Use this tag for questions about musical terms. Questions about symbols should use the "notation" tag.

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11
votes
3answers
261 views

Why are two pitches considered a chord?

According to Wikipedia, a chord is any harmonic set of two or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. But I always thought that two notes aren't a chord, they are an interval. ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What is it called when a song starts with few instruments, and gradually adds one at a time?

Many songs will start with only a few number of instruments, and after a specified amount of time has passed a new instrument is added, and this is repeated until all instruments for the song are ...
17
votes
2answers
423 views

What is the term for a song without a tempo?

I have a song that is just acoustic guitar/vocals/and cello and I don't want to give it a tempo because I enjoy the way it sounds just played at the tempo of whatever emotion I have or venue I'm ...
11
votes
1answer
116 views

What does “al primo” mean?

I' m currently playing a sonata from late baroque, which ends with two menuets, minuetto primo and minuetto secondo. Now under the closing repeat mark of menuet two "al primo" is notated. I assume, ...
9
votes
2answers
296 views

Correct terminology for chord inversions

I am confused with what I've read in various sources concerning chord notations. Is there a standard notation for chord inversions? As far as I understand, a chord inversion is determined from the ...
7
votes
1answer
249 views

What is the word for the panel on a piano that is in front of the keyboard?

Not the part of the piano that typically has the brand name on it, but the piece of wood that is under the keyboard and is in full view of the pianist.
2
votes
1answer
162 views

What is the difference between dolce and cantabile techniques on the piano?

I find it difficult to make dolce (sweetly) and cantabile (singing/songlike) sound different when I'm playing the piano. How should my technique differ from one to the other?
9
votes
2answers
269 views

Where did the British names for different note lengths come from?

I was always taught to use a certain set of names for the length of a note, such as crotchet, minim, quaver, and so on. I'm aware though that those terms aren't used as much outside the UK, and that ...
6
votes
2answers
121 views

Does this rhythm (dotted 8-16 8 8, hot po-ta-to) have a name?

It is used in some earlier songs of Antònia Font: ...
11
votes
1answer
111 views

What is a “Naturstimme?”

At a recent audition, the conductor of the choral ensemble said that my voice had a Naturstimme-like quality. (The conductor is, of course, German.) However, I can't seem to find a good definition of ...
7
votes
3answers
625 views

How does one read very loud or very soft dynamic markings (e.g. ffff, ppp)?

Sometimes, scores contain notations like "fff", which presumably indicates that the section in question should be one dynamic level louder than "ff", or "fortissimo". In my limited musical ...
1
vote
2answers
177 views

Tonality and Modality together

Tonality and modality form a unit in most music, right? You are in F Major or in D minor etc... Is there a name for the two entities together seen as a unity? I'm working on some musical software ...
9
votes
6answers
8k views

Why is a C7 chord named a dominant seventh chord?

I understand that a C7 chord contains a flattened 7th note in the C major scale, but what specifically makes this a dominant 7th chord? To me there is nothing 'dominant' about taking a note out of ...
-1
votes
4answers
244 views

What is another term for a voice on a synthesizer? [closed]

A musical note or tone usually refers to audio with a fixed frequency. A voice on a synthesiser can denote a note which may have dynamic frequency. What would be an appropriate musical term for ...
9
votes
1answer
176 views

Is it a coincidence that “blue” notes are “chromatic”?

According to the OED: The word "chromatic" has been applied to music with lots of accidentals since at least the 17th century. In the 19th century, a "blue note" was one that was incorrect; starting ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Figuring out the difference between major and relative minor scales?

I always seem have difficulty determining whether a song is in a major scale, or the relative minor. (the 3rd note back into it, but minor) Lets use the Pokemon theme song for example. As I ...
9
votes
4answers
6k views

Polymeter vs Polyrhythm

What is the difference between a polymeter and a polyrhythm? Do these words mean anything different for different instruments? PS: I'm a drummer.
6
votes
1answer
153 views

Should barré chords have an acute accent on the E?

