first tone of the C scale.
C.a. (I). Abbr. for col arco (with bow.)
Cabaletta (I). Short operatic song in the popular style.
Cabocla. Type of Brazilian folk music.
Caccia (I). the hunt.
Cacharpaya (Quechuá). Fast round from Andean region,
or dance performed at festivals.
Cachucha (S). Spanish dance in 3, similar to Bolero
Cacophony. Ugly non-musical sound.
Cadence. Harmonic progression suggestive of resolution.
Cadenza (I). a passage usually occurring near the end of
a composition, possibly improvised, that gives the performer a
chance to show off.
Cadenzato (I). Rhythmical.
Caisse (F). Drum.
Calando (I). Diminishing.
Calcando (I). Rushing, pushing the beat.
Calliope. An instrument sounded by blowing steam through
Calma, -ando, -ato (I). Tranquil.
Calore (I). warmth.
Calypso. A type of ballad originating from Trinidad, and
consisting of a mixture of French, English, and African words.
The rhythm is repetitious. Value is placed on innovation in
lyrics, and artificial stress is normal in the lyrics.
Cambia (I). Score direction to retune or grab a different
Cambiata (I). Non-harmonic note.
Camera. (I). Applied to music of the baroque period, composed
for private performance as opposed to church.
Camminando (I). Walking tempo.
Campana (I). Bell.
Campanello (I). Small bell.
Canarie, canario. 17th Century French dance.
Cancan. Late 19th century French dance that became famous
Cancel. The Natural.
Cancíon (S). Song.
Cancionero (S). Collection of Spanish folk songs.
Cancrizans (I). Moving in reverse.
Canon. Rigid Contrapuntal form in which each voice is
an exact copy of each other.
Canonic treatment. In the canonic style.
Cantabile (I). Singable, in a lyric style.
Cantata. An accompanied vocal work based on a text, and
consisting of choruses, ensembles, recitatives, and arias interspersed.
Cantato (I). Sung.
Canticle. Sacred hymn or song. Free verse musical settings
from the Bible.
Cantiga. 13th century Spanish song, usually to honor the
Cantilena (I). Lyrical vocal melody.
Cantino (I). The highest string of a lute or viol.
Cantio sacra (L). Motet.
Cantique (F). Canticle.
Canto (I). Song.
Cantor (L). Singer or chanter.
Cantus firmus (L). A melody that becomes the anchor
of a polyphonic piece.
Cantus planus (L). Plainchant.
Canzona, -e (I). Ballad.
Canzonet, -etta (I). Short songs.
Caoine (Irish). Dirge, keen.
Capo (I). lit. the head, the beginning.
Capotasto (I). An appliance clamped across the fingerboard
of a stringed instrument to sharpen the entire instrument. abbr.
Capella (I). Choir, orchestra, or chapel.
Capriccio (I). Piece in capricious style.
Carillon. A rank of bells played from a keyboard or program.
Carol. Song of joy.
Carée (F). Tied whole note, breve.
Carrure (F). The construction of music, especially dances,
in phrase with measures of exponents of 2 (e.g. 4,8).
Cassa (I). Drum.
Castanets. Clappers, arranged in pairs, attached to a
dancer's hand. Used for a percussive accompaniment to the dance.
Castrato (I). A male adult with a soprano or alto voice,
usually achieved by castration.
Catch. A humorous composition for several voices in which
the juxtaposition of the words gives them a double entendre.
Cauda (L). The vertical dash attached to certain notes
or ligatures in mensural notation.
Cavatina (I). Short simple song usually not having repeat.
C.b. (I). Abbr. for col basso.
Cédez (F). Slow down.
Celere (I). Quick.
Celesta. Percussion instrument of tuned steel bars played
from a keyboard.
Cello. short for violincello, the second lowest instrument
of the violin family; tuned an octave below a viola.
Cembalo (I). Harpsichord.
Centitone. One one/hundredth of a half step.
Cento (L), centon(F), centone(I). An opus composed of selections
from other works.
Cents. 1/100 of a half-step.
Cercar la nota (I). Vocal technique in which the
following note is anticipated.
Cervelas, cervelat (F). racket or sausage bassoon.
Cetera, cetra (I). Zither or cittern.
Chace (F). French 14th century canon style.
