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Some Musical Terms (1)

  • Accent: An unusual manner of pronunciation, eg: "Y'all sang that real good!"
  • Accidentals: Wrong notes.
  • Ad Libitum: A premiere.
  • Agitato: A string player's state of mind when a peg slips in the middle of a piece, or when a brass player's valve sticks.
  • Agnus Dei: A woman composer famous for her church music.
  • Allegro: Leg fertilizer
  • Altered Chord: A sonority that has been spayed.
  • Altos: not to be confused with "Tom's toes," "Bubba's toes" or "Dori-toes".
  • Arpeggio: "Ain't he that storybook kid with the big nose that grows?"
  • Atonality: Disease that many modern composers suffer from. The most prominent symptom is the patient's lacking ability to make decisions.
  • Attaca: "Fire at will!"
  • Audition: the act of putting oneself under extreme duress to satisfy the sadistic intentions of someone who has already made up his mind.
  • Augmented Fifth: A 36-ounce bottle.
  • Bach Chorale: the place behind the barn where you keep the horses.
  • Bar Line: A gathering of people, usually among which may be found a musician or two.
  • Bass Clef: where you wind up if you do fall off.
  • Bass: the things you run around in softball.
  • Beat: What music students to do each other with their musical instruments. The down beat is performed on the top of the head, while the up beat is struck under the chin.
  • Big Band: when the bar pays enough to bring two banjo players.
  • Bravo: Literally, How bold! or What nerve! This is a spontaneous expression of appreciation on the part of the concert goer after a particularly trying performance.
  • Breve: The way a sustained note sounds when a violinist runs out of bow.
  • Broken Consort: When somebody in the ensemble has to leave and go to the restroom.
  • Cadence: 1.The short nickname of a rock group whose full name is Cadence Clearwater Revival.
    2.When everybody hopes you're going to stop, but you don't. (Final Cadence when they FORCE you to stop.)
  • Cadenza: The heroine in Monteverdi's opera "Frottola"
  • Cantus Firmus: The part you get when you can only play four notes.
  • Cello: the proper way to answer the phone.
  • Chansons De Geste: Dirty songs
  • Chord: Usually spelled with an "s" on the end, means a particular type of pants, e.g. "He wears chords."
  • Chromatic Scale: An instrument for weighing that indicates half-pounds.
  • Clarinet: name used on your second daughter if you've already used Betty Jo.
  • Clausula: Mrs. Santa
  • Clef: 1.If a student cannot sing, he may have an affliction of the palate, called a clef.
    2.Something to jump from if you can't sing and you have to teach elementary school.
  • Coloratura Soprano: A singer who has great trouble finding the proper note, but who has a wild time hunting for it.
  • Compound Meter: A place to park your car that requires two dimes.
  • Con Brio: Done with scouring pads and washboards.
  • Conduct: The type of air vents in a prison, especially designed to prevent escape. Could also be installed for effective use in a practice room.
  • Conductor: A musician who is adept at following many people at the same time.
  • Counterpoint: A favorite device of many Baroque composers, all of whom are dead, though no direct connection between these two facts has been established. Still taught in many schools, as a form of punishment.
  • Countertenor: A singing waiter.
  • Crescendo: A reminder to the performer that he has been playing too loudly.
  • Crotchet: A tritone with a bent prong - or, It's like knitting but it's faster
  • Cut Time: When you're going twice as fast as everyone else in the orchestra.
  • Cymbal: what they use on deer-crossing signs so you know what to sight-in your pistol with.
  • Da capo al fine: I like your hat!
  • Detache: An indication that the trombones are to play with the slides removed.
  • Di Lasso: Popular with Italian cowboys
  • Diatonic: Low-calorie Schweppes.
  • Diminished fifth: An empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • Discord: Not to be confused with Datcord.
  • Dominant: An adjective used to describe the voice of a child who sings off key.
  • Ductia: A lot of mallards
  • Duple Meter: May take any even number of coins.
  • Duration: Can be used to describe how long a music teacher can exercise self-control.
  • Embouchre: The way you look when you've been playing the Krummhorn
  • English Horn: Neither English nor a horn, not to be confused with the French Horn, which is German.
  • Espressivo: Close eyes and play with a wide vibrato.
  • Estampie: What they put on letters in Quebec
  • Fermata: A brand of girdle made especially for opera singers.
  • Fermented fifth: What the percussion players keep behind the tympani, which resolves to a 'distilled fifth', which is what the conductor uses backstage.
  • Fine: That was great!
  • First Inversion: grandpa's battle group at Normandy.
  • Flat: This is what happens to a tonic if it sits too long in the open air.
  • Flute: A sophisticated pea shooter with a range of up to 500 yards, blown transversely to confuse the enemy.
  • Form: 1.The shape of a composition.
    2.The shape of the musician playing the composition.
    3.The people of paper to be filled out in triplicate in order to get enough money from the Arts Council to play the composition.
  • French horn: Your wife says you smell like a cheap one when you come in at 4 a.m.
  • Garglefinklein: A tiny recorder played by neums
  • Glissando: 1.The musical equivalent of slipping on a banana peel.
    2.A technique adopted by string players for difficult runs.
  • Gregorian chant: A way of singing in unison, invented by monks to hide snoring.
  • Half Step: The pace used by a cellist when carrying his instrument.
  • Harmonic Minor: A good music student.
