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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

8
votes
1answer
347 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
673 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
181 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
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
372 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
506 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
281 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
167 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
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
170 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
92 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
3k 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
487 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
732 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
200 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
506 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
154 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
448 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
355 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
125 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
104 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?
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
359 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
2answers
287 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
372 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
231 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
171 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
431 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
114 views

What is econo-picking?

Is this simply a synonym for sweep picking or is it something else?
5
votes
2answers
87 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
401 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
756 views

Sharp / Flat: Collectively known as property by what name?

If a chord can be said to have a Quality which relates to whether it is major, minor, augmented or diminished then by what name do we call the property of a single note's flatness or sharpness? Note: ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

What is “classical” guitar?

What exactly is classical music or playing? Some keep on saying this one is classical, that one is not classical. Well, how exactly can I define what is classical or not? I love plucking and do it all ...
4
votes
3answers
317 views

What is it called when singers very rapidly change pitch while singing the same syllable of text?

I have been wondering whether there is a term for the technique singers use when they sing one syllable of text over a large number of different notes very quickly. There are examples of this in ...
4
votes
2answers
324 views

What does “in position” mean when referring to scored music?

On Justin Sandercoe's site he recommends a flute book for guitarists, this caught my eye: Why a flute book? because most sight reading books for guitar are written for guitarists and are either ...
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
145 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
186 views

Naming pitch and interval collections

I have a few questions regarding the correct naming of pitch and interval collections. We call an ordered collection of adjacent pitches a scale. For example, (C D E F G A B) is called C major (or ...
4
votes
6answers
835 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “Doubletime feel” mean?

I'm working a new cover song in my band (Volbeat - Sad Man's Tongue), the tab being a PDF file. As I like working with Guitar Pro, I'm copying the tab in that sofware. But when the distortion comes ...
4
votes
2answers
103 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)
4
votes
1answer
321 views

The importance of cut time [duplicate]

I have wondered for a while what the purpose of Cut Time (2/2) actual is. While studying music theory I've always been told the reason is to reduce the use of eighth notes and sixteenth notes in a ...
4
votes
2answers
77 views

What to call finger positions on fretless bass?

Guitarists typically refer to finger positions as “frets.” For example, you can refer to the lowest G on a guitar as “the third fret of the E string.” What’s the analogous terminology for a fretless ...
4
votes
2answers
264 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 ...