Music With Ease

Music with Ease > Music Dictionary > Words Beginning with "P"

Music Dictionary
-- P --

Padiglione (It.). The bell of wind instruments.
Padovana (It.), Padovane, or Paduane (Ger.). A Paduana, or Paduan. An old Italian dance in ternary time. Some think it the same as the Pavan, which, however, is in binary time.
Paean (Gk.). (1) A religious hymn in honour of some god, origin-ally of Apollo. (2) A song of rejoicing, of triumph.
Palco (It.). _ A stage.
Pandean pipe. A primitive wind instrument consisting of a series of tubes of graduated length fastened together.
Pandora, Pandura, Pandurina (lt.). Stringed instruments of
the cither kind played with a quill. Panflöte (Ger.). A Pandean pipe.
Panharmonikon. An automatic instrument, a kind of Orchestrion,
invented in 1800 by Mälzel of Vienna. Pantaleon, or Pantalon. An improved dulcimer invented by
Pantaleon Hebenstreit towards the end of the seventeenth

Pantomime. A theatrical representation in dumb show and dancing. A kind of ballet.
Pantalón (Fr.). The first figure and movement of a quadrille. Parallelbewegfung (Ger.). Parallel, or similar, motion. Parallelen (Ger.). The sliders in the organ.
Paralleltonart (Ger.). A parallel key. (v. Introduction, p. 10.)
Paraphrase. An arrangement of a vocal composition for instru-ments, or of an instrumental composition for other instruments than those for which it was originally written ; or, more generally, a brilliant show piece based on themes from some celebrated or popular work, and more appropriately named Fantasia or Variations.
Parfait (Fr.). Perfect.
Parlando, Parlante (It.). "Speaking." (l) As if speaking (2) More like speaking than singing.
Parte (It.). A part.
Partie (Fr.). A part.
Partimento (It.). A figured bass.—Partimenti, exercises in filling up a figured bass.
Partita (It.). (1) A variation. (2) A musical work consisting of a set of pieces, a kind of Suite. But whilst the Suite contains, with the exception of the opening movement, rarely anything but dances, the Partita contains often also other pieces. Further, the kind of dances introduced and their order of succession is not so regularly adhered to in Partite as in Suites, (v. Suite.)
Partition (Fr.), Partitur (Ger.), Partitura (It.). A score.
Part-song. In its widest sense, any song-like vocal composition, with or without accompaniment, for more than one voice. Ir. the more restricted and generally accepted sense, an unaccom-panied choral composition in at least three parts.
Pas (Fr.). A step. (1) Pas redouble, a quick step. (v. March.) (2) A dance performed by one or more principal dancers. —Pas seul, a dance executed by one performer; pas de deux, pas de trois, a dance executed by two, three, performers.
Passacaglia, or Passacaglio (It.), Passecaille (Fr.). An
old dance generally in f time, and constructed on a ground bass.
It was somewhat quicker and less stately than the Chaconne,
which dance it resembled. Passage. (1) A part or portion of a piece. (2) A run or uthei
series of quick notes. Passaggio (It.). A passage. Passecaille (Fr.). v. Passacaglia.
PassamezZO (It.). An old Iia'ian dance in binary time and ol
moderate movement. Passepied (Fr.). An animated old French dance in f or | time. Passing notes. Notes not belonging to the harmony which pass
uy diatonic or chromatic degrees from one to another harmonic