  • Harmony: A corn-like food eaten by people with accents (see above for definition of accent).
  • Hemiola: A hereditary blood disease caused by chromatics.
  • Heroic Tenor: A singer who gets by on sheer nerve and tight clothing.
  • Hocket: The thing that fits into a crochet to produce a rackett
  • Hurdy-gurdy: A truss for medieval percussionists who get Organistrum.
  • Interval: How long it takes you to find the right note. There are three kinds: Major Interval - A long time; Minor Interval - A few bars; Inverted Interval - When you have to back one bar and try again
  • Intonation: Singing through one's nose. Considered highly desirable in the Middle Ages
  • Isorhythmic Motet: When half of the ensemble got a different xerox than the other half
  • Lamentoso: With handkerchiefs.
  • Lasso: The 6th and 5th steps of a descending scale
  • Lauda: The difference between shawms and krummhorns
  • Major Triad: The name of the head of the Music Department.
  • Mean-Tone Temperament: One's state of mind when everybody's trying to tune at the same time.
  • Messiah: An oratorio by Handel performed every Christmas by choirs that believe they are good enough, in co-operation with musicians who need the money.
  • Meter Signature: The name of the maid who writes you a ticket when you put an odd number of coins in a duple meter.
  • Metronome: A dwarf who lives in the city
  • Minnesinger: A boy soprano
  • Minor Triad: The name of the wife of the head of the Music Department.
  • Modulation: "Nothing is bad in modulation."
  • Music: A complex organizations of sounds that is set down by the composer, incorrectly interpreted by the conductor, who is ignored by the musicians, the result of which is ignored by the audience.
  • Musica Ficta: When you lose your place and have to bluff till you find it again. Also known as faking
  • Neumatic Melisma: A bronchial disorder caused by hockets
  • Neums: Renaissance midgets
  • Oboe: An ill wind that nobody blows good.
  • Opera: When a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, he sings.
  • Opus: A penguin in Kansas.
  • Orchestral Suites: Naughty women who follow touring orchestras
  • Ordo: The hero in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" (Snaps for Frodo)
  • Organistrum: A job-related hazard for careless medieval percussionists, caused by getting one's tapper caught in the clapper.
  • Passing Tone: frequently heard near the baked beans at family barbecues.
  • Pause: A short period in an individual voice in which there should be relative quiet. Useful when turning to the next page in the score, breathing, emptying the horn of salvia, coughing, etc. Is rarely heard in baroque music. Today, the minimum requirements for pauses in individual pieces are those of the Musicians' Union (usually one per bar, or 15 minutes per hour).
  • Perfect fifth: A full bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • Perfect Pitch: the smooth coating on a freshly paved road.
  • Performance Practise: Sex education
  • Pianissimo: "refill this beer bottle".
  • Plague: a collective noun, as in "a plague of conductors."
  • Pneumatic melisma: A bronchial disorder caused by hockets.
  • Portamento: a foreign country you've always wanted to see.
  • Preparatory beat: A threat made to singers, i.e. sing, or else....
  • Quaver: Beginning viol class
  • Rackett: Capped reeds class
  • Recitative: A disease that Monteverdi had
  • Relative major: An uncle in the Marine Corps.
  • Relative minor: A girlfriend.
  • Repeat: what you do until they just expel you.
  • Rhythmic drone: The sound of many monks suffering with Crotchet.
  • Risoluto:: Indicates to orchestras that they are to stubbornly maintain the correct tempo no matter what the conductor tries to do.
  • Ritard: There's one in every family.
  • Ritornello: An opera by Verdi
  • Rota: An early Italian method of teaching music without score or parts
  • Rubato: Expression used to describe irregular behaviour in a performer with sensations of angst in the mating period. Especially common amongst tenors.
  • Sancta: Clausula's husband
  • Senza sordino: A term used to remind the player that he forgot to put his mute on a few measures back.
  • Sine Proprietate: Cussing in church
  • Stops: Something Bach did not have on his organ
  • String Quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.
  • Subito piano: Indicates an opportunity for some obscure orchestra player to become a soloist.
  • Supertonic: Schweppes
  • Tempo: This is where a headache begins.
  • Tone Cluster: A chordal orgy first discovered by a well-endowed woman pianist leaning forward for a page turn.
  • Tonic: Medicinal liquid to be consumed before, during, or after a performance. (Diatonic This is what happens to some musicians.)
  • Transposition: 1. An advanced recorder technique where you change from alto to soprano fingering (or vice-versa) in the middle of a piece
    2. The act of moving the relative pitch of a piece of music that is too low for the basses to a point where it is too high for the sopranos.
  • Transsectional: an alto who moves to the soprano section
  • Treble: women ain't nothin' but.
  • Trill: The musical equivalent of an epileptic seizure.
  • Triple Meter: Only rich people should park by these.
  • Triplet: One of three children, born to one mother very closely in time. If a composer uses a lot of triplets he has probably been taking a fertility drug.
  • Trope: a malevolent neum.
  • Trotto: An early Italian form of Montezuma's Revenge
  • Tuba: a compound word - "Hey, woman! Fetch me another tuba Bryll Cream!"
  • Tutti: A lot of sackbuts
  • Vibrato: 1) The singer's equivalent of an epileptic seizure. 2) Used by singers to hide the fact that they are on the wrong pitch.
  • Virtuoso: A musician with very high morals.