Musical Terminology

Definitions, Musical Terms & Terminology – Commonly Used Vocabulary & Language in Music

Musical Terms & Terminologies

Here are some more commonly used Terms related to Music – If you want to increase your general knowledge by reading up on some technical and common music terms, have a look at the list below –

  • Minor – refers to a form of the tonal system and music based on the minor keys, generally having a melancholic and sad sound. In this diatonic scale the pattern or steps followed is – whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole – C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C
  • Monotone – repetition of a single tone.
  • Melody – musical notes when played in succession form a melody.
  • Musicology – is the study of music, its various forms and history.
  • Mute – To turn off or muffle the sound usually of an instrument.
  • Natural – a note which is in its normal pitch – neither higher nor lower (sharp or flat).
  • Nocturne – music meant for the night time, piece of music that brings about the nocturnal mood.
  • Notation – refers to how you write music.
  • Octave – represents the beginning and end of a Scale – from C to C – 8 full tones.
  • Octet – A musical piece or composition for 8 performers or musical instruments.
  • Opera – refers to a musical drama or presentation where the words are sung rather than spoken by each character. The pitch at which this musical drama is performed is usually high.
  • Orchestra – In an orchestra, a large group of musicians and instrumentalists play different kinds of musical instruments together.
  • Orchestration – means to write and arrange music especially to be played by an Orchestra.
  • Organ – this is a keyboard instrument. Sound of different pitches is produced when air passes through pipes of various size and forms.
  • Parody – is usually based on some previous work and it re-uses or recreates.
  • Pentatonic Scale – Such a scale is made of 5 notes.
  • Pitch – determines how high or low a sound is.
  • Polka – refers to a Bohemian dance, a popular ball-room dance of the 19th century.
  • Prelude – a piece of music that comes before or introduces another musical piece.
  • Presto – fast or quick
  • Progression – chords and their successive movement
  • Quarter note – Crotchet in western notation.
  • Quartet – refers to four musicians or performers.
  • Rhapsody – is a free style or form of instrumental musical piece.
  • Recital – is a performance either solo or with some accompaniment.
  • Relative Minor & major – The Major or minor scales having the same key signature.
  • Rhythm – refers to the arrangement or organization of notes based on time or their duration.
  • Scale – An ascending or descending lineup of notes of a key
  • Sharp – denoted by the symbol ‘#’ shows an increase in a note by one semitone.
  • Soprano – it is the highest female voice
  • Staccato – played briefly, short
  • Sonata – it is a complex piece of music
  • Stanza – a song’s verse
  • Symphony – A symphony is one piece consisting of three or four sections.
  • Staff – In order to write musical notations, a staff is used which consists of five parallel horizontal lines with spaces between them. Notations are written on and between these lines in a staff.
  • Tempo – means the time and defines the overall speed of a piece of music.
  • Timbre – is the quality of sound
  • Time Signature – helps to determine the number of beats to a measure and is depicted by a numeric sign in sheet music.
  • Tonality – refers to the tonic pitch or the relation between the notes and their tone.
  • Tonic – is the 1st tone or keynote in a scale
  • Treble – is usually used to mean the upper half of the vocal range.
  • Trio – meant for three
  • Triplet – A triplet is playing three notes in the same duration as two notes are normally played.
  • Trombone – is a brass instrument with a cup-shaped mouthpiece and a slide.
  • Tune – is the melodic arrangement of tones which creates a melody that can be played by a musical instrument or sung.
  • Tuning – Instruments are tuned by either lowering (bringing down) or or raising (bringing up) their pitch to improve / correct the tone of the notes.
  • Unison – is used when two or more singers sing the same notes together or when two or more instrumentalists play the same notes simultaneously.
  • Virtuoso – the term is used to refer to a talented performer who has great technical skills in music and performance.
  • Whole Note – is a note equivalent to two half notes and 4 quarter notes, also known as semi breve.

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