Music Dictionary

Musical Dictionary

Our Interactive Dictionary of Musical Terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Part
The music that each person plays as a member of an ensemble.


Partita
A set of variations.


Pastorale
Musical works about country life, often imitating the instruments and music of shepherds.


Pentatonic
A pentatonic scale only has five notes (unlike the major and minor scales, which have eight notes).


Percussion
All instruments that are played by being hit with something are percussion instruments.


Philharmonic
An orchestra that plays symphonies.


Phrase
A complete musical thought.


Pianissimo
Italian for "very soft."


Piano
1. Italian for "soft." 2. A stringed keyboard instrument. Its strings are struck by hammers which are connected to the keys. There are 88 keys on a modern piano, and each one is a different note. Originally called pianoforte, because it could play both soft (piano) and loud (forte).


Piano Four Hands
Music composed for two people to play at one keyboard.


Pianoforte
An old name for the piano. This is because it can make both soft (piano) and loud (forte) sounds.


Piccolo
Italian for "little" (short for flauto piccolo, or little flute). A small flute that sounds an octave higher than a regular flute.


Pitch
How high or low a musical sound is.


Pizzicato
Italian for "pinched." To pluck, instead of bow, the strings of an instrument.


Polka
A lively dance in 2/4 time from Bohemia.


polonaise
A stately Polish processional dance popular in 19th century Europe; composers also used the polonaise as a form for non-dancing, instrumental pieces.


Polyphony
Music that has two or more independent melodies woven together. Also called counterpoint. Polyphony comes from the Greek words meaning "many voices."


Postlude
A piece of music, many times played on the organ, to end a church service.


Prelude
A musical introduction. Organ preludes often introduce church services; instrumental preludes can introduce operas or suites.


Presto
When someone is playing an instument very quick and fast, they are playing presto.


Principal
The best player in a section of the orchestra. For example, there is a principal violinist and a principal flutist.


Program Music
Any piece of instrumental music that is based on a book, story or picture and is trying to tell about it through the music.


Music Dictionary

Musical Dictionary

Our Interactive Dictionary of Musical Terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Part
The music that each person plays as a member of an ensemble.


Partita
A set of variations.


Pastorale
Musical works about country life, often imitating the instruments and music of shepherds.


Pentatonic
A pentatonic scale only has five notes (unlike the major and minor scales, which have eight notes).


Percussion
All instruments that are played by being hit with something are percussion instruments.


Philharmonic
An orchestra that plays symphonies.


Phrase
A complete musical thought.


Pianissimo
Italian for "very soft."


Piano
1. Italian for "soft." 2. A stringed keyboard instrument. Its strings are struck by hammers which are connected to the keys. There are 88 keys on a modern piano, and each one is a different note. Originally called pianoforte, because it could play both soft (piano) and loud (forte).


Piano Four Hands
Music composed for two people to play at one keyboard.


Pianoforte
An old name for the piano. This is because it can make both soft (piano) and loud (forte) sounds.


Piccolo
Italian for "little" (short for flauto piccolo, or little flute). A small flute that sounds an octave higher than a regular flute.


Pitch
How high or low a musical sound is.


Pizzicato
Italian for "pinched." To pluck, instead of bow, the strings of an instrument.


Polka
A lively dance in 2/4 time from Bohemia.


polonaise
A stately Polish processional dance popular in 19th century Europe; composers also used the polonaise as a form for non-dancing, instrumental pieces.


Polyphony
Music that has two or more independent melodies woven together. Also called counterpoint. Polyphony comes from the Greek words meaning "many voices."


Postlude
A piece of music, many times played on the organ, to end a church service.


Prelude
A musical introduction. Organ preludes often introduce church services; instrumental preludes can introduce operas or suites.


Presto
When someone is playing an instument very quick and fast, they are playing presto.


Principal
The best player in a section of the orchestra. For example, there is a principal violinist and a principal flutist.


Program Music
Any piece of instrumental music that is based on a book, story or picture and is trying to tell about it through the music.


 

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