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Glossary of Music Terms
beginning with letter C
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comma Tweet Definition of comma Like Definition of comma on Facebook
noun
  1. Punctuation mark indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or between elements in a list.
  2. A North American butterfly of the genus Polygonia.
C Tweet Definition of C Like Definition of C on Facebook
noun
  1. (computing) A particular high-level programming language.
  2. (slang) $100; a c-note.
  3. (music) A musical note; middle c.
  4. An academic grade better than a D and worse than a B.
proper noun
  1. Head of the Secret Intelligence Service, incorrectly identified in the James Bond literature as "M" ("C" during WW2 was Col. Stewart Menzies - from whence "M")
cacophony Tweet Definition of cacophony Like Definition of cacophony on Facebook
noun (cacophon, ies)
  1. A mix of discordant sounds; dissonance.
    • 1921-1922, w:H. P. Lovecraft, H. P. Lovecraft, s:Herbert West: Reanimator, Herbert West: Reanimator,
    • : Not more unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had opened to release the agony of the damned, for in one inconceivable was centered all the supernal terror and unnatural despair of animate nature.
cadential Tweet Definition of cadential Like Definition of cadential on Facebook
adjective
  1. Of or pertaining to cadence or a cadenza.
The song was .
cadenza Tweet Definition of cadenza Like Definition of cadenza on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A part of a piece of music, such as a concerto, that is very decorative and is played by a single musician.
cakewalk Tweet Definition of cakewalk Like Definition of cakewalk on Facebook
noun
  1. A contest in which cake was offered for the best dancers
  2. (music) The style of music associated with such a contest.
  3. The dance, or style of dance associated with such a contest.
  4. Something that is easy or simple, or does not present any great challenge.
I've known this material for a long time, so the test on it should be a .
(seeCites)
Calliope Tweet Definition of Calliope Like Definition of Calliope on Facebook
proper noun
  1. (context, Greek mythology) The Muse of eloquence and epic or heroic poetry; mother of Orpheus with Apollo.
Calypso Tweet Definition of Calypso Like Definition of Calypso on Facebook
proper noun
  1. (Greek mythology) A sea nymph who entertained Odysseus on her island, Ogygia, for seven years
  2. (astronomy) The eighth moon of Saturn
campanology Tweet Definition of campanology Like Definition of campanology on Facebook
noun
  1. The study of bells; their casting, tuning and ringing. It does not, contrary to popular belief, mean bell-ringing alone.
cancan Tweet Definition of cancan Like Definition of cancan on Facebook
noun
  1. A high-kicking chorus line dance originating in France.
canon Tweet Definition of canon Like Definition of canon on Facebook
noun (plural: canons)
  1. a generally accepted principle.
The trial must proceed according to the canons of law.
  1. A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field.
"the durable canon of American short fiction" William Styron.
  1. The works of a writer that have been accepted as authentic.
the entire Shakespeare canon
  1. A Eucharistic Prayer, particularly, the Roman Canon.
  2. A religious law or body of law decreed by the church.
We must proceed according to law.
  1. An ecclesiastical title.
  2. A piece of music in which the same melody is played by different voices, but beginning at different times.
Pachelbel"s Canon has become very popular.
canonical Tweet Definition of canonical Like Definition of canonical on Facebook
adjective
  1. (theology) Present in a canon of Scripture.
The w:Gospel of Luke, Gospel of Luke is a New Testament book.
  1. In conformity with canon law.
  2. According to recognised or orthodox rules.
The men played golf in the most way, with no local rules.
  1. Stated or used in the most basic and straightforwardly applicable manner.
This definition would be more useful if it were .
  1. (music) In the form of a canon.
  2. Of or pertaining to an ecclesiastical chapter
  3. (context, math, compsci) In canonical form.
cantabile Tweet Definition of cantabile Like Definition of cantabile on Facebook
adverb
  1. (music): An indication that denotes that the piece should be played in a singing matter, as if the piece were vocalized. Singingly.
cantata Tweet Definition of cantata Like Definition of cantata on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) A vocal composition accompanied by instruments and generally containing more than one movement, typical of 17th and 18th century Italian music.
canticle Tweet Definition of canticle Like Definition of canticle on Facebook
noun (plural canticles)
  1. a chant, hymn or song, especially a nonmetrical one, with words from a biblical text
cantilena Tweet Definition of cantilena Like Definition of cantilena on Facebook
noun
  1. a vocal melody or instrumental passage in a smooth, lyrical style
  • 1964: He played a lazy tune that sinuated from C sharp down to G natural and back again. Astonishing that he could flute so lazy a while chasing nymphs. " Anthony Burgess, The Eve of St Venus
cantus Tweet Definition of cantus Like Definition of cantus on Facebook
noun (cantus)
  1. (music) A melody or song, particularly ecclesiastical.
