Music Definitions For The Earlier Levels

Here is a glossary of music definitions.

This list of music definitions is for musical terms used on the earlier levels.
  1.  Accidentals; an accidental is a sharp, flat or natural that is used in one measure. The accidental does not appear in the key signature and it applies to the particular pitch it is used on, in all octaves but only for that measure.
  2. Arpeggio; An arpeggio is a broken chord, that is to say the notes of the chord are played individually, usually straight upwards or downwards, cycling through the notes of the chord.
  3. Bar; another term for measure. The vertical lines that are seen in a musical score divide the music up into bars or measures and they contain the same number of beats as indicated by the time signature.
  4. Bar line; the lines that run vertically in written music and divide the music up into measures or bars.
  5. Bass Clef; Also known as the F clef, it is found usually at the very beginning of a piece of music and shows where Middle F is (the first F below middle C)
  6. Beam; When 8th notes or the next smaller note values are connected with a single line, they are said to be beamed together.
  7. Beat; The steady, rhythmic pulse that determines the speed or tempo of music.
  8. Broken Chord; When the notes of a chord are played individually in any pattern.
  9. Chord; A group of three or more notes built on a particular note and then added by skipping letters in the musical alphabet.
  10. Circle of 5ths; the arrangement of key signatures.
  11. Clef; a symbol used at the very beginning of music, usually, and each clef designates which notes of the musical alphabet are assigned to which lines and spaces on the staff.
  12. Common Time; 4/4 time, indicated by a C where the time signature goes.
  13. Crescendo; to gradually get louder.
  14. Degree; what a note of a scale referred to as.
  15. Diatonic; Notes found within a major or minor scale.
  16. Diminished; smaller.
  17. Diminuendo; to get gradually softer.
  18. Double Bar; two bar lines together, usually marking the end of a piece or section.
  19. Dynamic Markings; the symbols that indicate the loudness or softness that a piece should be performed at.
  20. Eighth Note; A note that is half a beat or two 8th notes equaling 1 beat.
  21. Eighth Rest; a rest that is half a beat.
  22. Fourth; an interval of a fourth or four letters apart.
  23. G Clef; another name for the treble clef, since it locates G on the staff.
  24. Half Note; a note that gets two beats.
  25. Half Rest; a rest that gets two beats.
  26. Half Step; going to the closest possible note either up or down.
  27. Key; shown by the key signature, indicates that one note is the 'home note' or 'tonic.' Simply put, the note the piece must end on in order to sound finished.
  28. Key Signature; shown at the very beginning, right after the clef, usually; it shows how many sharps or flats are in the key. Also tells what that key is called.
  29. Major Scale; the scale that corresponds to the name of the key. It starts on the note that is the name of that key and has whatever sharps or flats in it that that key does. It is all whole steps except between the 3rd and 4th degrees and the 7th and 8th, which are half steps.
  30. Natural; a note that is not a sharp or flat. C major has no sharps or flats so you can say that natural notes are those found in the key of C Major.
  31. Octave; an interval of an 8th. Octaves will give you the same letter and most standard scales have at least 8 notes or an octave.
  32. Pentatonic Scale; a scale that has only five notes or letters in it and usually avoids half steps.
  33. Quarter Note; the note that gets one beat.
  34. Quarter Rest; the rest that gets one beat.
  35. Rest; there are rests that correspond with each note type. the corresponding rest gets the same duration but it is a duration of silence.
  36. Rhythm; how notes of different duration are played against a pulse or steady beat.
  37. Scale; in it's most general sense, a scale would be any time notes go up or down with no skipping of notes. More specifically a scale is usually 8 notes in a row and named after the note it starts on, e.g. CDEFGABC
  38. Scale degrees; the names and numbers given to each note in a scale; I is Tonic, ii is Supertonic, iii is Mediant, IV is Subdominant, V is Dominant, vi is Submediant, vii is Leading Tone.
  39. Second; interval of a 2nd, also called a step.
  40. Staff; the group of 5 lines and 4 spaces that notes are written on.
  41. TAB; abbreviation for Tablature.
  42. Tablature; a popular notational system for guitar and other stringed instruments.
  43. Tempo; the speed of the beat.
  44. Time Signature; the two numbers at the beginning of a piece. The top number indicates how many beats are in a bar or measure and the bottom number tells what kind of note gets one beat.
  45. Treble Clef; also called the G clef because it shows where treble G is on the staff.
  46. Whole Note; the largest note. It gets 4 beats.
  47. Whole Rest; the rest that gets four beats. This rest also means to rest an entire measure so, if the measures have three beats, this rest is then only three beats.
  48. Whole Step; going from one note to the next with a sharp or flat in between. Two half-steps make a whole step.

These are some of the most used music definitions on the earlier levels.


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