Passionatamente (It.)- Passionately, in an impassioned mannei. Passionato (It.). Passionate, impassioned, Passione (It. ). Passion.
Pasticcio (It.), Pastiche (Fr.). Lit., "a pie." A medley; a work composed by several composers, or consisting of pieces taken from different works of one or more composers.
Pastoral. Lit., " a shepherd's piece." Musically the word signifie» three things : (i) A simple composition, idyllic in character, moderate in movement, and in compound ternary time (usually in f )o (2) A composition descriptive of pastoral scenes, life, and manners. (3) A rustic, an idyllic opera. To this may be added as (4) a pastoral dance.
Pastorale (It. and Fr.). A pastoral.
Pastorelle (Fr.). A little pastoral.
Pastourelle (Fr.). One of the figures and movements of the quadrille.
Pateticamente (It.). Pathetically.
Patetico (It.), Pathétique (Fr.). Pathetic, passionate.
Pathétiquement (Fr. ). Pathetically, passionately.
Patimento (It.). Suffering, grief, affliction.
Pauke (Cier.). Kettle-drum.—Pauktn is the plural.
Pausa (It.), Pause (Fr. and Ger.). A rest In French the term pause is applied especially to a bar rest.
Pavana (It.), Pavane (Fr.). A Pavan, or Pavin, an old grave, stately dance in binary time and of uncertain origin.
Paventato, Paventoso (It.). Afraid, fearful.
Pavilion (Fr. ). The bell of wind instruments.—Pavillon chinois, % crescent, the same as Chapeau chinois.
Pedal. A key or lever acted on by the foot, a contrivance by which a player communicates with the internal mechanism of an instru-ment. The most important instruments with pedals are the organ, pianoforte, and harp. ( 1 ) Most organs have as many as three kinds of pedals: (a) the pedals (in the restricted sense and par excellence), the keyboard played on with the feet, which is generally in con-nection with special ranks of pipes, but in very small organs merely with the bass keys of the manual ; (b) the :omposi/iam pedals, keys placed above the pedals just described, by means of which groups of stops are thrown out or drawn in ; (c) the swell pedal, a treadle on the right of the player which serves to open and close the shutters of the swell organ. (2) Leaving out of account obsolete and little used pedals, we may say that the
ianoforte has two pedals—namely, the loud and the soft pedaL y the former the dampers are raised, and the sound of trie strings struck is allowed to continue unchecked, and to become reinforced by the sympathetic resonance of other strings ; by the latter the hammer mechanism is generally shifted sideways, so that instead of two or three unison strings only one or two are struck ; where the hammers are not shifted the force of their

Impact is reduced. (3) The pedals of the harp raise the pitch of certain strings, and thus change the scale of this diatonic instrument. Each of the seven pedals of the single action harp raises in all the octaves one note a semitone ; each of the seven pedals of the double-action harp raises in all the octaves one note either a semitone or two semitones. (4) Another meaning of pedal is explained under Pedal-point.
Pedalclaves (Ger.). Pedal keys, pedals.
PedalclaviatUT (Ger.). Pedal keyboard.
Pedale (It. ), Pédale (Fr. ). A pedal.
Pedalflùgel (Ger.). A grand pianoforte with a pedal keyboard attached to it.
Pédalier (Fr.). (1) A pedal keyboard, without a separate set of strings, attached to a pianoforte. (2) An instrument which consists of a pedal keyboard and a corresponding set of bass strings, and is intended to be used with a pianoforte. Its inven-tion is due to MM. Pleyel, Wolff, and Cie., of Paris.
Pedaliera (It.). The pedals of an instrument.
Pedal-point. A sustained bass note above which other parts move and form a variety of harmonies. Pedal-points on the tonic and dominant (the first and fifth degrees of a scale) are the most common. Similar sustained notes in the upper parts are more properly called Holding Notes, although they, too, receive sometimes the name Pedal-point, (v. Double pedal-point.)
Pentachord. A series of five diatonic degrees.
Pentatonic scale. A scale of five degrees—for instance, a d d e' g1.
Pentatonon (Gk.). An interval of five tones.
Per (Lat. ). By, through.—Per augmentationem, by augmentation ;
per diminutionem, by diminution. Per (It.). For, by, from.—Per Porgano, for the organ ; per il jlauto
solo, for the flute alone. PerdendO, or Perdendosi (It.). Dying away. Strictly speak-o ing, the meaning of the word is no more than " diminishing in a loudness," but it .has been and is used in a sense including a slackening of the speed of the movement. Perfetto (It.). Perfect.

