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Music glossary - Letter S

Music Glossary



Sacred music: Music that was specifically written for use in church services

Saltarello: Italian "jumping dance", often characterized by triplets in a rapid 4/4 time.

Scale: Successive notes of a key or mode either ascending or descending.

Scherzo: Pertaining to the sonata form, a fast movement in triple time.

Secular music: Nonreligious music; when texted, usually in the vernacular.

Septet: A set of seven musicians who perform a composition written for seven parts.

Sequence: Restatement of an idea or motive at a different pitch level.

Sextet: A set of six musicians who perform a composition written for six parts.

Sextuple meter: Compound metrical pattern of six beats to a measure.

Sforzando: Explosively

Shamisen: Long-necked Japanese chordophone with 3 strings.

Sharp: A symbol indicating the note is to be raised by one semitone.

Simple meter: Grouping of rhythms in which the beat is subdivided into two, as in duple, triple, and quadruple meters.

Slur: A curve over notes to indicate that a phrase is to be played legato.

Sonority: The tonal quality produced by a performer on an instrument.

Spiritual: Folklike devotional genre of the United States, sung by African-Americans and whites.

Staccato: Short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them.

String quartet: A group of 4 instruments, 2 violins, a viola, and cello.

Strophic form: Song structure in which the same music is repeated with every stanza (strophe) of the poem.

Swing: A term applied to the style of jazz that originated about 1935, particularly in the music of the Benny Goodman orchestra.

Syncopation: The rhythmic result produced when a regularly accented beat is displaced onto an unaccented beat.

Synthesizer: Electronic instrument that produces a wide variety of sounds by combining sound generators and sound modifiers in one package with a unified control system.