Glossary V


Value | The duration of a note or rest.

Valve | A mechanism on a brass instrument that, when depressed or turned, admits air into different sections of tubing to change the pitch while playing. The normal valve order today lowers the pitch a whole tone (first valve), a semitone (second valve), and a minor third (third valve).

Valve trombone | A trombone played using valves rather than a slide.

Vamp | In jazz, a short passage with a simple rhythm and harmony (usually repeated several times until otherwise instructed) that prepares a soloist for an improvization. Also the act of repeating a short, simple passage of music.

Variation | A version of a theme (modified in melody, rhythm, harmony, or ornamentation) that is new but still recognizable; somewhere between contrast and repetition. (See also contrast and repetition.)

Vaudeville | A type of variety entertainment, popular in the early twentieth century, featuring a mixture of separate, unrelated acts from different artistic disciplines (like comedy, song, and dance).

Veloce | A tempo marking that means ‘with velocity or speedily.’

Venue | A place where live music is performed.

Verse | In a song, a set or unit of lines of lyric, usually sung to the same melody. (Also stanza.)

Verse form | (Abbreviation: AAA) A song form that consists of verses only.

Verse-chorus form | (Abbreviation: ABAB) A song form that alternates between a verse section and a chorus section.

Verse-chorus form with bridge | (Abbreviation: ABAB) A song form that alternates between a verse section and a chorus section, with a bridge included for added variety.

Verse-chorus form with pre-chorus | (Abbreviation: ABC) A song form that alternates between a verse section and a chorus section, with a prechorus included for variety.

Verse-chorus form with pre-chorus and bridge | (Abbreviation: ABCABCD) A song form that alternates between a verse section and a chorus section, with a bridge and prechorus included for interest and variety.

Verse-verse-bridge-verse form | (Abbreviation: AABA) A song form with two verse sections followed by a second section (generally a chorus or bridge) and then back to a third verse.


Vibraphone | A percussion instrument with metal bars and motor-driven rotating propellers under each bar that produces a vibrato effect; often used in jazz.

Vibrato | A slight, rapid fluctuation in pitch while singing or playing an instrument to produce a stronger or richer tone. (See also tremolo.)

Vigoroso | (See con forza.)

Vinyl record | (See phonograph record.)

Viola | A bowed string instrument of middle range; the second-highest member of the violin family, between the violin and cello.

Violin | A bowed string instrument; the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family, above the viola and cello.

Violoncello | (Abbreviation: cello) A bowed string instrument with a middle-to-low range and a dark, rich timbre; lower than a viola.

Virtuoso | A person highly skilled in music; a performer of extraordinary technical ability.

Visual arts | The creative art forms that focus on works that can be seen (like painting, photography, printmaking, and filmmaking).

Vivace | A tempo marking that means ‘quick and lively.’

Vivacissimo | A tempo marking that means ‘very quick,’ faster than vivace.

Vivo | (See con spirito.)

Vocable | In speech or singing, a recognizable term or word. (See also non-lexical vocable.)

Vocal | The singing part of a song; lead vocals sing the melody, while backup vocals sing the accompanying harmony.

Vocal range | The distance between the highest and lowest pitches one can sing.

Vocal register | The different portions of the vocal range (high, low, etc.).

Voice | An independent line or part in a musical structure. Also the range of pitch or type of tone with which a person sings; the standard voice types, from highest to lowest, are: (female) soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto; (male) tenor, baritone, and bass.

Voice leading | The relationship between the notes of two or more separate moving parts or voices in a piece of music.

Voicing | The inversion of a chord. Also the use of root position chords and inversions to allow smooth voice leading in harmony.

Volti subito | (Abbreviation: V.S.) In reading music notation, a marking that means ‘turn the page over quickly.’

Volume | (See dynamics.)


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