Music Terms

Basic Music Terms to Know

Below are very technical and scientific definitions of music theory. (#sarcasm)

Pitch – The note you’re singing.

Sharp – A half step higher than the base note.

Flat – A half step lower than the base note.

Octave – There are 7 named notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) in a scale, then they repeat. Every time they repeat, it’s a new octave. Octaves are numbered. So, any two “C” notes will match each other, but a C1 will sound lower than a C3.

Chord – a combination of pitches played together.

Scale – a series of pitches in a particular order. (The “Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do” you may have learned is a “major scale.” There are many more types of scales, however.)

Interval – the “distance” between notes. The interval between Do-Re is smaller than the interval between Do-So.

Key/“Transpose” – honestly, a “key” is pretty hard to describe. What you should know is that a song can be “transposed” to a different “key.” Transposing a song to a higher key means you’re going to sing that song higher; transposing to a lower key means you’ll sing that song lower.

Dynamics – refers to the loudness or softness of music.

  • Piano = quiet
  • Forte = loud
  • Mezzo piano = medium quiet
  • Mezzo forte = medium loud
  • Crescendo = get louder
  • Decrescendo = get quieter

Again, these are the most basic definitions possible. If the above is confusing or if you just want to learn more about music theory, definitely search Google or YouTube for something more thorough. I personally like https://www.musictheory.net/lessons . (We don’t have any affiliation with them, I just like the way they explain things.)