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


In Association with

Musical Dictionary: L



La: In solmization, the sixth degree of the major scale. Also, the first degree of the relative minor scale, e.g. A is the sixth degree, or La, in the C major scale and the first degree of the a-minor scale.

Lacrimoso: Tearful, mournful.

Lament: A mournful piece, either meant to be played at a funeral, or to commemorate a death.

Lamento:  (Ita) Mournful, sad.

Landini Cadence: The melodic cadence that moves in the sequence 7-6-8, used primarily by Francesco Landini, and later by other composers.

Langsam: Slow.

Largamente:  (Ita) Broadly.

Larghetto:  (Ita) Not quite as slow a tempo as largo. Between 60 and 66 beats per minute.

Largo:  (Ita) Very slow tempo of between 40 and 60 beats per minute.

Leading Tone: The seventh degree of the diatonic scale, when it is only a half-step below the tonic. It is called "leading" because it gives the feeling of wanting to move up a half-step toward the tonic.

Leap: The movement of a single musical line by more than a second at a time.

Ledger Lines: Lines written above or below the staff to help indicate the correct pitches for notes written outside of it.

Legato: Smooth, connected.

Leggiero:  (Ita) Light; graceful.

Leitmotif: "Leading Motive". Use of a musical phrase to identify with a certain person, place or thing in a dramatic work, especially an opera, usually repeated every time its referent appeared in the work.

Lent: The season of the church year from Ash Wednesday to Easter (40 days, not counting Sundays).

Lento: Slow; slightly faster than largo, slower than adagio.

Liberamento: Freely.

Libretto: The text (lyrics and any spoken parts) of an opera or oratorio.

Lied/Lieder: A German art song, usually those of the Romantic or Classical eras.

Linear: Melodic; horizontal lines.

Lira Organizzata: Built in a Guitar shape with a rotating wheel that produces its sound. The sounds are like that of a Hurdy-Gurdy where organ pipeworks and bellows are used. It was introduced to Latin America from the Far East and Spain in the Middle Ages at that time called an Organistrum

Lirone: Italian for Lira da Gamba.

Litany: A set of prayers recited by a leader alternating with responses by the congregation, often set in plainsong form.

Liturgy: A prescribed order of worship in a church, usually used in reference to the Mass.

Locrian Mode: A mode whose scale pattern is that of playing B to B on the white keys of a Piano. While this mode theoretically existed in medieval times, it was never used.

Lullaby: A cradle song.

Lute: A lute refers to anyone of a variety of plucked stringed instruments of European descent popular from the 16 to 18th centuries. Its oblong, rounded and pear-shaped body has a flat soundboard on which the strings are attached to its fretted neck. Normally, the lute has five sets of double strings plus a single, longer highest string. Various numbers and configurations of the strings have existed over history. Other types of lutes include the small mandora and a bass lute, pandora, and the very largest lutes, the chitarrone and the Theorbo.

Lute Harpsichord: This Harpsichord has a sound intended to imitate the sound of the lute. It was popular in Germany during the Baroque.

Lydian Mode: A medieval mode whose scale pattern is that of playing F to F on the white keys of a Piano.

Lyra Viol: Also known as Viola Bastarda, whose strange name came from its tuning and shape. It is cross between bass and tenor Viola.

Lyre (also Lyra): This ancient Greet instrument was played by Apollo, Greek god of music. The body was made of wood or tortoise shell. Its curved arms hold five to twelve gut strings. It was plucked with a plectrum.

Lyric: 1. The words to a song. 2. In a singing and melodious manner.

Lyric Soprano: A female singer with a slightly higher range than a Dramatic Soprano.

Lyric Tenor: A male singer with a slightly higher range than a Dramatic Tenor.

© AR . Designated trademarks and brands are the copyright of their respective owners.