Beginner Musical Terms
▪ Articulation Terms ▪ Beginner Piano Terms
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The Italian musical term "adagio" affects the style and tempo of a song. Learn the meaning, pronunciation, and BPM of adagio, and see how it affects piano music.
The musical term "allegro" is very common tempo term. Learn the meaning and speed of allegro, and see how it affects piano music.
Anacrusis means roughly the same thing in both music and poetry. Learn the meaning of the musical term "anacrusis," and learn some common synonyms.
The Italian musical term "andante" is a common tempo term in piano music. Learn the meaning, pronunciation, and BPM of andante, and browse musical terms A - Z.
The Italian musical term "arpeggio" means "harp-like." Arpeggio can refer to both the broken chord and the articulation mark that signifies an arpeggiated chord. Learn the meaning and pronunciation of arpeggio, and how it's played in piano music.
In music, "bar" can mean two different things. In British English, 'bar' is synonymous with 'measure,' while in American English, a bar is a 'barline' -- but both definitions are interchangeable and universally understood. Learn more about measures, staves, and bar lines, and how they're written in piano music.
A barline (or "bar line") is a vertical line used to build a musical staff. Single barlines divide the staff into measures; and on the piano's grand staff, a bar-line spans the entire height of both staves: This is known as a "systemic barline." Learn more about bar lines, double barlines, and dotted bars, and the rules they follow in piano music.
The bass clef is an important musical symbol in piano music that governs an entire staff. Learn about the bass clef, and see how it's marked in sheet music. The bass clef is also called the F-clef, because it wraps around the highest F line on the bass staff.
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.
Cut time modifies the time signature in a song, and can be written in sheet music in a couple ways. Learn the meaning, synonyms, and symbols of cut time (or "half time"), and learn how it affects the tempo 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...
The F-clef, or "bass clef," is the large musical symbol that marks the beginning of the bottom staff in piano music. The F-clef is named after the staff line it highlights: the F. Learn more about the F-clef; memorize the notes of the bass staff, and see how it's used on the piano's grand staff.
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.
The perfect fifth (also P5) is an essential building block of major and minor piano chords. Other fifth intervals include the diminished and augmented fifths; learn more about the perfect fifth; how it's used in scales and chords, and why it's so pleasing to the musical ear!
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 G-clef, or "treble clef," is the large musical symbol that marks the beginning of the top staff in piano music. The G-clef is named after the treble staff line it wraps around: the G. Learn more about the G-clef; memorize the notes of the treble staff, and see how it's used on the piano's grand staff.
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 ledger line (or "leger line") is a horizontal line used to accommodate notes that are too high or too low to be written on the staff. Middle C is the first ledgered note below the treble staff and above the bass staff. Learn more about reading notes on ledger lines; how to avoid using them when possible, and what the highest and lowest piano...
The Italian musical term "legato" is a very useful technique to learn on piano. You will see this articulation mark often in your sheet music, because many composers adore the unique effect of the legato. Learn the meaning and pronunciation of legato; see it written in piano music, and get to know its most common synonyms.
Music notes can refer to pitch, or to the musical symbols that represent pitch. Learn about the different types of music notes; learn the different note lengths, and learn the notes of the piano.
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.
The musical term "piano," often seen as just "p," affects a song's dynamics. Learn the meaning of piano, and see how it affects the volume in piano music.
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.
A repeat bar is a barline that resembles a "music end," but with a dot above and below the middle staff line. A passage between two repeats is played at least twice; if each repetition has a unique resolution, volta brackets may be used. Learn how to read musical repeats; how to play complex repeat signs, and which methods are most commonly seen...
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 rolled chord is a type of broken chord, and has a popular Italian synonym. Learn the meaning of a rolled chord, and see how it's 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...
The treble clef is one of two clefs on the piano's grand staff. Learn the meaning of treble clef (or G clef), and see how it's written in piano music.
Volta brackets are long, horizontal brackets labeled with numbers or letters, used when a repeated musical passage has two or more resolutions.