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

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13
votes
3answers
1k views

Why are notes named the way they are?

In 12 tone equal temperament, why are the notes named: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B instead of, for example, A, A#, B, B#, C, C#, D, D#, E, E#, F, F# or any other thing?
30
votes
3answers
38k views

What are the differences between tone, note and pitch?

I was wondering what differences are between "tone", "note", and "pitch"?
14
votes
1answer
555 views

What is a Neapolitan 6th?

In studying music theory I have hear the term Neapolitan 6th a quite few times, but I'm not quite sure what it is. What is a Neapolitan 6th and how is it used in a composition?
10
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
937 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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a ghost note ?

What is a ghost note and how is it different than holding the previous note ?
7
votes
4answers
890 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 ...
35
votes
4answers
3k views

(1/√π)/√⅔ as a time signature?

I recently found this article on wikipedia about lists of musical works in unusual time signatures and the first unusual time signature is (1/√π)/√⅔. I looked up the piece that was listed as having ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What should I look for in a recording microphone for personal use?

I was browsing through mics on Amazon and quickly realized I was out of my depth. There are a couple closely related questions I am wondering about: Are there different types of mics for (1) ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Able to recall music in its correct key, but don't have perfect pitch — what is it called?

I don't have perfect pitch, but there are certain things I can do that I've been wondering if there's a name for. Given the name of a piece I've heard reasonably recently, I can sing it in my head in ...
11
votes
5answers
8k 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.
5
votes
3answers
152 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
42k views

What exactly does “feat.” mean?

Does anyone know what does the "feat." mean exactly? Some song titles have the word "feat" in it, for example "I wanna love you clean Akon feat. Snoop dog". What does "feat." mean?
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Are there any classification systems that categorize music by mood?

Recently I had the idea to categorize my digital music library with mood tags. Thinking about these moods, I figured that it's not so easy to come up with a complete list that covers all possible ...
7
votes
2answers
465 views

Common names for sections of a piece of music

Generally, what is is the name for the non-vocal parts of a song that are not interludes or preludes and not a guitar solo or instrumental verse/chorus? For example, right after the acapella vocal ...
5
votes
2answers
461 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
115 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
480 views

Is there a term for a chord progression that chromatically ascends or descends an octave?

I've noticed a pattern in music that is very interesting where a progression will start with one chord and chromatically ascend or descend until the starting chord is reached again. For example: a ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the difference between genre and style?

Is there anybody in world who know what's the difference between genre and style in music? In wikipedia there are articles: list of music genres and list of music styles, but when we will go to ...
8
votes
3answers
870 views

How does one read very loud or very soft dynamic markings (e.g. ffff, ppp)?

Sometimes, scores contain notations like "fff", which presumably indicates that the section in question should be one dynamic level louder than "ff", or "fortissimo". In my limited musical ...
7
votes
1answer
148 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
376 views

What is the terminology for how we identify numbered notes like C4, E3, D6, etc?

Does this system - where C3 is middle C - have a standard name? For instance, is there a wikipedia page which explains this system and if so how is it titled? (note: As mentioned middle C is C4, my ...
2
votes
3answers
737 views

What are the parts of a classical composition?

I'd like to learn the names of the different parts of classical musical compositions as compared to the literary work structure that has a beginning, the part where the plot thickens and the ...
1
vote
3answers
128 views

With respect to right hand guitar technique, what does it mean to not scoop?

Scooping comes up in in this answer: Move your hand in parallel with the strings (i.e. don't scoop) What exactly does that mean? I've only seen it in reference to tone.
1
vote
2answers
254 views

Tonality and Modality together

Tonality and modality form a unit in most music, right? You are in F Major or in D minor etc... Is there a name for the two entities together seen as a unity? I'm working on some musical software ...