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Music terms

Music Glossary



A cappella: Choral music performed without instrumental accompaniment

Accelerando: Getting faster, A symbol used in musical notation indicating to gradually quicken tempo.

Accent: Stress of one tone over others, making it stand out; often it's the first beat of a measure

Accessible: Music that is easy to listen to & understand.

Allegro: A direction to play lively and fast.

Andante: Moderately slow or walking pace.

Anthem: A religious choral composition in English; performed liturgically, the Protestant equivalent of the motet.

Antique cymbals: Small disks of brass, held by the player one in each hand, that are struck together gently and allowed to vibrate.

Aquinaldo: A style of Puerto Rican folk music.

Aria: Lyric song for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment, usually expressing intense emotion; found in oratorio, cantata, and opera.

Arpeggio: A succession of chord tones.

Art song: A song of serious artistic intent written by a trained composer, as distinct from a folk song

Atonal: Music that is written & performed without regard to any specific key.

Atonality: A term used frequently to denote certain practices in 20th century music in which a definite tonal center or "key" is purposely avoided.

Attaca: "Attack", proceed without a pause between movements.

Aulot: Double-reed pipe; played for public and religious functions in ancient Greece.