Music Dictionary

Musical Dictionary

Our Interactive Dictionary of Musical Terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Madrigal
A kind of vocal music, sung from the 1200s to the 1500s. These songs were based on poems about love and country life.


Maestro
Italian word for a very good musician or leader of a group.


Major
A stepwise series of whole and half steps arranged: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole half. This creates major intervals at the third, sixth, and seventh steps of the scale.

See also: Interval


Mandolin
A string instrument like the lute, but with a neck like a guitar. The neck is shorter, but the mandolin is played like a guitar.


Maracas
A rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music


March
Music used in parades. A march keeps the same time (for example, "1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4") so that everyone moves at the same time.


Marimba
A percussion instrument from Mexico, the marimba is like the xylophone, but has wooden bars that you hit with a mallet.


Mazurka
A Polish dance in 3/4 time.


Mbira
Traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, a mbira is usually made of a wooden board with attached metal tines, and is played with the thumbs.


Measure
This is the space between two lines drawn through the music staff. You can tell how fast or slow a piece of music is by looking at how many beats there are in a measure.


Melody
Notes that are played one after the other to make a tune (a melody).


Meter
The rhythmic pattern made in music by putting together strong and weak beats (strong beats last longer than weak beats).


Metronome
A tool to help a musician count the right number of beats. A little rod swings back and forth to count each beat. The speed of the metronome is set to the speed of the piece of music.


Mezzo
Italian for ''half.'' Examples: mezza voce means half the vocal (or instrumental) power; mezzoforte (mf) means half loud or moderately loud; and mezzopiano (mp) means half soft or moderately soft.


Mezzo Soprano
A woman's voice with a range between contralto and soprano; also, a person having this voice.


Microphone
An electronic device that people speak, sing or play into that helps make sounds louder on radio, TV, and for concerts. Also used to help record sounds on tapes and CDs.


Middle C
The note C in the middle of the keyboard.


Minor
A kind of scale (like the major scale). There are many ways it is different from a major scale. One main difference is that the third note of a minor scale is always a half step lower than the third note of a major scale.


Minstrel
A musician in the Middle Ages.


minuet
A slow, graceful dance in ¾ time that started in the 1700's in the French court. Gradually, the minuet began to be used as a musical form, especially as the third movement of symphonies.


Mode
Scales used to compose music. Ancient modes were established in the Middle Ages. Two of them are today's major and minor scales: the Ionian mode is the major scale, and the Aeolian mode is the natural minor scale.


monophony
Having a single unaccompanied melody


Movement
A section within a larger musical work. It is usually self-contained and separated by silence from other sections.


Mridangam 
A wooden double-headed drum, originally from southern India.


Music
Sound organized by using elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.


Musical Bow
A simple string instrument used by a number of South African peoples, that consists of a flexible stick and strung end to end with a taut cord, usually metal. It can be played with the hands or a wooden stick or branch.


Musicology
The study of music.


Mute
The name of different tools used to soften the tone of instruments. For example, a drum mute is a piece of cloth spread over the top of the drum, and horn mutes are put in the bell so the sound is more quiet.


Music Dictionary

Musical Dictionary

Our Interactive Dictionary of Musical Terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Madrigal
A kind of vocal music, sung from the 1200s to the 1500s. These songs were based on poems about love and country life.


Maestro
Italian word for a very good musician or leader of a group.


Major
A stepwise series of whole and half steps arranged: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole half. This creates major intervals at the third, sixth, and seventh steps of the scale.

See also: Interval


Mandolin
A string instrument like the lute, but with a neck like a guitar. The neck is shorter, but the mandolin is played like a guitar.


Maracas
A rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music


March
Music used in parades. A march keeps the same time (for example, "1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4") so that everyone moves at the same time.


Marimba
A percussion instrument from Mexico, the marimba is like the xylophone, but has wooden bars that you hit with a mallet.


Mazurka
A Polish dance in 3/4 time.


Mbira
Traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, a mbira is usually made of a wooden board with attached metal tines, and is played with the thumbs.


Measure
This is the space between two lines drawn through the music staff. You can tell how fast or slow a piece of music is by looking at how many beats there are in a measure.


Melody
Notes that are played one after the other to make a tune (a melody).


Meter
The rhythmic pattern made in music by putting together strong and weak beats (strong beats last longer than weak beats).


Metronome
A tool to help a musician count the right number of beats. A little rod swings back and forth to count each beat. The speed of the metronome is set to the speed of the piece of music.


Mezzo
Italian for ''half.'' Examples: mezza voce means half the vocal (or instrumental) power; mezzoforte (mf) means half loud or moderately loud; and mezzopiano (mp) means half soft or moderately soft.


Mezzo Soprano
A woman's voice with a range between contralto and soprano; also, a person having this voice.


Microphone
An electronic device that people speak, sing or play into that helps make sounds louder on radio, TV, and for concerts. Also used to help record sounds on tapes and CDs.


Middle C
The note C in the middle of the keyboard.


Minor
A kind of scale (like the major scale). There are many ways it is different from a major scale. One main difference is that the third note of a minor scale is always a half step lower than the third note of a major scale.


Minstrel
A musician in the Middle Ages.


minuet
A slow, graceful dance in ¾ time that started in the 1700's in the French court. Gradually, the minuet began to be used as a musical form, especially as the third movement of symphonies.


Mode
Scales used to compose music. Ancient modes were established in the Middle Ages. Two of them are today's major and minor scales: the Ionian mode is the major scale, and the Aeolian mode is the natural minor scale.


monophony
Having a single unaccompanied melody


Movement
A section within a larger musical work. It is usually self-contained and separated by silence from other sections.


Mridangam 
A wooden double-headed drum, originally from southern India.


Music
Sound organized by using elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.


Musical Bow
A simple string instrument used by a number of South African peoples, that consists of a flexible stick and strung end to end with a taut cord, usually metal. It can be played with the hands or a wooden stick or branch.


Musicology
The study of music.


Mute
The name of different tools used to soften the tone of instruments. For example, a drum mute is a piece of cloth spread over the top of the drum, and horn mutes are put in the bell so the sound is more quiet.


 

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