  2. (music) The principal voice.
capo Tweet Definition of capo Like Definition of capo on Facebook
noun
  1. A movable bar placed across the fingerboard of a guitar used to raise the pitch of all strings.
  2. A leader in the Mafia.
capriccioso Tweet Definition of capriccioso Like Definition of capriccioso on Facebook
adverb
  1. Music. Capriciously.
caprice Tweet Definition of caprice Like Definition of caprice on Facebook
noun
  1. An impulsive, seemingly unmotivated notion or action.
  2. An unpredictable or sudden condition, change, or series of changes.
  3. A disposition to be impulsive.
  4. An impulsive change of mind.
Carol Tweet Definition of Carol Like Definition of Carol on Facebook
proper noun
  1. (given name, female, from Latin, ); also associated by name-givers with the English noun carol
  2. (given name, male, )
cassation Tweet Definition of cassation Like Definition of cassation on Facebook
noun
  1. The abrogation of a law by a higher authority
catch Tweet Definition of catch Like Definition of catch on Facebook
noun (es, -)
  1. (countable) The act of catching an object in motion in the air.
The player made an impressive by leaping into the air.
Nice !
  1. (countable) The act of noticing, understanding or hearing.
Good . I would never have remembered that.
  1. (uncountable) The game of catching a ball.
The kids love to play .
  1. (countable) A find, in particular a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Did you see his latest ?
  1. (context, countable, uncountable) That which is captured or the amount which is captured, especially of fish.
The boaters took a picture of their biggest .
  1. (countable) A clasp which stops something from opening.
She installed a sturdy to keep her cabinets closed tight.
  1. A emotion-caused pause in voice
There was a in his voice when he spoke his father's name.
  1. (countable) A problem, a snag, especially in a deal or negotiation; a hitch
It sounds like a great idea, but what's the ?
verb (catches, catching, caught)
  1. (transitive) To capture, especially in the hands.
I will throw you the ball, and you it.
I hope I a fish.
  1. (transitive) To understand.
''Did you his name?
  1. (transitive) To notice.
Did you the way she looked at him?
  1. (transitive) To detect; sense.
He was caught on video robbing the bank.
  1. (transitive) To seize an opportunity
I have some free time tonight so I think I'll a movie.
  1. (transitive) To take a form of transportation that only leaves at certain times.
I would love to have dinner but I have to a plane.
The surfer let the smaller wave pass so he could the bigger one.
  1. (intransitive) To engage, stick, or grasp.
Push it in until it catches.
  1. (intransitive) To hesitate, as if momentarily stuck.
His voice caught when he came to his father's name.
  1. (transitive) To make contact with.
The punch caught him in the shoulder.
  1. (computing) To handle an error, especially an exception.
cavatina Tweet Definition of cavatina Like Definition of cavatina on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) an operatic song in slow tempo, either complete in itself or (e.g., in Bellini and Verdi) followed by a faster, more resolute section: hence
  2. (music) a rather slow, song-like instrumental movement; the title, for example, of a movement in Beethoven's string quartet in B flat, op. 130 (1826) and of a once-famous piece (originally for violin and piano) by Raff, and of the slow movement of Rubra's string quartet No. 2
celesta Tweet Definition of celesta Like Definition of celesta on Facebook
noun
  1. (musici) a musical instrument consisting principally of a set of graduated steel plates struck with hammers that are activated by a keyboard.
cellist Tweet Definition of cellist Like Definition of cellist on Facebook
noun
  1. one who plays the cello
cello Tweet Definition of cello Like Definition of cello on Facebook
noun
  1. (musici) A large stringed instrument of the violin family with four strings. (From lowest to highest C-G-D-A)
cembalo Tweet Definition of cembalo Like Definition of cembalo on Facebook
noun (plural: cembalos or cembali)
  1. harpsichord
cf. Tweet Definition of cf. Like Definition of cf. on Facebook
abbreviation
  1. compare (used in written language)
  2. (archaic) confer particularly in Webster's 1913.
cha-cha Tweet Definition of cha-cha Like Definition of cha-cha on Facebook
noun
  1. A ballroom dance to a Latin American rhythm
  2. The music for this dance
verbto cha-cha
  1. (intransitive) To dance the cha-cha
chair Tweet Definition of chair Like Definition of chair on Facebook
noun
  1. an item of furniture used to sit on or in comprising a seat, legs, back, and sometimes arm rests, for use by one person. Compare stool, couch, sofa, settee, loveseat and bench.
  2. (slang) (the chair) the electric chair.
  3. the seating position of a particular musician in an orchestra.
  4. blocks that support and hold railroad track in position, and similar devices.
