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Violin Piano keys Instrument Clarinet
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Classical musical terms



r abbr. for right
rabab a family of bowed stringed instruments used in the Islamic world
rabbia rage
raddolcendo becoming softer
raddoppiare double, usually with an octave below
radel round
radical bass root of a chord
radleyer hurdy gurdy
raffrenando slowing
raga building block for Indian music
ragtime a style of music that emerged in 1890's America. A forerunner of jazz, typified by piano playing with evenly syncopated march-like rhythms. noted ragtime composers include Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake and Jelly Roll Morton.
rallentando gradually growing slower
rank a set of organ pipes on the same stop
rapidamente rapidly
rasch swift
rasgado, rasqueado guitar technique in which each of the fingers strums the strings, producing a fast repeated effect on each string as the arpeggiated chord is sounded
ratsche rattle
rattenando, rattenuto withholding a little
rattle percussion instrument consisting of a wooden cogwheel that revolves against a flexible wooden strip. any shaken idiophone
rauscher quick figure encompassing repetitions
ravvivando a musical instruction indicating a gradual return to previously developed subjects and themes. the third section of a sonata form
real answer a fugal answer that is an exact transposition of the subject
rebec ancient stringed instrument
recapitulation part of a composition marked by a return to previously developed subjects and themes. the third section of a sonata form
recercada, recercar same as ricercar
recessional music played at the end of a church service as the clergy process out
recht right
recit recitative, also a stop found on some organs
recital public performance by soloist, or duet, in contrast to a concert, which used to mean a larger group. in modern usage, the term recital is usually associated with serious music as well
recitative recitative is used in vocal works, particularly opera and oratorio, usually for a solo voice, in relatively free rhythm. In this respect recitative is distinct from the formal aria. Recitative might be accompanied by basso continuo, harpsichord or other chordal instruments and a bass instrument (recitativo secco or dry recitative), or accompanied by a larger number of instruments (recitativo accompagnato, accompanied recitative). Recitative is often used for narrative or for the forwarding of the plot in opera.
reco Brazilian scraper made of a gourd or cane carved with notches. it is sounded by scraping the notched part with a stick.
recorder a type of reed less woodwind instrument, made in a variety of sizes. Sopranino, descant, treble, tenor and bass. The recorder was used heavily between the 16th-and 18th-centuries, but gave way to the side-blown flute. Revived in the 20th-century, it is often the first instrument taught to children.
recueilli contemplative
red notes in medieval music, notes that were colored red on the page in order to distinguish differences in rhythm or octave transposition for specific notes. They were also used to show differences in a cantus firmus from the original
redowa, rejdowak bohemian dance, similar to mazurka
reduction arrangement (usually based on orchestral score) that can be (barely) played on a piano
reed a piece of cane or metal in the mouthpiece that vibrates to produce sound when air is blown across it
reed instruments musical instruments that use either one reed, or a pair of reeds
reel a fast-paced dance for two or more couples, most common in Scotland and Ireland, but also encountered in Scandinavia and North America
reexposition recapitulation
refrain part of a song that recurs, usually at the end of each verse or stanza. sometimes also referred to as a chorus
regal small portable reed organ
regisseur stage director of an opera
register the register of a voice or instrument is a distinct part of its range. the clarinet, for example, has a distinctive lower register known, from the origin of the instrument, as the chalumeau register, and an upper register of more flute-like timbre
registration the choice of stops used by an organist or harpsichordist, a much more elaborate matter for the former
reigen round dance
reine stimmung just intonatio
reisado Brazilian play commemorating the journey of the magi
related used to describe chords, modes, or keys that have some element in common, and may be used in a musical progression
related keys musical keys that, being harmonically similar, are relatively easy to move between
relative pitch the ability to recognize or produce a pitch with respect to a known reference pitch. relative pitch is a requirement for a musician
religioso in a religious manner
remettez to take off a stop
remote key a key with a very distant relationship to the current key
renaissance "rebirth." the era from the mid-15th century to the end of the 16th century. The music was characterized by the use of freer forms, and a progression from modes toward major and minor scales, and harmony
renforcer to reinforce, increase in loudness
renversement inversion
repeat double vertical line with dots to one side of it. if the dots are on the left, means go back to the matching repeat with dots on the right (or the beginning, if none.) if the dots are on the right, it marks the beginning of a repeated section
repeat sign ( || ) repeat from the beginning or repeat section of music between the repeat signs
repercussion repetition of a tone or chord
repetenda psalm verses added ad lib
repetiteur the member of an opera or ballet company who plays the piano at rehearsals and coaches the singers and dancers
repetition rehearsal
  part of the piano that permits the sounding of a new town with each quick repetition of a keystroke
replica repeat
repons responsory
reponse fugue answer
reprise a return to an earlier section of a composition after an intervening and contrasting passage
requiem a version of the mass performed to commemorate the dead. the sections are. introit, kyrie, gradual and tract, sequence (dies irae), offertory, sanctus, and agnus dei
requiem mass the catholic mass for the dead opens with the words requiem aeternam dona eis, domine (eternal rest grant unto them, o lord), leading to the use of the word requiem for the mass for the dead. Important settings of the requiem include that by Mozart and the large scale settings of the requiem by Berlioz and by Verdi. Brahms set a collection of Lutheran texts to form his German requiem, while Faure set a liturgical text that used parts of the burial service.
