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Glossary of Music Terms
beginning with letter P
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palette Tweet Definition of palette Like Definition of palette on Facebook
  1. A thin board on which a painter lays and mixes colours.
  2. The range of colors in a given work or item or body of work.
P Tweet Definition of P Like Definition of P on Facebook
  1. The sixteenth letter of the Appendix:Roman script, English alphabet, preceded by O and followed by Q.
  1. Park
  2. Phone
  3. Pager
  4. Passenger
parody Tweet Definition of parody Like Definition of parody on Facebook
noun (parodies)
  1. A work or performance that imitates another work or performance with ridicule or irony.
verb (parod, i, ed)
  1. To make a parody of something.
The comedy movie parodied the entire genre of westerns.
partial Tweet Definition of partial Like Definition of partial on Facebook
  1. Existing as a part or portion; incomplete.
So far, I have only pieced together a account of the incident.
  1. biased, Biased in favor of a person, side, or point of view, especially when dealing with a competition or dispute.
The referee is blatantly !
paso doble Tweet Definition of paso doble Like Definition of paso doble on Facebook
  1. A fast Spanish ballroom dance in duple time
  2. the music for such a dance, or for a march; used especially at bullfights
passacaglia Tweet Definition of passacaglia Like Definition of passacaglia on Facebook
  1. Slow Italian or Spanish music and dance in 3/4 time.
pastoral Tweet Definition of pastoral Like Definition of pastoral on Facebook
  1. A poem describing the life and manners of shepherds; a poem in which the speakers assume the character of shepherds; an idyl; a bucolic.
  2. Music: A cantata relating to rural life; a composition for instruments characterized by simplicity and sweetness; a lyrical composition the subject of which is taken from rural life. Moore
  3. Ecclesiastics: A letter of a pastor to his charge; specifically, a letter addressed by a bishop to his diocese; also (Prot. Epis. Ch.), a letter of the House of Bishops, to be read in each parish.
  1. Of or pertaining to shepherds; hence, relating to rural life and scenes; as, a pastoral life.
  • He wanders west as far as Memphis, a solitary migrant upon that flat and landscape. - 1985 w:Cormac McCarthy?, McCarthy?, w:Blood Meridian, Blood Meridian, chapter 1.
    1. Relating to the care of souls, or to the pastor of a church; as, pastoral duties; a pastoral letter.
pause Tweet Definition of pause Like Definition of pause on Facebook
  1. A short time for relaxing and doing something else.
  2. A button found on players of electronic and digital media (such as a VCR or DVD player) that suspends play.
verb (paus, ing)
  1. To interrupt current work and do something else for a moment.
peal Tweet Definition of peal Like Definition of peal on Facebook
  1. A loud sound, or a succession of loud sounds, as of bells, thunder, cannon, shouts, laughter, of a multitude, etc.
    • 1883: w:Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson, w:Treasure Island, Treasure Island
    • : And, falling on a bench, he laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks, I could not help joining; and we laughed together, after ...
  1. To sound with a peal or peals.
pear-shaped Tweet Definition of pear-shaped Like Definition of pear-shaped on Facebook
  1. Having a shape or cross-section like the cross-section of a pear.
Peg Tweet Definition of Peg Like Definition of Peg on Facebook
proper noun 
  1. a female given name, diminutive of Peggy
pennant Tweet Definition of pennant Like Definition of pennant on Facebook
noun (plural: pennants)
  1. A flag normally used by naval vessels to represent a special condition: as
the broad pennant flown by commodores
the church pennant indicating religious services are taking place aboard ship
the commissioning pennant flown on ceremonial occasions
  1. A flag representing the championship of a baseball league.
  2. The championship of a baseball league.
pentatonic scale Tweet Definition of pentatonic scale Like Definition of pentatonic scale on Facebook
  1. (music) a scale having five notes per octave
percussion Tweet Definition of percussion Like Definition of percussion on Facebook
noun (percussions, -)
  1. (countable) the collision of two bodies in order to produce a sound
  2. (countable) the sound so produced
  3. (countable) the detonation of a percussion cap in a firearm
  4. (medicine) the tapping of the body as an aid to medical diagnosis
  5. (music) the section of an orchestra or band containing percussion instruments; such instruments considered as a group
perfect pitch Tweet Definition of perfect pitch Like Definition of perfect pitch on Facebook
  1. (music) The ability to identify a note by name without the benefit of a reference note.
