Musical glossary U to W

Here's an alphabetical explanation of all those foreign musical words and terms that get scattered around a music score with the sole purpose of confusing! Hope it sheds some light...


Una corda - Soft pedal.

Unison - Singing or playing the same notes by all singers or players, either at exactly the same pitch or in a different octave.

Un peu - A little. Used with other words, e.g. un peu piano.

Un poco - A little.

Upbeat - One or more notes occurring before the first bar line, as necessitated by the text for the purpose of desirable accent. The unaccented beat of a measure.


Variation - The manipulation of a theme by the use of melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic changes.

Vibrato - Repeated fluctuation of pitch.

Virtuoso - A brillant, skillful performer.

Vivace - Lively, brisk, quick, and bright.

Vivo - Lively, bright.

Volti subito - Turn [the page] quickly.


Whole note/rest - A note/rest equal to two half notes and four quarter notes.

Wholetone scale - A scale made up of solely intervals of a tone. There are only two wholetone scales.

Wind instrument family - Instruments in which sound is produced by the vibration of air, including brass and woodwind instruments.

Woodwind family - Instruments, originally made of wood, in which sound is produced by the vibration of air, including recorders, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, oboes, and bassoons.

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