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

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Why is the 2nd note of a chord called major third?

On a piano, the root note of the C major chord is referred to as 1. The second note played is E, which is actually the fifth key when starting at C. Not 3? Yes this makes senses to call it a 3 when ...
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6answers
3k 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 ...
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3answers
529 views

What's the correct term for a 'professional' composer?

The orchestra I play in is planning to commission a piece of music for our 50th anniversary concert in 2017. We've commissioned music in the past, and had music written for us, by amateur composers. ...
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3answers
6k 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 ...
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4answers
254 views

Is there a term that describes straight 8ths / 16ths vs swing?

I'm a student and have been playing exercises that are either straight 8ths, swing 8ths, straight 16ths or swing 16ths. I'm wondering if there's a term for these different rhythms. If used in a ...
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2answers
494 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 ...
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2answers
271 views

What does the tempo marking “Andando” mean?

I'm reading through Nelson Riddle's book on arranging. As you'd expect, the musical examples use common Italian tempo markings, such as Andante, Andantino, Allegro and so on. However, the marking ...
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2answers
248 views

What's the difference between the tritone and the blue note?

For a while I thought they were one and the same, now I'm confused. This Wiki Article on the subject asserts that the blue note isn't even a real note, i.e. a note that's not part of the standard ...
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326 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 ...
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2answers
89 views

Is there a dynamics equivalent of the marking “a tempo”?

Is there a marking (or a term) that means "go back to the dynamic played at before the last (de)crescendo"? I'd prefer to not specify a particular dynamic immediately before the crescendo (in order to ...
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1answer
2k views

What does “1 x Tacet” mean?

What does 1xTacet mean? Does it mean "play the following in 1st round only"?
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4answers
123 views

What does the key of a song mean?

I want to know what it means, in terms of the scales and chords involved, when we say that a song is played in a certain 'key'.
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5answers
419 views

Does an implied tie exist

Is there such a thing as an implied tie? Like some kind of symbol or notation that would specify to hold a note through the duration of all the notes on a pitch as if they were tied together. Edit: ...
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5answers
125 views

“The” versus “a” diatonic scale

A diatonic scale is defined as an ordered collection of pitches. However, given the many modes of the diatonic scales, what is meant when someone says "the" diatonic scale? Wikipedia says it's an ...
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1answer
131 views

What is an orchestra “reading session”?

On orchestra calendars I sometimes see events called "reading sessions", such as this one: Pittsburgh Symphony 11th Annual Reading Session What is a "reading session" and how does it differ from a ...
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1answer
2k 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 ...
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3answers
203 views

Why is a major second not called a perfect second? [duplicate]

Apart from a second, intervals can be described as either {Diminished, Perfect, Augmented} or {Dim, Minor, Major, Aug} depending on whether or not the major and minor scale share that interval. For ...
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2answers
94 views

What do the ratios of the partials in inharmonic spectra deviate from?

There is a paragraph where author talks about harmonic and inharmonic spectra, and he points out that the harmonic spectra have partials that deviate from the precise ratios (for example the term "...
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2answers
143 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 ...
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380 views

Musical construction in rock - what does this mean?

Andrew Chester writes (emphasis mine): Western classical music is the apodigm of the extensional form of musical construction. Theme and variations, counterpoint, tonality (as used in classical ...
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2answers
509 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 ...
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3answers
214 views

what is the correct musical term for arpeggios where the notes are left ringing?

Hi I am wondering what the correct term is for play a sequence of notes where you leave all the notes ringing together. I'm not talking about rolled chords, I'm talking about having a larger amount of ...
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2answers
275 views

Velocity sensitivity or attack

I have a confusion about the two concepts of velocity sensitivity and attack. Considering these two apps: http://createdigitalmusic.com/2009/10/going-mobile-...
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1answer
85 views

Name for same-note legato without the pedal

I am drawing a complete blank for the name of a particular technique for piano I learned a while ago, and I haven't the time to dig through my books to find it... A connecting technique for playing ...
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1answer
246 views

Singing the words to one song along with the music for another - what is this called?

Years ago I was setting out chairs during a pre-show rehearsal and since it was before everyone was due (rehearsal was scheduled to start in about five to ten minutes), folks were just playing around ...
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2answers
329 views

Name for music that imitates speech

I have searched and asked others for the answer to this but have come up dry: what is the name or technique in music where musical notes approximate/imitate speech? Note that I am not talking about ...
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1answer
68 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 ...
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1answer
90 views

What is the word for 'repeating the tonic at the “end” of spelling a scale?'

