Glossary Of Musical Terminology

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There are currently 20 names in this directory beginning with the letter B.
Back phrasing
A stylistic technique where the singer is either ahead or behind the beat, on purpose. Jazz singers typically use this technique, as do some pop singers.

A slow tempo, sentimental or romantic song.

A small group of instrumentalists who play either on the stage or backstage, not in the pit, often as part of a crowd or military scene.

A specific number of musical sounds that are organized within a measure, and that are contained within two solid lines called bar lines.

The male mid-range singing voice between bass and tenor, with a range that extends from the second G below middle C to the first G above middle C.

Time period in music history ranging from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th centuries. Characterized by emotional, flowery music; written in strict form.

The lowest of the male singing voice, with a range of the second E below middle C to the first E above middle. In serious or dramatic opera, low voices usually suggest age and wisdom; in comic opera, they are generally used for old characters.

Bass Clef
A symbol placed on the fourth line of a staff to indicate that the fourth line of the staff corresponds to the F next below middle C; F clef.

A short stick that the conductor uses to lead the orchestra or choir.

Regular pattern of musical rhythm within a bar or measure.

Bel Canto
Singing that focuses on beautiful sound. An Italian phrase literally meaning “beautiful singing.” A traditional Italian style of singing that emphasizes tone, phrasing, coloratura passages and technique. Also refers to opera written in this style.

Originally a term applied to female voices only: “This is a loud, driving sound that is produced by pushing the natural chest register beyond its normal limits. Although the original terminology didn’t include men, male singers can also belt.

In solo singing, the smooth transition between the head and chest voice.

A term used in choirs in order to make a group of singers sound like one voice, as opposed to lots of individual voices. This is done by encouraging singers to listen to each other and modify their voice accordingly to sound like what is being produced by everyone else.

Literally, a form of applause when shouted by members of the audience at the end of an especially pleasing performance. Strictly speaking, “bravo” is for a single man,”brava” for a woman, and “bravi” for a group of performers.

The sudden change in tone between the head and chest voice, caused by vocal tension. When a singer hits his or her break, there may be a “popping” sound, or some other sound that is jarring and ugly. This can be avoided with good vocal technique.

Breath Support
Efficient use of the singer’s stream of breath, controlled primarily by the diaphragm.

A transitional passage that connects 2 sections of a composition or song. Usually placed after the chorus of a song. The term bridge is also used to describe moving from one voice register to another. eg chest voice into head voice.

Broken Chord
A chord in which the notes are not played simultaneously at once, but in some consistent sequence. Notes are played either consecutively one after another, or 2 notes by 2 notes in a specific order.

From the Italian for “buffoon.” A singer of comic roles (basso-buffo) or a comic opera (opera-buffa).

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