Definitely Latin. You folks didn't take Latin in Jr High? VOX is also
smaller to write on a piece of tape below a mixing board channel than
Let's think about:
A capella. [ah kah-peh-lah] (Italian) Literally, "in the chapel."
Choral music sung without instrumental accompaniment.
Adagio/Adagietto. [ah-dah-jee-oh; ah dah-jee-eh-toh] (Italian)
"Slowly." Indicates a slow tempo . Adagietto is also a slow tempo, but
not as slow as adagio.
Allegro/Allegretto. [ah-lay-groh; ah-lay-greh-toh] (Italian) "Merry,"
"cheerful." Indicates a fast tempo . Allegretto is slightly slower
than allegro and implies a lighter style.
Andante/Andantino. [ahn-dahn-tay; ahn-dahn-tee-noh] (Italian) From the
verb andare, "to walk." Implies a moderate, "walking" tempo.
Similarly, andantino (the diminuitive of andante) could imply a tempo
either faster or slower than andante.
Animato. [ah-nee-mah-toh] (Italian) "Animated." Tempo indication,
generally modifying an initial tempo. For example, piu animato means
"more animated than before."
Antiphonal. Music performed by an ensemble divided into two or more
distinct groups which perform in alternation and together.
Aria. [ah-ree-ah] (Italian) "Air." A self-contained, melodic section
of a large-scale vocal work (opera , cantata, or oratorio) sung by a
soloist with instrumental or orchestral accompaniment. It is distinct
from the more speech-like recitative sections. There are also arias
that exist independent of any larger work, and in the Baroque period,
some instrumental works were called arias, such as the theme of Bach's
Arioso. [ah-ree-oh-soh] Sometimes used to identify vocal or
instrumental music in a lyrical style.
Arpeggio. [ahr-peh-jee-oh] (Italian) From "arpa" (harp). Playing the
notes of a chord in succession, instead of simultaneously.
Bar. Synonymous with measure. A way of dividing music into small,
often regularly spaced groups of beats. The division is indicated by a
vertical line, called the bar-line.
Cadence. The ending of a musical phrase, and the common melodic or
harmonic formulas that make the ear recognize such an ending.
Cadenza. [kah-dehn-zah] (Italian) "cadence." A virtuoso passage
usually found near the end of a concerto movement or vocal aria .
Cadenzas are often based on the themes of the piece in which they
appear and are improvisatory in style. In the Classical and Romantic
periods performers were expected to improvise or provide their own
cadenzas, although Mozart began the practice of providing written
cadenzas for some of his piano concertos.
Canon. (Latin) "Rule." The strictest form of counterpoint. After the
initial statement of a melody in one "voice," all subsequent "voices"
must imitate that melody exactly (note for note), or with only minimal
adjustments. The melody must be composed so that it sounds "correct"
when played "against" itself. The imitatations may begin on the same
pitch, or on another pitch (in which case all the notes will have to
be "transposed" to maintain the integrity of the melody). Canons are
usually part of larger works; perhaps the most renowned collection of
canons is contained in J.S. Bach's Musical Offering. "Row, Row, your
Boat" is a familiar example of a simple canon.
Cantabile. [kahn-tah-bee-lay] (Italian) "Singing." Music performed in
a singing style. The term can be added to a tempo marking (andante
cantabile, for example) or placed over a melodic line.
Chord. The simultaneous sounding of three or more notes.
Chromatic. From the Greek "chromatikos" (colored). The chromatic scale
divides an octave into twelve semitones (all the white and black notes
on the keyboard from middle c to the c above it, for example), as
opposed to the diatonic major and minor scales. Chromatic chords
employ notes foreign to the diatonic scale of the prevailing key in a
musical passage. The history of Western Music through the early 20th
century reveals a progression of increasing chromaticism.
Coda. [koh-dah] (Italian) "Tail." The last section of a piece of
Consonance. The simultaneous sounding of two or more tones which
produce an effect of stability or harmoniousness. Exactly which
combinations of tones are considered consonant varies considerably
among different cultures and has changed considerably during the
history of Western music. Definitions of consonance may also be found
in acoustical theories from Pythagoras to Helmholtz. Intervals (the
distance from one note to another] considered consonant in the common
practice of tonal music are unisons, octaves, perfect fifths and
fourths, and both major and minor sixths.
Counterpoint. The art of combining two or more musical lines that are
to be played or sung simultaneously. These lines may be said to be "in
counterpoint" with each other. The term is in some ways synonymous
with polyphony, although counterpoint is most commonly used for
Baroque music; polyphony for music from the Medieval and Renaissance
periods. The rules of counterpoint were codified from the music of
Palestrina by J.J. Fux in his 1725 treatise, Gradus ad Parnassum
(Steps to Parnassus).