res facta completely written
resin rosin
resolution changing of a dissonant pitch, usually by stepwise or chromatic motion, so that it becomes consonant with the chord sounded
resonance the process where vibrations from a vibrating mass are transferred to another (usually larger) mass
resonanzsaiten sympathetic strings
resonator any chamber or device that reinforces a sound by resonating it
ressortir to emphasize
rest a musical sign indicating silence-either for one or more players, or for the entire ensemble
restatement recapitulation (in sonata form)
rests where, for example, British say crotchet rest, Americans say quarter rest (not quarter-note rest)
retardation holding back; slowing
  suspension resolving upward
retirada closing movement
retrograde backward, beginning with the last note and ending with the first
rf, rfz rinforzando
rhapsody the title came into general use in music of the mid-19th century, notably with the Hungarian rhapsodies of Liszt. It implies a work free in form and inspiration, often an expression of national temperament, as in the Slavonic rhapsodies of Dvorak
rhumba rumba
rhyme, musical composition wherein the sections begin differently but end identically
rhythm an essential element in music in one way or another, is the arrangement of notes according to their relative duration and relative accentuation
rhythmic mode repeat of simple rhythm patterns. the modern name for a medieval concept of rhythm in which the value and relative duration of each note is determined by its position within a larger rhythmic series, or mode, consisting of a patterned succession of long and short values
ribibe, ribible rabab
ribs the sides of stringed instruments
ricercar, ricercare, ricercata, recercada a 16th and 17th century style generally consisting of imitation of a theme
ridotto reduced
riduzione arrangement
riff a short musical phrase in jazz or blues. it may be repeated often during a piece, with changes to the key, rhythm or melody
rigadoon lively French dance in 4 or 2
rigaudon the French folk-dance, the rigaudon, is occasionally found in instrumental dance suites of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was normally in a brisk duple metre.
rigo staff
rilasciando slowing down
rinforzando a sudden accent on one note
ripieno reinforcing section of orchestra
riposato, riposo in a tranquil manner, repose
riprendere resume the original tempo
ripresa repeat. refrain, recapitulation
risoluto resolute
risposta answer (of fugue)
risvegliato lively
ritardando gradually slackening the pace
ritardano becoming slower. often abbreviated to rit
ritenuto immediate slow down
ritmo rhythm
ritornello a recurrent phrase or passage, is a feature of baroque form, where an aria may be punctuated by re-appearances of a short instrumental phrase. It became a frequent element in baroque solo concertos by composers such as Vivaldi, and works with operatic connotations
ritornello form form often used in baroque concerto, consisting of alternating tutti and soli sections, the tutti parts always returning to the theme
ritournelle dance in quick 3
riverso, rivolto retrograde or inverse
robustamente, robusto robustly, firmly
rock'n'roll a type of popular music characterized by electric guitars and solo voice, which is derived from black American blues music. It spread to Europe from the U.S. around 1955
rococco ornamental style of architecture, where delicate, rather than grandiose, is an appropriate adjective. the musical analogue is graceful, delicately executed pieces
rohrblatt reed
rohrstimmen reed of an organ
roll a series of rapid drum beats, played so fast that they seem to merge into one continuous sound
rollschweller the crescendo or swell pedal of an organ
romance, romanze, romanza a popular narrative piece in ballad style. has come to mean a short lyrical instrumental piece
romantic era the musical period from roughly 1827-1900, characterized by freer forms, larger, more elaborate works, and an increased attention to emotional themes within the music
romantic music music with less emphasis on structure and more on emotional response in the listener. Art songs, symphonic tone poems and various character pieces for piano are typical of this period.
ronde whole note
rondeau medieval French form of poetry and music. A form consisting of a repeated refrain and different material in between refrains
rondelet roundelay
rondellus voice exchange
rondo a form in which a passage of music is repeated between other, differing sections. A typical rondo comprises the pattern abacada, etc. in which "a" is the recurrent section. The rondo form has been employed by many great composers
root the most fundamental note of a chord, often the bass note, which usually contains the other members of the chord in its overtones
rosalia hack music of the eighteenth-nineteenth century
rosin, resin a slightly sticky substance derived from the sap coniferous trees and applied to the hair of a bow to increase the friction between the bow and the strings
rota round
rote fixed, robotic way of learning, by memory alone without understanding
rotta, rotte, rota medieval instrument like psaltery
rotulus manuscripts that scrolled from top to bottom
roulade ornamental passage
round a type of short canon for unaccompanied voices, each of which enters in turn to sing the same melody. A well-known round is row, row, row your boat
round circle canon-a piece written in one line where the various parts are offset in time, and are so written to harmonize
roundelay rondeau, rondelet
rovescio describes a passage that can be performed in reverse order, or to indicate a melodic passage with rising notes being played or sung from high to low
row tone row
rubab see rabab
rubato a musical direction giving the player a certain amount of freedom with the time and rhythm. this is intended to increase the expressiveness of the music
rueda Castilian round dance in 5
ruggiero chanting epic poetry to a skeletal bass
rumba Afro-Cuban dance, performed by ensemble including a singer who sings nonsense syllables or very short phrases that repeat
run rapid scale-like passage
russian bassoon upright, now obsolete instrument with brass bell
rustico rustic, pastoral
rute a brush made of birch which is used on the head of a bass drum
ruckpositif a part of the organ in a separate location
rucksichtslos inconsiderate, as of the harmonic considerations of counterpoint


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