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Lists of music genres

List of music styles
List of styles of music: A–F
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List of classical and art music traditions

List of blues genres
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List of electronic music genres

List of European folk music traditions
List of Oceanic and Australian folk music traditions
List of folk music traditions
List of Asian folk music traditions
List of Caribbean folk music traditions
List of Central American folk music traditions
List of North American folk music traditions
List of South American folk music traditions

List of gamelan varieties

List of hardcore punk subgenres
Heavy metal subgenres
List of hip hop genres

Post-industrial music

List of jazz genres

List of Christian bands and artists by genre
List of music styles that incorporate the accordion

Middle Eastern and North African music traditions

List of popular music genres
Punk rock subgenres

Reggae genres
List of rock genres

Sub-Saharan African music traditions

Musical form

The term musical form (or musical architecture) refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections. In the tenth edition of The Oxford Companion to Music, Percy Scholes defines musical form as "a series of strategies designed to find a successful mean between the opposite extremes of unrelieved repetition and unrelieved alteration."

According to Richard Middleton, musical form is "the shape or structure of the work." He describes it through difference: the distance moved from a repeat; the latter being the smallest difference. Difference is quantitative and qualitative: how far, and of what type, different. In many cases, form depends on statement and restatement, unity and variety, and contrast and connection.

Levels of organization

The founding level of musical form can be divided into two parts:

The arrangement of the pulse into unaccented and accented beats, the cells of a measure that, when harmonized, may give rise to a motif or figure.
The further organization of such a measure, by repetition and variation, into a true musical phrase having a definite rhythm and duration that may be implied in melody and harmony, defined, for example, by a long final note and a breathing space. This "phrase" may be regarded as the fundamental unit of musical form: it may be broken down into measures of two or three beats, but its distinctive nature will then be lost. Even at this level, the importance of the principles of repetition and contrast, weak and strong, climax and repose, can be seen.[5] (See also: Meter (music)) Thus, form may be understood on three levels of organization. For the purpose of this exposition, these levels can be roughly designated as passage, piece, and cycle.
The smallest level of construction concerns the way musical phrases are organized into musical sentences and "paragraphs" such as the verse of a song. This may be compared to, and is often decided by, the verse form or meter of the words or the steps of a dance.

For example, the twelve bar blues is a specific verse form, while common meter is found in many hymns and ballads and, again, the Elizabethan galliard, like many dances, requires a certain rhythm, pace and length of melody to fit its repeating pattern of steps. Simpler styles of music may be more or less wholly defined at this level of form, which therefore does not differ greatly from the loose sense first mentioned and which may carry with it rhythmic, harmonic, timbral, occasional and melodic conventions.

In the analysis of musical form, any components that can be defined on the time axis (such as sections and units) are conventionally designated by letters. Upper-case letters are used for the most fundamental, while lower-case letters are used for sub-divisions. If one such section returns in a varied or modified form, a numerical digit or an appropriate number of prime symbols appears after the letter. Even at this simplest level, there are patterns that may be re-used on larger timescales. For example:

The following verse is composed of two differently-rhymed couplets (AABB), and thus its organization is binary or "twofold".

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
like a diamond in the sky.
However, in the verse below, there is a rhyme repeated in the second line, then a variant in the third line, two half-lines sharing a new rhyme, followed by a final return to the first arrangement in the last line (AABA), and thus its organization is song form. Ternary form or "threefold" is (ABA).

There once was a fellow from Leeds
Who swallowed a packet of seeds.
In less than an hour he burst into flower
And he died trying to pull up the weeds.
However, as music educator Stewart Macpherson stated, there is a preference at all levels of musical organization for groupings of two, four, eight over other divisions, so that even a ternary form is often extended by repetition of the first subject into a "fourfold" structure. Composers can be on guard against excessive "squareness".[6]

The next level concerns the entire structure of any single self-contained musical piece. If the hymn, ballad, blues or dance alluded to above simply repeats the same musical material indefinitely then the piece is said to be in strophic form overall. If it repeats with distinct, sustained changes each time, for instance in setting, ornamentation or instrumentation, then the piece is a theme and variations. If two distinctly different themes are alternated indefinitely, as in a song alternating verse and chorus or in the alternating slow and fast sections of the Hungarian czardas, then this gives rise to a simple binary form. If the theme is played (perhaps twice), then a new theme is introduced, the piece then closing with a return to the first theme, we have a simple ternary form.

Great arguments and misunderstanding can be generated by such terms as 'ternary' and 'binary', as a complex piece may have elements of both at different organizational levels.[citation needed] A minuet, like any Baroque dance, generally had simple binary structure (AABB), however, this was frequently extended by the introduction of another minuet arranged for solo instruments (called the trio), after which the first was repeated again and the piece ended—this is a ternary form—ABA: the piece is binary on the lower compositional level but ternary on the higher. Organisational levels are not clearly and universally defined in western musicology, while words like "section" and "passage" are used at different levels by different scholars whose definitions, as Schlanker and others[who?] point out, cannot keep pace with the myriad innovations and variations devised by musicians.

The grandest level of organization may be referred to as "cyclical form". It concerns the arrangement of several self-contained pieces into a large-scale composition. For example, a set of songs with a related theme may be presented as a song-cycle, whereas a set of Baroque dances were presented as a suite. The opera and ballet may organize song and dance into even larger forms. This level of musical form, though it again applies and gives rise to different genres, takes more account of the methods of musical organisation used. For example: a symphony, a concerto and a sonata differ in scale and aim, yet generally resemble one another in the manner of their organization. The individual pieces which make up the larger form may be called movements.

Single forms[edit]
Scholes suggested that European classical music had only six stand-alone forms: simple binary, simple ternary, compound binary, rondo, air with variations, and fugue (although musicologist Alfred Mann emphasized that the fugue is primarily a method of composition that has sometimes taken on certain structural conventions.[7])

Where a piece cannot readily be broken down into sectional units (though it might borrow some form from a poem, story or programme), it is said to be through-composed. Such is often the case with a fantasia, prelude, rhapsody, etude (or study), symphonic poem, Bagatelle, impromptu, etc.[citation needed] Professor Charles Keil classified forms and formal detail as "sectional, developmental, or variational."[8]

Sectional form[edit]
This form is built from a sequence of clear-cut units[9] that may be referred to by letters but also often have generic names such as introduction and coda, exposition, development and recapitulation, verse, chorus or refrain, and bridge. Introductions and codas, when they are no more than that, are frequently excluded from formal analysis. All such units may typically be eight measures long. Sectional forms include:

Strophic form[edit]
Main article: Strophic form
This form is defined by its "unrelieved repetition" (AAAA...).

Medley or "chain" form[edit]
Medley, potpourri or chain form is the extreme opposite, that of "unrelieved variation": it is simply an indefinite sequence of self-contained sections (ABCD...), sometimes with repeats (AABBCCDD...). Examples include orchestral overtures, which are sometimes no more than a string of the best tunes of the show to come.

Binary form[edit]
Main article: Binary form

Binary form in major and minor keys. Each section must be at least three phrases long.[10]
This form uses two sections (AB...), each often repeated (AABB...). In 18th-century western classical music, "simple binary" form was often used for dances and carried with it the convention that the two sections should be in different musical keys but same rhythm, duration and tone. The alternation of two tunes gives enough variety to permit a dance to be extended for as long as desired.

Ternary form[edit]
Main article: Ternary form
This form has three parts. In Western classical music a simple ternary form has a third section that is a recapitulation of the first (ABA). Often, the first section is repeated (AABA). This approach was popular in the 18th-century operatic aria,[citation needed] and was called da capo (i.e. "repeat from the top") form. Later, it gave rise to the 32-bar song, with the B section then often referred to as the "middle eight". A song has more need than a dance of a self-contained form with a beginning and an end of course.

Rondo form[edit]
Main article: Rondo form
This form has a recurring theme alternating with different (usually contrasting) sections called "episodes". It may be asymmetrical (ABACADAEA) or symmetrical (ABACABA). A recurring section, especially the main theme, is sometimes more thoroughly varied, or else one episode may be a "development" of it. A similar arrangement is the ritornello form of the Baroque concerto grosso. Arch form (ABCBA) resembles a symmetrical rondo without intermediate repetitions of the main theme. It is normally used in a round.

Variational form[edit]
Main article: Variation (music)
Variational forms are those in which variation is an important formative element.

Theme and Variations: a theme, which in itself can be of any shorter form (binary, ternary, etc.), forms the only "section" and is repeated indefinitely (as in strophic form) but is varied each time (A,B,A,F,Z,A), so as to make a sort of sectional chain form. An important variant of this, much used in 17th-century British music and in the Passacaglia and Chaconne, was that of the ground bass - a repeating bass theme or basso ostinato over and around which the rest of the structure unfolds, often, but not always, spinning polyphonic or contrapuntal threads, or improvising divisions and descants. This is said by Scholes (1977) to be the form par excellence of unaccompanied or accompanied solo instrumental music. The Rondo is often found with sections varied (AA1BA2CA3BA4) or (ABA1CA2B1A).

Developmental form[edit]
Main article: Musical development
Developmental forms are built directly from smaller units, such as motifs, combined and worked out in different ways, perhaps having a symmetrical or arch-like underpinning and a progressive development from beginning to end. By far the most important in Western classical music is:

Sonata-Allegro form[edit]
Main article: Sonata form
This form, also known as sonata form, first movement form, compound binary, ternary and a variety of other names,[example needed] developed from the binary-formed dance movement described above but is almost always cast in a greater ternary form having the nominal subdivisions of Exposition, Development and Recapitulation. Usually, but not always, the "A" parts (Exposition and Recapitulation, respectively) may be subdivided into two or three themes or theme groups which are taken asunder and recombined to form the "B" part (the development) - thus e. g. (AabB[dev. of a and/or b]A1ab1+coda). This developmental form is generally confined to certain sections of the piece, as to the middle section of the first movement of a sonata, though nineteenth-century composers such as Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner made valiant efforts to derive large-scale works purely or mainly from the motif.

Chester (1970) distinguished this as "extensional music", that "produced by starting with small components - rhythmic or melodic motifs, perhaps - and then 'developing' these through techniques of modification and combination." "Intensional music", meanwhile, "starts with a framework - a chord sequence, a melodic outline, a rhythmic pattern - and then extends itself by repeating the framework with perpetually varied inflections to the details filling it in."

Cyclical forms[edit]
Opera was originally modelled upon classical drama and takes much of its form from its libretto and narrative. For many years, ballet was a component of opera, not in itself narrative, but having the form of a suite of set dances included at some appropriate moment in the story such as a festival or wedding. It emerged as a separate form, supplying its own narrative or representation, during the 19th-century.[citation needed] At the same time, the song cycle emerged, which is a set of related songs (as the suite is a set of related dances). The oratorio took shape as a narrative, often religious,[citation needed] recounted—rather than acted—by the singers.

The sonata, symphony, and concerto were all developed by major composers of the Viennese school (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven primarily) along the same formal lines into distinctively musical forms limited little by the forms of song, dance or ceremony. Other forms of music, such as the Catholic mass and requiem, are largely shaped by, and subordinated to, their texts and ceremonial functions.

Musical forms by era

This is a list of musical forms and genres organized according to the eras of Classical music. The form of a musical composition refers to the general outline of the composition, based on the sections that comprise it or on specific details that are unique to a certain type of composition. For example, a rondo is based on alternation between familiar and novel sections (ABACA); a mazurka is defined by its meter and rhythm; a nocturne is based on the mood it creates, required to be inspired by or evocative of night. This list summarizes these broadly defined forms and genres within the musical periods that they arose or became common.

Gregorian Chant
Madrigal (Trecento)
Chromatic fantasia
Madrigal comedy
Madrigale spirituale
Cyclic mass
Parody mass
Paraphrase mass
Cantus firmus mass
Concerto grosso
Solo concerto
Opera buffa
Opera seria
Flute sonata
Trio sonata
Classical and Romantic[edit]
Classical ballet
Cello concerto
Clarinet concerto
Double bass concerto
Flute concerto
Oboe concerto
Piano concerto
Trumpet concerto
Viola concerto
Violin concerto
Music hall
Ballad opera
Opera buffa
Opιra comique
Opera seria
Concert overture
Symphonic poem
Concert Aria
Piano quartet
String quartet
Oboe quartet
Piano quintet
String quintet
Sinfonia concertante
Piano sonata
Violin sonata
Viola sonata
Cello sonata
Flute sonata
Clarinet sonata
Bassoon sonata
Program symphony
Choral symphony
20th and 21st Century[edit]
Neoclassical ballet
Contemporary ballet
Children's music
Circus music
Concerto for Orchestra
Film score
Modern dance
Minimal music
Musical theatre
Neoclassicism (music)
Popular song
Protest song
Rhythm and Blues
Rock and Roll
Video game music

Musical Forms

Rondo, sonata and binary forms - amomg others - are structures commonly used my composers when creating a piece of music.

In this section we will look into the some of these musical forms:

Binary Form
The Baroque Suite
Ternary Form
Compound Ternary Form
The Rondo
Sonata Form
Forms Summary
Contrapuntal Compositional Techniques
Phrases, Periods and Motives

Types of Music
Musical form
Musical composition
Cyclic form
Musical composition


Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.

Although today composition is considered to consist of the manipulation of each aspect of music (harmony, melody, form, rhythm, and timbre), according to Jean-Benjamin de Laborde (1780, 2:12):

Composition consists in two things only. The first is the ordering and disposing of several sounds...in such a manner that their succession pleases the ear. This is what the Ancients called melody. The second is the rendering audible of two or more simultaneous sounds in such a manner that their combination is pleasant. This is what we call harmony, and it alone merits the name of composition.[1]

Contents [hide]
1 Musical compositions
2 Composition as musical form
2.1 Indian tradition
3 Composing music
3.1 Methods
3.2 Structure
4 Compositional instrumentation
5 Arranging
6 Copyright and legal status
6.1 In the U.S.
6.2 In the UK
6.3 In India
7 See also
8 References
9 Sources
10 Further reading
11 External links
Musical compositions[edit]
A piece of music exists in the form of a composition in musical notation or as a single acoustic event (a live performance or recorded track). If composed before being performed, music can be performed from memory, through written musical notation, or through a combination of both. Compositions comprise musical elements, which vary widely from person to person and between cultures. Improvisation is the act of composing musical elements spontaneously during the performance.[2]

Piece is a "general, non-technical term [that began to be] applied mainly to instrumental compositions from the 17th century onwards....other than when they are taken individually 'piece' and its equivalents are rarely used of movements in sonatas or symphonies....composers have used all these terms [in their different languages] frequently in compound forms [e.g. Klavierstόck]....In vocal music...the term is most frequently used for operatic ensembles..."[3]

Composition as musical form[edit]
Main article: Musical form
In discussing the structure (or organization) of a musical work, the composition of that work is generally called its musical form. These techniques draw a parallel to art's formal elements. Sometimes, the entire form of a piece is through-composed, meaning that each part is different, with no repetition of sections; other forms include strophic, rondo, verse-chorus, or other parts. Some pieces are composed around a set scale, where the compositional technique might be considered the usage of a particular scale. Others are composed during performance (see improvisation), where a variety of techniques are also sometimes used. Some are used from particular songs which are familiar.

Important in tonal musical composition is the scale for the notes used, including the mode and tonic note. In music using twelve tone techniques, the tone row is even more comprehensive a factor than a scale. Similarly, music of the Middle East employs compositions that are rigidly based on a specific mode (maqam) often within improvisational contexts, as does Indian classical music in both the Hindustani and the Carnatic system.

Indian tradition[edit]
In the music tradition of India there are many forms of musical compositions which to some degree is on account of many musical styles prevalent in different regions of the country, such the Hindustani music, Karnatick music, Bengali music and so forth. Another important influence in the compositions is its link with folk music, both indigenous and also from musical culture of Arabia, Persia and Bengal.[4]

In the Hindustani musical tradition, Drupad (originally in Sanskrit and later adaptations in Hindi and Braj Bhasha) is among one of the ancient compositions and had formed the base for other forms in this music tradition such as khyal, thumri and raga. In the Karnatak music tradition the compositions are in the form of Kriti, varanam and padam.[4]

Composing music[edit]

People composing music
People who practice composition are called composers. Compositional techniques are the methods used to create music. Useful skills in composition include writing musical notation, music theory, instrumentation, and handling musical ensembles (orchestration). Other skills include extended techniques such as improvisation, musical montage, preparing instruments, using non-traditional instruments, and other methods of sound production.

One method to compose music is starting with a chord progression. These chords could be selected arbitrarily or with specific purpose to reflect the tone of the emotion being conveyed. For example, selecting a minor key, but with mostly major chords (i.e. III, VI, VII) might convey a hopeful feeling. Once the series of chords is selected, additional lines are added to embellish, adding depth to the music. Usually this includes at least a lead melody line and often one or more harmony lines. Popular music is often written this way (see: Song structure) where a selected series of chords forms the structure of each of a particular section of the song (ex. Verse, Chorus). The melody line is often dependent on the writer's chosen lyrics and can vary in detail from verse to verse.

Another method involves free playing of your desired instrument. For example, a pianist might simply sit and start playing chords, melodies, or random notes that come to mind in order to find some inspiration, then build on the discovered lines to add depth.[clarification needed]

As technology progresses, new and inventive methods of music composition come about. One such method involves using computer algorithms contained in samplers to directly translate the phonetics of speech into digital sound.[citation needed] EEG headsets have also been used to create music by interpreting the brainwaves of musicians.[5] This method has been used for Project Mindtunes,[6] which collaborating disabled musicians with DJ Fresh, and also by artists Lisa Park and Masaki Batoh.

Main article: Musical form
Composers may decide to divide their music into sections. In classical music, one common form used in pieces is sonata form. This form involves an exposition, development, and recapitulation. The end speaks to the beginning, concluding things,[clarification needed] while the development allows for deviations from the norm of the exposition.[clarification needed]

Many contemporary songs are organized into sections as well. These sections are usually alternating verse and chorus, often with a bridge before the last chorus. The differing verses will share chord progressions while the chorus is often exactly the same throughout.[citation needed]

Compositional instrumentation[edit]
Main articles: Instrumentation (music) and Arrangement (music)
The task of adapting a composition for musical instruments/ensembles, called arranging or orchestrating, may be undertaken by the composer or separately by an arranger based on the composer's core composition. A composition may have multiple arrangements based on such factors as intended audience type and breadth, musical genre or stylistic treatment, recorded or live performance considerations, available musicians and instruments, commercial goals and economic constraints.

Based on such factors, composers or arrangers must decide upon the instrumentation of the original work. Today, the contemporary composer can virtually write for almost any combination of instruments. Some common group settings include music for full orchestra (consisting of just about every instrument group), concert band (which consists of larger sections and greater diversity of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments than are usually found in the orchestra), or a chamber group (a small number of instruments, but at least two). The composer may also choose to write for only one instrument, in which case this is called a solo.

Composers are not limited to writing only for instruments, they may also decide to write for voice (including choral works, operas, and musicals) or percussion instruments or electronic instruments. Alternatively, as is the case with musique concrθte, the composer can work with many sounds often not associated with the creation of music, such as typewriters, sirens, and so forth.

In Elizabeth Swados' Listening Out Loud, she explains how a composer must know the full capabilities of each instrument and how they must complement each other, not compete. She gives an example of how in an earlier composition of hers, she had the tuba above the piccolo. This would clearly drown the piccolo out, thus giving it no purpose in the composition. Each instrument chosen to be in a piece must have a reason for being there that adds to what the composer is trying to convey within the work.[7]

Main article: Arrangement
Arranging is composition which employs prior material so as to comment upon it such as in mash-ups and various contemporary classical works.[8] The process first requires analysis of existing music, and then rewriting (and often transcription) for an instrumentation other than that for which it was originally intended. It often (but not always) involves new supporting material injected by the arranger. Different versions of a composed piece of music is referred to as an arrangement.

Copyright and legal status[edit]
Globe icon.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (December 2010)
Copyright is a government-granted monopoly which, for a limited time, gives a composition's owner—such as a composer or a composer's employer, in the case of work for hire—a set of exclusive rights to the composition, such as the exclusive right to publish sheet music describing the composition and how it should be performed. Copyright requires anyone else wanting to use the composition in the same ways to obtain a license (permission) from the owner.

In some jurisdictions, the composer can assign copyright, in part, to another party. Often, composers who aren't doing business as publishing companies themselves will temporarily assign their copyright interests to formal publishing companies, granting those companies a license to control both the publication and the further licensing of the composer's work. Contract law, not copyright law, governs these composer–publisher contracts, which ordinarily involve an agreement on how profits from the publisher's activities related to the work will be shared with the composer in the form of royalties.

The scope of copyright in general is defined by various international treaties and their implementations, which take the form of national statutes, and in common law jurisdictions, case law. These agreements and corresponding body of law distinguish between the rights applicable to sound recordings and the rights applicable to compositions. For example, Beethoven's 9th Symphony is in the public domain, but in most of the world, recordings of particular performances of that composition usually are not.

For copyright purposes, song lyrics and other performed words are considered part of the composition, even though they may have different authors and copyright owners than the non-lyrical elements.

Many jurisdictions allow for compulsory licensing of certain uses of compositions. For example, copyright law may allow a record company to pay a modest fee to a copyright collective to which the composer or publisher belongs, in exchange for the right to make and distribute CDs containing a cover band's performance of the composer or publisher's compositions. The license is "compulsory" because the copyright owner cannot refuse or set terms for the license. Copyright collectives also typically manage the licensing of public performances of compositions, whether by live musicians or by transmitting sound recordings over radio or the Internet.

In the U.S.[edit]
Even though the first US copyright laws did not include musical compositions, they were added as part of the Copyright Act of 1831.

According to the circular issued by United States Copy Right Office on Copy Right Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings, a musical composition is defined as "A musical composition consists of music, including any accompanying words, and is normally registered as a work of the performing arts. The author of a musical composition is generally the composer, and the lyricists if any. A musical composition may be in the form of a notated copy (for example sheet music) ir in the form of a phon record (for example cassette tape, LP, or CD). Sending a musical composition in the form of a phonorecord does not necessarily mean that there is a claim to copy right in the sound recording."[9]

In the UK[edit]
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines a musical work to mean "a work consisting of music, exclusive of any words or action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music."[10]

In India[edit]
In India The Copy Right Act, 1957 prevailed for original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work till the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1984 was introduced. Under the amended act, a new definition has been provided for musical work which states "musical works means a work consisting of music and included any graphi notation of such work but does not included any words or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music."[11]

Musical notation


Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music through the use of written symbols, including ancient or modern musical symbols. Types and methods of notation have varied between cultures and throughout history, and much information about ancient music notation is fragmentary.

