Vocabulary Word Definition
Dynamics The degree of loudness or softness in music.
Crescendo Italian for "growing louder."
Diminuendo Italian for "growing softer." Same as decrescendo.
Forte Italian for "loud."
Piano 1. Italian for "soft." 2. A stringed keyboard instrument. Its strings are struck by hammers which are connected to the keys. There are 88 keys on a modern piano, and each one is a different note. Originally called pianoforte, because it could play both soft (piano) and loud (forte).
Mezzo Italian for "half." For example, mezzo forte means half as loud.
Fortissimo Italian for "very loud."
Pianissimo Italian for "very soft."
Duple Music that is felt in groups of two beats.
Triple Music that is felt in groups of three beats.
Staff A set of five lines and four spaces on which notes are written to indicate their pitch. A clef at the beginning of the staff tells which notes are on which lines.
Alto A vocal range that is usually the lowest female voice in choral music. In a four-part chorus it is below soprano and above tenor. Alto is also used to describe the range of many instruments.
Ballet A stage performance, with costumes and scenery, that uses dance and music to tell a story. Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker” is an example of a ballet.
Bass The lowest male voice. The word bass is also used to describe the lowest instruments.
Brass Family of wind instruments made of metal with a cup-shaped mouthpiece. Examples of brass instruments are the trumpet, trombone and tuba.
Beat The regular rhythmic pattern of music. Time is counted in music by using beats.
Celeste A keyboard instrument with tuned metal bars. When a key on the keyboard is pressed, a hammer hits a metal bar to produce a tone.
Chorus 1. A group of singers. 2. The music for a group of singers. 3
Conductor The leader of the orchestra or chorus who makes sure that everyone is playing or singing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. The conductor stands in front of the group and directs them throughout the performance.
Form The pattern of a piece of music.
Harmony 1. A combination of pitches sounding together, such as a chord. 2. The relationship between a series of chords. 3. Consonance.
Measure The notes and rests contained between two bar lines on the music staff.
Music Sound organized by using elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
Orchestra A group of instrumentalists organized to perform music together. The sections of the modern orchestra include instruments in the string, brass, woodwind, and percussion families.
Pitch The highness or lowness of a musical tone.
Last Modified on January 12, 2012