Glossary

B

The key of B, or in the German musical system, B-flat.

bagatelle

A short light or whimsical piece, usually written for piano.

ballad

  1. A simple song.
  2. A song that tells a story.
  3. In popular music, usually a love song in a slow tempo.

ballet

A theatrical dance form with a story, sets, and music.

band

An instrumental ensemble, usually made up of wind and percussion instruments and no string instruments.

baritone

A low male singing voice (between tenor and bass).

Baroque Period

The musical era roughly from 1600 to 1750.

bass

“Low.”

  1. The lowest male singing voice.
  2. The lowest part of the music.
  3. The lowest instrument.
  4. In the violin family, the lowest instrument.

bass clef

The F clef falling on the fourth line of the staff.

basso continuo

“Continuous Bass.” In the baroque era, an accompaniment improvised from a bass line, usually with adjacent numbers to indicate the harmony.

battaglia

“Battle.” A composition that imitates the sounds of battle and martial music.

bequadro

A natural sign.

berceuse

A lullaby.

binary form

A compositional form in which an initial section is followed by a contrasting section (AB). See song forms.

bitonal

The use of two different keys, or tonic centers at the same time.

borrowed chord

A chord from a key other than the current one.

bouts

In the violin and guitar families, the curves in the ribs (sides) of the instrument, especially the C-shaped inward curves that form the waist.

bow

The device used in the string instrument family composed of a wooden stick with a pointed end, strung with horsehair. The bow is drawn across the strings to set them vibrating.