This is the letter page B of the Musical Dictionary from Classical and Jazz


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B: The key of B, or in the German musical system, B-flat.

Baby grand: A small Grand Piano.

Backbeat: In jazz and pop music it's the term for the heavy continuous accent on beats 2 and 4.

Bagatelle: A short light or whimsical piece, usually written for Piano.

Bagpipe: The bagpipe is the national instrument of Ireland and Scotland. It is made out of a leather air bag and three sounding pipes. The player fills the bag through a mouthpiece and presses the air out the sounding pipes. Two of the sounding pipes produce fixed tones, called the bass or key tone, and the drone. The third pipe, the chanter, produces the melody.
While on a recent train journey I noticed the person sitting opposite me appeared to be playing an imaginary musical instrument. I guessed it was the Sax but he said he was a Piper and was trying to learn a new piece. I asked that as he performed this exercise did he actually hear the notes in his head. He said he did.
It occurred to me that when you are able do this is this when you know that you truly are a musician? What do you think?

Balalaika: A Russian instrument that sounds like a Mandolin. It looks like a triangular Guitar but has only three strings stretched across a long neck.

Balance: The harmonious adjustment of volume and timbre between instruments or voices; it can be between players or vocalists or electronically while recording or mixing.

Ballad: 1. A simple song. 2. A song that tells a story.

Ballade: In the medieval period a form of trouvere music and poetry. In later time, German poetry set as a through-composed song.

Ballet: A theatrical dance form with a story, sets, and music.

Band: An instrumental ensemble, usually consisting of percussion, woodwind, and brass instruments, and excluding strings.

Bandoneon: Heinrich Band invented this square Concertina instrument in the 1840's. Used today in South American tango music.

Bandora: Also referred to as Pandora. It may be the earliest Guitar. A version dates back to antiquity. In the Baroque period there was a demand for lower sounding chords than the small Cittern. For these lower sounding tone the bass Cittern was created and from there the Bandora. It stands four feet high with seven courses of metal strings going as low as G.

Banjo: The first documentation of the banjo was found in the 17th century. It looks like a Guitar with a long, narrow, fretted neck and a Tambourine like body. It is play by plucking or strumming the strings. A shorter necked version of Banjo, without the thumb-string, is called the tenor Banjo.

Baritone: A low male singing voice between tenor and bass.

Baritone Horn: This valved brass wind instrument has a range similar to the Trombone.

Bar line: The vertical line placed on the staff to divide the music into measures. Often abbreviated to just "bar" and commonly used today to mean the measure itself.

Baroque Period: The musical era from roughly 1600 to 1750 A.D., characterized by the establishment of major and minor tonality, rather than modes, and the introduction of opera.

Barrel Organ: The barrel organ was an affordable alternative to pipe organs and organists. It was built out of a wooden barrel mounted on a metal spindle and attached to a board. A manually operated bellows filled the barrel with air and a tone was created when pegs opened and allowed air to flow into a pipe valve.

Baryton: The baryton was developed from the Viola Bastarda and was made into a heavy, Guitar-like shape. It was difficult to play, as it had not only sixty-seven strings, but up to 20 strings that the player could pluck with the thumb of his left hand through a hole gouged out at the back of the neck.

Bass: "Low." 1. The lowest male singing voice, below baritone. 2. The lowest part in a piece of music. 3. The lowest instrument in a musical work. 4. In the Violin family, the lowest instrument.

Bass Baritone: A high bass voice.

Bass Clarinet: The tone of the B-flat bass clarinet is an octave below the soprano clarinet. Bass clarinets are known to have existed back to 1772. When Aldolphe Sax remodelled it with the metallic upturned bell, it too gained popularity in 1839.

Bass Clef: The F clef indicating the fourth line of the staff. Used in combination with the treble clef to make the grand staff.

Bass Drum: This large, cylindrical, percussion instrument is typically 32 inches in diameter.

Bass Dulcian: The Dulcian was a forerunner of the Bassoon made of wood. Two conical channels bored longitudinally through the wood meet at the lower end. The player blew into a double reed attached to an "S"-shaped brass tube. Also called Curtal in England. Made in five sizes.

