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Glossary of Music Terms
beginning with letter A
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attack Tweet Definition of attack Like Definition of attack on Facebook
noun
  1. An attempt to cause damage or injury to, or to somehow detract from the worth or credibility of, a person, position, idea, object, or thing, by physical, verbal, emotional, or other assault.
  2. A time in which one attacks. The offence of a battle.
  3. (cricket) Collectively, the bowlers of a cricket side.
  4. (volleyball) Any contact with the ball other than a serve or block which sends the ball across the plane of the net.
  5. (medicine) The sudden onset of a disease.
  6. (italbrac, audio) The amount of time it takes for the volume of an audio signal to go from zero to maximum level (e.g. an audio waveform representing a snare drum hit would feature a very fast attack, whereas that of a wave washing to shore would feature a slow attack).
verb
  1. (transitive) To apply violent force to someone or something.
  2. (transitive) To aggressively challenge a person, idea, etc., with words
  3. (context, transitive, cricket) To aim balls at the batsman's wicket.
  4. (context, intransitive, cricket) To set a field, or bowl in a manner designed to get wickets.
  5. (context, intransitive, cricket) To bat aggressively, so as to score runs quickly.
absolute pitch Tweet Definition of absolute pitch Like Definition of absolute pitch on Facebook
noun
  1. perfect pitch
accelerando Tweet Definition of accelerando Like Definition of accelerando on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played at an increasing speed
  2. (music) A passage having this mark
adjective
  1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
adverb
  1. (music) with a gradual increase in speed
acciaccatura Tweet Definition of acciaccatura Like Definition of acciaccatura on Facebook
noun
  1. (Music) A short grace note (theoretically taking no time at all), occurring on the beat occupied by the main note to which it is prefixed, one scale-step higher or lower than that main note. (Sometimes equivalent, therefore, to a short appoggiatura, but in Baroque music interpreted differently and more strictly.) Written as a note lighter in appearance, typically a quaver (eighth note), with an oblique stroke through the stem.
accidental Tweet Definition of accidental Like Definition of accidental on Facebook
noun
  1. A property which is not essential; a nonessential; anything happening accidentally.
    • Fuller " He conceived it just that accidentals ... should sink with the substance of the accusation.
      1. (context, in plural, painting) Those fortuitous effects produced by luminous rays falling on certain objects so that some parts stand forth in abnormal brightness and other parts are cast into a deep shadow.
      2. (music) A sharp, flat, or natural, occurring not at the commencement of a piece of music as the signature, but before a particular note.
adjective
  1. happening, Happening by chance, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous
an visit
  1. nonessential, Nonessential; not necessary belonging; incidental
are accidental to a play
  1. (music) Foreign to the key signature or a proper harmony.
  2. unintentional; by accident
accolade Tweet Definition of accolade Like Definition of accolade on Facebook
noun
  1. An expression of approval; praise.
  2. A special acknowledgment; an award.
  3. A salutation marking the conferring of knighthood, consisting of an embrace or a kiss, and a slight blow on the shoulders with the flat of a sword.
  4. (music) A brace used to join two or more staves.
  5. (American Military) Written Presidential certificate recognizing service by personnel who died or were wounded in action between 1917 and 1918, or who died in service between 1941 and 1947, or died of wounds received in Korea between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954. Service of civilians who died overseas or as a result of injury or disease contracted while serving in a civilian capacity with the United States Armed Forces during the dates and/or in areas prescribed is in like manner recognized.
verb (accolad, ing)
  1. (transitive) To embrace or kiss in salutation.
  2. (transitive) To confer an knighthood on.
accompaniment Tweet Definition of accompaniment Like Definition of accompaniment on Facebook
noun
  1. That which gives support or adds to the background in music, or adds for ornamentation.
  2. That which accompanies; something that attends as a circumstance, or which is added to give greater completeness to the principal thing, or by way of ornament, or for the sake of symmetry.
  1. (music) A part performed by instruments, accompanying another part or parts performed by voices; the subordinate part, or parts, accompanying the voice or a principal instrument; also, the harmony of a figured bass. - P. Cyc.
accompanist Tweet Definition of accompanist Like Definition of accompanist on Facebook
noun
  1. The performer in music who takes the accompanying part - Busby
accompany Tweet Definition of accompany Like Definition of accompany on Facebook
verb (accompan, i, ed)
  1. (context, intransitive, obsolete) (rfdate, really quote Bacon) To associate in a company; to keep company. " Bacon
    • (rfdate) Men say that they will drive away one another, " and not together. " Holland
      1. (context, intransitive, obsolete) (rfdate, really quote Milton) To cohabit (with). " Milton
      2. (context, intransitive, music) To perform an accompanying part or parts in a composition.
