Music Dictionary for Kids - B

from Music Dictionary for Kids Index


JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - (1685-1750) German Baroque Era composer. Bach is considered to be one of the most influential composers of all time. In fact, he is now such an important composer that the year of his death is a defining point in music history. It marks the end of the Baroque Era. Read more...

P. D. Q. BACH - (1807-1742?) A fictional character created by composer Peter Schickele (1935-Present). Schickele places P.D.Q. Bach in history as the youngest child of Johann Sebastian Bach, and explains that the more music he wrote, the more unknown his works became, until he attained total obscurity at the time of his death. Works include The Short-Tempered Clavier, and A Little Nightmare Music.

BAGATELLE - A short and lively piece of music, typically written for piano.

BAGPIPE - A musical instrument made of a flexible bag that is inflated by a blowpipe, a melody pipe called a chanter, and up to four drone pipes. Of all the different types of bagpipes, the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes are the most popular.

BALANCE - The adjustment of volume and timbre for the proper blend between instruments or voices.

BALLAD - A poem (often set to music) that tells a story.

BALLET - A stage performance that uses dance, music, costumes and scenery to tell a story. One of the most popular ballet's is Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.

BAND - A group of musicians performing on woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

BANJO - A stringed instrument from the guitar family. It has a long neck, five strings and a round tambourine-like body. It is played by strumming or plucking the strings with the fingers or picks.

BAR - A measure. The number of beats in a "bar" is determined by the time signature.

BARCAROLE - A folk song form sung by the gondoliers of Venice, Italy. Its rhythms resembles the gondolier's stroke as he rowed the boat. They are almost always written in a moderate tempo in 6/8 meter.

BARITONE - A male voice that is lower than a tenor and higher than a bass. Also, such as the Baritone from the brass family (pictured).

BAR LINE - A vertical line on the staff which separates the bars (measures).

BAROQUE ERA - (1600-1750) A musical period that followed the Renaissance Era and came before the Classical Era. Instrumental music was popular in the Baroque era, and the music is characterized by a complex weaving of melodic lines and elaborate ornamentation. Famous composers of this musical period include Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

COUNT BASIE - (1904-1984) An American Big Band leader and jazz pianist. Basie is widely regarded as one of the most important Big Band leaders of all time. He introduced several generations of listeners to the Big Band sound and left an influential collection of recordings. Read more...

BASS - The lowest male voice in choral music. Also, a very low sounding instrument in a family, such as the String Bass from the string family.

BASS CLARINET - An instrument from the clarinet family. It plays notes one octave below the Bb clarinet.

BASS CLEF - This clef tells you that the fourth line of the staff is F. For musical instruments that play low notes. Also called F clef.

BASS DRUM - The largest and lowest sounding drum. It is played by striking it from the side with a beater.

BASSOON - One of the largest and lowest sounding members of the woodwind family. The sound of the bassoon is sometimes expressive like an oboe, sometimes funny, and sometimes gruff. It all depends on the music it is asked to play. Two of the most popular symphonic solos for the bassoon include the theme for grandfather in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and the opening solo in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

BATON - The conductor's stick. It is used to keep time, and to guide the musical expression of the band or orchestra.

BEATLES - An English rock band that formed in Liverpool in 1960. Band members include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Popular songs include Yellow Submarine, Hey Jude, and I Want to Hold Your Hand.

BEBOP - A style of jazz that is characterized by fast tempos and improvisation. The standard bebop combo included a saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Important bebop artists included Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - (1770-1827) A German Classical/Romantic Era composer. Beethoven is remembered as an important composer in the transitional period between the Classical Era and Romantic Era in music, and continues to be one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. His most popular pieces are his Fifth Symphony, Für Elise for piano solo, and his Ninth Symphony, which includes the melody Ode to Joy. Read more...

LOUIE BELLSON - (1924-1984) An American jazz drummer. Bellson was a bandleader, composer, arranger, and jazz educator. He pioneered the use of two bass drums. Duke Ellington called him, "the world's greatest drummer".

LEONARD BERNSTEIN - (1918-1990) An American composer, conductor, teacher and pianist. Bernstein's West Side Story (1957), written for the Broadway stage, was later made into an Academy Award-Winning film. Read more...

BONGOS - A connected pair of tuned drums that typically held between the knees and played with the fingers.

BOURREE - A quick dance from 17th century France.

JOHANNES BRAHMS - (1833-1897) A German Romantic Era composer. Brahms was one of the first major composers to record his music on Thomas Edison's experimental recording device. His most notable works include his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Academic Festival Overture and Lullaby. Read more...

BRASS - A family of musical instruments constructed of brass, whose tone is produced through the vibration of the players lips. Includes the trumpet, trombone, french horn and tuba.

BROADWAY THEATER - A theater district in New York City, including 40 professional theaters. Popular music productions include Oklahoma, The Secret Garden, and Cats.