Basset Clarinet: Dating to 1789, Anton Stadler developed this type of Clarinet to reach four semitones below the standard Clarinet.

Basset Horn: A Basset Horn sounds like Alto Clarinet in the key of F. It has had a variety of shapes since its invention in Bavaria in about 1770. Today the Alto Clarinet plays its part.

Bass Flute: A member of the Flute family. It requires a lot of lungpower to blow and excellent lip technique to articulate sounds.

Bass Guitar: An Electric Guitar with four strings the tone of the Double Bass.

Bass Rebec: The Rebec originated in Islamic Asian regions. The Arabic name is Rabab. It was a precursor to the Violin, having only three strings but was pear shaped and long necked.

Basso Continuo: "Continuous Bass", sometimes referred to as "thoroughbass". Used in Baroque music, A continuo is a bass line that repeats throughout an entire work, or sections of a work. Played by the lowest instrument, a continuo usually consisted of a bass line, and a series of figures.

Bassoon: A bass reed wind instrument developed in 17th century from the Curtal or Dulcian. In about 1695, the joined bassoon came into use. The Denners of Nuremberg built the first three- then four-keyed Bassoons. The Bassoons range and tonality has been refined over its history to become an integral part of orchestral sound.

Battaglia: "Battle". A composition that imitates the sounds and feel of battle, and martial music.

Baton: Conductor's stick.

Battuto: Beat, bar, or measure. A due or a tre battuta, the musical rhythm in groups of two or three respectively.

Bayan: The bayan is a percussive instrument. Of the tabla, which is the Indian double drum, the lower drum is the bayan. The tone and pitch can vary depending on how and where the player hits the drum.

Beat: The regularity of music which can be indicated to the musician by the conductor's hand or baton. Or by the  composer in the accents in sheet music.
A metronome can also be used

Bells: This term refers to a grouping of bells such as church bells, Tubular, Chimes or Hand Bells. Bells come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and sounds.

Ben: Well. Used with other words, e.g. ben marcato, well accented, emphasized.

Bendir: A bendir is a drum of western North Africa, which is round and 20 inches in diameter. Two snares are connected underneath.

Bequadro: A natural sign.

Berceuse: A lullaby.

Binary Form: A two-part song form consisting of an initial sections, which is then followed by a contrasting sections. (AB), see song forms.

Bis: Repeated twice. Encore!

Bitonal: The use of two different keys, or tonic centres at the same time.

Biwa: Japanese plucked stringed instrument; like a lute.

Blues: Simple American folk music often related to jazz with a repetitive musical structure.

Blues-scale: Normally C, D, E-flat, E, F, F#, G, A, B-flat, C. This scale is very common in jazz.

Bodnran: A drum which is circular and shallow. Traditionally Irish, it has a goat hide covering and mainly carries the beat in up-tempo dance composition.

Bombard: An obsolete low tone instrument. The bombard is in the shawm family.

Bongos: Small vellum headed drum. Often paired together, they are played with the fingertips and held on the knees.

Borrowed Chord: Use of a chord in a key in which it is not diatonic, or the substitution of a chord from a different key into a work.

Bouts: In the Violin and Guitar families, the curves in the sides of the instrument, especially the C-shaped inward curves that form the waist.

Bourree: A French dance from the 17th century in brisk duple time starting with a pickup.

Bow: The device used in the string instrument families, such as the Violin family, consisting of a wooden stick, pointed at one end, and strung with horsehair. The bow is drawn across the strings to generate a tone.

Boy Soprano: Prepubescent male singing in the upper register. Typical of religious choir music from the Renaissance, Baroque and early classical periods. The boys quit once their voice broke.

Brass family: Wind instruments made out of metal with either a cup- or funnel-shaped mouthpiece, such as Trumpet, cornet, bugle, Flugelhorn, Trombone, Tuba, baritone horn, Euphonium, saxhorn, and French Horn.

Bridge: Transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition. Part of a stringed instrument which supports the strings.

Broken chord: Notes of a chord played in succession rather than simultaneously.

Please send me any additional words together with the definition.

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