      3. (context, transitive) To go with or attend as a companion or associate; to keep company with; to go along with.
    • He accompanied his speech with a bow.
    • (rfdate) The Persian dames, " / In sumptuous cars, accompanied his march. " Glover
    • (rfdate) They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts. " Sir P. Sidney
    • (rfdate) He was accompanied by two carts filled with wounded rebels. " Macaulay
      1. (context, transitive, obsolete) (rfdate, really quote Herbert) To cohabit with " Sir T. Herbert
      2. (context, transitive, music) To perform an accompanying part next to another instrument.
    • The strings were accompanied by two woodwinds. (rfex, the obsolete cases)
accordion Tweet Definition of accordion Like Definition of accordion on Facebook
noun
  1. A small, portable, keyed wind instrument, whose tones are generated by play of the wind from a squeezed bellows upon free metallic reeds.
    • A disreputable that had a leak somewhere and breathed louder than it squawked. "w:Mark Twain, Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad
    • an musical instrument, instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin. " w:Ambrose Bierce, Ambrose Bierce, Devil"s Dictionary
adjective
  1. pleat, Pleated.
An underskirt of blue silk moirette. "James Joyce, Ulysses
achromatic Tweet Definition of achromatic Like Definition of achromatic on Facebook
adjective
  1. (optics) Free from color; transmitting light without color-related distortion.
  2. Containing components such as achromatic lenses and prisms, designed to prevent color-related distortion.
  3. (biology) Uncolored; not absorbing color from a fluid; -- said of tissue
  4. (music) Having only the diatonic notes of the scale; not modified by accidentals.
  5. Being achromatic in subject: "The lecture was achromatic, the speaker used politics to suppress the weight of his/her subject."
adagio Tweet Definition of adagio Like Definition of adagio on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played rather slowly, leisurely and gracefully
  2. (music) A passage having this mark
adjective
  1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
adverb
  1. (music) played rather slowly
agitato Tweet Definition of agitato Like Definition of agitato on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in a restless agitated style
  2. (music) A passage having this mark
adjective
  1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
adverb
  1. (music) played in a restless agitated style
agogic Tweet Definition of agogic Like Definition of agogic on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) an accent that accentuates a note by extending it slightly beyond its normal time value
agraffe Tweet Definition of agraffe Like Definition of agraffe on Facebook
noun
  1. A clasp consisting of a hook which fastens on to a ring.
  • 1819: The feather of an ostrich, fastened in her turban by an set with brilliants, was another distinction of the beautiful Jewess, scoffed and sneered at by the proud dames who sat above her, but secretly envied by those who affected to deride them. " Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
alla marcia Tweet Definition of alla marcia Like Definition of alla marcia on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in the style of a march, usually with a 2/4 or 4/4 beat with an accent on the down beat
  2. (music) A passage having this mark
adjective
  1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
adverb
  1. (music) played in the style of a march
allargando Tweet Definition of allargando Like Definition of allargando on Facebook
adverb
  1. (music) broad, Broadening. Getting a little slower.
allegretto Tweet Definition of allegretto Like Definition of allegretto on Facebook
adverb
  1. (music): A direction in musical notation indicating that the musical piece should be played rather fast and lively.
allegro Tweet Definition of allegro Like Definition of allegro on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in a quick, lively tempo, faster than allegretto but slower than presto
  2. (music) In more traditional use, an expressive marking indicating lively or happily, not necessarily quick or fast.
  3. (music) A passage having this mark
adjective
  1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
adverb
  1. (music) played in a quick, lively tempo
allemande Tweet Definition of allemande Like Definition of allemande on Facebook
noun
  1. A popular instrumental dance form in Baroque music, and a standard element of a suite, generally the first or second movement.
alligator Tweet Definition of alligator Like Definition of alligator on Facebook
noun
  1. a large amphibious reptile with sharp teeth and very strong jaws related to the crocodile and native to the Americas and China. Informal short form: gator
All you could see of the were its two eyes above the water, and suddenly it snatched up and caught the poor bird with its strong jaws full of sharp teeth.
alpenhorn Tweet Definition of alpenhorn Like Definition of alpenhorn on Facebook
noun
  1. (alternative spelling of, alphorn)
alphorn Tweet Definition of alphorn Like Definition of alphorn on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A long, curved, wooden horn used by mountain-dwelling herders in the Alps originally to call cattle but now to entertain tourists
alto Tweet Definition of alto Like Definition of alto on Facebook
noun
  1. musical part or section higher than tenor and lower than soprano. Originally called contratenor altus, high countertenor, the part that performed a countermelody above the tenor or main melody.
