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

R

  • R. Either Raabe or Rinaldi.
  • R&B See rhythm and blues.
  • Raabe numbers A numbering system identifying compositions by Franz Liszt.
  • rabbia [Italian] Rage, fury, anger.
  • raddolcendo [Italian] Growing sweeter and calmer.
  • radical bass An bass line produced by linking the fundamentals of the chords in a progression.
  • ragtime Late nineteenth century piano style created by African-Americans, characterized by highly syncopated melodies.
  • railroad tracks See caesura.
  • rall. [Italian] See rallentando.
  • rallentando [Italian] Slowing down.
  • range See ambitus.
  • rant A country dance of Scotland and Northern England in duple meter and binary form.
  • rap An American style of rhythmic chanting consisting of improvised rhymes performed to rhythmic accompaniment.
  • rapidamente [Italian] Rapidly.
  • rapsodia [Italian] See rhapsody.
  • rapsodie [French] See rhapsody.
  • rasch [German] Rapid, swift.
  • rastrum [Latin] A pen that has five points (nibs), for use in notating staff lines.
  • rattenuto [Italian] See ritardando.
  • ravvivando [Italian] Animating, brightening up; quickening.
  • recapitulation In sonata-allegro form, the final presentation of the original theme group, first presented in the exposition.
  • recital A performance given by a soloist or a small ensemble.
  • recitative A flexible style of vocal delivery employed in opera, oratorio, and cantata and tailored to the accents and rhythms of the text.
  • recitativo [Italian] See recitative.
  • recitativo accompagnato [Italian] Recitative accompanied by the entire orchestra.
  • recitativo secco [Italian] Recitative accompanied only by continuo.
  • recitativo stromentato [Italian] See recitativo accompagnato.
  • recommencez [French] Start over again. See da capo.
  • recorder A wind instrument of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras. The recorder is a simple instrument related to the flute; it is sounded by blowing into one end and the pitch is adjusted by covering finger holes.
  • recoupe [French] A dance of the French Renaissance.
  • redonda [Spanish] See whole note.
  • reduction A simplified arrangement of a composition.
  • reel Moderately quick dance in duple meter danced throughout the British Isles; the most popular Irish traditional dance type.
  • refrain [French] A verse which repeats throughout a song or poem at given intervals.
  • refräng [Swedish] See refrain.
  • refrão [Portuguese] See refrain.
  • refrein [Dutch] See refrain.
  • reggae Jamaican popular music style characterized by offbeat rhythms and chanted vocals over a strong bass part.
  • register A division of the range of an instrument or singing voice. Usually registers are defined by a change in the quality of the sound between a lower range and a higher range.
  • Reigenlied [German] Medieval dance form in triple meter, characterized by repeated notes and phrases.
  • reine stemming [Dutch] See just intonation.
  • reine Stimmung [German] See just intonation.
  • réjouissance [French] A jubilant composition used to conclude some Baroque orchestral suites.
  • relative key The major and minor keys that share the same key signature.
  • relative pitch The ability to identify any pitch in reference to a given pitch.
  • religioso [Italian] Religious, devout.
  • relish An ornament of the English Renaissance and Baroque eras. A single relish consists of a trill with a turned ending or simply a turn. A double relish is a compound ornament, defined differently by different writers, but usually including a trill or an appoggiatura.
  • remote keys Those keys that have few notes in common. The key of C and the key of F sharp would be considered remote.
  • ren stämning [Swedish] See just intonation.
  • ren stemning [Danish] See just intonation.
  • Renaissance The music of the period circa 1400–1600, directly following the Middle Ages and preceding the baroque era. Its style is characterized by charming melodies, imitative harmonies and lively ornamentation.
  • renversement [French] See inversion.
  • repercussieteken [Dutch] See breath mark.
  • repercussion The frequent repetition of the same sound. Also, the re-entrance of the subject and answer in a fugue following other material.
  • répertoire [French] A list of compositions that an individual or ensemble is prepared to perform or that are available for performance.
  • replica [Italian] Repetition.
  • reprise [French] A shortened version of a major composition in a stage production used to reward the audience with a repeat of a popular melody. This is often used as a finale to a scene or an act.
  • reprise [French] Repetition.
  • Requiem [Latin] A composition to honor the deceased.
  • resolution In partwriting, the resolving of a dissonant sound to a consonant sound in the following chord. Also, the conclusive ending to a musical statement.
  • resonator Term referring to those parts of instruments which resonate or vibrate, thus enhancing the sound of the instrument.
  • respiração circular [Portuguese] See circular breathing.
  • respiración [Spanish] See breath mark.
  • respiración circular [Spanish] See circular breathing.
  • respiración continua [Spanish] See circular breathing.
  • respiration [French] See breath mark.
  • respiration circulaire [French] See circular breathing.
  • respirazione [Italian] See breath mark.
  • respirazione circolare [Italian] See circular breathing.
  • respiro [Italian] See breath mark.
  • response Short choral answer to a solo verse; an element of liturgical dialogue.
  • responsorial singing Singing, especially in Gregorian chant, in which a soloist or a group of soloists alternates with the choir.
  • rest A symbol standing for a measured break in the sound with a defined duration.
  • restatement See recapitulation.
  • restez [French] A directive to remain on a note.
  • retardation A slowing down of the tempo.