I am referring to the practice of repeating the root or tonic of a scale when spelling (not playing) a scale. I recall being told to __ my scale but I cannot remember the word… at all.
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1answer
74 views

Name for instruments that can only play one octave, vs one that can play many octaves?

Is there a word for instruments that are limited to only one octave, as opposed to instruments that can play multiple octaves? I think this is a matter of classifying instruments with a certain narrow ...
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1answer
224 views

What is it called when a violinist quickly bows all strings in an 'arpeggio-like' flourish?

You can hear this 'arpeggiating' flourish in Heifetz's 'Last Recital' during Strauss's Sonata for Violin & Piano here (already cued to 45:48) and (in case you prefer animated movie soundtracks ...
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1answer
114 views

Meaning of marking “armonici”

In particular, looking at the cello part from the 1924 Casa Ricorda edition of Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances (Universal Music Co). Third movement, there's a divisi with both parts playing a G ...
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1answer
158 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, ...
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2answers
204 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 ...
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78 views

Why is 1/128th note's prefix “semihemidemisemi”?

I've searched throughout the Internet, and so far they only states the fact that 1/64th note is named "hemidemisemiquaver" and 1/128th note is "semihemidemisemiquaver", with no mention why the prefix ...
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1answer
190 views

What do the terms “pitch relationships” and “vertical dimension” signify in relation to harmony?

I am trying to learn more about the neurological basis of harmony perception. However, I am having a bit of trouble understanding the musical technical terminology being used by the authors in a ...
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3answers
664 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 ...
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3answers
317 views

Is there a name for this ending tag?

I'm talking about the last notes of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" -- the accompaniment cuts off suddenly on a i chord where its progression ought to end, and the vocals continue to riff for a second. Is ...
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774 views

What is the difference between a “triplet” and a “trill”

This may be an easy question... but I have limited Theory knowledge so... I have heard the word Trill being used to describe a method of adding multiple notes into one beat. Now from what I ...
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1answer
743 views

Is 'dur' another way of saying flat (b)?

I found this sheet music for a quartet by Haydn: As you can see, on the cover it says B♭ major/ B-Dur / Si♭ majeur. I can understand the first and the third terms, but is B-Dur another way of ...
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5answers
818 views

Can I say all black keys are enharmonic equivalents?

I just started reading a piano book (Pinao Lessons by Mantius Cazaubon). In chapter 1 explaining about keys and notes in the sections of The Black Keys and The White Keys. It is very clear from first ...
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367 views

How are note durations named in the British system?

This looks like a dupe of Why are notes named the way they are? but it isn't. I want to know about rhythm. I understand that in the international (British) system, a breve is what we Americans call a ...
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6answers
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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 "...
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3answers
921 views

In a song in G major the sound F appears and sounds good. Is there a name for such a phenomenon?

The song "Misty Moisty Morning" by Steeleye Span is in a major key. My knowledge of music theory is fragmentary so I may have gotten it wrong but I believe it's true. I don't remember which key it is ...
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341 views

How does one place a beat 'on' a given note/rest value?

I am reading a book about music for digital artists, and am reading through an intro to drumming. This is the part I am confused with: ''The ride element can be placed on the quarters, eighths, or ...
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2answers
75 views

Is there a name for a piece of music that wanders about in tempo?

There are some pieces of music that work very well when played without keeping a consistent tempo, in popular music I'm thinking of songs such as Colorblind by Counting Crows or the intro to Shanghai ...
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3answers
932 views

Open/Close Position Chords: What I am missing?

Working through Hindemith's harmony I encountered the following diagram of all the valid positions for a C-Major chord in strict four-part writing. I am befuddled as to why the third chord in the ...
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374 views

What's the name for a four, or five note chord?

A triad is the most used set of notes making a chord. Obviously it's 3! However, there must be a word/ term for a set of 4 notes - as in maj 7th, or min 6th chord, and maybe a different one for a set ...
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1answer
345 views

What is it called when the note pattern is the same in each bar but the actual pitch and note are different?

I have a question for music theory asking me about what I notice about the rhythm in bars 3-6 and the note pattern is the same : crotchet, 4 quavers, crotchet, minim. But the actual name of the note ...
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1answer
178 views

Is sensitive a vaild alternative name for the leading tone?

I was reading the sample version of Modern Harmony Step By Step and one passage caught my eye: In the passage above it seems that what is typically referred to as the leading tone is revered to as ...
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226 views

What is it called when the same melody is played by two different voices but not starting at the same time and on a different pitch?

Complete the following sentence: The 1st violin ______ the 2nd violin at the start of the extract.