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


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Musical Dictionary: C


C: The key of C.

Cabalistic Numerological Symbolism: A method of imbedding hidden messages in music, by using a code of numbers based on which notes are used, their durations, arrangement, subdivision, etc--whereby the composer made symbolic reference to specific persons, places, or things and/or events in some way associated with the music.

Cacophony: A discordant or dissonant sound.

Cadence: The melodic or harmonic ending of a piece, or the sections or phrases within a piece. A chord progression that gives a feeling of resolution, or conclusion.

Cadenza: An extended solo passage, usually near the end of a piece, improvised by the performer, or sometimes written out by the composer.

Caesura: A sudden silencing of the sound; a pause or break, indicated by the following symbol: //

Calmo, calmato:  (Ita) Calm.

Calliope: A type of organ. This was a steam organ whereby a set of whistles sounded as steam flowed through creating loud sounds, sometimes described as raucous and associated with the circus.

Cambia: A direction found in scores to change tuning or instruments.

Cambiata: In counterpoint, a Nonharmonic tone inserted between a dissonance and its resolution.

Camera: Secular chamber music, as opposed to church music, or chiesa.

Camerata: Small art or music schools dating from the 16th century.

Camminando: Following easily and gently

Cancel: A natural sign, used to remove a previously applied accidental.

Cannon: "Rule". In counterpoint, a  melody that is repeated exactly by a different voice, entering a short interval after the original voice.

Canonic: A term used to describe a polyphonic style of music in which all the parts have the same melody but which start at different times.

Cantabile: In singing style

Cantata: "Sung". A multi-movement baroque sacred or secular choral composition for concert or church performance by a choir, sometimes soloists, and an instrumental ensemble.

Canticle: A non-metrical hymn or song.

Canto Fermo: A cantus firmus.

Cantor: The soloist or leader of the musical portion of religious liturgy. In the Jewish service, the soloist who sings the cantillation.

Cantus Firmus: "Fixed Song". A pre-existing melody, used as the foundation for a polyphonic work. Used in counterpoint, Canti Firmus were usually based on ecclesiastical chant.

Canzona: A song, or ballad, or "in the style of a song".

Capellmeister: Kapellmeister.

Cappella: See a cappella.

Carillon: A stationary set of bells usually for churches and mounted or suspended in the belfry.

Carol: The term was derived from a medieval French word, carole, a circle dance. In England it was first associated with pagan songs celebrating the winter solstice. It then developed into a song of praise and celebration, usually for Christmas.

Castanets: A small rhythm instrument made of shells, ivory or wood, slightly concave, held by a connecting cord over the thumb and forefinger and clapped together in time with the music.

Castrato: An adult male singer with an alto or soprano voice. In the 16th century, young male singers were castrated in puberty to prevent voice change from sexual gland maturation. Famous castratos were Senesino, Nicolini and Carlo Broscni.

Cavaquinho: Means "little splinter" in Portuguese, from the small wooden pick musicians use to pluck its 4 strings. The cavaquinho is a tiny guitar from Portugal and Brazil with a high tone and plays an important role for rhythm playing in samba music. It's also played solo in morna and coladeira music. When Portuguese sailors took this small, four stringed instrument to Hawaii it became known as the ukulele. More Info....

C clef: A clef usually centered on the first line (soprano clef), third line (alto clef), fourth line (tenor clef), or third space (vocal tenor clef) of the staff. Wherever it is centered, that line or space becomes middle C. A clef that indicates which line represents C on a staff, as opposed to a G clef, or an F clef.

Celesta: A musical instrument with a keyboard built like a Glockenspiel whereby keys activate a hammer to strike a metal plate producing bell-like tones. Augueste Mustel patented it in Paris in 1886 after his father constructed it.

Cello: A four stringed tenor instrument of the violin family, played while held between the knees also called the Violoncello. The bow is shorter and thicker than one used to play violin. It was developed in the 1500's and plays an octave below the Viola.

Cello Piccolo: A small 18th century version of the full size cello.

Celtic Harp: Also referred to as an ancient small clarsach. It is different from the usual orchestral harp because of its brass strings vs. gut or nylon. Its sound is similar to bell tones.

Ceterone: A large bass Cittern with an extended peg box and a number of additional unstopped bass strings made of wire.

Chalumeau: The chalumeau was an early version of the clarinetto, and later, the Clarinet. It uses a single reed and is cylindrical in shape, hollow inside and, initially was without keys. A family of instrument makers in Nuremberg added keys (three) in 1700 and the hole by the mouthpiece to allow over-blowing.

