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Music dictionary

Music dictionary

A cappella Melody sung without accompaniment
A tempo Return to the normal speed of the piece
Accélérando Gradual acceleration of the tempo
Accent Sign placed on a note in order to give it a certain relief
Acciaccatura Non harmonic note played on the beat or just before it
Accidental Symbol placed before a note for raising or lowering it, one or two semitones
Accompaniment Set of chords supporting a melody
Acoustic Science that studies the issue, propagation and perception of sound
Adagio Italian term for a slow movement
Ad libitum Latin term allowing the musician a certain freedom of movement or repetition of a musical phrase
Allegro Fast enough musical movement
Alleluia Popular rejoicing & Spiritual song
Allemande Binary Dance of moderate tempo in the 17th century
Alto Vocal range located between the tenor and the soprano
Ambitus Interval between the lowest  and the highest notes of a melody
Amoroso Term expression meaning: play with feeling
Anacrusis Note or group of notes preceeding the first beat of a measure
Andante Speed indication of a movement, located between "andantino" and "adagietto"
Andantino Movement of a musical piece, a bit faster than "andante"
Antecedent First part of a musical phrase
Anticipation Non harmonic note or chord, which anticipates the following real note or chord
Appasionato With passion
Appoggiatura Expressive non harmonic notes located on the strong beats or strong part of the beat , which are resolved jointly on a note of the next chord
Arabesque Improvised or ornamental melody with free le-rythme
Aria Expressive melody sung
Arioso Air sung in a recitative style
Arpeggio Serie of successive and disjointed notes, which would form a chord if they were played simultaneously
Arranging Different stages of the realization of a musical piece, including: structuring, harmonization and orchestration
Articulation Clear statement of a musical phrasing by the use of accents and slurs
Athematic Music without apparent theme
Atonality Musical language that is no longer based on the harmonic and melodic tonal rules
Audio engineer Technician and artist working on the sound
Auditorium Acoustic place reserved for music listening
Augmented Interval larger than the major interval, or chord with a major third and augmented fifth
Background Accompaniment of a theme or a solo, placed behind
Bagatelle Small light musical composition for keyboard
Bagpipes A class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag
Balafon African percussion instrument made of wooden slats
Balalaika Small triangular Russian folk guitar with three strings
Balance Technical level adjustment and balance of the instruments and voices, before a concert
ballad Musical piece played in a slow and free tempo
Ballet (music) Music written for dance
Bandoneon Small accordion with no key for chords
Bandwidth Frequency range that can reproduce a sound recorder
Banjo Small guitar used in American folk music
Barcarolle Vocal or instrumental piece with swinging le-rythme
Bard Ancient singer poet
Baritone Tone of voice between tenor and bass
Barline Small vertical line between the bars of a musical piece
Barrel organ Portable mechanical organ operated by a crank
Baroque Period of the music history corresponding to the 17th century.
Bass (voice) The lowest part o harmony
Bass drum Element of a drum set , as a large drum activated by the foot
Bassoon Low double reed instrument,  part of the woodwind family
Beat le-rythmeic unit dividing a measure into several equal parts
Bebop Jazz style of the 40s
Bel canto Italian expression for an opera singing
Bellows Tool  powering some air in keyboard instruments (organ, accordion ..)
Big band Large jazz orchestra composed mostly of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a le-rythme section (piano, bass and drums)
Binary Beat divisible into two parts, or multiple of two
Bitonality Music superimposing two simultaneous keys
Blues Music style born among black American slaves in the late 19th century.
