How Well Do You Know Basic Music Terms?

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About This Quiz

Words can't truly describe music. It seems to surpass language. And yet, we still have to describe it somehow! In this quiz, we'll test your knowledge of basic music terminology. Start tuning your instruments.

An accent is like a ______.

An accent is an emphasis in the music, similar to a punch. The accent comes at the beginning of a musical sound.

The adagio is _____.

The adagio is a slow tempo or speed. It's an Italian word, and a popular example is "Mozart's Adagio."

A cadenza is _______.

A cadenza is a solo piece, which means that it is played alone. A cadenza can also be a solo in an orchestra, or just a group of instruments.

A fanfare is played as ______.

A fanfare is a musical piece that serves as an announcement. It's often played by a brass section of an orchestra or by a trumpet.

What is an ensemble?

Ensemble basically has two meanings. It's both a noun and an adjective. But the most traditional meaning is a group of musicians playing together as an ensemble.

What is ♭?

♭ is the symbol for flat. It can be added to any note to lower it by a half-step. For example, you can play D♭.

How many symphony orchestras are in the U.S.?

There are well over 1,000 symphony orchestras in the U.S. Some of these have a 52-week performing schedule each year.

A harmony is ______.

A harmony is quite pleasing to the ear. It's the simultaneous combination of pitches which are blended into chords.

Instrumentation is _____ .

Instrumentation is the same as orchestration. It is the way in which a composer assigns musical sounds to specific instruments.

How many sections of instruments are in an orchestra?

There are four sections of instruments in a traditional orchestra. These are woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings.

A key is a group of _____.

A key is a group of pitches, and these are based on a particular tonic. These pitches comprise a scale, and this is the tonal basis for a piece of music.

Largo is _____.

Largo is an Italian term meaning wide or broad. It's a music tempo marking that means something should be played slowly.

A movement is a _____ unit within a symphony.

A movement is a large unit within a concerto or symphony. A movement can have many themes and musical ideas.

Notes are _____.

Simply put, notes are symbols that represent sounds. Notes also represent the duration of those sounds.

Which are brighter?

Major chords and scales have a brighter, cheerier sound. For your wedding, choose a song in a major key.

Which is darker?

Minor chords and scales have a darker, sadder sound to them. Music in a minor key could be the proper selection for a funeral.

Piano means ____.

The word "piano" basically refers to all of the above. It's an instrument, but it's also a term for playing gently and softly.

♯ is a _____ .

♯ is the symbol for sharp. It is added to a note to raise it by a half step.

Jumping from C to D is a _____.

Jumping from C to D is a whole step. It's also possible to take a half step.

Tempo is the _____ of music.

Tempo refers to the rate of speed of music. There are many different tempos that you can play.

A piece of music has _____ theme.

A piece of music can have one or several themes. It's the most important melody in a musical work.

Andante is a _____ pace.

Andante is referred to as a walking tempo or pace. That means that it is moderate in speed.

A bar is also referred to as a ______.

A bar is also referred to as a measure. It's a specific number of musical sounds that are organized within a measure.

The beat is also referred to as the _____.

The beat is the pulse of the music. It's a regular pattern within a bar or measure.

A chord is comprised of _____ pitches.

A chord is comprised of two or more notes or pitches. These are sounded simultaneously.

Crescendo is a _____ sound.

Crescendo refers to a swelling or growing sound. It can also refer to a sound that grows in volume.

Decrescendo is also called ______.

Decrescendo is also referred to as diminuendo. It refers to a sound getting softer.

The downbeat is the _____ beat in a measure.

The downbeat is the first beat in a measure. It is conducted by the leader of the ensemble.

Forte refers to ______.

Forte is the Italian word for loud or strong. Fortissimo is even louder than forte.

The measure is the measurement of _____ in music.

The measure is the measurement of time in music. It contains a specific number of pulses defined by a time signature.

The melody is _____ identifiable.

The melody of the music is easily identifiable. It's usually easy to remember the melody of a song.

A motif is _____ the melody.

The motif of a piece of music is shorter than the melody. Yet still, it's an identifiable succession of musical sounds.

An octave is a series of _____ steps.

An octave is a series of eight steps. In major and minor scales, these eight steps consist of whole steps and half steps.

Opus is _____.

Opus is a Latin word meaning "work." Work numbers are assigned by the composer.

The pitch is the ____ of a note.

Pitch refers to the frequency of a note. This determines how high or low it sounds.

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