Chaconne (F). Instrumental piece in triple meter.
Chamber music. Music suited to a small hall, usually
pieces in the sonata form.
Chance music. See Aleatory music.
Change ringing. The ringing of bells in systematic
Chanson (F). Song.
Chant. Single line vocal music, usually for use in liturgy,
similar to plainsong.
Chanter. A pipe in a set of bagpipes containing sound
holes, on which melodies are played.
Chanterelle (F). Highest string.
Chantey. Work songs sung by sailors.
Character piece. Instrumental piece composed to express
a very definite feeling.
Characteristic note. Leading note.
Charango. Small guitar traditionally made from an armadillo,
used in South America.
Charivari. Deliberately distorted and noisy performance,
shivaree (American), Katzenmusic, (German), or scampata (Italian).
Charleston. Type of foxtrot.
Chasse (F). Hunt.
Chelys (Gr). Lyre.
Cheng. Chinese harmonica.
Chest voice. Low register of voice.
Chevalet (F). Bridge (instrumental).
Cheville (F). Peg.
Chevrotement (F). Unsteady singing.
Chiaramente (I). Clearly.
Chiave (I). Clef.
Chiesa (I). designed for use in church.
Chimes. Tubular bells. Also used for carillon, glockenspiel,
or other bells.
Chinese block. Hollow wooden block used as percussion
Ching. Korean gong.
Chironomy. A term for neumatic signs lacking pitch indication.
Chispa. Air similar to the bambuco, using alternating groups
of three and four.
Chitarra (I). Guitar.
Chiuso (I). Stopped or closed.
Choir. A group of church singers.
Choir organ. A small organ or manual used to accompany
Choral -e. of the choir, hymn sung by a choir.
Choralmotette (G). Choral motet.
Chord. Three or more notes in unison or quick succession.
One of the notes may be implied by the musical context, i.e.
not physically sounded.
Chordal style. consisting of a series of chords.
Chorister. Boy choir member.
Chorlied (G). Song for choir, usually unaccompanied.
Chorus. Group of singers that sing secular music. Refrain.
Music to be performed by a chorus.
Chroai (Gr). Microtonic modifications of the two movable
tones of the tetrachord.
Chromatic. Moving in half-steps.
Chronos (Gr). The temporal unit of ancient Greek music.
Chyn. Seven-stringed instrument of Chinese origin, made
of hollowed piece of wood.
Ciaccona (I). Chaconne.
Cimbalom. Very large instrument in the dulcimer family.
Cimbasso (I). B-flat tuba.
Cinelli (I). Cymbals.
Circle of fifths. Sequence of key signatures arranged
in ascending fifths.
Cistre, er, cither, citole, cittern cithara. Lute
Clairon (F). Bugle.
Clarinet. Single-reed instrument.
Clarino (I). High register of clarinet. Technique in trumpet
Clarion. Small trumpet.
Clarone. Bass clarinet.
Clarsech, Clairseach. Gaelic harp.
Clavecin, clavessin. Harpsichord.
Claves. Cylindrical hardwood blocks used in Cuba and the
Antilles. The resonance is provided by the hand forming a bowl.
Clavicembalo (I). Harpsichord.
Clavichord. Precursor to the modern pianoforte.
Clavier (F). Keyboard.
Clef. A sign at the beginning of a staff indicating the
range of the notes.
Cloche (F). Bell.
Close harmony. Parts with intervals as small as
Coda (I). The ending section.
Codetta (I). Small coda, or short transition to a new section.
Col arco (I). With the bow, following pizzicato.
Collegium musicum. Association of amateurs for serious
music. Now mostly found at Universities.
Col legno (I). Striking the string of a violin with
Coloratura (I). Rapid run or trill.
Combination tone. A ghost tone perceived when two loud
tones are sounded. The frequency is the difference or the sum,
or related to the harmonics.
Come (I). Like
Comic opera. Opera with humorous pieces and a happy
Commedia del arte (I). A style of stage presentation developed
in Italy around 1500.
Comma, schisma. Small pitch differential between
supposedly identical intervals obtained through different combinations.
Common chord. Triad.
Common time. 4/4 time.
Commodo (I). Comfortable.
Composition. The creation of musical work, or the work
Compound binary. Sonata form.
Compound interval. An interval larger than an octave.