Although many ancient cultures used symbols to represent melodies, none of them is nearly as comprehensive as written language, limiting our modern understanding. Comprehensive music notation began to be developed in Europe in the Middle Ages, and has been adapted to many kinds of music worldwide.

Contents [hide]
1 History
1.1 Ancient Near East
1.2 Ancient Greece
1.3 Byzantine Empire
1.4 13th-century Near East
1.5 Early Europe
2 Modern staff notation
2.1 Specialized notation conventions
3 Notation in various countries
3.1 India
3.2 Russia
3.3 China
3.4 Korea
3.5 Japan
3.6 Indonesia
4 Other systems and practices
4.1 Cipher notation
4.2 Solfθge
4.3 Letter notation
4.4 Tablature
4.5 Klavar notation
4.6 Piano roll based notations
4.7 Chromatic staff notations
4.8 Graphic notation
4.9 Simplified Music Notation
4.10 Modified Stave Notation
4.11 Parsons code
4.12 Braille music
4.13 Integer notation
4.14 Rap notation
5 Music notation on computer
6 Perspectives of musical notation in composition and musical performance
7 Patents
8 See also
9 Notes
10 References
11 Further reading
12 External links
Ancient Near East[edit]
Further information: Music of Mesopotamia and Hurrian songs
The earliest form of musical notation can be found in a cuneiform tablet that was created at Nippur, in Sumer (today's Iraq), in about 2000 BC. The tablet represents fragmentary instructions for performing music, that the music was composed in harmonies of thirds, and that it was written using a diatonic scale.[1] A tablet from about 1250 BC shows a more developed form of notation.[2] Although the interpretation of the notation system is still controversial, it is clear that the notation indicates the names of strings on a lyre, the tuning of which is described in other tablets.[3] Although they are fragmentary, these tablets represent the earliest notated melodies found anywhere in the world.[4]

A photograph of the original stone at Delphi containing the second of the two Delphic Hymns to Apollo. The music notation is the line of occasional symbols above the main, uninterrupted line of Greek lettering.
Ancient Greece[edit]
Further information: Musical system of ancient Greece
Ancient Greek musical notation was in use from at least the 6th century BC until approximately the 4th century AD; several complete compositions and fragments of compositions using this notation survive. The notation consists of symbols placed above text syllables. An example of a complete composition is the Seikilos epitaph, which has been variously dated between the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD.

Three hymns by Mesomedes of Crete exist in manuscript. The Delphic Hymns, dated to the 2nd century BC, also use this notation, but they are not completely preserved. Ancient Greek notation appears to have fallen out of use around the time of the Decline of the Roman Empire.

Byzantine Empire[edit]
Further information: Byzantine music

Byzantine music notation style in a Romanian anastasimatarion, a "Book of Hymns at the Lord's Resurrection", 1823
Byzantine music has mainly survived as music for court ceremonies, including vocal religious music. The question, whether it is based on the monodic modal singing and instrumental music of Ancient Greece, must remain open. Greek theoretical categories played a key role to understand and transmit Byzantine music, especially the tradition of Damascus had a strong impact on the pre-Islamic Near East comparable to Persian music and its music theoretical transfer in Sanskrit.

Unlike Western notation Byzantine neumes always indicate modal steps in relation to a clef or modal key (modal signatures which had been in use since papyrus fragments dating back to the 6th century). Originally this key or the incipit of a common melody was enough to indicate a certain melodic model given within the echos, despite ekphonetic notation further early melodic notation developed not earlier than between the 9th and the 10th century.[5] Like the Greek alphabet notational signs are ordered left to right (though the direction could be adapted like in certain Syriac manuscripts), the question of rhythm was entirely based on cheironomia, well-known melodical phrases given by gestures of the choirleaders which existed once as part of an oral tradition.

Today the main difference between Western and Eastern neumes is that Eastern notation symbols are differential rather than absolute, i.e. they indicate pitch steps (rising, falling or at the same step), and the musicians know to deduce correctly, from the score and the note they are singing presently, which correct interval is meant. These step symbols themselves, or better "phonic neumes", resemble brush strokes and are colloquially called gαntzoi ("hooks") in Modern Greek.

Notes as pitch classes or modal keys (usually memorised by modal signatures) are represented in written form only between these neumes (in manuscripts usually written in red ink). In modern notation they simply serve as an optional reminder and modal and tempo directions have been added, if necessary. In Papadic notation medial signatures usually meant a temporary change into another echos.

The so-called "great signs" were once related to cheironomic signs, according to modern interpretations they are understood as embellishments and microtonal attractions (pitch changes smaller than a semitone), both essential in Byzantine chant.[6]

Chrysanthos' Kanonion with a comparison between Ancient Greek tetraphonia (column 1), Western Solfeggio, the Papadic Parallage (ascending: column 3 and 4; descending: column 5 and 6) according to the trochos system, and his heptaphonic parallage according to the New Method (syllables in the fore-last and martyriai in the last column) (1832, p. 33)
Since Chrysanthos of Madytos there are seven standard note names used for "solfθge" (parallagē) pα, vϊ, ghα, dhē, kι, zō, nē, while the older practice still used the four enechemata or intonation formulas of the four echoi given by the modal signatures, the authentic or "kyrioi" in ascending direction, and the plagal or "plagioi" in descending direction (Papadic Octoechos).[7] With exception of vϊ and zō they do roughly correspond to Western solmization syllables as re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. Byzantine music uses the eight natural, non-tempered scales whose elements were identified by Ēkhoi, "sounds", exclusively, and therefore the absolute pitch of each note may slightly vary each time, depending on the particular Ēkhos used. Byzantine notation is still used in many Orthodox Churches. Sometimes cantors also use transcriptions into Western or Kievan staff notation while adding non-notatable embellishment material from memory and "sliding" into the natural scales from experience, but even concerning modern neume editions since the reform of Chrysanthos a lot of details are only known from an oral tradition related to traditional masters and their experience.

13th-century Near East[edit]
In 1252, Safi al-Din al-Urmawi developed a form of musical notation, where rhythms were represented by geometric representation. Many subsequent scholars of rhythm have sought to develop graphical geometrical notations. For example, a similar geometric system was published in 1987 by Kjell Gustafson, whose method represents a rhythm as a two-dimensional graph.[8]

Early Europe[edit]
Main article: Neume

Music notation from an early 14th century English Missal
Scholar and music theorist Isidore of Seville, writing in the early 7th century, considered that "unless sounds are held by the memory of man, they perish, because they cannot be written down."[9] By the middle of the 9th century, however, a form of neumatic notation began to develop in monasteries in Europe as a mnemonic device for Gregorian chant, using symbols known as neumes; the earliest surviving musical notation of this type is in the Musica disciplina of Aurelian of Rιτme, from about 850. There are scattered survivals from the Iberian Peninsula before this time, of a type of notation known as Visigothic neumes, but its few surviving fragments have not yet been deciphered.[10] The problem with this notation was that it only showed melodic contours and consequently the music could not be read by someone who did not know the music already.

Early music notation
Notation had developed far enough to notate melody, but there was still no system for notating rhythm. A mid-13th-century treatise, De Mensurabili Musica, explains a set of six rhythmic modes that were in use at the time,[11] although it is not clear how they were formed. These rhythmic modes were all in triple time and rather limited rhythm in chant to six different repeating patterns. This was a flaw seen by German music theorist Franco of Cologne and summarised as part of his treatise Ars cantus mensurabilis (the art of measured chant, or mensural notation). He suggested that individual notes could have their own rhythms represented by the shape of the note. Not until the 14th century did something like the present system of fixed note lengths arise. The use of regular measures (bars) became commonplace by the end of the 17th century.

The founder of what is now considered the standard music stave was Guido d'Arezzo,[12] an Italian Benedictine monk who lived from about 991 until after 1033. He taught the use of solmization syllables based on a hymn to Saint John the Baptist, which begins Ut Queant Laxis and was written by the Lombard historian Paul the Deacon. The first stanza is:

Ut queant laxis
resonare fibris,
Mira gestorum
famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti
labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes.
Guido used the first syllable of each line, Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, and La, to read notated music in terms of hexachords; they were not note names, and each could, depending on context, be applied to any note. In the 17th century, Ut was changed in most countries except France to the easily singable, "open" syllable Do, said to have been taken from the name of the Italian theorist Giovanni Battista Doni.[13]

Modern staff notation[edit]
Main article: List of musical symbols

An example of modern musical notation: Prelude, Op. 28, No. 7, by Frιdιric Chopin
Modern music notation originated in European classical music and is now used by musicians of many different genres throughout the world.

The system uses a five-line staff. Pitch is shown by placement of notes on the staff (sometimes modified by accidentals), and duration is shown with different note values and additional symbols such as dots and ties. Notation is read from left to right, which makes setting music for right-to-left scripts difficult.

A staff (or stave, in British English) of written music generally begins with a clef, which indicates the position of one particular note on the staff. The treble or G clef was originally a letter G and it identifies the second line up on the five line staff as the note G above middle C. The bass or F clef shows the position of the note F below middle C. Notes representing a pitch outside of the scope of the five line staff can be represented using ledger lines, which provide a single note with additional lines and spaces.

Following the clef, the key signature on a staff indicates the key of the piece by specifying that certain notes are flat or sharp throughout the piece, unless otherwise indicated.

Following the key signature is the time signature. Measures (bars) divide the piece into groups of beats, and the time signatures specify those groupings.

Directions to the player regarding matters such as tempo, dynamics and expression appear above or below the staff. For vocal music, lyrics are written. For short pauses (breaths), retakes (looks like ') are added.

In music for ensembles, a "score" shows music for all players together, while "parts" contain only the music played by an individual musician. A score can be constructed from a complete set of parts and vice versa. The process can be laborious but computer software offers a more convenient and flexible method.

Specialized notation conventions[edit]

A lead sheet

A chord chart. About this sound Play (help·info)
Percussion notation conventions are varied because of the wide range of percussion instruments. Percussion instruments are generally grouped into two categories: pitched and non-pitched. The notation of non-pitched percussion instruments is the more problematic and less standardized.
Figured bass notation originated in Baroque basso continuo parts. It is also used extensively in accordion notation. The bass notes of the music are conventionally notated, along with numbers and other signs that determine the chords to play. It does not, however, specify the exact pitches of the harmony, leaving that for the performer to improvise.
A lead sheet specifies only the melody, lyrics and harmony, using one staff with chord symbols placed above and lyrics below. It is used to capture the essential elements of a popular song without specifying how the song should be arranged or performed.
A chord chart or "chart" contains little or no melodic information at all but provides detailed harmonic and rhythmic information, using slash notation and rhythmic notation. This is the most common kind of written music used by professional session musicians playing jazz or other forms of popular music and is intended primarily for the rhythm section (usually containing piano, guitar, bass and drums).
Simpler chord charts for songs may contain only the chord changes, placed above the lyrics where they occur. Such charts depend on prior knowledge of the melody, and are used as reminders in performance or informal group singing.
The shape note system is found in some church hymnals, sheet music, and song books, especially in the Southern United States. Instead of the customary elliptical note head, note heads of various shapes are used to show the position of the note on the major scale. Sacred Harp is one of the most popular tune books using shape notes.

Music theory


Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. It generally derives from observation of, and involves hypothetical speculation about how musicians and composers make music. The term also describes the academic study and analysis of fundamental elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, harmony, and form, and refers to descriptions, concepts, or beliefs related to music. Because of the ever-expanding conception of what constitutes music (see Definition of music), a more inclusive definition could be that music theory is the consideration of any sonic phenomena, including silence, as it relates to music.

The present article is about music theory properly speaking, i.e. about theories, speculations and hypotheses made about the various aspects or music. It describes the elements of music only insofar as they give way to such theories; other informations about these elements will be found in other articles such as Aspect of music and the specific parameters of music described there. Textbooks, especially in the United States of America, often also include under the term "theory" elements of musical acoustics, considerations of musical notation, techniques of (often tonal) composition (Harmony and Counterpoint), etc., which will not be dealt with as such here, but only as they were the subject of theories and hypotheses.

Music theory is a subfield of musicology, which is itself a subfield within the overarching field of the arts and humanities. Etymologically, music theory is an act of contemplation of music, from the Greek θεωρία, a looking at, viewing, contemplation, speculation, theory, also a sight, a spectacle.[1] As such, it is often concerned with abstract musical aspects such as tuning and tonal systems, scales, consonance and dissonance, and rhythmic relationships, but there is also a body of theory concerning such practical aspects as the creation or the performance of music, orchestration, ornamentation, improvisation, and electronic sound production.[2] A person who researches, teaches, or writes articles about music theory is a music theorist. University study, typically to the M.A. or Ph.D level, is required to teach as a tenure-track music theorist in an American or Canadian university. Methods of analysis include mathematics, graphic analysis, and, especially, analysis enabled by Western music notation. Comparative, descriptive, statistical, and other methods are also used.

The development, preservation, and transmission of music theory may be found in oral and practical music-making traditions, musical instruments, and other artifacts. For example, ancient instruments from Mesopotamia, China,[3] and prehistoric sites around the world reveal details about the music they produced and, potentially, something of the musical theory that might have been used by their makers (see History of music and Musical instrument). In ancient and living cultures around the world, the deep and long roots of music theory are clearly visible in instruments, oral traditions, and current music making. Many cultures, at least as far back as ancient Mesopotamia and ancient China have also considered music theory in more formal ways such as written treatises and music notation.


Music styles
A cappella – any singing performed without any background music/instruments.
A cappella [a kapˈpɛlla] (Italian for "in the manner of the chapel") music is specifically group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with cantata, which is accompanied singing. The term "a cappella" was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music. The term is also used, albeit rarely, as a synonym for alla breve.

Religious origins

A cappella music was originally used in religious music, especially church music as well as anasheed and zemirot. Gregorian chant is an example of a cappella singing, as is the majority of secular vocal music from the Renaissance. The madrigal, up until its development in the early Baroque into an instrumentally-accompanied form, is also usually in a cappella form. Jewish and Christian music were originally a cappella, and this practice has continued in both of these religions as well as in Islam.

The polyphony of Christian a cappella music began to develop in Europe around the late 15th century, with compositions by Josquin des Prez. The early a cappella polyphonies may have had an accompanying instrument, although this instrument would merely double the singers' parts and was not independent. By the 16th century, a cappella polyphony had further developed, but gradually, the cantata began to take the place of a cappella forms. 16th century a cappella polyphony, nonetheless, continued to influence church composers throughout this period and to the present day. Recent evidence has shown that some of the early pieces by Palestrina, such as what was written for the Sistine Chapel was intended to be accompanied by an organ "doubling" some or all of the voices. Such is seen in the life of Palestrina becoming a major influence on Bach, most notably in the aforementioned Mass in B Minor. Other composers that utilized the a cappella style, if only for the occasional piece, were Claudio Monteverdi and his masterpiece, Lagrime d'amante al sepolcro dell'amata (A lover's tears at his beloved's grave), which was composed in 1610, and Andrea Gabrieli when upon his death it was discovered many choral pieces, one of which was in the unaccompanied style. Learning from the preceding two composeres, Heinrich Schόtz utilized the a cappella style in numerous pieces, chief among these were the pieces in the oratorio style, which were traditionally performed during the Easter week and dealt with the religious subject matter of that week, such as Christ's suffering and the Passion. Five of Schutz's Historien were Easter pieces, and of these the latter three, which dealt with the passion from three different viewpoints, those of Matthew, Luke and John, were all done a cappella style. This was a near requirement for this type of piece, and the parts of the crowd were sung while the solo parts which were the quoted parts from either Christ or the authors were performed in a plainchant.

Byzantine Rite
In the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches, the music performed in the liturgies is exclusively sung without instrumental accompaniment. Bishop Kallistos Ware says, "The service is sung, even though there may be no choir... In the Orthodox Church today, as in the early Church, singing is unaccompanied and instrumental music is not found." This a cappella behavior arises from strict interpretation of Psalms 150, which states, Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.[8] In keeping with this philosophy, early Russian musika which started appearing in the late 17th century, in what was known as khorovοye kontsertο (choral concertos) made a cappella adaptations of Venetian-styled pieces, such as the treatise, Grammatika musikiyskaya (1675), by Nikolai Diletsky. Divine Liturgies and Western Rite masses composed by famous composers such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Arkhangelsky, and Mykola Leontovych are fine examples of this.

Opposition to instruments in worship
Present-day Christian religious bodies known for conducting their worship services without musical accompaniment include some Presbyterian churches devoted to the regulative principle of worship, Old Regular Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Churches of Christ, the Old German Baptist Brethren, Doukhobors the Byzantine Rite and the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites. Certain high church services and other musical events in liturgical churches (such as the Roman Catholic Mass and the Lutheran Divine Service) may be a cappella, a practice remaining from apostolic times. Many Mennonites also conduct some or all of their services without instruments. Sacred Harp, a type of folk music, is an a cappella style of religious singing with shape notes, usually sung at singing conventions.

Opponents of musical instruments in the Christian worship believe that such opposition is supported by the Christian scriptures and Church history. The scriptures typically referenced are Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12, 13:15; James 5:13, which show examples and exhortations for Christians to sing.

There is no reference to instrumental music in early church worship in the New Testament, or in the worship of churches for the first six centuries. Several reasons have been posited throughout church history for the absence of instrumental music in church worship.

Christians who believe in a cappella music today believe that in the Israelite worship assembly during Temple worship only the Priests of Levi sang, played, and offered animal sacrifices, whereas in the church era, all Christians are commanded to sing praises to God. They believe that if God wanted instrumental music in New Testament worship, He would have commanded not just singing, but singing and playing like he did in the Hebrew scriptures.

The first recorded example of a musical instrument in Roman Catholic worship was a pipe organ introduced by Pope Vitalian into a cathedral in Rome around 670.

Instruments have divided Christendom since their introduction into worship. They were considered a Catholic innovation, not widely practiced until the 18th century, and were opposed vigorously in worship by a number of Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther (1483–1546), Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin (1509–1564) and John Wesley (1703–1791). Alexander Campbell referred to the use of an instrument in worship as "a cow bell in a concert". In Sir Walter Scott's The Heart of Midlothian, the heroine, Jeanie Deans, a Scottish Presbyterian, writes to her father about the church situation she has found in England (bold added):

The folk here are civil, and, like the barbarians unto the holy apostle, have shown me much kindness; and there are a sort of chosen people in the land, for they have some kirks without organs that are like ours, and are called meeting-houses, where the minister preaches without a gown.

Acceptance of instruments in worship

Those who do not adhere to the regulative principle of interpreting Christian scripture, believe that limiting praise to the unaccompanied chant of the early church is not commanded in scripture, and that churches in any age are free to offer their songs with or without musical instruments.

Those who subscribe to this interpretation believe that since the Christian scriptures never counter instrumental language with any negative judgment on instruments, opposition to instruments instead comes from an interpretation of history. There is no written opposition to musical instruments in any setting in the first century and a half of Christian churches (33 AD to 180AD). The use of instruments for Christian worship during this period is also undocumented. Toward the end of the 2nd century, Christians began condemning the instruments themselves. Those who oppose instruments today believe these Church Fathers had a better understanding of God's desire for the church, but there are significant differences between the teachings of these Church Fathers and Christian opposition to instruments today.

Modern Christians typically believe it is acceptable to play instruments or to attend weddings, funerals, banquets, etc., where instruments are heard playing religious music. The Church Fathers made no exceptions. Since the New Testament never condemns instruments themselves, much less in any of these settings, it is believed[by whom?] that "the church Fathers go beyond the New Testament in pronouncing a negative judgment on musical instruments."
Written opposition to instruments in worship began near the turn of the 5th century. Modern opponents of instruments typically do not make the same assessment of instruments as these writers, who argued that God had allowed David the "evil" of using musical instruments in praise. While the Old Testament teaches that God specifically asked for musical instruments, modern concern is for worship based on the New Testament.
Since "a cappella" singing brought a new polyphony (more than one note at a time) with instrumental accompaniment, it is not surprising that Protestant reformers who opposed the instruments (such as Calvin and Zwingli) also opposed the polyphony.[29] While Zwingli was burning organs in Switzerland – Luther called him a fanatic – the Church of England was burning books of polyphony.

Some Holiness Churches such as the Free Methodist Church opposed the use of musical instruments in church worship until the mid-20th century. The Free Methodist Church allowed for local church decision on the use of either an organ or piano in the 1943 Conference before lifting the ban entirely in 1955.

While worship in the Temple in Jerusalem included musical instruments (2 Chronicles 29:25–27), traditional Jewish religious services in the Synagogue, both before and after the last destruction of the Temple, did not include musical instruments given the practice of scriptural cantillation. The use of musical instruments is traditionally forbidden on the Sabbath out of concern that players would be tempted to repair (or tune) their instruments, which is forbidden on those days. (This prohibition has been relaxed in many Reform and some Conservative congregations.) Similarly, when Jewish families and larger groups sing traditional Sabbath songs known as zemirot outside the context of formal religious services, they usually do so a cappella, and Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations on the Sabbath sometimes feature entertainment by a cappella ensembles. During the Three Weeks musical instruments are prohibited. Many Jews consider a portion of the 49-day period of the counting of the omer between Passover and Shavuot to be a time of semi-mourning and instrumental music is not allowed during that time. This has led to a tradition of a cappella singing sometimes known as sefirah music.

The popularization of the Jewish chant may be found in the writings of the Jewish philosopher Philo, born 20 BCE. Weaving together Jewish and Greek thought, Philo promoted praise without instruments, and taught that "silent singing" (without even vocal chords) was better still. This view parted with the Jewish scriptures, where Israel offered praise with instruments by God's own command (2 Chronicles 29:25). The shofar is the only temple instrument still being used today in the synagogue,[36] and it is only used from Rosh Chodesh Elul through the end of Yom Kippur. The shofar is used by itself, without any vocal accompaniment, and is limited to a very strictly defined set of sounds and specific places in the synagogue service.

In the United States
Peter Christian Lutkin, dean of the Northwestern University School of Music, helped popularize a cappella music in the United States by founding the Northwestern A Cappella Choir in 1906. The A Cappella Choir was "the first permanent organization of its kind in America."

