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

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5
votes
3answers
165 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
284 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
470 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.
9
votes
3answers
4k views

What tempo is Agitato?

I'm looking at Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor and notice that the tempo changes from Lento to Agitato. I'm familiar with the former tempo marking, but not the latter. At what tempo should Agitato ...
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
202 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
1answer
721 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
2answers
416 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
565 views

How should staccatissimo be played?

How should staccatissimo be played on Handel, Beethoven, and Liszt pieces? I have read that it is like staccato only shorter, but it seems like it is used when notes should be staccato and accented. ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there any difference between a soprano trombone and a slide trumpet?

Occasionally, I will see people arguing about whether an instrument should be called a "soprano trombone" or a "slide trumpet" yet I have never seen any instrument designated as one as being any ...
1
vote
3answers
193 views

Terminology for sounds and notes

I'm struggling with the terminology for all the concepts related to sounds and notes. Most of the texts I read are not very precise in their usage of different terms, which makes it hard for me as a ...
5
votes
1answer
105 views

What is econo-picking?

Is this simply a synonym for sweep picking or is it something else?
8
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a ghost note ?

What is a ghost note and how is it different than holding the previous note ?
9
votes
2answers
371 views

What do they mean by 'This amp has a lot of headroom'?

Do they mean how loud it will go without getting distortion?
6
votes
2answers
3k 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?
10
votes
4answers
730 views

Identify this chord: F# (bass) + C + E + A

Would someone be able to identify this chord for me? A E C F# - bass I'm sure it's obvious but I can't seem to figure it out. It's a song in the key of C major. A C major chord precedes it and ...
8
votes
6answers
364 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?