Compound stop. On organ, a mixture stop.
Compound meter. A meter with more than six beats
per measure, and containing two or more accented beats.
Con (L). With.
Concert. Public musical performance.
Concertant (F), concertante (I). an accompanied ensemble
in which the parts take turns at taking the lead.
Concert grand. Largest size of piano.
Concertina. A small member of the accordion family.
Concertmaster. First violin in the orchestra.
Concerto. Composition in the sonata form for orchestra
and solo instrument.
Concerto grosso. Concerto for several solo instruments.
Concert pitch. International standard where A is
Concitato (I). Agitated.
Concord. Pleasing sounds.
Conductor. Musical director of orchestra or chorus.
Conga (S). Dance of African origin, popular in Latin America
Conjunct. successive degrees of the scale.
Consecutive intervals. A group of the same type
Consequent. A phrase resolving the previous phrase, an
Conservatory. Music school.
Console. The control panel of an organ.
Consonance. The degree to which intervals are perceived
as pleasing. Traditionally, perfect octaves, fifths, fourths,
thirds, and sixths are classed as consonant.
Consort. Instrumental chamber ensembles, or music composed
Contano (I). Rest.
Continuo (I). A bass line, with code rather than notes
to indicate the harmonies.
Contra (L,I). Against. As a prefix, means an octave below,
Contrafagotto (I). Contrabassoon.
Contrapunto (I). Counterpoint.
Contratenor. Originally the third voice part, added to
the cantus/discantus pairing.
Contrary motion. Parts moving in opposing directions
Coperto. Covered, muffled. A vocal technique.
Copla (S). Couplet.
Cor (F). Horn
Cor Anglais (F). English Horn.
Coranto (I). Courante.
Corda (I). String.
Corista (I). Tuning fork.
Cornemuse (I). Bagpipe.
Cornet. Brass instrument with three valves, similar to
Cornu. Ancient Roman horn.
Coro (I). Chorus.
Corona (I). Pause, hold. See Fermata.
Coronach. Funeral dirge of Scotland.
Corrente (I). Courante.
Corrido. A Mexican folk idiom derived from the romanze.
Cortege (F). Solemn march.
Cotillon. 18th/19th century dance led by a couple, and
followed by the other couples.
Coulé (F). appogiatura styled ornament.
Coulisse (F). The sliding part of a slide instrument.
Count. Beat or rhythmic pulse.
Counter. Part played against another.
Counterexposition. The second exposition, as in a fugue.
Counterfugue. Fugue in which the melodic answer is the
first subject inverted.
Counterpoint. the support of melody by another contrasting
Coup d'archet (F). Bow stroke.
Coup de langue (F). Tonguing, pertinent to wind
Coupler. A device connecting pedals or manuals of an organ,
so that when one is played, the other plays as well.
Couplet. Two lines (usually rhyming).
Courante (F). Fast dance.
Course. A group of strings tuned in unisons or octaves,
used to augment the volume.
Covered fifths, octaves. See Hidden Fifths.
Cow bells. Clapperless bells similar to those worn
by cows in Europe. Struck with a drumstick.
Crash cymbal. Single suspended cymbal struck with
Crembalum. Jaw harp.
Crescendo (I). Gradually increasing in volume or intensity.
Crescent. ATurkish instrument made by stringing small
bells in a crescent shape.
Croisez, croisement (F). Indication to cross the hands
in piano playing.
Crooning. A style of soft singing made possible by the
invention of the microphone.
Cross fingering. Complicated fingering on wind instruments
in which holes are alternately open and closed. The keys on modern
instruments have rendered cross-fingering obsolete.
Cross relation. A chord progression in which a
note in the preceding chord is altered chromatically, and then
appears in another part of the succeeding chord.
Cross rhythm. Simultaneous use of different rhythms, e.g.
2 against 3, 3 against 4, etc.
Crotchet. Quarter note.
Crwth. Six stringed Welsh harp played with a bow.
Csardas, Czardas. Hungarian dance.
Cue. A short passage from another part printed in small
notes to assist with entrances.
Cueca. Chilean dance.
Cycle. double vibration.
Cyclic. Term for a musical form made up of several contrasting
Cymbals. Percussion instrument consisting of metal plates
that are struck one against the other.