CADENZA - A unaccompanied solo passage, typically near the end of a piece, that shows the players technical skill. It may be written by the composer or performer, or improvised.
CAESURA - A musical symbol dictating a sudden, short break in the music.
CANON - A musical form requiring strict imitation. Two or more parts having the same melody, though beginning at different points. A round, like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, is a type of canon.
CANTABILE - In a singing style.
CANTATA - A sacred or secular vocal work from the Baroque Era consisting of solos, duets, and choruses, with orchestral or keyboard accompaniment. A cantata may have several movements, including arias, ensembles, and choruses.
CAROL - From a medieval French word, carole, meaning circle dance. In England it was first associated with pagan songs, and later developed into a song of praise and celebration, typically for Christmas.
CARNEGIE HALL - A concert hall in New York City. Built by Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious concert halls in the world for classical music and popular music.
CELESTA - A keyboard instrument that looks like a piano, though sounds like a glockenspiel. It keys are connected to hammers which strike metal bars suspended over wooden resonators.
CHACONNE - A musical form that involves the repeated variation of a short harmonic progression.
CELLO - One of the bigger instruments in the string family. It plays notes that are lower than the viola, though not as low as the string bass. The strings on the cello are more than twice as long as the strings on the viola, producing rich and warm lower notes. The symphony orchestra will usually include 8-12 cellists.
CHAMBER MUSIC - Music that is may be played in a palace chamber. The chamber music ensemble is small, with typically only one player on a part.
CHANCE MUSIC - Music composed with some element left to chance. Also called "Aleatoric Music".
CHIMES - A member of the percussion family. Unlike most percussion instruments, they produce a pitch when played. A sound is produced when the player strikes the chime with a mallet. Also known as "Tubular Bells".
CHROMATIC - Using notes within the key, as well as a high degree of sharps and flats. Opposite of "Diatonic".
CHROMATIC SCALE - A 12 note musical scale that ascends and descends by half step.
CHOIR - A group of singers that perform together, or a group of instruments, such as a brass or woodwind choir.
FREDERIC CHOPIN - (1810-1849) A Polish Romantic Era composer. Chopin is well known for his piano compositions, and his skill as a pianist. Read more...
CHORD - Three or more notes played at the same time.
CHORUS - A group of singers that perform together; typically larger than a choir.
CHORALE - A hymn-like vocal piece, characterized by blocked chords. Also a "Choir".
CHORD PROGRESSION - A set of chords arranged in a pleasing order. The rules of music theory typically dictate the order. Also called a "Harmonic Progression".
CLARINET - A member of the woodwind family. The only single-reed instrument in the symphony orchestra. Its tone is dark and hollow sounding.
CLASSICAL ERA - (1750-1820) A musical period that followed the Baroque Era and came before the Romantic Era. The music of the Classical period is characterized by simple, clearly defined melody with accompaniment. Famous composers of the Classical period include Mozart, Haydn and early Beethoven.
CLAVICHORD - A european keyboard instrument invented in the early fourteenth century. A sound is produced when a tangent rises within the instrument to strike a string.
CODA - The "tail". A section at the end of a piece that is added to the main musical form.
CONGA DRUMS - Tall and narrow African drums. Congas are common in Latin music.
AARON COPLAND - (1900-1990) American Modern Era composer, conductor and pianist. Copland's distinctive and masterful compositions shaped our American musical style, and made him one of the most important composers of the twentieth-century. Popular compositions include Our Town, Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. Read more...
CORNET - A brass instrument that's like the trumpet but with a conical bore (tubing that flairs like an ice cream cone), making it more mellow in tone.
COW BELL - A metal hand-held percussion instrument, played by striking it with a drumstick. It is named after the bell used by herdsman to keep track of their cows.
CLEF - A symbol placed at the beginning of each staff to indicate the names of the notes.
COMMON TIME - 4/4 meter.
COMPOSER - A person who writes music.
COMPOSITION - A piece of music written in musical notation.
CON - With.
CON BRIO - With vigor.
CONCERTINO - A short concerto.
CONCERTO - A piece of music for solo instrument, accompanied by a piano, orchestra or band.
CONCERT MASTER - First chair violinist in an orchestra.
CON MOTO - With motion.
CONDUCTOR - The person helps a group of performers to maintain a steady beat and guide the musical expression of the ensemble.
CONSONANCE - A harmony, chord, or interval which blends together. Opposite of "Dissonance".
CONSORT - A term given to instrumental chamber ensembles in the 17th century.
CON SPIRTO - With spirit.
COUNTER MELODY - A melody which is secondary to the main melody. In a fugue this melody is called a "counter subject."
COUNTERPOINT - The technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way as to establish a harmonic relationship between them while retaining their individual character.
CRESCENDO - Growing gradually louder.
CUT TIME - 2/2 meter.
CYMBAL - A member of the percussion family. A thin round metal plate that serves to provide colorful effects to the overall sound of the orchestra. Some of the most popular cymbals include tiny finger cymbals, crash cymbals, and suspended cymbals. The cymbal can play very softly or very loudly. It can be played so loud in fact, that it can be heard over even the most uproarious of orchestral music.