accelerando
Quickening the pace.
arpeggio
A chord whose notes are performed in succession, not simultaneously.
articulation
The direction or performance technique that affects the transition or continuity on single note or between multiple notes or sounds.
baritone
Male voice between bass and tenor.
bass
The lowest male voice.
brass
Collective term for musical instruments made of brass or other metals and blown directly through a cup-shaped or funnel-shaped mouthpiece.
call-and-response
Alternation between two performers or groups of performers.
canon
A composition, or section of a composition, in which a melody announced by one voice or instrument is repeated by one or more other voices or instruments.
composition
A piece of music regarded as the result of a deliberate individual creative act.
concerto
Usually a three-part musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.
contralto
Lower type of female voice.
crescendo
Increasing in loudness.
diction
Correct and clear enunciation in singing.
diminuendo
Becoming gradually softer.
dynamics
The gradations of loudness and softness in music.
ensemble
The quality of teamwork in performance; also, a group of performers.
enunciation
Singing or speaking words clearly.
harmonic progression
(also called chord progression) A series of musical chords, or chord changes, that establishes or contradicts a tonality.
harmony
The simultaneous sounding of notes in a way that is musically significant.
homophony
When two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords.
interval
The distance between two notes.
intonation
Tuning of pitch.
legato
Smoothly.
melody
A succession of notes varying in pitch and having a recognizable musical shape.
meter
The pattern in which a steady succession of rhythmic pulses is organized; also called time.
mezzo soprano
Type of female voice halfway between soprano and contralto range.
monophony
When all parts (if there are multiple parts) move in parallel rhythm and pitch.
note value
The duration of a note.
ostinato
A persistently repeated musical figure or rhythm.
percussion
Collective name for instruments in which a resonating surface is struck by the player.
phrase
A small group of notes forming what is recognized as a unit of melody.
pitch
The property according to which notes appear to be “high” or “low” in relation to each other. This is determined by the frequency of vibrations of the sound-producing agent.
polyphony
When two or more parts move with rhythmic independence.
presto
Fast.
rest value
The duration of a rest between notes.
rhythm
Aspect of music concerned with the distribution of notes in time and their accentuation. Related to the concept of meter.
ritardando
Becoming slower.
rondo
A musical form with a principal theme that alternates with one or more contrasting themes.
round
A musical composition in which two or more voices or instruments perform exactly the same melody, but with each voice beginning at different times.
signature
The time signature, which gives the meter of a piece of music, and the key signature, which lists the sharps and flats in the key the music is in, both appear at the beginning of a piece of music. The time signature does not appear again unless the meter changes, but the key signature appears on every staff.
solfège
Method of ear-training and sight-reading by which the pupil names each note of a melody by singing it.
sonata
Usually a work in three or four movements for one or two players.
soprano
The highest type of female voice.
staccato
A method of performance denoted by a dot over the note, and signifying that the note is to be made short—and thus detached from its successor—by being held for less than its full length.
staff
A set of horizontal lines upon which notes are placed in written music notation.
strings
Collective term for instruments that are stringed, including violins, violas, cellos, and basses.
symphony
An orchestral work of a serious nature and a substantial size. Most are in four movements.
tempo
Time or pace.
tenor
Highest male voice.
timbre
An individual quality of sound. This usually refers to the characteristic difference between the tone colors of different instruments.
tonality (major and minor)
A general adherence to the key system.
tone color
The quality that distinguishes a note as performed on one instrument.
triad
A three-note chord consisting of a particular note plus its third and fifth above.
variation
A passage of music intended as a varied version of some given passage. Such variations may diverge only slightly from the theme, mainly by melodic ornamentation.
woodwinds
Collective name for those types of wind instruments historically and generally made of wood—either blown directly or through a reed. Examples include flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon.