Music glossary - Letter P
PLEASE CHOOSE A LETTER:
Parody: A composition based on previous work. A common technique used in Medieval and Renaissance music.
Part song: Secular vocal composition, unaccompanied, in three, four or more parts.
Partial: A harmonic given off by a note when it is played.
Pas de deux: A dance for two that is an established feature of classical ballet.
Pentatonic Scale: A musical scale having 5 notes. For example: the 5 black keys of a keyboard make up a pentatonic scale.
Perpetuum mobile: Type of piece characterized by continuous repetitions of a rhythmic pattern at a quick tempo; perpetual motion.
Phrase: A small section of a composition comprising a musical thought. Comparable to a sentence in language.
Piano quartet: Standard chamber ensemble of piano with cello, violin and viola.
Pitches: a term referring to the high-low quality of a musical sound. The pitch is determined by the frequency of the tone, i.e., the number of vibrations per second.
Pizzicato: Performance direction to pluck a string of a bowed instrument with the finger.
Polyphony: Combining a number of individual but harmonizing melodies. Also known as counterpoint.
Polytextual: Two or more texts set simultaneously in a composition.
Polytonality: Combination of two or more keys being played at the same time.
Prelude: A piece of music designed to be played as an introduction; too used for operatic overtures.
Presto: A direction in sheet music indicating the tempo is to be very fast.
Program symphony: Multimovement programmatic orchestral work, typically from the nineteenth century.
Progression: The movement of chords in succession.
Psalms: Book from the Old Testament of the Bible; the 150 psalm texts, used in Jewish and Christian worship, are often set to music.
Punto: A style of Cuban folk music reflecting a more European than African influence.
Pure music: See absolute music.