Dictionary of Musical Terms

These are the musical terms used on this website. You will probably notice that most musical language dates back as long as the Western culture — to the Greek and Latin speaking people of the northern Mediterranean — often repurposed or modified in Europe’s Medieval period, when Latin — the language of the Church and of learning — . 

Equal temperament a system of tuning in which every pair of adjacent pitches is separated by the same interval: The pitches of an equal temperament can be produced by repeating a generating interval.

Just Intonation any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by ratios of small whole numbers: The two notes in any just interval are members of the same harmonic series. Just Intonation, also called ‘pure temperament,’ can be contrasted with ‘equal temperament.’

Octave a series of eight notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes, one having twice or half the frequency of vibration of the other [< Latin octava dies eighth day < Middle English octaveii]

Temperament a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals (adjusting the pitch) of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system: Most instruments in modern Western music are tuned in the equal temperament system. [< Latin particular mixture]




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