A Glossary of Classical Music Terms (2022)

By John J. Puccio

If you’re like me, from time to time you may have to lookup an occasional musical term; thus, with the help of the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, and other such referenceworks, I’ve compiled this little guide to some of the most commonly usedclassical music expressions you might run across, alphabetically arranged.

If you need to refer to the glossary again, you’ll find itin the left-hand column of every page.

A cappella:Without orchestral accompaniment.

A piacere: Anindication for a performer to play according to his own pleasure, especially inregard to tempo and rubato.

Abbellimenti:Embellishments; ornamentation.

Absolute music:Music free of extramusical associations, usually thought of as the opposite of“program music,” where the music describes something, a scene or a poem. Peoplesometimes call absolute music “abstract music.”

Accelerando or accelerato:Faster, or becoming faster.

Accent: Anemphasis on one pitch or chord; a stress or emphasis given to certain notes.

Accompaniment:The musical background for a principal part.

Adagietto: Atempo a bit faster than adagio. Also, a brief composition in a slow tempo.

Adagio: Slow,somewhere between andante and largo. Also, a brief composition in a slow tempo,especially the second, slow movement of a sonata, symphony, etc.

Affabile:Gentle; pleasing.

Affettuoso:Affectionate; tender.


Air: A song,tune, or aria in general. Also, in Baroque suites and later, a movement of amelodic rather than dancelike character.

Alla: In themanner of.

Alla breve: Atempo mark indicating quick duple time.

Allargando:Slowing down, becoming broader, usually with a corresponding crescendo.

Allegretto:Moderately fast but not so fast as allegro. Also, a short piece in fast tempo.

Allegro: Fast.Also, a composition in fast tempo, especially the first or last movement of asonata or symphony.

Allemande: Adance in moderate duple time, first appearing in the 16th century.

Allentando:Slowing down.

Alto: A femalevoice of low range; sometimes called contralto; also, the second-highest partof a four-part chorus and, applied to the clarinet, flute, saxophone, etc., thesecond or third-highest member of the family.

Amabile:Amiable; with love.

Amore or Amorevole:With love.

Andante: Amoderate or “walking” tempo, between allegretto and adagio.

Andantino: Ashort piece of andante tempo or character; sometimes, also, a tempo veryslightly quicker than andante.

Animo:Spirited; sometimes written as “con animo” or “animoso.”

Appoggiatura:An ornamental or embellishing note, usually melodically connected with the mainnote that follows it and taking a portion of its time.


Ardore, con:With ardor.

Aria: Acomposition for solo voice; also, a short instrumental piece of songlikecharacter.

Arpeggio: Thenotes of a chord played one after another instead of simultaneously.

Articulation:The characteristics of attack and decay of single tones or groups or tones.

Assai: Much, asin “allegro assai” or quite fast.

Atonality: Theabsence of tonality; the absence of key or tonal center.

Attack: Thecharacteristics of the beginnings of a sound.

Bagatelle: Ashort, light piece, usually for piano.

Barcarole: Aboating song of Venetian gondoliers or any song in imitation of the style.

Baritone: Themale voice between bass and tenor; also, when applied to instruments (oboe,horn, saxophone), any size above the bass.

Baroque: Inmusic history, the period from approximately 1600 to 1750. In personal history,the period following a visit to Harrah’s Tahoe Casino.

Bass: Thelowest of men’s voices; also, as applied to instruments, the lowest and usuallylargest of any family.

Battaglia: It.,battle. A composition that features, drum rolls, fanfares, and the generalcommotion of battle.

Batterie: Thepercussion group of an orchestra.

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Bel canto: It.,beautiful singing. The Italian vocal technique of emphasizing beauty of soundand brilliance of performance over dramatic or romantic expression.


Bitonality: Thesimultaneous use of two (sometimes more) different keys in different parts of acomposition.

Bourdon:Usually, a low note of long duration, like a drone or pedal point.

Bourrée: A17th-century French dance.

Breve, brevis:Short. A note value that is brief.

Brio, con; brioso:With spirit, vigor, or vivacity.

