• Meno mosso

    Less quickly

  • Minuet

    French dance in triple meter normally in ABA form, the B section being a contrasting trio form, and often found in Baroque suites

  • Moderato


  • Molto

    Very, much

  • Motive, Motif

    The shortest melodic and/or rhythmic figure that is intelligible and self-existent; motives are derivative of themes and may be as short as two notes

  • Non assai

    Not very

  • Non tanto e con fuoco

    Indication to play not too much but with fire, fury

  • Obbligato

    An independent accompanying melodic part to the main melody; also known as a countermelody

  • Ostinato

    Repetition of a musical phrase or rhythm throughout the duration of a section or an entire composition

  • Partita

    A solo instrumental composition, the partita developed from a variation into a collection of pieces

  • Pedal Point

    In harmony, a long sustained note usually occurring in the bass with changing harmonies above it

  • Piu mosso

    More quickly

  • Pizzicato

    A technique by which the strings are plucked rather than bowed

  • Polyphony

    Musical texture in which two or more independent voices or instruments are contrapuntally intertwined

  • Polytonal

    The simultaneous use of two or more independent keys

  • Prelude

    An introductory piece preceding a fugue, suite, opera, or another substantial musical composition

  • Presto

    Very fast

  • Quasi maestoso

    As if majestic and stately

  • Quasi minuetto

    As if a minuet

  • Recapitulation

    The last section of Sonata form, following the exposition and development, in which the initial thematic material is repeated, more or less in its original form

  • Recitative

    Declamatory vocal style of speech-like, free rhythmic form to represent dialogue in contrast to the sung style of arias

  • Rhapsody

    A one movement episodic work featuring a diverse range of moods, color, and tonality combined with a sense of improvisation

  • Ritornello

    A reappearing passage in Baroque compositions typically found in chamber works, vocal pieces, and concerti; similar to tutti

  • Rondo

    A compositional style in which one section intermittently returns between contrasting sections;

    e.g., ABACAD, A being the recurring theme; also known as the refrain theme

  • Sarabande

    Slow Baroque dance in triple meter that emphasizes the second beat with dragging dance steps and alternating tied rhythms, typically the third movement of a Baroque suite

  • Scherzo

    Translated as “joke”: scherzos are written in ¾ meter and AB form, the B section assuming the form of a trio, and use elements of surprise typically replacing the minuet as the third movement in larger compositions.

  • Semi-Tone, Half Tone

    In Western music, the smallest interval between two notes

  • Semplice


  • Sequence

    The repetition of a short musical passage at a higher or lower pitch, or in the case of a harmonic sequence, in a series of chords

  • Sforzando

    Musical indication that a note or chord is accented or played in a forceful manner

  • Siciliano

    Pastoral in character, a Baroque movement embodying the form of a slow jig with a characteristic dotted rhythm

  • Sonata Form

    At its most basic, a type of music construction prominent in the Classical and Romantic periods, typically consisting of three sections—Exposition, Development, and Recapitulation, occasionally followed by a coda

  • Sonatina

    From sonatine, a sonatina is the elementary version of a sonata designed for teaching, often more basic in form and lighter in character

  • Sostenuto

    Sustained; indication of a slightly slower tempo and instructions to smoothly sustain notes to their full value

  • staccato

    Form of musical articulation, signifying an unconnected note, which is separated or detached from its neighbors by a silence.

  • Stretto

    In a fugue, the imitation of the subject theme in close succession

  • Strophic

    A simple song form in which the same music accompanies each stanza, occasionally with minor variations

  • Suite

    A set of pieces, usually dances in a respective key for solo or orchestra, the five typical movements consisting of the: Overture, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue

  • Sul ponticello

    ‘On the bridge’: instruction to bow close to the bridge to produce a thin, glassy sound

  • Symphony

    At its most basic form, the typical four-movement orchestral work consists of: opening movement, slow movement, minuet or scherzo, and finale

  • Syncopation

    Rhythmic device that gives the feeling of lively and irregular rhythm by changing the emphasis from strong beats to weak beats

  • Tarantella

    A Neapolitan dance in 6/8 time

  • Tempo giusto

    Strict tempo or in exact time

  • Toccata

    Virtuosic keyboard composition written in an improvisatory style utilizing chord and running passages, occasionally includes imitative or fugal

  • Tonal center

    A centralized pitch to which all pitches have a specific relationship with in a movement, section, or work of music

  • Tonic

    The first scale note of a key and its tonal center

  • Tremolo

    A musical effect of shaking or trembling created by rapid back-and-forth bow strokes or rapid alternation of two notes

  • Tres anime

    Animated and lively

  • Trill

    An ornamentation of a more or less rapid alternation of a note with the note or semitone above or below it

  • Vivace

    Quick and lively

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