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Classical musical terms



v abbr. for vide, violin, voice or voce, volta or volti
v"ina stringed instrument of India
va go
vagans the fifth part, in a motet, probably so named because it had no specific range
vaghezza charm, grace
vago vague
valor time value of a note
valse waltz
valve device for diverting the air flow in a brass instrument away from a section of the main tube and into a tube of a different length, giving a different pitch
vamp an improvisation over a simple chord change, used in popular music to accompany non-musical events, or played until the main music is ready to start
vamphorn megaphone used in English churches for announcements
variante substitution of parallel key
variation transformation of a musical theme, retaining some aspects of the original
variations variation form involves the repetition of a theme in changed versions. it is possible to vary the melody, its rhythm and its harmony, or to vary by addition. early variation forms include the chaconne and the passacaglia, originally dances based on variations on a simple repeated bass or chordal pattern. Later examples of variations include Elgar's well known enigma variations and the Handel, Haydn and Paganini variations of Brahms
varsovienne Polish dance named for Warsaw
vaudeville originally a song with a short, amorous text. later applied to short musical comedies interspersed with popular songs. Today it refers to any light theatrical entertainment with music.
velato veiled
vellutato velvet-like
veloce rapidly/fast
venetian school late-renaissance group of composers in Venice whose style included polyhedral textures and the foundations of orchestration
vent wind
ventil valve
veranderungen variations
verbunkos Hungarian soldier dance that was used to lure recruits
vergrosserung augmentation
verhallend fading
verismo is used in connection with the attempts at realism in late 19th century Italian opera, particularly with Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana, followed by Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.
verkleinerung diminution
vermindert diminished (as in interval)
vers mesure the application of French poetry to the principles of classical Greek
verschiebung soft pedal
verschwinden fading
verse a line or stanza
verset short organ piece, usual fugal
versetzung  transposition
verstarken to reinforce
vespers is the evening service of the divine office, elements of which have proved suitable for more elaborate setting than the normal plainchant. Particularly notable in this respect is the 1610 compilation by Monteverdi for his published vespers in honor of the blessed virgin.
vezzoso graceful, elegant
via away
vibraharp a xylophone-like instrument with shuttered resonators. the shutters are electronic and produce a vibrato effect
vibraphone is a form of met allophone with resonators below its horizontally arranged metal bars and a mechanism to allow a vibrato effect, giving the instrument a characteristic resonance. It has been used for special effects by a number of 20th century composers
vibrato is a technique of vibration used on various instruments and by singers, at one time used sparingly or not at all, but tending to over-use from performers anxious to conceal poor intonation. In strings-even pulsation or rapid vibration of the fingers of the left hand produced by a combination of finger and arm movement.
vidala traditional song of Argentina
vide to skip from vi to de, indicates an omitted part
viel great
vielle the most important stringed instrument of the 13th to 15th centuries, having drone, four fingered strings, but no wheel
vielstimmig polyphonic
vierhebigkeit musical phrase with four accents
viertel quarter
vif lively
vigoroso energetic, vigorous
vihuela six course guitar of 16th cent.
vinnula ornamenting neume
vinola ornamenting neume
viol the name of the family of stringed instruments used in the 15th-and 16th-centureis and superseded by the violin family in the 18th
viola stringed instrument in the violin family. the box is larger than the violin, and it is tuned a fifth lower
viola da gamba a bowed string instrument like the cello. it was the principal member of the viol family.
viola d'amore used principally in the 17th and 18th centuries, is a bowed instrument generally with seven bowed strings and seven sympathetic strings, tuned to vibrate in sympathy with the playing strings. the instrument has a peculiar resonance of its own and has a small but interesting modern repertoire
viole viol or viola
violento violent
violin a bowed instrument with four strings, is used to provide the soprano and alto parts in the string section of the modern orchestra and the string quartet. It was developed in something approaching its modern form in the 16th century, gradually coming to occupy an unrivalled position because of it's remarkable acoustical properties and its versatility. particular distinction was added by the great violin-makers of northern Italy and of the Austrian Tyrol, while the later 18th century brought gradual changes of construction of both bow and instrument to provide greater resonance.
violin family a family of four-string instruments originating during the 17th century, tuned in fifths, and characterized by rounded backs and shoulders, f-shaped sound holes, and deep middle bouts. see violin, viola, cello, and bass
violoncello bass member of the string instrument family, the principal member of which is the violin. tuned an octave below the viola
violone is the double bass of the viol family, although the word was once occasionally used with less accuracy to indicate the cello or any large viol
virgil clavier practice piano that doesn't sound, but allows practice of touch
virginal is a small harpsichord of varied shape and size. the word was used very generally in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for instruments of this type, with a keyboard and a mechanism by which quills plucked the horizontally stretched strings. the etymology of the word is uncertain, although it allowed obvious scope for Elizabethan and Jacobean punsters
virtuoso great skill, or a performer of great skill
vista sight
vite, vitement swiftly
vivace a musical direction to play fast
vivacity liveliness
vivo alive
vocal of, or pertaining to the human voice
vocalise a vocal work, whether an exercise or not, that has no words. there is a well known and frequently transcribed vocalize by Rachmaninov, and vocalization is also called for in an orchestral context with the chorus parts of Neptune in Holst's suite the planets.
vocalization a long vowel with no text
vocalize  to practice on a vocalize, to phonate in preparation for singing
voce voice
voci voices
voice is used technically in music to indicate a particular musical line, even if this is intended for an instrumentalist and not a singer. The American 'voice-leading' is the equivalent of the English 'part-writing', writing different parts or lines of music for simultaneous performance
voice exchange restatement with voice parts exchanged
voice leading the principles governing the progression of the voice parts
voicing on the organ, tuning. on piano, adjustment of the felts on the hammer to alter the tone quality
voile subdued
voix voice
vokal vowel
volante in a light flying manner
volata fast passage
volkslied folk song
voll full
volta a dance, usually in fast triple time, featuring a series of leaps, when the woman is swept high into the air by her partner. Very popular in the 16th-century, in the royal courts of western Europe
volteggiando crossing the hands on keyboard
volti subito quick page turn
voluntary organ piece, usually improvisational played at church
voodoo Haitian religious ritual, the source of most national music
vorausnahme anticipation
vorbereiten to prepare, especially organ stops
vordersatz primary subject
vorhalt suspension
vorspiel literally. Foreplay. Used for prelude, introduction or overture
vortrag physical realization, performance
vortragszeichen  expression indications
vorwarts continue
vorzeichnung key or time signature
votive chant or hymn honoring a particular saint, or the virgin Mary
vox human voice
vuoto empty, used to indicate open string
vv abbr. for violins



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