I was always taught that it should, but the Wikipedia article doesn't use the accent at all. I'm British — is it an American thing to ignore the accent? I am preparing some content for an ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

What do you call plucking the violin strings with the finger, rather than using the bow?

I was attempting to learn a bit about violin sheet music, and then I wondered if the act of producing sound with the finger or the fingernail had a written notation. I had a hard time finding a video ...
2
votes
2answers
342 views

What is this 4 bar part of music called?

In the song Amie by Pure Prairie League there is a repeated section of muisc that is about 4 bars long(or 2 depending on how you count it). It occurs between every section of music except near the end ...
6
votes
4answers
391 views

What are the various ways of vocalizing rhythmic figures?

I know of the standard western technique where the beats (quarter notes) are numbered and eighths are vocalized as 'and' and sixteenths are vocalized as 'ee' and 'uh' (One-ee-and-uh Two-ee-and-uh). ...
4
votes
1answer
80 views

What is the word for 'repeating the tonic at the “end” of spelling a scale?'

I am referring to the practice of repeating the root or tonic of a scale when spelling (not playing) a scale. I recall being told to __ my scale but I cannot remember the word… at all.
10
votes
4answers
453 views

What's this rhythm called?

I often hear this rhythm in accompaniments in contemporary music: |x---x---x---x---| Beat |--x--x--x--x--x-| Lead 1.:.2.:.3.:.4.:. That is, it's a 4:3 polyrhythm but with a single quarter note ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What should I look for in a recording microphone for personal use?

I was browsing through mics on Amazon and quickly realized I was out of my depth. There are a couple closely related questions I am wondering about: Are there different types of mics for (1) ...
7
votes
2answers
349 views

Common names for sections of a piece of music

Generally, what is is the name for the non-vocal parts of a song that are not interludes or preludes and not a guitar solo or instrumental verse/chorus? For example, right after the acapella vocal ...
4
votes
2answers
198 views

Name for music that imitates speech

I have searched and asked others for the answer to this but have come up dry: what is the name or technique in music where musical notes approximate/imitate speech? Note that I am not talking about ...
4
votes
2answers
214 views

Musical construction in rock - what does this mean?

Andrew Chester writes (emphasis mine): Western classical music is the apodigm of the extensional form of musical construction. Theme and variations, counterpoint, tonality (as used in classical ...
4
votes
2answers
245 views

Is that a hemiola or what?

I found myself listening to Mumford and Sons' Babel, and my friend and I couldn't quite agree on how to describe the rhythm. I won that battle since my way led to groups of four figures, whereas his ...
5
votes
1answer
377 views

What are these aspects of song structure called?

In songs, we often have very similar melodies and rhythm patterns being repeated over and over again. The following is an approximate melody of one stanza of Willy O' Winsbury as performed by ...
4
votes
3answers
611 views

What are some interesting ways notes and chords are spelled in cultures outside of the U.S.?

I've heard that German musicians spell the seventh note of the C major scale with an "H" where an American musician would use a "B". And, for the fourth note of the F major scale, where an American ...
5
votes
3answers
166 views

Is there a proper musical term for a piece's “roadmap”?

Band directors and other teachers will colloquially refer to a piece's "roadmap": the flow control commands denoted by repeats, repeat endings, D.C.s, D.S.es, codas, etc. Is there a proper word for ...
0
votes
2answers
294 views

Why is the note name “a” not on any important scale position? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is C the base note of standard notation and keys? The note names are derived from the alphabet, which starts with "a". But why is our note "a" not on any important ...
6
votes
3answers
480 views

Are there names for referring to the top or bottom numbers in a time signature?