Cantata: Acomposite vocal form consisting of a number of movements based on a continuoustext.

Cantabile:Singable; songlike and flowing in style.

Capriccio: Ahumorous or capricious piece of music.

Chanson: Song,for one or more voices.

Chant: Ageneral term for liturgical music similar to plainsong. More specifically, theliturgical music of the Christian churches.

Chorale: A hymntune of the German Protestant Church. Also, a choir.

Chord: Acombination of three or more tones sounded simultaneously, two simultaneoustones usually being designated as an interval.

Chromatic: Thescale that includes all of the twelve pitches contained in an octave.

Classical: Allart music as opposed to popular music. Also, the period of music from about1770-1830.

Clavier: Frenchterm for keyboard.

Coda: Aconcluding section or passage, more or less independent of the basic structureof a composition, usually to indicate closure or finality.

Con: With.

Concerto: Acomposition for orchestra and solo instrument or small group of instruments.

Concerto grosso:An important type of Baroque concerto, characterized by a small group of soloinstruments against a full orchestra.

Consonance,dissonance: Subjectively, combinations of pitches that are pleasing ordispleasing.

Continuo: FromBaroque scores on, the bass part, usually performed by the harpsichord or organtogether with a viola da gamba or cello.

Contralto: Thelowest female voice; usually, the same as the alto voice.

Counterpoint:Music consisting of two or more melodic lines that sound simultaneously.

Crescendo,decrescendo: Terms for the increasing or decreasing of loudness.

Cyclic:Compositions in which related thematic material is used in all or some of themovements.

Diminution: Therepetition or imitation of a subject or theme in notes of shorter duration thanthose first used.

Dirge: A vocalor instrumental composition written for performance at a funeral.

Divertimento:An instrumental composition in several movements, light and diverting incharacter, similar to a serenade.

Dolce: Performed softly, gently, sweetly.

Dynamics: Theaspect of music related to degrees of loudness.

Elegy: A pieceof music with a mournful quality; a lament.

Embellishment:Ornamentation; auxiliary tone.

Ensemble: Agroup of musicians performing together.

Entr’acte: Ausually instrumental piece performed between acts of an opera or play.

Epilogue: Acoda or concluding part.

Espressivo:Expressive, expressively.

Etude: Amusical composition, usually instrumental, intended mainly for the practice ofsome point or technique, sometimes designed purely for study, sometimes alsofor public performance.

Exposition: Insonata form, the first section containing the statement of themes. In a fugue,the first as well subsequent sections containing the imitative presentation ofthe theme.

Expressionism:The use of distortion, exaggeration, symbolism, and abstraction as means ofemphasizing and conveying a composer’s subjective ideas to a listener.


Falsetto: Themale voice above its normal range.

Fanfare: Ashort tune, a flourish, for trumpets and the like.

Fantasy:Fantasia; a composition of fanciful or irregular form or style.

Finale: Thelast movement of a musical composition or performance.

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Flauto: Flute,although up until the middle of the 18th century, it used to mean recorder.

Flourish: Atrumpet call or fanfare; a showy or decorative passage.

Forte: Loud.

Fortissimo:Very loud.

Fugue: Apolyphonic composition based upon one or more themes enunciated by severalvoices or parts in turn, subjected to contrapuntal treatment, and graduallybuilt up into a complex form having somewhat distinct divisions or stages ofdevelopment and a marked climax at the end.

Gigue: InBaroque suites, one of the four standard dance movements, often the final one;evolved from the Irish or English jig.

Giusto: Just,right; fitting tempo or strict tempo.

Glee: An18th-century form of English choral music, unaccompanied, in three or moreparts.

Gregorian chant:The liturgical chant of the Roman Catholic Church, named after Pope Gregory I(Pope from 590 to 604), whom tradition says first formulated the repertory.

Gross: Large,great.

Ground, groundbass: A short melodic phrase repeated again and again as a bass line, withvarying music for the upper parts.

Harmony: Thecharacteristic of music consisting of simultaneously sounded pitches or tonesas opposed to simultaneously sounded melodies or lines.

