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

L

  • L See Longo numbers.
  • L.P. See Generalpause.
  • l.v. [French] See laisser vibrer.
  • l'istesso tempo [Italian] Literally, “the same tempo”. An indication that directs that the beat remains constant when the meter changes.
  • la volta [Italian] See volte.
  • labium [Latin] Literally, “lip”. The part of an edge-blown aerophone (such as a flute, recorder or whistle) that splits the air column.
  • lacrimoso [Italian] Tearful.
  • lage [German] See ambitus.
  • lagrimoso [Italian] See lacrimoso.
  • lai [French] A song form composed in northern Europe, mainly France and Germany, from the 13th to the late 14th century.
  • laisser vibrer [French] A directive to the performer of a harp, piano, cymbal, or other struck or plucked instrument that the sound should not be damped or stopped after the initial attack, but should be allowed to die away naturally.
  • lament A song of mourning the dead or of leave-taking. The funeral lament is one of the most common, dating back to antiquity.
  • lamentoso [Italian] Like a lament, plaintive.
  • Ländler [German] A folk dance in 3/4 time which was popular in Austria, south Germany and German Switzerland at the end of the 18th century.
  • Länge [German] See duration.
  • langsam [German] See adagio.
  • langsamer werden [German] See rallentando.
  • languendo [Italian] Languishing.
  • largamente [Italian] With a broad, full sound.
  • large [French] See largo.
  • larghetto [Italian] A tempo not quite as slow as largo, usually around 60–66 BPM.
  • larghissimo [Italian] An extremely slow tempo, slower than largo.
  • largo [Italian] A slow and solemn tempo marking, usually around 40–60 BPM.
  • larigot [French] A shepherd's flute or pipe.
  • larynx The upper part of the trachea in the human throat. It is the mechanism that varies the tone of the voice.
  • lascia vibrare [Italian] See laisser vibrer.
  • lauda [Latin] Laud, hymn of praise.
  • laut [German] See forte.
  • lauter werden [German] See crescendo.
  • lavolta [Italian] See volte.
  • leader See concertmaster.
  • leading note The major seventh of a scale, so called because it lies a semitone below the tonic and “leads” towards it.
  • leaning note See appoggiatura.
  • leaning tone See leading note.
  • leap Any movement from one note to another through means of an interval that is greater than a second.
  • Leben [German] Life, vivacity.
  • lebhaft [German] Lively.
  • ledetone [Danish] See leading note.
  • ledger line Short, horizontal line added to the top or the bottom of a staff for the reception of a note too high or too low to be represented on the staff.
  • ledton [Swedish] See leading note.
  • legatissimo [Italian] Very legato, extremely smooth and connected.
  • legato [Italian] Literally, “tied together”. A directive to perform a certain passage in a smooth, connected style. It is usually indicated by a slur over the affected notes.
  • Legatobogen [German] See slur.
  • legatura [Italian] See slur.
  • legatura [Italian] See tie.
  • légèrement [French] Lightly.
  • legg. [Italian] See leggiero.
  • leggerissimo [Italian] Very light, very delicate.
  • leggero [Italian] See leggiero.
  • leggiero [Italian] Light, delicate.
  • legni [Italian] See woodwind.
  • Leich [German] See lai.
  • Leichen-musik [German] Funeral music.
  • leidtoon [Dutch] See leading note.
  • leise [German] Quiet.
  • Leitmotiv [German] A term adopted by Wagner's disciples to designate the “leading motives” in his operas.
  • Leitton [German] See leading note.
  • lengte [Dutch] See duration.
  • lent [French] Slow.
  • lentamente [Italian] Slowly.
  • lentement [French] Slowly.
  • lenteur [French] “Slowness”.
  • lentezza [Italian] “Slowness”.
  • lentissimo [Italian] Very slow.
  • lento [Italian] Slow.
  • lesto [Italian] Quick, swift.
  • letra [Spanish] See lyrics.
  • leveästi [Finnish] See largo.
  • liaison [French] See slur.
  • liaison [French] See tie.
  • libero [Italian] Literally, “free”. A directive to perform in a free, unrestrained style.
  • libretto [Italian] A “little book” that contains the complete text of an opera, oratorio, and so forth.
  • licenza [Italian] A directive to perform a certain passage with some freedom of manner.
  • lié [French] See legato.
  • lieblich [German] Charming, lovely.
  • Lied [German] (Plural: Lieder.) Literally, “song”; most commonly associated with the solo art song of the nineteenth century, usually accompanied by piano.
  • Lieder [German] See Lied.
  • liedtekst [Dutch] See lyrics.
  • Liedtext [German] See lyrics.
  • ligadura [Spanish] See tie.
  • ligesvævende temperatur [Danish] See equal temperament.
  • ligne [French] See line.
  • ligne supplémentaire [French] See ledger line.
  • liksvävande temperatur [Swedish] See equal temperament.
  • line A general term for a discrete voice or part in a vocal or instrumental composition.
  • linea [Italian] See line.
  • línea adicional [Spanish] See ledger line.
  • lip plate The part of a flute which contacts the player's lower lip, allowing precise positioning and direction of the air stream.
  • litania [Italian] See litany.
  • litany A prayer or processional of supplication to God, to Mary, or to the saints in which the priest or deacon chants the supplication and the congregation responds with “Ora pro nobis”, “Kyrie eleison”, etc.
  • liturgy In those churches that use standard written forms of services, the ritual or service of public worship.
  • llave [Spanish] See brace.
  • lo stesso tempo [Italian] See l'istesso tempo.
  • loco [Latin] A directive to play in the normal playing position; it cancels any previous direction to play in an unusual position, like all'ottava.
  • locrian A mode based upon the seventh tone of the major scale.
  • loin [French] See lointain.
  • lointain [French] “Distant”, “faraway”.
  • Lombard rhythm A rhythm associated primarily with baroque music, generally consisting of a stressed sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note.
  • Lombardic rhythm See Lombard rhythm.
  • long pause See Generalpause.
  • Longo numbers A numbering system identifying keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.
  • lontano [Italian] See lointain.
  • lopuke [Finnish] See cadence.
  • lourd [French] See pesante.
  • loure [French] A slow, dignified French dance of the 17th and 18th centuries usually in 3/4 or 6/4 time.
  • Luftpause [German] See breath mark.
  • lullaby A cradle song. A song sung to a child to soothe him to sleep or a gentle, quiet song.
  • lunga pausa [Italian] See Generalpause.
  • lusingando [Italian] Caressing, flattering.
  • lustig [German] See allegro.
  • luttuoso [Italian] Mournful.
  • lydian The church mode based on F, containing the notes of the C major scale, yet using F as the tonic.
  • lyric opera Hybrid form combining elements of grand opera and opéra comique and featuring appealing melodies and romantic drama.
  • lyrics The words of a song.