Glossary of Terms


Absolute music—music that is not about anything outside itself

Bass trombone—a lower version of the trombone; it has a wider bore, larger bell, larger mouthpiece, and a trigger.

Choreographer—the dance master who plans the dance steps for a musical or ballet

Cimbalom (hammered dulcimer)—A Hungarian box zither, played by hitting the strings with mallets (hammers)

Classical style—a musical style emphasizing elegance, gracefulness, balance, and restraint, featuring phrases and sections of even length; masters of classical style were Haydn and Mozart

Concerto—a piece of music for a solo instrument and orchestra, with several movements (usually three)

Conservatory – a school specializing in the study of the fine arts, typically music

Dissonance—two or more notes which in sounding together make a discord

Ethnomusicology—the study of music of other cultures

Exoticism— A fascination with cultures foreign to Europe

French, Spanish, and Rumanian

Mixed meter–not sticking to one time signature for a piece, but using several time signatures mixed with each other.

Musical–a play with songs; a popular version of opera

Opera – a dramatic work with continuous music that tells a story through singing and includes acting, costumes, and scenery

Programmatic music—music that is about something outside itself, telling a story or describing a character or painting a picture, without using any words.

Romance languages—languages that grew out of Latin, such as Italian,

Romantic style—a musical style emphasizing emotion and dramatic expression, often through chromatic melodies and a very wide range of dynamics; masters of romantic style include Brahms, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky

Sonata—a piece of music for a solo instrument, with several movements (usually three)

Suite – a multi-movement work for an instrumental ensemble, usually unified by a theme

Symphony—an extended piece of music for symphony orchestra with several movements (usually four)

Tonal music, modal music—Tonal music is music with a pitch center; it often uses major or minor scales. Modal music uses scales other than major or minor.

Virtuoso – an exceptionally talented performer