Crescendo. [kreh-shen-doh] (Italian) "Growing." Indicates a gradual
increase in volume. May be indicated by a symbol called a
"hairpin" (<) or abbreviated as "cresc."
Diatonic. Any octave divided into a seven-note scale (consisting of
various combinations of whole tones and semitones). The major and
minor scales, as well as the church modes, are diatonic. Diatonic
harmony, which is the basis for our tonal system, consists of chords
which contain only the notes of a given diatonic scale. (See
Diminuendo. [deh-meen-yoo-ehn-doh] (Italian) "Diminishing." Indicates
a gradual decrease in volume. Synonymous with decrescendo. May be
indicated by a symbol called a "hairpin" (>) or abbreviated as "dim."
Dissonance. The sounding of two or more tones which produce an effect
of harshness or instability, and demand "resolution" to a consonance.
Like consonance, the concept of dissonance is dependent upon both
context and the way our ears have been cultured. Some intervals
considered dissonant in the Medieval period were found to be consonant
during the Renaissance. Also, the way a dissonance is resolved (and
even the way it is orchestrated) can decrease or intensify how "harsh"
it sounds. Intervals commonly considered dissonant in tonal music are
the major and minor seconds and sevenths.
Drone. A sustained musical sound, usually a bass note or notes. Also,
an instrument or part of an instrument that produces such sounds can
be called a drone, such as the drones of a bagpipe.
Dynamics. The degrees of volume (loudness and softness) in music. Also
the words, abbreviations, and symbols used to indicate degrees of
volume. Piano (soft) and forte (loud) are most common.
Harmony. Harmony is the chordal or vertical structure of a piece of
music, as opposed to melody (and polyphony, or multiple melodies)
which represents the horizontal structure. The succession of chords in
a given piece is referred to as a chord progression.
Homophony (homophonic). From the Greek for "like-sounding." Music in
which all voices move in the same rhythm. Or, more commonly, a musical
texture in which there is a clear distinction between melody and a
chordal [chord] accompaniment. (See polyphony.)
Imitation. The overlapping repetition of a melody by two or more
"voices." A technique of polyphonic composition.
Key. A musical work in a "key" is melodically and harmonically
orientated around a particular major or minor scale. For example, a
composition in C Major will usually begin and end in that key,
although excursions to other keys may occur. However, a passage in C
Major may temporarily utilize notes that do not occur in that scale
and still remain in C Major.
Key signature. The key signature is a symbol found at the beginning of
a musical composition; sharps or flats are placed on the staff as
needed to indicate the key of the piece.
Largo. [lahr-goh] (Italian) "Broad." Indicates a very slow tempo,
usually slower than adagio.
Legato. [leh-gah-toh] (Italian) "Tied." An indication to play music in
a connected, smooth fashion.
Libretto. [lih-breh-toh] (Italian) "Little book." The text of an
opera, oratorio, or other large-scale vocal work.
Measure. Synonymous with bar.
Meter. The organization of beats, establishing an underlying pattern
of emphases and creating a regular, measurable "pulse." A waltz for
example, is in a triple meter, with an emphasis on the first beat of
the three: 1-2-3, 1-2-3. A time signature placed at the beginning of a
composition or section indicates the basic unit of measurement
contained within each measure. A waltz is usually notated in three-
quarter (3/4) time, for example, which tells the performer that each
measure will contain three quarter notes to be played as fast as the
tempo indicates. The first beat of a group is generally emphasized. A
beat should not be confused with a note; a beat may contain one note,
many notes, or may be silent (indicated by a symbol called a rest).
Beats create an underlying pulse that organizes musical sounds through
Mode. In the broadest meaning, any arrangement of musical tones into a
scale. The major and minor scales can be called modes. Mode most often
refers to the scales used in Western music from about 400 to 1500
which were identified by Greek names: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian,
Mixolydian. These are sometimes called the "church modes," because of
their associations with Gregorian Chant. Two subsequent additions to
this old modal system, Ionian and Aeolian, were identical to the major
and minor scales known today. By 1600 these were the only two modes
commonly used by classical composers, but the other modes continued to
be heard in folk traditions. The church modes were rediscovered by
composers of the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries ; the modes
also play in important role in jazz composition.
Modulation. Changing key within the course of a composition.
Monophony (monophonic). From the Greek for "one-sounding." Music for a
single voice or part; a melody without any accompaniment. Gregorian
chant is an example of monophony.
Motive. A recurring, recognizable rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic idea.
A motive may also be a part of a larger phrase, theme, or melody.
Ornament. An embellishment to a pre-existing melodic line, generally
consisting of a single note, or small group of notes. At various times
musical history the use of ornaments has been left up to the
discretion of the performer, indicated either by a system of symbolic
shorthand, or written out as notes.
Ostinato. [oh-steh-nah-toh] (Italian) "Obstinate." A musical pattern
repeated many times, one after another. The pattern may be melodic,
harmonic, or rhythmic. A melodic ostinato repeated in the bass is
called a ground bass.