  2. person or instrument that performs the alto part
amati Tweet Definition of amati Like Definition of amati on Facebook
noun
  1. (rfd-sense) Italian violin maker Nicol Amati in Cremona; taught the craft to Guarneri and Stradivari (1596-1684).
  2. a violin made by a member of the Amati family.
amen Tweet Definition of amen Like Definition of amen on Facebook
noun
  1. An instance of saying "amen".
  2. A title of Christ; the Faithful One (especially with reference to Revelation 3:14)
  • 1611, And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God " Revelation 3:14, KJV
    Persian: آمین
adverb
  1. At the end of prayers: so be it.
  • 1662, Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. " Book of Common Prayer
  • Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise. — Nehemiah 5:13, KJV
  • Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. — Psalm 72:18-19, KJV
    1. At the end of a creeds or in Biblical translations: truly, verily.
    Amen, amen, I say to thee, except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God. " John ii. 3. Rhemish Translation
    anacrusis Tweet Definition of anacrusis Like Definition of anacrusis on Facebook
    noun (also known as a pick-up)
    1. (prosody) an unstressed syllable at the start of a verse
    2. (music) an unstressed note or notes before the first strong beat (or downbeat) of a phrase
    • 1989: Then Etheridge poised his baton, jerked an upbeat, and made the violinists speak the low G and A of their . (Burgess, Any Old Iron)
    andante Tweet Definition of andante Like Definition of andante on Facebook
    noun
    1. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in a moderately slow tempo; faster than adagio but slower than allegretto
    2. (music) A passage having this mark
    adjective
    1. (music) describing a passage having this mark
    adverb
    1. (music) played at a moderately slow tempo
    answer Tweet Definition of answer Like Definition of answer on Facebook
    noun
    1. A response; something said or done in reaction to a statement or question.
    Her to his proposal was a slap in the face.
    1. A solution to a problem.
    The is...
    1. Answer to an email. (reply)
    2. : A document filed in response to a complaint, responding to each point raised in the complaint and raising counterpoints.
    verb
    1. To make a reply or response to.
    He answered the question.
    1. To respond to a call by someone at a door or telephone, or other similar piece of equipment.
    She answered the door.
    1. To suit a need or purpose satisfactorily.
    It answers the need.
    1. : To file a document in response to a complaint.
    anthem Tweet Definition of anthem Like Definition of anthem on Facebook
    noun
    1. (archaic) antiphon, Antiphon.
    2. A choral or vocal composition, often with a religious or political lyric.
    The school's sang of its many outstanding qualities, and it was hard to keep a straight face while singing.
    1. A hymn of praise or loyalty.
    The choir sang a selection of Christmas anthems at the service just before the big day.
    antiphon Tweet Definition of antiphon Like Definition of antiphon on Facebook
    noun
    1. A devotional piece of music sung responsively.
    2. A response or reply.
      • 2007: The Clown ... says: "And so we wept; and there was the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed"; to which his father, the Shepherd, adds the comfortable , "We may live, son, to shed many more." " Barbara Everett, "Making and Breaking in Shakespeare's Romances", London Review of Books 29:6, p. 20
    antiphonal Tweet Definition of antiphonal Like Definition of antiphonal on Facebook
    noun
    1. An antiphonary; a piece sung or chanted in an antiphonal manner.
    adjective
    1. (music) Characterized by antiphones or antiphony; incorporating alternate, or responsive singing by a choir split into two parts.
    ({2, The antiphonal hymn was sung regularly at church.)}
    antiphony Tweet Definition of antiphony Like Definition of antiphony on Facebook
    noun (antiphonies)
    1. (music) alternate, or responsive singing by a choir split into two parts; a piece sung or chanted in this manner
    antistrophe Tweet Definition of antistrophe Like Definition of antistrophe on Facebook
    noun
    1. In Greek choruses and dances, the returning of the chorus, exactly answering to a previous strophe or movement from right to left. Hence: The lines of this part of the choral song.
    2. (Rhet) The repetition of words in an inverse order; as, the master of the servant and the servant of the master.