Périgourdine (Fr.). An old French dance in f time. Period, v. Introduction, § XIII., p. 27, &c. Perpetuo (It.). Perpetual, (v. Canone.) Pesante (It.). Heavy, weighty. With a ponderous emphasi». Petto (It.). The chest. — Voce di petto, the chest-voice. Pezzi COncertanti (It.). Concerted pieces. Pezzo (It.). A piece.—Pezzi is the plural. Pfeife (Ger.). A pipe ; a fife.—Orgelpfeifen, organ pipes. Phantasie (Ger. ). (1) A fantasia. (2) Imagination. Phantasiebilder (Ger.). Pictures of the imagination. Phantasiestùcke (Ger.). Lit., "phanusy pieces. " This title, now so often to be met with, does not indicate a distinctive form.


Philharmonic. Music-loving. Phone (Gk.). Sound, tone, voice.
Phonometre (Fr.). An instrument for measuring sound. Phrase, v. Introduction, § XIII., p. 27, &c.
Phrasing. The proper articulation and accentuation of musical thoughts (of periods and their subdivisions, phrases, sections, motives, &c.); it is in music what stops and the raising and lowering of the voice are in speaking and reading, {v. Introduction, § XL, pp. 26 and 27, and § XIII., p. 27, &c.)
Phrygian. (1) In the ancient Greek system, the name of the octave species defgabcd, and of one of the transposition scales. (2) In the ecclesiastical system, the name of the octave species 7~f ga~lTc~d~e, the third (second authentic) mode.
Physharmonika. A wind instrument with keyboard and bellows the sounds of which are produced by the vibration of metal tongues. It was constructed by Anton Häckel in 1818.
Piacere (It.). Pleasure.—A piacere, at pleasure.
Piacevole (It.). Pleasing.
Piacevolmente (It.). Pleasingly.
Piacimento (It.). Pleasure.—Apiadmen/o, at pleasure.
Pianette. A low upright pianoforte.
Piangendo (It.). Wailing, lamenting, weeping.
Piangevole (It.). Tearful, plaintive.
PiangeVOlmente (It.). Tearfully, plaintively.
Pianino. An upright pianoforte. Pianino is a diminutive of piano.
Pianissimo (It.) Very soft.
Piano (It). (1) Soft. (2) In France the name of the pianoforte, and also in this country used as such.
Piano ä Claviers renverses (Fr.). This is a double grand piano with two keyboards, one above the other, the ascending scale of the upper one running from the right to the left.
Piano a queue (Fr.). A grand pianoforte.
Piano Carre (Fr.). A square pianoforte.
Piano droit (Fr.). An upright pianoforte.
Pianoforte. This stringed instrument with keyboard is distin-guished from the older instruments of this class—such as the harpsichord, spinet, and clavichord—by its hammer mechanism. Formerly the German Schröter was credited by most writers on the subject with having in 1717 invented the hammer mechanism, but now it is ascertained that the Italian Cristofon, a harpsichord maker of Florence, was the first inventor, for a hammer mechan-ism of his was described in an Italian publication as early as 1711. The action of the pianoforte is too complicated and too varied to be here explained in detail. Suffice it to say that by striking a key not only a hammer is thrust against a string (or rather against two or three strings tuned in unison), but also a damper is raised above the strings, the damper falling down again and checking the vibration when the finger is lifted from
the key. The pressing down of the loud pedal raises all the dampers simultaneously. This has two effects : the strings struck continue sounding whether the linger is taken off the key or not, and their vibrations awaken the sympathetic resonance of many other strings—i.e., cause these to vibrate with them harmoniously. These facts should be kept in mind when using the loud pedal ; it would save the world an infinitude of cacophony. (v. I'edal. ) The strings, which are fastened at one end to the hitch-pins and at the other end to the wrest-pins, are stretched over the sound-board, which reinforces their vibrations. These latter are transmitted to it by the bridge on which the strings rest, and which itself rests on the sound-board. In the course of this century the compass of the pianoforte has been gradually extended to and even beyond seven octaves (from Au to a""). Piatti (It.). Cymbals.
Pibroch.. A wild kind of music, difficult to describe, which the Scottish Highlanders play on the bagpipe. It is a series of variations based on a theme called the urlar, and is intended to rouse or calm the passions of the hearers. Oftenest it is martial in character, but it may be a dirge as well as a challenge or a song of triumph.
Picchettato, or Picchiettato (It.). Detached. This expression indicates the kind of staccalo which on bow stringed instruments is executed in one bow-stroke by means of slight movements of the wrist. The picchettato is marked by dots and a slur below or above them. See also Pique1.
Piccolo (It.). Small. It occurs in connection with many words— for instance, violino piccolo, the smallest kind of violin. Stand-ing by itself it signifies: (i) Octave flute, the small flute an octave higher than the ordinary one,Jlauto being understood; or (2) a low upright pianoforte, this last word being under-stood.
Pièce (Fr. ). A piece.—Suite de pieces, a set of pieces. Pieno (It.). Full. Coro pieno, full chorus; organo pieno, full organ.
Pietoso (It.). (1) Pitiful, compassionate. (2) Pious, devout. Pifieraro (It.). A piffero player. Piflcrari is the plural. Pifferino (It.). A small piffero. Piffero (It.). A small flute, a fife.
Pince (Fr.). (1) The ornament called a mordent, (v. Introduction, § XIV., pp. 46 and 47.)—Pinci" Houffé, an acciaccatura, (v. 2 of Acciaccatura.) (2) Lit., "pinched." Plucked,pizzicato (q.v.).
Piqué (Fr.). Distinctly, sharply detached. See also Picchettato.
Piquiren (Ger. ). Synonymous with the infinitives piquer and picchettare, {v. Picchettato.)
Pit*ton. A kind of valve used in brass instruments, such as the horn, trumpet, cornet à pistons, &c, for the purpose of altering the 1 itch. {v. Valve.)