Blue note Minor third (or augmented 9th) placed over a dominant seventh chord
Bolero Spanish dance of the 17th century, in three beats
Bongos Afro-Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of small open bottomed drums of different sizes
Boogie Piano style of the early twentieth century, based on the ostinato le-rythme: dotted eighth note + sixteenth note
Booklet Literary work to be set to music at the opera
Bossa nova Brazilian popular dance music
Bottleneck Metal or glass tube placed around the finger to create a glissando effect on the strings of a guitar
Bourrée Popular old French dance
Bow Accessory used to vibrate the strings of string instruments
Brass Instrumental family including the trumpets, trombones, French horns and tubas
Bridge Piece located between the strings and the soundboard for separating the strings and transmitting their vibration
Cabasa Percussion instrument in Latin America
Cacophony Set of dissonant and discordant sounds
Cadence Suspensive or conclusive break occuring during a musical piece,  and going from a chord to another
Calypso Popular carnival music in the Caribbean
Cambiata Non harmonic note resolving disjointly to a real note of  the following  chord
Cantabile Musical piece played slowly and with expression
Cantarela La cuerda más aguda de un instrumento de cuerda
Cantata Composition from one to several voices, intended for concert or church
Cantus firmus Ancient liturgical melody made of long note values
Capotasto Device used on the neck of a stringed (typically fretted) instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch.
Castanets Wooden percussion used in Spanish music
Castrato Singer with a soprano voice
Celesta Percussion instrument close to a small piano made of  bells of a chime
Cello Low string musical instrument with four strings tuned in fifths
Chaconne Former Mexican Dance
Chalumeau Wind instrument, single or double reed,  oboe ancestor
Chanter The most acute string of a string instrument
Chimes Instrument consisting of a set of fixed bells

A combination of two or more sounds, played simultaneously

Chord chart Chord progression
Chord extensions Enrichment of jazz chords by the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth
Chord substitution Replace the chords of a harmonic progression by other chords, without changing the original theme
Chord symbols Notation system for chords representation, in the form of letters.   For example: CMaj7 = C Major 7th
Chorister Person singing in a choir
Chorus Chorus of a song or  whole or part of a jazz theme
Chromatic Melodic or harmonic motion, proceeding by semitones
Circle of fifths Ascending or descending sequence of notes or keys, separated by a perfect fifth interval
Clapper Percussion instrument made of two wooden sticks slammed hard against each other
Clarinette Reed instrument forming part of the woodwind family
Clave Percussion consisting of two hard and full wooden sticks
Clef Musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on one of the lines at the beginning of the stave, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on that line
Climax Culminating intensity point of a melody or a piece of music
Cluster Aggregate of dissonant sounds
Coda Conclusion of a musical piece
Coloratura Ornaments of a rich vocal line
Composer Musician creating and writing music
Concerto Instrumental musical form establishing a dialogue between a soloist and the orchestra
Conga Tall and narrow, single-headed drum from Cuba
Compound measure Measure in which the beats are ternary, that is to say, divisible by three or multiple of three
Consonances Melodic or harmonic intervals between 2 notes, giving a pleasant sound while listening. They are : the unisons, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and octaves
Continuo Figured bass played by a polyphonic instrument, born in the early 17th century and designed to achieve harmony in an instrumental ensemble
Counterpoint Melody superimposed on the main theme
Contralto The lowest female voice
Countrepoint writing Musical writing created by a superimposition of various independent melodic lines
Crescendo Gradually increasing sound
Cymbal Percussion composed of a circular plate of bronze, copper or tin
Cymbalum The cimbalom is a concert hammered dulcimer: a type of chordophone composed of a large, trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top
Da capo Repetition referring to the beginning of a musical piece
Decay Descending phase just after the attack of a sound and just before tits sustain phase
Decibel Unit of measure of sound intensity
Decrescendo Decreasing a sound gradually
Degree Position of a sound in a scale or a tonality
Desinence Resting phase and cool-down of a melody or a musical piece.