  2. (less common) The exact pitch of a note described by its frequency in vibrations per second.
perform Tweet Definition of perform Like Definition of perform on Facebook
  1. To do something
The scientists performed several experiments.
It took him only twenty minutes to the task.
  1. To do something in front of an audience in order to entertain it.
She will in the play
The magician performed badly - none of his tricks worked.
The string quartet performed three pieces by Haydn.
period Tweet Definition of period Like Definition of period on Facebook
  1. (context, now mostly, North America) Punctuation mark ending a sentence or marking an abbreviation. <!-- What languages does this apply to? All? Or just most? Should it be
  1. appropriate, Appropriate for a given historical era.
    • 2004, Mark Singer, Somewhere in America, Houghton Mifflin, page 70
    • :As the guests arrived &mdash; there were about a hundred, a majority in attire &mdash; I began to feel out of place in my beige summer suit, white shirt, and red necktie. Then I got over it. I certainly didn't suffer from Confederate-uniform envy.
pf. Tweet Definition of pf. Like Definition of pf. on Facebook
  1. perfective aspect
philharmonic Tweet Definition of philharmonic Like Definition of philharmonic on Facebook
  1. (music) A full-size symphonic orchestra.
phrase Tweet Definition of phrase Like Definition of phrase on Facebook
  1. A short written or spoken expression.
  2. (grammar) A word or group of words that functions as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence, usually consisting of a head, or central word, and elaborating words. In the noun phrase the big bird, for example, the noun, bird is the head.
  3. (music) A small section of music in a larger piece.
phrasing Tweet Definition of phrasing Like Definition of phrasing on Facebook
  1. The way a statement is put together, particularly in matters of style and word choice.
1870 But for the Sir Walter disease, the character of the Southerner -- or Southron, according to Sir Walter's starchier way of it -- would be wholly modern, in place of modern and medieval mixed, and the South would be fully a generation further advanced than it is. Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi,,+Mark,+1835-1910:+Life+on+the+Mississippi,+1870&query=phrasing&id=TwaLife Chapter 46.
  1. (music) How words being sung are united with the music into a single whole.
1891 The grand difficulty in the opening andante movement of Casta Diva lies in its broad, sustained , in the long, generous undulation of its rhythm, which with most singers drags or gets broken out of symmetry. Jenny Lind conceived and did it truly. Joel Benton, Life of Hon. Phineas T. Barnum,,+Joel:+Life+of+Hon.+Phineas+T.+Barnum,+1891&query=phrasing&id=BenLife Chapter 17.
  1. The way a particular musical composer puts together notes to form longer passages.
  2. The way a conductor structures a musical performance, with changes in tempo, volume, or emphasizing one or more instruments over others.
  1. (present participle of, phrase)
pianissimo Tweet Definition of pianissimo Like Definition of pianissimo on Facebook
  1. (music): The musical term indicating that the piece should be played very softly.
  2. A dynamic sign indicating that the piece should be played pianissimo. Abbreviation: pp.
pianist Tweet Definition of pianist Like Definition of pianist on Facebook
noun am Klavier'' Renoir (1875)]]
  1. A person who plays the piano, particularly with skill or as part of an orchestra.
piano Tweet Definition of piano Like Definition of piano on Facebook
noun , 100px]]
  1. A keyboard musical instrument, usually ranging over seven octaves, with white and black keys, played by pressing these keys, causing hammers to strike strings.
