• ABA Form

    Also known as Ternary form, ABA refers to a piece of music composed of two distinct sections: A section is followed by B section, A section returns and closes the work

  • Accent

    An articulated, short emphasis placed on the beginning of a particular note or chord

  • Adagio

    Tempo indication: to be played slowly, at ease

  • Affettuoso

    Indication to be played with tenderness and affection

  • Agitato

    Direction to play in an agitated manner

  • Allegretto

    Tempo indication to play briskly  

  • Allegro

    Tempo indication: fast and bright

  • Allemande

    Often the first dance of a Baroque suite, written in moderate four-four time and danced in a stately manner

  • Andante

    Moderately slow

  • Andantino

    A little faster and brighter than andante

  • Arpeggio

    Also known as the broken chord, an arpeggio is a musical technique when the notes of a chord are played individually instead of simultaneously from the bottom note upwards or top note downwards.

  • Cadenza

    From cadence, a cadenza is the improvised or written-out virtuoso passage played by a soloist during a concerto, often without orchestral accompaniment and generally in the first and last movements of a concerto.

  • Canon

    A compositional technique in which a melody is imitated after an interval

  • Cantabile

    A songlike style imitating the human voice; an indication of producing a legato of the melodic line with flexible tempo and accompaniment

  • Capriccio

    Capricious; a short, free form composition giving liberty to the performer to perform in an improvisatory style

  • Chromaticism

    Literally, movement by half-steps; also refers to the introduction of chromatically altered pitches that do not belong in the key of the piece

  • Cimbalom

    A large concert dulcimer originating in Hungary and played with small hammers rather than plucked or strummed

  • Coda

    A musical section used to wrap-up thematic material at the conclusion of a piece or movement

  • Con brio

    With life and spirit

  • Con moto

    With motion

  • Concerto Grosso

    Concerto for an orchestra composed in the Baroque era, music alternates between the concertino (soloists) and ripieno (full orchestra)

  • Contrary Motion

    Type of melodic motion in which two voices or parts move in opposite directions

  • Counterpoint

    A compositional technique in which the voices or parts are conceived as independent lines performed simultaneously

  • Courante

    A movement usually found in a Baroque suite; it is a triple meter, quick tempo dance

  • Cross rhythm

    The simultaneous use of conflicting rhythmic patterns

  • Décidé

    Indication to play firmly, decidedly

  • Development Section

    The second section of Sonata form: the development section immediately follows the exposition and usually incorporates previously heard thematic material through a series of modulations creating a sense of tonal ambiguity

  • Divertissement

    A light, entertaining piece, usually for ballets within French operas

  • Dotted rhythm

    A dotted note is a note with a small dot written after it indicating that the dot increases the duration of the note by half of its original value. Dotted rhythm is a repeated pattern of these crisp long-short notes

  • Double-dot

    Use of two dots after a note prolonging it by three-quarters of its original length

  • Episode

    Typically used to describe a secondary passage in a fugue, an Episode may also refer to a section of music containing thematic material of secondary importance

  • Ethnomusicology

    The study of music and dance throughout different cultures

  • Etude

    An instructional exercise designed to focus on improving a particular technical or musical skill of a performer

  • Exposition Section

    In Sonata form, the opening section, usually consisting of the principal melodic materials that will be heard throughout the work

  • Fantasia

    An improvisatory composition lacking a strict form

  • Fugue

    Compositional technique in which two or more voices repeatedly imitate a short melody called the subject or theme

  • Gavotte

    French folk dance found in Baroque suites in moderate four-four time

  • Gigue

    Loosely translated as “jig”, a lively Baroque dance in compound duple or triple time, and often found in Baroque suites 

  • Grave

    Slow and solemn

  • Hornpipe

    An animated dance of British origin usually in 3-beat time, popular from the 16th-19th centuries, resembling the jig

  • Intermezzo

    Lighthearted theatrical musical interlude between acts or scenes of an opera or play; also a movement of such character in instrumental music

  • Inversion

    1) the rearrangement of the notes in a chord so that the lowest note is not the root of the chord; 2) turning a melody upside down

  • Largo e piano

    very slow and quiet

  • Lebhaft

    Lively, brisk

  • Leggiero

    Literally, light, or to play as lightly as possible

  • Lento

    Tempo indication of very slow

  • Ma non troppo

    Literally “but not too much”

  • Maestro di violino

    Master of violin

  • Marcato

    A variation on staccato (“short”) articulation, marcato indicates to play short with slight elongation or emphasis

  • Melisma

    Originating in Gregorian chant, a technique of singing a group of notes for one syllable of text

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