Without”.
  • romantic The era of music following the classical period, going from about 1815 to 1910.
  • transcription Either notating an unnotated piece, or rewriting a piece, either simply recopying, as for clarity, or as an arrangement for another instrument.
  • chord A set of three or more (according to certain definitions, even two) different notes that sound simultaneously.