Wikipedia:WikiProject Music terminology

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Wikipedia:WikiProject Music

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music)

There are a lot of different schools of thought about how to speak about music, see: music theory, musical analysis, musicology, and chord symbols.

Through the course of putting together the Wikipedia, it has become apparent to several contributors that quite often we do not mean the same things when we say the same words, or even worse, we will use different words for (and create different articles about) the same things.

This page has been created, therefore, as a way to standardize the terminology used in the Wikipedia with reference to music. It is understood that this is not an attempt to in any way elevate one usage or system over another, but rather to simply establish a set of standards for talking about these things so that we all know what we mean when we say a certain word, and so that all articles will use a consistent form of symbolic analysis.

Hopefully, in time, this page will accumulate a glossary of terms which can serve as a standard for the authorship of articles relating to music and particularly music theory.


Description of single notes

  • Note vs. pitch vs. frequency: A note is written on a page, or understood in a larger musical context, including a rhythmic value; a tone is a pitch, typically in relation to a scale and without rhythmic specification; a pitch is an auditory frequency; a frequency is an acoustic phenomenon, for example, with respect to harmonics. Sound can be pitched or unpitched (such as a clap).
  • Duration describes the absolute time of a note (measure, piece, etc.), note value the relative time as indicated by the written notation, rhythm a pattern of durations or note values.
  • Timbre refers to the quality of a sound, in particular, as related its fundamental and overtones.
  • intensity or dynamics preferred over volume unless referring to electronically amplified music.

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