Glossary Of Musical Terminology

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There are 26 names in this directory beginning with the letter A.
A Cappella
Singing without any form of instrumental accompaniment.

A Tempo
To sing or play as per the original tempo of the song

Absolute Pitch
Ability to determine the exact pitch of a note as played on a musical instrument just by listening to it.

Accelerando
A symbol used in musical notation indicating to gradually quicken tempo.

Accent
Giving a particular note or phrase more stress than the ones before or after it. Italics do it in print, accents do it in singing. To be effective in solo singing, accents must usually be subtle.

Accessible
Music that is easy to listen to and understand.

Accidentals
Any of various signs that indicate the alteration of a note by one or two semitones or the cancellation of a previous sign.

Accompaniment
Music that is played as background to a solo singer or lead instrumentalist.

Accompanist
A pianist who plays music beneath the singing.

Act
A portion of an opera or musical designated by the composer, which has a dramatic structure of its own.

Ad Libitum
At liberty; the performer decides how to sing or play the respective section or notes.

Ad Libitum (Ad Lib; Latin)
At liberty; the performer decides how to sing or play the respective section or notes

Adagio
A tempo having slow movement; restful at ease.

Adam’s Apple
Common term used to describe the part of the larynx (voice box) which protrudes from the front of the neck. More noticeable in men than women.

Adducted
The term for vocal cords getting pulled together when you sing high up in your vocal range.

Allegro
Lively and quick tempo.

Alto
Lowest female voice part in a choir group.

An extended solo
often accompanying the vocal part of an aria.

Andante
Meaning a walking tempo or walking pace; a moderate speed.

Aria
A solo piece written for a main character, which focuses on the character’s emotion.

Arpeggio
When the notes of a chord are played quickly, one after another. Usually used as accompaniment for a song, for example, broken chords most commonly on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th notes of an octave.

Art Song
In classical music, a song not from an opera, but sung in classical style. Art songs were created primarily for concerts.

Articulation
The formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech.

Artist Manager
An agent who represents artists by publicizing their talents, finding roles for them, negotiating their contracts and handling other business matters for them.

Atonal
Music that is written and performed without regard to any specific key.

Attack
Describes the process of a singer first hitting a note, as in “his attack on that high C was too harsh,” or “her attack at the beginning of the song was very gentle.”