Glossary of Musical Terms

ACCIDENTALS: Wrong notes (played on purpose …?).

AUGMENTED FIFTH: A 36-ounce bottle

BROKEN CONSORT: When somebody in the ensemble has to leave and go to the restroom.

CADENCE: When everybody hopes youre going to stop – but you dont

CADENZA: The heroine in Monteverdis opera Frottola

CANTUS FIRMUS: The part you get when you can only play four notes


CLAUSULA: Mrs. Santa

CROTCHET: A tritone with a bent prong or …

CROTCHET: Its like knitting but its faster

CUT TIME: When youre going twice as fast as everybody else in the ensemble.

DUCTIA: A lot of mallards

EMBOUCHRE: The way you look when youve been playing the Krummhorn

ESTAMPIE: What they put on letters in Quebec

GARGLEFINKLEIN: A tiny recorder played by neums

HOCKET: The thing that fits into a crochet to produce a rackett

INTERVAL: How long it takes you to find the right note. There are three kinds:

Major Interval: A long time

Minor Interval: A few bars

Inverted Interval: When you have to back one bar and try again

INTONATION: Singing through ones nose. Considered highly desirable in the Middle Ages

ISORHYTHMIC MOTET: When half of the ensemble got a different xerox than the other half

MINNESINGER: A boy soprano or Mickeys girlfriend in the opera.

MUSICA FICTA: When you lose your place and have to bluff till you find it again. Also known as faking

NEUMS: Renaissance midgets

NEUMATIC MELISMA: A bronchial disorder caused by hockets

ORDO: The hero in Tolkiens Lord of the Rings


ROTA: An early Italian method of teaching music without score or parts

TROTTO: An early Italian form of Montezumas Revenge

LAUDA: The difference between shawms and krummhorns

SANCTA: Clausulas husband

LASSO: The 6th and 5th steps of a descending scale

DI LASSO: Popular with Italian cowboys

LAI: What monks give up when they take their vows

VIRELAI: A local woman known for her expertise in the Lai

CONDUCTUS: The process of getting Vire into the cloister

MOTET: Where you meet Vire if the cloister is guraded

ORGANUM: You may not participate in the Lai without one

PARALELL ORGANUM: Everybody standing in a double line, waiting for Vire

DUCTIA: Vires organum

MINIM: The time you spend with Vire when there is a long line

BREVE: The time you spend when the line is short

TEMPUS PERFECTUM: A good time was had by all

TEMPUS IMPERFECTUM: Vire had to leave early

LONGA: The time between visits with Vire

PROLATION: Precautions taken before the Lai

CROTCHET: An unpleasant illness that occurs after the Lai, if prolation is not used

DRONE: The sound of a single monk during an attack of Crotchet

RHYTHMIC DRONE: The sound of many monks suffering with Crotchet

SOLESME: The state of mind after a rough case of Crotchet

ISORHYTHM: The individual process of relief when Vire is out of town

ORGANISTRUM: A job-related hazard for careless medieval percussionists, caused by getting ones tapper caught in the clapper

HURDY-GURDY: A truss for medieval percussionists who get Organistrum

QUAVER: Beginning viol class

RACKETT: Capped reeds class

RITORNELLO: An opera by Verdi

SINE PROPRIETATE: Cussing in church


TRANSPOSITION: An advanced recorder technique where you change from alto to soprano fingering (or vice-versa) in the middle of a piece

TROPE: A malevolent Neum

TUTTI: A lot of sackbuts

STOPS: Something Bach did not have on his organ

AGNUS DEI: A famous female church composer

METRONOME: A dwarf who lives in the city

ALLEGRO: Leg fertilizer

RECITATIVE: A disease that Monteverdi had

ORCHESTRAL SUITES: Naughty women who follow touring orchestras

FINE: That was great!

DA CAPO AL FINE: I like your hat!

OPUS: A Penguin in Kansas

FERMENTED FIFTH: What the percussion players keep behind the tympani, which resolves to a …

DISTILLED FIFTH: What the conductor uses backstage…

(collected from: Dr. John Robison, USF College of Music)

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