Glossary Of Musical Terminology

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There are 31 names in this directory beginning with the letter R.
Rallentando
Broadening of the tempo, becoming progressively slower.

Range
Refers to the notes that a given performer can sing comfortably.

Recapitulation
A reprise.

Recital
A solo concert with or without accompaniment.

Recitative
Words sung in a conversational style.

Refrain
A repeating phrase that is played at the end of each verse in the song.

Register
A range of tones produced in the human voice by the vibrations of the vocal folds. Includes chest voice, head voice and falsetto.

Relative
Major and Minor keys that share the same notes in that key. For example: A minor shares the same note as C major.

Relative Pitch
Ability to determine the pitch of a note as it relates to the notes that precede and follow it.

Renaissance
A period in history dating from the 14th to 16th centuries. This period signified the rebirth of music, art, and literature.

Repeat
To play a certain section again.

Repertoire
The songs a singer knows well and can perform.

Repetiteur
A member of the music staff who plays the piano for rehearsals and, if necessary, the piano or harpsichord during performances. They frequently coach singers in their roles and assist with orchestra rehearsals.

Reprise
To repeat a previous part of a composition generally after other music has been played.

Requiem
A hymn, or musical service for the repose of the dead.

Resolution
A group of chords can create harmonic tension. When this tension is released with a calm chord, or a chord without tension, it is “resolved” and is thus called a resolution.

Resonance
The amplification of the vibrations that create tone through and within your mouth, throat, sinuses and nasal passages. Large, full resonant tones are desirable in some styles of music but inappropriate in other styles.  In musical terms this is known as timbre.

Rest
To stop playing or singing for the specific note duration.

Reverb
A termed used by musicians, and sound engineers for reverberation.  Usually created by a machine, or mixing desk, it gives the voice more colour, tone and presence. Usually used in studio’s and live performances.

Rhythm
The element of music pertaining to time, played as a grouping of notes into accented and unaccented beats.

Rit.
Abbreviation for Ritardando. Sometimes used for Ritenuto although less frequent.

Ritardando
Musical term for tempo direction; slowing down, decelerating.

Ritenuto
Held back, slower. Usually more so and also more temporarily than a ritardando. Ritenuto may apply to a single note, unlike ritardando.

Rococo
A musical style characterized as excessive, ornamental, and trivial.

Romantic
A period in history during the 18th and early 19th centuries where the focus shifted from the neoclassical style to an emotional, expressive, and imaginative style.

Rondo
A musical form where the principal theme is repeated several times. The rondo was often used for the final movements of classical sonata form works.

Root
Principal note of a triad.

Root Position
Position of a triad and its notes where the root note is in the bass.

Round
A tune where the melody is sung in two or more voices. After the first voice begins, the next voice starts singing after a couple of measures are played in the preceding voice. All parts repeat continuously.

Rubato
An important characteristic of the Romantic period. It is a style where the strict tempo is temporarily abandoned for a more emotional tone.

Run
When a singer starts off at a very high note and drops quickly through the scale down to a very low note in the space of a second or two.  Also known as Roulade.