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51

A pitch is a particular frequency of sound, for example 440 Hz. Wikipedia goes into a lot of detail about how pitch is subjective, and frequency is objective; the frequency that you think you hear (the pitch) might not be the real frequency at all, due to overtones (see below) and other factors. You can read that article for more details, though for our ...


33

Just featuring. This is used when there is an invited artist on a track. It is not restricted to music. It was used on film and show billboards. You could also translate this (depending on context, select as many options as appropriate) by with the (exceptional/gracefully ...


31

This type of modulation is sometimes jokingly called "truck driver's gear change". It's supposed to add excitement due to the rising pitch but it's been done to death so now it became just a bad cliche.


29

A riff is thematic. It serves as the main musical idea for a (section of a) song. Often it's repeated and developed, sometimes with variations, sometimes in different keys, but always recognizable as the same main musical idea. Because a riff is a main theme for a song, it often becomes inextricably associated with that song---if you heard the riff out of ...


29

I think the author of that Wikipedia page has rather misinterpreted Nancarrow's title page for the Study (linked on Roland Bouman's comment to the question). (1/√π)/√⅔ refers to a tempo ratio between two voices, not a time signature. Nancarrow was rather obsessed with canons. The canon is a form where multiple voices each play the same music at some time ...


28

"Modal" and "tonal" both describe works that: have one defined "home" pitch, or "tonal center," around which the melody and harmony are based; have only one tonal center at a time, though that tonal center can change throughout a piece; and use a seven-note diatonic scale as their pitch collections. The difference between modal and tonal are in the ...


26

It is so called because B♭ is the 7th note of the C dominant scale (also known as the Mixolydian scale). The 5th is known as the dominant, because it is the "most important" interval (among other things, it's the first harmonic other than the octave). However, try to forget the "English" meaning of the word "dominant" -- otherwise you might expect C to be ...


25

An "open tuning" is one where the open strings, when strummed, are tuned to form a chord. So an "open D tuning" is going to something along the lines of (low to high) D A D F# A D -- that's a D major chord. There are certainly more common open tunings than others but the range of open tunings available, even with a standard set of guitar strings on a ...


25

The term you are looking for is A piacere (It.). This basically means that the piece should be played at the performers discretion with regard to tempo and rhythm. Literally, "at pleasure".


24

I feel like I've already at least partly answered this question here. But I'll endeavor to add more here. First of all, you aren't quite right in your description of the note-naming system. There are seven letters, and every one of these can be sharped or flatted: A♭, A, A♯ B♭, B, B♯ C♭, C, C♯ D♭, D, D♯ E♭, E, E♯ F♭, F, F♯ G♭, G, G♯ It's just that many ...


23

Tempo primo, or Tempo 1ᵒ means “at the same tempo as the piece started”.


22

An arpeggio is simply a chord played one note at a time. So if you're playing in an arpeggiated style, then instead of strumming the chords, you'll play each note of the chord one at a time. You mention Peter Buck, whose playing on "Everybody Hurts" is a perfect example of arpeggiated playing. Strumming a D-chord: $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 ...


22

Tempo 1 or Tempo I instructs a performer to return to the first tempo of a movement or piece of music, where there has been a different tempo marking since the first marking. The marking Tempo Primo is also used. It is the equivalent, on a larger scale, of an a tempo marking following a rit. or rall. marking.


21

NC (or N.C.) is short for "No Chord". It means that you should only play the indicated notes or melody, and not try to infer or add a chordal accompaniment. This is as opposed to the chord symbols that you probably find everywhere else than where the N.C. notation is. See for example http://dictionary.onmusic.org/terms/2344-no_chord (Although their example ...


20

The name for the noise you're hearing is "string noise". It is caused by the fingertips scraping across the round-wound strings of the instrument when the hand changes from one position to another.


