Music Dictionary A-Ai

A - Acoustics

Action - Airs à boire

A - the orchestral tuning tone of A above middle C recommended in 1936 by The American Standards Association standardized by The International Organization for Standardization in 1955; tone with a pitch frequency of 440 hz

Ab - (German) "off"; command to cease using a mute or organ stop

Abandonné - (French) "abandoned"; to play freely

Abbassare - (Italian) "to lower"; the act of tuning a stringed instrument to a lower pitch for playing outside of its normal range

Abbellimenti - (Italian) "embellishment"; to embellish; add musical expression to the written part

Abridged - to shorten rather than complete; to tie the theme of a composition to a movement or musical phrase, normally refers to a sonata's inclusion into a larger orchestral composition

Absolute Music - abstract music; music written for its own sake with no direct reference to anything outside itself; music that is non-representational

Absolute Pitch - perfect pitch; a person's ability to determine or sing a note's pitch with no prior sounding of that pitch

Abstract Music - absolute music; music written for its own sake with no direct reference to anything outside itself; music that is non-representational

A cappella - (Italian) "in the style of the chapel"; vocal music; music with no instrumental accompaniment

Accelerando - (Italian) "faster"; to gradually increase the speed or tempo

Accent - to emphasize a tone above the other tones around it; musical notation instructing to 'accent' a note over others

Accentus - (Latin) "stress"; a type of church music emphasizing spoken word; a French chamber choir founded by Laurence Equilbey in 1991

Acciaccatura - (Italian) "to crush"; squeezed in; grace notes played prior to the written note; see grace notes

Accidental - musical notation instructing to lower or raise a note's pitch; to flatten or sharpen a note

Acclamation - sung or chanted expression of praise often religious in nature such as 'Amen' or 'Hallelujah'

Accompagnato - (Italian) "accompanied"; a musical accompaniment to a singer of a recitative; short term for recitativo accompagnato

Accompany - to join; to be a part of; to occur simultaneously; to support

Accordatura - (Italian) "in accord"; to tune a musical instrument, usually refers to stringed instruments

Acoustic - (Greek) "to hear"; audible sound; sounds produced mechanically, not electrically

Acoustics - the study of the distribution of sound; the natural sound reverberation of an area or enclosure

Action - the level of ease or difficulty to play an instrument such as plucking the keys or strings of an instrument

Act Tune - music played between the acts of a play or opera in 17th and 18th century English theatre; intermezzo; entr'acte

Actus Musicus - (Latin) "musical action"; a semi-dramatic 17th and 18th century German Protestant vocal composition based on a biblical theme

Adagietto - (Italian) "little adagio"; to play slowly but slightly faster than adagio

Adagio - (Italian) "at ease"; play slowly; notation instructing to play slowly

Additional - music composed to add to an existing composition, usually to update or alter the original composition into acceptance by a different audience

Addolorato - (Italian) "painful"; to play in a sad manner; instructs to play sadly

A Deux - (French) "in two"; instructs two performers to play in unison or separately; an action between two performers

Ad Libitum - (Latin) "at liberty"; play freely; instructs to play or not to play at will

Adoración - (Spanish) "worship"; adore; worship rendered to a God

Aeolian - (Greek) "aeolus"; the Greek God of wind; refers to an instrument, normally stringed, placed in the wind so that it blows the strings to produce tones

Aeolian Mode (Greek) ancient diatonic scaling method which forms the natural minor scale; relative scale to which all other minor scales are referenced

Aerophone - group of musical instruments using wind to produce sound through the vibration of air such as wind instruments

Affekt (German) "fervour"; intense; with passion; term used during the Baroque Period to describe the expression of a composition

Affettuoso - (Italian) "affectionate"; instructs to play tenderly or with affection

Affrettando (Italian) "hurrying"; instructs to play hastily; excitedly; play faster

Agitato - (Italian) "agitated"; restless; instructs to play in an agitated manner 

Angus dei - (Latin) "Lamb of God"; musical piece from the Roman Catholic church Mass, traditionally sung during the breaking of the bread.

Agogic - act of extending a note for emphasis; to lengthen a note;

Agrément - (French) "agree"; embellish or ornament; mutual understanding

Air 1 - musical form of a simple vocal or instrumental melody often based on folk music or ballads; also called "aria" (Italian) when used as part of an opera

Air 2 - to put on a show; to broadcast; make known; to promote publicly

Air 3 - the publicly owned electronic mass communication medium of radio and television transmission; a frequency for broadcast transmitting; airways

Airs à boire - (French) "drinking song"; songs popular during the 17th & 18th centuries used in celebration or promoting social concerns; chansons pour boire

Airways - the publicly owned electronic mass communication medium of radio and television transmission; a frequency for broadcast transmitting; air

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