Glossary N


Natural | A symbol (♮) that cancels a previous sharp or flat. Also the name given to a note that is neither sharp nor flat (example: C natural).

Natural minor scale | The basic form of a minor scale; results from flattening the third, sixth, and seventh degrees of the major scale. (See also Aeolian mode.)

Neapolitan chord | (Abbreviation: N) A major chord built on the flat second degree of the tonic key. Because the chord is often played in first inversion, it’s usually called ‘Neapolitan sixth,’ whether the chord is inverted or not.

Neapolitan sixth | (See Neapolitan chord.)

Neck | The part of a stringed instrument that bears the fingerboard or fretboard.

Neighboring tone | A non-chord tone that is approached by step and then returns by step to the original note. If a neighboring tone occurs with the second chord, then it’s called an ‘accented neighboring tone.’

Neoclassicism | A return by composers in the early twentieth century to the forms and styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a reaction against nineteenth-century romanticism.

Neutral clef | A clef that is used for pitchless instruments like drums; may be used with a five-line staff or with a single-line staff.

New Age music | A contemporary type of meditative, mostly instrumental music; often includes natural sounds like waves, rain, birds, wind, etc.

New wave | A style of rock music popular in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by punk but generally more pop in sound and less aggressive in performance.

Ninth | A compound interval equal to a second. Also, in a chord, the tone that lies a ninth above the root note.

Ninth chord | A five-tone chord spanning a ninth between its lowest and highest notes.

Nobilmente | A general term that means ‘nobly or richly.’

Nocturne | A short, moderately slow composition of a romantic or dreamy character, typically for piano; common in the nineteenth century; literally means “night piece.”

Noise | A type of sound that does not have a definite pitch and seems to lack order or coherence.


Non | A general term that means ‘not.’

Non-chord tone | A tone (often in a melody) that does not fit into the surrounding harmony. (Also nonharmonic tone or non-harmony note). Types of non-chord tones include an anticipation, appoggiatura, changing tone, escape tone, neighboring tone, passing tone, pedal tone, retardation, and suspension.

Nonet | A group of nine musicians. Also a composition written for nine voices or instruments.

Nonharmonic tone | (See non-chord tone.)

Non-harmony note | (See non-chord tone.)

Non-imitative counterpoint | (See unequal-voiced counterpoint.)

Non-lexical vocable | In speech or singing, a word or syllable that has no literal meaning; that is, a term considered only as a sequence of sounds or letters rather than as a unit of meaning (example: ‘la la la’). (See also vocable.)

Noodling | The process of improvising or playing casually on a musical instrument; the random, creative experimentation used to generate ideas for a song; a kind of musical doodling.

Normal form chord | (See root position.)

Normal progression | (See circle progression.)

Notation | (See music notation.)

Note | A single sound with a specific pitch and duration. Also, in musical notation, the symbol for such a sound.

Note cluster | (See tone cluster.)

Note head | (Abbreviation: head) In music notation, the part of a note symbol that represents the pitch of a note.

Note-octave notation | (See scientific pitch notation.)

Number | In music, numbers are generally used to indicate scale degrees, chords, note duration, and the finger positions used to play different instruments. A ‘number’ is also a slang term for a song or musical piece.

Nut | A raised bar near the head (top) of a string instrument’s fingerboard that supports the strings.


©2016 ColorMusic Media. All rights reserved.