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

B

  • B [German] See flat.
  • Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis [German] The numbering system identifying compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • backbeat A style of rhythmic accentuation that puts accents on even beats. In common time this means having accents on beats 2 and 4.
  • backfall A descending appoggiatura.
  • bagatelle [French] A short piece of music, typically for the piano, and usually of a light, mellow character. The term literally means a “trifle”, as a reference to the innocent character of the piece.
  • bajo [Spanish] See bass.
  • bajo cifrado [Spanish] See thorough bass.
  • ballad In jazz and popular music, a short song in a slow tempo, usually with a romantic or sentimental text.
  • ballad opera See comic opera.
  • ballade [French] A one-movement musical piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities, usually having a text dealing with courtly love.
  • ballata [Italian] A type of fourteenth-century italian secular song, similar to the French virelai.
  • ballata [Italian] See ballad.
  • ballet [French] A representation of a story by means of dances or pantomimic action accompanied by music.
  • ballo [Italian] See dance.
  • bar See measure.
  • bar Each of the lines drawn perpendicularly across the staff to divide it into measures. In common usage the term may also mean measure.
  • barcarola [Italian] See barcarolle.
  • barcarolle [French] A folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers (oarsmen of the traditional Venetian rowing boat called gondola), or a piece of music composed in that style. It is characterized by a rhythm reminiscent of the gondolier's stroke, almost invariably a moderate tempo 6/8 meter.
  • barcaruola [Italian] See barcarolle.
  • barline See bar.
  • baroque The music of the period circa 1600–1750, directly following the Renaissance and preceding the Classical era. Its style is characterized by rich ornamentation.
  • bas [French] Low in pitch.
  • basfløjte [Danish] See bass flute.
  • basfluit [Dutch] See bass flute.
  • bass The lowest part in a musical composition.
  • bass flute A flute that plays one octave below the concert flute.
  • bassa [Italian] See bajo.
  • basse [French] See bass.
  • basse chiffrée [French] See thorough bass.
  • basse dance [French] A graceful, stately court dance of the early Renaissance.
  • bassfløyte [Norwegian] See bass flute.
  • basso [Italian] See bass.
  • basso continuo [Italian] Literally, “continuous bass”. A bass part that runs continuously throughout a work, characteristic of Baroque music.
  • basso numerato [Italian] See thorough bass.
  • bassus [Latin] See bass.
  • batimiento [Spanish] See beat.
  • baton The stick used by the conductor to define the beat of the music. Also, a light metal rod used for keeping time, twirling and juggling in marching band performances.
  • battement [French] See beat.
  • battimento [Italian] See beat.
  • battito [Italian] See beat.
  • battuta [Italian] See measure.
  • beat A throbbing that is heard when two tones are slightly out of tune.
  • beat The basic time unit of a piece of music. For example, each tick sounded by a metronome would correspond to a beat.
  • bécarre [French] See natural.
  • becijferde bas [Dutch] See thorough bass.
  • Beckflöte [German] See recorder.
  • becuadro [Spanish] See natural.
  • beförtecken [Swedish] See flat.
  • bel canto [Italian] Literally “beautiful singing”. Elegant Italian vocal style, characterized by florid melodic lines and delivered by voices of great agility, smoothness and purity of tone.
  • belebend [German] Lively.
  • bémol [French] See flat.
  • bemolle [Italian] See flat.
  • ben [Italian] See bene.
  • bene [Italian] “Well” or “good”.
  • bent pitch See blue note.
  • bepop Complex jazz style developed in the 1940s.
  • bequadro [Italian] See natural.
  • berceuse [French] See lullaby.
  • bergamasca [Italian] A kind of Renaissance clumsy rustic dance.
  • bergamask See bergamasca.
  • bergomask See bergamasca.
  • beruhigend [German] Relaxing, melodious.
  • bestimmt [German] With decision.
  • bewegt [German] See animato.
