Da capo, D. C. - Return to the beginning.
Dal - "From the," "by the."
Dal segno, D. S. - Repeat from the sign . Frequently followed by al Fine.
Damper pedal - On pianos, the pedal that lifts the dampers from the strings.
Deceptive cadence - Chordal progression dominant (V) to a chord other than the expected tonic.
Decrescendo - Gradually softer. Synonymous with diminuendo.
Degree - One of the eight consecutive tones in a major or minor scale.
Delicato - Delicately.
Di - Of, with.
Diminished - The term for an interval which has been decreased from the major by two half steps and from the perfect by one half step, e.g. c-a, diminished sixth, or c-g, a diminished fifth. Also used for a triad which has a minor third and a diminished fifth, e.g. c, c-e, g.
Diminuendo, dim - Gradually softer. Synonymous with decrescendo.
Diminution - The shortening of note values; the opposite of augmentation.
Dirge - A piece that is performed at a funeral or memorial service.
Disjunct - The term used to describe intervals larger than a second; the opposite of conjunct.
Dissonance - Sounds of unrest, e.g. intervals of seconds and sevenths; the opposite of consonance.
Divisi, div - An indication of divided musical parts.
Do - The first degree of the major scale.
Dolce - Sweetly.
Dolcissimo - Very sweetly.
Doloroso - Sadly; mournfully.
Dominant - The fifth degree of the major or minor scale. Also, the term for the triad built on the fifth degree, labelled V in harmonic analysis.
Double bar - Two vertical lines placed on the staff to indicate the end of a section or a composition. Also, used with two dots to enclose repeated sections.
Double flat - A symbol for lowering pitch one step.
Double sharp - A symbol for raising pitch one step.
Double tonguing - On flute and brass instruments, the technique of rapidly articulating notes by using the front and the back of the tongue in alternation (t-k-t-k-t-k).
Down beat - The first beat; given by the conductor with a downward stroke.
Down bow - In the violin family, drawing the bow downward from its frog. The symbol is: .
Du - "From the," "of the."
Duet - A piece for two performers.
Duplet - A group of two notes performed in the time of three of the same kind.
Dynamics - Varying degrees of loud and soft.
E - Italian word meaning "and."
Eighth - Octave.
Eighth note/rest - A note/rest half the length of a quarter note and an eighth of the length of a whole note.
Encore - To repeat a piece or play an additional piece at the end of a performance.
Enharmonic - A term used to describe notes of the same pitch which have different names, e.g. c and d, f and g.
Espressivo - Expressively.
Esuberante - Exuberant.
Fa - In solmization, the fourth degree of the major scale.
Fanfare - A prelude or opening, a flourish, usually played by brass instruments.
Fasola - A system of solmization used in 17th- and 18th-century England and America. Fa, so, and la were given to both c-d-e and f-g-a, with mi used for the seventh degree.
Fermata - Hold; pause .
Festivo, festoso - Festive; merry.
Fifth - The fifth degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the fifth tone above or below it, e.g. c up to g, c down to f. Intervals of the fifth may be perfect (corresponding to major), diminished, or augmented.
Finale - The last movement of a symphony or sonata, or the last selection of an opera.
Fine - The end.
First ending - One or more measures which occur at the end of the stanza or stanzas. It is usually indicated:
Fixed do - The system of solmization in which c is always do.
Flat - A symbol which lowers the pitch of a note one half step.
Form - The design or structure of a musical composition .
Forte - Loud.
Fortissimo - Very loud.
Full score - An instrumental score in which all the parts for the instruments appear on their own staves in standard instrumental family order.
Fourth - The fourth degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the fourth tone above or below it, e.g. c up to f; c down to g. Intervals of the fourth may be perfect, diminished, or augmented.
Fz - Forzando or forzato. Synonomous with sforzando (sf or sfz).
Gig - A job for a musician.
Giocoso - Playful.
Giubilante - Exultant, jubilant.
Glissando - Gliss. The rapid scale achieved by sliding the nail of the thumb or third finger over the white keys of the piano. Glissando is commonly used in playing the harp. For bowed instruments glissando indicates a flowing, unaccented playing of a passage.
Grandioso - Grandiose, majestic.
Grand pause - A rest for the entire ensemble.
Grand piano - A piano with a winglike shape and a horizontal frame, strings, and soundboard.
Grand staff, Great staff - The G and F clef staves together make the grand (great) staff.
Grave - Slow, solemn.
Grazia - Grace. Con grazia, with grace.
Grazioso - Graceful.
Grosso, grosse - Great, large.
Half step - The interval from one pitch to the immediately adjacent pitch, ascending or descending, e.g. c-c; e-e; b-c. The smallest interval on the keyboard.
Harmony - The sounding of two or more tones simultaneously; the vertical aspect of music.
Hemiola - The term applied to time values in the ration of 3:2, e.g. three half notes in place of two dotted half notes.
Homophony, Homophonic - Musical texture which is characterized by chordal support of a melodic line.
Impressionism - A musical movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by the French impressionist painters, the movement had its impetus in the music of Debussy and Ravel.
Instrument - Any device that produces a musical sound.
Instrumentation - The art of composing, orchestrating, or arranging for an instrumental ensemble.
Interval - The difference in pitch between two tones.
Inversion - As applied to music the term may be used in both melody and harmony. Melodic inversion: an exchange of ascending and descending movement, e.g. c up to f in descending becomes c down to g. Harmonic inversion: the position of the chord is changed from root position (root on the lowest pitch) to first inversion, with the third, or second inversion, with the fifth in the lowest voice. An example: root position c-e-g; first inversion e-g-c; second inversion g-c-e.
Ironico - Ironical.
Key signature - The sharps or flats placed at the beginning of the staff to denote the scale upon which the music is based.
La - In solmization, the sixth degree of the major scale. Also, the first degree of the relative minor scale, e.g. a is the sixth degree, or la, in the C major scale and the first degree of the a-minor scale.
Lacrimoso - Tearful, mournful.
Lamento - Mournful, sad.
Langsam - Slow.
Largamente - Broadly.
Larghetto - Slower than largo.
Largo - Very slow.
Leading tone - The seventh degree of the major scale, so called because of its strong tendency to resolve upward to the tonic.
Ledger lines - Short lines placed above and below the staff for pitches beyond the range of the staff.
Legato - Smooth, connected.
Leggiero - Light; graceful.
Lento - Slow; slightly faster than largo, slower than adagio.
Liberamento - Freely.
Linear - Melodic; horizontal lines.
Leonard, Hal, Pocket Music Dictionary, Hal Leonard Publishing
Something to Sing About, G. Schirmer and Co., 1984.