Download Glossary Commonly Used Musical Terms and

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Commonly Used Musical Terms and Symbols
accidentals - Signs used t o designate an altering of pitch. A sharp @ raises the
pitch of a note 1/2 step. A flat (b) lowers the pitch o f a note 1/2 step. A natural
or cancel @
I t h e note t o i t s original pitch.
bass clef A sign placed on t h e fourth line (F) of the bass s t a f f ;
also called the F Clef.
- Another name for
a measure o f music.
bar line - A vertical line drawn across the staff t o indicate the end of a measure o f
music and also the beginning of the following measure.
beam - The line or lines connecting a group o f notes such as eighth notes and
sixteenth notes.
beat - The stress or pulse of music which may be f e l t by clapping or tapping. I t is the
time, there m e four beats
unit count of a measure of music. For example: in
in one measure.
- Two or more tones sounded a t the same time.
common time
- Another name f o r
1 time.
dot - A mark similar t o a period which, when placed after a note, increases the
value of t h e note by one-half. For example:
= one and one half beats.
double bar line - Two lines drawn vertically through the staff, indicating the
end of a song or piece of music.
dynamics - Musical terms or symbols used to indicate expression or volume.
Some of the most common ones are:
p (piano) - soft
mp (mezzo piano) - medium soft
pp (pianissimo) - very soft
f (forte) - loud
mf (mezzo forte) - medium loud
ff (fortissimo) - very loud
crescendo =
- to gradually get louder.
- to gradually get softer.
diminuendo - to gradually get softer.
flag - The curved hook attached to the stem of notes such as eighth notes and
sixteenth notes.
grand staff
- The combined treble and bass staffs.
- The tonic or first
note of a scale. The key is named after the key-note.
For example in the Key of GI G is the key-note.
key signature - the sharps or flats located to the right of the clef sign, indicating
there are no sharps or flats, the key is C.
the key the song is written in. If
leger lines - Small lines which may be added above or below either staff in order to
write notes beyond the range of the bass or treble staff.
legato - To sing or play something smoothly and connected. A slur may be used to
indicate this.
measure - The space between two bar lines. The length of a measure is indicated by
the time signature. I t is also called a bar.
meter - The grouping of beats by accents. The grouping makes up a measure indicated
by the time signature.
Middle C
- The note that is located between the bass staff
and the treble staff.
movable "do" - A method of reading music using the notes of the scale, where
.the key-note is always "do", regardless of the key.
- The a r t of writing music.
notehead - The head, or round part of the note. Noteheads have no specific value.
notes and rests
quarter note
- The length of
) receives one beat.
) receives one beat.
quarter rest (
half note (
musical sounds are indicated by notes and rests.
) receives two beats.
half rest (-
) receives two beats.
d . ) receives three beats.
dotted half note (
whole note ( o ) receives four beats.
whole rest (eighth note (
) receives four beats.
k ) receives one half o f a beat.
eighth rest ( 7 ) receives one half o f a beat.
sixteenth note
(b ) receives one quarter o f a beat.
sixteenth rest (
) receives one quarter o f a beat.
thirty-second note (
) receives one eighth of a beat.
thirty-second rest (
) receives one eighth of a beat.
sixty-fourth note (
) receives one sixteenth of a beat.
sixty-fourth rest (
) receives one sixteenth of a beat.
- An interval measuring eight steps - from
low "do" t o high "Do".
pitch -The highness or lowness of a musical sound, sung with do, re, mi syllables or
numbers, and designated by letter names and accidentals.
relative pitch - "Do" can be any pitch, and then all the other pitches are
determined in relation t o t h a t "Do".
repeat sign
- A sign indicating that a section should be sung or played twice.
- The pulsation o f music.
scale - The steps or succession of tones belonging to any key. I n solfege, it is: do, re, mi,
fa, sol, la, ti , bo.
skip Melodic movement from one pitch to another that is larger than a step;
e.g. "bo" to "sol".
slur - A curved line drawn over or under two or more notes indicating that they should
be sung smoothly and connected (legato).
solfege - Reading of music using syllables of the scale. The word is derived from the
scale syllables of "sol, fa".
staccato - Music sung or played, short and detached, indicated by a dot over or under
the notes.
- The five
- The vertical line or tail on notes.
- Melodic movement from one scale tone to an adjacent scale tone;
lines and spaces on and between which music is written.
- The names given to the notes of
- The Italian word for
e.g. "do" to "re".
the scale in music reading.
time; the speed of music.
tie - A curved line connecting two or more notes of the same pitch. Tied notes are sung
as if they were one note, but held for the duration of the tied notes.
time signature - A sign placed a t the beginning of a piece of music indicating the meter
of the piece. I t contains two numbers: The top number indicates the number of beats
in each measure. The bottom number shows what kind of note will receive one beat.
2 beats in each measure
the quarter note receives one beat
- The key-note of any scale.
tonic chord A chord built on the tonic or key-note. The notes of the tonic chord
are: do mi - sol bo.
treble clef
- A sign placed on the treble staff,
the second line:-6; also called the 6 Clef.
with its tail wrapping around