  5. chairperson; a non-gender-specific form of chairman
verb
  1. To act as chairperson.
Bob will tomorrow's meeting.
change Tweet Definition of change Like Definition of change on Facebook
noun
  1. the process of becoming different. (Countable)
  2. small denominations of money given in exchange for a larger denomination. (Uncountable)
Can I get for this $100 bill please?
  1. a replacement, e.g. a change of clothes (Countable)
  2. (baseball) a change-up pitch
  3. money given back when a customer hands over more than the exact price of an item. For example, a customer who uses a 10-pound note to pay for a £9 item receives one pound in change.
verb (chang, ing)
  1. (intransitive) To become something different.
The tadpole changed into a frog.
Stock prices are constantly changing.
  1. (rfd-redundant, combine into normal trans/intrans definition line.) (transitive, ergative) To make something into something different.
The fairy changed the frog into a prince.
I had to the wording of the ad so it would fit.
  1. (transitive) To replace.
Ask the janitor to come and the lightbulb.
After a brisk walk, I washed up and changed my shirt.
  1. (intransitive) To replace one's clothing.
You can't go into the dressing room while she's changing.
The clowns changed into their costumes before the circus started.
  1. (rfd-redundant) (figurative) To undergo a significant philosophical adjustment.
channel Tweet Definition of channel Like Definition of channel on Facebook
noun
  1. The physical confine of a river or slough, consisting of a bed and banks.
''The water coming out of the waterwheel created a standing wave in the .
  1. The natural or man-made deeper course through a reef, bar, bay, or any shallow body of water.
A was dredged to allow ocean-going vessels to reach the city.
  1. The navigable part of a river.
We were careful to keep our boat in the .
  1. A narrow body of water between two land masses.
The English Channel lies between France and England.
  1. (electronics) A connection between initiate, initiating and terminate, terminating nodes of a circuit.
The guard-rail provided the between the downed wire and the tree.
  1. (electronics) The narrow conducting portion of a MOSFET transistor.
    1. (communication) The part that connects a data source to a data sink.
    A stretches between them.
    1. (communication) A path for conveying electrical or electromagnetic signals, usually distinguished from other parallel paths.
    We are using one of the 24 channels.
    1. (communication) A single path provided by a transmission medium via physical separation, such as by multipair cable.
    The is created by bonding the signals from these four pairs.
    1. (communication) A single path provided by a transmission medium via spectral or protocol separation, such as by frequency or time-division multiplexing.
    Their call is being carried on 6 of the T-1 line.
    1. (context, broadcasting) A specific radio frequency or band of frequencies, usually in conjunction with a predetermined letter, number, or codeword, and allocated by international agreement.
    KNDD is the at 107.7 MHz in Seattle.
    1. (context, broadcasting) A specific radio frequency or band of frequencies used for transmitting television.
    NBC is on 11 in San Jose.
    1. (context, storage) The portion of a storage medium, such as a track or a band, that is accessible to a given reading or writing station or head.
    This chip in this disk drive is the device.
    1. (context, technic) The way in a turbine pump where the pressure is built up.
    The liquid is pressurized in the lateral .
verb
  1. To direct the flow of something.
We will the traffic to the left with these cones.
  1. To assume the personality of another person, typically a historic figure, in a theatrical or paranormal presentation.
When it is my turn to sing Karaoke, I am going to Ray Charles.
chanson Tweet Definition of chanson Like Definition of chanson on Facebook
noun
  1. (obsolete) a religious song
chant Tweet Definition of chant Like Definition of chant on Facebook
noun
  1. Type of singing done generally without instruments and harmony.
verb
  1. To sing, especially without instruments, and as applied to monophonic and pre-modern music.
chantey Tweet Definition of chantey Like Definition of chantey on Facebook
noun (plural:chanteys)
  1. A song a sailor sings, especially in rhythm to his work.
chanty Tweet Definition of chanty Like Definition of chanty on Facebook
noun
  1. (alternative spelling of, shanty)
chapel Tweet Definition of chapel Like Definition of chapel on Facebook
noun
  1. A place of worship, smaller than, or subordinate to a church.
  2. A place of worship in a civil institution such as an airport, prison etc.
  3. A funeral home, or a room in one for holding funeral services.
chart Tweet Definition of chart Like Definition of chart on Facebook
noun (wikipedia, Chart, Chart (graph))
  1. A map for a very particular purpose, such as shipping or aeroplanes/airplanes, showing information useful for that purpose and ignoring most other information.
  1. (topology) A subspace of a manifold used as part of an atlas
    1. A graphical presentation of something.
verb
  1. To draw a chart or map.
  2. To draw or figure out a route or plan.
"Let's how we're going to get from here to there."
  1. intrans. (of a record) appear on a hit-recording chart.
