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

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22
votes
1answer
14k views

What are the differences between tone, note and pitch?

I was wondering what differences are between "tone", "note", and "pitch"?
20
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between a “band” and an “orchestra”

Growing up, my father listened to big band music. These bands are usually referred to as "Glenn Miller and his orchestra" Or "Paul Schaeffer and the CBS Orchestra". Is it that an orchestra has ...
17
votes
2answers
189 views

What is the term for a song without a tempo?

I have a song that is just acoustic guitar/vocals/and cello and I don't want to give it a tempo because I enjoy the way it sounds just played at the tempo of whatever emotion I have or venue I'm ...
14
votes
1answer
713 views

What does “silonveut” mean?

I am typesetting a Cambini Quartet. In the score for the cello part I see the following phrase: What does it mean? It appears to say "silonveut". This is the context (I don't think the piece is ...
13
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
673 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
2answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any real difference between Counterpoint and Polyphony?

From what I understand, they both kind of refer to the same thing. Why the need for 2 terms?
11
votes
3answers
221 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. ...
10
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
90 views

What is a “Naturstimme?”

At a recent audition, the conductor of the choral ensemble said that my voice had a Naturstimme-like quality. (The conductor is, of course, German.) However, I can't seem to find a good definition of ...
10
votes
4answers
651 views

Lead sheets / fake sheets without score

Several of the groups of people I play music with use song sheets that are similar to lead sheets, but without the stave showing the melody line: Note that unlike many chord sheets you can find ...
9
votes
4answers
622 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
304 views

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

Do they mean how loud it will go without getting distortion?
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
157 views

Is it a coincidence that “blue” notes are “chromatic”?

According to the OED: The word "chromatic" has been applied to music with lots of accidentals since at least the 17th century. In the 19th century, a "blue note" was one that was incorrect; starting ...
9
votes
2answers
163 views

Where did the British names for different note lengths come from?

I was always taught to use a certain set of names for the length of a note, such as crotchet, minim, quaver, and so on. I'm aware though that those terms aren't used as much outside the UK, and that ...
9
votes
4answers
3k 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.
8
votes
4answers
384 views

How to technically differentiate between wind instrument types (definition)

What is the official way to differentiate between a woodwind and a brass instrument? I know it's not about the material that they are made of, but how the sound is produced.
8
votes
6answers
309 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?
8
votes
2answers
221 views

Correct terminology for chord inversions

I am confused with what I've read in various sources concerning chord notations. Is there a standard notation for chord inversions? As far as I understand, a chord inversion is determined from the ...
7
votes
3answers
3k 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
3answers
255 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
145 views

What is the word for the panel on a piano that is in front of the keyboard?

Not the part of the piano that typically has the brand name on it, but the piece of wood that is under the keyboard and is in full view of the pianist.
7
votes
3answers
3k views

What is a ghost note ?

What is a ghost note and how is it different than holding the previous note ?
7
votes
1answer
129 views

The meaning of the word “inversion”

I'm looking for clarity over how to best describe two different meanings of the word "inversion" I have come across. The two different aspects I see are: I have three notes C-E-G. The intervals ...
7
votes
2answers
908 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
587 views

Is there a specific name for Sheet music that uses numbers (二胡 Èrhú Sheet Music)?

I am searching for a software program (preferably opensource but not necessarily) that can create sheet music. However since I am a beginner at my instrument I still use a simplified notation. I play ...
6
votes
3answers
255 views

'Fine' at the end of the song

In a lot of music sheets, I've seen that they mark the end of the song with 'Fine' (example: http://www.jazzpla.net/H/Hassansdream.jpg) What does 'Fine' mean? And why is it used to mark the end of a ...
6
votes
3answers
408 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
986 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) ...
6
votes
2answers
232 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
141 views

Should barré chords have an acute accent on the E?

I was always taught that it should, but the Wikipedia article doesn't use the accent at all. I'm British — is it an American thing to ignore the accent? I am preparing some content for an ...
6
votes
3answers
845 views

What is the meaning of “playing off the beat” and “playing on the beat”?

I am learning piano from a book and I can't understand the meaning of the phrases "playing on the beat" and "playing off the beat" and the difference between them. Can anyone explain them to me?
6
votes
2answers
2k 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?
6
votes
4answers
268 views

What are the various ways of vocalizing rhythmic figures?

I know of the standard western technique where the beats (quarter notes) are numbered and eighths are vocalized as 'and' and sixteenths are vocalized as 'ee' and 'uh' (One-ee-and-uh Two-ee-and-uh). ...
5
votes
3answers
339 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.
5
votes
2answers
370 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
149 views

Is there a formal term for a recording's pitch being “in the cracks”?

Lots of recordings were (sometimes intentionally) speed up/slowed down before final mastering, so that, even if the band was tuned to concert pitch, it isn't in the released version. If you have a ...
5
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Electronic keyboard terms: Aftertouch vs Pressure-sensitive

I was reading a review of the Akai Miniak which said The 37 half-weighted keys are velocity and aftertouch but not pressure sensitive. I thought aftertouch was MIDI signals of continuing ...
4
votes
3answers
11k views

What exactly does “feat.” means?

Does anyone know what does the "feat." means exactly? Some song titles have the word "feat" in it, for example "I wanna love you clean Akon feat. Snoop dog". What does "feat." means?
4
votes
6answers
457 views

Sharp / Flat: Collectively known as property by what name?

If a chord can be said to have a Quality which relates to whether it is major, minor, augmented or diminished then by what name do we call the property of a single note's flatness or sharpness? Note: ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What do you call plucking the violin strings with the finger, rather than using the bow?

I was attempting to learn a bit about violin sheet music, and then I wondered if the act of producing sound with the finger or the fingernail had a written notation. I had a hard time finding a video ...
4
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
131 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
505 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
120 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
4k views

Why are instrumental tracks also called “minus one tracks”?

Does anyone know why instrumental tracks are also called "minus one tracks"?
4
votes
4answers
662 views

What would you call all-drum instrumental music?

I'm trying to find the title for music containing all percussion instruments (pianos/xylophones not included) such as drum corps and marching band drum breakdowns. I'd basically like to listen to ...