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music terminology

The Muse Of Music welcomes you to The Muse's pages about the field of music terminology.

Look up a term in the Glossary of musical terms now

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about music terminology

In these pages, The Muse Of Music addresses the subject of musical terminology. The subject of musical terminology comprises the terms used in music, the systems of terms used in music, and the science and practice of constructing and using systems of musical terms.

About music Terms & Terminology

A musical term is the name of a work or composer, a word or phrase that tells a musician how to play music, a musical structure, the name of a prominent personalities in the world of music, and the like. You don't have to be directly involved in music to bump into these kinds of words; you might encounter them in literature, printed music, concert programs, movie background music, and elsewhere.

As used here, the words term and terminology have the following definitions:

  • Terma word or group of words, signs, and symbols designating something spoken or written about in music; musical nomenclature.
  • Terminologya system of terms belonging to or peculiar to music; the science of musical terms.

Please keep in mind the difference between musical terminology and musical nomenclature. In general parlance, the word terminology is often used synonymously with the the word term. In these pages, The Muse uses the word terminology to mean terms only if this usage is clear from the context.

the problems posed by musical terminology

When it comes to musical terms and terminology, music presents special problems. Often, understanding music requires the ability to read obscure or archaic words or to translate one or more foreign languages into English. In many situations, simply to follow an orchestra, keep track of an opera, or decide what pieces are on the program, a person must be able to read a score, follow a libretto, or translate the pieces named on the program. Sometimes, even after you've translated a word or looked it up a dictionary you still can't understand it.

Unfortunately, these kinds of documents are usually written in difficult-to-understand terms because obscure and archaic words and foreign languages comprise the language of music.

Why is this so? What can we do about it?


the glossary of musical terms

The Muse Of Music is pleased to offer you an extensive automated glossary of musical terms designed to assist anyone interested in looking up the meaning of a musical term, whether a professional, amateur, or non-professional. It takes the form of a searchable and sortable table containing hundreds of musical words, signs, symbols, and their definitions.

The Glossary is divided into two sections:

Section 1A page called About the Glossary Of Musical Terms.

This section explains the Glossary and how to use it. If you are accessing the Glossary for the first time, The Muse recommends that you visit this section before you start looking up musical terms: click here.

Section 2The Glossary Of Musical Terms.

This section contains the Glossary itself. The Glossary takes the form of an automated table. If you are familiar with the Glossary and have used it before, you are ready to look up musical terms now: click here.

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