  1. (music) soft, Soft. Used as a w:Dynamics (music), dynamic directive in w:sheet music, sheet music in its abbreviated form, {p.}, to indicate lowering the volume of the music. In the pianoforte this is done by pressing the instrument's keys more lightly.
pianoforte Tweet Definition of pianoforte Like Definition of pianoforte on Facebook
noun (pl2=pianoforti)
  1. (music) A lesser used term for the piano (the musical instrument).
pibroch Tweet Definition of pibroch Like Definition of pibroch on Facebook
  1. A series of musical variations for the bagpipes, usually martial or funerary in nature.
  • 1908: He had heard the stirring pibrochs speed the Gordons in their fights, / It had borne them through the fire zone as they swung up Dargai's heights " E. G. Murphy, "The Doctor's Story" (Australian Ballads & Short Stories, Penguin 2003, p. 279)
piccolo Tweet Definition of piccolo Like Definition of piccolo on Facebook
  1. (music) An instrument similar to a flute, but smaller, and playing an octave higher.
  2. A bottle of champagne containing 0.1875 liters of fluid, 1/4 the volume of a standard bottle; a quarter bottle or snipe.
pick Tweet Definition of pick Like Definition of pick on Facebook
  1. A tool used for digging.
  2. A comb with long teeth, for use with tightly curled hair.
  3. A choice.
  4. (basketball) A screen
  5. (lacrosse) An offensive tactic in which a player stands so as to block a defender from reaching a teammate.
  6. An interception.
  7. (baseball) A good defensive play by an infielder
  8. (baseball) Short for pick-off
  9. (music) a tool used for strumming the strings of a guitar
  1. To grasp and pull with the fingers or fingernails.
Don't at that scab.
  1. To remove a fruit or plant for consumption.
It's time to the tomatoes.
  1. Decide between options.
I'll the one with the nicest name.
  1. (cricket) to recognise the type of ball being bowled by a bowler by studying the position of the hand and arm as the ball is released
He didn't the googly, and was bowled.
piece Tweet Definition of piece Like Definition of piece on Facebook
  1. A part of something.
  2. (context, slang, UK) (plural) sandwiches, packed lunch.
  3. (context, slang, US) A sexual encounter.
I got a at lunchtime.
  1. (context, slang, US) A gun.
He's packin' a !
  1. (context, slang, US) cannabis pipe.
  2. (context, slang, US) (short for "piece of crap") a shoddy or worthless object, usually applied to consumer products like vehicles or appliances.
Ucch, my new car is a !
verb (piec, ing)
  1. (usually with "together"): To reassemble something (real or metaphorically.)
pipe Tweet Definition of pipe Like Definition of pipe on Facebook
noun ]]
  1. A hollow tube that transports water, steam, or other liquid; usually made of metal, ceramic, wood, or plastic.
  2. A hollow stem with bowl at one end used for smoking (see also water pipe or bong)
  3. (geology) A vertical conduit through the Earth's crust below a volcano, through which magma has passed; often filled with volcanic breccia
  4. A type of pasta, similar to macaroni
  5. Decorative edging stitched to the hems or seams of an object made of fabric (clothing, hats, pillows, curtains, etc.); often a contrasting color
  6. (music) A hollow tube used to produce sound, such as an organ pipe.
  7. (music) A wind instrument making a whistling sound. (see pan pipes, bagpipe, boatswain's pipe)
  8. (lacrosse) One of the goalposts of the goal.
  9. (computing) The ASCII character at position 124 (decimal), 7C (hex), 01111100 (binary): " , "
  10. (computing) In Unix, the pipe character signifies that the output of one program feeds directly as input to another program.
  11. (context, computing, slang) A data backbone, or broadband Internet access (e.g., a "fat pipe" refers to a high-bandwidth connection).
  12. (obsolete) An English measure of capacity for liquids, containing 126 wine gallons; half a ton.
    • 1882: Again, by 28 Hen. VIII, cap. 14, it is re-enacted that the tun of wine should contain 252 gallons, a butt of Malmsey 126 gallons, a pipe 126 gallons, a tercian or puncheon 84 gallons, a hogshead 63 gallons, a tierce 41 gallons, a barrel 31.5 gallons, a rundlet 18.5 gallons. &mdash; James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, p. 205.
      1. (context, AU, colloquial, obsolete) An anonymous satire or essay, insulting and frequently libelous, written on a piece of paper and left somewhere public where it could be found and thus spread, to embarrass the author's enemies.