Pitch. Degree of gravity or acuteness of any sound.
Più (It.). More.—Più allegro, quicker ; più mosso, more animated.
Piva (It.), (i) A bagpipe. (2) A composition imitating the style
of bagpipe music. Placidamente (It.). Placidly, quietly. Placido (It.). Placid, quiet.
Placai, v. Authentic modes, Church modes, and Cadence.
Plain-Chant, or Plain-Song. The name of the old ecclesiastical music, which is not subject to strict rules of time, but obeys solely the dictates of the word-accent. This is what distinguishes the , an/us planus, plain-song, from the cani us mensurabilis, mensur-able song. For further information consult articles Gregorian Chant and Church modes.
Plainte (Fr.). A lament.
Plaisanterie (Fr.). A light drawing-room piece. This now obsolete term is synonymous with amusement and divertisse-ment.
Plectra (Lat.). The plural of plectrum.
Plectrum (Lat.). A quill or a small piece of ivory or some other hard substance with which many stringed instruments used to be played. Now the instruments thus played are not very numerous.
Plein jeu (Fr.). The full power of the organ or harmonium.
Plus (Fr.). More.—Plus lent, slower ; plus vite, quicker.
Pocchissimo (It.). A very little.
Pochette (Fr.). A small pocket fiddle, a kit.
Pochettino and Pochetto (It.). Diminutives of poco.
Poco (It.). A little.—Poco a poco, little by little ; poco allegro, somewhat quick ; poco forte, somewhat loud ; poco meno allegro, somewhat less quick ; poco più lento, somewhat slower.
Poggiato (It-). " Leant upon."
Pol (It.). Then, after.—Da capo al segno poi segue la coda, from the
beginning to the sign and then follows the coda. Point (Fr.). A dot.*
Point d'arrêt (Fr. ). The sign rT\ placed above a rest, which it
prolongs indefinitely. A pause. Point d'orgue (Fr.). (1) The sign /C\ placed above a note, which
it prolongs indefinitely. A pause. (2) A brilliant cadence
during the time of a pause. Point de repos (Fr.). A pause. Pointé (Fr.). Dotted. Point final (Fr.). The concluding pause.
Polacca (It.). A Polish dance, a Polonaise.—Alla Polacca, in the
style of a Polonaise. Polka. A modern dance of Bohemian origin in \ time and of
moderate movement. Polonaise (Fr. ). A chivalrous Polish dance in £ time and of
dignified but animated movement.
Polymorphous. Having many forms. An expression used in canon and counterpoint and applied to a musical phrase or theme that admits of various transformations, such as inversion, augmentation, and diminution.
Polyphony, (i) A simultaneous multiplicity of sounds. (2) Con-trapuntal style. This latter is the technical meaning of the word. Polyphonic and contrapuntal, homophonic and harmonic, are synonymous expressions, (v. Counterpoint, and Homophony.)
Pommer (Ger.). An obsolete family of instruments of the oboe kind. Its Italian name is Bombardo (g.v.).
Pomposamente (It.). Pompously, in a grandiose style.
Pomposo (It.). Pompous, grandiose.
PonderOSO (It.). Ponderous.
Ponticello (It.). The bridge of bow instruments.—Su!ponticello, on the bridge. This phrase indicates that the performer has in playing to keep his bow close to the bridge.
Pont-neuf (Fr.). Popular airs that are sung in the street. The name is derived from the well-known Paris bridge.
Portamento (It.). A "carrying" of the voice from one note to another. It is the highest perfection of legato. The word is chiefly used in connection with singing, but is also applicable to the playing of wind and bow stringed instruments.
Portando la voce (It.). Carrying the voice.—Portart la voce, to carry the voice. Portato, carried, (v. Portamento.)
Portatif (Fr. ), Portativ (Ger. ). A portative organ, a kind of organ formerly in use which was so small that it could be carried about.
Port de voix (Fr.). (i) Portamento (q.v.). (2) An ornament which is either simple or double, (». Introduction, pp. 48—51.)
Portée (Fr.). The stave.
Porter la Voix (Fr.). To carry the voice, (v. Portamento.) Posato(It.). Sedate. Posaune (Ger.). A trombone. Posément (Fr.). Sedately. Positif (Fr.). v. Positiv.
/Position. This word is used technically in two senses. (1) In connection with chords, {v. Introduction, § VIII., pp. 15 and 16.) And (2) in connection with stringed instruments—the first, or natural, position of the hand being that close to the nut ; the second position that in which the first finger occupies the place occupied in the first position by the second finger ; the third position that in which the first finger occupies the place occupied in the first position by the third finger ; and so on.
Positiv (Ger.). A positive, i.e., stationary, organ in distinction from a portative one. The term is applied (1) to a small, a chamber, organ, (2) to a choir organ—more especially to a smaller part of an organ standing in front of the principal part, and which, as it is generally at the back of the organist, the Germans call ilso Riickpositiv.


