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

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1answer
199 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
598 views

What is the technical term for Bass 'growl' or 'roar'?

I've been looking everywhere for the past 2 days for the terms of these two awesome electric bass techniques and couldn't find 'em. I want to know their technical or common names.. When you slide ...
10
votes
2answers
475 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a term for a chord progression that chromatically ascends or descends an octave?

I've noticed a pattern in music that is very interesting where a progression will start with one chord and chromatically ascend or descend until the starting chord is reached again. For example: a ...
10
votes
4answers
625 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
203 views

Where did the term backbeat come from?

In most modern music in 4/4 beats 2 and 4 are where the snare hits are and are usually referred to as the backbeat. Normally in 4/4 the 2 and 4 beat would not be accented, but the snare hits do just ...
9
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4answers
876 views

Does the line between the time signature have a name?

In a time signature (4/4 for example), does the / have a term or a name?
9
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2answers
990 views

Is there a name for the screeching sound made when changing chords on a guitar?

When listing to the song "The Only Exception" by Paramore (see YouTube), there's a screeching sound when changing chords, which I find quite unpleasant. Question: Is there a name for the ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How to technically differentiate between wind instrument types (definition)

What is the official way to differentiate between a woodwind and a brass instrument? I know it's not about the material that they are made of, but how the sound is produced.
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3answers
9k 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

What's the name for the style of guitar on Reggae songs

I'm wondering if there's a word for the style of guitar on most Reggae songs, when they play chords on the upper strings and mute them after. I would love to know if there's a word for that, that ...
9
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2answers
357 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

What would you call all-drum instrumental music?

I'm trying to find the title for music containing all percussion instruments (pianos/xylophones not included) such as drum corps and marching band drum breakdowns. I'd basically like to listen to ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What is it called when a music has two concurrent tempos

I've recently watched a BBC documentary about the history of music and recall an episode where they talk about music that has two distinct tempos (and possibly time signatures) at the same time for ...
9
votes
2answers
602 views

Does each note have a more specific name depending on its pitch?

Other than the symbolic identifier for the pitch of the note in sheet music, is there a way to specify the pitch of a note in some other notation or call it by any other name? This would be very handy ...
9
votes
2answers
794 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 ...
9
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2answers
472 views

What is a “Stable” Chord?

What makes a chord "stable"? What makes a chord "unstable"? Just saw this in my piano book, but it doesn't really explain what it means.
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3answers
7k views

What is a ghost note ?

What is a ghost note and how is it different than holding the previous note ?
8
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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3answers
3k 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) ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Do different instruments playing single notes simultaneously form a chord?

Wikipedia says about chords: A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. The Glossary of musical terms by naxos.com defines a ...
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votes
5answers
4k 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
1answer
749 views

What is this called? Why is it allowed?

"Golden Train" by Justin Nozuka (YouTube link below) is in the key of Ab major. However he uses a Cb major chord throughout the song, which is not in the key of Ab major. It sounds good and works ...
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3answers
2k views

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

How would someone describe the differences that make up the two?
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6answers
492 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
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1answer
7k 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?
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7answers
1k 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 ...
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3answers
274 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 ...
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votes
3answers
6k 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?
8
votes
3answers
164 views

What is the difference between temperament and intonation?

We talk of equal temperament but just intonation. From wikipedia, tempering is described as "the process of altering the size of an interval by making it narrower or wider than pure." where ...
8
votes
4answers
232 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".
8
votes
1answer
811 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
6answers
395 views

Difference between mixing and mastering

I am a musician, and I have amateurish-ly recorded my own musical inspiration. I am curious to learn, though, and one of the most confusing things is - as so often - in terminology. I am looking for ...
8
votes
2answers
139 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
2answers
234 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
6answers
484 views

Is there a term for chords like F/G and C/D?

Chords like F/G and C/D are really quite common in jazz, blues and soul music yet I have never heard or been able to find a concise name for them. To be clear, I am referring to any major (or indeed ...
7
votes
3answers
746 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.
7
votes
3answers
626 views

Is there a term for music composed of everyday sounds?

Is there a term for music composed of everyday sounds (animal calls, cars honking, etc.) that are timed just right to sound like music together? (I hope this isn't off-topic here)
7
votes
2answers
581 views

What is the name of the symbol like a combination of a mordent and f?

The Photo attached has a quaver marked with a red rectangle. Τhere is a symbol on that quaver that I do not recognize. It looks like a mordent but it's clearly different from one. Can anyone tell me ...
7
votes
1answer
574 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
277 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
192 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
2answers
469 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 ...
7
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2answers
3k 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
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2answers
148 views

Learn to write music

I enjoy music very much and often find myself writing a part of a song, or playing a tune in my head. The problem is, even if I do manage to write what I am creating mentally onto paper, there is ...
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votes
3answers
7k 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
7answers
1k views

What is a chord with a diminished third called?

The third of the chord is one of the criteria to determine the name of the chord. If the third is major (and the fifth is perfect), the chord is called major chord ; if the third is minor and the ...
6
votes
3answers
2k 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
7answers
6k 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 ...
6
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5answers
15k 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 ...