A strong and prominent a cappella tradition was begun in the midwest part of the United States in 1911 by F. Melius Christiansen, a music faculty member at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. The St. Olaf College Choir was established as an outgrowth of the local St. John's Lutheran Church, where Christiansen was organist and the choir was composed, at least partially, of students from the nearby St. Olaf campus. The success of the ensemble was emulated by other regional conductors, and a rich tradition of a cappella choral music was born in the region at colleges like Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota), Augustana College (Rock Island, Illinois), Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa), Luther College (Decorah, Iowa), Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota), Augustana College (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), and Augsburg College (Minneapolis, Minnesota). The choirs typically range from 40 to 80 singers and are recognized for their efforts to perfect blend, intonation, phrasing and pitch in a large choral setting.

Major movements in modern a cappella over the past century include Barbershop and doo wop. The Barbershop Harmony Society, Sweet Adelines International, and Harmony Inc. host educational events including Harmony University, Directors University, and the International Educational Symposium, and international contests and conventions, recognizing international champion choruses and quartets.

These days, many a cappella groups can be found in high schools and colleges. There are amateur Barbershop Harmony Society and professional groups that sing a cappella exclusively. Although a cappella is technically defined as singing without instrumental accompaniment, some groups use their voices to emulate instruments; others are more traditional and focus on harmonizing. A cappella styles range from gospel music to contemporary to barbershop quartets and choruses.

A cappella music was popularized between the late 2000s and the mid 2010s with media hits such as the 2009–2014 TV show The Sing-Off, the musical Perfect Harmony, and the musical comedy film series Pitch Perfect.

Recording artists
In July 1943, as a result of the American Federation of Musicians boycott of US recording studios, the a cappella vocal group The Song Spinners had a best-seller with "Comin' In On A Wing And A Prayer". In the 1950s several recording groups, notably The Hi-Los and the Four Freshmen, introduced complex jazz harmonies to a cappella performances. The King's Singers are credited with promoting interest in small-group a cappella performances in the 1960s. In 1983 an a cappella group known as The Flying Pickets had a Christmas 'number one' in the UK with a cover of Yazoo's (known in the US as Yaz) "Only You". A cappella music attained renewed prominence from the late 1980s onward, spurred by the success of Top 40 recordings by artists such as The Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, Huey Lewis and the News, All-4-One, The Nylons, Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men.

Contemporary a cappella includes many vocal groups and bands who add vocal percussion or beatboxing to create a pop/rock/gospel sound, in some cases very similar to bands with instruments. Examples of such professional groups include Straight No Chaser, Pentatonix, The House Jacks, Rockapella, Mosaic, and M-pact. There also remains a strong a cappella presence within Christian music, as some denominations purposefully do not use instruments during worship. Examples of such groups are Take 6, Glad and Acappella. Arrangements of popular music for small a cappella ensembles typically include one voice singing the lead melody, one singing a rhythmic bass line, and the remaining voices contributing chordal or polyphonic accompaniment.

A cappella can also describe the isolated vocal track(s) from a multitrack recording that originally included instrumentation. These vocal tracks may be remixed or put onto vinyl records for DJs, or released to the public so that fans can remix them. One such example is the a cappella release of Jay-Z's Black Album, which Danger Mouse mixed with The Beatles' White Album to create The Grey Album.

A cappella's growth is not limited to live performance, with hundreds of recorded a cappella albums produced over the past decade. As of December 2006, the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) had reviewed over 660 a cappella albums since 1994, and its popular discussion forum had over 900 users and 19,000 articles.

Recording artist Brandy Norwood included a song on her 2008 album Human titled "A Capella (Something's Missing)". Brandy uses her voice for background music in this song, showing her capabilities of using her voice as an instrument.[40] No other instruments are used, except for an electric guitar.

In 2010, American dance recording artist Kelis released a song called "Acapella" as the first single from her album Flesh Tone. The song is not actually performed a cappella, but rather explains that before her son was born, her life was without music.

In 2013, an artist by the name Smooth McGroove rose to prominence with his style of a cappella music. He is best known for his a cappella covers of video game music tracks on YouTube.

Musical theater
A cappella has been used as the sole orchestration for original works of musical theater that have had commercial runs Off-Broadway (theaters in New York City with 99 to 500 seats) only four times. The first was Avenue X which opened on 28 January 1994 and ran for 77 performances. It was produced by Playwrights Horizons with book by John Jiler, music and lyrics by Ray Leslee. The musical style of the show's score was primarily Doo-Wop as the plot revolved around Doo-Wop group singers of the 1960s.

In 2001, The Kinsey Sicks, produced and starred in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway hit, "DRAGAPELLA! Starring the Kinsey Sicks" at New York's legendary Studio 54. That production received a nomination for a Lucille Lortel award as Best Musical and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Lyrics. It was directed by Glenn Casale with original music and lyrics by Ben Schatz.

The a cappella musical Perfect Harmony, a comedy about two high school a cappella groups vying to win the National championship, made its Off Broadway debut at Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre on 42nd Street in New York City in October, 2010 after a successful out-of-town run at the Stoneham Theatre, in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Perfect Harmony features the hit music of The Jackson 5, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, Marvin Gaye, Scandal, Tiffany, The Romantics, The Pretenders, The Temptations, The Contours, The Commodores, Tommy James & the Shondells and The Partridge Family, and has been compared to a cross between Altar Boyz and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The fourth a cappella musical to appear Off-Broadway, In Transit, premiered 5 October 2010 and was produced by Primary Stages with book, music, and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth. Set primarily in the New York City subway system its score features an eclectic mix of musical genres (including jazz, hip hop, Latin, rock, and country). In Transit incorporates vocal beat boxing into its contemporary a cappella arrangements through the use of a subway beat boxer character. Beat boxer and actor Chesney Snow performed this role for the 2010 Primary Stages production.[50] According to the show's website, it is scheduled to reopen for an open-ended commercial run in the Fall of 2011. In 2011 the production received four Lucille Lortel Award nominations including Outstanding Musical, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations, as well as five Drama Desk nominations including Outstanding Musical and won for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.

As of April 2013, no show with a cappella orchestrations has ever run on Broadway.

Barbershop style
Barbershop music is one of several uniquely American art forms. The earliest reports of this style of a cappella music involved African Americans. The earliest documented quartets all began in barbershops. In 1938, the first formal men's barbershop organization was formed, known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A), and in 2004 rebranded itself and officially changed its public name to the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). Today the BHS has over 22,000 members in approximately 800 chapters across the United States, and the barbershop style has spread around the world with organizations in many other countries. The Barbershop Harmony Society provides a highly organized competition structure for a cappella quartets and choruses singing in the barbershop style.

In 1945, the first formal women's barbershop organization, Sweet Adelines, was formed. In 1953 Sweet Adelines became an international organization, although it didn't change its name to Sweet Adelines International until 1991. The membership of nearly 25,000 women, all singing in English, includes choruses in most of the fifty United States as well as in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Wales and the Netherlands. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the organization encompasses more than 1,200 registered quartets and 600 choruses.

In 1959, a second women's barbershop organization started as a break off from Sweet Adelines due to ideological differences. Based on democratic principles which continue to this day, Harmony, Inc. is smaller than its counterpart, but has an atmosphere of friendship and competition. With about 2,500 members in the United States and Canada, Harmony, Inc. uses the same rules in contest that the Barbershop Harmony Society uses. Harmony, Inc. is registered in Providence, Rhode Island.

In other countries

Sri Lanka

Composer Dinesh Subasinghe became the first Sri Lankan to write a cappella pieces for SATB choirs. He wrote "The Princes of the Lost Tribe" and "Ancient Queen of Somawathee" for Menaka De Shabandu and Bridget Halpe's choirs, respectively, based on historical incidents in ancient Sri Lanka.

The European a cappella tradition is especially strong in the countries around the Baltic and perhaps most so in Sweden as described by Richard Sparks in his doctoral thesis The Swedish Choral Miracle in 2000.

Swedish a cappella choirs have over the last 25 years won around 25% of the annual prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Singing (EGP) that despite its name is open to choirs from all over the world.

The reasons for the strong Swedish dominance are as explained by Richard Sparks manifold; suffice to say here that there is a long-standing tradition, an unsusually large proportion of the populations (5% is often cited) regularly sing in choirs, the Swedish choral director Eric Ericson had an enormous impact on a cappella choral development not only in Sweden but around the world, and finally there are a large number of very popular primary and secondary schools (music schools) with high admission standards based on auditions that combine a rigid academic regimen with high level choral singing on every school day, a system that started with Adolf Fredrik's Music School in Stockholm in 1939 but has spread over the country.

United Kingdom
A cappella has gained attention in the UK in recent years, with many groups forming at British universities by students seeking an alternative singing pursuit to traditional choral and chapel singing. This movement has been bolstered by organisations such as The Voice Festival UK.

It is not clear exactly where collegiate a cappella began. The Rensselyrics of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (formerly known as the RPI Glee Club), established in 1873 is perhaps the oldest known collegiate a cappella group.[citation needed] However the longest continuously-singing group is probably The Whiffenpoofs of Yale University,[55] which was formed in 1909 and once included Cole Porter as a member. Collegiate a cappella groups grew throughout the 20th century. Some notable historical groups formed along the way include Princeton University's Tigertones (1946), Colgate University's The Colgate 13 (1942), Dartmouth College's Aires (1946), Cornell University's Cayuga's Waiters (1949) and The Hangovers (1968), the University of Maine Maine Steiners (1958), the Columbia University Kingsmen (1949), the Jabberwocks of Brown University (1949), and the University of Rochester YellowJackets (1956). All-women a cappella groups followed shortly, frequently as a parody of the men's groups: the Smiffenpoofs of Smith College (1936), The Shwiffs of Connecticut College (The She-Whiffenpoofs, 1944), and The Chattertocks of Brown University (1951). A cappella groups exploded in popularity beginning in the 1990s, fueled in part by a change in style popularized by the Tufts University Beelzebubs and the Boston University Dear Abbeys. The new style used voices to emulate modern rock instruments, including vocal percussion/"beatboxing". Some larger universities now have multiple groups. Groups often join one another in on-campus concerts, such as the Georgetown Chimes' Cherry Tree Massacre, a 3-weekend a cappella festival held each February since 1975, where over a hundred collegiate groups have appeared, as well as International Quartet Champions The Boston Common and the contemporary commercial a cappella group Rockapella. Co-ed groups have produced many up-and-coming and major artists, including John Legend, an alumnus of the Counterparts at the University of Pennsylvania, and Sara Bareilles, an alumna of Awaken A Cappella at University of California, Los Angeles. Mira Sorvino is an alumna of the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones of Harvard College where she had the solo on Only You by Yaz.

A cappella is gaining popularity among South Asians with the emergence of primarily Hindi-English College groups. The first South Asian a cappella group was Penn Masala, founded in 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-ed South Asian a cappella groups are also gaining in popularity. The first co-ed south Asian a cappella was Anokha, from the University of Maryland, formed in 2001. Also, Dil se, another co-ed a cappella from UC Berkeley, hosts the "Anahat" competition at the University of California, Berkeley annually. Maize Mirchi, the co-ed a cappella group from the University of Michigan hosts "Sa Re Ga Ma Pella", an annual South Asian a cappella invitational with various groups from the Midwest.

Jewish-interest groups such as Tufts University's Shir Appeal, University of Chicago's Rhythm and Jews, Binghamton University's Kaskeset, Ohio State University's Meshuganotes, Rutgers University's Kol Halayla, New York University's Ani V'Ata and Yale University's Magevet are also gaining popularity across the U.S.

Increased interest in modern a cappella (particularly collegiate a cappella) can be seen in the growth of awards such as the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (overseen by the Contemporary A Cappella Society) and competitions such as the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for college groups and the Harmony Sweepstakes for all groups. In December 2009, a new television competition series called The Sing-Off aired on NBC. The show featured eight a cappella groups from the United States and Puerto Rico vying for the prize of $100,000 and a recording contract with Epic Records/Sony Music. The show was judged by Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Nicole Scherzinger and was won by an all-male group from Puerto Rico called Nota. The show returned for a second and third season, won by Committed and Pentatonix, respectively.

Each year, hundreds of Collegiate a cappella groups submit their strongest songs in a competition to be on The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA), an album compilation of tracks from the best college a cappella groups around the world. The album is produced by Varsity Vocals – which also produces the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella – and Deke Sharon. A group chosen to be on the BOCA album earns much credibility among the a cappella community.

Collegiate a cappella groups may also submit their tracks to Voices Only, a two-disc series released at the beginning of each school year. A Voices Only album has been released every year since 2005.

In addition, all women's a cappella groups can send their strongest song tracks to the Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA) for its annual best of women's a cappella album. WACA offers another medium for women's voices to receive recognition and has released an album every year since 2014, featuring women's groups from across the United States.

Emulating instruments
In addition to singing words, some a cappella singers also emulate instrumentation by reproducing instrumental sounds with their vocal cords and mouth. One of the earliest 20th century practitioners of this method were The Mills Brothers whose early recordings of the 1930s clearly stated on the label that all instrumentation was done vocally. More recently, "Twilight Zone" by 2 Unlimited was sung a cappella to the instrumentation on the comedy television series Tompkins Square. Another famous example of emulating instrumentation instead of singing the words is the theme song for The New Addams Family series on Fox Family Channel (now ABC Family). Groups such as Vocal Sampling and Undivided emulate Latin rhythms a cappella. In the 1960s, the Swingle Singers used their voices to emulate musical instruments to Baroque and Classical music. Vocal artist Bobby McFerrin is famous for his instrumental emulation. A cappella group Naturally Seven recreates entire songs using vocal tones for every instrument.

The Swingle Singers used nonsense words to sound like instruments, but have been known to produce non-verbal versions of musical instruments. Like the other groups, examples of their music can be found on YouTube. Beatboxing, more accurately known as vocal percussion, is a technique used in a cappella music popularized by the hip-hop community, where rap is often performed a cappella also. The advent of vocal percussion added new dimensions to the a cappella genre and has become very prevalent in modern arrangements. Petra Haden used a four-track recorder to produce an a cappella version of The Who Sell Out including the instruments and fake advertisements on her album Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out in 2005. Haden has also released a cappella versions of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller". In 2009, Toyota commissioned Haden to perform three songs for television commercials for the third-generation Toyota Prius, including an a cappella version of The Bellamy Brothers' 1970s song "Let Your Love Flow".

Christian rock group Relient K recorded the song "Plead the Fifth" a cappella on its album Five Score and Seven Years Ago. The group recorded lead singer Matt Thiessen making drum noises and played them with an electronic drum machine to record the song.

The German metal band van Canto uses vocal noises to imitate guitars on covers of well-known rock and metal songs (such as "Master of Puppets" by Metallica) as well as original compositions. Although they are generally classified as a cappella metal, the band also includes a drummer, and uses amplifiers on some songs to distort the voice to sound more like an electric guitar.

Let My people go orpheus vocal group

Acid house – psychedelic style of house
Acid jazz – psychedelic style of jazz influenced heavily by funk and hip-hop production
Acid rock – a form of psychedelic rock, characterized with long instrumental solos, few (if any) lyrics and musical improvisation
Acoustic – a music that solely or primarily uses instruments which produce sound through entirely acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means.
Adult contemporary – a broad term for any music with lush and soothing qualities, and a focus on melody and harmony.
Afrobeat – a large-scaled and energetic combination of Yoruba, highlife, jazz, and funk music.
Afro-Cuban jazz – style of jazz influenced by traditional Afro-Cuban music.
Afropop – a genre of African popular music.
Aleatoric – music the composition of which is partially left to chance
Alternative country – any style of country that deviates from the norm
Alternative dance – any combination of rock and electronic dance music
Alternative hip hop – any style of hip hop that deviates from the norm
Alternative metal – any style of heavy metal that deviates from the norm
Alternative rock – any style of rock that deviates from the norm
Ambient – a form of incredibly slow electronic music that uses long repetitive sounds to generate a sense of calm and atmosphere.
Americana – a combination of all forms of roots music – folk, country, and blues
Anasheed – Islamic vocal music, usually sung a capella, or accompanied by a daff.
Ancient – music created in the early stages of literate cultures.
Anime – music, usually J-pop, used in anime soundtracks
Anti-folk – a mocking subgenre of folk that subverts the earnest, politically-informed lyrics of folk-revivalists.
Apala – Nigerian music originally used by the Yoruba people to wake worshippers after fasting during Ramadan.
Arabic pop – pop music informed by traditional Arabic styles.
Argentine rock – rock music informed by traditional Argentine styles.
Ars antiqua – European music from the Late Middle Ages, which advanced concepts of rhythm.
Ars nova – style of French music from the Late Middle Ages, rejected fiercely by the Catholic Church.
Ars subtilior – style of French music from the Late Middle Ages.
Art punk – experimental or avant-garde punk music
Art rock – experimental or avant-garde rock music
Art pop – experimental or avant-garde pop music
Ashik – music performed by mystic or travelling Turkish, Azerbaijan, Georgian, Armenian, and Iranian bands, using vocals and the saz, performed since ancient times.
Assyrian pop music - pop, folk and dance music informed by traditional Assyrian styles.
Australian country – country music performed by Australians
Australian pub rock – style of hard rock founded in and drawing on themes native to Australian inner-city and suburban pubs and drinking establishments
Australian hip hop – hip hop performed by Australians
Authentic 80's - retro score or soundtrack made with synthesizers
Avant-garde jazz – experimental or avant-garde jazz music
Avant-garde metal – experimental or avant-garde heavy metal or hard rock
Avant-garde – music considered to be ahead of its time, often using new, unusual, or experimental elements, or fusing pre-existing genres.
Axι – style of Salvadorian, Bahian, and Brazilian music informed by Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian styles
Bac-Bal – Bam-Bay – Be-Bh – Bi-Bl – Br-Bu

Bachata – An Afro-Dominican style waltz, consisting of despairing, and romantic ballads, popular among Dominican artists
Baggy – a British style that combined alternative rock and acid house, often creating a psychedelic and funky sound
Baiγo – a Brazilian rhythmic formula built around the zabumba drum that later combined itself with elements of mestizo, European, and African styles
Bakersfield sound – a raw and gritty country style that acted as a reaction against the slick, overproduced Nashville sound
Baila – Sri Lankan style that begun among the Afro-Sinhalese (or Kariff) community
Baisha xiyue – orchestral Chinese style used by the Naxi people, often found in Taoist or Confucian ceremonies
Bajourou – initially an acoustic style of Malian pop music played at gatherings (particularly weddings), which has since become mostly electronic
Bal-musette – 19th century style of French accordion-based dance music
Balakadri – Guadeloupean music made from the quadrille, usually performed at balls
Balinese Gamelan – Javanese and Balinese style made from xylophones, drums, and plucked strings
Balearic beat, also known as Balearic house, electronic dance music that was popular into the mid-1990s.
Balkan Brass Band – Serbian music made by soldiers that combined military brass with folk music
Ballad – generic term for usually slow, romantic, despairing and catastrophic songs
Ballata – 13th–15th century Italian musical and poetic form based on an AbbaA structure that acted as a form of dance music
Ballet – specific style of French classical music created to accompany the ballet dance
Baltimore Club – combination of hip hop and house music
Bambuco – Colombian style based on waltz and polka
Banda – brass-based Mexican music
Bangsawan – style of Malay opera based on Indian styles introduced by immigrants
Bantowbol – Cameroonian style of accordion music
Barbershop – an art song in four part harmony in a capella styling
Barn dance – folk music played in a barnhouse
Bassline – style of speed garage that combines elements of dubstep, particularly its emphasis on bass
Baroque – style of Western art music made between the 17th and 18th centuries
Bass – styles of EDM with an emphasis on bass, such as drum and bass, UK garage, and dubstep
Batα-rumba – Cuban rumba music that incorporates bata and guaguanco
Batucada – an African-influenced style of Brazilian sumba
Baul – A style of folk music, specially in Bengali region.
Beach – Californian genre from the 1950s that combined elements of all popular genres at the time, particularly big band and shag jazz
Beat- British fusion of all popular 1960s American styles – R&B, pop, jazz, rock
Beatboxing – a capella music created to emulate hip hop beats
Beautiful – term of endearment for various easy listening genres
Bebop – fast paced style of jazz popular in the 1940s and 1950s
Beiguan – style of Chinese traditional music popular in Taiwan and the province of Zhangzhou
Bel canto – a light, sophisticated style of Italian opera singing
Bend-skin – urban Cameroonian music
Benga – Kenyan popular music based on Luo and Kikuyu folk music
Berlin School – heavily experimental electronic music that acted as a more avant-garde form of Krautrock and inspired ambient and New Age music
Bhajan – Hindu religious music
Bhangra – fusion of South Asian and British popular styles, initially developed by Punjabi Indian-English as a combination of their respective cultural styles, but later used to refer to any South Asian/European fusion
Bhangragga – a fusion of bhangra and reggae and dancehall
Big band – large orchestras which play a form of swing music
Big Beat – 1990s electronic music based on breakbeat with other influences
Biguine – Guadeloupean folk music
Blackened death metal – a fusion between death and black metal
Black metal – Extreme metal known for its lo-fi recording, shrieking vocals, unconventional song structures and dark or supernatural lyrics.
Bluegrass – American country music mixed with Irish and Scottish influences
Blue-eyed soul – rhythm and blues or soul music performed by white artists.
Blues – African-American music from the Mississippi Delta area
Blues ballad – fusion of blues and folk
Blues-rock – a hybrid musical genre combining bluesy improvisations over the 12-bar blues and extended boogie jams with rock and roll styles.
Biomusic – a form of experimental music which deals with sounds created or performed by living things.
Bitpop – electronic music, where at least part of the music is made using old 8-bit computers, game consoles and little toy instruments. Popular choices are the Commodore 64, Game Boy, Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System.
Bihu – a popular folk music of Assam, India
Boi – Amazonian folk music
Bossa Nova – a well-known style of Brazilian music, a lyrical fusion of samba and jazz.
Bounce – energetic hip-hop music, native to New Orleans, frequently characterized by chromatic tics and "call and response" lyrics
Bouncy techno – an upbeat form of electronic dance music.
Brass – music performed with brass instruments, prior to the advent of jazz
Breakbeat – a style of EDM known for its 4/4 drum pattern and heavy use of turntable scratching
Breakbeat hardcore – a fusion of breakbeat and acid house
Breakcore – fast and frantic style of breakbeat known for its intentionally diverse range of samples, which make it a hard-to-define genre
Breton – folk music of Brittany, France, known for its use of woodwind
Brill Building Sound – a distinct style of jazz and Latin-inspired pop developed in the Brill Building of New York, USA
Brit funk – funk performed by the British, often influenced by soul, jazz, and Caribbean music
Britpop – British rock music from the 1990s that subverted the depressing themes of the then-popular grunge movement in favor of jangly, optimistic, guitar-pop, often touching on the themes of partying and working class life.
British blues – blues performed by British musicians
British Invasion – British musicians, primarily of the beat movement, who became popular in America during the 1960s
Broken beat – EDM played in a syncopated 4/4 rhythm, with punctuated snare beats
Brostep – an aggressive and metal-influenced style of dubstep popular in America
Brown-eyed soul – soul music performed by Latinos
Brukdown – Belizean music inspired by European harmonies, African rhythms, and the call-and-response format
Bubblegum dance – fusion of Eurodance and bubblegum pop
Bubblegum pop – pop music known for its simplicity, happy and cute lyrics, and emphasis on image rather than substance.
Bikutsi – Cameroonian EDM, originating in the Beti community
Bulerνas – fast-paced flamenco music
Bunraku – Japanese folk music often played at puppet theaters
Burger-highlife – style of highlife played by Ghanaian-Germans
Burgundian School – group of French, Belgian, and Dutch composers active in the 15th century, known for their secular forms
Bush ballad – Australian folk music often dealing with themes of Australian spirit and rebellion
Byzantine – Greek music performed during the age of the Byzantine Empire, known for its ecclesiastical form
Ca – Cc-Ce – Ch – Ci-Cl – Co – Cr-Cu

