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


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Musical Dictionary: H



H: 1. In the German musical system, B natural, or the key of B natural.
    2. "Hoboken", the cataloguer of Haydn's works; H numbers are used instead of opus numbers for the works of Haydn.

Half-Cadence: A cadence that ends on the dominant instead of the tonic. Also called an imperfect cadence.

Half-Step: The smallest interval that is commonly used in Western music. There are 12 half-steps in an octave.

Hammer Dulcimer: Wire strings stretched over a trapezoidal sound box, somewhat similar to the Zither. The strings are hammered with a mallet, thus the hammer dulcimer. In Hungary it's called the Cimbalom.

Hammerflugel: Refers to the Grand Piano due to its winged shape. Flugel is German for wing. Kielflugel refers to Harpsichord.

Hammer Klavier: This is the term used in the early 19th century for a Piano.

Hand Bells: Requires a group of players each responsible for two to four bells. The bells are graded in size and pitch.

Hardanger Fiddle: A traditional Norwegian fiddle used to play folksongs and bridal marches. Its uniqueness is its four to five sympathetic strings that run under the four melody strings.

Harmonica: Also known as the Mouth Organ. Usually hand held, a free reed instrument, rectangular in shape. Sound is produced by air passing through graduated reeds set back into a narrow frame.

Harmonic Progression: The movement from one chord to another, usually in terms of their function.

Harmonic Series: A series of notes produced above the fundamental (the series includes the fundamental) which fall in the overtones of that pitch.

Harmonium: A type of organ or keyboard instrument constructed of wood. Foot pedals operate bellows that create either suction or generate air pressure. It was also called a reed organ and was a popular substitute for the pipe organ in churches.

Harmony:     1. The study of progression, structure, and relationships of chords.
                    2. When pitches are in agreement, or consonance.

Harp: The harp is an ancient instrument. It is a chordophone, usually triangular in shape having anywhere from 1 to 47 strings. The strings are knotted perpendicular to the soundboard. It is played by strumming or plucking.

Harpsichord: Its shape is similar to that of a Piano but having a much different sound. Each string is plucked by a quill plectrum. It is closely related to a Virginal or a Spinet and eventually lost popularity after the Fortepiano became popular around 1800.

Head Voice: The upper register of the singing voice.

Heckelphone: Invented in 1904 by Wilhelm Heckel. It has a double reed made of wood with a large conical bore producing low, rich and hollow sounds.

Heldentenor: A heroic tenor with a strong, robust singing voice.

Hemiola: The term applied to time values in the ration of 3:2, e.g. three half notes in place of two dotted half notes.

Hemitonium: A half-step.

Heterophony: The simultaneous performance of two slightly different melodies.

Hi Hat: These are the pair of cymbals you see in a drum set that are opened and closed by means of a foot pedal. They are mounted on floor stands and are placed higher in the drums in a horizontal fashion.

Homophony: Music in which one voice has the melody, performed with a Chordal accompaniment.

Hunting Horn: A horn used in the chase of a hunt. Used to alert other hunters.

Hurdy Gurdy: This looks like a thick Violin but rather than using a bow, a crank turns a rosined wooden wheel that plays its strings. A keyboard mechanism provides a string stop while the strings maintain permanent contact creating the continuous drone sound. It has the capability of sounding like several instruments working at once.

Hymn: A song, often a chorale, written in praise of God, or for a religious congregation.

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