Development Modulating central part of a musical piece, in which the main themes are transformed
Diatonic Scale alternating tones and semitones
Diminished Interval smaller than the minor interval, or chord including a minor third and a diminished fifth
Disjointed Melodic motion proceeding by non successive notes, separated by  an interval of a minor third minimum
Disonances Melodic or harmonic intervals between 2 notes, giving an unpleasant sound while listening. They are : the seconds, sevenths, augmented fourths and diminished fifths
Distortion Effect used in the creation of distorted sounds
Djembe Drum from Guinea
Dodecaphonism Atonal composition system,  based on the twelve chromatic tones
Doigté Finger placement on an instrument
Dominant Fifth degree of a scale
Dot le-rythmeic sign placed after a note or a rest, that extends it half of its value
Double bass The lowest stringed instruments of the violin family
Double flat Sign located before a note, intended to lower it 2 semitones
Double sharp Sign located before a note, intended to raise it 2 semitones
Drone Constant bass note heard in the vielle or the bagpipes
Drum machine Programmable electronic instrument producing drum sounds
Drums Set of percussions
Duet Set of two musicians or singers
Duplet Set of two notes, which, placed in a compound measure worth three notes of the same value
Duplication Duplication of the note of a chord
Dynamics Dynamic assigned to a note, a sentence or a musical movement
Echappee Anticipated note  proceeding by contrary motion to its original interval
Echo Multiple reflections of the same sound
Effect (sound) Artificial modification of a sound
Eighth note Note value of half beat duration
Eighth rest A rest of one beat per bar
Eleventh Interval made of 11 consecutive degrees
English horn Reed wind instrument of the woodwind family
Enharmonic Two notes or tones of the same pitch but  of different names
EQ (sound) Technical process consisting of maintaining a balance of  the different frequencies of a sound
Ethnomusicology Study of music theories of different civilizations
Expander Electronic generator for  sounds or sound effects
Fanfare Street Orchestra, composed mainly of wind instruments and percussions
Farandole Traditional Provencal fast dance
Feedback Reinjection of a sound signal, in a loop
Feeling Sensitivity of the musician playing
Fermata Sign placed above a note, a chord or a rest, that temporarily extends their duration
Fifth Interval made of three tones + one semitone
Final Last part of a musical work
Flageolet Ancestor of the recorder
Flamenco Musical style and gypsy dance from Andalusia
Flat Sign placed before a note, for lowering it a semitone
Flugelhorn Large trumpet with a low and sweet sound
Flute Wind instrument of the woodwind family
Folk Popular traditional music in English language
Form Structure of a piece of music
Forte-piano Sound attacked with a dynamic  "Forte" immediately followed by a dynamic "piano"
Fourth Interval between two  notes separated by 4 consecutive degrees
Free jazz Jazz style born in the 50s, based on spontaneous improvisation without pre-established rules
French horn Wind instrument of the brass family
Frets Paralel metal strips placed on the neck of the guitar in order to indicate the different pitches of the sound
Fugue Musical form using a contrapuntal writing, in which several entries of the same subject occur successively
Funk Music genre that originated in the mid to late 1960s when African-American musicians created a le-rythmeic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, jazz, and R&B
Gain Increase or decrease of the amplitude of a sound signal
Gamelan Indonesian traditional orchestra
Gavotte Cheerful and quick popular French dance
Gigue Quick original English Baroque dance
Glissando Passage continuously slipped between two notes
Glockenspiel Percussion instrument made of lamellae vibrated by small hammers or keyboard
Gloria Sung liturgical piece located after the "Kirie eleison" in a Mass
Gong Very powerful circular metal percussion
Gospel Black American Spiritual song
Grace note Note or group of notes was intended to adorn a melodic phrase in the 17th and 18th century
Gramophone Ancestor of the turntable
Groove le-rythmeic interpretation of Afro Americans styles of music (funk, soul ..)
Groopie Female fan of musicians and rock bands
Gruppetto Adorno melódico de cuatro notas
Guirro Wooden percussion instrument of the caribbean, formed from a hollow gourd having rubbed cuts, rubbed by a small stick
Guitar Plucked string instrument with six strings
Habanera Binary and fast Cuban dance
Half cadence Rest on the dominant chord
Half diminished (chord) Chord consists of a diminished triad and a minor seventh
Half rest A rest of two beats per bar
Half tone Note value equal to two beats a simple measure
Hammered Kick-detached short and very accentuated note on string instruments
Hard bop Jazz style of the 40s and 50s, extending the  bebop current
Hard rock Musical style based on technical bidding and sound of rock
Harmonica Wind instrument following the same technique as the accordion
Harmonic bass Real bass note of a chord in root position
Harmonic frecuency Number of chords per bar
Harmonium Small organ with metal reeds without pipes, played by using a single keyboard
Harmonization Placement of chords in order to accompany a melody or a theme
Harmony Art of linking musical chords
Harp Plucked string instrument (47 strings)
Harpsichord Stringed musical instrument with one or more keyboards, each string being "pinched" by a "jack"
Haute-contre The most acute male voice
Hi-fi High-quality reproduction of sound
Hi hat Drum element composed of two superposed horizontal cymbals
Hip-hop Musical genre born of the street culture, and pioneering rap
Homonym Chords or keys having the same tonic, but a different mode; example: C major and C minor.