Possibile (It.). Possible.—// piti presto possibile, as quick as possible.
Posthorn (Ger. ). A small horn formerly used by postillions. Also
a small bugle. Posthumous. Published after the author's death. Postlude. An "after-piece," a concluding voluntary. Postludium (Lat. ). A postlude. Pot-pourri (Fr.). A medley of tunes.
Poule (Fr. ). The third figure and movement of the quadrille. Pousse (Fr.). This term signifies in music for bow stringed instru-ments "upbow." Prächtig (Ger.). In a splendid, pompous, magnificent manner. Präcis (Ger.). Exact. Praecentor (Lat.). Precentor.
Pralltriller (Ger. ). An inverted mordent, a short shake, (v. Intro-duction, p. 46.) Präludiren (Ger.). To prelude.
Precentor. The director of a choir or the leader of congregational singing.
Precipitatamente (It.). Precipitately. Precipitato (It.), Precipité (Fr.). Precipitate. Precipitoso (It.). Precipitous.
Precisione (It.). Precision.—Con precisione, with precision. Preciso (It.). Precise, exact.
Preghiera (It.). A prayer.
Prelude. Something played before the real performance or the main portion of the work to be executed begins. The term is used in the sense of " introduction " also in a wider sense, namely, as an introductory piece, an overture, to an opera, oratorio, &c. Originally preludes consisted only of a few preparatory chords, runs, and arpeggios.
Preludio (It.), Preludium (Lat.). A prelude.
Premier deSSUS (Fr.). First treble.
Première fois (Fr.). First time.
Preparation. A dissonance, or discord, is said to be prepared when the dissonant, or discordant, note has appeared in the preceding chord as a consonance. For instance, in the fol-lowing illustration the note marked with an asterisk is the preparation of the dissonant c of the next chord.


