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

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2
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4answers
299 views

Music Theory Classification Systems

For musical instruments there are a number of hierarchical classification systems in use worldwide, amongst them the well-known but somewhat limited Hornbostel-Sachs system. I find myself wondering ...
0
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1answer
92 views

Songs with off-beats?

I found this a lot in old songs, but also in quite a few new ones. I love songs that have this, off-beat music playing in the background. I know the song 'Bernadette' by IAMX has it. The beginning of ...
5
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2answers
960 views

Is there a name for the points on the body of electric guitars?

I was trying to describe a part of the guitar to a friend a I could not come up with the proper name for it. I was try to refer to the two points on the body of an electric guitar where typically part ...
1
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1answer
32 views

What does the pre shape, and EQ In/Out buttons do on my guitar?

I just bought a second hand ovation celebrity and I was wondering what some of its buttons do. Do they change the sound (distortion/loudness)? If not what do they do?
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3answers
1k 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 ...
4
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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 ...
5
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7answers
535 views
3
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1answer
2k views

What's the difference between “feat”, “artist1 X artist 2”, “artist1 Vs. artist2” and “artist1 & artist 2”?

In songs with multiple artists, I've seen 4 different ways to credit the other artists. 'Feat.', '&', 'X' and 'Vs'. How are they used? (I have no example of 'V', but I've seen it used.)
7
votes
6answers
1k views

What do people mean when they ask me what the chord progression of a song is?

I an amateur pianist and I have theory knowledge. I know what a chord progression is. Although I mostly read from score I can easily listen a music and reproduce it on the piano. People often ask me ...
2
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1answer
56 views

What's the difference between a tonal center and a guide tone?

A "guide tone" search generates a slew of hits. A "tonal center" search generates a slew of hits. A "guide tone tonal center" search generates one hit. In that thread the term guide tone appears ...
3
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2answers
225 views
5
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2answers
56 views

What is the difference between tessitura and range?

I was trying to look up the definition of tessitura, and it seems as though it refers to the range within which most notes fall in a piece. I thought this was what range was though? or are they the ...
14
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2answers
1k 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 ...
4
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2answers
270 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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
701 views

Scale, Heptatonic Scale, Diatonic Scale, Major Scale

A scale with 7 notes, in an octave, is called a Heptatonic Scales. Heptatonic scales are further divided based on tone and semitones arrangements. If a Heptatonic scale have five tones and two ...
4
votes
1answer
73 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
17k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

What is the difference between a prime order, tone row and serial, if there is one?

I'm studying Op. 22 by Anton Webern for my AS music. I have 2 teachers and a revision guide, each of which uses one of the terms listed in the question and avoids the other two. I just wanted to see ...
3
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1answer
128 views

What is urgency when referring to music

I've heard commentators call certain songs and artists "urgent" or say the phrase "he plays with such urgency" I have no idea what this describes.
3
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1answer
54 views

Music Terminology: Difference between Additive and asymmetric?

I've been reading up on Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra and came across the two terms 'additive rhythm' and 'asymmetrical grouping'. I would assume they are synonymous... Is there a ...
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8answers
27k views

Why is a C7 chord named a dominant seventh chord?

I understand that a C7 chord contains a flattened 7th note in the C major scale, but what specifically makes this a dominant 7th chord? To me there is nothing 'dominant' about taking a note out of ...
2
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
0
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2answers
57 views

Is there a single word to describe the loudest point in a musical composition?

Coloquially, crescendo is often used--inaccurately--to refer to this. Climax might be used, but a musical climax is not necessarily about volume, and this term is not included in the Oxford Dictionary ...
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6answers
2k views

Why is it called the chromatic scale?

The definition of chromatic as given by Google: adjective: chromatic MUSIC: relating to or using notes not belonging to the diatonic scale of the key in which a passage is written. (of a scale) ...
3
votes
2answers
99 views

What is Tanam in Music?

