Music Dictionary A-Ai

A - Accord

Acoustics - 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

Abafando - (Portuguese) "muffled"; muted

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

Abbandonatamente - (Italian) "freely"; free; play in a relaxing manner

A battuta - (Italian) "to the beat"; return to the normal tempo or beat

Aber - (German) "but"; except as; with a difference

A battuta - (Italian) "to the beat"; return to the normal tempo or beat

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

A bene placito - (Italian) "at pleasure"; up to the performer; as you please

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

A cappriccio - (Italian, French) "capricious,"; a free, unpredictable, or impulsive approach to the tempo

Accarezzevole - (Italian) "caressing"; play in a caressing manner; expressive

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

Accelerāta - (Latin) "faster"; with an increased speed or tempo

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

Accentato - (Italian) "accent" to emphasize a tone above adjacent tones

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

Accesso - (Italian) "attack"; an attack; fire; ignition; fit

Accessible - music that is easy to listen to; music that is pleasant to the ear

Acciaccato - (Italian) "crushed"; a break; play the tones of a chord not quite in unison but barely separated

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

Accord - in unison; in rhythm or in harmony with one another 

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

Accuratezza - (Italian) "precision"; accurate

Acoustic - (Greek) "to hear"; audible sound; sounds produced by mechanical means, not electrical

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

Adagissimo - (Italian) "very slow"; play very slowly; as slow as possible

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

A due - (French) "a two"; written for a duet; for two voices or instruments playing simultaneously

Aeolian - (Greek) "aeolus"; the Greek God of wind; 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

Affetto (Italian) "with affect"; with emotion; attempt to 'affect' the listener

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

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

Agile - (Italian) "swift"; play in a swift or agitated manner

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