Sanft - Soft, gentle.
Sans - Without.
Scale - A succession of tones. The scale generally used in Western music is the diatonic scale, consisting of whole and half steps in a specific order.
Scherzo - "Joke." A piece in a lively tempo. A movement of a symphony, sonata, or quartet in quick triple time, replacing the minuet.
Schnell - Fast.
Score - The written depiction of all the parts of a musical ensemble with the parts stacked vertically and rhythmically aligned.
Secco - "Dry." Unornamented.
Second - The second degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the next tone above or below it, e.g. c up to d, or c down to b. Intervals of the second may be major, diminished, or augmented.
Section - A division of a musical composition.
Segno - "Sign."
Sehr - Very.
Sehr leise beginnend - Very soft in the beginning.
Semitone - A half step. The smallest interval on the keyboard.
Sempre - Always. Used with other terms, e.g. sempre staccato.
Semplice - Simple.
Senza - Without. Used with other terms, e.g. senza crescendo.
Septet - A piece for seven instruments or voices. Seven performers.
Sequence - The repetition of a melodic pattern on a higher or lower pitch level.
Serenade - A love song or piece, usually performed below someone's window in the evening.
Sereno - Serene, peaceful.
Seventh - The seventh degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the seventh tone above or below it, e.g. c up to b, or c down to d. Intervals of the seventh may be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.
Seventh chord - When a seventh (above the root) is added to a triad (root, third, fifth), the result is a seventh chord, e.g. the dominant triad in the key of C major, g-b-d, with the added seventh becomes g-b-d-f and is labelled V7.
Sforzando, Sfz, Sf - Sudden strong accent on a note or chord.
Sharp - A symbol which raises the pitch of a note one-half step.
Sheet music - An individually printed song, most often for voice, piano, guitar,or a combination of the three. Any printed music.
Shifting meter - The changing of meter within a composition. Synonymous with changing meter.
Simile - An indication to continue in the same manner.
Sin' - Until.
Sinistra - Left hand.
Sino - Until.
Six-four chord - The second inversion of a triad, made by placing the fifth of the chord in the lowest voice, e.g. Cis g-c-e.
Sixteenth note/rest - A note/rest half the length of an eighth note and a sixteenth the length of a whole note.
Sixth - The sixth degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the sixth tone above or below it, e.g. c up to a, or c down to e. Intervals of the sixth may be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.
Sixth chord - The first inversion of a triad, made by placing the third of the chord in the lowest voice, e.g. C6 is e-g-c.
Skip - Melodic movement of more than one whole step.
Slur - A curved line placed above or below two or more notes of different pitch to indicate that they are to be performed in legato style.
Smorzando - Fading away.
Soave - Sweet, mild.
Sognando - Dreamily.
Sol - In solmization, the fifth degree of the major scale.
Solmization - The term for the use of syllables for the degrees of the major scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la ti, do. The minor scale (natural) is la, ti, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la.
Solo - To perform alone or as the predominant part.
Sonata - An instrumental piece, often in several movements.
Sonatina - A short sonata.
Sostenuto - Sustaining of tone or slackening of tempo.
Spiccato - On string instruments, a bowing technique wherein the bow is bounced on the string at moderate speed.
Staccato - Detached sounds, indicated by a dot over or under a note. The opposite of legato.
Staff - The most frequently used staff has five horizontal lines, with four spaces, upon which the notes and other musical symbols are placed.
Stanza - A selection of a song, two or more lines long, characterized by a common meter, rhyme, and number of lines.
Stesso - Same.
String instrument family - Instruements with strings that produce sound when plucked, bowed, or struck.
Strophic - A term used to describe a song in which all the stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite of through-composed.
Subdominant - The fourth degree of the major or minor scale. Also, the name of the triad built on the fourth degree of the scale, indicated by IV in a major key and by iv in a minor key.
Subito - Suddenly.
Submediant - The sixth degree of a major or minor scale. Also, the name of the triad built on the sixth degree of the scale, indicated by VI in a major key and by vi in a minor key.
Sul - On the.
Supertonic - The second degree of the major or minor scale. Also, the name of the triad built on the second degree of the scale, indicated by II in a major scale and iio in a minor scale.
Sur - On, over.
Suspension - The use of a nonharmonic tone to delay the resolution of a chord, frequently as it occurs in a cadence.
Svelto - Quick, light.
Symphony - A piece for large orchestra, usually in four movements, in which the first movement often is in sonata form. A large orchestra.
Syncopation - Accent on an unexpected beat.
Leonard, Hal, Pocket Music Dictionary, Hal Leonard Publishing
Something to Sing About, G. Schirmer and Co., 1984.