      1818: yet, it is much to be hoped, that from his example pipe-making will in future be reposed solely in the hands of Mr. William Cluer of the Brickfield Hill. &mdash; w:Sydney Gazette, Sydney Gazette, 26 September 1818, on w:William Bland, William Bland convicted of libelling w:Lachlan Macquarie, Governor Macquarie in a pipe (William Cluer was an earthenware pipe manufacturer). Quoted in More Pig Bites Baby! Stories from Australia's First Newspaper, volume 2, ed. Micahel Connor, Duffy and Snellgrove, 2004, ISBN 1-876631-91-0.
verb (pip, ing)
  1. To convey or transport something by means of pipes.
  2. To install or configure pipes.
  3. To play music on a pipe instrument, such as a bagpipe.
  4. (nautical) To signal or order by a note pattern on a bosun's pipe.
  5. To decorate a cake using a pastry bag a flexible bag from which icing is forced through a small nozzle to make various designs
pipe organ Tweet Definition of pipe organ Like Definition of pipe organ on Facebook
  1. The largest of all musical instruments, played from an organ console which produces its sound by sending air through whistles and/or reeds called organ pipes, by direct mechanical action, or modernly, electrically.
Piper Tweet Definition of Piper Like Definition of Piper on Facebook
proper noun 
  1. An occupational surname.
  2. (given name, female) used since the mid-twentieth century, first by the American actress Piper Laurie.
piping Tweet Definition of piping Like Definition of piping on Facebook
  1. (present participle of, pipe)
  2. To dab away moisture.
    • 1883: w:Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson, w:Treasure Island, Treasure Island
    • : Our chimney was a square hole in the roof: it was but a little part of the smoke that found its way out, and the rest eddied about the house, and kept us coughing and the eye.
  1. High-pitched.
    His piping voice could be heard above the hubbub.
pique Tweet Definition of pique Like Definition of pique on Facebook
  1. A cotton fabric, figured in the loom, " used as a dress goods for women and children, and for vestings, etc.
  2. The jigger.
  3. A feeling of hurt, vexation, or resentment, awakened by a social slight or injury; irritation of the feelings, as through wounded pride; stinging vexation.
  4. A remark, usually witty, made in a social situation and intended to slight someone else.
  5. Keenly felt desire; a longing.
  6. In piquet, the right of the elder hand to count thirty in hand, or to play before the adversary counts one.
verb (piqu, ing)
  1. (transitive) To wound the pride of; to sting; to nettle; to irritate; to fret; to offend; to excite to anger.
  2. (transitive) To excite to action by causing resentment or jealousy; to stimulate; to prick; as, to pique ambition, or curiosity.
  3. (transitive) To pride or value; " used reflexively.
  4. (transitive) To cause annoyance or irritation.
pirouette Tweet Definition of pirouette Like Definition of pirouette on Facebook
  1. A whirling or turning on the toes in dancing.
  2. The whirling about of a horse.
verb (pirouett, ing)
  1. (intransitive) To perform a pirouette; to whirl on the toes, like a dancer.
pitch Tweet Definition of pitch Like Definition of pitch on Facebook
  1. A sticky, gummy substance secreted by trees; sap.
It is hard to get this off of my hand.
  1. A dark, extremely viscous material remaining in still after distilling crude oil and tar.
They put on the mast to protect it. The barrel was sealed with .
  1. (baseball) The act of pitching a baseball.
The was low and inside.
  1. (sports) The field on which cricket, soccer, rugby or hockey, field hockey is played.
''The teams met on the .
  1. An effort to sell or promote something.
He gave me a sales .
  1. The distance between evenly spaced objects, e.g. the teeth of a saw or letters in a monospace font.
The of pixels on the point scale is 72 pixels per inch.
The of this saw is perfect for that type of wood.
  1. The angle at which an object sits.
The of the roof or haystack, the propellor blades'
  1. More specifically, the rotation angle about the transverse axis.
The of an aircraft
  1. (music) The perceived frequency of a sound or note.
The of middle "C" is familiar to many musicians.
  1. (music) In an a cappella group, the singer responsible for singing a note for the other members to tune themselves by.
