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Music glossary - Letter O

Music Glossary



Obbligato: An extended solo, often accompanying the vocal part of an aria.

Octaves: The interval embracing eight diatonic tones.

Ode: Secular composition written for a royal occasion, especially popular in England.

Ondes Martenot: Electronic instrument that produces sounds by means of an oscillator.

Opera: A drama where the words are sung instead of spoken.

Opéra comique: French comic opera, with some spoken dialogue.

Operetta: A short light musical drama.

Oratorio: An extended cantata on a sacred subject.

Orchestration: The technique of setting instruments in various combinations.

Oratorio: A musical setting, for only orchestra, chorus, and voices, of an extended story, of a religious or contemplative nature, performed in a concert hall or church, without scenery, costumes, or physical action.

Organ: Wind instrument in which air is fed to the pipes by mechanical means; the pipes are controlled by two or more keyboards and a set of pedals.

Ornaments: Tones used to embellish the principal melodic tone.

Ostinato: A short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern that is repeated throughout a work or a section of one.

Overture: Introduction to an opera or other large musical work.