What is Tanam in Indian music ? Is tanam used in Cinema music ? i.e After Pallavi of a song a piece of music playing it might be 8 bar or 16 bar etc. Is it Tannam ?
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3answers
65 views

What is the difference between Taktteile and Taktglieder?

I am reading a book about Metric Manipulations by Danuta Mirka and the author refers to some German words. In this book, he writes that Takt refers to measure, Taktteile to parts of a measure, ...
5
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1answer
84 views

What does it mean when there is a letter c in front of the tempo on a score?

For example, "c. 108". I need to practice and I have absolutely no idea what it means!
2
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2answers
78 views

What is the 'head' in this song?

I'm using this music sheet from the New Real book 1 to play Grover Washington Jr's Make Me A Memory, and I'm trying to understand the structure of the song, as it is written at the bottom right corner:...
11
votes
1answer
121 views

What is the difference between grouping overlaps and elisions?

I am reading "A Generative Theory of Tonal Music" by F. Lerdahl and R. Jackendoff and I don't understand the difference between grouping overlaps and elisions (this is explained in section 3.4). The ...
15
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6answers
1k views

Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature

On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from ...
0
votes
3answers
105 views

What is the proper name for a sequence of durations?

In contrast to pitch, rhythm refers to the length and accentuation of a sequence of notes. If we focus exclusively on the durations, what would be a proper term? Example: 1/4, 1/2, 1/4 no tempo, no ...
4
votes
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Schoenberg's Hexachord decoded

I had a question regarding the cryptogram of Schoenberg's famous hexachord. The Schoenberg hexachord has a pitch class set of (012569) and a vector of <3,1,3,4,3,1>. In other words, the notes are ...
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2answers
4k views

What is the device used to draw 5-line staff (empty) with a pencil/pen?

I remember seeing something like that long ago but can't remember what it was called. It is basically a metal gadget that holds 5 pencils or only pencil led and you can draw by hand your own empty ...
4
votes
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'.
3
votes
3answers
923 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
64 views

Notehead or note head?

Is the head of a note properly referred to as a note head, or a notehead? As far as I can determine, the Sibelius and Finale programs use the compound word in their interfaces and documentation, but ...
7
votes
6answers
515 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
68 views

What is the term for a chord change from 0-5-7 to 0-4-7?

From what I understand, the 0-5-7 triad is a sus4 and 0-4-7 a major. So if I have C-F-G and descend a semitone from F to E into a C major chord what would be the technical term for it? I like to use ...
2
votes
3answers
356 views

What is the difference between a chord progression and a riff?

I am just wondering what the difference between a chord progression and a riff is? My assumptions are that riffs are generally 2 measures long, and they are pretty much classed as being played over a ...
5
votes
3answers
189 views

Technique in which student repeats notes teacher plays

I came across an interesting essay on playing by ear, in which the author describes a method he called "Call and Response Teaching" (section 2 in the article). The description is thus: The ...
12
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7answers
473 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. ...
2
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
35
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3answers
67k views

What are the differences between tone, note, and pitch?

I was wondering what the differences are between "tone", "note", and "pitch"?
11
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6answers
6k 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 ...
36
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19answers
34k views
0
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1answer
61 views

What is a definition of “oscillator” that is suitable for all musical instruments?

I understand from my music theory class that for reed and brass instruments, the "primary oscillator" is the modulation of an airstream. Comparatively, for wood winds, the "primary oscillator" is the ...
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2answers
46 views

Musical sound production mechanisms

According to my very informal understanding, most instruments produce music through a similar process. Human uses muscles to make something vibrate The vibrating thing makes an acoustic wave which ...
2
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1answer
54 views

What does “Time on” mean in the context of a Lead Sheet?

I was looking though my real book and saw an interesting phrase that I've never seen before in the song Stuff by Miles Davis. On the first and last bar there is the phrase "Time on D♭7(#9)" with ...