Music Dictionary L

Lacrimoso - Leitmotif

Lento - Lyrics

Lacrimoso - (Italian) "tearful"; to be played mournfully or sorrowfully

Lai - (French) "song, lyric"; a lyrical type of poem set to music developed in 14th century France consisting of several stanzas, each differing in melody and rhyme

Laisser Vibrer - (French) "let vibrate"; notation instructing to let it vibrate after striking, normally refers to the cymbals; Right: Laisser vibre symbols

Lamellophone - any of a group of instruments whose sound is produced by vibrating strips of metal, wood, or other material

Lament - a deep expression of sorrow or grief; music intended to be played by bagpipes at Scottish clan funerals; dirge;

Lancers - a 19th century square-dance of 5 dances for 4 couples; quadrille

Lancio con - (Italian) "throw"; direction to play with vigor or energically

Largamente - (Italian) "broader"; play in a slow dignified manner; solemnly

Larghetto - (Italian) "broadly"; play in a slow manner, less slow than largo

Largo - (Italian) "broad"; to be played slowly

Last Post - the end of day British Army bugle call, also played at funerals

Lauda Spirituale - (Italian) "spiritual praise"; a medieval Italian sacred song; a monophonic form of religious medieval song likely born from Troubadours

Leader - the first violin part which also plays the solos in an orchestra; the director of an ensemble or chamber group

Leap - a melodic interval greater than a major 2nd, as opposed to a step

Lebhaft - (German) "lively"; to be played in a brisk or lively manner

Ledger - a short horizontal line written above or below the staff to accommodate notes above or below the staff; also leger line

Legato - (Italian, French) "tied, tie"; direction to play smoothly without separating notes indicated by curved line over or under notes; tie together; slur

Legend - a short composition which depicts a legendary character

Leggero - (Italian) "light"; to beperformed in a light and graceful manner

Legeramente - (Italian) "slightly"; play in a slight manner; gracefully light

Leggiadro - (Italian) "elegant"; to be performed gracefully; play elegantly

Legno col - (Italian) "with the wood"; direction to tap the strings with the wood side of the bow; instructs string players to use the wood of the bow, not the horsehair

Leger Line - a short horizontal line written above or below the staff to accommodate notes above or below the staff; also ledger

Lehrstück - (German) "lesson play"; a theatrical work of moral teaching intent of the early 20th century, often political or social in nature

Leich - (German) a form of 12 stanza song based upon several strophes of the Trouv'res from the 1300s forward which, when adopted by the German Minnesingers in the 14th century, then spread into other countries; see also lai

Leise - (German) "quiet"; a medieval genre written in response to the vernacular vocal elements of the Latin Mass during the Middle Ages, consisting of a single stanza; a precursor of Protestant church music originating in the German provinces

Leitmotif - (German) "leading motive"; a short recurring musical phrase pertinent to the composition, associated with a particular person, place, or idea; the smallest form of composition utilizing a theme or main musical idea

Lento - (Latin) "slow"; short slow tempo piano works of dissonant harmony from the early 19th into the 20th century; an instruction to play slowly

Lentamente - (Latin) "slowly"; meant to be played a slow tempo

L.H. - abbreviation written above the staff indicating use of the left hand

Liberamente - (Italian) "freely"; to be played with a free tempo

Liber Usualis - (Latin) "book of common practice"; a compendium or book of commonly used Gregorian monophonic chants, using neumes, for the 11th century Roman Catholic but originating as far back as the 6th century Latin Mass

Libretto - (Italian) "little book"; the text of an opera or musical work containing words or lyrics printed for theater audience' to read

Licenza - (Italian) "licence"; an 18th century aria or finale in an opera which honors or pays tribute to royal dignitaries in attendance such as the king, queen, or prince

Lied - (German) "song"; a form of vernacular setting of poetry to classical music to make it more or less polyphonic originating as far back as the 12th century

Liederbuch - (German) "song book"; collections of songs from medieval Germany

Liederkreis - (German) "song cycle"; refers to a Beethoven work from 1816 which came to be known as a recurring variation of the musical theme; see also song cycle

Lieto - (Italian) "happy"; play happily or in a joyful manner

Lieto fine' - (Italian) "happy ending"; a happy ending passage to an opera

Ligature - a graphic notation of Gregorian plainchant or neumes in use from the 9th to 11th centuries instructing musicians to tie notes into a single syllable; Right: Ligature example

Light Music - a term describing music for light entertainment, often assumed to be of little or no emotional or intellectual value or significance

Lining Out - a practice of church recitals of vocal hymn lyrics along with the melody for the congregation to copy and follow

Lira da Braccio - (Italian) "arm lyre"; an early type of violin from the Renaissance

Liscio - (Italian) "smooth"; to be played smoothly in an even style; 19th century musical genre of northern Italy related to Viennese dances

Lithophone - (Greek) "stone"; any instrument constructed of rock, stone plaques, or blocks which resonate sounds when struck

Loco - (Italian) "place"; instruction for performers to return to the written part

Long - a note with twice the duration of a breve (whole-note) used in music of Medieval times and the Renaissance

Luftpause - (German) "air-break"; notation of pause made to allow for players to take a breath, written a a 'V' above the staff

Lullaby - a peaceful or calming song meant to lull people to sleep found in most folk music and also in orchestral compositions

Lunga - (Italian) "long"; notation made above notes instructing the player to hold the note longer than its normal duration; see fermata

Lusingando - (Italian) "coaxing"; to be played in a flattering or coaxing manner

Lustig - (German) "merry"; play in a cheerful manner; play happily

Lyric - (Greek) "a song played on a lyre"; a subjective form of poetry; the classification of vocal music in European Classical music; a melodic verse that is sung

Lyrics -  the words of a song consisting of verses and choruses; see also libretto