Bob, our , let out a clear middle "C" and our conductor gave the signal to start.
  1. (aviation) A measure of the degree to which an aircraft's nose tilts up or down. Also a measure of the angle of attack of a propeller.
  2. (nautical) The measure of extent to which a nautical vessel rotates on its athwartships axis, causing its bow and stern to go up and down. Compare with roll and heave.
  3. The place where a busker performs is called their pitch.
  4. A level or degree.
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. § 11.
    • : But, except the mind be disordered by disease or madness, they never can arrive at such a of vivacity
verb (pitch, es)
  1. (transitive) To throw.
He pitched the horseshoe.
  1. (context, baseball, transitive, or, intransitive) To throw (the ball) toward home plate.
(i, transitive) The hurler pitched a curveball.
(i, intransitive) He pitched high and inside.
  1. (context, baseball, intransitive) To play baseball in the position of pitcher.
Bob pitches today.
  1. (transitive) To throw away; discard.
He pitched the candy wrapper.
  1. (transitive) To promote, advertise, or attempt to sell.
He pitched the idea for months with no takers.
  1. (transitive) To assemble or erect (a tent).
Pitch the tent over there.
  1. (context, of, _, ships, and, aircraft, transitive, or, intransitive) To move so that the front of the craft goes alternatively up and down.
(i, transitive) The typhoon pitched the deck of the ship.
(i, intransitive) The airplane pitched.
  1. (context, golf, transitive) To play a short, high, lofty shot that lands with backspin.
The only way to get on the green from here is to pitch the ball over the bunker.
  1. (context, cricket, intransitive) To bounce on the playing surface.
The ball pitched well short of the batsman.
  1. (context, Bristolian dialect, of snow, intransitive) To settle and build up, without melting.
  1. Completely dark or black; like tar.
The room was black.
pizz. Tweet Definition of pizz. Like Definition of pizz. on Facebook
  1. (Music): pizzicato.
pizzicato Tweet Definition of pizzicato Like Definition of pizzicato on Facebook
  1. (music) An instruction to players of stringed instruments to pluck the strings instead of using the bow. Abbreviation: pizz.
place Tweet Definition of place Like Definition of place on Facebook
  1. An open space, courtyard, market square.
  2. A group of houses.
They live in Westminster Place.
  1. A location or position.
  2. Somewhere for a person to sit.
We asked the restaurant to give us a table with three places.
  1. A frame of mind.
I'm in a strange at the moment.
  1. (informal) A house or home.
Do you want to come over to my later?
  1. A role or purpose; a station.
It is really not my to say what is right and wrong in this case.
  1. Numerically, the column counting a certain quantity.
three decimal places
the hundreds
verb (plac, ing)
  1. (intransitive) To earn a given spot in a competition.
  2. (transitive) To put (an object or person) in a specific location.
  3. (transitive) To remember where and when (an object or person) has been previously encountered.
I've seen him before, but I can't quite where.
  1. (transitive, in the passive) To achieve (a certain position, often followed by an ordinal) as in a horse race.
  2. (transitive) To sing (a note) with the correct pitch.
  3. (transitive) To arrange for or to make (a bet).
  4. (transitive) To recruit or match an appropriate person for a job.
They phoned hoping to her in the management team.
player piano Tweet Definition of player piano Like Definition of player piano on Facebook
  1. An acoustic piano which is automatically played (mechanically).
plectrum Tweet Definition of plectrum Like Definition of plectrum on Facebook
noun or plectron (plural plectra)
  1. a small piece of plastic, metal, ivory, etc for plucking the strings of a guitar, lyre, mandolin, etc
  2. (context, Anatomy, Zoology) an anatomical part resembling a plectrum in shape
pluck Tweet Definition of pluck Like Definition of pluck on Facebook
  1. nerve, Nerve, fortitude, or persistence.
He didn't get far with the attempt, but you have to admire his .
  1. The lungs, heart with trachea and often oesophagus removed from slaughtered animals.
verb (plucks, plucking, plucked or obsolete, pluckt)
  1. (transitive) To pull something sharply; to pull something out
She plucked the phone from her bag and phoned her friend.