Hymn: A song ofpraise, usually to a god or hero.

Idee fixe:Hector Berlioz’s name for the principal subject of his Symphonie fantastique; a “fixed idea” recurring in all movements ofa musical work.

Impressionism:A term borrowed from painting in which there is a concern for light and itsperception rather than the symbolic, literary, or emotive value of the thingperceived; thus, there is an avoidance of traditional musical forms. Acomposition suggesting lush harmonies, subtle rhythms, and unusual tonal colorsto evoke moods and impressions.

Impromptu:Character pieces marked by an offhand or extemporized style.

Improvisation,extemporization: The art of creating music spontaneously in performance.

Incidental music:Music used in connection with a play.

Interlude:Music played between sections of a composition or dramatic work.

Intermezzo: Alight theatrical entertainment introduced between the acts of a play or opera.

Interval: Thedistance (in terms of pitch) between two pitches.

Kapellmeister:Originally an honorable title (chapel master) for the conductor of a small orprivate orchestra, band, or chorus; now an old-fashioned provincialism forconductor.

Key: In a tonalcomposition, the main pitch or tonal center to which all of the composition'spitches are related.

Key signature:The sharps or flats appearing at the beginning of each staff to indicate thekey of the composition.

Klavier: Piano.

Lament:Compositions commemorating the death of a famous person; a song used atfunerals or mournful occasions.

Landler: AnAustrian dance in triple meter, very much like a slow waltz; it was popular inthe early 19th century before the waltz came into vogue.

Larghetto:Somewhat slow; the diminutive of “largo” and, therefore, slightly faster.

Largo: A veryslow tempo.

Lauda: Hymns ofpraise or devotion in Italian.

Legato: Playedwith no interruption between notes.

Leitmotiv orLeitmotif: Leading motif. Coined by Wagner to designate certain motifs usedin association with certain characters, ideas, or situations in his music.

Lento: Slow.

Libretto: Thetext of an opera or oratorio.

Lied, Lieder:Song, songs.

Lieto: Joyful.

Litany: Aseries of solemn supplications addressed to God or the Saints.

Liturgy: Theauthorized service of a Christian church.

Lunga, lungo:Long or long rest.

Madrigal: Thename for several different types of Italian vocal music.

Maestoso: Withmajesty; stately.

Maestro: Master;an honorary title for a distinguished teacher, composer, or conductor.

Magnum opus: Agreat work, esp. the chief work of a writer or artist.

Mass: The mostsolemn service of the Roman Catholic church; a musical setting of certain partsof this service.

Measure: Agroup of beats or pulses marked off in musical notation by bar lines.

Melody: Musicalsounds in agreeable succession or arrangement. The succession of single tonesin musical compositions, as distinguished from harmony and rhythm.

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Meter: Therhythmic element as measured by division into parts of equal time value.

Metronome: Anapparatus that sounds regular beats at adjustable speeds, used to indicate anexact tempo.

Mezzo, mezza:Half loud, moderately forte.

Minuet: AFrench country dance introduced at the court of Louis XIV around 1650.

Moderato: Inmoderate speed, i.e., between andante and allegro.

Modulation:Change of key within a composition.

Molto: Very.

Motet: Animportant form of polyphonic music during the Middle Ages and Renaissance,usually an unaccompanied choral composition based on a Latin sacred text.

Motif, motive:A short, generally fragmentary rhythmic figure that recurs throughout acomposition.

Moto: Motion;usually used to indicate a tempo somewhat faster than indicated.

Movement: Anindependent division of a musical composition.

Neoclassicism:A 19th-century trend in music characterized by features of 17th and18th-century music.

Nocturne: A piece of music appropriate to the night or evening, usually a romantic character piece for piano, with an expressive, dreamy, or pensive melody.

Non troppo: Nottoo fast.

Notturno: Anocturne. Also, a term for a variety of multi-movement works, intended forperformance in the evening.

Obbligato:Obligatory, in regard to an instrument or part that must not be omitted.

Opera buffa:Comic opera.

