The A to Z of Singing Terms – A Comprehensive Glossary

Are you a newbie in the world of music? We understand the confusion that comes with it.

People around you keep using fancy words that do not make much sense. Google becomes your saviour in this huge yet beautiful world of music! However, the awkwardness of whipping out your phone every time someone speaks a fancy musical word is real.

If you can identify with every word that we have written so far, do not worry! We have come up with a comprehensive glossary of Music Vocabulary that is used commonly.

Music Vocabulary: A complete list of Words Related to Music and Singing

Today, we are going to focus on words related to singing, terms that are specifically associated with vocal music. So, let’s get going:

  1. A Cappella – One of the most frequently used words related to music; it means singing without the accompaniment of any musical instrument.
  2. Absolute Pitch – It refers to the ability to understand the exact pitch of a note when it is played on a musical instrument.
  3. Accelerando – It falls amongst the most commonly used words related to music. It refers to a symbol which indicates the choir to gradually quicken their tempo.
  4. Accompaniment – Probably amongst the easiest to understand words related to singing, it means the background music that is played to accompany a solo singer/lead instrumentalist.
  5. Aria – This term is used both in music as well as in theatrical circles. It is a solo piece, written specifically for the main character. It focuses on the character’s emotion more than anything else.

  1. Ballad–If you have not heard of this most frequently used words related to music, you have been living under a rock. It refers to a romantic song, something that is sentimental and comes with a slow tempo.
  2. Baritone – Baritone refers to a mid-range male singing voice, typically between bass and tenor.
  3. Bass – Did you picture a bass guitar immediately after you heard this word? Well, bass actually means the lowest of a male singing voice.
  4. Breathy – It refers to a vocal sound that is not too clear. It instead sounds fuzzy and airy.
  5. Chest Voice – It refers to the lower notes sung by a singer. It is typically in the same range as speaking.
  6. Contralto – Also known as alto, it refers to the lowest female singing voice part.
  7. Countertenor – It refers to the highest male singing voice part.

  1. Diction – This one is not only amongst the most commonly used words related to music; it is also used in languages. It refers to the way words are pronounced.
  2. Diphthong – Also known as gliding vowels, it refers to the phenomenon of creating two vowels in one syllable.
  3. Dramatic – This very simple musical term refers to a robust, significant voice.
  4. Encore – This one is a feeling in itself. It means the audience asking for an extra song at the end of a performance.
  5. Enharmonic – It denotes two separate notes that may differ in name but refer to the same or similar pitch.
  6. Falsetto – Very simply, it refers to false singing. It is usually a high register, a thin head voice – falling in our list of words related to music.

  1. Glissando – When a performer slides between two notes, it refers to glissando.
  2. Gregorian Chant – When people sing or chant in unison without any strict rhythm, it is called a Gregorian chant. It is amongst the frequently used words related to singing.
  3. Half Step – When there is a musical interval in a semitone, it is called a half step.
  4. Head Voice – It refers to a higher vocal register.
  5. Interlude – Can you recall the music pieces played between two scenes in the theatre or a musical? That interval music is called an interlude.
  6. Intermezzo – It is a short movement that connects the main parts of the composition.
  7. Key – Probably amongst the simplest words related to music, key refers to a combination of flats and sharps to indicate the pitch.


  1. Larynx – It is a structure in your throat that contains the vocal cords.
  2. Legato – It indicates that a particular piece of music should be played smoothly. Imagine as if all the notes are tied together.
  3. Major – It is one of the two modes of a tone – another in our list of words related to singing.
  4. Messa di Voce – It is a musical technique that involves starting a note with a crescendo (soft to loud), followed by decrescendo (loud to quiet).
  5. Mezzo-Soprano – It refers to the 2nd highest female singing voice part.
  6. Monotone – It refers to the repetition of a single tone.
  7. Octave – When there is an interval between two musical notes, and the upper one has twice the pitch of the lower one, it is called an octave. It is one of the most commonly used words related to music.

  1. Passagio – There are transitional areas in a singer’s voice where he/she should take extra care to hit the right notes and pitch. Those areas are referred to as passagio.
  2. Pitch – It is the frequency of a certain note that determines how high or low it may sound.
  3. Range – It denotes the notes and pitch that a particular performer can sing comfortably.
  4. Register – It means the different range of tones that the human voice can produce — for example, head voice, chest voice, falsetto, etc.
  5. Resonance – Resonance is the amplification that the vibrations of a particular note or piece of music go through.
  6. Sharp – It is one of those words related to music, which indicates when a pitch is a bit higher than what was desired.

  1. Soprano – It is the highest female voice.
  2. Tenor – It is a high male voice part.
  3. Tone – In straightforward terms, it refers to the quality of a voice.
  4. Trill – It is a musical technique where a performer moves quickly between two adjacent notes. Since it is frequently used, we had to include it in our list of words related to music.
  5. Vibrato – Vibrato is the natural pulsating or oscillation that occurs between pitches.
  6. Vocal Chords – These are chords in your larynx that vibrate producing vocal sounds when air passes between them.

  1. Whistles Tone – The whistle tone was made quite famous by Mariah Carey. It refers to the highest vocal register, located even above the head voice.
  2. Wobble – It is an unstable sound that is produced when the distance between two pitches in a vibrato becomes wide.

Now that we have reached the end of this list of Music Vocabulary, we welcome you to this awesome musical world. Want to learn more? Check out School of Symphony, a music school in Delhi with a focus on personalized attention to students. We assure you that the best musical journey awaits you!