  1. (context, transitive, music) To gently play a single string, e.g. on a guitar, violin, etc.
Whereas a piano strikes the string, a harpsichord plucks it.
  1. To remove feathers from a bird.
plunk Tweet Definition of plunk Like Definition of plunk on Facebook
  1. To drop or throw heavily (onto or into something) so that it makes a sound
Enrique plunked his money down on the counter with a sigh and bellied up to the bar.
Polonaise Tweet Definition of Polonaise Like Definition of Polonaise on Facebook
  1. The Polish language.
  1. Of or pertaining to the Poles, or to Poland.
polyphonic Tweet Definition of polyphonic Like Definition of polyphonic on Facebook
  1. of, or relating to polyphony
  2. (music) having two or more independent but harmonic melodies; contrapuntal
  3. (context, of an electronic device) able to play more than one musical note at the same time
polyphony Tweet Definition of polyphony Like Definition of polyphony on Facebook
  1. (music) Musical texture consisting of several independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).
polyrhythm Tweet Definition of polyrhythm Like Definition of polyrhythm on Facebook
  1. (music) Multiple rhythmic elements being performed simultaneously.
polytonality Tweet Definition of polytonality Like Definition of polytonality on Facebook
  1. (music) The use of multiple keys in the same composition, especially by multiple instruments at the same time
pops Tweet Definition of pops Like Definition of pops on Facebook
  1. (informal, usually as a form of address) father, dad
''Hey, , I'm home.
  1. by extension, another man old enough to be the speaker's father
''Oww, that hurts! Cut it out, , you're not my dad, you have no right to spank me black and blue!
  1. third person singular present tense of pop
postlude Tweet Definition of postlude Like Definition of postlude on Facebook
  1. The final phase of something
  1. (music) The final part of a piece; especially music played (normally on the organ) at the end of a church service
poussette Tweet Definition of poussette Like Definition of poussette on Facebook
  1. A movement, or part of a figure, in the contradance.
verb to poussette
  1. To perform a certain movement in a dance.
prepare Tweet Definition of prepare Like Definition of prepare on Facebook
verb (prepar, ing)
  1. (transitive) To make ready for a specific future purpose.
We prepared the spacecraft for takeoff.
  1. (transitive) To make ready for eating or drinking; to cook.
We prepared a fish for dinner.
  1. (intransitive) To make oneself ready; to get ready, make preparation.
We prepared for a bumpy ride.
  1. (transitive) To produce or make by combining elements; to synthesize, compound.
She prepared a meal from what was left in the cupboards.
prestissimo Tweet Definition of prestissimo Like Definition of prestissimo on Facebook
  1. (music) Extremely fast, the fastest possible tempo.
presto Tweet Definition of presto Like Definition of presto on Facebook
  1. (context, poker slang) A pair of fives as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em
  1. (music) Very fast or quickly; a directive for the musician(s) to play in a very quick tempo.
prima ballerina Tweet Definition of prima ballerina Like Definition of prima ballerina on Facebook
  1. The leading ballerina in a dance company.
prima donna Tweet Definition of prima donna Like Definition of prima donna on Facebook
  1. (Opera) The principal female singer or the leading lady.
  2. A person who considers himself or herself much more important than others, has high expectations of others and becomes angry when their standards or demands are not met.
primo Tweet Definition of primo Like Definition of primo on Facebook
  1. (music) The principal part of a duet.
  1. (colloquial) best, Best; first-class.
progression Tweet Definition of progression Like Definition of progression on Facebook
  1. Moving from one thing to another.
psalm Tweet Definition of psalm Like Definition of psalm on Facebook
  1. A sacred song; a poetical composition for use in the praise or worship of God.
  2. Especially, one of the hymns by David and others, collected into one book of the Old Testament, or a modern metrical version of such a hymn for public worship.
  1. To extol in psalms; to sing; as, psalming his praises.
psaltery Tweet Definition of psaltery Like Definition of psaltery on Facebook
noun (plural psalteries)
  1. An ancient musical instrument, similar to a dulcimer or a zither, and played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a plectrum.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. (Nehemiah 12:27, KJV)

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