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Online Music Dictionary of Musical Terms Beginning With M


Click on a letter of the alphabet from the list below to go to the page of musical terms that begin with that letter.

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M

 

N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

Nachschlag: An ornament consisting of an unaccented note or notes at the end of the main note, or at the end of a trill.

Nachtmusik: "Night Music", a seranade.

Natural: A note that has not been raised or lowered from its named pitch. On a piano, naturals are the white keys. Sharps or flats may be used to alter a natural pitch up or down a half step, respectively.

Neoclassicism: a movement in music which sought, during the period between the two world wars, to use past forms and styles in more or less stylized and even ironic ways. Its traces may be found in composers as varied as BarLok, Schoenberg, and Poulenc, but the composer most associated with Neoclassicism is Stravinsky, who wrote several compositions reinterpreting the works of previous composers, including Bach, Pergolesi, Gounod, and Tchaikovsky. Its characteristic manner is crisp and direct, and only rarely are Neoclassical works written for large orchestra.

Neapolitan: Any chord built upon the flat second degree of the tonic key.

Neapolitan Sixth Chord: Built on the second degree of the major and minor scales. Generally, it is used in first inversion. Its root is lowered. It is commonly used to reach the dominant chord or the tonic chord in second inversion when performing a cadence.

Ninth: The interval of nine diatonic degrees.

Nocturne: A night-piece, or seranade. Originally a salon piano work, as in examples by John Field and Chopin, with nighttime associations. Mozart's Nottumi are small chamber pieces. A celebrated orchestral set by Debussy owes more to the paintings so titled by Whistler than to previous musical examples.

Nonharmonic: Notes that fall outside of the harmonic structure in which they occur.

Notation: written music indicating pitch and rhythm.