Semester 1 Final Exam Study Guide

General Terms

Accidental – sharp, flat or natural sign found in the music but not in the key signature

Animato – full of life, animated

Arpeggio – a broken chord, to play the notes of a chord one after the other

Bar Line – the line drawn through the staff to mark off the measures

Cantabile – to be played in a singing style

Cesura (//) – complete break in the music (sometimes called “railroad tracks”)

Chromatic Scale – a scale made up of only consecutive ½ steps intervals

Clef – symbol used to indicate the instrument that will play the part due to its’ range

Coda– an added ending to a piece

Coda Sign – symbol used to direct you to the coda

D.C. al Fine – go back to the beginning and play to the “Fine”

Decrescendo/ Diminuendo – gradually get softer

Divisi (div.) – divide the part, usually inside/outside players

Divisi a tre/Divisi a3 – divide the part into three parts, usually by stand

Dolce – play “sweetly”

Double Bar Line – marks the end of the piece

D.S. (dal Segno) – back to the sign

D.S. al Fine – back to the sign and play to the “Fine”

D.S. al Coda – back to the sign and play to the “Coda”

Duet – Piece for two instruments

Enharmonics – notes that sound the same but have different letter names (ex.: C# = D flat)

Espressivo – Expressively.

Fermata  – instructs performer to hold the given note or rest

Glissando – slide the finger on the string between notes marked for effect

Grazioso – graceful.

Harmonic Minor Scale – minor scale with raised 7th scale degree ascending & descending

Key Signature – the sharps or flats found at the beginning of the staff

Ledger Line – short line(s) placed above or below the staff to extend the staff’s range

Measures – units of music; bar lines divide staff into measures

Melodic Minor Scale – minor scale with raised 6th & 7th scale degree ascending and then lowered back down to natural minor descending

Meno – Less

Molto – Much

Morendo – to gradually die away to nothing (inaudible)

Natural Minor Scale – only minor scale without alterations; built from major scale, starting on 6th scale degree

Octave – distance between two notes with same letter name eight letter names apart Piano (p)- play softly

Pit Orchestra – group used to accompany musicals, operas, etc.

Piu – More

Poco a poco – Little by little

Quartet – four ‘solo’ players; Most popular string chamber group

Repeat Sign – go back and play previous section again

Rests – notation used to show periods of silence

Sempre – “Always.” “Still.”

Senza – Without

Simile – to continue in the same manner

Soli – entire section plays an important “solo” part

Solo – only one person plays

Sostenuto – “Sustained.” A direction to sustain the tone

Staff – the five lines and four spaces in which music is written

Trio – three ‘solo’ players

Tutti – all of the section plays, usually found after a solo

Tranquillo – “Calm”

Unison – marking used to indicate that the divisi is over, all play the same part

8va – play an octave higher (if above notes)

8vb – play an octave lower than written

Articulation & Dynamic Terms

Accent – Extra emphasis placed on a note or chord. (>)

Crescendo (<)- gradually get louder

Detaché – separate, broad bow strokes, but not staccato (or short)

Diminuendo (dim.) – Get softer; same as decrescendo

Forte (f)- play loud;  literally means “strong”

Fortissimo (ff)- play very loud

Marcato – Marked, emphatic. Dr. Laux says “Military Staccato”

Mezzo Forte (mf)- play medium loud

Mezzo Piano (mp)- play medium soft

Piano ( p ) – Soft

Pianissimo (pp)- play very softly

Sforzando (sfz)- with sudden emphasis

Staccato – short, separated articulation/on the string

Tenuto – dash under or above a note indicating the note should be played long

Bowing and String-Specific Terms

Arco – played with the bow

Col Legno – to be played with the wood of the bow

Con Sordino – with mute

Double Stops – play two notes at once

Hooked bowing – two or more notes under a slur, with each note’s beginning resulting from a stopped bow stroke

Left-hand pizzicato – plucking a string with one of the fingers of the left hand, usually either the index or 4th finger.

Legato – play smoothly/connected

Louré – also called portato, indicated by a combination of slur and dots, the notes are to be smoothly detached.

Martele – detached and strongly accented bow stroke: “hammered”

Piqué– a collé bowing starting from the string (see collé bowing, under “off-the-string bow strokes”), with fingers providing all of the movement.

