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

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14
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4answers
16k 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
37 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
votes
1answer
123 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
votes
1answer
43 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
18 views

Why are the Tags not in alphabetical order ? [migrated]

As a newcomer I need to look in various mixed up boxes with no logical order .Why not have a switch to create alphabetical access to new information ?
19
votes
8answers
25k 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
3k 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
votes
2answers
53 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 ...
17
votes
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
92 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 ?
6
votes
3answers
60 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
60 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
67 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
votes
2answers
70 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
113 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 ...
14
votes
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
100 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
316 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
75 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
3k 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
111 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
805 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
62 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
493 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
55 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
285 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
188 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
votes
7answers
456 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. ...
3
votes
6answers
266 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 ...
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 ...
34
votes
3answers
65k views

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

I was wondering what the differences are between "tone", "note", and "pitch"?
11
votes
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 ...
34
votes
19answers
31k views
0
votes
1answer
55 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
44 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
votes
1answer
49 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
46 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
17k views

Polymeter vs Polyrhythm

What is the difference between a polymeter and a polyrhythm? Do these words mean anything different for different instruments? PS: I'm a drummer.
0
votes
1answer
37 views

How to pronounce chord numbers

When someone says "one four five" chord progression, could that refer to a "i-iv-v" chord progression? Do I have to say "minor one, minor four, minor five"?
8
votes
3answers
167 views

What is the difference between temperament and intonation?

We talk of equal temperament but just intonation. From wikipedia, tempering is described as "the process of altering the size of an interval by making it narrower or wider than pure." where ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Is there a term in Western music theory for the underlying mood of a music genre?

Though this doesn't seem to apply to all music genres, I get the impression that some of them have an "underlying mood". For instance, flamenco (the genre I specialize in) has strong melancholy ...
5
votes
4answers
222 views

Difference between keys and scales?

I am a Tabla (a North Indian percussion instrument) player and I am trying to learn the western music theory. My study was going well until I stumbled upon keys and scales. Now though I know what ...
3
votes
4answers
278 views

name of the strumming technique

I was watching the following video: Can you please tell me the name of the strumming technique the guitarist used in the beginning of the video? I have been looking ...
2
votes
1answer
37 views

Definition of Sonority for Flutists

I have not been able to find a specific explanation of what "Sonorous" or "Sonority" means for a Flutist. I have a vague understanding that it refers to sound quality. Can anyone please help me to ...
4
votes
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 ...
15
votes
7answers
11k views

What is the definition of 'playing in the pocket'?

The phrase 'playing in the pocket' is used sometimes, in jazz, hip hop, funk etc. It sometimes refers to the way a drummer plays, sometimes to how an ensemble works together. I've Googled the term, ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a specific name for music that sounds like it has no rests?

Example: Prelude no. 2 from Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”. That piece sounds like it has no rests. It’s a constant flow of music the entire time. I love pieces like that. I want to know if there’s a ...
5
votes
2answers
111 views

Is there a name for the sound of a performer physically interacting with their instrument?

Is there a name for the sound produced by the mechanical action of a musical instrument? I'm referring specifically to sounds not usually associated with the instrument's voice—the movement of a ...
1
vote
2answers
132 views
11
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...