  • retenu [French] See ritenuto.
  • retransition In sonata-allegro form, the last part of the development which leads to the tonic of the main key and usually emphasizes it.
  • retrograde Backward statement of a melody.
  • Rezitativ [German] See recitative.
  • rfz [Italian] See rinforzando.
  • rhapsody A one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colors and tonalities.
  • rhumba See rumba.
  • rhythm The subdivision of time into a defined pattern.
  • rhythm and blues An American music style popular between the 1940s and 1960s. Generally played by a lead vocalist or instrumentalist, a rhythm section, and an ensemble of voices, wind instruments, or guitar. Most R&B is vocal, in quadruple time, and in a major key, but characterized by blue notes.
  • rhythm section In a popular music band or ensemble, the performers who establish the rhythmic pulse of a song or musical piece, and who lay down the chordal structure.
  • Rhythmus [German] See rhythm.
  • ricercare [Italian] Literally, “search”. Term used in the Renaissance originally meaning a keyboard or lute composition of an introductory nature, similar to a prelude, but later meaning a free composition more resembling a fantasia or a fugue. Both forms of the ricercare were characterized by complexity and an esoteric nature.
  • ridicolo [Italian] Absurd, ludicrous, ridiculous.
  • riff In pop and jazz compositions, a short ostinato, two to four bars long. A prominent feature of jazz music.
  • riflessivo [Italian] Reflective, thoughtful.
  • rigaudon [French] A lively French dance, originally a folk dance but also a court dance and an instrumental form, in duple meter.
  • rigo [Italian] See staff.
  • rigore [Italian] Rigour.
  • Rinaldi numbers A numbering system identifying compositions by Antonio Vivaldi.
  • rinf. [Italian] See rinforzando.
  • rinforzando [Italian] Literally, “reinforcing”. Dynamic marking indicating that several notes, or a short phrase, are to be emphasized.
  • rinforzare [Italian] To reinforce.
  • ripieno [Italian] The larger of the two ensembles in the concerto grosso.
  • ripieno [Italian] The notes added when realizing the figured bass of a basso continuo.
  • ripresa [Italian] A refrain or repeat.
  • riser A metal section on the head joint of a flute, shaped like a ‛top hat with the top cut off’, which raises the lip plate from the head joint tube.
  • risoluto [Italian] Bold, resolute.
  • rissoluto [Italian] See risoluto.
  • rit. [Italian] See ritardando.
  • ritard. [Italian] See ritardando.
  • ritardando [Italian] Gradually delaying the tempo.
  • ritardato [Italian] See ritenuto.
  • riten. [Italian] See ritenuto.
  • ritenuto [Italian] Literally, “kept back”. Immediate reduction of speed.
  • ritmato [Italian] See ritmico.
  • ritmico [Italian] Literally, “rhythmic”. A directive to strictly conform to the written rhythm, emphasizing it.
  • ritmo [Italian] See rhythm.
  • ritornello [Italian] See refrain.
  • rivolto [Italian] See inversion.
  • rock A loosely defined genre of popular music that entered the mainstream in the mid 1950s, characterized by a hard, driving duple meter and amplified instrumental accompaniment.
  • rock and roll See rock.
  • Rococo [French] 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.
  • romance [French] Originally a ballad; in the Romantic era, a lyric instrumental work.
  • romantic The era of music following the classical period, going from about 1815 to 1910.
  • romanza [Italian] See romance.
  • ronde [French] Lively Renaissance round dance or country dance associated with the outdoors, in which the participants danced in a circle or a line.
  • ronde [French] See whole note.
  • rondeau [French] A Medieval and early Renaissance musical form, based on a popular contemporary poetic form. The rondeau form calls for a rigid pattern of repetition of verse and refrain, following the evolving rhyme-scheme of the poetic form.
  • rondellus [Latin] A 13th century English style of three-voice composition.
  • rondò [Italian] A form in which a principal theme (sometimes called the refrain) alternates with one or more contrasting themes, generally called episodes, but also occasionally referred to as digressions, or couplets. Possible patterns in the Classical Period include ABA, ABACA, ABABCA, etc.
  • root The fundamental note of a chord.
  • root position The position of a chord when the base pitch of the chord is in the lowest voice.
  • rota [Latin] See round.
  • roulade [French] A highly ornamented vocal composition, usually for one voice and accompaniment.
  • round Perpetual canon at the unison in which each voice enters in succession with the same melody.
  • rounded binary Compositional form with two sections, in which the second ends with a return to material from the first; each section is usually repeated.
  • rubato [Italian] “Robbed” time; the subtle pressing forward and holding back the tempo in performance.
  • ruggiero [Italian] A musical scheme which is at times harmonic and at times melodic. It is seen in 16th and 17th century music, for both vocal and instrumental pieces and improvisations.
  • ruhig [German] Calm, peaceful.
  • rumba [Spanish] A dance originating in Cuba as a combination of the musical traditions of Spanish colonizers and of Africans brought to Cuba as slaves.
  • rust [Dutch] See rest.
  • rustico [Italian] Rustic, rural.
  • RV [German] See Ryom Verzeichnis.
  • Ryom Verzeichnis [German] A numbering system identifying compositions by Antonio Vivaldi.
  • rythme [French] See rhythm.
  • rytm [Swedish] See rhythm.
  • rytmi [Finnish] See rhythm.