Music Dictionary Al-Au

Airways - Ansatz

Answer - Autograph

Alberti Bass - the simplest form of accompaniment used in keyboard music in which the performer plays the melody with the right hand while playing lower pitched broken chords with the left hand; form created by Italian singer and composer Domenico Alberi written for harpsichord in the 18th century

Alborada - (Spanish) "dawn"; a vocal or instrumental composition for performance at daybreak most often held outdoors

Album-leaf - a short intimate musical work for keyboard used in honor or tribute to the composer's friend or patron

Aleatory - (French) "dice"; a composition written left to chance or improvisation from Baroque era keyboard pieces, now mostly used in modern music

Al fine' - (Italian) "to the end"; instruction to the performer to return to the beginning and repeat to the end

Al segno - (Italian) "to the sign"; an instruction written above or below the staff to repeat up to the 'segno' sign; see also segno

Alla breve - (Italian) "to the breve (half note)"; instruction to play in cut time 

Alla polaca - (Italian) "in the Polish style"; an indication to play in the Polish style

Allargando - (Italian) "broadening"; instruction to decrease the tempo; slower

Alla Zingarese - (Italian) "in the gypsy style"

Allegretto - (Italian) "little allegro"; play briskly; moderately fast; slightly faster than andante but slower than allegro

Allegro - (Italian) "lively; cheerful"; instruction to play quickly; (Latin) 'alacrem' "cheerful; gay"; play briskly

Allein - (German) "alone"; indicates performance of a single instrument, as in 'Violine allein' "one violin; one solo voice"

Allemande - (French) "German"; 16th century Renaissance instrumental dance which grew into mainstream popularity during the Baroque Period; the first movement of a suite of dances often beginning with a prelude

All'Ottawa - (Italian) "at the octave"; play up or down an octave; instruction to play one octave higher or one octave lower

Altissimo - (Italian) "highest"; instructs woodwinds to play as high as possible; high register; the uppermost register of woodwind instruments

Alto - (Italian) "high"; the vocal and instrumental range above soprano sung by men in falsetto, children, or women

Alzato - (Italian) "Lifted up"; raise up or remove the mute

Anacrusis - (Greek) "strike up; push"; upbeat; a note or series of notes leading into the downbeat of a musical phrase

Alzato - (Italian, Latin) "yet"; not yet; again; still

Andante - (Italian) "going"; play at a moderate tempo; not slow or fast

Andantino - (Italian) "going on"; slightly faster than andante

Anhemitonic - a musical scale of five notes per octave with no semitones

A niente - (Italian) "to nothing"; diminuindo; gradually reduce volume to nothing

Animato - (Italian) "animated"; lively; play in a lively manner

Ansatz - (German) "begun"; establishment of an action such as a performer's embouchure, pick of the strings, o touch of the keys, etc

Answer - a musical phrase which returns or repeats the main musical idea of a composition; counterpoint

Antecedent - preceding; the part which comes before another part

Anthem - a religious choral composition with an English text consisting of four part pieces written for choir developed in the 16th century

Antiphon - (Greek) "opposite"; a religious chant in Roman Catholic church rituals; text response to psalms.

A Piacere - (Italian) "to please; at pleasure"; at the performer's discretion; as you will; ad libitum; music with open sections left to the performer's desire

Appassionato - (Italian) "with passion"; play emotionally

Appoggiatura - (Italian) "to lean upon"; note or notes preceding the main downbeat; grace note; note which brings attention to the main beat; Right: appoggiatura symbol

A prima vista - (Italian) "at first sight"; sight reading; reading or playing a musical score for the first time; without prior review

Aquarelle - (French) "watercolor"; a musical composition of some transparency; a delicate musical piece of music

Arabesque - (French, Italian) "in the Arabic style"; a short decorative musical style, usually for piano; embellished or decorated music

Aria - (Italian) "air"; music written for a soloist with instrumental accompaniment which can stand on its own or as part of an opera

Arpeggio - (Italian) "to play on a harp"; a chord whose tones are played in succession instead of all together; arpeggiare

Arpeggiare - (Italian) "to play on a harp"; a chord whose tones are played in succession instead of all together; arpeggio
Arrangement - an alteration or adaption of a musical composition, usually in a different medium than the original

A tempo - (Italian) "in time";  return to the main tempo; return from an accelerando or ritardando

Atonal - music lacking of any key or tonal center; music of pitches of no common key, usually centered around a central tone not present

Atonality - the use of tones lacking of any key or tonal center; atonal

Attacca - (Italian) "attack"; to the next; direction to attach musical movements together with no pause or gap between

Augment 1 - to make larger; to lengthen the note's time value

Augment 2 - sharpen; to increase the pitch of a tone

Augmentation - the act of lengthening a note's time value; to sharpen the pitch of a tone; see augment

Autograph 1 - the original composer's manuscript of a musical work; the memorabilia of an artist's signature often collected by fans

Autograph 2 - memorabilia of an artist's signature, often collected by fans or investors for remembrance

Avec - (French) "free"; unrestrained; with passion; play in a free manner