List of Musical Terms (Music Glossary)

In the musical world, every piece of music is different as every musician has a different style of composing them. This means that every musician structures the elements of music in different ways according to the theme of the song being composed. They also have unique styles of composing songs and choose different instruments for them. Understanding these differences starts with knowing the fundamental elements and terms of music. Hence, we bring you the ultimate list of musical terms to get you started in the world of music.

So although there are many elements of music, there are twelve fundamental ones that everyone should know about. Therefore, we at Deliver My Tune, bring you the ultimate list of musical terms to get into the world of music.

So, let’s start!


Accent refers to the stressed phrase, chord, or specific notes with a raise in intensity above the notes which are non-accented. An accent is responsible for articulation and patterns of rhythm in the performance of a musical piece.


In the Italian language, Adagio signifies slowly. It means that a musical piece must be performed at a slower speed or tempo.


Allegro signifies cheerfulness in the Italian language. In musical terms, it means that the musical phase should be played at a flashing or high speed.


This word signifies where the scale of pitches is generally allocated to a singer of the choir. The alto scale of pitches is lower than the Soprano range but above the Tenor range.


This musical term is utilized to represent a slightly slower tempo. It hints a walking speed is to be applied in musical composition.


If the chords of notes are broken and are performed in the order of series. Arpeggio allows you to experiment with the chords and different arrangements of the notes.


The Bar resembles sections of time analogous to a particular number of beats. Each beat is expressed by a specific note. The outer limit of a bar is represented by vertical lines.


When the completion of musical composition is represented by a certain set.


Performers are allowed to perform differently from the stiff rhythm or tempo. It is a small-time period where a singer or instrumentalists are given a chance to flaunt their musical skill solely.


This harmony is overlapped by other instruments. When harmony is played by a single instrument or multiple instruments together with a repetition of a specified number of bars, it is known as Canons in the musical field.


Clef represents a scale of tones in the beginning of the sheet of music in a form of a symbol.


A composition will comprise a coda instruction to describe the orchestra when to progress to the commencement of the concluding passage. Coda is a sign in the music sheet to denote where each concluding passage of a melody starts.


A progressive increase in dynamic sound through a segment of tunes is known as Crescendo.

Da Capo

The group or symphony is directed to restart the musical piece from the start and persist back to the beginning of that piece this is known as Da Capo.


Diminuendo is also recognized as the antithesis of Crescendo. It is a reduction in dynamic sound during a segment of melody.


Dynamic represents how loud or how low different notes in a piece of music, or the entire song should be played. The dynamic is based on the theme or the occasion a song is composed for and may be different in different verses.


The time of the note that can be sustained is up to the conductor or the artist is known as A fermata. Fermata is a sign practised in a music sheet to symbolize that a note should be sustained longer than its normal span.


Flat indicates the comparative tonal variety of a note. A flat note is a half level underneath the same original note in tone.


Forte should be more empathic than mezzo-forte but lower than the fortissimo. Forte is a phrase utilized to explain bigger dynamics.


Immediate transaction of loud and light tones through instruction by a performer is known as Fortepiano.


The performance executed in a joyful and cheerful form is known as Giocoso.


When the performer glides from various notes without focusing on the particular tone through a direction it is known as Glissando.


Instrument quite similar to Xylophone with metal stripes attached to a solid rod which a scale of pitches from low to high is known as Glockenspiel.


Harmony is when high and low pitch notes are played simultaneously so that it sounds appealing. Hence, the melody can exist without harmony, but for having harmony, a melody needs to be formed first.


Largo is also acknowledged as Larghetto. In instrumental music, it indicates a high and slow-moving speed. Largo indicates large in the Italian language.


In music sheet leggero determines to play smoothly, commonly at a faster speed and in a cheerful way. In Italy Leggero indicates light.


Without extreme articulation within the notation, the introduction of new notation sleekly is known as Legato.


So after knowing what pitch is, we can easily define melody. In a piece of music, melody means the playing of high and low pitches of notes one after the other, to make it sound pleasing.


With a number of other performing techniques when the performer plays the similar but complete note is known as Motif.

Music Notation

A music notation is the written expression of a song in the form of notes. It also indicates the tempo, timbre, and even genre of the music.