Oratorio: Anextended musical composition with a text more or less dramatic in character andusually based upon a religious theme, for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra,and performed without action, costume, or scenery.

Ornamentation:The practice of embellishing musical works through additions to or variationsof their essential rhythm, melody, or harmony.

Ostinato: Aconstantly recurring melodic fragment.

Overture: Aninstrumental introduction to an opera, oratorio, or such work.

Paean: A songof praise.

Partita: Aninstrumental suite common chiefly in the 18th century; also, a set ofvariations.

Piano, pianissimo:Very soft. Sometimes ppp and pppp can indicate further degrees ofsoftness.

Pitch: Theperceived highness or lowness of a sound.

Pizzicato: Played by plucking the strings with the finger instead of using the bow, as on a violin.

Poco, un poco:Little; a little or somewhat little.

Polka: A livelydance of Bohemian origin, with music in duple meter.

Polonaise: Aslow, stately, festive dance of Polish origin, in triple meter, consistingchiefly of a march or promenade.

Prelude:Originally, a piece of music intended to be played as an introduction; later, arelatively short, independent instrumental composition, free in form andresembling an improvisation.

Presto: Very fast; and prestissimo, the greatest possible speed.

Program music:Music inspired by a program, for instance a nonmusical idea, which is usuallyindicated in the title and sometimes described in explanatory remarks orpreface. Thus, program music is the opposite of absolute music.

Psalm: A sacredsong or poem.

Recitative: Astyle of vocal music intermediate between speaking and singing. It is usedparticularly in opera, where it serves to carry the action from one aria to thenext.

Renaissance music:Music of the period from about 1450-1600.

Resonance: Thetransmission of vibrations from one vibrating body to another; the prolongationof sound by reflection; reverberation.

Retrograde:Backward, i.e., beginning with the last note and ending with the first.

Rhapsody: Aninstrumental composition irregular in form and suggestive of improvisation; anecstatic expression of feeling or enthusiasm; an epic poem, or a part of such apoem, as a book of the Iliad,suitable for recitation at one time.

Rhythm: Thepattern of regular or irregular pulses caused in music by the occurrence ofstrong and weak melodic and harmonic beats.

Ritardando:Gradually slowing in speed.

Rococo: Amusical style of the middle 18th century, marked by a generally superficialelegance and charm and by the use of elaborate ornamentation and stereotypeddevices.

Romance, Romanze:Slightly different meanings in different countries, but generally short,lyrical songs, usually with romantic, historical, or legendary subjects.

Romantic,Romanticism: An important movement in literature and music in the 19th andearly 20th centuries, essentially a reaction against the intellectual formalismof the Classical tradition, characterized by a call for return to simplicityand naturalism, subordinating form to content, encouraging freedom oftreatment, emphasizing imagination, emotion, and introspection, and oftencelebrating nature, the ordinary person, and freedom of the spirit.

Rondo, rondo form:A work or movement, often the last movement of a sonata, having one principalsubject that is stated at least three times in the same key and to which returnis made after the introduction of each subordinate theme.

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Rubato: Anelastic, flexible tempo, allowing slight accelerandos and ritardandos accordingto the needs of musical expression.

Saraband: A17th and 18th-century dance in slow triple meter and dignified style.

Scherzo: Amovement, usually the third, of sonatas, symphonies, and quartets (rarelyconcertos) that Beethoven first used to replace the minuet. The scherzo isgenerally characterized by a quick tempo, vigorous rhythm, and elements of surprise.

Segue: Anindication to the performer to proceed to the following movement or sectionwithout a break or to continue in the same manner.


Sempre: Always;as in “sempre legato,” legato throughout.

Serenade:Originally, a vocal or instrumental piece performed outdoors in the evening.Today, it usually applies to lighter multi-movement works for winds or scoringsintended for orchestral performance.

Sinfonia: (1)Symphony. (2) In the Baroque period a name for orchestral pieces of Italianorigin, designed to serve as an introduction to an opera or operatic scene, anorchestral suite, or a cantata.

Sinfonietta: Asmall symphony, usually scored for a small orchestra.