Home-studio Small recording studio at home
Hurdy-gurdy Stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings
Idiophone Type of instrument whose sound is produced by the material itself
Imitation Writing method establishing a dialogue between two successive vocal or instrumental parts
Infrasound Sound wave being at a frequency lower than 20 Hz
Impromptu Quite short piano composition, having the appearance of improvisation
Improvisation Spontaneous Composition of the moment
Interlude Small musical part located between acts or scenes of an opera
Intermezzo Piano or orchestral interlude
Intermission Interval between the representation of two acts at the theater, opera or concert
Interpretation Personal vision of a musician in the reproduction of a written musical work
Interval distance between two notes
Intonation Musician's realization of pitch accuracy, or the pitch accuracy of a musical instrument. Intonation may be flat, sharp, or both, successively or simultaneously
Invention Baroque musical piece from two to several voices, based on the process of imitations
Inversion (chord) To swap an extreme note of a chord, at the lower or higher octave
Jam session Musician meeting in order to engage some collective improvisations
Java Parisian popular dance of the early 20th century
Jazz African-American musical style born in North America in the early 20th century
Jerk American dance of the mid-60s
Jew's harp Lamellophone instrument, which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note
Jingle Short sound sequence illustrating an advertisement
Ionian Modal musical scale corresponding to the C major mode
Jukebox Machine designed to automatically play music stored on records
Karaoke Japanese game, which consists in singing songs on an instrumental recording
Kettledrum Skin Latin American percussion from Cuba
Keyboard Buttons set activated by the fingers in order to produce sound
Key signature All accidentals placed at the beginning of the stave, to give the key of a musical piece
Koto Chinese zither with thirteen strings
Kyrie Opening piece of the latin mass
Largo Slow metronomic Movement
Larsen Hissing created by the proximity of a microphone and a speaker
Leading tone Seventh degree of a range, located a semitone below the tonic
Legato Phrasing linking the notes of a melody without interruption
Leslie Amplification cab with a rotary speaker creating a vibrato effect
Leitmotif Short, constantly recurring musical phrase
Loudness Setting found in the wi-fi amplifiers, for obtaining a rounder bass frequency
Loudspeaker Box allowing the acoustic reproduction of a sound, by an electrical signal
Lullaby Sweet song intended to lull the children
Lute Plucked string instrument, ancestor of the Arabic ud
Lute-making Production of instruments of the violin family
Lyre Ancient plucked instrument, ancestor of the harp
Lyricist Musician who specializes in writing songs and (or) lyrics
Madrigal Theatre comedy set to music
Magnetic tape Tape for recording digital and analogue sound data
Maker Professional manufacturer of musical instruments
Mallet Stick used to strike or beat a percussion instrument in order to produce its sound
Major (chord) Chord constituted by a root, a major third and a perfect fifth
Mambo Musical genre and dance style from Cuba
Mandolin Plucked string instrument of Italian origin
Maracas Percussion musical instruments—rattles—that originated in Latin America
Marcato Very strong musical accent
March Instrumental le-rythmeic musical piece , of a military mood
Marimba Latin American percussion instrument looking like the xylophone, with wooden slats
Mastering Process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master)
Mazurka Fast Polish music and dance
Measure Dividing of a piece of music into equal parts
Mediant Third degree of a diatonic scale
Melody Serie of notes forming a musical phrase
Melodrama Show uniting a spoken text to a musical accompaniment
Membranophone Percussion instrument whose sound is produced by the vibration of a skin
Merengue Dominican music genre and dance
Method Educational musical book
Métronome Device indicating the speed of a musical performance
Mezzo-soprano  Female voice range, located between the soprano and alto
Microphone Device allowing to capture or enhance a sound source
Minor (chord) Chord made of a root of a minor third and a perfect fifth
Minstrel Singer musician and poet of the Middle Ages, speaking the "oil"  language
Minuet Ternary French slow dance
Mixed choir Vocal choir including female voices (soprano – alto) et male voices  (tenor – bass)
Mixing console Electronic device allowing to combine and process the sound signals
Modal Melodic or harmonic musical language based on teh ancient Greek modes, used between antiquity and the late Middle Ages.
