Music Dictionary D

D - Dirge

Discord - Dynamics

D - (Italian, French) "re"; tone pitch frequency (middle D) around 293.665 Hz

Da Capo - (Italian) "from the head"; direction to repeat from the mark, typically dc al coda; or a direction to repeat from the beginning, typically d.c. al fine' written above or below the staff

Dal segno - (Italian) "from the sign"; instruction to repeat from the segno sign; see also segno or D.S.

Dampfer - (German) "with mute"; direction to use a mute or mute the sound

Dance - the motions of a person(s) moving for entertainment; human rhythmic movement to music; the use of physical body motion to the beat of music

Dance Band -  a modern band which played music for dancing in the 1920s-40s under the direction of a conductor, typically the staged Big Bands of the time

Debut - (French) "beginning"; the first public appearance of an artist or aevent

Decibel - the standard unit of measurement (Db) of the intensity of sound as set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the 20th century

Declamando - (Italian) "solemn"; to perform in a solemnly or impassionately

Decrescendo - (Italian) "decreasing"; gradually reduce the tone volume and intensity; slowly get softer

Degree - the position of a note in a scale; also see chromatic intervals

Delicato - (Italian) "delicate"; play in a light or delicate manner

Delizioso - (Italian) "delicious"; play in a sweet or sensual manner

Demi - (French) "half"; prefix denoting strength or size as in 'demi-voix' 

Demi voix - (French) "half voice"; play with half the voice strength

Demisemiquaver - thirty-second note

Denotation - the translation of a sign or symbol to its literal meaning

Deploration - (French) "weeping"; a Medieval and Renaissance form written in commemoration of a composer's death

Descant - (Latin) "part song, refrain"; Medieval form of a main vocal melody accompanied by an improvising singer; a Renaissance form of vocals accompanied by higher pitched voices or instruments

Dessus - (French) "on top of, sur"; the higher part in voice or instruments during the 17th to 18th centuries, usually referring to treble or soprano

Détache - (French) "detach"; direction to separate notes, similar to staccato

Development - the restatement of the main musical idea or theme

Dialogue - (Latin) "converse"; a type of discourse or exchange of two voices 

Diapason - (Greek) "though all"; term denoting the range of pitch

Diatonic - relating to a musical scale or key of 7 major or minor pitches; the tones within a specific key or scale; see also chords & keys

Diddling - Scottish practice of using meaningless lyrics in dance tunes

Dies Irae - (Latin) "day of wrath"; one musical element of the requiem mass

Digression - (Latin) "going away, depart"; a musical passage which temporarily leaves the main theme of the composition then ends by returning to the theme

Diluendo - (Italian) "diluted"; direction to fade music to silent; fade away

Diminished - reduced; a decrease in pitch frequency; an interval diminished by one half-step; a reduction in pitch of one semitone; flattened

Diminuendo - (Italian) "lessening"; play gradually softer; lower the tone volume and intensity; decrescendo

Diminution - (Italian) ""; a shortening of the notes' time values; gradually less

Direct - notation used at the end of sheet music pages which indicates the pitch of the first note on the next page or line of music; also called custos

Dirge - a mourning song used for performance at a funeral or memorial service

Discord - tones sounded together which sound off-key or incomplete; dissonance

Disinvolto - (Italian) "confident"; def

Disinvolto - (Italian) "easy"; play freely or in a jaunty manner

Dissonance - tones, chords, or intervals which sound harsh or off-key; discord

Diva - (Italian) "Godess"; a title of acclaim given to the leading female vocalist in an opera, usually a soprano

Divertimento - (Italian) "an amusement" (French) "divertissement"; a light-hearted composition of three or more movements which have no main musical idea in common

Divisi - (Italian) "divided";  the practice of dividing instrumental sections into separate parts or subsections, each playing its own part

Dixieland - a musical style developed in the mid 19th century United States  based upon traditional styles with a string bass and chordal instruments; genre coined to describe the regions still practicing slavery; see also RagtimeNew Orleans Jazz

Dizain - (French) "set of ten"; a verse, stanza, or poem consisting of ten lines

Dodecaphonic - composed in the twelve tone technique; a harmonic system of composing in all twelve tones of the chromatic scale giving equal emphasis to each tone, first devised by Austrian composer Josef Matthias Hauer in 1919

Doh - (Italian, French, British) "do, C"; tone with a pitch frequency of 261.63 Hz

Dolce - (Italian) "sweet"; play in a sweet or gentle manner

Dolente - (Italian) "mournful"; play sadly or in a sorrowful manner

Dominant - the fifth degree or step of a major or minor scale

Doppio - (Italian) "double"; play at an increased tempo, normally doubled

Dot - notation placed above a note indicating the use of staccato; direction to play notes in an accented and separated manner; see staccato

Dotted - notation beside a note or rest increasing its time value by one half

Double Bar - two vertical lines placed at the end of a staff indicating the end of a musical verse, passage, or composition

Double Flat - a tone or chord diminished by one whole-step; a tone flattened by two semitones; a decrease in pitch of one step; example: bb E = D

Double Sharp - a tone or chord augmented by one whole-step; a tone sharpened by two semitones; an increase in pitch of one step; example: ## C = D

Double Stop - two tones sounded together on stringed instruments by plucking, bowing, or fingering both tones simultaneously

Double Time - doppio; play at twice the speed or tempo; an increase of tempo

Downbeat - the stressed or emphasized point of the count as indicated by the conductor's central downward strike of the baton

Drama per Musica - (Italian) "drama through music"; opera seria; a style of Italian opera of 16th to 18th century Europe, prominent from the 1710s to 1770

Drum kit - a 20th century group of four or more drums of various pitch with cymbals and accent pedals used for stage performance

Drum set - a 20th century group of four or more drums of various pitch

Duet - a vocal or instrumental composition of two equal parts performed by a duo or two instrumentalists or vocalists or one of each

Duo - a musical ensemble of two vocalists or two instrumentalists, or one of each performing a single musical piece

Dynamics - the varying levels of sound volume and intensity; varying graduations of loud or soft, weak or strong