Ca din tulnic – Romanian folk music played with the alpenhorn
Ca trω – a style of Vietnamese chamber music performed by one lute player and a geisha-esque female singer, used to entertain wealthy audiences, who would be included in the performances, and to perform in religious ceremonies
Cabaret – an often jazz-informed style of music played at upbeat stageplays or burlesque shows
Cadence-lypso – fusion of kadans and calypso
Cadence rampa – upbeat style of kadans
Cải lương – modern Vietnamese folk opera
Cajun – roots music of Louisiana, USA, inspired by Acadian ballads and Creole
Calinda – Trinidadian folk music played during practices of the martial art of the same name
Čalgija – Macedonian folk style
Calypso – Trinidadian folk music, inspired by both African and French styles, and known for its lyrics dealing with the racist oppression of native Trinidadians at the time
Calypso-style baila – fusion of baila and calypso
Campursari – Indonesian fusion genre, combining several folk styles with pop music
Candombe – fusion of African and Uruguayan styles developed by African-Uruguayan slaves in the 19th century
Canon – any music that combines a melody with copies of itself
Cantata – any music sung by a choir with instrumental backing
Cante chico – the vocal component to flamenco music
Cante jondo – flamenco music that incorporates deep vocals
Canterbury scene – group of British avant-garde, progressive rock, and jazz fusion musicians based in the English city of Canterbury, Kent
Cantiρas – upbeat form of Andalusian flamenco music
Cantiga – Portuguese ballad style from the Middle Ages
Canto livre – Portuguese folk music known for its far-left political messages
Cantopop – any Chinese pop music sung in Cantonese
Canzone Napoletana – Italian music sung in Neapolitan
Capoeira – Brazilian music played during performances of the martial art of the same name
Cariso – Trinidadian folk music, often considered an early form of calypso
Carnatic – southern Indian classical music
Carol – a festive song, often sung on Christmas or, rarely, Easter
Cartageneras – a style of flamenco known for its focus on folklore
Cavacha – style of rhythm popular in Kenyan and Zairean music
Celempungan – Sudanese folk music
Cello rock – rock music that incorporates cellos
Celtic – folk music of the Celts, an ethnic group inhabiting Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, some parts of France and Spain, and once England
Celtic fusion – popular music that includes a Celtic influence
Celtic hip hop – fusion of Celtic and hip hop music
Celtic metal – fusion of Celtic and heavy metal music
Celtic punk – fusion of Celtic and punk rock music
Celtic reggae – fusion of Celtic and reggae music
Celtic rock – fusion of Celtic and rock music
Cha-cha-cha – Cuban folk music
Chacarera – Argentinian folk and dance music
Chakacha – music of the Swahili people of Kenya and Tanzania
Chalga – fusion of Bulgarian etno-pop and dance music with Eastern and Arab elements, popular in Southern Bulgaria
Chamamι – style of Argentinian, Mesopotamian, and Brazilian folk music
Chamber – classical music performed for a small audience by a small orchestra
Chamber jazz – fusion of chamber and jazz music
Chamber pop – Fusion of alternative rock and chamber music
Champeta – African-Colombian folk music
Changόν – Cuban music that fused African and Spanish styles
Chanson – French vocal-driven music
Chant – singing or speaking rhythmically to a very small number of pitches
Chap hop – a variety of music originating from England that mixes the hip hop genre with elements from the Chappist or steampunk subcultures
Charanga – traditional Cuban dance music
Charanga-vallenata – fusion of charanga, vallenata, and salsa
Charikawi – music accompanying of the dance of the same name of the Garifuna people of west Africa
Chastushka – humorous and fast-paced Russian and Ukrainian folk music
Chầu văn – a downtempo, trance-inducing style of Vietnamese folk music
Chθo – a style of musical theater performed by Vietnamese peasants
Children's music – any music marketed towards children
Chicago blues – blues music performed by Chicago inhabitants
Chicago house – house music performed by Chicago inhabitants
Chicago soul – soul music performed by Chicago inhabitants
Chicken scratch – fusion of Native American, White American, Mexican, and European styles, performed by the Native American Tohono O'odham people
Chill-out – umbrella term for electronic music with a slow tempo, designed to calm people after raves
Chillwave – indie pop style known for its looped synths and calming effects
Chinese music – any music performed by Chinese people
Chinese rock – rock music performed by Chinese people, often fused with traditional styles
Chiptune – Electronic music that is made on vintage computers/game systems or emulations thereof. May also refer to electronic music that uses samples from video games or vintage computers.
Chouval bwa – Martinican folk music
Chowtal – north Indian folk music performed during the Phagwa or Holi festival
Choro – fast-paced Brazilian pop music
Christian alternative rock – fusion of Christian and alternative rock
Christian country – fusion of Christian and country music
Christmas carol – carols performed during the Christmas season
Christmas music – any music tied to the Christmas season
Christian electronic – EDM with Christian themes
Christian hardcore – fusion of Christian and hardcore punk rock
Christian hip hop – hip hop with Christian themes
Christian metal – fusion of Christian and heavy metal rock
Christian music – any music with overt Christian themes
Christian punk – fusion of Christian and punk rock
Christian rock – rock music with Christian themes
Christian ska – ska music with Christian themes
Chylandyk – style of throat singing performed by the Tuva people of Siberia, created to mimic the chirps of crickets
Chumba – folk and dance style of the Garifuna people of west Africa
Chut-kai-pang – fusion of chutney, calypso, and parang
Chutney – Caribbean pop music that fuses calypso and cadence with several Indian styles
Chutney Soca – fusion of chutney and soca music
Classic country – umbrella term for country music released before the use of the term to describe it
Classic female blues – an early form of blues music known for its female vocalists
Classic rock – umbrella term for rock music released before the use of the term to describe it, but often referring to hard and blues rock of the 1960s and 1970s
Classical – umbrella term for Western art music known for its use of large orchestras and staff notation
Classical period – a clearer, slicker form of Western art music performed in the 18th and 19th centuries, known for its emphasis on homophones and melody
Close harmony – any music with notes performed in a close range
Coladeira – Cape Verdean folk music
Coldwave – French post-punk
Combined rhythm – Dutch Antillean folk music inspired by zouk, merengue, and soca
Comedy music – any music that incorporates heavy themes of humor and comedy
Comedy rap – fusion of comedy and hip hop music
Comedy rock – fusion of comedy and rock music
Comic opera – fusion of comedy and opera music
Compas – a modernized form of Haitian meringue music
Concerto – a three-part classical piece in which one instrument takes lead and is backed by an orchestra
Concerto grosso – a form of baroque concerto in which the soloists and orchestra alternate playing
Conga – Cuban music played to accompany the dance of the same name
Conjunto – fusion of Mexican and German styles developed by Mexican-Americans who had bought German instruments in Texas
Contemporary Christian music – pop music with overt Christian themes
Contemporary R&B – a style of R&B music popular in the 21st century that combines soul-inspired vocals with hip-hop and EDM-inspired production
Contradanza – 19th century Cuban dance music
Cool jazz – a relaxed, downtempo form of jazz heavily inspired by classical music, that existed as a reaction to the fast-paced bebop
Coon song – music about black stereotypes
Corrido – Mexican storytelling ballad
Country – American roots music played with acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, and harmonicas
Country blues – fusion of country and blues music
Country rap – fusion of country and hip hop music
Country rock – fusion of country and rock music
Country pop – fusion of country and pop music
Coupι-Dιcalι – Ivorian-French EDM drawing on zouk and African influences
Cowpunk – fusion of country and punk rock music
Cretan – Greek folk music performed by inhabitants of the island of Crete
Crossover thrash – fusion of thrash metal and hardcore punk
Crunk – fusion of hip hop and EDM, known for its heavy basslines and shouted, call-and-response vocals
Crunkcore – fusion of crunk and screamo
Crust punk – fusion of anarcho- and hardcore punk and extreme metal
Csαrdαs – Hungarian folk music
Cuarteto – Argentinian merengue music, originating in the city of Cordoba, and influenced also by Spanish and Italian styles
Cueca – umbrella term for Argentinian, Chilean, and Bolivian styles
Cumbia – fusion of Colombian folk music and African and Spanish styles bought from slaves and colonists, respectively
Cumbia villera – cumbia performed by inhabitants of the shantytowns of Buenos Aires
Cybergrind – fusion of grindcore and industrial
Da – De-Dh – Di-Dr – Du-Dz

Dabke – Arabic folk dance music, often played at weddings
Dadra – light vocal style of Hindustani classical music, originating from the Bundelkhand region
Dadra tala – a style of Hindustani classical music which utilizes six beats in two equal rows of three
Daina – Latvian folk music
Daina – Lithuanian folk music
Dance – any music designed to make the listener dance. Also known as club music, an offshoot to electronic music which gave rise to EDM.
Dance-pop – pop music with an emphasis on dance rhythms, fusion of dance and pop musical styles.
Dance-punk – a grittier and rawer form of new wave music, linked heavily to the contemporary indie scene
Dance-rock – fusion of post-punk and post-disco, linked heavily to the new wave
Dancehall – Jamaican pop music that abandons reggae's roots influences for a slicker, EDM-inspired production
Dangdut – melodic and heavily optimistic form of Indonesian pop
Danger – any music that will, somehow, potentially harm either the performers or the audience, linked heavily to noise rock
Dansband – Swedish folk music
Danza – Puerto Rican style of music that accompanies the ballroom-influenced dance of the same name
Danzσn – Cuban dance music
Dappan koothu – Indian folk dance music, popular in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, often used as filmi music in the movies produced in those states
Dark ambient – style of ambient music that creates a feeling of dread and foreboding, rather than the relaxation given off by most ambient
Dark cabaret – fusion of cabaret and gothic rock
Darkcore – techno with a dark and foreboding feel, acting as a reaction to the optimism of rave music in general
Darkcore – chaotic and sinister style of jungle, which relied on pitch-shifting and horror movie audio samples
Darkstep – style of darkcore jungle that takes its signature sinister feel and fuses it with upbeat breakbeats and ambient noises, creating an excessively chaotic tone
Dark wave – excessively pessimistic style of post-punk, which relied on tales of realistic sorrow, rather than the fantasy elements of the then-popular gothic rock
De dragoste – Romanian love music
Deathcore – fusion of death metal and metalcore
Deathgrind – fusion of death metal and grindcore
Death industrial – fusion of death and industrial metal, linked heavily to the power electronics scene
Death metal – Extreme metal known for its distorted guitar structure, growling vocals, blast beat drumming and dark or violent lyrics.
Death-doom – fusion of death and doom metal
Death rock – style of gothic rock known for its scratchy guitars, and lyrics focusing on supernatural and pessimistic themes, sometimes delving into intentionally campy horror themes
Dιcima – Hispanic genre of sung poetry
Delta blues – blues music performed by inhabitants of the Mississippi Delta
Deep house – form of Chicago house, inspired by jazz and soul music
Dementia – bizarre form of comedic avant-garde played by Dr. Demento
Descarga – a genre of improvised Afro-Cuban music
Desi – a style of Hindustani classical raga, associated with the Asavari and Kafi thaat
Detroit blues – blues music performed by inhabitants of Detroit, Michigan, USA
Detroit techno – techno performed by inhabitants of Detroit, Michigan, USA
Dhamar – a tala used in Hindustani classical music, associated with the dhrupad style, and played on a pakhawaj
Dhrupad – vocal style of Hindustani classical music, considered the oldest still being performed today
Dhun – a light instrumental form of Hindustani classical music
Digital hardcore – fusion of hardcore punk and hardcore techno, known for its far-left lyrics
Dirge – a song of mourning, often played at a funeral
Dirty rap – hip hop with sexual and pornographic themes
Disco – a form of music to dance to with elements of soul, pop and salsa.
Disco polo – Polish disco music
Diva house – style of house popular in LGBT nightclubs
Dixieland – an early form of jazz developed in New Orleans, USA
Djent – subgenre of progressive metal known for its elastic power chords
Doina – Romanian folk music, informed by Middle Eastern styles
Dondang Sayang – love ballads from the Malaysian state of Malacca, influenced by Portuguese styles
Donegal fiddle tradition – an Irish style of fiddle-playing from the Donegal county
Dongjing – Chinese traditional music of Nakhi people of the Yunnan province
Doo-wop – a simplistic and pop-oriented form of R&B known for its vocal harmonies and little to no instrumentation
Doom metal – A style of heavy metal known for its low-tuned sound, slow tempos, clean and non-growled vocals and pessimistic lyrics
Downtempo – a slow-paced style of electronic music that differs from ambient in that it also has a beat and rhythm
Dream pop – an atmospheric and melodic style of indie pop that makes the audience feel dreamy
Drone metal – fusion of drone and heavy metal music
Drill music - Chicago rap, see Drill (music genre) for more
Drone – experimental style of minimalism, known for drawn-out and repetitive tones, giving it a droning feel
Drum and bass – style of EDM known for rapid-fire breakbeats and heavy basslines
Drumstep – fusion of drum and bass and dubstep
Dub – subgenre of reggae in which pre-existing tracks are heavily remixed, emphasizing the drum and bass (or riddim) and dubbing snippets from other works
Dubtronica – fusion of dub and EDM
Dubstep – dub-inspired subgenre of UK garage known for its heavy basslines and reverberant drums
Dubstyle – fusion of dubstep and hardstyle
Dunun – family of west African drums
Dunedin Sound – style of indie pop based in Dunedin, New Zealand
Dutch jazz – jazz performed by Dutch musicians
Ea-En – Er-Ez

Early – umbrella term for any music made from the prehistoric era until the advent of baroque music
East Coast blues – umbrella term for any blues music made by inhabitants of the American East Coast, usually used to refer to the New York or Piedmont scenes
East Coast hip hop – any hip hop produced by inhabitants of New York
Easycore - pop punk with influences from metal- and hardcore
Easy listening – pop style aimed at older listeners
Electric blues – style of blues played with electric instruments, most notably the electric guitar
Electric folk – associated with the folk revival of the 1960s, electric folk was a style of folk in which modern, often electric instruments, were substituted for classic folk instruments
Electro – early form of EDM which made its sounds intentionally robotic and computer-like, usually to channel a theme of transhumanism
Electro backbeat – any EDM which utilizes a 4/4 drum pattern
Electro-industrial – a style of post-industrial which used heavily produced and layered synths
Electro swing – fusion of EDM and swing-jazz
Electroclash – fusion of 1980s synthpop and 1990s techno
Electronic body music – EDM-informed style of post-industrial
Electronic dance – EDM; a fusion of electronic and dance music
Electronic music – music that utilizes electronic instruments, such as the synthesizer, Theremin, and computer
Electronic rock – fusion of electronic and rock music
Electronica – popular music that includes electronic instruments
Electropop – fusion of electronic and pop music
Electropunk – fusion of electronic and punk
Elevator music – comfortable and soothing music designed for and played in shopping malls, usually elevators therein, to create a sense of ambience and comfort
Emo – heavily emotional and pessimistic style of post-hardcore punk
Enka – a popular, modern adaptation of traditional Japanese music
Eremwu eu – work songs of the female bakers of the Garifuna people of west Africa
Ethereal wave – atmospheric subgenre of dark wave
Eurobeat – antecedent to Italo disco
Eurodance – European dance music and evolution of Euro disco that adapted elements of house and hi-NRG
Euro disco – European disco music, which incorporated elements of pop rock and synthpop
Euro house – European house music, usually a house-based form of Eurodance or Euro disco
Europop – European pop music
Eurotrance – European trance music, usually a fusion of Eurodance with uplifting trance and/or hard trance.
Exotica – fusion of many popular international genres from the 1950s marketed at Americans, who were attracted to the exotic label
Experimental – any music that breaches contemporary standards of music
Experimental rock – fusion of experimental and rock music
Extreme metal – umbrella term for aggressive, non-commercial forms of heavy metal
Fa – Fr – Fu

Fado – Portuguese folk music, often touching on the themes of melancholia and working class struggles
Falak – Afghan, Tajik, and Pakistani religious folk music
Fandango – Spanish music made to accompany the upbeat dance of the same name
Farruca – a light form of flamenco
Filk – style of folk (sometimes expanding to other genres) with heavy science-fiction or fantasy themes
Film score – any music written to act as a soundtrack to a motion picture
Filmi – Indian film scores
Filmi-ghazal – fusion of filmi and ghazal poetry
Fingerstyle – the act of plucking guitar strings with the fingertips
Flamenco – popular style of Spanish folk dance music developed in Andalusia by Romani-Spanish (or Gitanos), but latter expanding to the general Spanish populus
Folk metal – fusion of folk and heavy metal rock
Folk – broad term used to refer to the traditional music of an ethnic group, usually that performed by the working class
Folk pop – fusion of folk and pop music
Folk punk – fusion of folk and punk rock
Folk rock – fusion of folk and rock music
Folktronica – fusion of folk and electronic music
Forrσ – popular Brazilian folk dance music
Franco-country – style of country music performed by French-Canadians
Freakbeat – a frantic, raw style of beat and British Invasion music
Freak folk – experimental style of folk, often folk-rock
Free improvisation – completely uncontrolled improvisation
Free jazz – freely improvised jazz music
Free music – any music released without a pricing
Freestyle – Latin American electro-pop
Free tekno – style of techno developed by anarchists
Frevo – umbrella term for Brazilian dance styles associated with the Brazilian Carnivale
Fuji – - Nigerian folk music
Full on trance – style of psychedelic trance known for its rolling baselines and confrontational themes
Funanα – Cape Verdean accordion-based dance music
Funeral doom – incredibly slow style of doom metal, made to mimic funeral music
Funk – combination of elements of blues, jazz, and soul with the melodies and harmonies stripped in order to emphasize the bass guitar
Funk metal – fusion of funk and heavy metal rock
Funk rock – fusion of funk and rock music
Funky house – fusion of funk and house music
Furniture music – a calming, live form of background music
Fusion jazz – fusion of jazz and rock music
Future garage – style of UK garage that fused it with elements of all other contemporary EDM styles
Futurepop – style of EDM known for its similarities to synthpop and uplifting trance, as well as its heavy sampling



Ga – Ge-Gn – Go-Gr – Gu-Gy

G-funk – style of West Coast gangster rap
Gaana – upbeat Tamil dance song performed at celebrations
Gabber – a faster, more anarchistic, form of house music designed to counter the pretentious Dutch house scene of the 1980s
Gagaku – any Japanese classical music played for the Imperial Court
Gaita Zuliana – diverse form of Venezuelan folk
Galant – intentionally simplistic style of Western classical music designed to counter the increasingly complex Baroque music of the 18th century
Gamelan – Indonesian classical music
Gamelan bebonangan – Balinese style of gamelan that utilizes a 7-tone scale and cymbals
Gamelan degung – Sundanese style of gamelan that uses the pegog scale
Gamelan gong kebyar – Balinese style of gamelan known for its explosive changes in tempo
Gamelan salendro – West Javan gamelan
Gamelan selunding – Balinese style of gamelan
Gamelan semar pegulingan – Balinese style of gamelan
Gammaldans – wide variety of traditional Nordic dance music, and modernized versions created by Nordic-Americans
Gandrung – traditional Indonesian dance music
Gangster rap – hip hop that deals with illegal activity
Gar – Tibetan chanting and dancing.
Garba - Gujarati music and dance.
Garage house – heavily polished style of American house
Garage rock – raw and energetic style of rock, often practised by high school bands in garages
Gavotte – traditional French dance music
Gender wayang – Balinese style of gamelan
German folk – any folk music performed by Germans
Ghazal – Arabic (particularly Pakistani) angst-ridden poetry, often accompanied by music
Ghetto house – form of Chicago house known for its sexually explicit lyrics
Ghettotech – fusion of Chicago house, Miami bass, electro, glitch, and techno
Girl group – any all-female pop or rock group
Glam metal – a subgenre of heavy metal with elements of glam rock, hard rock and pop rock.
Glam punk – fusion of glam and punk rock
Glam rock – loosely defined pop rock which included heavy themes of gender-bending and androgyny
Glitch – style of EDM based around samples of malfunctioning technology in order to create an intentionally harsh sound
Gnawa – Islamic African religious music
Go-go – style of funk known for its syncopated rhythms and call-and-response vocals
Goa trance – fusion of trance music and traditional Indian styles
Gong chime – any music performed with high-pitched pot gongs, usually Southeast Asian styles
Goombay – Bahamian drum music
Goregrind – style of grindcore known for its lyrical focus on gore and forensics
Goshu ondo – traditional Japanese dance music from the Meiji era
Gospel – modernization religious music
Gothic metal – fusion of gothic rock and heavy metal
Gothic rock – style of post-punk, heavily inspired by Gothic art
Grebo – a short-lived British style of garage rock from the 1990s
Gregorian chant – a capella, religious chant used by the Roman Catholic Church
Grime – fusion of hip hop and UK garage
Grindcore – fusion of death metal and hardcore punk with indecipherable vocals.
Groove metal – style of heavy metal that took elements of thrash, but played at mid-tempo, making a slower, groovier sound
Group Sounds – Japanese pop from the 1961s, inspired heavily by British beat and American bubblegum pop
Grunge – minimalist style of alternative metal, known for its heavily distorted guitars and angst-ridden lyrics
Grupera – rock-inspired Mexican rock
Guajira – Cuban country music, performed in rural communities
Gumbe – Guinea-Bissaun folk music
Gunchei – Central American music played to accompany the garifauna dance of the same name
Gunka – Japanese military music
Guoyue – modernized Chinese traditional music
Gwo ka – Guadaloupean drum music
Gwo ka moderne – modernized form of gwo ka
Gypsy jazz – Roma-French style of jazz
Gypsy punk – Romani style of punk rock
Ha- He-Ho – Hu-Hy