PreS8ante (It.)- Pressing, urging.
Prestant (Fr.). In French organs a stop of metal pipes of 4-feet pitch. Generally speaking the stop occurs of all kinds of pitch, the name being synonymous with the German Principal and the English Diapason.
Prestissimamente (It.). Very quickly.
Prestissimo (It.). "Very quick." This term indicates the quickest movement.
Presto (It.). Quick. Quicker than allegro. Presto assai (It.). Very quick.
Prick, pricked. The word pricked was formerly used in the senst of " written," as it were "dotted down." A Prick song was, in contradistinction to an extemporaneous performance, a discam (counterpoint) or division (variation) written down.
Prima (It.), v. Primo.
Prima donna (It.). The first female singer.
Prima vista (It.). At first sight.
Prima VOlta (It.). The first time.
Prime. (') The first note of a scale. (2) The interval formed by
two notes written on the same line or in the same space. Primo, m., Prima, f. (It.). First. — Tempo primo, first movement;
prima volta, first time. Primo UOmO (It.). The first male singer, the castrato. Principal. An organ stop of open metal pipes—on the manual of
4-feet, on the pedal of 8-feet pitch. Principal (Ger.), Principale (It.). (1) Principal, and principal
part. (2) The name of the foundation stops of the organ, called
in this country Diapasons. Probe (Ger.). A rehearsal, a trial. Programma (It.). A programme.
Programme-music. Music which was suggested, or describes the impression produced, by some incident, emotional experience, scene in nature, or work of art, and the subject of which is indi-cated by one or few words, by a long poem or a prose exposition. Programme-music the aim of which is solely or chiefly ihe imitation of sounds belongs to the lowest class of music ; that which concerns itself with the representation or illustration of musico-poetical matter, and confines itself to the truly musical contents of its subjects, belongs to the very highest class of music.
Progression, v. Introduction, p. 16, and the article Motion.
Prolatio (Lat.). Prolation. In the old mensurable music, more especially the division of the semibreve into three or two minims, the former was the major, the latter the minor prolation.
Promptement (Fr.), Prontamente (It.). Promptly, quickly.
Pronto (It.). Prompt, quick.
Pronunziato (It.). Pronounced.—Bene pronunziato, clearly articulated.

Proportio (Lat.). (I) The relation of intervals. (2) The relation of time values in the rhythmical theory of the old mensurable music.
Proposta (It.). The subject of a fugue, the antecedent of a canon, «!\:c.
Prosa(Lat.). A prose, {v. Sequence.)
Proslambanomeiios (Gk.). The "acquired tone," the lowest
note in the Greek system. Prosodia (Lat. and It.), Prosodie (Ger. and Fr.). Prosody—that
part of grammar which treats of the quantity of syllables, of
accent, and of the laws of versification. Prova (It.). A rehearsal, a trial.
Psalterion (Fr.), Psalterium (Lat.). A psaltery. An ancient stringed instrument which has been called a harp and a lyre, and described as a "dulcimer, played with the fingers or a plectrum instead of with hammers."
Psaume (Fr.). A psalm.
Psautier (Fr.). Psalter.
Pulsatile instruments. The instruments of percussion, such as
the various kinds of drums, cymbals, triangle, &c. Punctus (Lat.), Punkt (Ger.). A dot. Punktirte Noten (Ger.). Dotted notes.
Punta (It.). Point.—Colla punta deW arco, with the point of the bow.
Puntare (It.). To place dots after or above notes. Punto (It.). A dot. Pupitre (Fr.). A music desk. Putti (It.). Boys, choir boys.
Pyrrhic. A metrical foot consisting of two short syllables ; w w

Search this Site




See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

Music With Ease | About Us | Contact Us | Privacy | Sitemap | Copyright | Terms of Use

© 2005-17 All Rights Reserved.