Part. 1. The line or lines of music read by an individual performer or
multiple performers of the same instrument. For example, the viola
section of an orchestra consists of a group of violists reading the
same music, known as the"viola part." 2. A single melodic strand of a
polyphonic or contrapuntal texture, as in "two-part counterpoint" and
"four-part harmony." In this context, "voice" can also be used to mean
"part." 3. A section of a larger composition, used primarily to
describe a musical form, for example "three-part song form."
Phrase. A sub-section of a melodic line, generally longer than a
motive, and comparable to a clause or sentence within a paragraph of
written prose. Melodies and themes may be constructed out of several
phrases of equal or varied length.
Pizzicato. [pih-tzee-kah-toh] (Italian) "Plucked." An indication to
pluck (with the fingers) the string or strings of an instrument which
is usually bowed.
Polyphony (polyphonic). From the Greek for "many-sounding." Music in
which two or more "voices" are heard simultaneously; as opposed to
monophonic ("one-sounding") and homophonic ("like-sounding"). See
Recitative. [reh-sih-tah-teev] From the Italian "recitativo." A
declamatory style of singing designed to imitate the natural
inflections of speech. It was developed by a group of Florentine
intellectuals (c.1600) in an attempt to recreate the performance style
of ancient Greek tragedy, and became an essential feature of operas
and oratorios. In early Baroque operas, [cons/genres] the distinction
between recitative and aria was often blurred; by the late Baroque (c.
1700) the two were completely distinct in style and purpose, with
recitative used to propel the plot and aria used for poetic
reflection. In the Romantic period the lines between the two forms
began to blur again. Baroque and Classical opera featured two types of
recitative: recitativo secco ("dry recitative") featuring quick
articulation of the text, accompanied by harpsichord; and recitativo
accompagnato ("accompanied recitative"), more dramatic and melodic,
accompanied by the full orchestra
Rubato. [roo-bah-toh] (Italian) "Robbed." Also tempo rubato ("robbed
time"). The practice of performing music in a flexible, instead of
strict tempo. Rubato is one of the more controversial issues in
musical performance, as its precise manner of execution cannot be
precisely notated. However, the "appropriate" application of rubato is
often considered to be a sign of the "musicality" of a performer. What
sounds like "musical" rubato to one listener may sound overdone and
distorted by another.
Staccato. [stah-kah-toh] (Italian) "Separated." Notes which are held
for less than their written value, or "separated" from one another.
There are various degrees of staccato, and it can be notated in
various ways; the most common has a dot placed over or under the note.
Notes written to be played staccato are often played in a pointed or
Syncopation. An alteration of the expected rhythmic emphases: for
example, accenting a weak (instead of a strong) beat, or replacing
strong beats with a rest (silence). Syncopations disturb the regular,
predictable pattern of strong and weak beats. (See meter.)
Tempo. [tehm-poh] (Italian) "Time." The rate of speed at which a
musical composition is performed. Tempo is indicated by a tempo
marking (usually in Italian), which describes the general speed (and
often the mood) of a piece or section. Allegro, andante and adagio are
common tempo markings.
Theme. A musical idea on which all or part of a work may be based. The
theme is usually a melody or melodic fragment. A single theme may be
used as the basis for a set of variations. Most music is made up of at
least several different themes.
Timbre. [tam-bruh] Synonymous with tone color. The acoustical
properties of a specific instrument or voice which contribute to its
distinctive sound. For example, a flute has a different timbre than a
Tonality. Denotes the presence of a central key in a musical
composition. If the music moves to a different key (see modulation),
it is expected to return to the original key (called the tonic).
Tonality gives the ear a "center," providing a context in which melody
and harmony have "meaning." Atonality (prevalent in some 20th century
music) is music without any central key.
Tone. 1. Any stable sound; synonymous with pitch. 2. A quality of
sound, dependent in many ways on personal taste. For example, a person
may find a particular singer's tone to be beautiful, another may find
that same singer's tone to be unpleasant. 3. The mood of a musical
composition, similar to the use of the term in descriptions of
Trio. 1. A piece of music for three musicians (instrumentalists or
singers). 2. A contrasting middle section of a minuet, scherzo, or
Vibrato. [vih-brah-toh] (Italian) "vibrated." A slight fluctuation of
pitch on a sustained tone. String players produce vibrato by wiggling
the left hand back and forth (the right hand holds the bow); wind
players and singers use breath control. Judicious use of vibrato is
considered to be expressive. Excessive vibrato produces what is often
described euphamistically as a wobble.
Vivace. [vih-vah-chay] (Italian) "full of life," "flourishing,"
"vivacious." More an indication of mood than of tempo. It was often
used to modify a tempo indication, such as Allegro vivace ("Fast and
and then pick up a copy of the Harvard Dictionary of Music....