Glossary of Musical Terminology

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Glossary of musical terminology
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This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores, music reviews, and program notes. Most of the terms are Italian (see also Italian musical terms used in English), in accordance with the Italian origins of many European musical conventions. Sometimes, the special musical meanings of these phrases differ from the original or current Italian meanings. Most of the other terms are taken from French and German, indicated by "(Fr)" and "(Ger)", respectively. Others are from languages such as Latin and Spanish. Unless specified, the terms are Italian or English. The list can never be complete: some terms are common, and others are used only occasionally, and new ones are coined from time to time. Some composers prefer terms from their own language rather than the standard terms here. For a list of terms used in jazz, country, rock, and other popular music genres, see the Glossary of jazz and popular musical terms. Contents|

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z
References   External links|
A
* a, à (Fr): at, to, by, for, in, in the style of...
* a 2: see a due in this list
* a battuta: return to normal tempo after a deviation; same as 'a tempo' * abbandonatamente, con abbandono: free, relaxed
* aber (Ger): but
* a bene placito: up to the performer
* a cappella: in the manner of singing in a chapel; i.e., without instrumental accompaniment * accarezzévole: expressive and caressing
* accelerando, accel.: accelerating; gradually increasing the tempo * accent: emphasize, make a particular part more important * accentato/accentuato: accented; with emphasis
* acceso: ignited, on fire
* acciaccato: broken down, crushed; the sounding of the notes of a chord not quite simultaneously, but from bottom to top. * acciaccatura: crushing; i.e., a very fast grace note that is "crushed" against the note that follows and takes up no value in the measure * accompagnato: accompanied; i.e., with the accompaniment following the soloist, who may speed up or slow down at will * adagietto: rather slow

* adagio: at ease; i.e., play slowly
* adagissimo: very, very slow
* ad libitum (commonly ad lib; Latin): at liberty; i.e., the speed and manner of execution are left to the performer * a due: intended as a duet; for two voices or instruments; together; two instruments are to play in unison after a solo passage for one of the instruments * affannato, affannoso: anguished

* affettuoso, affettuosamente, or affectueusement (Fr): with affect (that is, with emotion); see also con affetto * affrettando: hurrying, pressing onwards
* agile: swiftly
* agitato: agitated
* al, alla: to the, in the manner of (al before masculine nouns, alla before feminine) * alla breve: in cut-time; two beats per measure or the equivalent thereof * alla marcia: in the style of a march

* allargando: broadening, becoming a little slower each time * allegretto: a little lively, moderately fast
* allegretto vivace: a moderately quick tempo
* allegrezza: cheerfulness, joyfulness
* allegro: cheerful or brisk; but commonly interpreted as lively, fast * allegrissimo: very fast, though slower than presto
* all' ottava: "at the octave", see ottava
* als (Ger): than
* alt (English) (also alt dom or altered dominant): a jazz term which instructs chord-playing musicians such as a jazz pianist or jazz guitarist to perform a dominant (V7) chord with altered upper extensions (e.g., sharp 11th, flat 13th, etc.). * altissimo: very high

* alto: high; often refers to a particular range of voice, higher than a tenor but lower than a soprano * alzate sordini: lift or raise the mutes; i.e., remove mutes * am Steg (Ger): at the bridge; i.e., playing a bowed string instrument near its bridge, which produces a...
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