Chamber Music: Music for small ensemble.

Chamber Organ: An organ small meant for use in small rooms. It has a single keyboard and four to seven stops.

Chance music: Aleatoric music.

Changgo: Wooden drum, made in an hour glass shape. The heads are 16 inches diameter and held horizontally to play. A different skin covers each drum, cowhide on the left and horsehide on the right. The latter is played with a bamboo striker.

Chanson: A song, usually secular. This term is usually applied to works composed during the medieval and Renaissance periods, though many twentieth-century composers have also applied the term to their own works.

Cheng: Also spelled zheng and is originally from China. It is a half tube Zither stringed instrument. Updated versions have 14 to 24 strings divided by moveable bridges. It is much like the Japanese Koto in playing technique.

Chiesa: "Church". Church music, as opposed to chamber music, or camera.

Chimes: A set of bells tuned to scale and hit with a hammer. Sometimes the bells are the same size but of differing thickness.

Chitarra Battente: An Italian form of Guitar from the 17th and 18th centuries. It was plucked with a plectrum over its five courses of strings in medieval fashion. This Guitar had a deep body and vaulted back.

Chittarrone: This instrument is similar to the lute but is large and tuned for bass range. It is from 16th century Italy. According to documents it was tuned with the first two courses an octave lower than lute pitch and with seven or eight contrabasses tuned diatonically.

Chorale: A German Lutheran hymn -like song/tune characterized by blocked chords.

Chord: A set of notes, usually three or four, played simultaneously--usually containing a root, and other  tones which have a tonal relationship to that root.

Chordal: A form of music in which a single melody is accompanied by sets of chords, rather than a competing counter melody.

Chromatic: Motion by half steps; or pitches used outside of the diatonic scale in which they normally occur.

Chromatic scale: A scale composed of 12 half steps.

Cimbalom: This is a Hungarian Dulcimer built in two sizes. The smaller size is similar to a Santur of the Middle East. The larger has a trapeze-like sound box with strings stretched across it and played with a pair of hammers.

Circle of fifths: The succession of keys or chords proceeding by fifths.

Citol: An instrument dating to Middle Ages and related to the fiddle. Some believe it evolved from the Cittern. The citole comes in various shapes made of wood and is plucked.

Cittern : The Cittern is strung with wire, has a flat back and a pear shaped body and comes in many sizes. It was most popular in the Renaissance period and often played solo. It was played by plucking strings with a quill.

Clappers: Any two or more instruments in varied forms; marine shells, wood bone and ivory that when struck together produce a sound. It has been traced to prehistoric times.

Clarinet: A family of woodwind instruments using a single reed and is tubular shaped. Developed in 1690 by J.C. Demer, of the famous instrument maker of Nuremberg, after adding two more keys to the popular chalumeau. The soprano Clarinet in B flat, with the Boehm system of key work and fingering are what we associate most with the Clarinet today.

Clarino: A 12th century term whereby the highest register of the Trumpet is played. This term is also used to describe that style of play.

Classical Era: The musical period from the late 1700s to the mid 1820s, characterized by more rigidly defined musical forms, increased attention to instrumental music, and the evolution of the symphony.

Claves: Claves are in the percussion family, originating in Cuba. Simply two cylindrical hardwood sticks largely used in Latin America.

Clavichord: A stringed keyboard instrument popular from the 15th through the 18th centuries. Its rectangular shape has a keyboard projecting into the longest side. When the player depresses a key, the tangent, with a small brass blade driven into its end, strikes the string. The pitch and loudness is based on how much pressure is applied to the key.

Clavicytherium: An upright Harpsichord thus making the strings and soundboard vertical.

Claviorgan: Since the 15th century, this term has applied to a keyboard with strings and pipes. A keyboard instrument combining Harpsichord or Piano and Organ.

Clef: The symbol used at the beginning of a  staff  to indicate which lines and spaces represent which notes. In modern practice, only three clefs are commonly used, the G clef or treble clef, the F clef or bass clef, and the C clef, when used as an alto clef.

Close Harmony: A harmonic voicing technique in which all the parts involved remain as close together as the chords allow, often within a single octave.

Clusters: Groups of notes that are the interval of a second apart from one another.

Coda: Closing section of a composition. An added ending.

Col, coll', colla: With or "with the."

Colascione: A plucked instrument strung over a long narrow neck and a lute shaped body. Dates back to the 17th century.

Coladeira: Music formed in the "cook pot" of the European and African influences of the Cape Verde Islands.

Coloratura: "Coloring". Elaborate coloration of the melodic line, usually by a vocalist.

