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  • a, à (Fr): at, to, by, for, in, in the style of
  • a 2: see a due in this list
  • aber (Ger): but
  • a bene placito: up to the performer
  • a cappella: in the manner of singing in a chapel; i.e., without instrumental accompaniment
  • accarezzévole: expressive and caressing
  • accelerando, accel.: accelerating; gradually increasing the tempo
  • accent: Attack hard.
  • accentato: accented; with emphasis
  • acceso: ignited, on fire
  • acciaccatura: crushing; i.e., a very fast grace note that is "crushed" against the note that follows and takes up no value in the measure
  • accompagnato: accompanied; i.e., with the accompaniment following the soloist, who may speed up or slow down at will
  • adagietto: rather slow
  • adagio: at ease; i.e., play slowly
  • adagissimo: very, very slow
  • ad libitum (commonly ad lib; Latin): at liberty; i.e., the speed and manner of execution are left to the performer
  • a due: intended as a duet; for two voices or instruments; together; two instruments are to play in unison after a solo passage for one of the instruments
  • affannato, affannoso: anguished
  • affettuoso, affettuosamente, or affectueusement (Fr): with affect (that is, with emotion); see also con affetto
  • affrettando: hurrying, pressing onwards
  • agile: swiftly
  • agitato: agitated
  • al, alla: to the, in the manner of (al before masculine nouns, alla before feminine)
  • alla breve: in cut-time; two beats per measure or the equivalent thereof
  • alla marcia: in the style of a march
  • allargando: broadening, becoming a little slower each time
  • allegretto: a little lively, moderately fast
  • allegretto vivace: a moderately quick tempo
  • allegro: cheerful or brisk; but commonly interpreted as lively, fast
  • allegrissimo: very fast, though slower than presto
  • all' ottava: "at the octave", see ottava
  • als (Ger): than
  • alt (English) (also alt dom or altered dominant): a jazz term which instructs chord-playing musicians such as a jazz pianist or jazz guitarist to perform a dominant (V7) chord with altered upper extensions (e.g., sharp 11th, flat 13th, etc.).
  • altissimo: very high
  • alto: high; often refers to a particular range of voice, higher than a tenor but lower than a soprano
  • alzate sordini: lift or raise the mutes; i.e., remove mutes
  • am Steg (Ger): at the bridge; i.e., playing a bowed string instrument near its bridge, which produces a heavier, stronger tone (see sul ponticello in this list)
  • amabile: amiable, pleasant
  • amoroso: loving
  • anacrusis: a note or notes that precede the first full bar; a pickup
  • andante: at a walking pace; i.e., at a moderate tempo
  • andantino: slightly faster than andante (but earlier it is sometimes used to mean slightly slower than andante)
  • a niente: to nothing; an indication to make a diminuendo which fades to pppp
  • a nessuna cosa: to nothing; an indication to hold a fermata until it dies away (this only works with instruments which cannot sustain a note)
  • anima: feeling
  • animandosi: animated, lively
  • animato: animated, lively
  • antiphon: a liturgical or other composition consisting of choral responses, sometimes between two choirs; a passage of this nature forming part of another composition; a repeated passage in a psalm or other liturgical piece, similar to a refrain.[1]
  • apaisé (Fr): calmed
  • a piacere: at pleasure; i.e., the performer need not follow the rhythm strictly, for example in a cadenza
  • appassionato: passionately
  • appoggiatura also called a "leaning note": one or more grace notes that take up some note value of the next full note.
  • a prima vista: Sight-read (lit. "at first sight"); i.e., (to be) played or sung from written notation but without prior review of the written material
  • arco: the bow used for playing some string instrument; i.e., played with the bow, as opposed to pizzicato (plucked), in music for bowed instruments; normally used to cancel a pizzicato direction
  • arietta: a short aria
  • arioso: airy, or like an air (a melody); i.e., in the manner of an aria; melodious
  • armonioso: harmoniously
  • arpeggio: like a harp; i.e., the notes of the chords are to be played quickly one after another (usually ascending) instead of simultaneously. In music for piano, this is sometimes a solution in playing a wide-ranging chord whose notes cannot be played otherwise. Arpeggios are frequently used as an accompaniment. See also broken chord in this list.
  • arpeggiato: a way of playing a chord: starting with the lowest note, and with successively higher notes rapidly joining in. Sometimes the effect is reversed, so that the highest note is played first.
  • assai: very
  • assez (Fr): enough, sufficiently
  • a tempo: in time; i.e., the performer should return to the main tempo of the piece (after an accelerando or ritardando, etc.); also may be found in combination with other terms such as a tempo giusto (in strict time) or a tempo di menuetto (at the speed of a minuet)
  • attacca: attack or attach; go straight on; i.e., at the end of a movement, a direction to attach the next movement to the previous one, without a gap or pause
  • Ausdruck (Ger): expression
  • ausdrucksvoll (Ger): expressively
  • avec (Fr): with or with another
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