Habanera – African-American style based on Cuban contredanza
Halling – Norwegian and Swedish folk music made to accompany the dance of the same name
Hambo – Swedish folk music made to accompany the dance of the same name
Hamburger Schule – style of alternative rock based in Hamburg, Germany
Happy hardcore – incredibly fast, upbeat, and optimistic style of hardcore techno
Haqibah – Sudanese a capella music
Hardcore hip hop – aggressive and confrontational form of hip hop
Hardcore punk – heavy metal-informed style of punk
Hardcore techno – style of techno known for distorted, industrial-esque beats
Hard bop – style of bebop informed by gospel, R&B and blues
Hard house – fusion of hardstyle and house music
Hard rock – Loud, bluesy, distorted, and technically proficient form of rock
Hardstep – gritty, heavy style of drum & bass
Hardstyle – intense, heavy style of EDM known for its heavy kick-drums and reversed basslines
Hard trance – heavy, reverberating style of trance music
Harmonica blues – blues music that utilizes the Richter-tuned harmonica
Hasapiko – Greek folk dance music, originating in Constantinople
Hαt tuồng (Hαt bτi) – Vietnamese opera
Heartland rock – style of rock known for its minimalism, straightforwardness, and concern with the American working class
Heavy metal – technically proficient, fast-paced, aggressive form of hard rock
Hi-NRG – uptempo, fast-paced style of EDM known for a reverberating, four-on-the-floor rhythm
Highlife – Ghanan style that married traditional African forms with Western pop
Hiplife – fusion of highlife and hip hop
Hip hop – combination of funk, poetry and innovative DJ techniques, particularly sampling of pre-recorded material
Hip house – fusion of hip hop and house music
Hindustani classical – Northern Indian classical music
Hiragasy – style of music and dance performed by troupes of relatives for day-long periods by the Merina people of Madagascar
Honky-tonk – crisp, clean form of country
Honkyoku – religious music performed by Japanese Zen Buddhists
Hora lung㠖 improvisational Romani folk music
Hornpipe – music played to accompany the British naval dance of the same name
Horrorcore – hip hop known for dark, horror-inspired lyrics
Horror punk – punk that is lyrically inspired by 1950s horror B-movies, often in an ironic way
House – a relaxed, disco-informed style of EDM
Huayρo – Peruvian folk music
Hula – Hawaiian folk music made to accompany the dance of the same name
Humppa – Finnish jazz style
Hunguhungu – folk music performed by Garifuna women
Hyangak – Korean court music from the Three Kingdoms period
Hymn – any religious song
Hyphy – fast-paced style of hip hop from the San Francisco Bay Area
Icaro – music sung in healing ceremonies of the Shipibo-Conibo people of Peru
Igbo – any music performed by the Igbo people of Nigeria
Illbient – form of ambient inspired by dub in its use of layering and hip hop in its use of sampling
Impressionist – style of Western art music inspired by the visual arts movement of the same name
Improvisational – any kind of music that is made up on the spot
Incidental – music played in the background of a film or play
Indietronica – fusion of indie rock and EDM
Indie folk – fusion of indie rock and folk music
Indie – music that is formed around an idea of remaining on the underground and a DIY ethic
Indie pop – a melodic, often angst-free and optimistic, form of pop-rock associated with the indie scene
Indie rock – generic term for rock music linked to the indie subculture
Indo jazz – fusion of jazz and traditional Indian music
Industrial death metal – fusion of industrial and death metal
Industrial hip hop – fusion of industrial and hip hop music
Industrial – early form of electronica that linked avant-garde electronic experimentation to punk rock energy, vocalisation, and ethics. Industrial spawned an indulgence in darkness, horror, and even fascism (although often not seriously) that carried over into goth, emo, and metalhead culture
Industrial musical – musical theater performed by the workers of a company to promote teamwork
Industrial metal – fusion of industrial and heavy metal music
Industrial rock – fusion of industrial and rock music
Instrumental – music that had no lyrics
Instrumental rock – any rock music that neglects vocals
Intelligent dance – more experimental and intellectual form of electronica so called to distinguish itself from the commercialist trends in rave music
Inuit – any music performed by the Inuit people of Greenland and Canada
Irish folk – traditional music of the Irish people
Irish rebel – Irish folk with an emphasis on Irish republicanism
Isicathamiya – a capella form of singing used by the Zulu people of South Africa
Isolationist – style of ambient that uses repetition and dissonance to create a sense of uneasiness
Italo dance – an optimistic form of Eurodance that developed in Italy
Italo disco – form of disco developed in Italy that lead to the creation of modern EDM
Italo house – Italian house music that followed on from Italo disco
Izvorna bosanska – Bosnian rural roots music
Ja-Je – Ji-Ju

J-Pop – pop music made by the Japanese
J-Rock – rock music made by Japanese performers
Jaipongan – music made to accompany the dance of the same name of Sundanese people of Indonesia
Jam – a type of band that plays long instrumental tracks, often improvised, called 'jams'
Jamrieng samai – Cambodian pop music
Jangle pop – style of indie pop known for its uplifting, 'jangly' sounds
Jarana yucateca – traditional Yucatαn dance music
Jarocho – Mexican dance and song style from Veracruz
Jawaiian – fusion of Hawaiian traditional music and reggae
Jazz – a type of music that originated in the late 19th and early 20th century in the Southern United States
Jazz blues – fusion of jazz and blues music
Jazz-funk – fusion of jazz and funk music
Jazz fusion – any music that fuses something with jazz, particularly jazz-rock
Jazz rap – fusion of jazz and hip hop
Jegog – gamelan played with bamboo-based instruments
Jenkka – Finnish folk dance music
Jesus – style of CCM developed by the American hippie-based Jesus Movement
Jig – uptempo Irish folk dance music
Jing ping – Dominican folk dance music developed by slave during European colonialism
Jingle – short, catchy song used in advertising
Jit – Zimbabwean pop music
Jitterbug – any music that accompanied the dance of the same name
Jive – swing music used to accompany the African-American ballroom dance of the same name
Joged – Balinese dance music
Joged bumbung – fusion of gamelan and joged
Joik – style of Sami folk music
Joropo – Venezuelan waltz
Jota – Spanish folk dance music
Jug – African-American folk music made from household objects such as jugs, spoons, and washboards
Juke joint blues – fusion of blues and soul
Jωjϊ – Nigerian pop music
Jump blues – uptempo blues music played with horns
Jumpstyle – faster form of progressive house
Jungle – style of EDM known for fast tempo, breakbeats, samples, and dub-inspired layered synths
Junkanoo – Bahamas folk dance music
Ka – Ke-Kh – Ki-Kp – Kr-Kw

K-pop – Korean pop music
Kaba – Southern Albanian instrumental folk music
Kabuki – form of Japanese musical theatre known for its elaborate make-up and costuming
Kagok – Korean folk music
Kaiso – Trinidadian folk music
Kalamatianσ – Greek folk music
Kan ha diskan – Breton folk music
Kansas City blues – blues music performed by Kansas City inhabitants
Kantrum – fast-paced Khmer-Thai folk music
Kargyraa – deep, growling form of Tuvan throat singing
Kaseko – Surinamese music that fuses African, European, and American styles
Kachāshī – fast-paced Ryukyuan festive folk music
Kawachi ondo – Japanese folk music from the Osaka region
Kayōkyoku – an early form of J-Pop
Kecak – Balinese folk opera
Kacapi suling – Sundanese folk music
Kertok – Malay musical ensemble utilizing xylophones
Khaleeji – Arab folk music
Khene – Malay woodwind music
Khyal – North Indian form of Hindustani classical music
Khoomei – soft, droning form of Tuvan throat singing
Kirtan – Indian drum music performed during Hindu bhakti rituals
Kiwi rock – rock music performed by New Zealanders
Kizomba – Angolan folk dance music
Klapa – Croatian a capella music
Klasik – Afghan classical music
Klezmer – Jewish classical music
Kliningan – Sundanese folk dance music
Kolomyjka – tongue-in-cheek Hutsul folk dance music
Komagaku – Japanese court music from the Heian period
Kpanlogo – Ghanan folk dance music
Krakowiak – fast-paced Polish folk dance music
Krautrock – highly experimental form of German art rock that incorporated electronic influences
Kriti – Indian classical music
Kroncong – Indonesian folk music utilizing the ukele
Kuduro – Angolan folk music
Kulintang – ancient gong music of the Filipinos, Indonesians, Malays, Bruneian, and Timorese
Kundiman – Filipino love songs
Kvζπi – Icelandic folk music
Kwaito – South African house music
Kwassa kwassa – Congolese folk dance music
Kwela – South African skiffle music
La – Le-Lo – Lu

Lambada – Brazilian dance music
Latin metal – A genre of heavy metal with Latin origins, influences, and instrumentation, such as Spanish vocals, Latin percussion and rhythm such as Salsa rhythm
Latin music Music in Spanish and Portuguese from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, and the United States
Latin pop – fusion of pop music and Latin American music or any pop music from the Spanish-speaking world
Lavani – style of traditional Indian music performed in Maharashtra
Legιnyes – Hungarian and Romanian folk dance music performed by the inhabitants of Transylvania, now modern-day Cluj-Napoca
Letkajenkka – Finnish folk dance music
Lhamo – Tibetan folk opera
Lied – German poems spoken to music
Light – soft, non-confrontational British orchestral music
Liquid funk – form of drum and bass with a heavy emphasis on melody
Liquindi – style of percussion performed by the various 'pygmy' peoples of Africa in which drummers stand in a body of water and hit the surface
Lo-fi – any music recorded at a quality lower than usual
Logobi – form of zouglou influenced by the French colonists in the Ivory Coast
Long song – Mongolian folk music in which each syllable is extended for a longer than average period of time
Louisiana blues – any blues performed by inhabitants of the state of Louisiana
Lounge – downtempo music intended to give the listener a sense of being somewhere else, i.e. a jungle or outer space
Lovers rock – form of reggae fusion known for its romantic lyrics
Lowercase – extreme form of ambient music consisting of long periods of silence and occasional, very minute sounds
Lu – Tibetan a capella music
Lubbock sound – fusion of rock and roll and country music from Lubbock, Texas
Luk Krung – more polished form of luk thung
Luk thung – Thai folk music
Lullaby – soothing song sung to young children to lull them to sleep
Lundu – harmonious style of Afro-Brazilian music
Lust - romantic retro 80's music
Ma – Mb-Mg – Mi – Min-Mir – Mo-Mp – Mu

M-Base – style of musical thought and composition developed by Steve Coleman
Madchester – fusion of EDM, psychedelic rock, and indie rock
Madrigal – style of classical singing popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras
Mafioso rap – subgenre of gangsta rap that focuses on organized crime
Mahori – form of Thai and Khmer classical music
Makossa – Cameroonian pop
Malhun – Arab folk poetry
Maloya – style of folk developed by the slaves on the French territory of Reunion
Mambo – Cuban style of jazz
Manaschi – Kyrgyz song recital of the Epic of Manas
Mandopop – style of C-pop sung in the Mandarin language
Manele – Romani folk music
Mangue Bit – Brazilian electronic genre played in a fast-paced, punk-informed style
Manila Sound – fusion of Western rock music and traditional Filipino folk music
Mapouka – traditional folk dance music of the Aizi, Alladian, and Avikam people of the Ivory Coast
Marabi – South African style informed by blues and jazz
Maracatu – Brazilian folk dance music
Mariachi – fusion of Mexican folk music and pop music
Marrabenta – Mozambican folk dance music informed by Portuguese styles
Martial industrial – style of neo-folk informed by military marches and militaristic themes
Maskanda – South African folk music
Marinera – romantic Peruvian folk dance music
Martinetes – a capella flamenco music
Mass – Christian hymns sung by large vocal groups
Matamuerte – Garifuna folk dance music
Mathcore – fusion of metalcore and math rock
Math rock – rhythmically complex form of experimental rock
Maxixe – Brazilian folk dance music
Mazurka – Polish folk dance music
Mbalax – Senegalese folk dance music that combines traditional sabar drumming techniques with jazz, soul, rock, and Latin music
Mbaqanga – Zulu jazz style that was one of the first South African genres to achieve intertribal recognition
Mbube – South African a cappella music
Meditation – any music created to aid meditation procedures
Medieval folk rock – form of folk rock that incorporated elements of earlier folk traditions, such as Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, despite what the name may suggest
Medieval metal – fusion of folk metal and Medieval folk rock
Medieval – period of Western art music ranging from the 6th to 15th centuries
Mejoranera – Panaman guitar music
Malhun – north African style of classical music that borrows from Andalusian traditions
Melam – Indian drumming style
Melodic hardcore – style of hardcore punk known for its slower, melodic guitars, juxtaposed with shouted vocals
Melodic metalcore – fusion of melodic hardcore and metalcore
Melodic – any music that utilizes melody, the combination of notes so that they are perceived as a single string of music
Memphis blues – style of blues from Memphis
Memphis soul – polished, funky style of soul from Memphis
Mento – Jamaican folk music
Merengue – Dominican folk dance music
Merengue tνpico – style of modern merengue that attempts to sound similar to 19th century merengue
Mιringue – Haitian guitar music
Metalcore – fusion of thrash metal and hardcore punk; often sung melodically
Mexican rock – rock music performed by Mexicans
Meykhana – Azerbaijani spoken word music
Mezwed – Tunisian folk music
Miami bass – rave-inspired style of hip hop
Microhouse – minimalist, stripped down form of house music
Mini-jazz – rock-inspired meringue music
Minuet – French folk dance music
Milonga – Argentinian and Uruguayan folk dance music
Min'yō – Japanese folk music
Minimal – heavily experimental form of orchestral music known for its simplicity
Minimal trance – fusion of psychedelic trance and minimal music
Minimal techno – fusion of techno and minimal music
Minstrel – American folk music which parodied African-American styles
Minneapolis sound – glam-informed style of dance-rock pioneered by Prince
Modinha – Brazilian folk music
Modern classical – loose term for orchestral music made during or after the 20th century
Modern laοka – modernized and pop-informed style of laοka
Modern rock – any rock music (usually alternative rock) made during or after the 1990s
Mor lam – Laotian and Thai folk music
Mor lam sing – fast-paced, sexual, and modernized form of mor lam
Moombahton – fusion of electro house and reggaeton
Moombahcore – moombahton incorporating dubstep influences and elements of Dutch house
Motown – slick, pop-informed form of soul music
Montuno – loose term for Cuban music and its derivatives
Morna – Cape Verdean folk music
Mozambique of Cuba – Cuban folk dance music
Mozambique of America – American derivative of the Cuban style of the same name
Mugham – Azerbaijan classical music
Murga – Uruguayan and Argentinian folk dance music
Musette – French folk dance music
Mushroom Jazz – eclectic genre that draws from downtempo, hip hop, and world styles
Music drama – an artwork that covers all forms of art
Music hall – English popular music of the 19th century
Mϊsica criolla – Peruvian music informed by African, European, and Andean styles
Musica llanero – Venezuelan and Colombian folk music
Mϊsica popular brasileira – loose term for Brazilian pop music
Musiqi-e assil – Persian orchestral music
Musique concrθte – heavily experimental orchestral music known for its use of electronic instruments
Muwashshah – Arabic musical poetry



Na – Ng

Nagauta – Japanese music that accompanies kabuki theater
Nakasi – Japanese and Taiwanese folk music
Nangma – Tibetan EDM
Nanguan (music) – Chinese classical music that is heavily influenced by Western styles
Narcocorrido – Mexican polka-influenced folk music with lyrics focusing on illegal activity
Nardcore – hardcore and skate punk subgenre based in Oxnard, California
Narodna muzika – Bosnian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Serbian folk music
Nashville sound – a slick, pop-informed 'radio friendly' form of American country music that began in Nashville, Tennessee
National socialist black metal – black metal with lyrics supporting national socialism, fascism, and other far-right ideologies
Nederpop – Dutch pop music
Neoclassical – orchestral music of the early 20th century
Neoclassical dark wave – fusion of neoclassical and dark wave music
Neo-classical metal – fusion of neoclassical and heavy metal music
Neoclassical New Age – fusion of neoclassical and new age music
Neo kyma – style of classical Greek music from the 1960s with French influences
Neofolk – fusion of folk rock and post-industrial music
Neo-Medieval – music that attempts to imitate Medieval and earlier periods of classical music
Neo-progressive rock – highly theatrical, emotional, and clean subgenre of progressive rock
Neo-psychedelia – loose term for music inspired by psychedelic and acid rock
Neo soul – alternative form of hip hop soul that focused on more soulful and emotive vocals and lyrics
Neotraditional country – alternative country music that attempts to imitate pre-Nashville 'traditional' country
Nerdcore – hip hop with lyrics concerning typically 'nerdy' subjects
Neue Deutsche Welle – German punk and new wave music
Neue Deutsche Todeskunst – German dark wave and Gothic rock
Neurofunk – more advanced form of techstep
New-age – form of ambient music intended for use during meditation
New Beat – Belgian downtempo and acid house
Neue Deutsche Hδrte – German fusion style that mainly takes elements of industrial and groove metal, as well as techno and alternative rock
New jack swing (or swingbeat) – slickly produced fusion of soul, pop, dance, and hip hop music
New Orleans blues – Dixieland- and Caribbean-informed style of blues from New Orleans
New prog – more ambitious and alternative rock-inspired form of progressive rock
New rave – fusion of alternative rock and EDM
New school hip hop – hip hop music made after the mid-80s
New Taiwanese Song – Taiwanese pop music
New wave – early form of punk-informed synthpop
New Wave of British Heavy Metal – style of heavy metal from the United Kingdom that came with the decline of Led Zeppelin-esque early hard rock
New wave of new wave – 1990s British revival of new wave music
New Weird America – term for the, often psychedelic-informed, indie folk music of the 2000s
New York blues – a jazz-influenced style of blues from New York, New York
Nintendocore – fusion of chiptune and metalcore
Nisiotika – Greek folk music from the Agean Islands
No wave – avant-garde punk subgenre created as a reaction to the commercial new wave
Noh – long, highly dramatic Japanese opera
Noise – trend in orchestral, rock, and electronic music where harsh, non-melodic, and often random sounds are used alongside or in place of conventional sounds
Noise pop – derivative of noise rock in which noises and feedback are used, but made into a melodic, often relaxing sound
Noise rock – loud, atonal, dissonant, and unconventional rock music
Nordic folk – folk music of the Nordic people
Nordic folk dance – upbeat style of Nordic folk
Nortec – Mexican EDM
Norteρo – Mexican folk music
Northern soul – soul music made by northern English
Nu-disco – modern house music that draws inspiration from disco
Nu gaze – new form of Shoegaze
Nu jazz – modern jazz music that borrows from funk and EDM
Nu metal – fusion of thrash, groove, and alternative metal that also borrows elements from punk, industrial, grunge, and hip hop
Nu skool breaks – a more abstract and drum & bass-inspired style of breakbeat
Oi! – 1980s style of British punk rock
Old school hip hop – generic term for hip hop music recorded before approximately 1989
Old-time – archaic term for many different styles that were an outgrowth of Appalachian folk music and fed into country music
Oldies – Popular music from the 50's and 60's.
Olonkho – Yakut epic songs
Old Time Radio – Old Time Radio Shows from the 30's – 60's
Opera – theatrical performances in which all or most dialogue is sung with musical accompaniment
Operatic Pop – subgenre of pop music that is performed in a classical operatic style (also referred to as "Popera")
Oratorio – similar to opera but without scenery, costumes or acting
Orchestra – a large ensemble, especially one used to play European classical music
Organ trio – a style of jazz from the 1960s that blended blues and jazz (and later "soul jazz") and which was based around the sound of the Hammond organ
Organic ambient – often acoustic ambient music which uses instruments and styles borrowed from world music
Organum – Middle Ages polyphonic music
Oriental metal – a subgenre of folk metal that incorporates elements of traditional Middle Eastern music.
Ottava rima – Italian rhyming stanzas
Ottoman military band – the oldest variety of military marching band in the world.
Outlaw country – late 1960s and 70s form of country music with a hard-edged sound and rebellious lyrics
Outsider music – generic term for music performed by outsiders
Pa – Pi – Po – Pr

