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

T

  • tablature Any form of musical notation using symbols or letters rather than notes on the staff to describe pitches.
  • tacet [Latin] Literally, “he is silent”. An indication that a performer is to be silent for some time.
  • Tafelmusik [German] Literally, “table music”. Music that is performed at feasts and banquets.
  • taglio addizionale [Italian] See ledger line.
  • tahti [Finnish] See measure.
  • tailgate A slang term for a trombone Glissando in Dixieland jazz.
  • Takt [German] See measure.
  • Takt [German] See beat.
  • Taktangabe [German] See time signature.
  • Taktart [German] See meter.
  • Taktschlag [German] See beat.
  • taktslag [Swedish] See beat.
  • tango [Spanish] A dance in 2/4 time from Argentina.
  • tanto [Italian] Much.
  • Tanz [German] See dance.
  • tarantella [Italian] A fast Italian dance in 6/8 time, characterized by alternations between major and minor tonalities and a quickening of tempo throughout the composition.
  • tardamente [Italian] Slowly.
  • tardo [Italian] Slow.
  • Tartini tone See difference tone.
  • tasavireinen [Finnish] See equal temperament.
  • tasto solo [Italian] Literally, “key only”. A directive indicating that a note is to be performed without harmony, especially used in compositions that use continuo.
  • tauko [Finnish] See rest.
  • technique The mechanical aspect of performing a composition.
  • teema [Finnish] See motive.
  • teksthaak [Dutch] See brace.
  • tel [Dutch] See beat.
  • tema [Italian] Theme, subject.
  • temperament The division of an octave into twelve equal parts.
  • tempérament égal [French] See equal temperament.
  • tempérament mésotonique [French] See meantone temperament.
  • temperamento [Italian] See Stimmung.
  • temperamento equabile [Italian] See equal temperament.
  • temperamento igual [Spanish] See equal temperament.
  • temperamento mesotonico [Italian] See meantone temperament.
  • Temperatur [German] See Stimmung.
  • tempestoso [Italian] Stormy.
  • tempo [Italian] Literally, “time”. The speed of a piece of music, usually reckoned by the rate of its beats.
  • tempo [Italian] See beat.
  • tempo binario [Italian] See simple meter.
  • tempo giusto [Italian] A directive to perform in exact, strict time.
  • tempo I° [Italian] See a tempo.
  • tempo primo [Italian] See a tempo.
  • tempo ternario [Italian] See compound meter.
  • temps [French] See beat.
  • temps binaire [French] See simple meter.
  • temps ternaire [French] See compound meter.
  • teneramente [Italian] Tenderly.
  • tenerezza [Italian] Tenderness.
  • tenuto [Italian] A directive to perform a certain note or chord of a composition in a sustained manner for longer than its full duration.
  • tercera [Spanish] See third.
  • ternary form A three-part musical structure (ABA) based on statement (A), contrast (B) and repetition (A).
  • terraced dynamics Expressive style typical of some early music in which volume levels shift abruptly from soft to loud and back without gradual crescendos and decrescendos.
  • tertian harmony Term applied to harmony which is based upon the interval of the third.
  • Terz [German] See third.
  • terza [Italian] See third.
  • terzetto [Italian] A three-voice compositional form of the 18th century, usually short, which may or may not be accompanied.
  • terzina [Italian] See triplet.
  • tessitura [Italian] The most musically acceptable and comfortable range for a given singer or, less frequently, musical instrument.
  • texture The interweaving of melodic (horizontal) and harmonic (vertical) elements in the musical fabric. Texture is generally described as monophonic (single line), heterophonic (elaboration on a single line), homophonic (single line with accompaniment), or polyphonic (many voiced).
  • theme The musical basis upon which a composition is built. Usually a theme consists of a recognizable melody or a characteristic rhythmic pattern.
  • theme and variations A style of composition that first presents a basic theme and then develops and alters that theme in successive statements.
  • theme group Several themes in the same key that function as a unit within a section of a form, particularly in sonata-allegro form.
  • thesis See downbeat.
  • third An interval of three diatonic degrees, counting the first and last degree.
  • thirty-second note A note having the time duration of one thirty-second of a whole note.
  • thorough bass See figured bass.
  • three-part form See ternary form.
  • threnody A poem, a song, or an instrumental composition that expresses lament for the dead.
  • through-composed Song form that is composed from beginning to end without repetitions of any major sections, each verse having its own, unique melody.
  • tidig musik [Swedish] See early music.
  • tie A curved line drawn over or under the heads of two notes of the same pitch indicating that they should be played as a single note.
  • tief [German] Deep, low.
  • tiempo [Spanish] See beat.
  • tiempo binario [Spanish] See simple meter.
  • tiento [Spanish] A Spanish Renaissance composition resembling the ricercare or the fantasia.
  • tierce [French] See third.
  • tierce de Picardie [French] A practice from the baroque era of ending a composition with a major chord, when the rest of the composition is in a minor key, thus giving the composition a sense of finality.
  • timbre [French] The quality of a sound; that component of a tone that causes different instruments (for example a flute and a violin) to sound different from each other while they are both playing the same note.
  • time signature A symbol placed at the left side of the staff indicating the meter of the composition.
  • timoroso [Italian] Timorous, fearful; with hesitation.
  • tin whistle See penny whistle.
  • toccata [Italian] Virtuoso composition, generally for organ or harpsichord, in a free and rhapsodic style; in the Baroque, it often served as the introduction to a fugue.
  • todelt takt [Danish] See duple meter.
  • Todesgesang [German] See dirge.