Usually, a natural note sign is done to show the performer that the tone is natural despite the chief indication. Natural notes in harmony, indicate a note that is not sharp nor flat.


In nonetheless, each musician has a designated and a different role according to the performance. A nonet is a group of nine musicians in musical performances.


Ostinato is a term for a pattern which occurs again and again in the whole melody similar to that of Motif.


The audio signals depend upon the stereo direction in the production of audio. Panning the audio in a particular direction will lead to the production of audio in the same direction.


The dynamic range for pianissimo passage should be quieter than piano, but louder than pianississimo. Pianissimo is a dynamic instruction in music that tells musicians to play softly.


Pitch means how loud or how low a piece of music or note sounds to us.


When the string sections are plucked rather than bowing them is known as Pizzicato.

Quarter tone

A quarter tone is a smaller part of a semitone and whole tones.


You can relate this to that of the triplet. This musical representation guides performers to perform five notes simultaneously and in less time than that of a quarter note.


When many segments flow freely without relating with the other segments in a harmony it is known as Rhapsody.


It is the system of segmenting a piece of music into beats, notes, and silences that repeats itself at regular intervals. Music is nothing without its rhythm.


The hint where the musician has to steadily lower down the pace of the music is known as Ritardando.


Arrangement of many sounds and instrumental tones with a recurrence in a melody from time to time is known as Rondo.


The smallest portion of complete music is referred to as Scherzo.


A scale is an order or pattern of the pitch in a song. When the order is of high pitch, we call it high scale music. When you see a music notation, the distance between two successive notes is called a scale step.


The stress established on a sforzando note is normally stronger than an accent. Sforzando needs the player to play tones abruptly but synchronized with the harmony.

Sharp notation

When a notation is sharper and greater than that of a normal tone is known as the Sharp notation.


Soprano ranks on the top of the tones. The scale it represents is also higher than that of alto.


In a musical sheet, sostenuto notes or mellow portions require musicians to strike each note exceeding its standard value. Sostenuto indicates sustained in the Italian language.


Staccato is the notes performed on a lower scale when compared to the standard scale. Staccato is the contrast of sostenuto.


A structure of music means the way its introduction, verses, pre-chorus, and chorus are arranged in the form of notations.


The tempo is the speed of the particular music section which is to be performed. The tempo varies from the slowest to the fastest.


Timbre is the inherent quality of the sound of a note. It is also known as the sharpness of a note.


The texture is how the piece of music or song sounds once the tempo, melody, and harmony are combined. It represents the ultimate quality of a song after it is composed.


In between bass and the range of alto lies a scale of notes known as Tenor.


Ordinarily, it takes a pattern in the structure of repeating the alike note very instantly. Tremolo is utilized to generate a tone which is with a specific and repetitive note also known as trembling.


When the performer maintains variation between two types of different tones.


When the sound of the tone is swiftly moved high to low this effect is known as Vibrato.


Typically, vivace suggests a fast pace, bigger dynamic, and radiant playing. It means energetic or active in Italian.


Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instruments. They are so called because they were originally made of wood, although some, like the saxophone, are now made of other materials. Examples include the flute, clarinet, and oboe.


Named after the Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis, it refers to the use of stochastic or probability-based methods in music composition.


A musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets. Each bar is an idiophone tuned to a pitch of a musical scale.


A form of singing that involves rapid changes in pitch between the low-pitch chest register (or “chest voice”) and the high-pitch head register (or “head voice” or falsetto).


A frame used to support a set of bells in bell ringing, often used in churches and cathedrals.


A musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden soundbox with numerous strings stretched across it, played with the fingers or a plectrum, primarily used in folk music.


A genre of music that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers. It blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the Native American people of Louisiana.

These musical terms will help you understand and create music well on a professional level. Knowing these terms can enhance your musical vocabulary and aid in your musical education. If it is your dream to become a professional musician, you can make it true by connecting with Deliver My Tune. The platform is a digital music aggregator that will help you release your music globally.

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By using this comprehensive list of musical terms, you will be able to communicate more effectively in the musical world and improve your understanding of various musical concepts and techniques. This glossary is essential for anyone involved in music, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Stay tuned for more informative articles and guides from Deliver My Tune to help you succeed in your musical journey.

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