  • bezifferter Bass [German] See thorough bass.
  • Bia [Italian] See Biamonti Catalog.
  • Biamonti Catalog [Italian] A chronological catalog of Ludwig van Beethoven's compositions, compiled by Giovanni Biamonti.
  • bianca [Italian] See half note.
  • big band A type of musical ensemble associated with playing jazz music and which became popular during the Swing Era from the early 1930s until the late 1940s. A big band typically consists of approximately 12 to 25 musicians and contains saxophones, trumpets, trombones and a rhythm section.
  • binary form Two-part structure of music; usually each part is repeated.
  • binary measure A measure containing two beats.
  • bind See tie.
  • bindebåge [Swedish] See tie.
  • bindebogen [German] See slur.
  • bindebue [Danish] See tie.
  • bindingsboog [Dutch] See tie.
  • Bindung [German] See tie.
  • Bindungszeichen [German] See slur.
  • bird's eye See fermata.
  • birdseye See fermata.
  • bis [Latin] Literally, “twice”. A directive to repeat a passage.
  • biscroma [Italian] See thirty-second note.
  • blanca [Spanish] See half note.
  • blanche [French] See half note.
  • Blockflöte [German] See recorder.
  • blue note In blues or jazz, a note that for expressive purposes is sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than usual.
  • bluegrass A form of American country music, inspired by the music of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as jazz and blues. In bluegrass, as in jazz, each instrument takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment.
  • blues African-American music genre, characterized by simple repetitive structures and by the use of the blues chord progressions and the blue notes.
  • body The middle section of a flute, with the majority of the keys.
  • Bogen [German] See slur.
  • Bogen [German] See tie.
  • bois [French] See woodwind.
  • bolero [Spanish] A moderately slow Spanish dance in 3/4 time.
  • boogie-woogie A style of piano-based blues that became very popular in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but originated much earlier, and was extended from piano, to three pianos at once, guitar, big band, and country and western music, and even gospel. Whilst the blues traditionally depicts a variety of emotions, boogie-woogie is mainly associated with dancing.
  • bop See bepop.
  • bore The diameter of the tube of a woodwind or brass instrument. The shape of the bore in part dictates the timbre or tone color of the instrument.
  • bossa nova [Portuguese] Brazilian dance related to the samba, popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • bourrée [French] An old French dance in use during the Baroque period, very rapid and hearty, usually in 2/4 or 2/2 time.
  • brace A symbol that looks like an archer's bow, used to connect two or more different staves that are to be played at the same time by the same instrument (e.g. a piano, a organ or a harp). This should not be confused with the bracket, that provides a visual connection between independent parts of a system.
  • bracket In a score, a vertical bracket that groups together the staves relative to the instruments of a section, like the woodwinds or the strings.
  • branle [French] Quick French group dance of the Renaissance.
  • bransle [French] See branle.
  • bravura [Italian] Literally, “skill”. Great dexterity and skill in execution.
  • break In the flute or other wind instrument, the place between the lower register of the instrument and the higher. For example, the break on the flute is between C-sharp and D.
  • 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.
  • breit [German] See largo.
  • brève [French] See double whole note.
  • breve [Italian] See double whole note.
  • brevis [Latin] See double whole note.
  • bridge A passage connecting two sections of a composition.
  • brillante [Italian] Bright, brilliant.
  • brio [Italian] Vivacity, spirit, liveliness.
  • brioso [Italian] Vivacious, spirited, lively.
  • broderie [French] See ornament.
  • broken chord See arpeggio.
  • buffo [Italian] Comic, humorous.
  • burden See drone.
  • burden A phrase or theme that recurs at the end of each verse in a folk song or ballad.
  • Burgundian chanson Fifteenth century French composition, usually for three voices, some or all of which may be played by instruments.
  • burlesque [French] A humorous composition, usually involving parody or grotesque exaggeration.
  • BWV [German] See Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis.