How Well Do You Know Basic Music Terminology?


By: Becky

5 Min Quiz

Image: South_agency/ E+/gettyimages

About This Quiz

Did you spend the majority of your school years practicing a musical instrument? Do you remember all of the terminology you had to learn to be able to play music properly? If neither of these descriptions fits you, maybe you are just someone who has picked up a lot of musical terminology along the road of life. It doesn't matter how you came to learn music terminology, but you'll definitely need at least a little knowledge of it to ace this quiz. Let's get started to find out if you know as much as you think you do.

Just like any pursuit, music comes with its own set of vocabulary words. Some of this terminology is relatively obvious, but some of it is so difficult you will need at least some knowledge of music to be able to answer the questions properly. We've compiled a list of 35 of the most common music terms for you to work your way through, to find out if you know the basics of music. Anyone who has played music professionally had to learn these terms at some point, and these terms guide musicians as they play for the rest of us.

Are you ready to test your music terminology knowledge?

What is the musical word that tells musicians to slow down the pace?

Adagio is a musical term that means to slow down the pace. The word can also be used in dance.


Do you know what word means "to put emphasis on"?

The word "accent" is a musical term for emphasis. This word was originally used to describe speech, but it works well to describe music as well.


Which word means "a moderate or walking pace"?

Andante is an Italian word for a moderate or walking pace. When you see this word, you are to play the music at a medium pace.


Which of the following describes a rhythm pattern?

Even a non-music major knows that the word beat indicates a rhythm or pattern. The word "beat," used in this way, is a noun.


What word means "an elaborate solo"?

It's also the name of a car made by Kia. A cadenza is a solo that is not always in the score of the music, but is often a spur of the moment thing.


Which of the following means "written for voices"?

Chorale refers to music that was written for voices. The words "choir" and "chorus" are similar to chorale, and many people refer to a choir as a chorale.


What word describes playing two or more notes at the same time"?

A chord is the playing of two or more notes at the same time. In singing, this may refer to a harmony of voices.


Which word means "swelling in sound"?

"Crescendo" is an Italian word that means to swell in sound - as in get louder. A crescendo often occurs before a drop in sound, or silence.


"Sweet and delicate" can be described using what word?

"Dolce" is an Italian word that means sweet and delicate. The word can also be used in cooking to refer to a dessert.


What is the musical term for a group?

"Ensemble" is a word that is used to describe a musical group. Many musical terms are Italian, but this one is French.


What musical terms tells you to hold a note for a long time?

"Fermata" is an Italian word. The symbol for fermata tells a musician to hold the note longer than they would normally.


Which term means to lower a note one half step?

Lowering a note one half step makes the note flat. There is a special symbol for flat that musicians understand and read to tell them what to do.


How would you say "loud and strong" in music-speak?

"Forte" is an Italian word that means loud and strong. Musical passages are sometimes marked to be played this way to add emphasis.


What musical terms means louder than forte?

Fortissimo is an Italian word that means very loud. The symbol for fortissimo is "ff."


Blending pitches can be described by which of the following words?

Harmony is the blending of pitches. This word stems from a Greek word that means "join together."


What musical term describes a set of related pitches?

A key is a set of related pitches or notes. Most musical arrangements are written in one key.


Which word means "between largo and andante"?

"Larghetto" is an Italian word used in music to indicate that the music should be a bit faster than largo, but a tad slower than andante. Technically, the word means "moderately slow."


What musical term means "slowly"?

"Largo" is an Italian word that means "slowly." The word means "broadly."


What is another word for bar?

Sure, a pub is a bar, but we're looking for musical terms here. A measure is a timed collection of notes.


Which term describes a short melody?

Scores and operas are typically not short. A motif is identifiable as a musical passage, but it tends to be quite short.


Very fast can be described using which of the following words?

This musical term combines two Italian words. The word "molto" means "very," and the word "vivace" means "fast."


One of many units within a symphony is what?

A movement is a word that, used in music, refers to a portion of a symphony. Each movement can stand on its own.


The symbol that represents a sound in music is called what?

A note is a musical term for a sound. Notes also represent how long each sound lasts.


What is the term for a group of eight tones?

An octave is a group of eight notes. There are eight steps from the lowest note to the highest one, hence the name.


A work of music is defined as what?

An opus is a work of art, music, or some other endeavor. For some artists, the opus is the pinnacle of their work.


Which of the following is an Italian word for soft?

"Piano" is an Italian word for soft or low. Yeah, we know it's also a musical instrument. That's why you need to be familiar with musical terminology to ace this quiz.


Softer than soft is defined by what word?

"Pianissimo" is an Italian word that means softer than soft. The musical term for soft is "piano." So technically it's pianissimo, then piano. Confused?


How high or low a note is would be referred to as what?

Pitch relates to how high or low a note sounds. This has nothing to do with baseball.


Which musical term means "additional"?

"Piu" is another word for "additional" or "more." Piu can be placed in front of other musical terms to clarify them. For instance, "piu forte" would mean more loud, or louder.


What is an Italian word for "always" that is used in music?

"Sempre" is an Italian word for "always." Used together with other words, this word adds meaning. For instance, "sempre forte" would mean "always loud," indicating that the music should always be played loud.


In music, we indicate emphasis with what word?

"Sforzando" is an Italian word that means with emphasis or force. This word stems from the Italian word "sforzare," which means to show force.


Which word means "alone"?

Solo means alone in just about any terminology. However, in music, a solo is a noun, meaning a piece of music that is played by only one musician.


The "speed" of music is referred to as it's what?

"Tempo" is a word that indicates the speed of a musical work. Tempo is actually an Italian word that means "time."


Which word describes the most important part of the music?

The theme of the music is considered the most important part. The theme helps the listener understand the music. There is not always only one theme in a piece; there may be many.


Two half steps equals which of the following?

A step is made up of two half steps. More than two half steps, or more than a step, is referred to as a leap.


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