Glossary H


Half cadence | A temporary point of rest in a composition, created by a momentary pause on the dominant chord; usually involves a subdominant chord or tonic chord followed by the dominant (V) chord.

Half-diminished seventh chord | A chord consisting of a diminished triad plus a minor seventh. (See also diminished seventh chord.)

Half note | A note with half the duration of a whole note, or a time value of two quarter notes. (Also minim.)

Half rest | A rest with half the duration of a whole rest, or a time value of two quarter rests. (Also minim rest.)

Half step | (See semitone.)

Half-tone | (See semitone.)

Hammer | The part of a piano’s action that strikes the strings to produce a note. Also a beater used to strike a percussion instrument.

Hammered dulcimer | An musical instrument with strings stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board or box; played by being struck with hand-held hammers. (See also Appalachian dulcimer.)

Hammer-on | A playing technique on a stringed instrument (especially a guitar) performed by quickly and forcefully pressing a string against the fingerboard; the opposite of a pull-off.

Hard disk drive | (Abbreviation: HDD) In sound recording, a digital device that stores audio signals by encoding data on rapidly rotating platters with magnetic surfaces.

Hard rock | A highly amplified style of rock music with a heavy beat.

Harmonic | A term that means ‘of, relating to, or characterized by musical harmony.’ Also a tone that vibrates at a frequency that is a multiple of a fundamental tone. Also, on a stringed instrument, high-pitched, whistling tone, made by lightly touching a vibrating string at a certain point. (Also overtone or partial.)

Harmonica | A small rectangular wind instrument with a row of metal reeds along its length, held against the lips and moved from side to side to produce different notes by blowing or sucking. (Also harp, mouth organ or tin sandwich.)

Harmonic interval | The musical distance between two pitches sounded simultaneously (as in a chord). (See also melodic interval.)

Harmonic minor scale | A scale that results from flattening the third and sixth degrees of the major scale; forms the basis of the harmony in minor keys.


Harmonic progression | (See chord progression.)

Harmonic rhythm | The rate of change (fast or slow, steady or irregular) between the chords in a piece of music.

Harmonize | The process of adding chords to a melody.

Harmony | The chords (both consonant and dissonant) that support a melody. Also the study of chords and chord progressions.

Harp | (See harmonica.) Also a stringed instrument, roughly triangular in shape, consisting of an upright frame that supports a series of parallel strings which are played by plucking with the fingers; often includes pedals that retune the strings to different keys.

harpsichord | A keyboard instrument that produces sound using a mechanical action that plucks a set of strings; used mainly in European classical music of the sixteenth to eigtenth centuries.

Hawaiian guitar | (See lap steel guitar.)

Head | The tip of a drum stick. Also the top of a stringed instrument’s neck. Also the point of a bow. (See also drumhead and note head.)

Headphones | A pair of small speakers typically joined by a band placed over the head and worn close to the ears. (Also earbuds, earphones, headset, or stereophones.)

Headset | (See headphones.)

Heavy metal | A style of loud, harsh-sounding rock music that gained popularity in the 1970s; typically has a strong beat and often uses violent or fantastic imagery.

Hemidemisemiquaver | (See sixty-fourth note.)

Hemidemisemiquaver rest | (See sixty-fourth rest.)

Heptatonic scale | A seven-note scale.

Hertz | (Abbreviation: Hz) The unit of measure for the frequency of a pitch, where one hertz is one cycle per second (cps).


Heterophony | A musical texture created when performers play or sing the same melody simultaneously, but in different ways; generally considered a subcatagory of either monphony or polyphony.

Hexatonic scale | A six-note scale.

Hi-fi | (See high fidelity.)

High fidelity | (Abbreviation: hi-fi) The reproduction of sound with little distortion, producing a result that is very similar to the original; as opposed to low fidelity.

Hi-hat | A pair of cymbals mounted on a stand that are clashed together using a foot-operated pedal; part of a standard drum kit.

Hip-hop | A style of popular music of U.S. black and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing.

Hold | (See fermata.)

Homophony | A musical texture of a single melody supported by chords; the most common texture in tonal music.

Hook | The most memorable part of a song; can be a lyric, melody, or rhythm.

Horn | (See French horn.)

Hum | A low, steady, continuous sound; produced as a wordless sound with the mouth completely closed or as the result of electronic interference in an amplifier.

Hurdy-gurdy | A stringed instrument that produces sound by turning a handle attached to a rosined wheel that vibrates a set of strings; some strings are stopped with small wooden levers to produce tones, while other strings are left open to create a droning sound. (Also wheel fiddle.)

Hybrid picking | A guitar playing technique that involves plucking strings with a pick and fingers at the same time; the pick is held between the thumb and index finger while the remaining fingers are used for fingerpicking.

Hymn | A simple religious song that includes several verses; typically sung in a church service by the congregation.


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