Music Dictionary Cl-Cy

Close Harmony - Conductor

Conductus - Cyclic Form

clefsClef - (French) "key"; notation indicating the key of the composition; notation which denotes the key of a score; see also G-clef, C-clef, F-clef

Close Harmony - a layered effect of harmony between the notes of a chord and the melody; the close arrangement of the notes of a chord within the octave

Cluster - simultaneous sounding of adjacent notes on a keyboard accomplished by pressing the keys with the palm, fist, or forearm; also called tone cluster

coda symbolCoda - (Italian) "rail"; the end of a musical phrase; notation indicating the end of a musical passage to be repeated; point of return to a repeat mark

Col legno - (Italian) "with the wood"; direction to tap the strings with the wood side of the bow; use the wood of the bow

Colla parte - (Italian) "with the soloist"; direction to conductor or musician to follow the tempo and rhythm of the soloist during a musical passage or section

Coloratura - (Italian, Latin) "to color; coloring"; a soprano specializing in ornate singing styles; elaborate embellishment of a operatic vocal melody

Col legno - (Italian) "with the wood"; to strike the strings with the bow

Col legno battuto - (Italian) "beaten with the wood"; to strike the strings with wood side of the bow

Col pugno - (Italian) "with the fist"; direction to play or bang sternly on the piano

Combination Tone - the tone produced by sounding two notes together

Come Prima - (Italian) "as at first"; repeat or return to the original tempo

Commedia Dell' Arte - (Italian) "comedy of the profession"; a 16th to 18th century social theatre work characterized by masked performers and the arrival of actresses; a Burlesque type of  comedic theatre production of medieval Italy

Commodo - (Italian) "comfortable, convenient"; play at a moderate or comfortable tempo; alternative spelling: comodo

Common-time symbolCommon Time - another name for 4/4 time signature indicating four evenly spaced beats per measure; musical notation of 4/4 time resembling the letter C;

Compass - the available range of voice and instruments from highest to lowest, the lowest tone at a set pitch and the highest tone per the performer's ability

Composition - a musical work; a written piece of music; the act of writing music

Compound Interval - any interval between more than two notes of its octave

Compound Time - a meter or time signature which is divided into three equal counts; I.e, the number of beats per measure is equal to the upper number of the time signature divided by three.

Comprimario - (Italian) "with the primary"; the singer of subordinate part in opera; a small supporting vocal role in an opera

Con amore' - (Italian) "with love"; play tenderly; play in a delicate manner

Con brio - (Italian) "with spirit"; play vigorously; play with spirit

Con allagrezza - (Italian) "with liveliness"; play in a lively or engergetic manner

Con amore' - (French) "with tenderness"; play in a tender or compassionate manner

Concert - a musical performance before an audience; a performance given by a musical choir, band, ensemble, or orchestra

Concert Band - an ensemble of brass, percussion, and woodwinds which gives concerts; a military band that holds concerts instead of marching

Concert Master - the first chair violinist in an orchestra; leader

Concertino - (Italian) "little ensemble"; a short light concerto; the soloist(s) of a concerto grosso; see concerto

Concerto - (Italian) "to join or tie"; a musical piece normally of three movements in which a soloist or group of soloists perform with an orchestra, alternating in opposition, accord, or independence 

Concerto Grosso - (Italian) "big concert"; a musical form of the Baroque period in which the music is applied to both a small group of soloists and the orchestra

Concord - (Anglo-French, Latin) "together"; in harmony; a chord or group of tones which sound tunefully pleasing; the opposite of discord

Conduct - to direct the performance of a musical group

Conductor - the guide of an orchestra who keeps time and cues the musicians; one who maintains the integrity of the composition by means of leading the orchestra; Right: Conductor


Conductus - (Latin) "to escort"; the music used for singing chants; a type of sacred or religious chanting vocal music originating in Medieval France

Conjunct - an adjective referring to a melodic line which moves step by step, as opposed to disjunct or moving by leaps

Conservatory - 16th century Italian orphanage which taught music; an educational institution of the musical, dance, or dramatic arts; a music school

Consonance - simultaneous sounding of two tones in harmony; see also Concord

Con Sordino - (Italian) "dull, muffled"; instruction to play muted; dampen or soften the sound

Consort - a group of musical instruments or players;

Consorts - a family of musical instruments such as brass, keyboard, percussion, strings, or woodwind; the groups of similarly constructed instruments

Contano - (Italian) "to count"; a direction to count during a rest to maintain accurate timing

Continental Fingering - the globally adopted method of finger placement on the keys of the keyboard

Continuo - (Italian) "figured"; figured bass; a form of simplified Baroque notation which indicates that chords, intervals, & tones play in relation to the bass line written directly below each; see also basso continuo

Contra - (Italian) "against"; prefix denoting a lowering of pitch as in contrabass, typically an octave lower or with the lowest  pitched instrument

Contrabasso - (Italian) "lowered bass"; alternative name for the double-bass

Contrafactum - (Latin) "counterfeit"; a 14th century Italian vocal piece in which common song lyrics are replaced with religious text

Contralto - (Italian) "lowest"; the lowest pitched female vocalist

Contrapuntal - (Latin) "note to note"; a musical work developed during the Renaissance of two or more melodic lines; a musical piece written in counterpoint

Coperto - (Italian) "covered"; muting a drum's sound by placing a cloth over it

Corda - (Italian) "string"; a keyboard pedal use instruction as in una corda

Cori Spezzati - (Italian) "broken choir"; early Medieval Jewish practice of placing vocalists in other parts of the room or building to achieve a choral effect

Corranach - (Irish) "together"; An Irish funeral dirge typically chanted by a bard accompanied by the harp; a song or lamentation for the dead

Count - a series of regular occurring beats or sounds; the method of keeping the beat to maintain proper timing

Counterpoint - (Latin) "punctus contra punctum, note against note";  a harmonious answer or argument interdependent with the main musical idea; the art of setting melodies in conjunction with one another developed during the Renaissance

Countertenor - a classical male vocalist, natural or falsetto, whose range reaches the higher soprano pitches of a castrato

decrescndoCrescendo - (Italian) "increasing"; instruction to gradually increase the volume (above the staff); slowly get louder; swelling the intensity

Croma - (Italian) "quarter"; Italian term for crochet or quarter-note

Crooning - the popular practice of singing in a soft and sentimental tone of voice developed in early 20th century radio

Cross-Rhythm - one of the polyrhythms also called cross-beat; a regular pattern of accents contradicted by a conflicting pattern; the use of conflicting rhythms in repetition for an non-syncopated pattern

Crotchet - (French) "little hook"; quarter note; note which takes up one quarter of a whole note or measure; Right: quarter-note

Cuivre' - (French) "brassy"; instruction to play with a forced sound or stident tone

Custos - (Latin) "guard"; notation used at the end of sheet music pages which indicates the pitch of the first note on the next page or line of music; direct

Cycle - a group of songs or works to be performed together began in 19th century Germany, each in the same or a contrasting key; see song cycle

Cyclic - occurring in cycles; relating to the re-occurrence of a musical idea

Cyclic Form - a form in which the same melodic material occurs in multiple movements to tie or unify all movements into the main musical idea or theme