Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about musical terms. Questions about symbols should use the "notation" tag.

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23
votes
6answers
70k views

What is a secondary dominant chord?

What is a secondary dominant chord? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in composition?
20
votes
7answers
36k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
10k 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?
66
votes
22answers
135k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
43
votes
5answers
124k views

What's the difference between “modal music” and “tonal music”?

As the title says, what's the difference between "modal music" and "tonal music"? Is there also any other classification besides "modal music" and "tonal music"?
37
votes
15answers
30k views

What makes an interval “Perfect”?

I've been trying to find an answer, but to no avail. Is what we call a perfect interval somewhat arbitrary? It seems as if the modern definition is "perfect under inversion". I know the other thing ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

What is a Neapolitan 6th?

In studying music theory I have heard the term Neapolitan 6th quite a few times, but I'm not quite sure what it is. What is a Neapolitan 6th and how is it used in a composition?
6
votes
7answers
12k views

What does “dominant” mean in music?

C7 is a dominant 7th chord. G or G7 is the dominant chord of the C-major scale. Is the word dominant related between these two? The word "dominant" relates to several items in music. In Common ...
59
votes
4answers
14k 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 ...
36
votes
12answers
25k views

How can I learn to compose?

I am aware that Stack Exchange questions should be on-point, and not too broad, but I really would appreciate a response from people who know what they are talking about: I recently saw Boublil and ...
70
votes
6answers
204k views

What is the relationship between “do re mi” and note letter names?

When people sing the song, they use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, (si), etc, but sometimes I hear that the music people say A, B, C, D flat, etc. Is there a relationship or are they two different ...
35
votes
6answers
61k 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.
17
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3answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is a major second not called a perfect second? [duplicate]

Apart from a second, intervals can be described as either {Diminished, Perfect, Augmented} or {Dim, Minor, Major, Aug} depending on whether or not the major and minor scale share that interval. For ...
51
votes
3answers
185k views

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

I was wondering what the differences are between "tone", "note", and "pitch"?
19
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9answers
8k views

Exactly what does “diatonic” mean?

Is the meaning very context dependent, or can it be defined in general terms? Does the meaning change by author or period? Sometimes it's used to refer to anything that stays within a specific tonal ...
10
votes
5answers
5k views

How to be expressive?

Joe Satriani said: There are a lot of good guitarists out there. Their technique is great, their fingers stretch really wide and they can play really fast. But very few of them can be ...
22
votes
11answers
5k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
601 views

Why is meter divided into simple and compound types?

From what I understand, Simple Meter -- divisible by twos Compound Meter -- divisible by threes Why do we choose 2 and 3? Why not n divisions?
47
votes
9answers
77k 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
14k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a name for the progression ♭VI–♭VII–I?

The so-called Andalusian cadence occurs when one harmonizes the descending tetrachord from tonic down to dominant with I–♭VII–♭VI–V. Yet the progression ♭VI–♭VII–I seems just as common. It's ...
5
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
18
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4answers
9k views

How do you refer to a note that is more than one octave above or below middle C?

I know you say the A above Middle C when refering to the A that is in the same Octave as Middle C in the Treble Staff, or you say the A below Middle C when referring to the A in the previous Octave on ...
13
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the proper name of the dash symbol over a note and how to play it

Can anyone specify the name of the particular symbol above the crotchet? According to Wikipedia it's called a Tenuto but my teacher said it's called a "dash". Which one is correct? Or are both names ...
6
votes
7answers
12k views

When is a note flat/sharp?

For instance we are playing a B, is the third note of the chord a Eb or and D#? If we play Bm is the fifth a Gb or a F#?
20
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2answers
13k 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?
17
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4answers
28k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
6k views

Is there a name for a minor scale with a raised 3rd or a major scale with a lowered 6th and 7th?

I've noticed a pattern in chord progressions and melodies where I like to use the b7 and b6 chords with a major tonic and there are several modern songs that like to use this pattern as seen in a ...
14
votes
3answers
48k views

What is a ghost note ?

What is a ghost note and how is it different than holding the previous note ?
13
votes
9answers
24k views

What's the difference between arpeggio and broken chord?

I always thought of them as synonyms, but googling around found that some people see them as different, with the distinctions changing depending on who you ask. Is there a formal distinction between ...
7
votes
2answers
306 views

Other than scale-degree 7, do other scale degrees have names for their altered forms?

In a major key, we have names for all seven scale degrees: Tonic Supertonic Mediant Subdominant Dominant Submediant Leading Tone To this we can add the subtonic, scale-degree ♭7 that rests a whole ...
7
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
13
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3answers
6k views

A,B,C,D,E,F,G and H in boxes in piano sheet music, how do I play it?

Sorry I probably just too new but all of those letters are in piece I want to play. What is that letter and how should I play it?
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Must a tritone substitution use a dominant functioning seventh chord?

The tritone substitution has been discussed in several questions here, perhaps most notably What is tritone substitution? and Why is bII 7(b5) considered a dominant? (I believe my question is ...
3
votes
3answers
33k views

What forms can a classical composition be? [closed]

I'd like to learn the names of the different forms of classical musical compositions as compared to the literary work structure that has a beginning, the part where the plot thickens and the dramatic ...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

Is there terminology for vocals that do not use lyrics in certain parts? [duplicate]

Is there terminology for the below type of vocals, without words, where it almost sounds like the singer functions even more like an instrument rather than singing lyrics, if that makes sense? The ...
15
votes
4answers
16k views

In jazz, what is a guide tone?

I've heard that guide tones are very useful while improvising, and seems to be an important concept for jazz theory. What is a guide tone? How can it help improvisation?
12
votes
4answers
36k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

If I press C4, C5 and C6, is this a chord?

Are there any other special requirements for three sounds to be a chord by musical definition? Do overtones or the same note just sounding on different octaves (sounding together) still can be named a ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the most common way to refer to a particular note in the chromatic scale without making any implications as regards tonality?

It seems to me that in current musical practice, we are often in a 12-TET situation where effectively, we have an (octave repeating) set of 12 notes that make up the chromatic scale, each of which can ...
9
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
8answers
45k views

Is there any name for two melodies that are being played at the same time?

Is there any name I can use for two melodies that are being played at the same time? (The rhythmic part isn't identical). For Instance, there is Fables of Faubus by Charles Mingus which starts off ...
4
votes
5answers
19k views

What does the key of a song mean? [duplicate]

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'.
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Do the EDO and TET acronyms mean the same thing?

In the context of dividing an octave into n intervals, I understand n EDO to mean n Equal Divisions per Octave and n TET to mean n Tones Equal Temperament. Do the EDO and TET acronyms mean the same ...
9
votes
6answers
3k 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). ...
3
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2answers
2k views

What's the difference between the tritone and the blue note?

For a while I thought they were one and the same, now I'm confused. This Wiki Article on the subject asserts that the blue note isn't even a real note, i.e. a note that's not part of the standard ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What counts as tonal music?

This question was sparked by comments in Sources of harmonic ambiguity in tonal music: By the user lightning: EDIT: I would consider anything which is based on a pitch-class hierarchy to be tonal, ...