  • Todtenlied [German] See dirge.
  • tombeau [French] Literally, “grave”. An instrumental funeral composition or a composition which commemorates the death of someone.
  • ton [French] See tone.
  • ton [French] See whole tone.
  • tonada [Spanish] See melody.
  • tonalidad [Spanish] See tonality.
  • tonalità [Italian] See tonality.
  • tonalità relativa [Italian] See relative key.
  • tonalité [French] See tonality.
  • tonalité relative [French] See relative key.
  • tonaliteetti [Finnish] See tonality.
  • tonality The organization of a composition around a tonic.
  • Tonart [German] See tonality.
  • tonartssignatur [Swedish] See key signature.
  • Tondichtung [German] See symphonic poem.
  • tone A sound of definite pitch and duration, as distinct from noise. Tone is a primary building material of music.
  • tone color See timbre.
  • tone poem See symphonic poem.
  • toneart [Danish] See tonality.
  • tonehøjde [Danish] See pitch.
  • tonguing In the performance of wind instruments, the technique of using the tongue to produce certain sounds and effects, and especially the technique in which notes are attacked and articulated.
  • Tonhöhe [German] See pitch.
  • tonhöjd [Swedish] See pitch.
  • tonic The note upon which a scale or key is based.
  • tonlängd [Swedish] See duration.
  • Tonleiter [German] See scale.
  • Tonleiterstufe [German] See degree.
  • tono [Italian] See whole tone.
  • toonhoogte [Dutch] See pitch.
  • toonladder [Dutch] See scale.
  • toonsoort [Dutch] See tonality.
  • tosto [Italian] Swiftly, rapidly.
  • total artwork See Gesamtkunstwerk.
  • toujours [French] Always.
  • tourney A composition created for a tournament, popular in the 17th century especially in Italy and France. Tourneys were often used in weddings and other festive occasions.
  • träblåsare [Swedish] See woodwind.
  • traditional music Music that is learned by oral transmission and is easily sung or played by most people.
  • tranquillo [Italian] Calm, quiet.
  • transcription Either notating an unnotated piece, or rewriting a piece, either simply recopying, as for clarity, or as an arrangement for another instrument.
  • transporte [Spanish] See transposition.
  • transposing instrument Those instruments which are notated in one key on paper, yet sound another key when they are performed.
  • transposition Shifting a melody up or down in pitch, while keeping the same relative pitches.
  • transverse flute The regular orchestral flute, as distinct from the recorder.
  • trapsgewijze [Dutch] See conjunct.
  • trascrizione [Italian] See transcription.
  • trasposizione [Italian] See transposition.
  • tratt. [Italian] See trattenuto.
  • trattenuto [Italian] See ritenuto.
  • traurig [German] Sad.
  • traversflöjt [Swedish] See flute.
  • træblæsere [Danish] See woodwind.
  • treble The highest part of a polyphonic composition.
  • tredelt takt [Danish] See triple meter.
  • tremolando [Italian] See tremolo.
  • tremolo [Italian] A rapid alternation between two notes.
  • Trennungszeichen [German] See breath mark.
  • trepak A Russian dance in quick duple meter.
  • très [French] “Very”, “much”.
  • tresillo [Spanish] See triplet.
  • tretakt [Swedish] See triple meter.
  • triad A chord made up of three notes.
  • trill Ornament consisting of the rapid alternation between one tone and the next above it.
  • trille [French] See trill.
  • trille double [French] See double trill.
  • Triller [German] See trill.
  • trillo [Italian] See trill.
  • trino [Spanish] See trill.
  • trino doble [Spanish] See double trill.
  • trinvis [Danish] See conjunct.
  • trio [Italian] A composition for three performers.
  • trio sonata [Italian] A baroque sonata for two treble instruments and continuo, generally requiring four performers.
  • triol [Swedish] See triplet.
  • Triole [German] See triplet.
  • triolet [French] See triplet.
  • triple croche [French] See thirty-second note.
  • triple meter A metrical pattern having three beats to a measure.
  • triple tonguing See double tonguing.
  • triplet Three notes of equal length that are to be performed in the duration of two notes of equal length.
  • tristamente [Italian] Sadly.
  • triste [Italian] Sad.
  • tristezza [Italian] Sadness.
  • tritone A dissonant interval consisting of three whole steps.
  • tritono [Italian] See tritone.
  • Tritonus [German] See tritone.
  • Trommelbass [German] Literally, “drum-bass”. A bass line that contains steady, constant, repeated notes.
  • tronco [Italian] A directive to perform a certain passage short or “cut off”.
  • troppo [Italian] Too much.
  • tune An air or melody, a succession of sounds that has definite character and shape and is pleasing to the ear.
  • tuning The adjustment of the pitch of an instrument. Also, the set pitches to which an instrument is tuned.
  • Turmmusik [German] Literally, “tower music”. A term referring to the music, usually performed on wind instruments, which is played from a tower of a town hall or a church tower. Turmmusik was common in Germany from the 16th century to the 18th century.
  • turn An ornament consisting of four notes, alternating the main note with the one above it and the one below.
  • tutti [Italian] “All”. A directive to perform with all instruments together.
  • tvärflöjt [Swedish] See flute.
  • tvåtakt [Swedish] See duple meter.
  • tverrfløyten [Norwegian] See flute.
  • tweedelige maatsoort [Dutch] See duple meter.
  • twelve-tone technique See dodecaphony.
  • two-part form See binary form.
  • tyrolienne [French] A dance form in quick triple meter.
  • Tzigane [French] Term used for a composition having gypsy influences or flavor.