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


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Musical Dictionary: R



Rackett: A 16/17th century woodwind instrument. The rackett had a double reed and a cylindrical shape. The interesting pattern of bored parallel circular channels with their oblique placement of finger holes made playing this instrument a bit difficult. It required the use of both fingertips and middle joints of the finger to cover the holes. It was constructed of wood or ivory and is now obsolete.

Rabab: also spelled ribab, rbab, rebab. The rabab has many forms depending on the country it is played in but it represents stringed instruments of the Islamic countries. Generally they are played with a bow while held upright. The shape of the soundboard changes by geography.

Rallentando, rall:  (Ita) Gradually slower. Synonymous with ritardando.

Range: The gamut of pitches, from low to high, which a singer may perform.

Rapide:  (Ita) Rapidly.

Re: In solmization, the second degree of the major scale.

Rebec: Derived from Rabab of Ancient Islamic Asian countries. It was a pear shaped, three-string instruments with a short narrow neck and an open peg box.

Recital: A performance by one or more performers.

Recitative: A musical work usually found in an opera or oratorio, which mimics the patterns of speech, in order to advance the story.

Recorder: an important instrument of the Renaissance and Baroque era. It was very popular prior to the transverse flute. Recorders can play a range from bass to treble, solo or ensemble. Other types are treble recorder and descant recorder. The recorder, being a simple whistle type flute, experienced a revival after 1919 due to the efforts of Arnold Dolmetsch.

Red Notes: In medieval music, notes that were coloured red on the page in order to distinguish differences in rhythm or octave transposition for specific notes. They were also used to show differences in a cantus firmus from the original.

Reed Organ: A reed organ differs due to the sound being made by blown reeds rather than flue pipes. Refer to Harmonium.

Reed Pipe: A type of pipe on an organ. Generally, the organ pipes fall into two categories, flue pipes or reed pipes. Reed pipes create their sound similar to the way the Clarinet works. A thin metal tongue simulates a metal reed vibrating against metal or wood shallot. Air is forced around the housing. Resonation of the sound depends on the lumen size and shape where the air is allowed to escape.

Refrain: A short section of repeated material which occurs at the end of each stanza.

Regal: Another type of organ. Named so due to regal pipes creating their sound. Regal pipes do not have resonators. The regal is small, somewhat portable and was used between the 15th and the 18th centuries.

Relative major and minor scales: Major and minor scales which have the same key signature.

Renaissance: "Rebirth." The era from the mid-15th century to the end of the 16th century. The music was characterized by the use of freer forms, and a progression from modes toward major and minor scales, and harmony.

Repeat: The repetition of a section or a composition as indicated by particular signs. The most common of which is a pair of lines, one thick and the other thin, with two, or sometime four dots. The dots are placed to the left of the thinner line if an 'end repeat' or to the right of the thinner line if a 'begin repeat'.

Help Wanted!

We've had a question about Repeats from Pat in the USA that falls beyond the scope of this dictionary, if anyone can give an answer I'd be happy to pass it on.

In the piece of music in question:


Intro with a repeat sign.  Section 1: with 1st and 2nd endings. Section 2 with 1st and 2nd endings. DC and Fine Sign DS sign as the next 3rd section begins also with 1st and 2nd endings. We also had another 4th section with only one ending and a DS Sign to return to the DS which was at the end of the Fine and the beginning of the third section.


Pat's questions are in reference to the DC section..


When we reached the DC we returned to the intro.
Should we repeat the intro as we did the first time?
Do we also take all endings?
First and second on the DC?
Or do we take 2nd endings only on the DC


Please click here to send your response.


Requiem: A version of the Mass performed to commemorate the dead. The sections are: introit, Kyrie, Gradual and Tract, Sequence (Dies Irae), Offertory, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

Resolution: The changing of a dissonant pitch, usually by stepwise or chromatic motion, so that it becomes consonant with the chord being sounded.

Resonance: Reinforcement and intensification of sound by vibrations.

Rest: A symbol used to denote silence.

Rhapsody: A free style instrumental piece characterized by dramatic changes in mood.

Rhythm: The term which denotes the organization of sound in time; the temporal quality of sound.

Riff: A type of ostinato or short musical idea of two to four bars which is repeated throughout a composition. It is often heard in Jazz or pop music.

Rinforzando:  (Ita) A reinforced accent.

Risoluto:  (Ita)  Resolute.

Ritardando, rit:  (Ita) Gradually slower. Synonymous with rallentando.

Ritenuto:  (Ita) Immediate reduction in tempo.

Ritmico:  (Ita) Rhythmically.

Roll: On percussion instruments, a sticking technique consisting of a rapid succession of notes.

Romantic Era: The musical period from roughly 1827-1900, characterized by freer forms, larger, more elaborate works, and an increased attention to emotional themes within the music.

Root: the most fundamental note of a chord, often the bass note, which usually contains the other members of the chord in its overtones. The note upon which a triad or chord is built.

Root position: The arrangement of a chord in which the root is in the lowest voice.

Round: Like the canon, a song in which two or more parts having the same melody, starting at different points. The parts may be repeated as desired.

Rubato:  (Ita) The term used to denote flexibility of tempo to assist in achieving expressiveness.

Rudiments: On drums, the basic sticking patterns.

Ruhig: Quiet.

Run: A rapid scale passage.

Rustico:  (Ita) Pastoral, rustic, rural.

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