Beginner Musical Terms
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Beats per Minute (BPM)
Beats per minute (BPM) are marked in piano music with numbers as metronome marks; or with tempo terms, often in Italian. Learn the meaning of BPM, and see how it affects piano music.
A bird's eye is a very common symbol in piano music. Learn the more common word for "bird's eye," and see how it's marked in piano music.
A coda is a musical symbol made with an oval and oversized crosshairs. The Italian musical command "al coda" (paired with D.S. or D.C.) is part of a system of complex musical repeats, and is an indication to jump to the next coda sign. Learn the difference between "capo" and "coda," and learn how and where the symbol is used in piano music.
A dotted note (not to be confused with staccato) is a note with a small dot to the right of its note-head, which increases its length by 50%; half of its original value. Double and triple-dotted notes are less common, but are seen in piano music. Learn how to count dotted notes and music rests easily, and how they're written on different parts of the staff.
A double barline is made of two thin, vertical lines, and is used to separate different sections of a musical composition. A double bar-line can be seen before a change of key or meter; with the commands D.C. or D.S. al fine; or -- in the event that "fine" ends the music mid-composition -- on the very last measure. Learn more ways to use double barlines and dotted double barlines in sheet music.
A fermata is a very common symbol in piano music, and one of the first you will learn. A fermata, or bird's eye, affects articulation. Learn the meaning of the Italian musical term "fermata," and see how it's marked in piano music.
A final barline -- also called a "music end" -- is a double barline in which the second bar is bold, and marks the end of a composition. If the command "fine" ends the song in the body of the music, a final barline is also used . Learn more about the final barline, and how it differs from the double barline in piano music.
The "grand staff" is the two-part staff used in piano music, built with the treble and bass staves. Organ music uses a three-part grand staff, which has an extra bass staff for foot-pedal notation. In British English, the term "great stave" is used, but both forms are understood in most English-speaking countries. Learn more about the piano's...
Learn about musical intervals. Half steps, whole steps, and octaves are all musical intervals, which are fundamental elements of musical composition. Learn the different musial intervals and browse musical terms A - Z.
What is a key signature? A key signature is the written indication of sharps or flats in a scale. Learn more about key signatures, accidentals, and relative keys, and browse images of all key signatures.
What is a keynote? The musical term "keynote" refers to a basic idea in music theory; not so much an actual note on the staff. Learn the meaning of keynote, and get an in depth look into key signatures, relative keys, and musical modes. Definition of Keynote: A keynote is a fundamental part of music.
A note beam attaches smaller note-values together, organizing them rhythmically, and making them easier to read. Depending on the time signature, eighth-notes may be beamed together by twos, threes, or fours; though this doesn't affect the notation's rhythm. Learn more about using note beams, and how to write them with different note-lengths.
An instrument's range is the total amount of notes it is capable of producing. Range is often confused with "register," which is the general octave range of an instrument's voice. Learn more about range vs. register, and the different octave ranges of electric keyboards and other keyboard instruments.
Musical rests are symbols that replace notes in a measure, and follow a few key rules. Learn about musical rests, and see how they're written in piano music.
A time signature is a large fraction written at the beginning of a musical staff after its clef and key signature. It explains the meter of a song; the top number shows how many beats are in a measure, and the bottom number specifies the length of the main beat. Learn more about time signatures; which are most commonly seen, and the difference...
Volta brackets are long, horizontal brackets labeled with numbers or letters, used when a repeated musical passage has two or more resolutions.
Learn the meaning, pronunciation & multilingual synonyms of the Italian musical phrase "tempo giusto," and see how it's used in piano music.
Learn how double-accidentals are used in music; why they're necessary, and the symbols used to mark double-sharps, double-flats, and double-naturals on the staff.