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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Glossary A - D

Over the next seven blogs I’ll give you a glossary of words to use when describing music and things that happen in music. There’ll be the word, a brief description, and where possible a not so good word to use in its place!

A Capella - Unaccompanied singing.

Accelerando (acce.) - Quicken the pace/increase the tempo.

Accent - A note is given extra force. It’s marked with a > above or below the note head.

Acciaccatura - A short note crushed into the main note.

Anacrusis - An unaccented beat at the start of a phrase. Also known as an upbeat.

Appoggiatura - Similar to an acciaccatura except that it is a grace note which delays the next note of the melody. It is a note (or series of notes) that doesn’t belong to the chord of the melody.

Arco - Direction for stringed instruments to play with the bow.

Basso Continuo - A type of bass line used in the Baroque period. Literally means continuous bass. Played on a harpsichord and/or cello.

Binary Form - A musical structure in two parts.

Cadence - Two chords used to finish a phrase. See here for more info about cadences.

Cadenza - A section of a concerto to display virtuosic skills on the solo instrument. (Don’t say “the soloist shows off” (even though they are!))

Cantabile - In a singing style.

Col Legno - Direction for string players to use the back of the bow

Concerto Grosso - a concerto for more than one solo instrument.

Conjunct - Music that moves in a stepwise manner without any big leaps. (Don’t say “scaley”)

Consonance - A pleasant sound created when notes being played together don’t clash. (Don’t say “sounds nice”)

Diatonic - Music that is in a major or minor key.

Discordance - Notes that create an unpleasant sound when being played together. (Don’t say “clashy” - the notes clash because they’re together, but use the proper term).

Disjunct - Music that moves with big leaps between the notes. (Don’t say “jumpy”)

Dominant - The fifth note of the scale.

Dissonance - See “Discordant”

Dolce - Sweetly

Double-Stopping - When a stringed instrument plays two notes at the same time.

Duet - Two instruments/players performing together.

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