P-Funk – 1970s fusion of funk, heavy metal and psychedelic rock, most closely associated with the bands Funkadelic and Parliament, who shared many members collectively known as P-Funk
Pagan metal
Pagan rock
Pagode – Brazilian style of music which originated in the Rio de Janeiro region
Paisley Underground – 1980s style of alternative rock that drew heavily on psychedelia
Palm wine – fusion of numerous West African, Latin American and European genres, popular throughout coastal West Africa in the 20th century
Panambih – tembang sunda that uses metered poetry
Panchai baja – Nepalese wedding music
Panchavadyam – Temple music from Kerala, India
Pansori – Korean folk music played by a singer and a drummer
Paranda – Garifuna form of music
Parranda – Afro-Venezuelan form of music
Parody – humorous renditions of existing songs or styles
Pambiche (Merengue estilo yanqui)
Paranda – Garifuna music of Belize
Parang – Trinidadian Christmas carols
Partido alto
Psychobilly – Punk rock and country
Peace Punk
Pelimanni music – Finnish folk dance music
Persian traditional music
Peruvian cumbia – also known as chicha music.
Peyote Song – a mixture of gospel and traditional Native American music
Philadelphia soul – soft 1970s soul that came out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Piano blues
Pimba – Origin: Portugal.
Piedmont blues
Pinoy rock – rock and roll sung in Tagalog from the Philippines
Pinpeat orchestra
Piphat – ancient form of Thai classical ensemble
Plainchant (Gregorian chant)
Pleng phua cheewit – Thai protest rock
Pleng Thai sakorn – a Thai interpretation of Western classical music
Polka French music style originated in paris in 1844
Polo Venezuelan folk music
Pols – Danish fiddle and accordion dance music
Pong lang
Pop folk
Pop music
Pop punk
Pop rap
Pop rock
Pop sunda – Sundanese mixture of gamelan degung and pop music structures
Porro – Colombian big band music
Post-hardcore- Slite mixture of Hardcore and Punk rock
Powada- Marathi Folk
Power duo
Power electronics
Power metal – A style of heavy metal with melodic vocals, symphonic context and with fantastic or mythical lyrics.
Power noise (or rhythmic noise)
Power pop
Power trio
Powerviolence (also known as power violence)
Pow-wow – Native American dance music
Ppongtchak – Korean pop music developed during the Japanese occupation
Praise song
Program symphony
Progressive electronic music
Progressive folk music
Progressive house
Progressive metal – A subgenre of heavy metal and progressive rock.
Progressive bluegrass
Progressive rock – A subgenre of rock music with origins of jazz fusion and psychedelic rock.
Progressive trance
Psychedelic music
Psych folk or Psychedelic folk
Psychedelic rock – A style of rock music that relates to psychedelia.
Psychedelic trance (Psy-trance)
Pub rock – back-to-basics rock music, see Pub rock (Australia) and Pub rock (United Kingdom).
Pungmul – a Korean folk music tradition that includes drumming, dancing, and singing.
Punk blues – a US music genre that developed in the 1980s, which mixes elements of blues with the aggressive sound of punk.
Punk Cabaret – a fusion of musical theater and cabaret style music with the aggressive, raw nature of punk rock.
Punk jazz
Punk rock A subgenre of rock music known for its raw and distorted sound, usually fast and short songs, and lyrics of angst or anti-establishment.
Punta rock – 1970s Belizean music
Quan ho – Vietnamese vocal music which originated in the Red River Delta
Qasidah – Epic religious poetry accompanied by percussion and chanting
Qasidah modern – Qasidah updated for mainstream audiences
Qawwali – Sufi religious music updated for mainstream audiences, was originated in India
Quiet Storm
Raga rock – Swiss soul, rock and Indian music fusion
Raggamuffin (Ragga)
Ragga Jungle
Rai – Algerian folk music now developed into a popular style
Rake-and-scrape – Bahamanian instrumental music
Ranchera – pop mariachi from 1950s film soundtracks
Rare groove - Gujarati music and dance
Raas & Garba
Ravanahatha- Ravana music
Red Dirt (music)
Reggae dancehall (see Dancehall)
Reggae fusion
Reggae highlife
Rekilaulu – Finnish rhyming sleigh songs
Renaissance music
Rhyming spiritual – Bahamanian hymns
Rhythm and blues (R&B)
Rνmur – Icelandic heroic epic songs
Riot grrrl
Rock opera
Rock and roll
Rock en espaρol
Romantic period in music
Ronggeng – a folk music from Malacca, Malaysia
Roots reggae
Roots rock
Roots rock reggae



Sa – Sc – Si – So – St – Sy

Sabar – drumming style found in Senegal
Sacred Harp
Salsa – fusion of multiple Cuban- and Puerto Rican-derived pop genres from immigrants in New York City
Salsa erotica – lyrically explicit form of salsa romantica
Salsa romantica – a soft, romantic form of salsa music
Samba – form of Brazilian popular music
Samba-canηγo – traditional samba in slow tempo and with romantic lyrics. influenced by bolero
Samba-reggae – a genre of samba with a choppy, reggae-like rhythm.
Sanjo – Korean instrumental folk music
Sardana – Traditional Music Catalonia
Sato kagura
Sawt – urban music from Kuwait and Bahrain
Saya – Bolivian music derived from African rhythms
Scottish Baroque music
Scrumpy and Western – folk music from West Country of England
Sea shanty
Sean nσs – Sean-nσs singing style of Ireland
Second Viennese School
Sega music
Sephardic music
Set dance
Sevdalinka – Bosnian urban popular music
Shalako – Armenian folk dance
Shan'ge – Taiwanese Hakka mountain songs
Shape note
Shidaiqu – Hong Kong-based form of traditional music updated for pop audiences and sung in Mandarin
Shima-uta – folk songs from the Amami Islands, Japan
Shock rock
Shoegaze – British pop
Shoka – Japanese songs written during the Meiji Restoration to bring Western music to Japanese schools
Shomyo – Japanese Buddhist chanting
Show tune
Silat – Malaysian mixture of music, dance and martial arts
Sinawi – Korean religious music meant for dancing; it is improvised and reminiscent of jazz
Situational – pertaining to songs describing the current situation; most prevalent in films
Ska punk
Skate punk
Slack-key guitar (kihoalu) – Hawaiian form invented by retuning open strings on a guitar
Sludge metal – A subgenre of heavy metal with slow-tuned tempos, abrasive distortion and harsh vocals
Smooth jazz
Soft rock
Son-batα (batα rock)
Son cubano
Son montuno – Cuban folk music
Songo – a mixture of changuν and son montuno
Songo-salsa – a mixture of songo, hip hop and salsa
Soul blues
Soul jazz
Soul music – form of African-American music with elements of gospel and doo-wop
Southern Gospel
Southern Harmony
Southern hip hop
Southern metal
Southern rock
Southern soul
Space age pop
Space music
Space rock
Speed garage
Speed metal
Spouge – Barbadian folk music
Square dance
St. Louis blues
Stoner metal
Stoner rock
Straight edge
Street bass
String – 1980s Thai pop music
String quartet
Sufi music
Sunshine pop
Super Eurobeat
Surf ballads
Surf instrumental
Surf music
Surf pop
Surf rock
Swamp blues
Swamp pop
Swamp rock
Swing music
Sygyt – type of xoomii (Tuva throat singing), likened to the sound of whistling
Symphonic black metal
Symphonic metal
Symphonic poem
Symphonic rock
Tai tu – Vietnamese chamber music
Taiwanese pop – early Taiwanese pop music influenced by enka and popular with older listeners
Tala – a rhythmic pattern in Indian classical music
Talempong – a distinct Minangkabau gamelan music
Tamil Christian keerthanai – Christian devotional lyrics in Tamil
Tαnchαz – Hungarian dance music
Tango – Argentine popular music that spread internationally in the 1920s
Tanguk – a form of Korean court music that includes elements of Chinese music
Tarana – form of vocal music from northern India using highly rhythmic nonsense syllables
Tech House
Tech Trance
Technical death metal
Technical metal
Tecno brega
Teen pop – A subgenre of pop music targeted towards pre-teen and teenage listeners
Tejano music or "Tex-Mex", sometimes confused with norteρo
Tembang sunda – Sundanese sung free verse poetry
Texas blues
Theme music
Thillana – form of vocal music from South India using highly rhythmic nonsense syllables
Thrash metal – A heavy metal subgenre known for its fast tempos, screaming vocals, extended guitar solos and aggressive lyrics.
Thumri – a type of popular Hindustani vocal music
Tibetan pop – pop music heavily influenced by Chinese forms, emerging in the 1980s
Timbila – form of folk music in Mozambique
Tin Pan Alley
Tinku – traditional music and dance from Potosi Bolivia
Toeshey – Tibetan dance music
T'ong guitar – acoustic guitar pop music of Korea
Traditional pop music
Trallalero – Genoese urban songs
Trap music
Tribal house
Trikitixa – Basque accordion music
Trip hop
Tropical music – Mϊsica tropical
Truck-driving country
Turbo-folk – aggressive form of modernized Serbian music
Turkish Music
Tuvan throat-singing
Twee pop
Twist (also a dance style, early 1960s)
Two Tone)
UK garage
UK hard house
UK pub rock
Unblack metal (also known as Christian black metal)
Underground music
Uplifting Trance
Urban Cowboy
Urban Folk
Vallenato – accordion-based Colombian folk music
Verbunkos – Hungarian folk music
Video game music – Melodic music as defined by its media.
Viking metal
Villanella – 16th century Neapolitan songs
Visual Kei - Japanese music scene, created around the 1980s
Visual music
Vocal house
Vocal jazz
Vocal music
Waila (chicken scratch) – a Tohono O'odham fusion of polka, norteρo and Native American music
Wangga – Australian aboriginal music genre
Warabe uta
Were music
West Coast hip hop is a hip hop music subgenre that encompasses any artists or music which originates in the westernmost region of the United States
Western blues
Western swing
Witch house
Wizard rock
Women's music or womyn's music, wimmin's music—1970s lesbian/feminist
Wong shadow – 1960s Thai pop music
Work song
Wood Sounds of organic synthesis recorded on organic medium such as tape.
World music
Xoomii (khoomii, hoomii) – a type of Tuvan throat singing
Xote – is a Brazilian music genre and dance for pairs or groups of four.
Xhosa music
Yass – a style of Polish jazz music from the 1980s and 1990s.
Zapin – derived from ancient Arabic music, zapin is popular throughout Malaysia
Zarzuela – a form of Spanish operetta
Zeibekiko – Greek Dance 9/8 Rytmus
Zef – South African music based in both rap & rave
Zouk – French Caribbean (Guadeloupean) dance music
Zouklove – Guadeloupean Music
Zulu music
Zydeco – popular Louisianan Creole music

Glossary of musical terminology
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2015)
This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores, music reviews, and program notes. Most of the terms are Italian (see also Italian musical terms used in English), in accordance with the Italian origins of many European musical conventions. Sometimes, the special musical meanings of these phrases differ from the original or current Italian meanings. Most of the other terms are taken from French and German, indicated by "Fre" and "Ger", respectively. Others are from languages such as Portuguese, Latin, Spanish, and Polish.

Unless specified, the terms are Italian or English. The list can never be complete: some terms are common, and others are used only occasionally, and new ones are coined from time to time. Some composers prefer terms from their own language rather than the standard terms listed here.

