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


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Musical Dictionary: T



Tabla: Tabla are a pair of drums used in North Indian music. The sitting player strikes the conical right-hand drum and the kettle shaped left-hand drum with his fingers.

Tabor: A percussion instrument of Spain and France. It is a shallow drum slung over one shoulder and played with one hand. The player may simultaneously play a fife.

Tambourine: A member of the percussion family. This is a small hand held shallow drum that has mini cymbals set into its circular frame.

Tambura: A four stringed, pear shaped lute used for its drone sound. This lute originates in India.

Tam Tam: A percussion instrument, the tam tam is a type of Gong. It is unpitched. Its sides are turned under and it has somewhat of a flat shallow plate appearance. It is suspended and struck with a dampened stick.

Tanto: Much, so much.

Tempo: The rate of speed in a musical work.

Tempo primo: Return to the original tempo.

Teneramente: Tenderly.

Tenor: "Holder." 1. A high male voice between alto and baritone. In early polyphonic music, it sang the cantus firmus in long held notes. 2. Instruments in the tenor range.

Tenor clef: The C clef falling on the fourth line of the staff.

Tenorlied: A German song, in which the tenor vocal line predominates, or has the melody.

Tenuto, ten: Hold or sustain a note longer than the indicated value, usually not as long a duration as the fermata.

Ternary form: Three-part form in which the middle sections is different from the other sections. Indicated by ABA.

Terraced dynamics: The Baroque style of using sudden changes in dynamic levels, as opposed to gradual increase and decrease in volume.

Tertian harmony: A term used to describe music based on chords arranged in intervals of thirds

Tessitura: The general pitch range of a vocal part.

Texture: The term used to describe the way in which melodic lines are combined, either with or without accompaniment. Types include monophonic, homophonic, and polyphonic, or contrapuntal.

Theme: 1. A phrase that serves as the subject, or melody for a given work, as in a fugue, or sonata form. 2. A conceptual idea that motivates a given work.

Theme and variations: A statement of musical subject followed by restatements in different guises.

Theorbo: A type of arch lute or bass lute. Some Theorbos are six to seven feet long.

Theory: The study of how musical is put together.

Theremin: Invented by Leon Theremin in 1920. It was very difficult to play and the appeal of the theremin faded quickly. It is described as an oscillator which generates a single tone controlled by the movement of the operator's hand to an antennae that protrudes from it.Third: The third degree of the diatonic scale. Also, the interval formed by a given tone and the third tone above or below it, e.g. c up to e, or c down to a. intervals of the third may be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.

Through-composed: A term used to describe a song in which the music for each stanza is different. The opposite of strophic. Ti: In solmization, the seventh degree of the major scale. Also called the leading tone. Tie: A curved line over or below two or more notes of the same pitch. The first pitch is sung or played and held for the duration of the notes affected by the tie.

Tierce de Picardie:  When a piece of music begins in one key, for instance E minor, and finishes in the opposite version of the same key e.g. E major. A technique much favoured amongst Baroque composers particularly Johann Sebastian Bach.

Time Signature: The numbers written on staff of any piece, indicating which type of note gets a single beat, and also how many beats are in each measure.

Timpani: Developed in the 18th century, the timpani is the first percussion instrument with definite pitch. Also know as kettledrums. Made of brass or copper, they are large and deep bowls that nest in a tripod.Tom-Tom: Double headed drums, cylindrical and without snares.

Tonal: Music with a centre, or tonic, which employs tones which relate to that tonic in a predictable and measurable manner.

Tonality: The term used to describe the organization of the melodic and harmonic elements to give a feeling of a key centre or a tonic pitch.

Tone: A note; the basis of music.

Tone clusters: The simultaneous sounding of two or more adjacent tones.

Tonguing: On wind instruments, articulation with the tongue.

Tonic: The first note of a key. Also, the name of the chord built on the first degree of the scale, indicated by I in a major key or i in a minor key.

Tono: Tone, key, pitch.

Tosto:  (Ita) Quick

Tracking Weight: Not strictly speaking a musical term but applies in so much as when correctly set adds to the fidelity of the playback (and reduces wear) of vinyl records.
The vertical pressure of the stylus on the record is a function of the balance of the Pickup on the Tone Arm adjusted by an arrangement of springs or counterbalances. Ideally this should be adjusted to 6 grams but anywhere between 4 and 8 grams is usually okay. It may need to be further corrected if the record is warped.

Tranquillo:  (Ita) Tranquilly; quietly; calm.

Transposition: The process of changing the key of a composition.

Trautonium: An electronic instrument that was made of metal bars and produced only one pitch at a time. It was played by pressing a wire at varying points.

Tre: Three. Used with other terms, e.g. a tre voci, in three parts.

Treble: The highest voice, instrument, or part.

Treble Clef: The G clef falling on the second line of the staff. Used with the bass clef to form the grand staff.

Triad: A chord consisting of a root, and two other members, usually a third and a fifth, e.g. the C-major triad c-e-g, root-third-fifth.

Triangle: A small steel rod formed into a triangular shape, suspended to enhance sound and struck with a metal bar.Trill: An ornament performed by the rapid alternation of a given note with a major or minor second above.

Triple meter: Meter based on three beats, or a multiple of three, in a measure.

Triplet:  A group of three notes performed in the time of two of the same kind.

Tromba Marina: A very long (up to seven feet in height) stringed triangular instrument, it has one string and is played with a bow.

Trombone: It hasn't changed much since its predecessor the Sackbut. The trombone family includes the tenor, alto and bass designs. A contrabass trombone was invented and used by Wagner. The most common trombone is the B flat tenor with its seven slide positions.

Troppo: Too much. Used with other terms, e.g. allegro non troppo, not too fast.

Trumpet: An integral member of the brass family. The soprano brass trumpet is composed of a cupped mouthpiece, bent tube formed into a rectangular shaped body, and ending with a small flared bell. Trumpets are available in many sizes with various pitch classes. Piccolo Trumpets carry the very highest register. The trumpet's louder and more brilliant sound replaced the Coronet in the 1920s.

Turn: A musical ornament characterized by the rapid performance of a given note, the major or minor second above and below, and a return to the given note.

Tuba: A member of the brass family. It has a huge conical bore ending in a wide flared bell. Typically the tuba has three to six valves and carries the bass range of the orchestra. Shop Now

Tuba Phone: Looks and is built similar to the Glockenspiel but made with metal tubes rather than metal bars which produces a softer sound when struck.

Tubular Bell: Sometimes used to simulate church bells. These bells emit a rich, warm sound.

Tumba: A large single headed barrel drum. The tumba in popular in Afro-Cuban music.

Tutti: All. A direction for the entire ensemble to sing or play simultaneously.

Tuvan Music: Best known for the two voices from one singer technique known as "khoomei'', or throat singing. More Info..... For listening you may like try the CDs of Yat-Kha.

Twelve-tone technique: A system of composition which uses the twelve tones of the chromatic scale in an arbitrary arrangement called a tone row or series. The row may be used in its original form, its inversion, in retrograde, and in the inversion of the retrograde. The system was devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century.

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