Glossary of Musical Terminology - T


  • tacet: silent; do not play
  • tasto solo: 'single key'; used on a continuo part to indicate that the notes should be played without harmony
  • tempo: time; i.e., the overall speed of a piece of music
  • tempo di marcia: march tempo
  • tempo di sturb de neighbors seen in Fats Waller's arrangement of Stardust
  • tempo di valse: waltz tempo
  • tempo giusto: in strict time
  • tempo primo, tempo uno, or tempo I (sometimes also written as tempo I° or tempo 1ero): resume the original speed
  • tempo rubato, means "robbed time"; an expressive way of performing a rhythm; see rubato
  • teneramente: tenderly
  • tenerezza: tenderness
  • tenor: the second lowest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano)
  • tenuto: held; i.e., touch on a note slightly longer than usual, but without generally altering the note's value
  • ternary: having three parts. In particular, referring to a three-part musical form with the parts represented by letters: ABA
  • tessitura: the 'best' or most comfortable pitch range, generally used to identify the most prominent / common vocal range within a piece of music
  • Tierce de Picardie: see Picardy third
  • timbre: the quality of a musical tone that distinguishes voices and instruments
  • time: in a jazz or rock score, after a rubato or rallentendo section, the term "time" indicates that performers should return to tempo (this is equivalent to the term "a tempo")
  • tosto: rapidly
  • tranquillo: calmly, peacefully
  • tremolo: shaking; i.e., a rapid repetition of the same note, or an alternation between two or more notes (often an octave on the piano). String players perform tremolo with the bow by rapidly moving the bow while the arm is tense. It can also be intended (inaccurately) to refer to vibrato, which is a slight undulation in pitch. It is notated by a strong diagonal bar across the note stem, or a detached bar for a set of notes (or stemless notes).
  • tre corde or tc (or sometimes inaccurately tre corda): three strings; i.e., release the soft pedal of the piano (see una corda)
  • triplet (shown with a horizontal bracket and a '3'): Three notes in the place of two, used to subdivide a beat.
  • tronco, tronca: broken off, truncated
  • troppo: too much; usually seen as non troppo, meaning moderately or, when combined with other terms, not too much, such as allegro non troppo (fast but not too fast)
  • tutti: all; all together, usually used in an orchestral or choral score when the orchestra or all of the voices come in at the same time, also seen in Baroque-era music where two instruments share the same copy of music, after one instrument has broken off to play a more advanced form: they both play together again at the point marked tutti. See also: ripieno.

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