Musical Terms
  • absolute pitch: completely dark

  • adagio frommagio: to play in a slow and cheesy manner

  • adagio molto: thick milkshake

  • Aeolian mode: ice cream with your pie

  • agnus dei: a woman composr famous for her church music

  • aleatoric music: music composed by the random selection of pitches and rhythms – frequently found within choir anthems

  • al fine: all’s well

  • allegro: leg fertilizer

  • anDante: a musical composition that is infernally slow

  • angus Dei: a divine, beefy tone

  • antiphonal: referring to the prohibition of cell phones in the concert hall

  • a patella: unaccompanied knee-slapping

  • apologgiatura: an ornament you regret after playing it

  • approximatura: a series of notes played by a performer and not intended by the composer, especially when disguised with an air of "I meant to do that"

  • approximento: a music entrance that is somewhere near the correct pitch

  • arpeggio: Pinnochio's father

  • Bach chorale: The place behind the barn where you keep the horses

  • bagatelle: the Italian lady speaks

  • bar line: what musicians form after a concert

  • basso continuo: when the director can't get them to stop

  • canon: like a round only louder

  • concerto grosso: areally bad performance

  • conductor: someone who espresses his illusions of grandeur by standing on a box and waving a little stick at people while they try to make music in spite of him

  • contra-bassoon: like a bassoon, only more so

  • contralto: an alto who has been convicted

  • conundrum: a percussion instrument used by the conuns

  • Coral Symphony: (see: Beethoven: Caribbean period)

  • cornetti trombosis: disastrous entanglement of brass instruments that can occur when musicians are not careful exiting the stage

  • cut time: playing hooky

  • D.C. al capone: You betta go back to the beginning, capiche?

  • dill piccolo: a wind instrument that plays only sours notes

  • diminished fifth: an empty bottle of Jack Daniels

  • diminuendo: the process of quieting a rumor in the orchestra pit

  • Eardrum: A teeny tiny tympani.

  • fermantra: a note that is held over and over and over and...

  • fermoota: a rest of indefinite length and dubious value

  • fiddler crabs: grumpy string players

  • first inversion: Grandpa's battle group at Normandy

  • fog horn: a brass instrument that plays when the conductor's intentions are not clear

  • flute flies: gnat-like bugs that bother musicians playing out-of-doors

  • frugalhorn: a sensible, inexpensive brass instrument

  • fugue: a longstanding dispute, as between the Hatfields and the McCoys

  • Gaul blatter: a French horn player

  • glissando: what directly precedes the highest note of a descant

  • grand pause: when the conductor loses his place

  • Gregorian champ: Monk who can hold a note the longest

  • harp: a naked piano

  • Herbert von Carryon: a conductor who never rides in the cargo hold

  • leitmotif: like a regular motif, but less fattening

  • major scale: climbing Mt. Everest

  • mallade: a romantic song that's pretty awful

  • molto bolto: head straight for the ending, but don't make it seem rushed

  • oboe: an English bum

  • opera buffa: musical stage production at a nudist camp

  • passing tones: what to call your wrong notes

  • perfect fifth: a full bottle of Jack Daniels

  • panissimo: a small toy piano

  • pp: plenty powerful

  • plague: a collective noun, as in “a plague of conductors”

  • polonaise: a condiment frequently put on a parrot sandwich; also the multiple cries of a horse

  • polychoral motet: six parrots singing "Exultate Justi"

  • ponticello: a cello played by the pope

  • poochini: when singing, to be accompanied by your dog

  • portamento: the little red thing inside a green olive

  • Pre-Classical Conservatism: school of thought which fostered the idea, "if it ain't baroque, don't fix it."

  • prelude: a cue found in some of the earlier oratorios, instructing those singing the roles of the wicked to seek divine intervention, but to do it in an offensive or profane manner

  • recapitulation: what usually happens after you eat a parrot sandwich

  • refrain: means don’t do it; a refrain in music is the part you’d better not try to sing

  • relative major: an uncle in the Marine Corps

  • repeat: let's try it again

  • riff: what happens when someone takes your choir robe

  • ritard: let's slow down so the others can catch up

  • sonata: what you get in your hankie from a bad cold or hay fever

  • tempo tantrum: what a young orchestra is having when it's not keeping time with the conductor

  • time signature: tells you how many times to tap your foot in each measure

  • timpani alley: a row of kettledrums

  • transpositions: men who wear dresses

  • treble: what you'll be in if you don't play all the notes

  • vesuvioso: a gradual buildup to a fiery conclusion

  • virtuoso: a musician with very high morals


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