In a time signature of 3/4 (three by four), what is the name given to the 3 and the 4? I know it in my own language, but can't find the answer for the English equivalent.
4
votes
5answers
268 views

Does an implied tie exist

Is there such a thing as an implied tie? Like some kind of symbol or notation that would specify to hold a note through the duration of all the notes on a pitch as if they were tied together. Edit: ...
4
votes
5answers
7k views

What is the difference between swing and shuffle?

I am learning piano from a book and I can't understand the difference between swing and shuffle. I have searched, but I still can't understand the difference. Could someone please iterate the ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “playing off the beat” and “playing on the beat”?

I am learning piano from a book and I can't understand the meaning of the phrases "playing on the beat" and "playing off the beat" and the difference between them. Can anyone explain them to me?
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the device used to draw 5-line staff (empty) with a pencil/pen?

I remember seeing something like that long ago but can't remember what it was called. It is basically a metal gadget that holds 5 pencils or only pencil led and you can draw by hand your own empty ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Beethoven's title “Sonata quasi una Fantasia” an oxymoron, and does the title instruct how to perform it?

Beethoven's so-called "Moonlight" Sonata is fully titled "Sonata quasi una Fantasia". Google translates this literally to "Sonata almost a Fantasy", but I'll assume it means more like "Sonata in the ...
2
votes
1answer
204 views

Is there a formal name for this type of composition?

So, say there's a musical piece that has the following structure: [A.1] [A.2] [A.3] [A] Where A is a "harmonic theme", in the sense that it's treated as a theme, but its melodic content is contained ...
4
votes
6answers
783 views

What is a “producer” in hip-hop music?

I was having a look at some hip hop albums on Wikipedia and I noticed that on the track list, there's often a "writer" column and a "producer" column. I can see who the writers are, but what are the ...
11
votes
4answers
832 views

Lead sheets / fake sheets without score

Several of the groups of people I play music with use song sheets that are similar to lead sheets, but without the stave showing the melody line: Note that unlike many chord sheets you can find ...
4
votes
1answer
748 views

What is it called when near the end of the song there's a section with a deliberately slow tempo?

No, not a final gradual ritardando. It's hard for me to describe. It may only be a thing in musical theater. Here are some examples: 2011 Tony Awards Opening Number (starts around 4:45) "Gee, ...
11
votes
5answers
630 views

Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature

On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from ...
-3
votes
2answers
417 views

Is there difference between Fusion and Hybrid?

In Music Terminology is there difference between Fusion and Hybrid? I was reading a text about Rock music. I bring it here to clarify my question. By the late 1960s a number of distinct rock ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Electronic keyboard terms: Aftertouch vs Pressure-sensitive

I was reading a review of the Akai Miniak which said The 37 half-weighted keys are velocity and aftertouch but not pressure sensitive. I thought aftertouch was MIDI signals of continuing ...
5
votes
2answers
420 views

Projecting “Playing ahead/behind/on the beat ” onto tangible concepts

I was trying to tell to my fellow drummer friend, that he should play something behind the beat so that we can experiment some particular song. But then I realized that I have no idea how to translate ...
7
votes
3answers
168 views

Is there a formal term for a recording's pitch being “in the cracks”?

Lots of recordings were (sometimes intentionally) speed up/slowed down before final mastering, so that, even if the band was tuned to concert pitch, it isn't in the released version. If you have a ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a technical term for sad songs with happy lyrics and vice versa?

I'm talking about things like the Pogues "Fairy Tale of New York", an upbeat song with bitter lyrics like Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it's our last Is there a technical term or ...
3
votes
4answers
354 views

Is there a name for this guitar technique for Paganini's Capriccio #6?

I've spent several years working up Paganini's Capriccio #6 for the violin on the guitar and I wonder if the idea already exists and has a name. For the violin, the piece is a coninuous double-stop ...
4
votes
3answers
142 views

Is there a term for the practice of “breaking symmetry” in a composition?

Sorry in advance for my incredibly amateur attempt to explain this. I have absolutely no music experience but I have noticed that one of the key to a catchy song seems to be this practice. More ...