Sonata: Acomposition of usually three or four movements for solo instrument, often withpiano accompaniment. The normal scheme for the movements is allegro, adagio,scherzo (or minuet), and allegro. A slow introduction sometimes precedes theopening allegro.

Soprano: Theuppermost part or voice; the highest singing voice in women and boys; a part for such a voice; a singer with such avoice.

Sostenuto, sostenedo:Sustaining the tone to or beyond nominal value and thus sometimes with theimplication of slackening the tempo.

Spirito, spiritoso:Spirited.

Suite: Anordered series of instrumental dances, in the same or related keys, oftenpreceded by a prelude. More commonly, an ordered series of instrumentalmovements of any character.

Symphonia:Usually, the name for various types of early orchestral music that eventuallyled to the modern symphony.

Symphonic poem:A type of 19th-century and later orchestral music based on an extramusicalidea, either poetic or realistic. Also called a tone poem, a form of programmusic.

Symphony: Acomposition for symphony orchestra in the form of a sonata.

Tempo: Thespeed of a composition or section of a composition as indicated by tempo marksor by the indications of a metronome.

Tenor: theadult male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto or countertenor; apart sung by or written for such a voice, esp. the next to the lowest part infour-part harmony; a singer with such a voice.

Theme: Amusical idea that is the point of departure for a composition.

Timbre: Tonecolor.

Time: Usedvariously to indicate meter, tempo, or the duration of a given note.


Toccata: Akeyboard (organ, harpsichord) composition in free, idiomatic keyboard style.From about 1600 the name was also used for a festive brass fanfare.

Tonality: Asystem of organizing pitch in which a single pitch (or tone, called the tonic)is made central. A composition organized in this way is said to be in the keyof whatever pitch serves as the tonic.

Tone: A musicalsound of definite pitch; also, the character or quality of a sound.

Tone color: Thequality (“color”) of a pitch as produced on a specific instrument.

Transition:Commonly, a passage (bridge) that leads from one main section to another.

Transposinginstruments: Instruments for which music is written in a key or octave otherthan that of their actual sound.

Tremolo:Usually, a tremulous or vibrating effect produced on certain instruments and inthe human voice, as to express emotion.

Trill: Amusical ornament consisting of the rapid alternation of a given pitch with thediatonic second above it; to sing or play with a vibratory or quavering effect.

Triplet: Agroup of three notes to be performed in place of two of the same kind.

Troubadour: Anyof a number of 12th and 13th-century poet-musicians of southern France; trouvereswere the northern France equivalents of the troubadours.

Tune: A melodyor air.

Tuning:Adjusting an instrument to its proper pitch.

Tutti: Italian,“all.” In orchestral works, an indication for the whole orchestra to play apassage.

Variation: Themodification or transformation of a musical idea in a way that retains one ormore essential features of the original.

Verismo: Theuse of everyday life and actions in artistic works; introduced into opera inthe early 1900’s in reaction to contemporary, idealistic conventions, whichwere seen as artificial and untruthful.

Vibrato: Apulsating effect, produced in singing by the rapid reiteration of emphasis on atone, and on bowed instruments by a rapid change of pitch corresponding to thevocal tremolo.

Virtuoso: Aperson who excels in musical technique or execution.

Vivace: Quick;lively.

Vivacissimo:Very quick.

Vox: Voice,sound, tone color; voice-part; note, pitch.

Waltz: A dancein moderate triple time that originated in the late 18th century as anoutgrowth of the Landler.

Word painting:The illustration through music of the ideas presented or suggested by the wordsof a song or other vocal piece.

Zusammen:Together, e.g., after a passage in which an instrumental group has beendivided.

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What is the 10 musical term? ›

10. Cadenza. A cadenza is a moment in a musical piece where an instrumentalist or singer is given the opportunity to play a solo freely and with artistic license to go outside of a rigid tempo or rhythm.

What is a section of classical music called? ›

Coda: A concluding section or passage, more or less independent of the basic structure of a composition, usually to indicate closure or finality. Con: With. Concerto: A composition for orchestra and solo instrument or small group of instruments.

