Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dictionary of Musical Terms

Time for a little levity, so I went back into my files (thousands of unpublished articles) and discovered this... have fun adding your own terms!

Dictionary of Musical Terms

a cappella: smoke break for the accompaniment

a niente: future income forecast for students of composition

adagietto: fairly slowly but not that slowly, come on now, a little faster, do you think we have all day?

anacrusis: a pickup or four-wheel drive that announces the arrival of the main event or alpha male

antiphonal: concert hall policy that forbids mobiles

con brio: music for art gallery openings, to be served with sparkling water

cabaletta: attention-seeking operatic device designed to elicit applause

cadenza: as cabaletta but for instrumentalists

canon: a large calibre gun that uses explosive propellants to launch a projectile

cantabile: for instrumental music, a singing style; for vocal music, a paradox

col legno: the violinist's desire to play percussion

col pugno: the pianist's desire to be a boxer

coloratura: the fake tan of the musical world

con fantasia: music for animated characters

da capo: rehearsal notation

decelerando: pace of composition encountered in later years

devoto: howard

diminuendo: how much I make now per session, compared to how much I made a decade ago

doit: see "nike"

drone: bass note or chord performed in flight, usually by remote control

encore: returning to the stage to perform a piece previously unannounced, hence avoiding royalty payments

fermata: playing a note for as long as anyone can bear it

flat: symbol that lowers the pitch of a note by an arbitrary amount

fortissimo: loud enough to distract those chatting in the galleries

fortississimo: loud enough to result in partial deafness by age 32

fresco: music performed outside, often with salad

glissando: a continuous slide from one pitch to another; see "flat"

lacrimoso: sad music

lamentando: unbearably sad music

lamentoso: really, what is it with all this terribly sad music?

legato: to connect smoothly, one brick to another, in order to make a dinosaur or other figure from interlocking plastic

lontano: to play from backstage

medley: piece composed from parts of existing pieces, in order to please everybody and nobody

melisma: see "flat"

modesto: playing fully clothed

nike: just doit

overture: the only section you need to hear in order to claim knowledge of an over-long piece

pastorale: peaceful, simple, unchallenging music designed for season ticket holders

pianissimo: played very gently, so as not to disturb those at the bar

poco a poco: are we there yet?

prima volta: 230V in Europe, 120V in North America

reprise: repetition of a phrase for those at the back

scordatura: standardised detuning

segue: smooth movement between sections on a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter

subito: a table top game simulating association football

syncopation: hearing a note slightly before or after you play it

tempo comodo: the comfortable pace of the lumbering land lizard

vivace: lively, up-tempo, a hit at parties

vivacissimo: very lively and far too popular at parties


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