19

Counterpoint is a type of polyphony with certain restrictions on form. For instance, contrapuntally organized music focuses on melodic interaction between multiple independent voices rather than harmonic interaction. In other words, chords occur as a result of coincident notes in multiple melodic lines rather than as a primary textural element. Other forms ...


19

A "scale", technically defined, is a sequence of ascending or descending "unit pitches" that form a palette of notes that can be used to form a melody. Most scales in Western music conform to a particular "key"; that is, a sequence of notes that will be "sharp" or "flat" by default. Not all scales have keys; the chromatic scale is a scale of all possible ...


19

The naming of groups does indeed come mostly from Latin, sometimes with Italian influence. The etyomologies for the first nine are: Number Group name Latin Italian Meaning 1 solo solus solo "alone" 2 duo duo due "two" - this is the Latin word 3 ...


19

A session musician is a "gun for hire". They get hired to put down parts in different studio sessions, hence the name. It is required to quickly learn parts in a lot of different styles and settings; they are likely to encounter more different tunes than most other musicians. In your quote, B major is considered unusual enough that the casual player, or ...


18

It really depends on context. It could be an Am6, but this is an unlikely inversion, so probably not. It could be an F#m7b5, especially if followed by some form of B7, where it would serve as a II in E, probably E minor. For other functions of half-diminished chords, see Wikipedia: Half-diminished Seventh Chord. It could also be a rootless D9 voicing with ...


18

I'd further qualify what ledfloyd has said: headroom defines the level you can obtain before the signal starts "clipping", that is: before the peaks begin to flatten out and resemble a square wave (the sound of which we call OD/distortion). Once your signal's clipping, not only does it distort, it compresses somewhat as well (due to the fact that you get ...


18

The ♭III is a borrowed chord from the parallel minor. A bit more info: The bIII is commonly followed by the IV, giving it something of a subdominant function relative to the IV. The ii here is acting as a IV (it's the relative minor of IV) in a plagal cadence, so functionally what we have is more similar to I bIII IV, a common rock progression. Also, the ...


18

A scale is any sequence of ascending (or descending) notes that can be used as an "organizing structure" for a piece of music. There are many types of scales, including diatonic (the "standard" in Western music), chromatic (containing every half note in an octave), whole-tone (containing notes a whole step apart), and pentatonic (the pentatonic formed from C ...


18

It's called a rastrum. The rastrum came into use in preparing copper-plate engravings for music printing. It was simply a fork that one dragged across the plate to "score" the surface. Rastrum is Latin for rake. As for constructing such a tool samizdat (DIY), I see potential in a paperclip, 5 ballpoint refills, and a pair of chaining pliers. I'll say ...


18

I assume it's french "si l'on veut" - "at one's pleasure" - "ad libitum". It means that the performer may decide freely playing the triples as written or to octavate them (as IMHO it isn't a slur but a 8va bracket).


18

I've studied music in both the US and the UK (piano lessons in the UK at age 14, majored in piano in the US), and bar and measure are used interchangeably in both in my experience. Jazz and blues musicians tend to say "bar" more often than "measure": 12-bar and 16-bar blues, for example. Also, you'd never hear a jazz musician say "He stepped on four of my ...


18

In Printed Music In typeset music, time signatures are usually not written with a line between the numerator and denominator (at least no more of a line than is already there). In Text However, when writing text about music, it is an acceptable convention to use a slash to separate the numerator and denominator. See A Style and Usage Guide to Writing ...


17

Terminology Every sound is composed of one or more sine waves. From that group of sine waves, the one with the lowest frequency is called the fundamental, every other sine wave above that one is called an overtone. Overtones that are integer multiples of the fundamental are called harmonics. The fundamental is considered a harmonic, the first harmonic, ...


16

Small ensembles in the pop and folk idiom can all go by the term of band; this answer will focus on what are referred to as "large ensembles." In the jazz context, the name of orchestra was historically applied in order to give credence to groups that would otherwise have been marginalized by the cultural mainstream and racism. That term has now been ...



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