What are the 5 music terms? ›

Terms like rises, falls, leaps, steps, pauses, starts, and stops, helps describe what a melody is doing. Harmony provides the musical context for the melody. It is the vertical relationship of notes in a piece of music. Harmony can change the feeling you get from a melody, either clashing with or supporting it.

What are the musical terms? ›

Music Term Definitions
  • Crescendo (cresc): Gradually increase the volume.
  • Decrescendo (decresc. ): Gradually softer.
  • Diminuendo (dim. ...
  • Forte (f): Strong or loud.
  • Fortepiano (fp): Loud then immediately soft.
  • Fortissimo (ff): Very strong or loud.
  • Mezzo: medium or moderately (as in mezzo piano or mezzo soprano)
  • Morendo: Die away.

What are the 7 elements of music? ›

For the purpose of this class, we will refer to SEVEN elements of music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Timbre, Dynamics, Texture, and Form.

What is a key in music terms? ›

key, in music, a system of functionally related chords deriving from the major and minor scales, with a central note, called the tonic (or keynote). The central chord is the tonic triad, which is built on the tonic note. Any of the 12 tones of the chromatic scale can serve as the tonic of a key.

What does FF mean in music? ›


What are music terms and signs? ›

Musical Terms Indicating Dynamic (Intensity)
  • Crescendo: Gradually getting louder. ...
  • Decrescendo: Gradually getting softer. ...
  • Diminuendo: Gradually getting softer. ...
  • Forte: Loud. ...
  • Fortissimo: Very loud. ...
  • Mezzo forte: Moderately loud. ...
  • Mezzo Piano: Moderately soft. ...
  • Pianissimo: Performed very softly.

What are the 10 instrumental music of Classical period? ›

Arts Blog
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by J.S. Bach. ...
  • Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, "Für Elise" by Ludwig Van Beethoven. ...
  • Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. ...
  • Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. ...
  • Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. ...
  • "Ave Maria" by Charles Gounod. ...
  • "Messiah" by George Frideric Handel. ...
  • Serenade No.
Apr 30, 2020

What are pieces of music called? ›

Musical composition can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers.

What is the end of a symphony called? ›

A finale is the last movement of a sonata, symphony, or concerto; the ending of a piece of non-vocal classical music which has several movements; or, a prolonged final sequence at the end of an act of an opera or work of musical theatre.

What are the 3 types of tempo? ›

Stimuli. Instrumental music with three kinds of tempo (fast tempo: >120 bpm, presto and allegro; medium tempo: 76–120 bpm, moderato and andante; and slow tempo: 60–76 bpm, adagio and larghetto) was selected by three music professors.

What is the end of a music piece called? ›

Coda. Coda (Italian for "tail", plural code) is a term used in music in a number of different senses, primarily to designate a passage which brings a piece (or one movement thereof) to a conclusion.

What is the beginning of a piece of music called? ›

In music, the introduction is a passage or section which opens a movement or a separate piece, preceding the theme or lyrics. In popular music, this is often known as the song intro or just the intro.

What is an adagio in classical music? ›

(Entry 1 of 2) : at a slow tempo —used chiefly as a direction in music. adagio. noun.

How do you say fast in music terms? ›

Allegro – fast, quickly and bright (109–132 BPM) Vivace – lively and fast (132–140 BPM) Presto – extremely fast (168–177 BPM) Prestissimo – even faster than Presto (178 BPM and over)

What is soft in music terms? ›

Now you know five Italian words: forte (loud), piano (soft), fortissimo (very loud), pianissimo (very soft), and mezzo (medium). Dynamics are usually placed below a staff, like this. The music is performed at one dynamic level until a different dynamic is shown.

What are the 6 main musical time periods? ›

This post will act as a guide to the different periods of classical music, with an overview of the six main eras: Medieval music, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th Century classical. That's a time span of more than one and a half millennia!

What are the 6 concepts of music? ›

Music is patterns of melody, rhythm, harmony, tempo/dynamics, and timbre combined to create repetition, variation and contrast. We use these patterns to create music and we respond emotionally and intellectually to our perceptions and interpretations of these patterns of music.

