Musical Terms

A Cappella Unaccompanied vocal piece

A tempo Resume normal speed

Accelerando Gradually faster

Ad libitum At pleasure (style and speed at performers discretion)

Adagietto Fairly slow

Adagio Slow

Adagissimo Very slow

Alla Breve Two minims in a bar

Allargando Getting slower

Allegretto Fairly lively and fast

Allegro Fast, lively

Andante Moderate (walking) pace

Animato Animated

Appassionata/o Passionately

Arpeggio Like a harp

Bis Twice

Brio Vigour

Cadenza A passage usually towards end of a solo piece, where soloist plays alone in a skilled way

Canon Piece of music where one voice repeats the part of another, throughout the whole piece.

Capo The beginning

Capriccio, Caprice A light, free piece of music

Coda A passage at the end of a movement

Codetta Little coda

Con Anima with feeling

Con moto With movement

Crescendo Gradually louder

Da capo From the beginning

Decrescendo Becoming gradually softer

Diminuendo Becoming gradually softer

Dolce Sweetly, tenderly

Dolcissimo Very sweetly and gently

Dolente Sadly

Duet Piece for two players

Energico With energy

Espressivo With expression

Finale The last movement

Fine The end

Forte Loud

Fortissimo Very Loud

Forzando Forcingly, sudden emphasis or accent

Fuga A fugue

Fugato In fugal style

Fugue A piece of music of contrapuntal style, based on a theme, with more than one voice

Furioso Furiously

General pause, Grand pause Everyone to remain silent (pause)

Glissando Rapid scale passage produced by sliding over keys or strings

Grandioso Grandly

Grave Very slow and solemn

Grazioso Gracefully

Impetuoso Impetuously

Incalzando Increasing speed and tone

L'istesso Tempo Keep same speed

Lacrimoso Sadly, tearfully

Lamentoso Mournfully

Larghetto Slightly faster than largo

Largo Slow and stately

Legatissimo As smooth as you can

Legato Smooth

Leggiero Light and delicate

Lento Slow

Loco Back to playing notes at their normal pitch

Lontano As from a distance

Lunga pausa Long pause

Lusingando Coaxing

Ma non troppo But not too much

Maestoso Majestically

Main droite, Mano destra Right hand

Main gauche, mano sinistra Left hand

Mancando Dying away

Marcia March

Martellato Hammered out

Marziale Martial

Mesto Sadly

Mezza voce Mezzo forte Moderately loud

Mezzo Piano Moderately quiet

Moderato Moderate time

Morendo Gradually dying away

Moto, Movimento Movement

Muta Change

Non troppo Not too much

Obbligato Obligatory, musn't be omitted

Ostinato Persistently repeated

Ottava bassa Octave lower

Parlando, Parlante Sung in a talking fashion

Passionato Passionately

Patetico With feeling

Pausa A Rest / break

Perdendosi Dying away

Piacevole Agreeable

Piangevole Plaintively

Pianissimo Very soft

Pizzicato Plucked

Pochissimo As small as possible

Portamento Smooth glide from note to note

Prestissimo As fast as possible

Presto Very fast

Primo volta First time

Quasi recitativo Like a recital

Rallentando Getting slower gradually

Repetizone, replica Repeat

Rigoroso Strictly, rigorous

Risoluto Bold

Risvegliato More animation

Ritardando Gradually slower

Ritenuto Hold back

Scherzando Playful

Segue Carry on

Sempre Always

Senza misura In free time

Senza sordini Without mute

Sforzando, sforzato Accented (forced)

Slargando, slentando Gradually slower

Smorzando Dying away

Soave Smooth

Solenne Solemn

Sordini Mute

Sospirando Sighingly

Sostenuto Sustained

Spiritoso Spirited

Staccatissimo Very detached

Staccato Detached

Stringendo Gradually faster

Suave Gentle, smooth

Sul Ponticello Play near the violin bridge

Tacet Silent

Tempo comodo At a convenient speed

Tempo giusto Strict time

Tempo primo Back to original speed

Teneramente Tenderly

Tosto Rapid

Tranquillo Calm

Tremolando, tremolo Very rapid repetition of one or two notes

Tutta forza Full power, as loud as possible

Unis Play in unison again

Veloce Quick

Vibrato Vibrating

Vigoroso Bold

Vite, vivace, vivement, vivo Quick and lively

Voce Voice

Volti subito Turn page quickly