See also References External links
a or ΰ (Fre)
at, to, by, for, in, in the style of...
a 2
see a due
a battuta
Return to normal tempo after a deviation. Not recommended in string parts, due to possible confusion with battuto (qv.); use a tempo, which means the same thing.
ab (Ger)
off, organ stops or mutes
abafando (Por)
muffled, muted
abandon or avec (Fre)
free, unrestrained, passionate
abbandonatamente, con abbandono
free, relaxed
aber (Ger)
a bene placito
Up to the performer
a cappella
(i.e. without instrumental accompaniment)
a capriccio
A free and capricious approach to tempo
Expressive and caressing
accelerando (accel.)
Accelerating; gradually increasing the tempo
suddenly increasing the tempo
Emphasize, make a particular part more important
Accented; with emphasis
Ignited, on fire
Broken down, crushed; the sounding of the notes of a chord not quite simultaneously, but from bottom to top.
Crushing (i.e. a very fast grace note that is "crushed" against the note that follows and takes up no value in the measure)
Accompanied (i.e. with the accompaniment following the soloist, who may speed up or slow down at will)
Precision; accuracy con accuratezza: with precision
Relating to music produced by instruments, as opposed to electric or electronic means
Rather slow (but faster than adagio)
At ease (i.e. play slowly)
Very, very slow
ad libitum (commonly ad lib; Latin)
At liberty (i.e. the speed and manner of execution are left to the performer)
a due
intended as a duet; for two voices or instruments; together; two instruments are to play in unison after a solo passage for one of the instruments
affannato, affannoso
affetto or con affetto
with affect (that is, with emotion)
affettuoso, affettuosamente, or affectueusement (Fre)
With affect (that is, with emotion); see also con affetto
Hurrying, pressing onwards
al or alla
To the, in the manner of (al before masculine nouns, alla before feminine)
alla breve
In cut-time; two beats per measure or the equivalent thereof
alla marcia
In the style of a march
alla polacca
In the style of a Polonaise
Broadening, becoming a little slower each time
A little lively, moderately fast
allegretto vivace
A moderately quick tempo
Cheerfulness, joyfulness
Cheerful or brisk; but commonly interpreted as lively, fast
Very fast, though slower than presto
all' ottava
"at the octave", see ottava
als (Ger)
alt (Eng), alt dom, or altered dominant
A jazz term which instructs chord-playing musicians such as a jazz pianist or jazz guitarist to perform a dominant (V7) chord with at least one (often both) altered (sharpened or flattened) 5th or 9th
Very high
High; often refers to a particular range of voice, higher than a tenor but lower than a soprano
alzate sordini
Lift or raise the mutes (i.e. remove mutes)
am Steg (Ger)
At the bridge (i.e. playing a bowed string instrument near its bridge, which produces a heavier, stronger tone). See sul ponticello.
Amiable, pleasant
amore or amor (in Spanish/Portuguese and sometimes in Italian)
Love, con amore: with love, tenderly
A note or notes that precede the first full bar; a pickup
Used to refer to a fugue subject of above-average length
At a walking pace (i.e. at a moderate tempo)
Slightly faster than andante (but earlier it is sometimes used to mean slightly slower than andante)
Life; feeling con anima : With feeling
δngstlich (Ger)
a niente
To nothing; an indication to make a diminuendo which fades to pppp
a nessuna cosa
To nothing; an indication to hold a fermata until it dies away (this only works with instruments which cannot sustain a note)
Animated, lively
Animated, lively
A liturgical or other composition consisting of choral responses, sometimes between two choirs; a passage of this nature forming part of another composition; a repeated passage in a psalm or other liturgical piece, similar to a refrain.[1]
apaisι (Fre)
a piacere
At pleasure (i.e. the performer need not follow the rhythm strictly, for example in a cadenza)
appoggiatura or leaning note
One or more grace notes that take up some note value of the next full note.
a prima vista
Sight-read (lit. "at first sight") (i.e. played or sung from written notation but without prior review of the written material)
The bow used for playing some string instrument (i.e. played with the bow, as opposed to pizzicato, in music for bowed instruments); normally used to cancel a pizzicato direction
Self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment
A short aria
Airy, or like an air (a melody) (i.e. in the manner of an aria); melodious
like a harp (i.e. the notes of the chords are to be played quickly one after another instead of simultaneously). In music for piano, this is sometimes a solution in playing a wide-ranging chord whose notes cannot be played otherwise. Arpeggios are frequently used as an accompaniment. See also broken chord.
A way of playing a chord: starting with the lowest note, and with successively higher notes rapidly joining in. Sometimes the effect is reversed, so that the highest note is played first.
Much, Very much
assez (Fre)
Enough, sufficiently
a tempo
In time (i.e. the performer should return to the main tempo of the piece, such as after an accelerando or ritardando); also may be found in combination with other terms such as a tempo giusto (in strict time) or a tempo di menuetto (at the speed of a minuet)
Attack or attach; go straight on (i.e. at the end of a movement, a direction to attach the next movement to the previous one, without a gap or pause)
Ausdruck (Ger)
ausdrucksvoll or mit Ausdruck (Ger)
Expressively, with expression
avec (Fre)
With or with another
German for B flat (also in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, Danish, Croatian, Estonian and Hungarian); H in German is B natural
(from the Italian Ballabile meaning "danceable") In ballet the term refers to a dance performed by the corps de ballet. The term Grand ballabile is used if nearly all participants (including principal characters) of a particular scene in a full-length work perform a large-scale dance.
Barbarous (notably used in Allegro barbaro by Bιla Bartσk)
Bartσk pizzicato
A term that instructs string performers to play a pizzicato note to pull the string away from the fingerboard so that it snaps back percussively on the fingerboard.
The lowest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano); the lowest melodic line in a musical composition, often thought of as defining and supporting the harmony; in an orchestral context, the term usually refers to the double bass.
basso continuo
Continuous bass (i.e. a bass part played continuously throughout a piece to give harmonic structure), used especially in the Baroque period
battement (Fre)
Used in the 17th-century to refer to ornaments consisting of two adjacent notes, such as trills or mordents
battuto (Ita)
To strike the strings with the bow (on a bowed stringed instrument)
1. The pronounced rhythm of music
2. One single stroke of a rhythmic accent
belebt or belebter (Ger)
Spirited, vivacious, lively
Warlike, aggressive
ben or bene
Well; in ben marcato ("well marked") for example
Jazz term referring either to establishing a pitch, sliding down half a step and returning to the original pitch or sliding up half a step from the original note.
beschleunigte (Ger)
Accelerated, as in mit beschleunigter Geschwindigkeit, at an accelerated tempo
bewegt (Ger)
Moved, with speed
A musical form in two sections: AB
bird's eye
A slang term for fermata, which instructs the performer to hold a note or chord as long as they wish
bis (Lat)
Twice (i.e. repeat the relevant action or passage)
Whispering (i.e. a special tremolo effect on the harp where a chord or note is rapidly repeated at a low volume)
bocca chiusa
with closed mouth
Boldness; as in con bravura, boldly
breit (Ger)
Transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, also transition. Also the part of a stringed instrument that holds the strings in place and transmits their vibrations to the resonant body of the instrument.
Brilliantly, with sparkle
brio, brioso
Vigour; usually in con brio: with spirit or vigour
broken chord
A chord in which the notes are not all played at once, but in some more or less consistent sequence. They may follow singly one after the other, or two notes may be immediately followed by another two, for example. See also arpeggio, which as an accompaniment pattern may be seen as a kind of broken chord; see Alberti bass.
A solo section, usually in a concerto or similar work, that is used to display the performer's technique, sometimes at considerable length
Falling away, or lowering (i.e. getting slower and quieter; ritardando along with diminuendo)
Calm; so con calma, calmly. Also calmato meaning calmed, relaxed
Warmth; so con calore, warmly
To change (i.e. any change, such as to a new instrument)
Chorus; choral; chant
canon or kanon (Ger)
A theme that is repeated and imitated and built upon by other instruments with a time delay, creating a layered effect; see Pachelbel's Canon.
cantabile or cantando
In a singing style. In instrumental music, a style of playing that imitates the way the human voice might express the music, with a measured tempo and flexible, legato.
1. (short for capotasto: "nut") : A key-changing device for stringed instruments (e.g. guitars and banjos)
2. head (i.e. the beginning)
"A humorous, fanciful, or bizarre, composition, often characterized by an idiosyncratic departure from current stylistic norms."[2] See also: Capriccio (disambiguation)
Capriciously, unpredictable, volatile
cιdez (Fre)
Yield, give way
cesura or caesura (Lat)
Break, stop; (i.e. a complete break in sound) (sometimes nicknamed "railroad tracks" in reference to their appearance)
Closed (i.e. muted by hand) (for a horn, or similar instrument; but see also bocca chiusa, which uses the feminine form)
A tail (i.e. a closing section appended to a movement)
A small coda, but usually applied to a passage appended to a section of a movement, not to a whole movement
col or colla
with the (col before a masculine noun, colla before a feminine noun); (see next for example)
colla parte
With the soloist; as an instruction in an orchestral score or part, it instructs the conductor or orchestral musician to follow the rhythm and tempo of a solo performer (usually for a short passage)
colla voce
With the voice; as an instruction in a choral music/opera score or orchestral part, it instructs the conductor or orchestral musician to follow the rhythm and tempo of a solo singer (usually for a short passage)
With the addition of the octave note above or below the written note; abbreviated as col 8, coll' 8, and c. 8va
col legno
With the wood (i.e. the strings) (for example, of a violin) are to be struck with the wood of the bow, making a percussive sound; also battuta col legno: beaten with the wood
Coloration (i.e. elaborate ornamentation of a vocal line, or a soprano voice that is well-suited to such elaboration)
col pugno
With the fist (i.e. bang the piano with the fist)
come prima
Like the first (time) (i.e. as before, typically referring to an earlier tempo)
come sopra
As above (i.e. like the previous tempo)
common time
The time signature 4/4: four beats per measure, each beat a quarter note (a crotchet) in length. 4/4 is often written on the musical staff as common time. The symbol is not a C as an abbreviation for common time, but a broken circle; the full circle at one time stood for triple time, 3/4.
Comfortable (i.e. at moderate speed); also, allegro comodo, tempo comodo, etc.
With; used in very many musical directions, for example con allegrezza (with liveliness), con amore (with tenderness); (see also col and colla)
con sordina or con sordine (plural)
With a mute, or with mutes, See Sordina. Frequently seen in music as (incorrect Italian) con sordino, or con sordini (plural).
An adjective applied to a melodic line that moves by step (intervals of a 2nd) rather in disjunct motion (by leap).
Lowest female singing voice type
See counterpoint
String. On piano refers to use of the soft pedal which controls whether the hammer strikes one or three strings; see una corda, tre corde below.
(plural of coperto) covered (i.e. on a drum, muted with a cloth)
Growing; (i.e. progressively louder) (contrast diminuendo)
Brassy. Used almost exclusively as a French Horn technique to indicate a forced, rough tone. A note marked both stopped and loud will be cuivrι automatically[1]
Symbol at the very end of a staff of music which indicates the pitch for the first note of the next line as a warning of what is to come. The custos was commonly used in handwritten Renaissance and typeset Baroque music.
cut time
Same as the meter 2/2: two half-note (minim) beats per measure. Notated and executed like common time (4/4), except with the beat lengths doubled. Indicated by cut time. This comes from a literal cut of the common time symbol of common time. Thus, a quarter note in cut time is only half a beat long, and a measure has only two beats. See also alla breve.
da capo
From the head (i.e. from the beginning) (see capo)
Dal Segno (D.S.)
, from the sign (SegnoTeken.svg)
dal segno al coda (D.S. al coda)
Repeat back to the sign
dal segno al fine (D.S. al fine)
From the sign to the end (i.e. return to a place in the music designated by the sign Segno and continue to the end of the piece)
dal segno segno al coda (D.S.S. al coda)
Same as D.S. al coda, but with a double segno
dal segno segno al fine (D.S.S. al fine)
From the double sign to the end (i.e. return to place in the music designated by the double sign (see D.S. al coda) and continue to the end of the piece)
Slowing down; decelerating; opposite of accelerando (same as ritardando or rallentando)
Solemn, expressive, impassioned
decrescendo (decresc.)
Same as diminuendo
From the Latin deesse meaning to be missing; placed after a catalogue abbreviation to indicate that this particular work does not appear in it.[3] The plural, desunt, is used when referring to several works.
delicatamente or delicato
(Fre) act of playing notes separately
diminuendo, dim.
Dwindling (i.e. with gradually decreasing volume) (same as decrescendo)
An adjective applied to a melodic line which moves by leap (intervals of more than a 2nd) as opposed to conjunct motion (by step)
divisi (div.)
Divided (i.e. in a part in which several musicians normally play exactly the same notes they are instead to split the playing of the written simultaneous notes among themselves). It is most often used for string instruments, since with them another means of execution is often possible. (The return from divisi is marked unisono: see unison.)
Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically upwards.
Very sweetly
Sorrowfully, plaintively
Pain, distress, sorrow, grief con dolore: with sadness
Sorrowfully, plaintively
doppio movimento
Twice as fast
double stop
The technique of playing two notes simultaneously on a bowed string instrument
double dot
Two dots placed side by side after a note to indicate that it is to be lengthened by three quarters of its value.
A slow, moody, or decreased tempo or played or done in such a tempo. It also refers to a genre of electronic music based on this (downtempo).
Bass note or chord performed continuously throughout a composition
Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically downwards
Dur (Ger)
major; used in key signatures as, for example, A-Dur (A major), B-Dur (B♭ major), or H-Dur (B major). (see also Moll (minor).)
(Ita) grief
dumpf (Ger)
The relative volume in the execution of a piece of music
e (Ita) or ed (Ita, – used before vowels)
The Italian word for "echo"; an effect in which a group of notes is repeated, usually more softly, and perhaps at a different octave, to create an echo effect
ein wenig (Ger)
A little
Empfindung (Ger)
encore (Fre)
Again (i.e. perform the relevant passage once more)
en dehors (Fre)
Energetic, strong
en pressant (Fre)
Hurrying forward
en retenant (Fre)
Effusive; excessive in emotional expression; gushy.
Expiring (i.e. dying away)
Expression; expressively (e.g. con (gran, molta) espressione: with (great, much) expression)
espressivo or espr.
Extinct, extinguished (i.e. as soft as possible, lifeless, barely audible)
etwas (Ger)
Easily, without fuss
Jazz term describing a note of definite pitch sliding downwards to another note of definite pitch.
vocal register above the normal voice
feierlich (Ger)
Solemn, solemnly
Finished, closed (i.e. a rest or note is to be held for a duration that is at the discretion of the performer or conductor) (sometimes called bird's eye); a fermata at the end of a first or intermediate movement or section is usually moderately prolonged, but the final fermata of a symphony may be prolonged for longer than the note's value, typically twice its printed length or more for dramatic effect.
feurig (Ger)
Cheerfully, celebratory
fil di voce
"thread of voice", very quiet, pianissimo
fill (Eng)
A jazz or rock term which instructs performers to improvise a scalar passage or riff to "fill in" the brief time between lyrical phrases, the lines of melody, or between two sections
The end, often in phrases like al fine (to the end)
A symbol (♭) that lowers the pitch of a note by a semitone. The term may also be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a singer or musician is performing a note in which the intonation is an eighth or a quarter of a semitone too low.
flautando or flautendo
Flutelike; used especially for string instruments to indicate a light, rapid bowing over the fingerboard
focoso or fuocoso
Fiery (i.e. passionately)
forte (f)
Strong (i.e. to be played or sung loudly)
forte piano (fp)
Strong-gentle (i.e. loud, then immediately soft (see dynamics), or an early pianoforte)
fortissimo (ff)
Very loud (see note at pianissimo)
fortississimo (fff)
As loud as possible
Musical force con forza: with force
forzando (fz)
See sforzando
Cold(ly); hence depressive, unemotional
Lively, joyfully
fugue (Fre), fuga (Latin and Italian)
Literally "flight"; hence a complex and highly regimented contrapuntal form in music. A short theme (the subject) is introduced in one voice (or part) alone, then in others, with imitation and characteristic development as the piece progresses.
Funeral; often seen as marcia funebre (funeral march), indicating a stately and plodding tempo.
Fire; con fuoco: with fire, in a fiery manner
Grand Pause, General Pause; indicates to the performers that the entire ensemble has a rest of indeterminate length, often as a dramatic effect during a loud section
With joy
gemδchlich (Ger)
Unhurried, at a leisurely pace
geschwind (Ger)
geteilt (Ger)
See divisi
getragen (Ger)
Solemnly, in a stately tempo
giocoso or gioioso
Strictly, exactly (e.g. tempo giusto in strict time)
A continuous sliding from one pitch to another (a true glissando), or an incidental scale executed while moving from one melodic note to another (an effective glissando). See glissando for further information; and compare portamento.
grace note
An extra note added as an embellishment and not essential to the harmony or melody.
Slowly and seriously
With happy emphasis and forcefulness
German for B natural; B in German means B flat
Hauptstimme (Ger)
Main voice, chief part (i.e. the contrapuntal line of primary importance, in opposition to Nebenstimme)
hemiola (English, from Greek)
The imposition of a pattern of rhythm or articulation other than that implied by the time signature; specifically, in triple time (for example in 3/4) the imposition of a duple pattern (as if the time signature were, for example, 2/4). See Syncopation.
hervortretend (Ger)
Prominent, pronounced
Hold, see Fermata
A musical texture with one voice (or melody line) accompanied by chords; also used as an adjective (homophonic). Compare with polyphony, in which several voices or melody lines are performed at the same time.
immer (Ger)
With improvisation
Improvised, or as if improvised
in alt
octave above the treble staff, G5 to F6[4]
in altissimo
Octave above the in alt octave, G6 to F7
Getting faster and louder
Intimately, heartfelt
Insistently, deliberate
in modo di
In the art of, in the style of
Opening section
in stand
A term for brass players that requires them to direct the bell of their instrument into the music stand, instead of up and toward the audience, thus muting the sound but without changing the timbre as a mute would[5]
A suffix meaning extremely (e.g. fortissimo or prestissimo)
A suffix meaning as ... as can be (e.g. leggerissimamente, meaning as light as can be)
Jazz standard (or simply "standard")
A well-known composition from the jazz repertoire which is widely played and recorded.
jete (French
jetι) : Jump; a bowing technique in which the player is instructed to let the bow bounce or jump off the strings.
keyboardist (Eng)
A musician who plays any instrument with a keyboard. In Classical music, this may refer to instruments such as the piano, pipe organ, harpsichord, and so on. In a jazz or popular music context, this may refer to instruments such as the piano, electric piano, synthesizer, Hammond organ, and so on.
krδftig (Ger)
Klangfarbenmelodie (Ger)
"tone-color-melody", distribution of pitch or melody among instruments, varying timbre
lacrimoso or lagrimoso
Tearfully (i.e. sadly)
laissez vibrer, l.v. (Fre)
French for lasciare suonare ("let vibrate").
Lamenting, mournfully
Lamenting, mournfully
langsam (Ger)
Broadly (i.e. slowly) (same as largo)
Somewhat slowly; not as slow as largo
Broadness; con larghezza: with broadness; broadly
Very slowly; slower than largo
Broadly (i.e. slowly)
leap or skip
A melodic interval greater than a major 2nd, as opposed to a step. Melodies which move by a leap are called "disjunct". Octave leaps are not uncommon in florid vocal music.
lasciare suonare
"Let ring", meaning allow the sound to continue, do not damp; used frequently in harp or guitar music, occasionally in piano or percussion. Abbreviated "lasc. suon."
lebhaft (Ger)
Briskly, lively
Joined (i.e. smoothly, in a connected manner) (see also articulation)
leggiero, leggiermente or leggiadro
Lightly, delicately (The different forms of this word, including leggierezza, "lightness", are properly spelled in Italian as legger, without the i.)
Very lightly and delicately
leidenschaftlich(er) (Ger)
lent (Fre)
Gradual slowing and softer
Very slowly
Free, freely
A jaunty rhythm
[in] place (i.e. perform the notes at the pitch written, generally used to cancel an 8va or 8vb direction). In string music, also used to indicate return to normal playing position (see Playing the violin).[1]
long accent
Hit hard and keep full value of note (>)
From a distance; distantly
lo stesso
The same; applied to the manner of articulation, tempo, etc.
l'istesso, l'istesso tempo, or lo stesso tempo
The same tempo, despite changes of time signature, see metric modulation[6]
Lugubrious, mournful
Long (often applied to a fermata)
ma non troppo, ma non tanto
But not too much
Majestically, in a stately fashion
The major key
main droite (Fre)
[played with the] right hand (abbreviation: MD or m.d.)
main gauche (Fre)
[played with the] left hand (abbreviation: MG or m.g.)
Dying away
mano destra
[played with the] right hand (abbreviation: MD or m.d.)
mano sinistra
[played with the] left hand (abbreviation: MS or m.s.)
With much accentuation
marcato, marc.
Marked (i.e. with accentuation, execute every note as if it were to be accented)
A march; alla marcia means in the manner of a march
Hammered out
Martial, solemn and fierce
mδssig (Ger)
Moderately (also: mδίig)
See mano destra or main droite
The technique of changing the note (pitch) of a syllable of text while it is being sung
measure (Eng)
Also "bar" the period of a musical piece that encompasses a complete cycle of the time signature (e.g. in 4/4 time, a measure has four quarter note beats)
medesimo tempo
Same tempo, despite changes of time signature
Piece composed from parts of existing pieces, usually three, played one after another, sometimes overlapping.
Less; see meno mosso, for example, less mosso
messa di voce
In singing, a controlled swell (i.e. crescendo then diminuendo, on a long held note, especially in Baroque music and in the bel canto period)[1]
Mournful, sad
meter or metre
The pattern of a music piece's rhythm of strong and weak beats
mezza voce
Half voice (i.e. with subdued or moderated volume)
Half; used in combinations like mezzo forte (mf), meaning moderately loud
mezzo forte
Half loudly (i.e. moderately loudly). See dynamics.
mezzo piano
Half softly (i.e. moderately softly). See dynamics.
A female singer with a range usually extending from the A below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a darker vocal tone than sopranos, and their vocal range is between that of a soprano and that of an contralto.
See main gauche
mit Dδmpfer (Ger)
With a mute
Metronome Marking. Formerly "Mδlzel Metronome." [7]
Flexible, changeable
Moderate; often combined with other terms, usually relating to tempo; for example, allegro moderato
modere (Fre)
The act or process of changing from one key (tonic, or tonal center) to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature.
Moll (Ger)
minor; used in key signatures as, for example, a-Moll (A minor), b-Moll (B♭ minor), or h-Moll (B minor) (see also Dur (major))
Rapid alternation of a note with the note immediately below or above it in the scale, sometimes further distinguished as lower mordent and upper mordent. The term "inverted mordent" usually refers to the upper mordent.
Dying (i.e. dying away in dynamics, and perhaps also in tempo)
Moved, moving; used with a preceding piω or meno, for faster or slower respectively
See mano sinistra
Motion; usually seen as con moto, meaning with motion or quickly
A section of a musical composition (such as a sonata or concerto)
munter (Ger)
Musette (Fre)
A dance or tune of a drone-bass character, originally played by a musette
muta [in...]
Change: either a change of instrument (e.g. flute to piccolo, horn in F to horn in Bb); or a change of tuning (e.g. guitar muta 6 in D). Note: does not mean "mute", for which con sordina or con sordino is used.[1] Muta comes from the Italian verb mutare (to change into something).
nach und nach (Ger)
Literally "more and more" with an increasing feeling. Ex. "nach und nach belebter und leidenschaftlicher" (with increasing animation and passion)
A symbol (♮) that cancels the effect of a sharp or a flat
naturale (nat.)
Natural (i.e. discontinue a special effect, such as col legno, sul tasto, sul ponticello, or playing in harmonics)
No chord, written in the chord row of music notation to show there is no chord being played, and no implied harmony
Nebenstimme (Ger)
Secondary part (i.e. a secondary contrapuntal part, always occurring simultaneously with, and subsidiary to, the Hauptstimme)
nicht (Ger)
"nothing", barely audible, dying away
nobile or nobilmente
In a noble fashion
nocturne (Fre)
A piece written for the night
notes inιgales (Fre)
Unequal notes; a principally Baroque performance practice of applying long-short rhythms to pairs of notes written as equal; see also swung note
See nocturne.
number opera
An opera consisting of "numbers" (e.g. arias, intermixed with recitative)
Required, indispensable
Interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. Twelve semitones equals an octave, so does the first and eighth (hence "oct"ave) note in a major or minor scale.
ohne Dδmpfer (Ger)
Without a mute
Homage, celebration
one-voice-per-part (OVPP)
The practice of using solo voices on each musical line or part in choral music.
ordinario (ord.) (Ita)
In bowed string music, an indication to discontinue extended techniques such as sul ponticello, sul tasto or col legno, and return to normal playing. The same as "naturale".
organ trio
In jazz or rock, a group of three musicians which includes a Hammond organ player and two other instruments, often an electric guitar player and a drummer.
ossia or oppure
Or instead (i.e. according to some specified alternative way of performing a passage, which is marked with a footnote, additional small notes, or an additional staff)
Obstinate, persistent (i.e. a short musical pattern that is repeated throughout an entire composition or portion of a composition)
Octave (e.g. ottava bassa: an octave lower)
parlando or parlante
Like speech, enunciated
Partitur (Ger)
Full orchestral score
In a pastoral style, peaceful and simple
pedale or ped
In piano scores, this instructs the player to press the damper pedal to sustain the note or chord being played. The player may be instructed to release the pedal with an asterisk marking (*). In organ scores, it tells the organist that a section is to be performed on the bass pedalboard with the feet.
Thoughtfully, meditatively
Dying away; decrease in dynamics, perhaps also in tempo
Heavy, ponderous
peu ΰ peu (Fre)
Little by little
A composition
pianissimo (pp)
very gently (i.e. perform very softly, even softer than piano). This convention can be extended; the more ps that are written, the softer the composer wants the musician to play or sing, thus ppp (pianississimo) would be softer than pp. Dynamics in a piece should be interpreted relative to the other dynamics in the same piece. For example, pp should be executed as softly as possible, but if ppp is found later in the piece, pp should be markedly louder than ppp. More than three ps (ppp) or three fs (fff) are uncommon.
piano (p)
Gently (i.e. played or sung softly) (see dynamics)
piano-vocal score
The same as a vocal score, a piano arrangement along with the vocal parts of an opera, cantata, or similar
Literally 'crying' (used in Liszt's La Lugubre Gondola no. 2).
Pleasant, agreeable
Picardy third
A Picardy third, Picardy cadence (ˈpɪkərdi ) or, in French, tierce picarde is a harmonic device used in Western classical music.It refers to the use of a major chord of the tonic at the end of a musical section that is either modal or in a minor key.
pienna (Ita)
Full, as, for example, a voce pienna = "in full voice"
Pitiful, piteous
More; see mosso
Rather, somewhat (e.g. allegro piuttosto presto)
Pinched, plucked (i.e. in music for bowed strings, plucked with the fingers as opposed to played with the bow; compare arco, which is inserted to cancel a pizzicato instruction; in music for guitar, to mute the strings by resting the palm on the bridge, simlulating the sound of pizz. of the bowed string instruments)
Jazz term referring to a note that slides to an indefinite pitch chromatically downwards.
pochettino or poch.
Very little; diminutive of poco
pochissimo or pochiss.
Very little; superlative of poco
A little, as in poco piω allegro (a little faster)
poco a poco
Little by little
Poetic discourse
Then, indicating a subsequent instruction in a sequence; diminuendo poi subito fortissimo, for example: getting softer then suddenly very loud
Pompous, ceremonious
ponticello (pont.)
On the bridge (i.e. in string playing, an indication to bow or to pluck very near to the bridge, producing a characteristic glassy sound, which emphasizes the higher harmonics at the expense of the fundamental); the opposite of sul tasto
Carrying (i.e. 1. generally, sliding in pitch from one note to another, usually pausing just above or below the final pitch, then sliding quickly to that pitch. If no pause is executed, then it is a basic glissando; or 2. in piano music, an articulation between legato and staccato, like portato)
portato or lourι
Carried (i.e. non-legato, but not as detached as staccato) (same as portamento)
potpourri or pot-pourri (Fre)
Potpourri (as used in other senses in English) (i.e. a kind of musical form structured as ABCDEF... etc.; the same as medley or, sometimes, fantasia)
prelude, prιlude (Fre), preludio (It), praeludium (Lat), prδludium (Ger)
A musical introduction to subsequent movements during the Baroque era (1600's/17th century). It can also be a movement in its own right, which was more common in the Romantic era (mid-1700s/18th century)
Extremely quickly, as fast as possible
Very quickly
prima donna
Leading female singer in an opera company
prima volta
The first time; for example prima volta senza accompagnamento (the first time without accompaniment)
primo or prima (the feminine form)
Composed of the musical interval of the fourth; as in quartal harmony
quarter tone
Half of a semitone; a pitch division not used in most Western music notation, except in some contemporary art music or experimental music. Quarter tones are used in Western popular music forms such as jazz and blues and in a variety of non-Western musical cultures.
quasi (Latin and Italian)
As if, almost (e.g. quasi recitativo like a recitative in an opera, or quasi una fantasia like a fantasia)
Composed of the musical interval of the fifth; as in quintal harmony
rallentando or rall.
Broadening of the tempo (often not discernible from ritardando); progressively slower
rapide (Fre)
rasch (Ger)
rasguedo (Spa)
(on the guitar) to play strings with the back of the fingernail; esp. to fan the strings rapidly with the nails of multiple fingers
ravvivando (Ita, "reviving")
Quicken pace (as "ravvivando il tempo", returning to a faster tempo that occurred earlier in the piece)[8]
Recitatively; one voice without accompaniment
Repeat a phrase or verse; return to the original theme
restez (Fre)
Stay (i.e. remain on a note or string)
retenu (Fre)
Hold back; same as the Italian ritenuto (see below)
Humorously, inaccurate, and loosely
rinforzando (rf or rinf.)
Reinforced (i.e. emphasized); sometimes like a sudden crescendo, but often applied to a single note
An abbreviation for ritardando;[9] also an abbreviation for ritenuto[10]
ritardando, ritard., rit.
Slowing down; decelerating; opposite of accelerando
ritenuto, riten., rit.
Suddenly slower, held back (usually more so but more temporarily than a ritardando, and it may, unlike ritardando, apply to a single note); opposite of accelerato
Rhythm (e.g. ritmo di # battute meaning a rhythm of # measures)
A recurring passage for orchestra in the first or final movement of a solo concerto or aria (also in works for chorus).
rolled chord
See arpeggiato
roulade (Fre)
A rolling (i.e. a florid vocal phrase)
A musical form in which a certain section returns repeatedly, interspersed with other sections: ABACA is a typical structure or ABACABA
Robbed (i.e. flexible in tempo), applied to notes within a musical phrase for expressive effect
ruhig (Ger)
Calm, peaceful
A rapid series of ascending or descending musical notes which are closely spaced in pitch forming a scale
Bouncing the bow as in a staccato arpeggio, literally means "jumping"
sanft (Ger)
Unchained, wildly[11]
scherzando, scherzoso
A light, "joking" or playful musical form, originally and usually in fast triple metre, often replacing the minuet in the later Classical period and the Romantic period, in symphonies, sonatas, string quartets and the like; in the 19th century some scherzi were independent movements for piano, etc.
schleppen (Ger)
To drag; usually nicht schleppen ("don't drag"), paired with nicht eilen ("don't hurry") in Gustav Mahler's scores
schnell (Ger)
schneller (Ger)
schwungvoll (Ger)
Lively, swinging, bold, spirited
schwer (Ger)
Out of tune (i.e. an alternative tuning used for the strings of a string instrument)
scorrendo, scorrevole
Gliding from note to note
secco (sec) (Fre)
Dry (sparse accompaniment, staccato, without resonance)
sign, usually Dal Segno (see above) "from the sign", indicating a return to the point marked by Segno
Carry on to the next section without a pause
sehr (Ger)
The smallest pitch difference between notes (in most Western music) (e.g. F–F♯)
senza misura
Without measure
senza sordina or senza sordine (plural)
Without the mute. See sordina.
sforzando (sfz)
Made loud (i.e. a sudden strong accent)
A jazz term describing a trill between one note and its minor third; or, with brass instruments, between a note and its next overblown harmonic.
A symbol (♯) that raises the pitch of the note by a semitone. The term may also be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a singer or musician is performing a note in which the intonation is somewhat too high in pitch.
short accent
Hit the note hard and short (^)
si (Fre)
Seventh note of the series ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in fixed-doh solmization.
A Sicilian dance in 12/8 or 6/8 meter[12]
See segno
Silence (i.e. without reverberations)
Similarly (i.e. continue applying the preceding directive, whatever it was, to the following passage)
Curtain (stage)
Momentum, con slancio: with momentum; with enthusiasm
slargando or slentando
Becoming broader or slower (that is, becoming more largo or more lento)
smorzando or smorz.
Extinguishing or dampening; usually interpreted as a drop in dynamics, and very often in tempo as well
Smoothly, gently
somma (Ita)
Sum; total, con somma passione: with great passion
sopra una corda or sull'istessa corda
To be played on one string
solo break
A jazz term that instructs a lead player or rhythm section member to play an improvised solo cadenza for one or two measures (sometimes abbreviated as "break"), without any accompaniment. The solo part is often played in a rhythmically free manner, until the player performs a pickup or lead-in line, at which time the band recommences playing in the original tempo.
solo or soli (plural)
Alone (i.e. executed by a single instrument or voice). The instruction soli requires more than one player or singer; in a jazz big band this refers to an entire section playing in harmony. In orchestral works, soli refers to a divided string section with only one player to a line.
A piece played as opposed to sung.
A little sonata
A little sonata, used in some countries instead of sonatina
The highest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano)
sordina, sordine (plural)
A mute, Note: sordina, with plural sordine, is strictly correct Italian, but the forms sordino and sordini are much more commonly used as terms in music. Instruments can have their tone muted with wood, rubber, metal, or plastic devices, (for string instruments, mutes are clipped to the bridge; for brass instruments, mutes are inserted in the bell), or parts of the body (guitar; French Horn), or fabric (clarinet; timpani), among other means. In piano music (notably in Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata), senza sordini or senza sordina (or some variant) is sometimes used to mean keep the sustain pedal depressed, since the sustain pedal lifts the dampers off the strings, with the effect that all notes are sustained indefinitely.
See sordina.
A principal singer's first entrance in an opera
Sustained, lengthened
sotto voce
In an undertone (i.e. quietly)
Smooth, even
Distinct, separated (i.e. a way of playing the violin and other bowed instruments by bouncing the bow on the string, giving a characteristic staccato effect)
Literally "pushed"
Spirit, con spirito: with spirit; with feeling
Making each note brief and detached; the opposite of legato. In musical notation, a small dot under or over the head of the note indicates that it is to be articulated as staccato.
A verse of a song
Labored, heavy, in a dragging manner, holding back each note
Originally truly 'improvised' now taken as 'appearing to be improvised,' an Italian 'folk' song, the style of which used for example by Puccini in certain of his operas.
strascinando or strascicante
Indicating a passage should be played in a heavily slurred manner
Noisy, forceful
Tight, narrow (i.e. faster or hastening ahead); also, a passage in a fugue in which the contrapuntal texture is denser, with close overlapping entries of the subject in different voices; by extension, similar closely imitative passages in other compositions
Gradually getting faster (literally, tightening, narrowing) (i.e. with a pressing forward or acceleration of the tempo, that is, becoming stretto)
To be played with a smooth slur, a glissando
Suddenly (e.g. subito pp, which instructs the player to suddenly drop to pianissimo as an effect)
sul E
"on E", indicating a passage is to be played on the E string of a violin. Also seen: sul A, sul D, sul G, sul C, indicating a passage to be played on one of the other strings of a string instrument.
sul (Ita)
Literally, "on", as in sul ponticello (on the bridge); sul tasto (on the fingerboard); sul E (on the E string), etc.
sur la touche (Fre)
Sul tasto
A disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of downbeat rhythm with emphasis on the sub-division or up-beat (e.g. in Ragtime music).
Silent; do not play
tasto or tastierra (tast.)
On the fingerboard (i.e. in string playing, an indication to bow or to pluck over the fingerboard); playing over the fingerboard produces a duller, less harmonically rich, gentler tone. The opposite of sul ponticello.
tasto solo
'single key'; used on a continuo part to indicate that the notes should be played without harmony
Time (i.e. the overall speed of a piece of music)
tempo di marcia
March tempo
tempo di mezzo
The middle section of an double aria, commonly found in bel canto era Italian operas, especially those of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and their contemporaries as well in many early operas by Verdi. When present, the tempo di mezzo generally signals a shift in the drama from the slow cantabile of the first part to the cabaletta of the second, and this can take the form of some dramatic announcement or action to which the character(s) react in the cabaletta finale.[13]
tempo di valse
Waltz tempo
tempo giusto
In strict time
tempo primo, tempo uno, or tempo I (sometimes tempo I° or tempo 1ero)
Resume the original speed
tempo rubato
"Robbed time"; an expressive way of performing a rhythm; see rubato
teneramente; tendre or tendrement (Fre)
The second lowest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano)
Held (i.e. touch on a note slightly longer than usual, but without generally altering the note's value)
Having three parts. In particular, referring to a three-part musical form with the parts represented by letters: ABA
The 'best' or most comfortable pitch range, generally used to identify the most prominent / common vocal range within a piece of music
Tierce de Picardie
See Picardy third
The quality of a musical tone that distinguishes voices and instruments
In a jazz or rock score, after a rubato or rallentendo section, the term "time" indicates that performers should return to tempo (this is equivalent to the term "a tempo")
Calmly, peacefully
Shaking. As used in 1) and 2) below, it is notated by a strong diagonal bar (or bars) across the note stem, or a detached bar (or bars) for a set of notes.
A rapid, measured or unmeasured repetition of the same note. String players perform this tremolo with the bow by rapidly moving the bow while the arm is tense;
A rapid, measured or unmeasured alternation between two or more notes, usually more than a whole step apart. In older theory texts this form is sometimes referred to as a "trill-tremolo" (see trill).
A rapid, repeated alteration of volume (as on an electronic instrument);
vibrato: an inaccurate usage, since vibrato is actually a slight undulation in a sustained pitch, rather than a repetition of the pitch, or variation in volume (see vibrato).
tre corde (tc)
Three strings (i.e. release the soft pedal of the piano) (see una corda)
A rapid, usually unmeasured alternation between two harmonically adjacent notes (e.g. a interval of a semitone or a whole tone). A similar alternation using a wider interval is called a tremolo.
triplet (shown with a horizontal bracket and a '3')
Three notes in the place of two, used to subdivide a beat.
Sad, wistful
tronco, tronca
Broken off, truncated
Too much; usually seen as non troppo, meaning moderately or, when combined with other terms, not too much, such as allegro [ma] non troppo (fast but not too fast)
Multi-note ornament above and below the main note; it may also be inverted
All; all together, usually used in an orchestral or choral score when the orchestra or all of the voices come in at the same time, also seen in Baroque-era music where two instruments share the same copy of music, after one instrument has broken off to play a more advanced form: they both play together again at the point marked tutti. See also ripieno.
un, uno, or una
One, as for example in the following entries
una corda
One string (i.e. in piano music, depress the soft pedal, altering, and reducing the volume of, the sound). For most notes in modern pianos, this results in the hammer striking two strings rather than three. Its counterpart, tre corde (three strings), is the opposite: the soft pedal is to be released.
un poco or un peu (Fre)
A little
unisono (unis) (Fre)
In unison (i.e. several players in a group are to play exactly the same notes within their written part, as opposed to splitting simultaneous notes among themselves). Often used to mark the return from divisi.
A fast, lively, or increased tempo or played or done in such a tempo.[14] It is also used as an umbrella term for a quick-paced electronic music style.
ut (Fre)
First note of the series ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in fixed-do solmization.
vagans (Lat, "wandering"[15])
The fifth part in a motet, named so most probably because it had no specific range
vamp till cue
A jazz, fusion, and musical theatre term which instructs rhythm section members to repeat and vary a short ostinato passage, riff, or "groove" until the band leader or conductor instructs them to move onto the next section
Variations, con variazioni: with variations/changes
Velocity, con veloce: with velocity
As quickly as possible; usually applied to a cadenza-like passage or run
Away, out, off; as in via sordina or sordina via: 'mute off'
Vibrating (i.e. a more or less rapidly repeated slight variation in the pitch of a note, used as a means of expression). Often confused with tremolo, which refers either to a similar variation in the volume of a note, or to rapid repetition of a single note.
vif (Fre)
Quickly, lively
(noun or adjective) performing with exceptional ability, technique, or artistry
vite (Fre)
Very lively, up-tempo
Very lively
Quickly and lively
vocal score or piano-vocal score
A music score of an opera, or a vocal or choral composition with orchestra (like oratorio or cantata) where the vocal parts are written out in full but the accompaniment is reduced to two staves and adapted for playing on piano
volti subito (V.S.)
Turn suddenly (i.e. turn the page quickly). While this indication is sometimes added by printers, it is more commonly indicated by orchestral members in pencil as a reminder to quickly turn to the next page.
wenig (Ger)
A little, not much
wolno (Pol)
Loose, slowly
Zδhlzeit (Ger)
zart (Ger)
Zartheit (Ger)
zδrtlich (Ger)
Zeichen (Ger)
Sign, mark
Zeitmaί or Zeitmass (Ger)
Time-measure (i.e. tempo)
zelo, zeloso, zelosamente
Zeal, zealous, zealously
ziehen (Ger)
To draw out
ziemlich (Ger)
Fairly, quite, rather
zitternd (Ger)
Trembling (i.e. tremolando)
zφgernd (Ger)
Hesitantly, delaying (i.e. rallentando)
zurόckhalten (Ger)
Hold back