Moderato Indication of a moderate movement
Modes Scales used in medieval modal music and rediscovered in modern French music of the early 20th century
Modulation Going from a key to another, and (or) a mode to another, during a musical piece
Monophonic One part music or recording on a single channel
Movment Indication of the speed of a musical piece
Mourhpiece Part of the instrument placed on the player's lips
Musette French popular music style of the early 20th century
Music amateur Person loving music
Musical dictation Exercise to find a melody, chord or a le-rythme at the hearing
Musicology Comprehensive analytical study of music
Mute Accessory designed to attenuate the sound of an instrument
Muted guitar Playing with a pick, by blocking the resonance of the guitar strings with the left hand, in order to obtain dry sounds
Natural Accidental which cancels previous accidentals and represents the unaltered pitch of a note
Neapolitan sixth Major triad of the second degree of a key, lowered by half tone and under its first inversion
Neck Part of string instruments, held by the left hand of the musician
Negro spiritual Song of the black slaves of the United States in the 17th century
Neighbourg tone Non harmonic note that ornaments the real note of a chord,  by tone or semi-tone, above or below,  that comes back to this real note
Ninth (interval) Interval of 9 consecutive notes
Neume Musical notation sign used in the Middle Ages
New orleans Jazz style of the early 20th century
Nocturne Brief musical piece for piano solo
Nut Small piece of wood, metal or ivory, located on the top of the neck of the stringed instruments, designed to maintain a certain distance between the strings
Oboe Wind instrument with a double reed,  part of the woodwind family
Ocarina Ancient wind musical instrument—a type of vessel flute
Octave Interval made of 8 consecutive notes
Octet Instrumental ensemble including eight instruments
Offbeat Note or chord played on the weak parts of the bar
Opera Musical sung on stage, based on a booklet and accompanied by an orchestra
Oratorio Dramatic lyrical work represented on stage
Orchestra instrumental ensemble
Orchestra pit Area in a theater (usually located in a lowered area in front of the stage) in which musicians perform
Orchestration Transposing a piece of music from one instrument to the orchestra
Organ (liturgical) Acoustic (or electric) wind instrument , provided with one or more keyboards, a pedal, and metal pipes of different sizes corresponding to the different heights of sounds
Ornamental chord A non harmonic chord, that ornaments a real chord, by tone or by semi-tone,  above or below
Ostinato le-rythmeic or melodic pattern repeated regularly
Out of tune Instrument having lost the ability to play right
Ouverture Introductory part of a musical piece, used in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a majestic mood, and generally heard at the royal court
Overtones Bright and light sounds obtained by slightly touching the strings of a string instrument
Ornament Small note adorning the main notes of a melody
Pastourelle Medieval musical genre in the songs of the troubadours
Passacaglia Popular dance of Spanish origin dating back to the Renaissance
Passing tone Non harmonic note that provides a melodic bridge between two real notes of a chord or not
Pattern Theme or part of a musical theme
Pavane Binary dance in the courts of the 16th and 17th centuries
Peg Key for tuning stringed instruments
Pentatonic Scale of Chinese origin including 5 sounds only (eg. C-D-E-G-A)
Percussion Instrumental family grouping instrument whose sound is produced by a shock
Phase Segment of a melodic phrase
Phasing Effect obtained by superimposing two identical sounds slightly displaced in time
Phone connector Connector typically used for analog signals, primarily audio
Phrase Part of a melody located between two punctuations
Phrygian Scale based on the natural Mi mode. (eg. E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E)
Piano (dynamic) Musical sign involving a soft dynamic
Picking Guitar playing technique used in the "country" style
Piston valve Device allowing the musician to change the pitch of brass instruments
Pizzicato Technique des cordes consistant à pincer les cordes avec les doigts pour obtenir un son sec.
