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Classical musical terms




nabla stringed instrument found in ancient Greek writings, probably the same of the Hebrew nevel
nacchera kettledrum, when used plural, nacchere, castanets
nachamung  imitation
nachdrucklich  emphatic
nachlassend slackening the pace.
nachschlag an ornament consisting of an unaccented note or notes at the end of the main note, or at the end of a trill
nachspiel postlude
nachtmusik "night music", a serenade
nachtstuck nocturne
nagarah percussion instrument
nagelschrift type of neumes so named because of their resemblance to a horseshoe nail
nail violin instrument having a wooden soundboard, and nails in the rim. the nails are sounded by drawing a bow across them
naked fifth open fifth
narrator he who tells the story, in prose or recitative
natural a note that has not been raised or lowered from its named pitch. On a piano, naturals are the white keys. Sharps or flats may be used to alter a natural pitch up or down a half step, respectively.
natural horn a brass instrument with no valves
neben auxiliary
neck the part of a violin, guitar, etc. underneath the fingerboard
neighbor tone auxiliary tone
neo prefix used to indicate the revival or adaptation of an older musical style, as in neoclassical
neoclassical in music indicates a 20th century eclectic return by some composers to various styles and forms of earlier periods, whether classical or baroque. The style is exemplified in the score for the ballet Pulcinella by Stravinsky or by the same composer's opera the rake's progress.
neoclassicism a 20th century revival of 17th and 18th century forms and styles
neomodal of or pertaining to modes in modern music
neopolitan any chord built upon the flat second degree of the tonic key
neopolitan sixth chord an augmented sixth chord built upon the flat second degree of the tonic key
neue musik 20th century music
neuma neumes
neumes early forms of notation used to write down plainsong
niente dying away
ninth interval of octave plus a second
ninth chord all the odd intervals up to and including the ninth, in a chord
nobilemente nobly
nocturn one of three parts of matins
nocturne a short composition, generally with three sections, often slightly melancholic in mood. The first nocturnes were written for piano by John Field in the early 19th-century
nodes the points of inflection of a vibrating string
  in a vibrating air column, the place where the air does not move
noeane words of unknown meanings that are arranged to portray the characteristics of the modes
noel Christmas carol or hymn
noh genre of Japanese theatre performed by soloists, chorus, and ensemble of three or four instrumentalists
nomos traditional melodies used by singer in reciting classical epics
non not
none ninth. also, the sixth canonical hour
non-essential notes non-harmonic tones
nonet a grouping of nine solo instruments, or a work written to be played by such a group
nonharmonic tones tones that are not part of the current harmony occurring as an ornament
nonnengeige tromba marina
notation the system of symbols used to write down a musical composition
note a note in English is either a single sound or its representation in notation. American English refers to a single sound as a tone, following German practice
note sensible leading tone
notturno term used mainly in the 18th-century for a serenade or divertimento intended for outdoor performance late in the evening
nourri with rich sound
nowell old spelling of Noel
nuances subtleties
number opera opera consisting of separate pieces interrupted by recitative or dialog sections, as opposed to "continuous" music
nut the lower part of the violin bow. small piece near the peg box of a guitar which hold the strings away from the end of the fingerboard before inserting into the pegs


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