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Dictionary and Glossary of Terms, including Musical terminology, meanings and definitions. This is an ongoing work in progress so apologies for missing words!

Accappella - to sing without instrumental accompaniment. 
Examples: Choral and Barbershop Singing. 

To gradually increase the tempo of the music.

The accent is a small arrow like mark, similar to the > character on computer keyboards. It is placed on a note or chord indicating more emphasis is required.

A note added before another as a decoration that 'theoretically' has no duration.

A sign that raises or lowers a note by a semitone or restores it to its usual pitch.

bluesharp.gif= sharp

blueflat.gif= flat

bluenatural.gif= natural


a) Any instrument created for use without an amplifier.
b) Sound characteristics of a room or performance space.

a) String height from the neck or fretboard of a guitar or other stringed instrument.
b) Movement

Ad Lib
To improvise or repeat a phrase with variations. See also Scat Singing and Jazz

Slow tempo that is slower than Andante but faster than Largo. Relaxed or 'at ease'.

ADT or Automatic Double Tracking is a recording technique used to beef up or 'thicken' a vocal line or instrument. The part is recorded twice or re-recorded from the original onto an adjacent track, (sometimes using a different effect), which creates the illusion of a far 'thicker' sounding voice or two voices/instruments depending on how the tracks are mixed.

Also known as the natural minor scale and one of seven Greek scales, the Aeolian mode is the interval sequence A B C D E F G A.

a) Mixture of gases surrounding the earth which we breath.
b) Easily recognised or remembered part of a piece of music.
c) Old term used to describe a song or melody. (i.e., Campion, Dowland, Purcell)

Lively tempo, slightly slower than allegro.

Lively, quick tempo

Popular Baroque dance also known as an Alman.

Definition of a low female or high male voice part with notes ranging from G at the top of the bass clef to the C above middle C.  
Alto - G to C above Middle C

Students should note that fach definitions are meant as a general guideline and also depend on the tone and timbre of the voice. A singers actual range of available notes may be less or more than stated above. 

Term used to describe atmospheric dreamy music, often with extensive use of reverb in the mix.

Moderate speed or tempo, walking pace (Between allegretto and adagio).

Indicates that the song or piece should be sung or played in a lively, spirited manner.

Alternating performances between two or more sets of singers to create a 'call and response' similar to 'plainsong' and 'sacred words' used in Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox church services. 

Return to the original speed. Go back to the songs original tempo.

Style of music which has Afro-American roots. A popular offshoot of Blues and Gospel which has many sub-genres or hybrids like 'trad', 'fusion' and 'jazz-funk'. Jazz music comes in many forms but can usually be identified by it's use of swing rhythm, blue notes, complex harmonies and improvisation by the performers. Free form ad libbing referred to as Scat Singing when performed by a singer, is a familiar technique made popular by jazz vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and musicians like Duke Ellington.

Scat Singing
Technique often used in jazz singing which uses improvisation. The performer utilizes the voice in a similar manner to an instrument by sounding notes often using syllables rather than words. The notes 'may' reflect the main melody line of a tune or act as counterpoint to another instrument, but more often are 'ad libbed' by the singer. See also Ad Lib and Jazz. 








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