Here's some musical terminology that's used all the time, it's the fundamental STUFF that you'll need for any musical chat:
It's just the tune. If it keeps coming back during the piece it's often referred to as the "theme".
The backing to the melody, or the general word to describe notes playing at the same time.
Most pieces will be written in a specific key based on any note e.g. A Major, D flat minor, C minor. It's the tonal centre for the piece.
Multiple notes played at the same time.
Every key has its own scale, and this is just all the notes of that particular key.
Sounds happy! :)
Sounds sad :( or mysterious :/
Getting louder. When it's loud, it's described as forte.
Getting quieter. When it's quiet, it's described as piano.
Tells you how many beats are in a bar.
Divides up the notes on the page depending on the time signature.
We know you know what a note is, but they're written according to rhythmic values. From slow to fast:
Semibreve - minim - crotchet - quaver - semiquaver
The chunks that pieces can be divided into within one massive piece - often different tempos and moods.
Looks like a hashtag, but isn't a hashtag. A sharp note is higher, so F# is a higher pitch than F.
Looks like a little b, but isn't a little b. A flat note is lower, so B♭ is lower than B. A note with no sharps/flats (also known as accidentals) is referred to as 'natural'.
The structure any given piece takes, depending on length, tempo and instrumentation.
Étude means "study" and is usually a practice piece that can be performed.
An instrumental solo piece, accompanied by an orchestra.
A composition for full orchestra, usually with a bunch of movements.
Instrumental solo piece, can be totally solo but can also be with piano accompaniment.
A collection of pieces, sometimes chosen from a larger collection and often reworked into different forms.
A dramatic vocal play, with no actual talking - everything is sung! The talky bits are called recitative and the song bits are arias and choruses.
Just means "songs" in German. Usually a solo singer with piano accompaniment.
Like an opera but it's super religious.
The speed of a piece, always written for some reason in Italian... Here are the standard tempos from slow to fast:
Largo - Lento - Adagio - Adagietto - Andante - Moderato - Allegretto - Allegro - Vivace - Presto
They're grouped according to family (which is what you call a group of the same type of instrument in classical music... isn't that nice?)
Anything that's got some strings on it, usually played with a bow but can also be plucked (pizzicato). Includes:
Violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, lute etc.
Any instrument that requires constant puffing to make noises. Can have a reed (a mouthpiece that's just a bit of wood vibrating to make noise) or just a hole you blow into. Includes:
Flute, piccolo, clarinet, oboe, cor anglais, bassoon, recorder etc.
Similar to the above but you genuinely have to blow a raspberry through the mouthpiece to make noises. Includes:
Trumpet, cornet, trombone, french horn, tuba etc.
Hit it to make a noise. Includes:
Piano, timpani (big drums), triangle, xylophone, glockenspiel, celeste, marimba etc.
Whether you're a choir singer or a tip top operatic diva, your voice belongs to one of the following parts:
The highest female voice.
Lil bit lower than a soprano, not as low as alto.
Lowest female voice. A man singing in this vocal range is called a countertenor.
Highest male voice. Think Pavarotti.
Lower than a tenor, not as low as a bass.
A LOW LOW MAN VOICE.
Classical music is broadly classified according to historical time periods - obviously there's loads of overlap between them but these are the commonly used terms:
This is some old old stuff, think evensong and monks etc.
There were some leaps and bounds in education and GENERAL THOUGHT during this time, and music reflected this. There was a move from simple one line motifs to complex harmony.
Music started being written in ACTUAL KEYS hurrah! Listen out for twiddly bits, basso continuo, and harpsichords.
Everything got very neat and ordered during this time and Mozart was the bees' knees.
Classical music got more expressive and emotional, and musical forms were being stretched and shaped into the classical music we appreciate today.
20th century (1901–2000)
No dominant style, rules are broken down, people are experimenting all over the shop.
21st century (2000–)
Like the 20th Century but even more so. JUST DO WHATEVER YOU LIKE WHY DON'T YOU.