Music Dictionary B

Baccheta - Beat

Beklemmt - Burlesque

B - (Italian, French) "ti, si, h"; tone with pitch frequency of around 493.883 Hz

Baccheta - (Italian) "stick"; a small drumstick; alternative name for a conductor's guiding stick or baton

Backbeat - strong accent of a note normally not accented, usually the 2nd and 4th count of common time used in jazz and rock music

Bagatelle - (French) "a trifle"; a short light and mellow composition usually written for piano of the Baroque and Classical eras

Baguette - (French) "stick"; a sponge headed drumstick which produces a muted sound from the bass drum or timpani; baguette d'eponge

Balancement - (French) "wavering"; 18th century term for tremolo used to denote vibrato in string and vocal music

Ballabile - (Italian) "ballare, to dance"; a section of music for dancing normally used in an opera or ballet

Ballad - (Latin) "ballare, dance song"; a form of narrative verse of the Renaissance often set to music, originally for dance

Ballad Opera - 18th century English theatrical of spoken dialogue, similar to the French 'Vaudeville' and German 'Singspiel'

Ballare - (Latin) "dancing song"; (Italian) "ballata"; a form of narrative verse of the Renaissance often set to music, originally for dance

Ballata - (Italian) "dancing song"; (Latin) "ballare"; a form of narrative verse of the Renaissance often set to music, originally for dance

Ballet - (French) "ballet"; (Italian) "ballo"; dance type of the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century, later developed into a concert dance form; 19th century Classical period form of artistic dance performed using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures

Ballet de Cour - (French) "court ballet"; 16th century French music and dance form which changed the original ballet and greatly influenced the development of the modern ballet from the Classical period 

Balletto - (Italian) "dance song"; Italian music and dance form of the 16th and 17th centuries; ballata, ballare, ballet, ballo

Ballo - (Italian) "ball"; social dance (ball); music for balls (social dances)

Band 1 - a group of musicians primarily made up of wind and percussion instruments; a group of marching musicians; marching band

Band 2 - a group of musicians for stage and concert performance primarily made up of singers, strings, keyboard, and percussion instruments; rock bands and the like

Bar - space on the staff separated by vertical bar-lines; measure

Barbershop -  a  popular harmonic singing style from the Tudor period when lutes were kept in barbershops for customer amusement; a group of close-harmony male vocalists consisting of a quartet of two tenors, one baritone, and a bass singer

Barcarole - (Italian) "barca, boat"; a type of lilting song sung by Venetian gondolier boatmen; boat-song

Bariolage - (French) "multi-colored"; a string playing effect in which the same note is played on two different strings, one stopped and one open

Baritone - (Greek) "barýtonos, heavy sounding"; male voice between tenor and bass; lower pitched instrumental range of the sax-horn family

Baroque - (French) "irregular, complex"; European musical style from roughly 1600 to 1750; Original: (Latin) "boroco"; oddly shaped pearls or other unusual objects;  term stemming from the architectural style of 17th century Europe;

Barbaro - (Latin) "foreign, savage"; barbarous; oddly savage

Bartók pizzicato - (French) "to pluck"; a term coined by 20th century Hungarian composer Béla Viktor János Bartók as an instruction to pluck the string so that it snaps back against the fingerboard with a percussive sound

Bass - the lowest pitch voice in music; bottom end; tones of low frequency, pitch and range from 16 to 256 Hz (C0 to middle C4) and bass instruments that produce tones in the low-pitched range C2-C4; bassline

Basso Buffo - (Italian) "comic bass"; a low pitched opera singer specializing in comic roles usually performed in the range of baritone

Basso Continuo - (Italian) "figured bass"; a form of Baroque notation of numbers and accidentals which indicates a bass line relationship with chord progressions

Basso Ostinato - (Italian) "stubborn"; a type of musical phrases of harmonic patterns repeated in melodic bass-line variations developed during the Renaissance

Baton - (French) "stick," (It) "baccheta"; the conductor's guiding stick

Battaglia - (Italian) "battle"; a stirring musical piece suggesting battle or conflict; warring music; music meant to inspire soldiers before battle

Battlement - a 17th century French reference to adjacent tones in conflict or ornamentation such as trills and mordents

Battuto - (Italian) "beat"; return to the normal tempo or beat for strings

Bravura - (Italian) "bold"; boldly; play with boldness

Beat - the basic pulse of the music; count of the time signature

Beklemmt - (German) "oppressed"; heavy of heart; play with an anguished style

Bel Canto - (Italian) "beautiful singing"; style of opera singing of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods (1600-1900) known for its tonal clarity and smooth flowing techniques

Belebt, belebter - (German) "spirited"; vigorous or lively

Bell - (French) "beautiful"; a hollow open metal percussion instrument which clangs, rings, or chimes when struck by a baton or baguette.