Comic Opera: An opera with light-natured music, comedy, and a happy ending. In contrast to grand opera.

Common Chord: A chords composed of a root, third, and fifth.

Common Time: 4/4 meter.

Common Tone: A note that remains the same between two different chords.

Complete cadence: I-IV-V-I progression.

Composer: A person who creates (composes) music.

Composition: Any musical work.

Compound Interval: An interval greater than an octave, such as a ninth, or eleventh.

Con:  (Ita) With.

Con brio:  (Ita) With spirit; vigorously.

Con calore:  (Ita) With warmth.

Con Forza:  (Ita) With force. An instruction to play a passage with vigour.

Concert : A public performance of music.

Concert grand piano: The largest of the Grand Pianos, usually about nine feet long.

Concertante : A piece for two or more instruments with orchestral accompaniment.

Concertina: Similar to the accordion but hexagonal in shape and a button keyboard for each hand. It is a free reed, bellows operated instrument that is fully chromatic.

Concertino : A short concerto. The group of soloists in a concerto grosso.

Concert master: First chair violinist in an orchestra

Concerto: A piece for soloist(s) and orchestra.

Concert pitch: The international tuning pitch -- currently A 440 or 442. The pitch for non-transposing (C) instruments.

Conducting: The directing of a group of musicians.

Conductor: The person who directs a group of musicians.

Con intensita: With intensity.

Conjunct: Pitches on successive degrees of the scale; opposite of disjunct.

Con moto: With motion.

Consequent: The second phrase in a musical period, in a fugue, the answer.

Consonance: Sounds that are in agreement in terms of physical generation of sound; i.e. sounds found in the harmonic series of a pitch being harmonized, in contrast to dissonance.

Consort: A 17th-century Renaissance term for instrumental chamber ensembles and for the compositions written for these ensembles.

Con spirito: With spirit.

Continuo: Basso continuo.

Contra: The octave below normal.

Contralto: A female singer who has the lowest tessitura of all the female voices typically in the range between the F below middle C (F3) to two F's above middle C (F5). For an example of a contralto role listen to Angiolina in La Cenerentola by Rossini.

Contrabassoon: Double bassoon with a basic pitch one octave below the normal bassoon.

Contrabass-Clarinet: Plays an octave lower than the bass clarinets. It places a tremendous demand on the player's lungs to produce its powerful sonorous tone.

Cornemuse: French version of bagpipes using a double reed, conical bore chanter with one or more single reed, cylindrical bore drones.

Cornet: A brass instrument in B flat with a range from f sharp to C. With valves it plays similar to a Trumpet, but its tone is softer and less brilliant. The mellow sound is achieved through the use of a wider conical bore and a deeper mouthpiece than the Trumpets cylindrical bore.

Cornett: A wooden instrument, lip vibrated with finger holes and cup shaped mouthpiece. It has a wide conical bore and side holes for a thumb and six fingers. Three sizes were made: small treble (corn eltino), treble and tenor (cornone). It was used to play elaborate parts in church music of 1550-1700.

Countermelody: A vocal part which contrasts with the principal melody.

Counterpoint: The combination of two or more melodic lines played against one another. A horizontal structure built upon competing melodic lines, rather than a Chordal setting.

Countertenor: "Against the tenor". The highest male singing voice, (alto pitch) above tenor.

Cowbells: Large metal bells with a heavy clapper, usually with straight rather than flared sides, and nearly rectangular shape. The type without a clapper is played with a drumstick.

Crab Cannon: A contrapuntal piece in which one part is identical to another, but backwards.

Crescendo: A gradual increase in volume.

Credo: "I believe". In the Mass, the third part of the ordinary. The Creed.

Crotales: Antique cymbals that are small and thick.

Crumhorn:  Developed in Northern Italy in the late 15th century and spread to Germany. It became a very important instrument of the 16th and early 17th century. It is a double reed, wind-cap instrument with a cylindrical bore. The crumhorn looks like a hockey stick with finger holes. Made in different sizes: soprano, alto, tenor, extended tenor, bass, extended bass and extended great bass.

Cue: Indication by the Conductor or a spoken word or gesture for a performer to make an entry. Small notes that indicate another performer's part. Music occurrence in a film.

Curtal: See Dulcimer

Cut time: 2/2 meter.

Cyclical forms: Musical forms made up of complete movements placed in contrast to each other. eg: symphony, sonata , suite, etc.

Cycle of fifths: Chain of perfect fifths which will lead us back to... the original note but at a different octave. See also key signature.

Please send me any additional words together with the definition.

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