Pizzicato – pluck the strings/Using a (+) above or below note means to use left hand pizzicato

Senza Sordino – without the mute/take mute off

Slur – curved line that connects two or more different notes on the same bow stroke

Staccato – detached or spaced; does not mean “short”

Spiccato – bounce the bow at the balance point

Sul G– playing solely on the G string, with left hand adjusting position to produce all notes

Sul Tasto – to be played over the fingerboard

Sul Ponticello – to be played near the bridge

Tie – curved line that connects two or more notes of the same pitch on a single bow stroke

Tremolo – rapid unmeasured movement of the bow for effect (3 slashes across the stem)

Trill ( tr ) – An ornament consisting of the rapid alternation of a note with the note a second above.

Vibrato – a wavering of the tonal center

Tempo Terms

A tempo – Back to original tempo. Restores the normal tempo of a piece after it has been interrupted.

Accelerando– to gradually get faster

Allargando – “Getting broader.”

Allegro – fast tempo, quick and lively

Andante – moderate “walking” tempo

Adagio – slow tempo

Largo – very slow tempo

Moderato – moderate speed/tempo

Presto – play very fast

Ritard or ritardando – slow down

Stringendo – gradually get faster to the end of the piece

Tempo – the rate of speed of a piece

Vivace – lively and quick tempo

Rhythm & Time Signature Terms

Hemiola – two groups of three beats are replaced by three groups of two beats, an effect of a shift between triple and duple meter

Common Time (C)- a shorthand version of the 4/4 time signature

Cut Time (C)- shorthand version of the 2/2 time signature

Subdivision – the breaking down of the primary beat into its’ component parts

Syncopation– placing the emphasis on a normally weak part of the beat

Time Signature– numbers indicating number of beats per measure/kind of note that gets the beat

Key Signatures

Order of Sharps:  F, C, G, D, A, E, B

Order of Flats:  B, E, A, D, G, C, F   (The order of #’s backwards)

  • C Major = 0 sharp/0 flat

Sharp Keys:

  • G Major = 1 sharp; F#
  • D Major = 2 sharps; F#, C#
  • A Major = 3 sharps; F#, C#, G#
  • E Major = 4 sharps; F#, C#, G#, D#
  • B Major = 5 sharps; F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
  • F# Major = 6 sharps; F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#
  • C# Major = 7 sharps; F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

Flat Keys:

  • F Major = 1 flat; Bb
  • Bb Major = 2 flat; Bb, Eb
  • Eb Major = 3 flat; Bb, Eb, Ab
  • Ab Major = 4 flat; Bb, Eb, Ab, Db
  • Db Major = 5 flat; Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb
  • Gb Major = 6 flat; Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb
  • Cb Major = 6 flat; Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb

To find a RELATIVE minor key from major:  Go down 3 half steps.  Example:  C Major => A minor.  These keys have the SAME key signature.

PARALLEL major/minor share the same root note (Example:  C Major and C minor).  They don’t have the same key signature, just the same starting note.

Music History Terms

  • Renaissance Period – 1430-1650 (Pachelbel)
  • Baroque Period – 1600-1750 (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi) Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti 1-6!
  • Classical Period – 1750-1820 (Mozart, early Beethoven)/Classical Symphony was standardized with 4 movements. Simplistic.
  • Romantic Period – 1820-1900 (late Beethoven, Tchaikovsky); known for its’ explosion of Russian composers; emphasis on ‘feelings’
  • 20th Century Period – 1900 to present (also called ‘Contemporary/Modern’)/John Williams


  • Unison (Perfect Unison)
  • Minor 2nd – half step
  • Major 2nd – whole step
  • Minor 3rd – one and a half steps
  • Major 3rd – two whole steps
  • Perfect 4th
  • Tritone (diminished 5th/Augmented 4th) (half an octave)
  • Perfect 5th
  • Minor 6th
  • Major 6th
  • Minor 7th
  • Major 7th
  • Octave (Perfect Octave)

The natural half steps are B – C and E – F.  On the piano, there is no black key in between these notes.

Finger Patterns (for violin & viola)

Finger Patterns Hand Posters

1-2, 2-3, 3-4, open (rarely used are spock and smooshie)

Elements of Sound Production – WASP2

  • Weight (pounds analogy)
  • Angle (tilt of bow hair; full, half, “one hair”)
  • Speed (MPH analogy)
  • Point of Contact 1 (on the string – 5 lanes for bow travel)
  • Point of Contact 2 (on the bow – from 0 (at frog) to 100 (at tip)


Root, 3rd, 5th (and sometimes 7th)

Example:  C major chord is C, E, G.   C minor Chord is C, E-flat, G.