Bellicoso - (Latin) "warlike"; Italian reference to instruments or music which compete in a belligerent, combatant, or quarrelsome style

Bend - to stretch a string to increase its pitch; a slide of one semitone

Berceuse - (French) "lullaby"; musical form normally written in 6/8 or triple meter with a calming melody originally to lull babies to sleep.

Bergamasca - (Italian) "from Bergamasca"; refers to peasant dances and song melodies from the region of Bergamo in northern Italy

Bergerette - (French) "shepherdess"; virelai; a form of medieval French verse used in poetry and music with only one stanza from around 1500

Beschleunigt - (German) "accelerated"; refers to the speed of the tempo

Bestimmt - (German) "decisively"; instruction giving prominence to a specific line or musical phrase of a score

Bewegt - (German) "moved"; play with speed

Bird's Eye - modern day slang referring to the fermata or hold sign

Big Band - a popular orchestral style of the 1930s utilizing the styles of jazz, showbiz, and the current popular songs of the tim

Binary Form - musical form of two sections in different keys but equal duration which repeat in a complimentary manner toward each other

Bisbigliando - (Italian) "whispering"; a kind of tremolo written for harp, of rapidly alternating the tones at a very low volume, often abbreviated B.C.

Bitonal - the simultaneous use of two different keys in a composition; polytonal

Bis - (Latin) "again"; instruction to repeat a musical passage; encore; audience demand to repeat the performance

Bisbigliando - (Italian) "whispering"; a rapid tremolo effect of lightly brushing two or more strings in the middle & upper registers of a harp

Bitonality - combining two keys at once; simultaneous use of two keys

Bluegrass - a still popular type of American folk music of the 19th century similar to country music using fast picking styles of banjo, fiddle, folk guitar, and mandolin

Blues - a slow melancholy musical style of the American 19th century of shouting and wailing sorrowful tunes suspected from plantation slaves; a sad moody music of expressing the sorrows of depression or oppression

Bocca Chiusa - (Italian) "closed mouth"; singing with the mouth closed; humming; instruction to sing with a closed mouth or hum

Bossa Nova - (Portuguese) "new style"; a popular Brazilian musical style from the 1950s derived from combining samba and jazz styles

Bour·rée - (French) "faggot of twigs"; folk dance from Auvergne region of France which developed into a fast paced musical form used in opera and ballet during the 17th and 18th centuries

Bow - a wooden rod with horse hair stretched end to end for playing the violin, cello, and the like by dragging it across the strings

Brass - collective term for the family of tubed metal wind instruments made of brass used by blowing into a mouthpiece such as the trumpet

Bravura - (Italian) "bravery"; term to describe the skill needed to play a demanding part; a technically difficult musical passage requiring a highly proficient performer

Breeches Role - (English) "pants part"; male role in opera taken by a female; trouser role; a female playing a male's role while wearing male clothing in an opera; originally a male knee-length pants or 'breeches.'

Breve - (Latin) "brevis, short"; double whole note; a note equal in length to two whole notes; semibreve; once the shortest note,bridge now the longest

Brace - notation placed ahead of the staff used to connect two lines of music played simultaneously on one instrument, typically keyboard or percussion

Brackets - notation placed ahead of the staff used to connect two lines of music played simultaneously on different instruments or voices

Breit - (German) "broad"; instruction to broaden the sound

Bridge - to close a gap; to tie or bring separations together; a raised wooden strip at the head and body face on stringed instruments which holds the strings and transfers their vibrations to the body

Brillante - (French) "brilliant"; with brilliance; play in a showy or spirited manner

Brio - (Italian) "lively"; play in a vigorous manner; with determination; to be played enthusiastically or lively

Broken Chord - a chord whose tones are played in sequence one after another; also see arpeggio

Burlesque - (Italian) "brurla, joke"; a provocative comical drama of the early 19th century Victorian era originating in the United Kingdom