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Music glossary - Letter R


Music Glossary

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R

Raga: Melodic pattern used in music of India; prescribes pitches, patterns, ornamentation and extramusical associations such as time of performance and emotional character.

Rebec: Medieval bowed-string instrument, often with a pear-shaped body.

Recitative: A form of writing for vocals that is close to the manner of speech and is rhythmically free.

Refrain: Text or music that is repeated within a larger form.

Register: A portion of the range of the instrument or voice.

Reggae: Modern popular Jamaican music which emerged in the late 1960s as a reinterpretation of American rhythm an blues music.

Relative pitch: Ability to determine the pitch of a note as it relates to the notes that precede and follow it.

Repeat sign: Musical symbol that indicates repetition of a passage in a composition.

Reprise: To repeat a previous part of a composition generally after other music has been played.

Responsorial singing: Singing, especially in Gregorian chant, in which a soloist or a group of soloists alternates with the choir. See also call and response.

Retrograde: A form of contrapuntal imitation in which the melody is played backwards.

Rhythm: The controlled movement of music in time.

Ritardando: Gradually growing slower.

Ritornello: A short recurring passage that unifies an instrumental or vocal work.

Ronde: Lively Renaissance "round dance", associated with the outdoors, in which the participants danced in a circle or a line.

Rondo: A form used for the final movement of classical sonatas, string quartets, symphonies and concertos.

Rosin: Substance made from hardened tree sap, rubbed on the hair of a bow to help it grip the strings.

Rubato: An important characteristic of the Romantic period. It is a style where the strict tempo is temporarily abandoned for a more emotional tone.

Rumba: Latin-American dance of Afro-Cuban origin, in duple meter with syncopated rhythms.