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Music Glossary for Guitar Players

If you have a term you don’t understand hit the contact us button and tell us what it is, even if its not in the glossary.

If I don’t know I will find out for you and for myself as well.

Some terms you may have to go to a page for a more thorough description.

Some terms are for sheet music that tell you how fast and what kind of mood you should play in. These are written in Italian

The mode names come from the Greek language.

A cappella

One or more vocalists performing without a musical instrument accompaniment, voice only.

Accidental

A flat, sharp or natural note not in the scale of the music

Aeolean Mode

A scale built from the 6th degree of the major scale

Allegro

A term at the top of sheet music to play lively and fast

Altered Chords

Any chord that has had a 5th’ 9th or 11th note altered by a half step up or down

Andante

Moderately slow or a walking pace

Arpeggio

A chord where the notes are played individually instead of simultaneously

Atonal

Music that is written or performed without regard to any specific key

Augmented

To raise a tone ½ step usually a 5th, 9th or 11th

Augmented Triad

A 3 note chord made from a major third and an augmented 5th

Axe or Ax

A slang term for a guitar.

Barre Chord

A chord where the 1st finger spans an entire fret much like the “nut” at the head of the guitar does

Bend

The act of changing a note from it’s original tone to a higher tone and sometimes back by stretching the string

Blue note

A slight drop of pitch on the third, fifth or seventh tone of the scale

Bridge

Transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, sometimes called a chorus or a break. This term is also a part on the guitar that holds the strings at the body of the guitar

Cadence

A sequence of chords that brings an end to a phrase, either in the middle or the end of a song

Capo

A clamp that can be placed on any fret so you can play 1st position chords any where up the neck. Good for fingerpicking style guitar playing

Chord

A group of 3 or more notes usually played simultaneously.

Chord Diagram

This is a small image of a guitar fretboard with dots that tell you where to put your fingers for a chord. It may also give you a fret number

Chord Extensions

Notes added to chords higher than a 7th

Chord progression

A series of set chords

Chromatic

Melody or harmony built from many if not all twelve semitones of the octave. Opposite of Diatonic

Consonance

Harmonious combination of tones that provides a sense of relaxation and stability in music, opposite of dissonance

Country

A term for used for country music

Country or western swing

A more sophisticated form of country music with some jazz influence with 6th and 9th chord tones

Crescendo

The dynamic effect of gradually growing louder, indicated in the musical score by the