What are the 4 properties of music? ›

-We distinguish music from other sounds by recognizing the four main properties of musical sounds: pitch, dynamics (loudness or softness), tone color, and duration.

What is the highest key in music? ›

On a standard 88-key piano, the highest key is C8. A C8 is 8 octaves above a C1. So, if you played the highest white key on a piano, you would be playing a note in the key of C on the eighth octave of the piano.

What are the 12 keys on a piano? ›

The 12 notes are C, C-Sharp (D-Flat), D, D-sharp (E-Flat), E, F, F-Sharp (G-Flat), G, G-Sharp (A-Flat), A, A-Sharp (B-Flat), and B. Many beginners think that a sharp or flat means a black key.

Are there 30 keys in music? ›

So there are 24 keys all together. Three of the major keys can be named 2 different ways – one way with sharp note names, and the other way with flat note names. This results in 15 different major key spellings.

What does MF stand for in music? ›

mf, standing for mezzo-forte, meaning "moderately loud". più p, standing for più piano and meaning "more quiet". più f, standing for più forte and meaning "more loud".

What does RIT mean in music? ›

Definitions of rit. adjective. gradually decreasing in tempo. synonyms: rallentando, ritardando, ritenuto decreasing. music.

What does sfz mean in music? ›

[Italian] A directive to perform the indicated note or chord of a composition with particular emphasis. The note or chord would be performed as if it had an accent as shown below and performed at the dynamic level indicated. It is typically shown as the abbreviation, sfz, sffz, or sfffz.

What are the 12 musical notes? ›

Western music typically uses 12 notes – C, D, E, F, G, A and B, plus five flats and equivalent sharps in between, which are: C sharp/D flat (they're the same note, just named differently depending on what key signature is being used), D sharp/E flat, F sharp/G flat, G sharp/A flat and A sharp/B flat.

What are the 8 notes on the musical scale? ›

In the major scale, there are eight notes going up the steps from bottom to top. These are the eight notes of the octave. On a C scale, the notes from low to high would be C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. But in a scale, some steps are larger than others.

What is the musical term for repeat? ›

Da Capo al Coda (often abbreviated as D.C. al Coda): Repeat from beginning to an indicated place and then play the tail part (the "Coda"). It directs the musician to go back and repeat the music from the beginning ("Capo"), and to continue playing until one reaches the first coda symbol.

What are the 4 types of musical form? ›

Four basic types of musical forms are distinguished in ethnomusicology: iterative, the same phrase repeated over and over; reverting, with the restatement of a phrase after a contrasting one; strophic, a larger melodic entity repeated over and over to different strophes (stanzas) of a poetic text; and progressive, in ...

What are the key features of classical music? ›

The Main Characteristics of Classical Music

Emphasis on beauty, elegance and balance. More variety and contrast within a piece than Baroque (dynamics, instruments, pitch, tempo, key, mood and timbre). Melodies tend to be shorter than those in baroque, with clear-cut phrases, and clearly marked cadences.

How many types of classical music are there? ›

It exists in four major forms: Dhrupad, Khyal (or Khayal), Tarana, and the semi-classical Thumri.

How would you describe classical music? ›

The Oxford Dictionary defines 'classical music' as “music written in a Western musical tradition, usually using an established form (for example a symphony). Classical music is generally considered to be serious and to have a lasting value.”

What is an example of classical music? ›

"The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss II

Known even in his day as “The Waltz King”, Johann Strauss is a somewhat example of a classical composer who attained the equivalent of modern rock-star acclaim in his lifetime.

What are characteristics of classical music? ›

The Main Characteristics of Classical Music

Emphasis on beauty, elegance and balance. More variety and contrast within a piece than Baroque (dynamics, instruments, pitch, tempo, key, mood and timbre). Melodies tend to be shorter than those in baroque, with clear-cut phrases, and clearly marked cadences.

What is the term used in Classical period? ›

The Classical period was known as the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. The era spanned about seventy years (1750-1820), but in its short duration, musical practices began that have influenced music ever since.


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