Plainsong Body of chants used in the liturgies of the Western Church
Playback Instrumental prerecorded tape on which plays a soloist
Plectrum Small plastic piece designed to strum the guitar strings
Polka Quick Czech dance of the 19th century
Polonaise Court dance in three beats of Polish origin
Polyphony Music for two or more simultaneous voices
Polyle-rythme Layering of different voices with different le-rythmes
Polytonal superimposition of several tonalities
Pop music Set of different influences of popular musics of the sixties
Portamento Instrumental slip between two disjointed Notes
Potpourri Medley of very popular musical themes
Positive organ Small organ or keyboard of the liturgical organ
Prelude Introductory instrumental piece of an opera, or small free piece  usually written for piano
Presto Very fast movement of a musical piece
Progression (chords) Succession of chords
Pulsation Beat determining the tempo of music
Quadrille Dance that was fashionable in late 18th- and 19th-century Europe and its colonies
Quarter note Note value of 1 beat
Quarter rest Rest of 1beat, equivalent to the duration of a quarter note
Quartet Set of four instruments
Quintet Group of five musicians
Quintuplet Group of five notes of the same value as four identical notes
Ragtime American musical style of the early twentieth century, usually associated with piano
Rallentendo Gradual slowing of the tempo
Range Scope of a voice or an instrument
Rap Musical genre born in the United States, derived from hip-hop
Rattle Wooden percussion instrument producing a very shrill sound
Rhapsody Musical composition of rather free structure, for soloist or symphonic orchestra
Recitative Free singing style following the inflections of the spoken voice
Reed Slat single or double, vibrated through the air in order  to produce the sounds of wind instruments (woodwinds and saxophones)
Recording Electrical or mechanical inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects
Recording studio Soundproofed place for making audio recordings
Rehearsal Final rehearsal of a show in a real situation
le-rythme changes Chord progression including four chords:  I - VI - II - V
Recorder (tape) Device allowing the recording of sounds on a magnetic tape
Refrain Melodic part of a song, returning regularly and alternating with verses
Reggae Popular musical style born in the 60s in Jamaica
Register Range of a voice or an instrument
Relative keys Said of 2 tonalities separated each other from a  minor 3rd, one of which is major and  the other minor, and having the same number of alterations to the key. Example: C maj. and A min.
Release Final phase of extinction of a sound
Remix Balancing frequencies, volumes and effects of different recorded instruments and voices
Renaissance Period in the history of music corresponding to the sixteenth century
Repetition Repeating an integral part of a musical work
Résonance Vibration emitted by a sound
Resolution Phase back from a dissonance to a real note of a chord
Rest Musical sign designating a sound interruption
Retardation Non harmonic note establishing a dissonance with it, prepared by a slur in the previous chord and resolved jointly in the following chord
Reverberation Sound reflections on the walls of a room
le-rythme section Set of 3 or 4 instruments in an orchestra, providing the le-rythme of the orchestra (piano, bass, drums, guitar)
Rhodes (piano) Electric piano widely used in jazz of the 60s and 70s
Ricercar Baroque polyphonic piece, written in imitations
Riff Repetitive melodic or harmonic pattern
Rigaudon Music and folk dance from Provence county (France)
Rimshot  Percussion technique used to produce an accented snare drum backbeat. This sound is produced by simultaneously hitting the rim and head of a drum with a drum stick
Ritornello Recurring passage in Baroque music for orchestra or chorus
Rock Genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States
Rolling Rapid repetition shot, hitting a percussion instrument, alternating both hands
Romance French genre of the 16th and 17th centuries, synonymous with the term "melody"
Romanticism Period in the history of music corresponding to the nineteenth century
Rondo Musical structure alternating a chorus and several verses
Root Real bass note of a chord
Rubato Running a musical passage with great le-rythmeic freedom
Rumba Music genre and ballroom dance born in Cuba in the early 19th century
Salsa Musical genre and Latin American dance
Samba Style of music and popular dance in Brazil