    1. The retort or turning of an adversary's plea against him. (webster)
    anvil Tweet Definition of anvil Like Definition of anvil on Facebook
    noun
    1. A heavy iron block used in the blacksmithing trade as a surface upon which metal can be struck and shaped.
    2. (anatomy) An incus bone in the inner ear.
    appoggiatura Tweet Definition of appoggiatura Like Definition of appoggiatura on Facebook
    noun
    1. A melodically important musical ornament, sounded on the beat, preceding a main note (which it is one scale-step higher or lower than) and normally subtracting for itself half of the time value of that main note; written as a note of smaller size like the acciaccatura, but without the semi-oblique stroke.
    "The following Adagietto was like a long, melting composed of smaller dying falls and languid resolutions." — New York Times, March 2, 1992
    arabesque Tweet Definition of arabesque Like Definition of arabesque on Facebook
    noun
    1. An elaborate design of intertwined floral figures or complex geometrical patterns. This ornamental design is manly used in Islamic Art and architecture
    2. (music) An ornate composition, especially for the piano.
    3. A ballet position in which the dancer stands on one leg, with the other raised backwards, and the arms outstretched
    arco Tweet Definition of arco Like Definition of arco on Facebook
    adverb
    1. (music) A note to violinists indicating that the bow is to be used in the usual way, following a passage that is played pizzicato.
    aria Tweet Definition of aria Like Definition of aria on Facebook
    noun (plural:ariasorarie)
    1. A musical piece written typically for a solo voice with orchestral accompaniment in an opera or cantata.
    arietta Tweet Definition of arietta Like Definition of arietta on Facebook
    noun
    1. a short aria.
    arpeggio Tweet Definition of arpeggio Like Definition of arpeggio on Facebook
    noun
    1. (music) The notes of a chord played individually instead of simultaneously, usually moving from lowest to highest.
    arrange Tweet Definition of arrange Like Definition of arrange on Facebook
    verb (arrang, ing)
    1. to set up, to organize, especially in a positive manner.
    2. to put in order, to organize
    ascend Tweet Definition of ascend Like Definition of ascend on Facebook
    verb
    1. To go up, to fly, to soar.
    He ascended to heaven upon a cloud.
    assai Tweet Definition of assai Like Definition of assai on Facebook
    adverb
    1. In music, a tempo direction equivalent to "very".
    assemble Tweet Definition of assemble Like Definition of assemble on Facebook
    verb (assembl, ing)
    1. to put together
    He assembled the model ship.
    1. to gather as a group
    The parents assembled in the school hall.
    atonal Tweet Definition of atonal Like Definition of atonal on Facebook
    adjective
    1. Lacking a tonal center or key.
    atonality Tweet Definition of atonality Like Definition of atonality on Facebook
    noun (atonalities, -)
    1. (uncountable),(music) a style of music that is written without a key
    2. (countable),(music) a passage written without a key
    attitude Tweet Definition of attitude Like Definition of attitude on Facebook
    noun
    1. The position of the body or way of carrying oneself.
      • The ballet dancer walked with a graceful ,
        1. Disposition or state of mind.
      • but had a lazy to work.
        1. A negative, irritating, or irritated attitude. (From attitude problem.)
      • "Don't give me your attitude."
        1. The orientation of an aircraft or other vehicle relative to the horizon, direction of motion etc.
      • The airliner had to land with a nose-up after the incident.
    aubade Tweet Definition of aubade Like Definition of aubade on Facebook
    noun
    1. a song or poem greeting or evoking the dawn
    2. a morning love song; a song of lovers parting in the morning
    3. morning music
    augmentation Tweet Definition of augmentation Like Definition of augmentation on Facebook
    noun
    1. The act or process of augmenting.
    2. (heraldry) A particular mark of honour, granted by the sovereign in consideration of some noble action, or by favour; and either quartered with the family arms, or on an escutcheon or canton.
    3. (medicine) A surgical procedure to enlarge a body part, as breast augmentation.
    4. (medicine) The stage of a disease during which symptoms increase or continue.
    avant-garde Tweet Definition of avant-garde Like Definition of avant-garde on Facebook
    nounavante-garde
    1. any group of people who invent or promote new techniques or concepts, especially in the arts
    adjective
    1. of, or relating to such a group
    ax Tweet Definition of ax Like Definition of ax on Facebook
    noun
    1. (alternative spelling of, axe
      1. Etymology 1, axe)
      =
    verb (ax, es)
    1. (alternative spelling of, axe
      1. Etymology 1, axe)

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