Glossary of Musical Terms

Term Definition
A cappella - One or more vocalists performing without an accompaniment.
Accelerando - A symbol used in musical notation indicating to gradually quicken tempo.
Accessible - Music that is easy to listen to and understand.
Adagio - A tempo having slow movement; restful at ease.
Allegro - A direction to play lively and fast.
Atonal - Music that is written and performed without regard to any specific key.
Baroque - Time in music history ranging from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th centuries. Characterized by emotional, flowery music; written in strict form.
Beat - The unit of musical rhythm.
Cadence - A sequence of chords that brings an end to a phrase, either in the middle or the end of a composition.
Cadenza - Initially an improvised cadence by a soloist; later becoming an elaborate and written out passage in an aria or concerto, featuring the skills of an instrumentalist or vocalist.
Cadenza - Originally an improvised cadence by a soloist. Later it became a written out passage to display performance skills of an instrumentalist or performer.
Canon - A musical form where the melody or tune is imitated by individual parts at regular intervals. The individual parts may enter at different measures and pitches. The tune may also be played at different speeds, backwards, or inverted.
Cantabile - A style of singing which is characterized by the easy and flowing tone of the composition.
Cantata - Music written for chorus and orchestra. Most often religious in nature.
Capriccio - A quick, improvisational, spirited piece of music.
Carol - A song or hymn celebrating Christmas.
Castrato - Male singers who were castrated to preserve their alto and soprano vocal range.
Cavatina - A short and simple melody performed by a soloist that is part of a larger piece.
Chamber music - Written for 2 to 10 solo parts featuring one instrument to a part. Each part bears the same importance.
Chant - Singing in unison, texts in a free rhythm. Similar to the rhythm of speech.
Choir - Group of singers in a chorus.
Chorale - A hymn sung by the choir and congregation often in unison.
Chord - 3 or 4 notes played simultaneously in harmony.
Chord progression - A string of chords played in succession.
Chorus - A group singing in unison.
Chromatic scale - Includes all twelve notes of an octave.
Classical - The period of music history which dates from the mid 1700’s to mid 1800’s. The music was spare and emotionally reserved, especially when compared to Romantic and Boroque music.
Classicism - The period of music history which dates from the mid 1800’s and lasted about sixty years. There was a strong regard for order and balance.
Clavier - The keyboard of a stringed instrument.
Clef - In sheet music, a symbol at the beginning of the staff defining the pitch of the notes found in that particular staff.
Coda - Closing section of a movement.
Concert master - The first violin in an orchestra.
Concerto - A composition written for a solo instrument. The soloist plays the melody while the orchestra plays the accompaniment.
Conductor - One who directs a group of performers. The conductor indicates the tempo, phrasing, dynamics, and style by gestures and facial expressions.
Consonance - Groups of tones that are harmonious when sounded together as in a chord.
Contralto - Lowest female singing voice.
Counterpoint - Two or three melodic lines played at the same time.
Courante - A piece of music written in triple time. Also an old French dance.
Da Capo - In sheet music, an instruction to repeat the beginning of the piece before stopping on the final chord.
Deceptive cadence - A chord progression that seems to lead to resolving itself on the final chord; but does not.
Development - Where the musical themes and melodies are developed, written in sonata form.
Dissonance - Harsh, discordant, and lack of harmony. Also a chord that sounds incomplete until it resolves itself on a harmonious chord.
Drone - Dull, monotonous tone such as a humming or buzzing sound. Also a bass note held under a melody.
Duet - A piece of music written for two vocalists or instrumentalists.
Dynamics - Pertaining to the loudness or softness of a musical composition. Also the symbols in sheet music indicating volume.
Elegy - An instrumental lament with praise for the dead.
Encore - A piece of music played at the end of a recital responding to the audiences enthusiastic reaction to the performance, shown by continuous applause.
Energico - A symbol in sheet music a direction to play energetically.
Enharmonic Interval - Two notes that differ in name only. The notes occupy the same position. For example: C sharp and D flat.
Ensemble - The performance of either all instruments of an orchestra or voices in a chorus.
Espressivo - A direction to play expressively.
Etude - A musical composition written solely to improve technique. Often performed for artistic interest.
Exposition - The first section of a movement written in sonata form, introducing the melodies and themes.
Expressionism - Atonal and violent style used as a means of evoking heightened emotions and states of mind.
Falsetto - A style of male singing where by partial use of the vocal chords, the voice is able to reach the pitch of a female.
Fermata - To hold a tone or rest held beyond the written value at the discretion of the performer.
Fifth - The interval between two notes. Three whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes.
Finale - Movement or passage that concludes the musical composition.
Flat - A symbol indicating that the note is to be diminished by one semitone.
Form - The structure of a piece of music.
Forte - A symbol indicating to play loud.
Fourth - The interval between two notes. Two whole tones and one semitone make up the distance between the two notes.
Fugue - A composition written for three to six voices. Beginning with the exposition, each voice enters at different times, creating counterpoint with one another.
Galliard - Music written for a lively French dance for two performers written in triple time.
Gavotte - A 17th century dance written in Quadruple time, always beginning on the third beat of the measure.
Glee - Vocal composition written for three or more solo parts, usually without instrumental accompaniment.
Glissando - Sliding between two notes.
Grandioso - Word to indicate that the movement or entire composition is to be played grandly.
Grave - Word to indicate the movement or entire composition is to be played very slow and serious.
Grazioso - Word to indicate the movement or entire composition is to be played gracefully.
Gregorian Chant - Singing or chanting in unison without strict rhythm. Collected during the Reign of Pope Gregory VIII for psalms and other other parts of the church service.
Harmony - Pleasing combination of two or three tones played together in the background while a melody is being played. Harmony also refers to the study of chord progressions.
Homophony - Music written to be sung or played in unison.
Hymn - A song of praise and glorification. Most often to honor God.
Impromptu - A short piano piece, often improvisational and intimate in character.
Instrumentation - Arrangement of music for a combined number of instruments.
Interlude - Piece of instrumental music played between scenes in a play or opera.
Intermezzo - Short movement or interlude connecting the main parts of the composition.
Interpretation - The expression the performer brings when playing his instrument.
Interval - The distance in pitch between two notes.
Intonation - The manner in which tones are produced with regard to pitch.
Introduction - The opening section of a piece of music or movement.
Key - System of notes or tones based on and named after the key note.
Key signature - The flats and sharps at the beginning of each staff line indicating the key of music the piece is to be played.
Klangfarbenmelodie - The technique of altering the tone color of a single note or musical line by changing from one instrument to another in the middle of a note or line.
Leading note - The seventh note of the scale where there is a strong desire to resolve on the tonic.
Legato - Word to indicate that the movement or entire composition is to be played smoothly.
Leitmotif - A musical theme given to a particular idea or main character of an opera.
Libretto - A book of text containing the words of an opera.
Ligature - Curved line connecting notes to be sung or played as a phrase.
Madrigal - A contrapuntal song written for at least three voices, usually without accompaniment.
Maestro - Refers to any great composer, conductor, or teacher of music.
Major - One of the two modes of the tonal system. Music written in major keys have a positive affirming character.
March - A form of music written for marching in two-step time. Originally the march was used for military processions.
Measure - The unit of measure where the beats on the lines of the staff are divided up into two, three, four beats to a measure.
Medley - Often used in overtures, a composition that uses passages from other movements of the composition in its entirety.
Mezzo - The voice between soprano and alto. Also, in sheet music, a direction for the tempo to be played at medium speed.
Minor - One of the two modes of the tonal system. The minor mode can be identified by the dark, melancholic mood.
Minuet - Slow and stately dance music written in triple time.
Modes - Either of the two octave arrangements in modern music. The modes are either major or minor.
Modulation - To shift to another key.
Monotone - Repetition of a single tone.
Motif - Primary theme or subject that is developed.
Movement - A separate section of a larger composition.
Musette - A Boroque dance with a drone-bass.
Musicology - The study of forms, history, science, and methods of music.
Natural - A symbol in sheet music that returns a note to its original pitch after it has been augmented or diminished.
Neoclassical - Movement in music where the characteristics are crisp and direct.
Nocturne - A musical composition that has a romantic or dreamy character with nocturnal associations.
Nonet - A composition written for nine instruments.
Notation - First developed in the 8th century, methods of writing music.
Obbligato - An extended solo, often accompanying the vocal part of an aria.
Octave - Eight full tones above the key note where the scale begins and ends.
Octet - A composition written for eight instruments.
Opera - A drama where the words are sung instead of spoken.
Operetta - A short light musical drama.
Opus - Convenient method of numbering a composer’s works where a number follows the word “opus”. For example, Opus 28, No. 4.
Oratorio - An extended cantata on a sacred subject.
Orchestra - A large group of instrumentalists playing together.
Orchestration - Arranging a piece of music for an orchestra. Also, the study of music.
Ornaments - Tones used to embellish the principal melodic tone.
Ostinato - A repeated phrase.
Overture - Introduction to an opera or other large musical work.
Parody - A composition based on previous work. A common technique used in Medieval and Renaissance music.
Part - A line in a contrapuntal work performed by an individual voice or instrument.
Partial - A harmonic given off by a note when it is played.
Partita - Suite of Baroque dances.
Pastoral - A composition whose style is simple and idyllic; suggestive of rural scenes.
Pentatonic Scale - A musical scale having five notes. For example: the five black keys of a keyboard make up a pentatonic scale.
Phrase - A single line of music played or sung. A musical sentence.
Piano - An instruction in sheet music to play softly. Abbreviated by a “p”.
Pitch - The frequency of a note determining how high or low it sounds.
Pizzicato - String instruments that are picked instead of bowed.
Polyphony - Combining a number of individual but harmonizing melodies. Also known as counterpoint.
Polytonality - Combination of two or more keys being played at the same time.
Portamento - A mild glissando between two notes for an expressive effect.
Prelude - A short piece originally preceded by a more substantial work, also an orchestral introduction to opera, however not lengthy enough to be considered an overture.
Presto - A direction in sheet music indicating the tempo is to be very fast.
Progression - The movement of chords in succession.
Quadrille - A 19th century square dance written for 4 couples.
Quartet - A set of four musicians who perform a composition written for four parts.
Quintet - A set of five musicians who perform a composition written for five parts.
Recapitulation - A reprise.
Recital - A solo concert with or without accompaniment.
Recitative - A form of writing for vocals that is close to the manner of speech and is rhythmically free.
Reed - The piece of cane in wind instruments. The players cause vibrations by blowing through it in order to produce sound.
Refrain - A repeating phrase that is played at the end of each verse in the song.
Register - A portion of the range of the instrument or voice.
Relative major and minor - The major and minor keys that share the same notes in that key. For example: A minor shares the same note as C major.
Relative pitch - Ability to determine the pitch of a note as it relates to the notes that precede and follow it.
Renaissance -
A period in history dating from the 14th to 16th centuries. This period signified the rebirth of music, art, and literature.
Reprise - To repeat a previous part of a composition generally after other music has been played.
Requiem - A dirge, hymn, or musical service for the repose of the dead.
Resonance - When several strings are tuned to harmonically related pitches, all strings vibrate when only one of the strings is struck.
Rhythm - The element of music pertaining to time, played as a grouping of notes into accented and unaccented beats.
Ricercar - Elaborate polyphonic composition of the Boroque and Renaissance periods.
Rigaudon - A quick 20th century dance written in double time.
Rococo - A musical style characterized as excessive, ornamental, and trivial.
Romantic - A period in history during the 18th and early 19th centuries where the focus shifted from the neoclassical style to an emotional, expressive, and imaginative style.
Rondo - A musical form where the principal theme is repeated several times. The rondo was often used for the final movements of classical sonata form works.
Root - The principal note of a triad.
Round - A canon where the melody is sung in two or more voices. After the first voice begins, the next voice starts singing after a couple of measures are played in the preceding voice. All parts repeat continuously.
Rubato - An important characteristic of the Romantic period. It is a style where the strict tempo is temporarily abandoned for a more emotional tone.
Scale - Successive notes of a key or mode either ascending or descending.
Scherzo - Pertaining to the sonata form, a fast movement in triple time.
Scordatura - The retuning of a stringed instrument in order to play notes below the ordinary range of the instrument or to produce an usual tone color.
Septet - A set of seven musicians who perform a composition written for seven parts.
Sequence - A successive transposition and repetition of a phrase at different pitches.
Serenade - A lighthearted piece, written in several movements, usually as background music for a social function.
Sextet - A set of six musicians who perform a composition written for six parts.
Sharp - A symbol indicating the note is to be raised by one semitone.
Slide - A glissando or portamento. Also refers to the moving part of a trombone.
Slur - A curve over notes to indicate that a phrase is to be played legato.
Sonata - Music of a particular form consisting of four movements. Each of the movements differ in tempo, rhythm, and melody; but are held together by subject and style.
Sonata form - A complex piece of music. Usually the first movement of the piece serving as the exposition, a development, or recapitulation.
Sonatina - A short or brief sonata.
Song cycle - A sequence of songs, perhaps on a single theme, or with texts by one poet, or having continuos narrative.
Soprano - The highest female voice.
Staccato - Short detached notes, as opposed to legato.
Staff - Made up of five horizontal parallel lines and the spaces between them on which musical notation is written.
Stretto - Pertaining to the fugue, the overlapping of the same theme or motif by two or more voices a few beats apart.
String Quartet - A group of 4 instruments, two violins, a viola, and cello.
Suite - A loose collection of instrumental compositions.
Symphony - Three to four movement orchestral piece, generally in sonata form.
System - A combination of two or more staves on which all the notes are vertically aligned and performed simultaneously in differing registers and instruments.
Tablature - A system of notation for stringed instruments. The notes are indicated by the finger positions.
Temperament - Refers to the tuning of an instrument.
Tempo - Indicating speed.
Tessitura -
The range of an instrumental or a vocal part.
Theme - A melodic or, sometimes a harmonic idea presented in a musical form.
Timbre - Tone color, quality of sound that distinguishes one verse or instrument to another. It is determined by the harmonies of sound.
Time Signature - A numeric symbol in sheet music determining the number of beats to a measure.
Tonal - Pertains to tone or tones.
Tonality - The tonal characteristics determined by the relationship of the notes to the tone.
Tone - The intonation, pitch, and modulation of a composition expressing the meaning, feeling, or attitude of the music.
Tone less - Unmusical, without tone.
Tonic - The first tone of a scale also known as a keynote.
Treble - The playing or singing the upper half of the vocal range. Also the highest voice in choral singing.
Tremolo - Quick repetition of the same note or the rapid alternation between two notes.
Triad - Three note chords consisting of a root, third, and fifth.
Trill - Rapid alternation between notes that are a half tone or whole tone apart.
Trio - A composition written for three voices and instruments performed by three 
Triple time - Time signature with three beats to the measure.
Triplet - Three notes played in the same amount of time as one or two beats.
Tritone - A chord comprised of three whole tones resulting in an augmented fourth or diminished fifth.
Tune - A rhythmic succession of musical tones, a melody for instruments and voices.
Tuning - The raising and lowering a pitch of an instrument to produce the correct tone of a note.
Tutti - Passage for the entire ensemble or orchestra without a soloist.
Twelve-tone music - Music composed such that each note is used the same number of times.
Unison - Two or more voices or instruments playing the same note simultaneously.
Verismo - A form of Italian opera beginning at the end of the 19th century. The setting is contemporary to the composer’s own time, and the characters are modeled after every day life.
Vibrato - Creating variation pitch in a note by quickly alternating between notes.
Virtuoso - A person with notable technical skill in the performance of music.
Vivace - Direction to performer to play a composition in a brisk, lively, and spirited manner.
Voice - One of two or more parts in polyphonic music. Voice refers to instrumental parts as well as the singing voice.
Waltz - A dance written in triple time, where the accent falls on the first beat of each measure.
Whole note - A whole note is equal to 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes, 8 eighth notes, etc.
Whole-tone scale - A scale consisting of only whole-tone notes. Such a scale consists of only 6 notes.