Sample Extract of an audio clip
Sarabande Slow classical Music piece,  in 3 beats
Saxophone Metal wind instrument belonging to the woodwind family
Scherzo Quick and cheerful instrumental piece, derived part of the minuet
Second Interval between two notes separated by a semitone or a tone
Semitone Smallest interval between two notes
Septet Musical composition for seven voices and seven instruments
Sequence Transposition of a musical exerpt to other pitches
Serenade Piece of music played  or sang in honor of a person
Seventh Interval between two notes separated by seven consecutive degrees
Sextolet Group of six equal notes used in a simple measure
Sharp Sign located before a note, intended to raise it a semitone
Sheet music Handwritten or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols
Shuffle Ternary le-rythme equivalent of Swing
Sight reading Sight reading and performing a musical score
Simple measure Measure in which the beats are binairy,  that is to say, divisible by two or multiple of two
Sincopated le-rythme le-rythme accented on a weak beat and extended over a strong beat  by a slur or a dot
Sixteenth note Note value of half beat
Sixth Interval consisting of 6 consecutive notes
Ska Music style in 2 beats,  from Jamaica
Slap Bass technique consisting of striking the strings with the thumb
Soloist Person who sings or performs a solo instrumental work
Sonata Instrumental composition containing several movements
Sonata structure Structure of a movement of a musical form, including one to three themes of different keys interconnected by bridges, and usually including an introduction, exposition, development and coda
Song Sung popular musical form, alternating a chorus  with several verses
Soprano The most acute female voice
Sostenuto Musical phrase well sustained
Soul music Main musical genre of the black American community
Sound board Sound box of a musical instrument
Soundtrack Audio support including sound effects and music for a film
Sound system Combination of microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, and loudspeakers that makes live or pre-recorded sounds louder and may also distribute those sounds to a larger or more distant audience
Speaker Electromechanical transducer for producing sounds from an electrical signal
Spinet Ancestor of the harpsichord
Staccato Detached brief phrasing
Standard (jazz) Jazz theme became famous with time
Stave Set of 5 parallel lines and 4 spaces on which are written all the music symbols
Steel drum Percussion instrument of the caribbean
Stereo Recording technique using two sensor sources
Stride Technique of the left hand of the pianist, alternating basses and chords
Study Short musical piece with didactic goal
Subdominant Fourth degree of a scale
Subject Unique theme of a fugue
Submediant Sixth degree of the diatonic scale
Suite Musical form based on a succession of ancient dances
Supertonic Second degree of a scale
Sustain note Sustained or repeated notes or chords
Stand Device that holds sheet music in a position that allows the musician to read it while performing
Stem Vertical line starting from the head of a note
Strong beat First and third beats of a 4 beat measure
Swing Jazz dancing style of the 30s
Symphony Instrumental composition in several movements, intended for large orchestra
System Set of two or more staves
Synthesizer Electronic musical instrument that generates electric signals converted to sound through loudspeakers or headphones
Tablature Graphic representation of the guitar neck
Tambourine Percussion instrument from the skin family
Tango Ancient dance of Latin America
Temperament Distribution of intervals of the scale on a keyboard or other instrument
Tempo Term indicating the speed of execution of a musical work
Tenor Normal vocal range of men
Ternary Measure in triple beats or division into three equal parts of the beat
Tetrachord Set of four consecutive notes of a scale
Texture Sound qualities of a sound
Thème Main melody of a musical composition
Theory Technical study of the musical language
Third Interval including 3 consecutive degrees
Third of Picardie Substitution of the minor third of a tonic chord, by a major third
Thirteenth Interval made of of thirteen consecutive notes
Thirty second rest Silence of 1/16th of beat, equivalent to the thirty second note
Thirty second note Note value of 1/16th of the beat
Threnody Practice the theory of melody in ancient greece
Theory (music) Technical for teaching music reading
Timbre Quality used to identify sound
