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Music glossary - Letter B

Music Glossary



Backbeat: The accentuation of beats 2 and 4; generally found in the genres of blues and rhythm.

Bagpipe: Wind instrument popular in Western and Eastern Europe that has many tubes, one of which plays the melody while the others sound the drones, or sustained notes; a windbag is filled by either a mouth pipe or a set of bellows (uilleann pipes).

Ballad opera: English comic opera, normally featuring spoken dialogue alternating with songs set to popular tunes; also called dialogue opera.

Ballata: A form of italian 14th century poettry and music.

Banjo: Plucked-string instrument with round body in the form of a single-headed drum and a long, fretted neck; brought to the Americas from Africa by early slaves.

Bar: Also called a measure, a bar is a segment of written music in which there is a designated number of beats.

Basso continuo: Music that is played by 1 or more bass instruments and a keyboard instrument; it's one of the most distinct features of the Baroque era.

Bass Note: Lowest note of a chord.

Bass viol: See double bass.

Beat: The unit of musical rhythm.

Bebop: Complex jazz style developed in the 1940s.

Bent pitch: See blue note.

Blue note: A slight drop of pitch on the third, fifth or seventh tone of the scale, common in blues and jazz.

Blues: A style of jazz, both vocal and instrumental, introduced in the first decade of the 20th century. The most persistent characteristic of the blues is a 12-measure pattern, instead of the 8-measure and 16-measure patterns of ragtime.

Bomba: A style of Puerto Rican folk music derived primarily from African music and dominated by percussion instruments as well as call and response vocals.

Bongo: A pair of small drums of differing pitches, held between the legs and struck with both hands, of Afro-Cuban origin.

Bridge: Transitional passage connecting 2 sections of a composition, too transition.