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         Glossary of Musical Terms


       


Accidental:
  any sign that raises or lowers a given note; e.g., sharp, flat, or natural.

Adagietto:  a little faster than adagio.

Adagio:  slow, at ease.

Allegretto:  a little slower than allegro.

Allegro:  fast.

Alternate Picking:  Guitar Technique – strictly alternating down and up strokes.

Andante:  at a walking pace.

Andantino:  usually means a little faster than andante, but sometimes it can mean a little slower.

Arpeggiate:  to sound the notes of a chord separately, in any order.

Arpeggio:  a chord whose notes are sounded in succession (in the manner of a scale) rather than simultaneously.

Articulation:  the manner in which a note (or successive notes) is performed.

Atonality:  absence of tonality; music without a tonal center.

Barre Chord:  Guitar Technique – a chord that uses one finger to press down multiple strings.

Bend:  Guitar Technique – pushing or pulling a string, up or down, to raise the pitch.

Broken Chord:  an arpeggiated chord.

Chord:  the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes.

Chord Progression:  multiple chords played in succession.

Chromatic:  (1) a note that is not part of the given key.  (2) ascending or descending by consecutive half notes.

Closed Position Chords:  (1) Guitar Technique – chords which do not contain any open strings, and are therefore moveable.  (2) General Theory – chords in which the voicing of the notes are as close as possible.

Diatonic:  a scale, or musical passage, which only contains notes within the given key.

Double Flat:  a sign that lowers a note by two half steps (one whole step).

Double Sharp:  a sign that raises a note by two half steps (one whole step).

Dyad:  a two-note chord.

Dynamics:  volume levels.

Economy Picking:  Guitar Technique – combination of sweep picking and alternate picking, in which the minimum amount of movement is achieved.

Enharmonic:  different names for the same note.

Fingerpicking:  Guitar Technique – plucking the strings with individual fingers, rather than using a pick.

Fingerstyle:  see Fingerpicking.

Flat:  a sign that lowers a note by one half-step.

Forte:  loud.

Fortissimo:  very loud.

Grave:  very slow, serious.

Hammer-on:  Guitar Technique – sounding a note by pressing down a fretting finger without plucking the string.

Harmony:  (1) the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes. see Chord  (2) the resultant sound of a chord progression.

Interval:  the distance between two notes.

Inversion:  (1) the voicing of a chord with the root note in any of the upper parts, but not in the lowest part.  (2) a melody turned upside down.

Key:  the tonal center of music based on a major or minor scale.

Larghetto:  a little faster than largo.

Largo:  very slow.

Legato:  smooth, connected, articulation.

Lento:  slow.

Mezzo Forte:  medium loud.

Mezzo Piano:  medium soft.

Moderato:  moderate.

Moveable Chords:  Guitar Technique – see Closed Position Chords (1).

Natural:  a sign that cancels a previous accidental.

Open Position Chords:  (1) Guitar Technique – chords which utilize open strings, and are therefore non-moveable.  (2) General Theory – chords in which the voicing of the notes are not as close as possible.

Palm Mute:   Guitar Technique – to place the palm of the picking hand on the strings, near the bridge, while plucking.

Pianissimo:  very soft.

Piano:  soft.

Prestissimo:  as fast as possible.

Presto:  very fast.

Pull-off:  Guitar Technique – sounding a note by “pulling off” a fretting finger without plucking the string.

Root Position:  the voicing of a chord with the root note as the lowest part.

Root:  the first, or main, note of a chord or scale.  see also: Tonic

Scale:  sequence of notes in ascending and/or descending order.

Sharp:  a sign that raises a note by one half-step.

Staccato:  detached, separated, articulation.

Sweep Picking:  Guitar Technique – using all down strokes when striking the strings from low to high and all up strokes when striking the strings from high to low.

Tempo:  the speed or pace of music.

Tonal Center:  the main note; the tone toward which all other tones gravitate.

Tonality:  music that utilizes a tonal center.

Tonic:  (1) the first, or main, note of a scale.  (2) the chord built on the first note of a scale.  see also: Root

Tremolo:  (1) rapid repetition of a single note.  (2) rapid alternation between two notes that are more than a major second apart.  (3) rapid alternation between two chords.

Triad:  a three-note chord.

Trill:  rapid alternation between two notes that are a major or minor second apart.

Vibrato:  slight and more or less rapid fluctuation of pitch.

Vivace:  fast, lively.

Voicing:  the arrangement of the notes in a chord.