Music Dictionary

This is a work in progress.  Find the rest of the Music Dictionary here.

A 440

a1, equal to 440 vibrations per second, in unanimously adopted as the standard pitch.


Absolute

Absolute music. Music which is inspired by itself rather than extramusical implications such as the stories legends of “program” music.


A cappella

Unaccompanied.


Accelerando, accel

Gradually faster.


Accent

> placed above a note to indicate stress or emphasis.


Acciaccatura

A short appogiatura or grace note sounded simulatneously with the following note.


Accidental

A sharp, flat, or natural not included in the given key.


Accompaniment

A vocal or instrument part that supports or is background for a solo part.


Adagietto

Less slow than than adagio, or a short piece in adagio tempo.


Adagio

Slow; slower than andante, faster than largo.


Adagio assi

Very slowly.


Adagio cantabile

Very slow and sustained, as if being sung.


Addolorato

Sorrowfully.


Ad libitum, ad lib

A term which permits the performer to vary the tempo and/or to include or omit a vocal or instrumental part. Synonymous with a piacere.


A due

Return to unison after divisi.


Affrettando

Hurrying.


Agilmente

Lively.


Agitato

Agitated; with excitement.


Al, all’, alla, alle

To; used with other words, e.g. al Fine (to the end).


Album

A full length recording. In pop music, it contains a number of songs.


Al coda

“To the coda.”


Aleatory, or aleatoric music

Chance music in which the performers are free to perform their own material and/or their own manner of presentation.


Al fine

To the end.


Alla breve

Alla breveCut time; meter in which there are two beats in each measure and a half note receives one beat.


Allargando, allarg

Slowing of tempo, usually with increasing volume; most frequently occurs toward the end of a piece.


Allegretto

Slower than allegro.


Allegro

Quick tempo; cheerful.


Al segno

Return to the sign, Dal segno.


Alteration

The raising or lowering of a note by means of an accidental.


Alto clef

Alto ClefThe C clef falling on the third line of the staff. Most of the time is used by the viola.


Ancora

Repeat.


Andante

Moderate tempo.


Andantino

Slightly faster than andante.


A niente

To nothing, e.g. to ppp.


Animato

Animated; lively.


A piacere

Freedom in performance. Synonymous with ad libitum.


Appassionato

Impassioned.


Appoggiatura

A nonharmonic tone, usually a half or whole step above the harmonic tone, which is performed on the beat and then resolved.


Arabesque

A fanciful piano piece. Ornate passage varying or accompanying atheme.


Arpeggio

A term used to describe the pitches of a chord as they are sung or played one after the other, rather than simultaneously.


Arrache

Strong pizzicato.


Arrangement

An adaption of a composition.


Articulation

The degree to which notes are separated or connected, such a sstaccato or legato.


A tempo

Return to the previous tempo.


Atonality

Lacking a tonal center.


Augmentation

Compositional technique in which a melodic line is repeated in longer note values. The opposite of diminution.


Augmented

The term for a major or perfect interval which has been enlarged by one half-step, e.g. c-gSharp , (an augmented fifth,) or c-dSharp , (an augmented second). Also used for a triad with an augmented fifth, e.g. the augmented tonic triad in C major, C+, c-e-gSharp.


Authentic Cadence

The cadence composed of the progression from dominant (V) to tonic(I) harmonies.

 

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