Tocsin Signal sounded by a bell or bells, especially with reference to France, or to the bell itself
Tom-tom  Percussion included in the gongs family
Tone Tonality of a musical piece
Tonic First degree of a scale
Touch The way to approach a musical instrument by a finger or hand
Tremolo Rapid repetitions of one or several notes, giving a shudder effect
Tie (or slur) Musical sign placed above or below a group of notes to indicate a  phrasing "legato", or between two successive notes of the same pitch to extend the first one without repeating the second one
Transcription Transcribing and simplify an orchestral score for a solo instrument
Transposition Exercise consisting of raising or lowering the pitch of a musical piece
Triad Perfect corde made of  three sounds (root, third and fifth)
Triangle Percussion instrument from the family of metals
Trill Rapid alternation between two adjacent notes
Trio Musical ensemble composed of three instruments
Triplet Set of three notes, which, placed in a simple measure, worth the value of two notes of the same value
Triad A chord of three sounds that includes a major third and a perfect fifth (major), or a minor third and a perfect fifth (minor)
Tritone Melodic or harmonic interval of augmented fourth, made of three tones
Trombone Instrument with a slide,  part of the brass family
Troubadour Poet musician and composer in oc language, in the Middle Ages
Trumpet Mouth musical instrument, part of the brass family
Tune (to) Put an instrument in agreement with the other instruments of an  orchestra
Tuning fork Small instrument giving the reference sound (A3),  allowing the  orchestral instruments to tune
Tuner Professional tuning the polyphonic string instruments
Tuba Low wind instrument of the brass family
Tuplet Group of seven notes of equal values, equivalent to one beat
Ultrasound Acute frequency imperceptible to the human ear
Unison A same note played by two instruments
Ut "C" note
Variation Musical form based on a series of variations on a single theme
Velocity Virtuosity of the performing musician
Verse Stanza of a song, alternating with a chorus
Vibes American electronic percussion instrument consisting of metal plates struck by mallets
Vibration Sound effect created by the play of two different simultaneous sounds
Viol Any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments that first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and was most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods
Viola d'amore Musical instrument belonging to the family of bowed strings
Violin Stringed bowed musical instrument with four strings tuned in fifths
Virginals Keyboard instrument of the harpsichord family. It was popular in Europe during the late Renaissance and early baroque periods
Virtuoso Musician showing a great vocal or instrumental technicality
Vivace Quick Speed interpretation of a musical piece
Vocalise Virtuoso and ornamental vocal melody based on scales and arpeggios
Vocoder Electronic module which distorts the sound of a voice
Voice Set of sounds produced by the friction of the air in the lungs, and by the vibration of the vocal cords
Voicing Arranging of the notes of a chord
Volute Carved Part in the shape of a spiral, located at the top of the handle of bowed instruments
Vu-meter Device displaying a representation of the signal level in audio equipment
Walking-bass Jazz bassist playing, based on regular quarter notes
Waltz Three beat dance
Weak beat Second and fourth beats of a 4 beat measure
Whole note Note represented by a hollow oval note head, like a half note (or minim), and no note stem (see Figure 1). Its length is equal to four beats in 4/4 time
Whole rest Rest of 4 beats, equal to the whole note
Woodblock Small, two-toned slit drum made from a single piece of wood and used as a percussion instrument
Woodwinds Instrumental family of the orchestra, composed of wind instruments (flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons ..)
World music Musical genre covering the ethnic languages of the world
Wrong chromatic relationship Said of two chromatic notes of the same name (eg. C and C#) that are not located at the same height, in a harmonic progression
Wurlitzer Electric piano in vogue in the 60s and 70s
XLR (connector) Professional audio connector
Xylophone Percussion instrument from the family of idiophones including metal strips arranged as a piano keyboard
Zarzuela Spanish operetta from 17th century
Zither Ancient stringed musical instrument

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