Music Dictionary C-Cl

C - Cavatina

Castrato - Clavier

C - (Italian, French) "Do"; tone with a pitch frequency around 261.63 Hz; notation indicating common time or 4/4 time; Left: Common-time

Cabaletta - (Italian) "horse"; a 19th century two part musical form favored for arias; the concluding section of an aria

Cabaret - a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama normally held in nightclubs; venue form of stage entertainment stemming from 18th century France though use dates back to 12th century Belgium.

Cadence - the street-beat by percussion instruments in a marching band; a marching chant; harmonic configuration creating a sense of resolution;

Cadenza - (Italian) "cadence"; a short composition for performance by a solo virtuoso; a piece written for a soloist of extreme proficiency

Caesura - (Latin) "cut, hewn"; a metrical pause or break in a verse where one phrase ends and another phrase begins

Calando - (Italian) "becoming slower"; gradual decrease of tempo and volume

Calque - (French) "plainchant"; see plainsong or Gregorian chant

Calypso - a type of Caribbean folk song originating in the Trinidad region in the early 19th century usually witty or comical in nature in which local speech phrases are matched to an offbeat rhythm

Campanology - bell ringing; the practice of bell ringing

Cancrizans - (Latin) "walking backwards, crab-like";  a musical phrase which is simultaneously played in reverse by a second part; retrograde

Canon - (Latin) "law, norm"; musical composition from the Renaissance into the Baroque period utilizing overlapping imitative counterpoint

Cantibile - (Italian) "song-like"; playing style from the 19th century which imitates the human voice pitching the melody against the accompaniment; cantando

Cantando - (Italian) "singable"; 19th century playing style imitating the human voice

Cantata - (Italian) "to sing"; vocal form with instrumental accompaniment used in 17th century Lutheran church services; sacred (religious) and secular (dramatic) forms of solo vocal performance with instrumental accompaniment of 17th century Italy

Canticle - (Latin) "song"; a religious hymn with biblical lyrics; psalm

Cantillation - (Hebrew) "to chant or sing"; chanting of prayers or scriptural texts practiced in Jewish and Christian churches dating back to the 7th-9th centuries.

Canto - (Italian) "song, to sing"; practice of singing the words of poems; poems divided into song lyrics for religious ceremonies

Cantor - the leading singer of Jewish and Christian rites

Cantus figuratus - (Latin) "figured song"; a musical term of medieval times referring to a polyphonic song with the notes exactly measured

Cantus mensuratus - (Latin) "measured song"; a musical term of medieval times referring to a polyphonic song with the notes exactly measured

Cantus musicus - (Latin) "musical song"; a musical term of medieval times which refers to polyphonic music

Cantus planus - (Latin) "plain song"; a group of chants or plainsong sung in litergies of the western church during the middle ages; see also Gregorian chant

Canzona - (Italian) "song, chanson"; lively and rhythmic 16th century Italian instrumental form derived from the French lyric driven chanson

Canzonet - (Italian) "song"; a popular secular vocal composition of dance-like character originating in mid 16th century Italy; canzonetta

Canzonetta - (Italian) "song"; a popular secular vocal composition of dance-like character originating in mid 16th century Italy; canzonet

Capriccio - (Italian) "whim, prank, caprice"; a fast freely moving musical form of the 16th & 17th centuries often referred to the madrigal

Carillon - a set of bells in a church tower; a group of bells

Carol - (French) "joyful song"; popular melodic dance songs from the 12th to 14th centuries; a festive song of modern times usually of celebratory or religious nature

Castrato - (Italian) "def"; a male singer who is castrated prior to puberty so that he retains a more soprano pitched voice of the 17th and 18th centuries; a soprano part sung by women or boys in modern times

Cavatina - (Italian) "short song"; a brilliant short type of aria sung in one or two sections without repeats developed in the 18th century as an operatic movement

Chamber Music - music of one performer to a part composed for an ensemble, usually a quartet, who could fit into a large room or palace chamber during the Medieval and Renaissance periods

Chamber Opera - a small-scale composition of the Renaissance with less than 25 performers for performance in a large room or chamber

Chamber Orchestra - a small-scale orchestra consisting of less than 50 musicians which perform in a large room or private chamber; see also chamber opera

Change Ringing - a peal or loud ringing of specifically tuned bells in sequence by a team of ringers each with a single rope to a single bell of a carillion

Chanson - (French) "song"; monophonic lyric songs of France dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries and progressing into more secular polyphonic songs

Chant - (French) "to sing"; a ritualistic incantation of words and phrases by one or more voices, usually scriptural or religious in nature

Chanteur - (French) "male"; a male vocalist proficient in singing chansons

Chapel Master - the music director of a church and its choir

Charivari - (Latin) "rattling"; 19th century England practice of loudly banging pot and pans at a targeted subject for parades of local condemnation or celebration

Chest Voice - vocal ability of a powerful lower register of human voice;

Chiuso - (Italian) "closed"; instruction to stop or mute an instrument by placing  a hand into the bell

Choir - a group of singers or an ensemble of vocalists, often religious in context; a body of singers who perform as a group; the music written for chorales

Choral - music pertaining to a choir's performance; music for choir

Chorale - (German) "choir music"; a German-Protestant hymn; compositions for performance by a choir in Protestant and Lutheran churches of Medieval times

Chord - a group of three or more tones that sound good together; a group of tones with a harmonic sound; a tablature for strings indicating the chord or key, normally placed above the staff at the beginning; see written examples to right, see also arpeggio

Chorus - (Greek) "to sing or speak"; (original) the ancient Greek narrator or spokesman that speaks the introduction to a play;  (modern) an ensemble of singers who accompany an orchestra or opera; the interval of a song repeated after each verse which normally states the theme or main idea of the song

Chromatic - (Greek) "colored"; 12 tone scale composed of semitones of no particular key; colorful; chromatically altered chords which satisfy the composition

Chromatics - (Greek) "color"; the frequent use of accidentals; the study of color

Clapper - the tongue inside of a bell which strikes the sides to produce its ring

Clapping Music - a minimalist composition for two performers performed entirely by clapping; a 1972 piece written by Steve Reich performed by clapping

Claque - a person or group paid to applaud a performance originating in early 19th century French theatre and opera which expanded into Italy and other countries

Clarion - the Medieval term for 'trumpet'; register of a clarinet ranging from B4 to C6; a trumpet organ stop which plays an octave higher than its unison

Class Act - a performance of classical music of extreme expression

Classical - orchestral art music of the period from about 1750 to 1830; music distinguished from other styles by use of contrasting keys,  ornamentation, and instrumentation with strict expressive performance requirements

Clavicembalo - (Italian) "key dulcimer"; alternative name for the harpsichord

Clavier - (Latin) "key"; general term for keyboard, piano, harpsichord, etc.