Glossary

lament, lamento

A mournful piece, either meant to be played at a funeral or to commemorate a death.

Landini cadence

The melodic cadence that moves in the sequence 7-6-8, used primarily by Francesco Landini, and later by other composers.

Largo

At a very slow tempo.

leading note/tone

The seventh degree of the diatonic scale; called “leading” because it gives the feeling of wanting to move to the tonic.

leap

The movement of a single musical line by more than a second at a time.

ledger lines

Short lines written above or below the staff for notes pitched outside the staff.

leitmotif

“Leading Motive.” Recurring theme written for a specific character or event in opera or television and film music.

Lent

The season of the church year from Ash Wednesday to Easter (40 days, not counting Sundays).

libretto

The text (lyrics and any spoken parts) of an opera, oratorio or musical.

Lied/Lieder

A German art song, usually those of the Romantic or Classical eras.

litany

A set of prayers recited by a leader alternating with responses by the congregation, often set in plainsong form.

liturgy

A prescribed order of worship in a church, usually applied to the Mass.

Locrian

A medieval mode starting on the seventh degree of the diatonic scale, with half steps between the first and second degrees and fourth and fifth degrees.

lullaby

A cradle song.

Lydian

A medieval mode starting on the fourth degree of the diatonic scale, with half steps between the fourth and fifth and seventh and eighth degrees.

lyric

  1. The words to a song.
  2. In a singing and melodious manner.

lyric soprano

A female singer with a slightly higher range than a dramatic soprano.

lyric tenor

A male singer with a slightly higher range than a dramatic tenor.