Common Musical Terms, Definitions and Meanings
Music Speaks to us Through Expression
Music has a language of its own. It is through interpretation of notes and phrasing that music speaks to us. It is not enough for musicians to merely play the correct notes and adhere to proper rhythm and meter. Without expression, music can be monotonous, boring and even tiring. We are captivated by how the music makes us feel. Expressive music connects with our own emotions. It can also touch our souls. Through interpretation of musical notes and patterns, we are moved to tears, chills, and sometimes we feel the innermost and deepest feelings surfacing to a complete understanding and pronouncement of peace.
"Music wraps it's weaving arms around us and takes us on a timeless journey." ~ Audrey Hunt
Musical Terms - The Musical Map
How does a complete symphony orchestra of mixed instruments which can also include a full choir or soloist join together to create emotion? How does the horn or string section know when to play the written notes soft, loud or not at all.? They follow the conductor, you say? While this is true, how does the conductor know when to direct a particular section of the orchestra in such a way that the musicians respond to his every move and direction?
The answer is really quite simple and clear. Each page of music give directions on how to play the notes. I teach my students to always follow the music map by looking first for directions on how the music should sound. This map provides specific words, musical terms, which guide each musician dynamically and technically. The conductor makes sure each and every instrument is following directions. A good music teacher makes sure that all are taught to understand and apply these key music words to the song or musical score.
While there are hundreds of these key words found in music, I am presenting a list of the most used terms. I am presenting this in six parts. You will find in this list, the musical term, followed by a definition and with some of the terms, my own explanation to help musicians understand more completely thereby making it easier to apply these directions in their music.
For Musicians, Teachers, Students And Music Lovers
Learning the following musical terms will leave you with a better understanding of how dynamics influence music.
While there are hundreds of these key words found in music, I am presenting a list of the most used terms in 6 parts. You will find in this list, the musical term, followed by a definition and with some of the terms my own explanation to help musicians understand more completely, thereby making it easier to apply in the music.
Commonly Used Musical Terms And Meanings
· Legato – smoothly play or sing each note connected one to the other
· Slur – a curved line over a group of notes, indicating to play legato
· Rhythm – the element of music pertaining to time, expressed as grouping of notes into accented and unaccented beats, of beats into measures.
· Opus – literally a work; shortened to Op., a convenient method of numberings a composer’s works. Thus, Beethoven’s Op.111 is his last piano sonata.
· Ostinato – a melody or pattern that is constantly repeated.
· Finale – the last movement of a sonata-form work; also, a sequence of numbers at the end of an act in an opera.
· Flat – a sign showing that a note should be lowered by one –semitone (half step).
· Cantabile – in a singing style (legato).
· Carol – originally a round dance with singing; later a popular song or hymn celebrating Christmas.
· Blues – melancholic, usually guitar-based, modern folk music, originating in the work songs of the black American plantation workers. Typically constructed around a simple twelve-bar, three chord progression pattern on which a vast amount of popular music has been based ever since.
· Chest voice – the lower part of the singing voice, as opposed to the head voice.
· Conductor – the director of a group of performers, indicating tempo by beating and communicating phrasing, dynamics, and style by facial and gesture expression.
· Forte – an Italian word meaning to play or sing loud, indicated by the letter f. May be strengthened to fortissimo (ff).
A Painter paints pictures on canvass.
But musicians paint their pictures on silence
Beautiful Music to Inspire You
© 2010 Audrey Hunt
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