Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Music Terminology

Definitions and translations of common terms you might encounter while searching for music or information about music

Resources for Music Terminology

Most music terms are actually Italian words, but books or scores published in Germany or France often include German and French words in addition to Italian terms.   "English" words may be derived from any of these languages.  The lists in this guide include words that are different enough from English to be difficult to guess.  Because these are technical terms, online translation services such as google may have the wrong definition.  Use the specialized resources below or in this guide to help you understand foreign terms.

Online Resources:

Reference Books in the Music Collection:

  • Dictionary of Terms in Music:  English -- German; German -- English
    ML 108 .W73 1992 
  • Practical Vocabulary of Music: English, German, Italian, French
    ML 108 .B59 2005
  • Musical Terminology: A Practical Compendium in Four Languages
    ML 108 .B55 1999