Music Dictionary Pi-Ps

Pianissimo - Polyphonic

Polyrhythm - Psalter

Pianissimo - (Italian) "gentle, very soft"; play softly; lower the volume pp

Piano Score - arrangement of a full score in order to play all parts on a single piano

Picardy Cadence (Third)  - a major chord of the tonic used near the end of musical passage in a modal or minor key, achieved by raising the minor triad by a semitone creating a major triad

Piccolo - (Italian) "small"; typically refers to a small type flute yet is used for most miniature instruments such as the piccolo trumpet or piccolo clarinet

Pitch - the resonance (resonant tone) produced by a sound's frequency measured pressure against a medium such as air; the measurement of tone determining whether it is natural, sharp, or flat

Piu allegro - (Italian) "more, faster"; instruction to increase the tempo; speed up

Piu lento - (Italian) "slower"; instruction to decrease the tempo; slow down

Pizzicato - (Italian) "plucked"; instruction to pluck the string rather than use the bow

Plainchant - a form of monophonic Latin or Greek plainchant sung by monks developed in 9th century Europe plainsong; Gregorian chant

Plainsong - a form of monophonic Latin or Greek plainchant sung by monks which was developed in 9th century Europe; plainchant

Plectrum - a small accessory constructed of plastic, metal, wood, or other phenolic material used to pick the strings of a stringed instrument; pick

Plop - sliding a note downward to an indefinite pitch, often used in Jazz music

Poch - () "very little"; a prefix denoting a 'very small change'

Poco - (Italian) "little"; a prefix denoting a 'small change'

Poco a poco - (Italian) "little by little"; instructs a slight slowing down; a small decreasing of the tempo

Poco lento - (Italian) "a little slower"; instruction to play slightly slower; a slight decrease in the tempo

Poco piu allegro - (Italian) "slightly faster"; instruction to play a little faster; a slight increase in the tempo; speed up a little

Poco rall - (Italian) "slightly slower"; instruction to play a little slower; a slight decrease in the tempo; slow down a little

Poética - (Italian) "poetic"; a feminine poetic style

Poético - (Italian) "poetic"; a masculine poetic style

Polacca - (Italian) "in the Polish style"; typically refers to a polonaise

Polyphonic - (Greek) "many voices"; a musical form with two or more voices performing simultaneously developed during the late middle ages and the Renaissance; two or more melodic lines playing at the same time; see also harmony

Polyrhythm - the use of multiple simultaneous rhythms in a composition

Polytextual - the use of multiple texts or lyrics in a vocal composition

Polytonality - the simultaneous use of multiple keys in a composition; bitonal

Pomposo - (Italian) "magnificent"; celebratory, grand, pompous, majestic

Ponticello - (Italian) "little bridge"; an instruction for strings to pluck or use the bow near the bridge to produce a metallic-like sound; also called sul ponticello

Pop - a modern genre of popular music with widespread commercial appeal established in the early 1950s; a commercial abbreviation used to identify the 'popular' music of the 20th century

Portamento - (Italian) "carrying"; a slide or gliding of one note to another on stringed and some wind instruments

Portamento della voce - (Italian) "carriage of the voice"; a 17th century reference to a slide or gliding of one note to another on stringed and some wind instruments

Post horn - a small type of bugle with a circular body carried in medieval times to announce the arrival of English carriages; a wind instrument used in hunting as well as horse racing to call riders to their post

Postlude - the opposite of prelude; an epilogue or musical piece performed after the main composition; the musical concluding section of church services

Potpourri - (French) "rotten pot"; a medley of unrelated songs

Pralltriller - (German) "compact trill"; a trill of four notes; half-trill

Precentor - a singer who leads the church in song; see also cantor

Precipitato - (Italian) "to precipitate"; to play in a hurried manner; moving in a hurry

Pre Classical - a term coined by Hadyn in the 18th century referring to music of just before the Classical period of composing

Prélude - (French, Latin) "tp play before"; a short musical section played prior to a more substantial work developed during the Baroque period; a 17th & 18th century introduction into the main composition

Presto - (Italian) "fast"; a written direction to play rapidly

Prima donna - (Italian) "first lady"; the leading female singer in an opera company; female vocalist given the primary singing part in operas

Prima volta - (Italian) "first time"; a prefix denoting the first time

Principal - the lead performer of each instrumental section in a orchestra; first chair

Psalm - (Latin, Greek) "praise, play with a  harp"; sacred poems of song established in ancient and biblical times into the middle ages; the 19th book of the bible

Psalter - (Latin, Greek) "lute-like stringed instrument, harp"; a complete book of all psalms of the bible; the biblical psalms in stand alone book form which is used and sung in Christian worship