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

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7
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
286 views

Is there a name for the dotted eighth - sixteenth rhythm pattern?

I find myself using the dotted eight - sixteenth rhythm pattern/figure a lot and I would like to know if there is a specific name for it. I know the reverse pattern sixteenth - dotted eighth is ...
4
votes
1answer
79 views

What are “sweeping phrases”?

I am studying music, and English is not my first language. In the follwing sentence, what does "sweeping phrases" mean? Does it have a special meaning? "Laitman’s vocal melodies have large, ...
9
votes
2answers
369 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
893 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
535 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Name for descending semitones under a repeating musical phrase?

In much contemporary music, especially instrumental guitar music, there is a particular device employed. It involves a musical phrase in which usually one note, often a bass note, descends in one ...
11
votes
1answer
153 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, ...
4
votes
5answers
10k 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
2answers
242 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)
1
vote
1answer
898 views

In traditional (tonal) harmony, how is the word “sonority” used?

In traditional harmony, I have heard the word "sonority" used sometimes freely in a way to describe harmonic structures or harmonic systems. However, in my experience the word was used somewhat ...
2
votes
1answer
211 views

What is a coldplay?

I've seen this term used for a number of performances, but I couldn't find a definition for this word. Almost all results on Google lead me to a band named "Coldplay", which is not the one I'm looking ...
7
votes
2answers
200 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
119 views

Terminology for tension idioms in composition

As a hobby composer I often reason about the flow of a composition and I often find myself inventing words for what the composition does during a certain passage. E.g. I found that many guitar riffs ...
5
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Difference between “Bar” and “Measure”

I was taught musical theory in the UK where I grew up. I was taught what a bar is. In my experience, the terminology "measure" is not used in a musical sense in the UK. Since living in the US, I ...
8
votes
6answers
538 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
350 views

Is there a less clunky word for a single note or a run of single notes?

Often in music, you see a passage that consists of a sequence of octaves. One can call this series something like a 'run of octaves.' However, if you have run of single notes (not intervals), what ...
6
votes
3answers
5k 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. ...
1
vote
3answers
94 views

What are the terms for beats and a set of beats in a dance?

I'm not native English speaking and not familiar with the technical terms in music. Thus this seems quite hard to Google an answer to... In a dance, like a slow waltz, the count goes: ...
2
votes
1answer
50 views

Another word for shots

I've been googling for the last 2 minutes and I just can't come up with anything that talks about "shots". Maybe this is a local Toronto term. Here's the definition as I understand it. A shot is when ...
3
votes
4answers
406 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
399 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: ...
6
votes
2answers
145 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?
9
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
137 views
9
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
127 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
5k views

What is the difference between a “riff” and a “melody”?

How do I tell when a riff becomes a melody, or is it even important to know? Can you construct a song around a riff - what are some suggestions on how to construct a song in that manner?
11
votes
2answers
672 views

What is the difference between a musical and a rock opera?

I've seen multiple works from Andrew Lloyd Webber referred to as "musicals" in some sources, and "rock operas" in others. For most people it seems the two terms are completely interchangeable. Is ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is the melody sometimes played a half tone higher a few last times?

For example, in this song: Letter to the lord by Irma, a melody can be heard around 0:50 Then, at the end of the song, it is played something like a half tone higher around 2:33 Did I hear ...
8
votes
3answers
218 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

What is “Tempo 1”?

I've seen adagio, and other names, but I see in classical score that indicates "Tempo 1" in section C. What does it mean?
2
votes
2answers
439 views

What's the name of an area split by Bar Line (s) called?

What is the unit name of an area split by Bar Line(s) called ? (See the red-circled area in below picture) The translation from my native language to English results in Time Signature . I feel ...
8
votes
1answer
6k 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?
4
votes
3answers
216 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
213 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?
14
votes
1answer
769 views

What does “silonveut” mean?

I am typesetting a Cambini Quartet. In the score for the cello part I see the following phrase: What does it mean? It appears to say "silonveut". This is the context (I don't think the piece is ...
4
votes
2answers
174 views

Velocity sensitivity or attack

I have a confusion about the two concepts of velocity sensitivity and attack. Considering these two apps: ...
11
votes
3answers
290 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. ...
8
votes
1answer
520 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
466 views

What is *cuivre* for a trumpet

Cuivre in French means copper, I think. In music it seems to be the name of the family of Brass instruments. Correct me in this if it is wrong. In Sibelius, the trumpet has a property (regulated by ...
9
votes
4answers
829 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.
3
votes
1answer
57 views

Melodic Equivalence of a rhyme?

It is very common in most songs with lyrics for the end of a vocal phrase to rhyme with the end of another vocal phrase. It also very common for solo instruments to play the same phrase twice and have ...
4
votes
1answer
660 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
657 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
373 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.
4
votes
6answers
925 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: ...
3
votes
1answer
3k 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
2answers
368 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 ...