Dictionary Of Musical Terms


A Cappela - Singing without instrument accompaniment

Adagio - a music notation meaning play slowly

Allegretto - a moderately fast tempo

Allegro - a fast and bright tempo

Alto - the second highest of the four voice ranges (baritone, bass, soprano)

Andante - a slow tempo

Arpeggio - in music, a group of chords or notes that is played one right after the other


Ballad - a poem set to music, or a story told in a song

Band - a group of musicians that perform music

Bar - a segment of time, measured by a given number of beats in a given amount of time

Baritone - the most common male voice range between tenor and bass (alto, bass, soprano)

Bass - the lowest of the four voice ranges (alto, baritone, soprano)

Beat - the rhythm of music

Blues - an American form of music related to jazz


Choir - a music ensemble of singers

Chord - a set of two or more notes played simultaneously

Chorus - a large group of singers that perform together

Clef - a symbol placed at the beginning of music to identify which notes are indicated by the lines and spaces, the most common being bass and treble

Composer - a person who writes music

Concert - a public musical performance

Crescendo - grow progressively louder


Decrescendo - decreasing volume gradually

Dolce - sweetly, softly, or with emotion

Duet - composition that is performed by two musicians


Encore - the demand for another appearance after the performance has ended

Ensemble - a group of musicians that perform together


Falsetto - a technique in which a male voice can reach notes outside of his range, generally in the range of soprano or alto

Fine - the end

Flat - a symbol indicating that a pitch should be lowered a half step

Forte - loud and strong


Glee Club - a club, usually for only males, that is organized for singing compositions

Grosso - full and grand


Harmony - multiple notes combined to produce chords

Hymn - a song of praise


Instrument - a device used to create music, major classifications include woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings

Interval - the distance between two pitches

Intro - the opening section of a composition


Jazz - a form of music which originated in the southern US, mainly New Orleans, Louisiana


Key - a specific scale or series of notes defined as major or minor


Largo - slow and stately

Lyrics - the words of a song


Measure - the same as a bar, a segment of time, measured by a given number of beats in a given amount of time

Melody - an arrangement of notes in a meaningful sequence

Meter - a measure of time


Note - a musical notation depicting the duration and pitch of a sound


Octave - the interval between one pitch and another

Orchestra - a large instrumental ensemble with brass, woodwind, string, and percussion sections

Overture - the introduction to a dramatic composition


Percussion - instruments that vibrate when struck or shaken

Polyphonic Music - music that is arranged in parts for several instruments or voices

Presto - very quickly


Quartet - an ensemble of four musicians


Rhythm - the movement of music in time


Scale - a group of notes in a certain key that are arranged in ascending or descending order

Score - an alternative term for sheet music

Sharp - a symbol indicating that a pitch should be a half step higher

Sheet Music - any piece of paper with a musical composition printed on it

Solo - a musical composition played or sang by a single performer

Song - a musical composition containing lyrics which are accompanied by musical instruments

Soprano - the highest of the four voice ranges (alto, baritone, bass)

Staccato - notes played in a short, detached manner


Tablature - a musical notation which uses symbols or letters in place of notes on a staff to describe a pitch

Tempo - the speed at which a composition is performed

Tenor - the highest male voice range

Tone - a musical sound

Tune - the process of adjusting the pitch of tones from an instrument


Upbeat - the last beat of any measure, named for the upward swing of the conductor's hand


Vocal - a term used to describe the voice as an instrument, or to describe music that is sung


Whole Note - a musical note with a length equal to four beats