Music Dictionary P-Pi

Palm Court Music - Patter song

Pause - Piano Duet

Palm Court Music - a term originating during the Victorian era which describes the music performed by ensembles or palm court orchestras in grand hotels and some ocean liners such as the Virginian and RMS Titantic

Pan - percussion instrument made from an oil drum used in Caribbean steel bands; a mythological character of ancient Greece known as the 'God of Wild'

Panpipe - a wind instrument originating from around 600 B.C. constructed of a set of joined pipes of graduated lengths; an early predecessor of the flute

Panflute - a wind instrument originating from around 600 B.C. constructed of a set of joined pipes of graduated lengths; an early predecessor of the flute

Paradiddle - a basic side-drum rudiment of four semiquavers

Paraphrase - a 16th to 18 century work based on variations of existing melodies through improvisations in which the base melody is still somewhat recognizable

Parlando - (Italian) ""; a vocal effect of the Italian Renaissance opera in which the vocalist sings in a speaking manner

Part - the music of a single instrument or voice

Partitur - German term for a full orchestral score with each part written on separate staves

Part-song - a homophonic form of 19th century secular English choral music written for multiple vocalists; religious choral music of several voices

Pas de deux - (French) "step of two"; a ballet dance duet for two, usually a male and female performing dance steps together

Paso Doble - (Spanish) "double-step"; a lively Spanish march-like dance

Passacaglia - (Italian) "to walk"; an instrumental of early 17th century Spain of theme variations over a basso-ostinato or repeated bass-line

Passage - a general term applied to a musical section of a larger composition

Passing Note - an unrelated note connecting two chords

Passion - (Latin) "having suffered"; a musical setting based on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as told by his disciples, usually performed on Easter or Passover

Pasticcio - (Latin) "pie or pastry"; an 18th century opera or instrumental  work with multiple composers, often based on existing works of another composer

Pastiche - (Italian) "pie "; a musical work meant to compliment the works of another composer

Pastoral - an 18th century Italian genre of a rural setting, originally based on the shepherds' life and their use of music, often with a panflute, to lead their flocks 

Pastorale - (Italian) "shepherd song"; a Baroque musical movement of larger works in thirds over a drone bass (a stringed instrument) based upon a rural setting or theme

Pastorela - (Occitan) "young shepherdess"; a lyrical genre used by the Troubadours of 13th century Europe giving therise of the French pastorella

Pastorella - (Italian) "shepherdess"; a rural set musical piece sung by the traveling Troubadours, usually performed during the Christmas season

Patter Song - (Greek) "syllablic song"; a staple of comic opera and musicals, a fast tempo work with rapid rhythmic patterns in which one note is assigned to one lyric syllable, originating in Greek comic pieces of the Renaissance and earlier periods

Pause 1 - musical notation instructing the performer to extend a note's time value; made longer; hold sign; see also fermata

Pause 2 - a stop of the sound during performance; notation of '//' indicating a stop in the music at the end of a section or passage; see also caesura

Pavan - a slow, stately dance originating in 16th century Italy; also pavane

Pavillon en l'air - (French) "pavillion"; instruction to raise the bell of the instrument for the emphasis of sound acoustics; raise the bell to be heard

Peine - (French) "scarcely"; direction to play lightly; lower the volume

Peking Opera - a 14th century style of Chinese opera with music, singing, speech, mime, and acrobatics

Penillion - (Welsh) "string music";  a form of Welsh bardic song of vocal improvisation over a melody, sung by choir or a soloist accompanied by harp

Penny Whistle - a simple small type of flute with four to seven finger holes, often used in traditional Irish folk music

major pentatonic scalePentatonic - (Greek) "five toned"; musical scale with five notes per octave; one of the two five tone scales with semitones (hemitonic) or without (anhemitonic)

Percussion - the group of drum consorts; family of instruments in which sound is produced by striking a resonating surface with a hand, mallet, or stick

Perdendosi - (Italian) "dying away"; direction to fade away the music or a note, gradually diminishing the volume until silent;

Perfect Pitch - a person's ability to determine or sing a note's pitch with no prior sounding of that pitch; absolute pitch

Pesado - (Spanish, Portuguese) "heavy"; the practice of slowing the tempo for a heavy emotional effect in the music, often used in the romantic languages

Pesant(e) - (French, Italian) "heavy"; instruction and practice of diminishing a former tempo thereby creating a heavy or dragging feeling in the music

Phase Music - a musical form that uses out of phase music (phasing) as a primary technique in composing; see phasing

Phasing - a practice of two performers simultaneously singing or playing the same composition while one speeds up and slows down, thus moving in and out of phase with the other; see also phase music

Philharmonic - (Greek) "loving, harmonic"; a full scale orchestra; symphony; the group formed in 1813 London in order to initiate improvements in musical standards, known as The Royal Philharmonic Society

Piacevole - (Italian) "pleasant, agreeable"; play in a pleasant manner; pleasingly

Piangendo - (Italian) "crying, weeping"; instruction to play in a sorrowful plaintive manner; play mournfully

Piano - (Italian) "softly"; instruction written above the staff to play softer or decrease the volume and intensity of the sound; p

Pianoforte - (Italian) "soft loud";  any piano dating from its invention in the early 18th up to the early 19th century which became obsolete with its latter 18th and 19th century improved counterpart; originally called fortepiano

Piano Duet - a musical piece written for two pianists on the same instrument; a composition written for two pianists on separate instruments