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Musical Terms Glossary

Glossary of Musical Terms

8va (‘ottava’) - play one octave higher than written

A tempo - return to former speed

Accelerando (accel.) - gradually becoming faster

Ad libitum - at pleasure, quite freely

Adagio - slowly

Agitato - with agitation

Allargando - becoming broader

Allegretto - moderately fast

Allegro - lively and fast

Andante - at an easy walking pace

Animato - with animation

Arco - with the bow (used after a pizz. sign)

Assai - very

Attacca - go on at once

Ben marcato - well marked

Calando - getting softer and slower

Cantabile - in a singing style

Cantando - in a singing style

Con anima - with feeling

Con brio - with spirit

Con forza - with force

Con grazia - with grace

Con moto - with movement

Crescendo (cresc.) - gradually becoming louder

Da Capo al fine - from the beginning (D.C. al fine) until the word ‘fine?

Dal Segno (D.S.) - from the sign

Decrescendo (descresc.) - gradually becoming softer

Diminuendo (dim.) - gradually becoming softer

Dolce - soft and sweet, sweetly

Dolente - sadly, plaintively

Doloroso - sadly, plaintively

Forte ( f ) - loud

Forte - piano (fp) - loud then immediately soft

Fortissimo ( ff ) - very loud

Giocoso - gay, merry

Grave - slow and solemn

Grazioso - gracefully

L’istesso tempo - at the same speed

Largamente - broadly

Larghetto - rather broadly

Largo - broadly

Legato - smooth, well connected

Leggiero - lightly

Lento - slowly

Loco - at normal pitch (after an 8va sign)

M.M. - Maelzel?s metronome (metronome marking)

Maestoso - majestic

Main droite (M.D) - right hand

Main gauche (M.G) - left hand

Meno mosso - slower (less speed)

Mezzo forte ( mf) - moderately loud

Mezzo piano ( mp ) - moderately soft

Mezzo staccato - moderately short and detached

Moderato - at a moderate speed

Molto - very

Morendo - dying away

Non troppo - not too much

Opus (Op.) - a work or group of works

Perdendosi - fading away

Pesante - heavily

Piacevole - pleasant, agreeable

Pianissimo ( pp ) - very soft

Piano ( p ) - soft

Piu mosso - quicker (more speed)

Pizzicato (pizz.) - pluck the string with the finger

Poco - a little

Portamento - a smooth gliding from one note to another (as in singing or string playing)

Prestissimo - extremely fast

Presto - very fast

Quasi - as if, as it were

Rallentando (rall.) - gradually becoming slower

Rinforzando (rfz or rf) - reinforcing the tone

Risoluto - with resolution

Ritardando (rit. / ritard.) - gradually becoming slower

Ritenuto (riten.) - immediately slower

Rubato - with some freedom in the time

Scherzando - playfully

Sempre - always

Senza - without

Sforzando (sfz or sf) - a strong accent

Smorzando - dying away

Sostenuto - sustained

Sotto voce - softly in an undertone

Staccato - short and detached

Stringendo - pressing on faster

Subito (sub.) - suddenly

Sul ponticello (sul pont.) - bow on or near the bridge

Sul tasto - bow on or near the finger board

Tempo commodo - at a comfortable speed

Tempo giusto - at a consistent speed

Tenuto (ten.) - held

Tranquillo - calmly

Tre corde (T.C.) - (3 strings) release the soft pedal

Tremolo - bowing very rapidly to produce a shimmering or wavering effect

Una corda (U.C.) - (one string) with the soft pedal

Vivace - lively and spirited

Vivo - lively and spirited