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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

8
votes
4answers
2k views

What is “groove”?

How's possible to trigger it? Is there a technical reason for the groove to happen? Is it just when you stuble across any kind of rhythm / melodic progression interaction that "moves"? Please do not ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Are there any classification systems that categorize music by mood?

Recently I had the idea to categorize my digital music library with mood tags. Thinking about these moods, I figured that it's not so easy to come up with a complete list that covers all possible ...
8
votes
2answers
298 views

What is meant by a “release”?

In a Tom Cosm video tutorial on making beats in Ableton Live, he states (12:20): See, we have that kind of suck now. That's another kind of tension thing. I find with these kind of tension ...
8
votes
6answers
381 views

English translation for “rubato”

Most italian musical indications and concepts are easy to translate in one or two words (largo, presto, crescendo, ...) but it is difficult to find even an approximation to rubato. Any suggestions?
8
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the difference between genre and style?

Is there anybody in world who know what's the difference between genre and style in music? In wikipedia there are articles: list of music genres and list of music styles, but when we will go to ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

Why are instrumental tracks also called “minus one tracks”?

Why are instrumental (non-vocal) tracks also called "minus one tracks"? What does it mean and how did this term come about?
8
votes
3answers
186 views

Term for a note in a chord, versus a note in a key scale?

Let's say we're talking about a song in C, and at some point in that particular song, we happen to be playing an E minor chord. In this case, Em is known as the iii chord in the key C major, because ...
8
votes
1answer
383 views

The meaning of the word “inversion”

I'm looking for clarity over how to best describe two different meanings of the word "inversion" I have come across. The two different aspects I see are: I have three notes C-E-G. The intervals ...
8
votes
2answers
118 views

Is there a name for this: text syncopates otherwise unsyncopated vocal music?

There's an interesting musical phenomenon in "O Virgo Splendens" (14th century, in the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat) as it is consistently interpreted across all editions I have ever encountered. The ...
7
votes
3answers
728 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
182 views

What is the technical term for what the percussion is doing in this song?

In Massive Attack and Burial's collaboration track Four Walls, the percussion in the middle part of the song does something interesting where it shifts around the beat. It can be heard at 6:22 and ...
7
votes
4answers
787 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
919 views

What is the difference between “Solo” and “Improvisation”?

How would someone describe the differences that make up the two?
7
votes
2answers
385 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
509 views

Is there a general term for a single note or a chord?

Take a passage like this: Fill in the blank: Each of these boxes denote a ______ Is there a single general term for these that's better than note or chord? Or maybe there's a term for "anything ...
7
votes
1answer
303 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.
7
votes
1answer
173 views

Pattern Identification: Rit. followed by a tempo

I've found what seems to me to be a common musical pattern in several different pieces, and I'm wondering if this pattern has a name. Here's the pattern: the metaphorical musical train is chugging ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
172 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
107 views

Why are 1/2 (or 3/4, etc) violins called that way if they are not 1/2 size?

On the question Do 1/2 size violins sound at normal pitch? I found out that 1/2 violins are actually ~86% of a full size violin. What do the fractions 7/8, 3/4, 1/2 etc for violin sizes represent, if ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the name for a group of five?

The title seems off-topic, and I don't know what to tag. Could anyone edit it? I see group of four is quartet, three is trio, two is duo (?) and one is solo. I see every number has different name. ...
6
votes
3answers
556 views

'Fine' at the end of the song

In a lot of music sheets, I've seen that they mark the end of the song with 'Fine' (example: http://www.jazzpla.net/H/Hassansdream.jpg) What does 'Fine' mean? And why is it used to mark the end of a ...
6
votes
4answers
205 views

Is there a term for non-natural notes?

Is there a term for the group of non-natural notes, i.e. notes altered with sharps or flats?
6
votes
3answers
523 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.
6
votes
1answer
157 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
469 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). ...
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?
6
votes
1answer
362 views

Is there a name for a minor scale with a raised 3rd or a major scale with a lowered 6th and 7th?

I've noticed a pattern in chord progressions and melodies where I like to use the b7 and b6 chords with a major tonic and there are several modern songs that like to use this pattern as seen in a ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What is meant by “Top-End” and “Bottom-End”?

When guitarists describe the sound of their guitars, a lot of terms are used. What does a guitarist mean when they talk about top and bottom end?
6
votes
2answers
131 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: ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
108 views

Name for pedal markings

Is there any name for the inverted V (∧) in pedal markings? Or are they just known as part of pedal markings?
6
votes
1answer
122 views

Is there a name or common usage of this piano damper pedal effect?

I've noticed an effect that I use when playing acoustic piano. Play a note or chord staccato, and quite quickly after playing it, press the damper pedal. The effect is rather like an echo which ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

What do we call music which is not played on the beat?

What do we call music which is not played on the beat?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there any name for two melodies that are being played at the same time?

Is there any name I can use for two melodies that are being played at the same time? (The rhythmic part isn't identical). For Instance, there is Fables of Faubus by Charles Mingus which starts off ...
5
votes
2answers
363 views

What's the term for the intervals between notes within a scale that produces a chord

I probably described that poorly in the title, and I'm not even sure there is a word for what I'm thinking. Lets say you're playing on just the white keys on a keyboard. C E G is C major, and D F A ...
5
votes
3answers
177 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
308 views

What is the terminology for how we identify numbered notes like C4, E3, D6, etc?

Does this system - where C3 is middle C - have a standard name? For instance, is there a wikipedia page which explains this system and if so how is it titled? (note: As mentioned middle C is C4, my ...
5
votes
2answers
405 views

What does “Open Vamp” mean?

Playing the trumbone in BRAZIL from S.K.Russel and Ary Barroso a few weeks ago i fell over the sign "Open Vamp" in the trombone 2 part (in bar 10). Please help: what does this mean and how to play ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

What's it called when a piece of music starts off-beat?

I've noticed that this seems to be some sort of trick music composers have been using more and more of recently. Consider this song for example: ...
5
votes
3answers
429 views

The origin of “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father”

The order of the flats is given by the mnemonic "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father", and the order of sharps by the reverse ("Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle"). What is the history ...
5
votes
2answers
445 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
845 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
115 views

What is econo-picking?

Is this simply a synonym for sweep picking or is it something else?
5
votes
1answer
31 views

What's the Italian musical term for “in minuet steps”?

I am writing down some choir music in which, beginning at a certain point, the bass starts to sing continuous eighths in a particular manner: the first eighth is tied to the second one, but the second ...
5
votes
1answer
114 views

How does one analyze tricky time shifts?

It can be hard to analyze time changes if one isn't used to odd rhythms. If we take a section of the track Divine Moments of Truth by Shpongle as an example, since it's changing timing several times ...
5
votes
2answers
92 views

Is there a more specific name for this instrument than “PVC instrument”?

After hearing a number of covers performed on instruments like the one below, I was wondering if someone has come up with a better name for this instrument than "PVC instrument".
5
votes
1answer
420 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...