"The song has charted for 1500 weeks!"
chasse Tweet Definition of chasse Like Definition of chasse on Facebook
noun
  1. (alternative spelling of, chassť)
verb (chasses, chasseing, chassed)
  1. (alternative spelling of, chassť)
choir Tweet Definition of choir Like Definition of choir on Facebook
noun
  1. singing group; group of people who sing together; company of people who are trained to sing together
The church practices Thursday nights.
  1. the part of a church where the assembles for song
  2. (italbrac, Christian angelology) one of the nine ranks or orders of angels
Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones are three of the choirs of angels.
choirboy Tweet Definition of choirboy Like Definition of choirboy on Facebook
noun
  1. a boy chorister
choirmaster Tweet Definition of choirmaster Like Definition of choirmaster on Facebook
noun
  1. the musical director of a choir, who conducts performances and supervises rehearsal
chopsticks Tweet Definition of chopsticks Like Definition of chopsticks on Facebook
noun
  1. Plural of chopstick. This word most often occurs in the plural.
choral Tweet Definition of choral Like Definition of choral on Facebook
noun
  1. a chorale
adjective
  1. of, relating to, written for, or performed by a choir or a chorus
Palestrina wrote lots of music for the Catholic church.
chorale Tweet Definition of chorale Like Definition of chorale on Facebook
noun
  1. a form of Lutheran or Protestant hymn tune
  2. a chorus or choir
chord Tweet Definition of chord Like Definition of chord on Facebook
noun
  1. (context, music) In music, a combination of any three or more pitches and the diatonic functionality of those pitches.
  2. (geometry) A straight line between two points of a curve.
  3. (context, engineering) A horizontal member of a truss.
  4. (context, aeronautics) The distance between the leading edge, leading and trailing edge of a wing, measured in the direction of the normal airflow.
choreograph Tweet Definition of choreograph Like Definition of choreograph on Facebook
verbto choreograph
  1. To design and record the choreography for a dramatic work such as a ballet
  2. To direct the development of a project; to orchestrate
choreographer Tweet Definition of choreographer Like Definition of choreographer on Facebook
noun
  1. a person who choreographs
choreography Tweet Definition of choreography Like Definition of choreography on Facebook
noun (choreographies, -)
  1. The art of creating, arranging and recording the dance movements of a ballet etc.
  2. The representation of these movements by a series of symbols.
  3. The notation used to construct this record.
chorister Tweet Definition of chorister Like Definition of chorister on Facebook
noun
  1. A singer in a choir
None of the new choristers can sing in tune but they will learn soon enough.
  1. A director or leader of a choral group.
Jane was the of her congregation's choir, and that occupied much of her time on the weekends.
chromaticism Tweet Definition of chromaticism Like Definition of chromaticism on Facebook
noun
  1. the quality or state of being chromatic
  2. the act or action of chromaticizing: the use of chromatic notes or tone, tones (contrasted with diatonicism)
excessive chromaticism means excessive increase in harmonic tension -- Mosco Carner
clarinet Tweet Definition of clarinet Like Definition of clarinet on Facebook
noun
  1. a woodwind musical instrument that has a distinctive liquid tone whose characteristics vary among its three registers: chalumeau (low), clarion (medium), and altissimo (high).
clarion Tweet Definition of clarion Like Definition of clarion on Facebook
noun
  1. An obsolete musical instrument related to the trumpet.
The 's call to action has been heard.
adjective
  1. Loud and clear.
A call to action has been heard.
clave Tweet Definition of clave Like Definition of clave on Facebook
noun
  1. (musici) One half of a set of claves, a percussion instrument consisting of two sticks, one of which is used to strike the other.
clavichord Tweet Definition of clavichord Like Definition of clavichord on Facebook
noun
  1. (musici) an early keyboard instrument producing a soft sound by means of metal blades attached to the inner ends of the keys gently striking the strings
clavier Tweet Definition of clavier Like Definition of clavier on Facebook
noun
  1. (music) The keyboard of an organ, pianoforte, or harmonium.
clef Tweet Definition of clef Like Definition of clef on Facebook
noun (plural:clefs)
  1. A symbol found on a musical staff that indicates the pitches indicated by the lines on the staff
clog Tweet Definition of clog Like Definition of clog on Facebook
noun
  1. A type of shoe with an inflexible, often wooden sole and an open heel.
Dutch people rarely wear s these days.
  1. A blockage.
The plumber cleared the from the drain.
verb (clogs, clogging, clogged)
  1. To block or slow passage through.
Hair is clogging the drainpipe.
The roads are clogged with traffic.
close Tweet Definition of close Like Definition of close on Facebook
noun
  1. An end of something.
We owe them our thanks for bringing the project to a successful .
verb