Music Dictionary for Kids - T

from Music Dictionary for Kids Index


TAMBOURINE - A member of the percussion family. A hand-held instrument consisting of a small wooden hoop with sets of metal disks called jingles. Sometimes the hoop is covered with a drumhead. It is played by striking the hoop or drumhead with the hand.

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY - (1840-1893) A Russian Romantic Era composer. Tchaikovsky's compositions are some of the greatest works of the Romantic Era, including the 1812 Overture, March Slav, and The Nutcracker, which has become a Christmas season favorite. Read more...

TEMPO - The speed of the music.

TEMPO PRIMO - Return to the original tempo.

TENUTO - Hold the note longer than its indicated value. Like a "Fermata", though the note is held for a shorter time.

TENOR - The highest male voice in choral music. Also, a low sounding instrument in a family, such as the Tenor Saxophone from the woodwind family.

TENOR CLEF - The C clef identifying the fourth line of the staff as C. This clef is used for the upper register of the bassoon, cello, euphonium, string bass and trombone.

CLARK TERRY - (1920-2015) An American jazz trumpeter and educator. His career spans more than 70 years, and is one of the most recorded jazz artists.

TEXTURE - Describes the way in which melodic lines and accompaniments are combined. Musical compositions may be composed in monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic or contrapuntal textures.

THEME - A first and primary melody on which the music is based.

THEME AND VARIATIONS - The statement of a primary melody, followed by changes to the harmony, melody, counterpoint, rhythm, timbre or orchestration each time the theme is restated.

TOOTS THIELEMANS - (1922-Present) A Belgian jazz musician best known for his harmonica and guitar playing. Considered one of the greatest harmonica players of the 20th century, Thielemans can be heard playing harmonica for film scores such as Midnight Cowboy (music by John Williams), and for the Sesame Street theme song.

TI - The solfège syllable for the seventh note of the major scale.

TIE - A curved line above or below two notes of the same pitch. The first pitch is held for the duration of both notes.

TIMBRE - The unique tone color of an instrument or voice.

time signature

TIME SIGNATURE - Indicates how many beats are in each measure and what note value receives one beat.

TONALITY - The organization of melodic and harmonic elements to give the music a key "center" or tonic pitch.

TONE - A sound.

TONIC - The note that identifies the key center. Also, the name of the chord built on the first degree of a scale.

TRANQUILLO - Tranquilly; quietly.

TRANSPOSITION - The process of moving a melody/accompaniment up or down in pitch to a new key signature.

TRIO - A musical ensemble made up of three instruments or singers, each playing a separate part.

TROMBONE - A member of the brass family. It plays notes that are lower than the French horn, though not as low as the tuba. The tone of the trombone is rich and brilliant. If you were to unwind the trombone, the total length of the tubing would be about 9 feet.

TRUMPET - The smallest member of the brass family. Its tone is bright and penetrating. To make a sound on the trumpet the player buzzes his/her lips into a large cup-shaped mouthpiece. The valves (the button thingies) on the trumpet allow the player to quickly switch the length of tubing that the air is going through, to provide a whole new set of notes.

THEORY - The study of how music works.

TIMPANI - A member of the percussion family. Unlike most percussion instruments, they produce a pitch when struck. Most symphony orchestras use three or four timpani of various sizes. Also called "Kettledrum".

TREBLE CLEF - Its purpose is to identify where G is on the staff. For musical instruments that play high notes. Also called G clef.

TRIAD - A three note chord.

TRIANGLE - A member of the percussion family. A metal rod bent into the shape of a triangle with one open corner. It is suspended by a string, and struck with a metal beater.

TRILL - A musical ornament performed by the rapid alternation between the written note and an adjacent note above the written note.

TRIPLE METER - A meter with three beats to a measure.

TRIPLET - Three notes performed in the same time as two of the same rhythmic value. For example, a quarter note triplet (pictured) is equal to two quarter notes.

TROPPO - Too much.

TUBA - The largest and lowest sounding member of the brass family. Its sound is very round and mellow. The tuba, along with the string basses and bassoons, provide the lowest sounds for the orchestra. Some tubas have piston valves (the button thingies) like the trumpet. Other tubas have rotary valves (the lever thingies) like the French horn. The brass tubing for the tuba begins at the mouthpiece, and bends and folds until it finally flairs, forming a large bell. If you were to stretch the metal tubing out, it would be 18 feet long.

TUNING FORK - A metal instrument used to help players to tune their instrument.

TUTTI - All, or together. For example, every member of the orchestra plays at once.