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Glossary

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z



 


A

a tempo

return to the original tempo

return to the original tempo

gradually getting faster

Adagio

quite slow

Allegro

fast and cheerful

Andante

easy walking pace / a moderate tempo

Arpeggio

broken chord in which the individual tones are sounded one after another instead of simultaneously

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B

Beat

regular steady pulse in music

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C

Call and response

style of song where a leader sings a phrase and the group responds with a phrase

Canon

song or piece of music in which one musical line strictly imitates another at a fixed distance throughout

Castanets

percussion instruments consisting of small wooden clappers that are struck together

Chord

three or more tones played simultaneously.  The most common chords are the major and minor chords

Claves

percussion instrument consisting of two wooden sticks that are tapped together

Compound meter / Compound time

meter in which each beat is subdivided into three rather than two

Crescendo

gradually getting louder or stronger

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D

Decrescendo

gradually getting softer

Diminuendo

gradually getting softer

Duple meter

basic metrical pattern where the measure is divisible by two

Dynamics

the loudness or softness of sound

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F

Forte

the italian term for "loud", indicated in the musical score by the marking "f"

Fortissimo

the italian term for "very loud", indicated in the musical score by the marking "ff"

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G

Gamelan

musical ensemble of Java or Bali, including gongs, chimes, metallophones and drums

Glissando

rapid slide through pitches of a scale, either ascending or descending

Glockenspiel

percussion instrument with horizontal, tuned steel bars of various sizes that are struck with mallets and produce a bright metallic sound

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I

Improvisation

refers to the spontaneous performance of music without prior preparation and without any written notes

Interlude

music played between sections of a piece of music

Interval

distance and relationship between two pitches

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K

Key signature

sharps or flats placed at the beginning of a piece to show the key of a work

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L

Largo

very slow

Legato

smooth and connected; opposite of staccato

Major scale

series of eight tones: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do

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M

Metallophone

percussion instrument consisting of tuned metal bars, usually struck with a mallet

Meter

organization of rhythm in time; the grouping of beats into larger, regular patterns, notated as measures

Mezzo forte

the Italian term for "moderately loud", indicated in the musical score by the marking "mf"

Mezzo piano

the Italian term for "moderately soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "mp"

Minor scale

a series of tones that defines a minor tonality, the natural minor scale can be written la, ti, do, re, mi, fa, so, la

Moderato

moderate

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O

Ostinato

a short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout a song / music piece or a section of one

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P

Pentatonic scale

a scale of five tones.   One example of a pentatonic scale often used with children is do-based pentatonic: do, re, mi, so, la

Percussion instrument

an instrument made of metal, wood, stretched skin or other material that is made to sound by striking, shaking, scraping or plucking. The many varied percussion instruments fall into two basic categories: pitched (such as xylophones and metallophones) and unpitched (such as a drum, tambourine or woodblock)

Phrase

musical unit, often a part of a melody.  A musical ‘sentence’ that is a part of a whole

Pianissimo

the Italian term for "very soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "pp"

Piano

the Italian term for "soft", indicated in the musical score by the marking "p”

Pitch

highness or lowness of a tone

Presto

very fast

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R

Rallentando

gradually slowing down

Range

distance between the lowest and highest tones of a melody, an instrument or a voice

Rhythm

while beat is a steady pulse throughout the music, rhythm is made up of long sounds, short sounds, and silence.  If you clapped the words of a song you would be clapping the rhythm of the song

Round

a part song (or musical piece) which starts off with the melody, then has other voices follow singing the exact same melody, but starting later, creating harmonies (for example, “kookaburra sits in the old gumtree")

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S

Scale

a series of tones or pitches in ascending or descending order. Scale tones are often assigned numbers (1-8) or syllables (do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do)

Scat singing

c a jazz style consisting of improvised vocals, made up of nonsense syllables

Solfeggio

The practice of singing exercises using syllables for each pitch (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do, etc…)

Staccato

 short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them

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T

Tambourine

percussion instrument consisting of a small round drum with metal plates inserted in its rim; played by striking or shaking

Tempo

rate of speed or pace of music

Timbre

the quality of a sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another

Tonic

 the note upon which a scale or key is based, the home note

Tonic Sol-fa

A technique of teaching music based on “moveable do”.  Uses syllables do, re, mi, etc...

Tremolo

rapid repetition of a tone; can be achieved instrumentally or vocally

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U

Unison

singing or playing the same note or melody at the same time

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V

Vivace

lively

 

 

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