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pitch: To throw a baseball; or the highness or lowness of a musical tone.
plectrum: A mechanism inside a harpsichord or other stringed instrument that plucks the strings to produce sounds.
polyphonic: Sounding more than one musical tone at once.
prepared piano: A piano with the sound altered by placing objects such as screws, bolts, pillows, and so on between or on the strings.
presto: What a magician says; or very fast tempo.
rallentando: Gradually get slower but more than ritardando.
reggae: A musical style from Jamaica, emphasizing beats 2 and 4.
relative minor: Underage kinfolk; or a minor chord or scale related to a major chord or scale with the same tones.
rest: A musical beat without sound.
rhythm: The result of putting lots of beats together.
ritardando: Gradually get slower.
rubato: Freely, or an unsteady tempo at the player’s discretion.
sampler: Electric keyboard instrument that makes recordings, or “samples,” of sounds and assigns the resulting tones to appropriate keys.
scale: A specific sequence of musical tones, rising or falling in pitch, in accordance with a strict system of intervals.
sequencer: Device that records a stream of MIDI data to be played back.
Appendix A: Glossary of Musical Terms
sharp: What you hope your knives are; or a half step higher than natural pitch.
shuffle: What every dealer should do to a new deck of cards; or a rhythm marked by the feel of long-short, long-short; commonly found in blues, rock, and jazz music.
slash chord: Chord symbol indicating a specific bass note to play.
sostenuto: Literally means “sustain.” Also the middle pedal on a piano that sustains a specific note, or group of notes, allowing the player to play successive notes without sustain.
staccato: Literally means “detached.” An articulation indicated by a dot under or above the note, telling the player to give that note less than its full rhythmic value.
staff: A hard-working team of employees; or a set of five lines and four spaces on which musical notes are written.
stem: Flower part; or the vertical line extending from a notehead.
subito: Literally means “suddenly;” used with a dynamic or tempo change, such as subito piano or subito allegro.
swing: Frequent act performed by a golfer; or a rhythm similar to shuffle where two eighth notes are played as a quarter-eighth triplet.
syncopation: Playing off the beat. Rhythm that emphasizes beats other than the downbeat.
synthesizer: Electric keyboard instrument that mimics other sounds by manipulating the shape of a sound wave.
tempo: Literally means “time;” more commonly referred to as musical speed.
tenuto: Literally means “held.” An articulation indicated by a short line under or above the notehead, telling the player to give that note its full rhythmic value and then some.
tie: Common gift for dads, uncles, and bosses; or a curved line connecting two notes, telling the player to hold the tone for the combined rhythmic value of both notes.
time signature: Two numbers placed on the music staff to indicate the meter.
312 Piano For Dummies
tone: A sound, whether musical or other, with pitch; the opposite of noise.
transposition: Changing a piece of music from one key to another.
treble clef: Symbol placed on the second line of the staff designating that line to be the tone G above middle C.
tremolo: Musical effect created by rapidly alternating between two notes separated by more than a 2nd interval.
trill: Musical effect created by rapidly alternating between two notes of close proximity.
tuning: Correcting the pitch of a piano string or other acoustic instrument, vivace: Lively and quick.
voicing: Giving your opinion; or the vertical arrangement of notes in a chord.
waltz time: The point in the festivities when everyone dances; or 3/4 meter.
whole step: Two half steps; also known as a major second interval.
xylophone: Percussion instrument that looks like a keyboard but is played with mallets. (Hey, I needed an “x” on this list.)
yodel: A type of singing, originally from Switzerland, where the voice jumps between natural and very high-pitched (falsetto) tones.
zapateado: A Spanish dance in triple meter, characterized by rhythmic heel stamping. (What’s a glossary without a “z?”)
About the CD
rhe audio CD that comes with this book features all of the great songs you play in Piano For Dummies. I recorded most of the songs with a piano sound. (How appropriate.) But give the CD a whirl, and you also hear some surprises.
That’s right. Many of the CD tracks use various synthesizer sounds to create the illusion of a band or orchestra playing along with you. But you can still hear the keyboard part loud and clear above the rest of the music.
Each CD track is preceded by one full measure of “clicks.” These clicks tell you how fast to play and help you synchronize with the recording. Think of the clicks as your own personal drummer counting off the beats of the song for you.