Music Dictionary U-V

Uber - Vaudeville

Veloce - Voluntary


Uber - (German) "over"; above or over

Ubung, uobunga - (Old German) "over"; an exercise for a students learning to play  difficult procedures with any instrument

Uchite - Japanese term for a taiko drummer

Ukulele, ukekeke - (Hawaiian) "jumping flea"; a small four-string guitar developed by the Portuguese which was introduced in Hawaii in 1870

Ultrasonic - the pitch range above 20,000 hertz or 20 kilohertz; the higher pitch ranges that are inaudible to humans

Ultrasound - pitch ranges above 20 kilohertz or 20,000 hertz

Un, una, uno - "one"; "a"; a multi-language prefix denoting the words 'one' or 'a'

Unequal temperament - a tuning system between pure tonal and equal temperament mostly used for instruments of 'fixed tone' which sound in tune in some keys and out of tune in other keys

Un poco - (French) "a little";  a language prefix or suffix denoting 'a little' or small

Una corda - (Italian) "one string"; the left pedal on a piano which softens the sound by shifting the keyboard 'action' right in order to strike only two strings

Unison - two or more parts sounded simultaneously; two or more parts sounding the same pitch tones or at octave intervals at the same time

Unisono - (French) "in unison"; two or more parts sounding the same pitch tones at the same time

Unity gain - no increase or decrease of signal strength from input to output

Unmeasured - musical rhythm left up to the performer's discretion

Upbeat - the weaker beat preceding the strong main beat in music; the upward mark of the conductor's baton or hand

Up bow, upward bow - directive for string players to push the bow upward across the strings; notation denoting use of up bow

Up notes - notes occurring before the first measure of a composition

Upright - standing; a piano with a vertically mounted string arrangement intended for domestic use

Up tempo - (Italian) "quick time"; an increased tempo; music that is solely electronically created with no mechanical actions or devices

Ut - (French) "C"; the first syllable or tone of the former French major scale:  ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in used in 'fixed-do'or solf├Ęge; see also solmization


Vagans - (Latin) "wandering"; the fifth part of a motet

Valve - a piston-like mechanism on brass wind instruments which redirect the air into different lengths of tubing in order to change the pitch

Vamp - an improvised accompaniment, typically a similar repeated melody

Vamp till cue - a jazz, fusion, or theater directive instructing the rhythm parts to repeat a musical passage of an ostinato, riff, or melodic phrase until instructed (cued) by the conductor or leader to move on or stop

Vamp till end - a jazz, fusion, or theater directive instructing the rhythm parts to repeat a musical passage of an ostinato, riff, or melodic phrase to the end

Variation - any musical form with its main musical idea or theme altered with each successive passage, each retaining some elements of the original theme.

Variazioni - (Italian) "varied"; a directive to play varied; with variation or change

Vaudeville - (French) "voice of the city"; originally a 16th century popular comic street song of France, also known as vau de vire; a light theatrical performance with music, Burlesque, comedy, clowns, dancers, and various other performers

Veloce - (Italian) "fast"; play swiftly or quickly

Velocissimo - (Italian) "fast as possible"; instruction to play as quickly as possible

Verhallend - (German) "decaying"; gently dying away

Verismo - (Italian) "realism"; a 19th century Italian arts movement aimed at portraying the real life of the poor

Vessel - a wind instrument, primarily flute, in which the pipe body is globular rather than tubular such as the ocarina

Via - a prefix or suffix of 'away, out, or, off'

Vibraphone - a percussion instrument of metal bars struck with a beat stick with a fan underneath which gives the sound produced a pulse or vibrato effect

Vibrato - (Italian) "to vibrate"; a rapid vocal or instrumental pitch alternation of a single tone; a vocal tone pitch vibration accomplished with the singer's tongue and vocal cords

Vibration - a rapid alternation of sound; the rapid trembling of an object

Vihuela - (Spanish) ""; a 15th and 16th century 'plucked string' instrument and predecessor of the guitar but bigger

Viol - a group of stringed instruments of the 15th to 18th centuries which included the viola de gamba and viola de bracio

Viola - a larger four stringed predecessor or cello and larger of the violin originating from the smaller three stringed viola de bracio and viola de gamba

Viola de bracio - the smaller three stringed predecessor of the violin developed in the late 14th century; see violin

Viola de gamba - (Italian) "viol of the leg"; the larger three stringed predecessor of the violin developed in the 15th century; see cello and violin

Violin - (Latin, Italian) "stringed instrument"; a staple instrument of the orchestra developed in the 17th century from the earlier viola de gamba

Violinist - "one who" plays the violin; a violin player

Violoncello - (Italian) "big little"; the full name for the cello instrument; an early viola type predecessor of the cello

Virginal - a small early version of the harpsichord from the 15th century

Virtuoso - (Latin, Italian) "learned"; a performer or artist of exceptional skill

Vital - a significant or important part of a composition or event in an opera

Vite - (French) "fast"; play faster

Vittorioso  - (Italian) "victory"; victoriously

Vivace, vivacity - (Italian) "lively"; play in a lively and brisk manner

Vivacissimo - (Italian) "very lively"; play in a very lively and brisk manner

Vivamente - (Italian) "quickly"; play in a quick and lively manner

Vivezza (masc), vivezze (fem) - (Italian) "vivid"; play vividly or with vivacity

Vivo - (Italian) "lively"; lively or intense

Vocal - singing, speech, or sound produced using the human voice

Vocal chords - the human bodily organ which produces sound or speech

Vocals - the singer's written part of a composition, the singing section of a choir, ensemble, or orchestra

Vocalist - "one who" uses their voice to produce musical sounds; a singer

Vocalize - to produce or create sound using the human voice

Voce - (Italian) "with the voice"; use the voice

Voice - the sound produced by the human vocal chords; the various parts of a musical composition or performance whether vocal or instrumental

Volante - (Italian) "flying"; rapidly or 'flying'

Volti subito - (Italian) a directive typically written above or below the end of the staff to begin reading from the next page; turn the page; abbreviated V.S.

Voluntary - a pre-written or improvisational piece performed by a solo organist at a church service; a solo organ introduction or finale for a church service