Musical Terminology


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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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Please Note: We do not guarantee that this list is free from errors, typos etc. If you have spotted an error, please write to us and help us to correct it. Want to add to this list?  Email us at contact@musicalescapades.com

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