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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Glossary - M - P

Continuing our glossary…


Madrigal - A song from the Renaissance period for multiple singers. Often unaccompanied.


Maestoso - Tempo marking meaning majestically.


Marcato - Marked, accented.


Melisma - Where a syllable in a song is sung to more than one note. (Don’t say warbling or wobbly music)


Melodic Interval - The distance between two notes played one after the other.


Moderato - A tempo of a moderate speed.


Modulation - A key change.


Molto - Very.


Monophonic - A single line of music - no backing, no harmony. For example a solo tune played on a flute.


Motet - Short polyphonic, religious choral piece.


Motif - A short piece of music that’s repeated.


Nonet - A group of nine players or singers.


Octet - A group of eight players or singers.


Opera Buffa - Light hearted opera.


Opera Comique - Comical opera with spoken recitatives.


Opera Seria - Serious opera often with a mythological theme.


Operetta - Small, often lighthearted, opera.


Oral Tradition - Music that is passed on by playing and listening - not written down.


Oratorio - Bible story set to music. Similar to opera but with no acting.


Ostinato - A repeated musical pattern.


Parallel Motion - When parts move with the same interval between them.


Passing Note - A note that links the preceding and following notes.


Pedal Note - A sustained or repeated note often in the bass part.


Perfect Cadence - The end of a section or piece going from the dominant chord (V) to the tonic (I)


Pesante - Heavy


Phrase - A short musical sentence.


Pianissimo (pp) - Very quiet


Piano (p) - Quiet


Piano Trio - A piano, violin, and cello (not three pianos!)


Pivot Chord - A chord that belongs to two keys used to modulate from one to the other.


Pizzicato (Pizz) - An instruction that tells strings players to pluck the strings.


Plagal Cadence - The end of a section or piece going from the subdominant chord (IV) to the tonic (I).


Polyphonic - Texture of music where two or more tunes are woven together.


Polyrhythm - Two or more rhythms being played at the same time.


Portamento - A singing technique where the singer slides from one note to another.


Presto - Tempo marking meaning very fast.


Prestissimo - Tempo marking faster than presto - about as fast as you can possibly play.


Primary Chord - The tonic, subdominant or dominant chord.


Pull-Off - Opposite to hammer on whereby the guitarist will play a note and then release the finger to let another note sound.


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