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Funny Music Definitions
  • 12-tone scale: the thing the State Police weigh your tractor trailer truck with.
  • A 440: the highway that runs around Nashville.
  • accidentals: wronng notes.
  • ad libitum: a premiere.
  • aeolian mode: how you like Mama's cherry pie.
  • agnus dei: a famous female church composer.
  • allegro: leg fertilizer.
  • altos: not to be confused with "Tom's toes," "Bubba's toes" or "Dori-toes".
  • arpeggio: "Ain't he that storybook kid with the big nose that grows?"
  • audition: the act of putting oneself under extreme duress to satisfy the sadistic intentions of someone who has already made up his mind.
  • augmented fifth: a 36-ounce bottle.
  • bach chorale: the place behind the barn where you keep the horses.
  • bar line: a gathering of people, usually among which may be found a musician or two.
  • bass: the things you run around in softball.
  • bass clef: where you wind up if you do fall off.
  • bassoon:
    1. typical response when asked what you hope to catch, and when.
    2. a bedpost with a bad case of gas.
  • beat: what music students do to each other with their instruments. The down beat is performed on top of the head, while the up beat is struck under the chin.
  • big band: when the bar pays enough to bring two banjo players.
  • bossa nova: the car your foreman drives.
  • broken consort: when someone in the ensemble has to leave to go to the bathroom.
  • cadence: when everybody hopes you're going to stop, but you don't.
  • cadenza:
    1. that ugly thing your wife always vacuums dog hair off of when company comes.
    2. The heroine in Monteverdi's opera Frottola
  • cantus firmus: the part you get when you can play only four notes.
  • cello: the proper way to answer the phone.
  • chansons de geste: dirty songs.
  • chromatic scale: an instrument for weighing that indicates half-pounds.
  • clarinet: name used on your second daughter if you've already used Betty Jo.
  • clausula: Mrs. Santa Claus.
  • clef: what you try never to fall off of.
  • coloratura soprano: a singer who has great trouble finding the proper note, but who has a wild time hunting for it.
  • conductor: the man who punches your ticket to Philadelphia.
  • crescendo: a reminder to the performer that he has been playing too loudly.
  • crotchet:
    1. a tritone with a bent prong.
    2. like knitting, but faster.
  • cut time:
    1. parole.
    2. when everyone else is playing twice as fast as you are.
  • cymbal: what they use on deer-crossing signs so you know what to sight-in your pistol with.
  • detaché: an indication that the trombones are to play with their slides removed.
  • diatonic: low-calorie Schweppes.
  • di lasso: popular with Italian cowboys.
  • diminished fifth: an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • ducita: a lot of mallards.
  • embouchure the way you look when you've been playing the Krummhorn.
  • estampie: what they put on letters in Quebec.
  • first inversion: grandpa's battle group at Normandy.
  • french horn: your wife says you smell like a cheap one when you come in at 4 a.m.
  • garglefinklein: a tiny recorder played by neums.
  • glissando: a technique adopted by string players for difficult runs.
  • half step: the pace used by a cellist when carrying hi instrument.
  • hocket: the thing that fits into a crochet to produce a rackett.
  • interval: how long it takes to find the right note. There are three kinds:
    1. Major interval: a long time.
    2. Minor interval: a few bars.
    3. Inverted interval: when you have to go back a bar and try again.
  • intonation: singing through one's nose. Considered highly desirable in the Middle Ages.
  • isorhythmic motet: when half of the ensemble got a different edition from the other half.
  • lamentoso: with handkerchiefs.
  • lasso: the 6th and 5th steps of a descending scale.
  • lauda: turn up the volume.
  • major scale: what you say after chasing wild game up a mountain: "Damn! That was a major scale!"
  • melodic minor: Loretta Lynn's singing dad.
  • minnesinger: a boy soprano.
  • metronome: a city-dwelling dwarf.
  • middle C: the only fruit drink you can afford when food stamps are low.
  • minor third: your approximate age and grade at the completion of formal schooling.
  • music: a complex organizations of sounds that is set down by the composer, incorrectly interpreted by the conductor, who is ignored by the musicians, the result of which is ignored by the audience.
  • musica ficta: when you lose your place and have to bluff until you find it again.
  • neumatic melishma: a bronchial disorder caused by hockets.
  • neums: renaissance midgets.
  • oboe: an ill wind that nobody blows good.
  • order of sharps: what a wimp gets at the bar.
  • ordo: the hero in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
  • passing tone: frequently heard near the baked beans at family barbecues.
  • perfect fifth: a full bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • perfect pitch: the smooth coating on a freshly paved road.
  • pianissimo: "refill this beer bottle".
  • plague: a collective noun, as in "a plague of conductors."
  • portamento: a foreign country you've always wanted to see.
  • preparatory beat: a threat made to singers, i.e., sing, or else....
  • quarter tone: what most standard pickups can haul.
  • quaver: beginning viola class.
  • quintet: five tets of medicine women.
  • rackett: capped reeds class.
  • recitative: a disease that Monteverdi had.
  • relative major: an uncle in the Marine Corps.
  • relative minor: a girlfriend.
  • repeat: what you do until they just expel you.
  • risoluto: indicates to orchestras that they are to stubbornly maintain the correct tempo no matter what the conductor tries to do.
  • ritard: there's one in every family.
  • ritornello: a Verdi opera.
  • rota: an early Italian method of teaching music without score or parts.
  • sancta: Clausula's husband.
  • scale: device for weighing the horn section.
  • score: Leaving with a cute chick.
  • senza sordino: a term used to remind the player that he forgot to put his mute on a few measures back.
  • sine proprietate: cussing in church.
  • sonata: what you get from a bad cold or hay fever.
  • staccato: how you did all the ceilings in your mobile home.
  • stops: something Bach didn't have on his organ.
  • string quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.
  • subito piano: indicates an opportunity for some obscure orchestra player to become a soloist.
  • supertonic: Schweppes.
  • tempo: good choice for a used car.
  • tenor: two hours before a nooner.
  • time signature: what you need from your boss if you forget to clock in.
  • transposition: the act of moving the relative pitch of a piece of music that is too low for the basses to a point where it is too high for the sopranos.
  • transpositions:
    1. men who wear dresses.
    2. An advanced recorder technique where you change from alto to soprano fingering (or vice-versa) in the middle of a piece
  • transsectional: an alto who moves to the soprano section.
  • treble: women ain't nothin' but.
  • trope: a malevolent neum.
  • trotto: an early Italian form of Montezuma's Revenge.
  • tuba: a compound word: "Fetch me another tuba toothpaste!"
  • tutti: something fruity.
  • vibrato: used by singers to hide the fact that they are on the wrong pitch.
  • virtuoso: a musician with very high moral standards.
  • whole note: what's due after failing to pay the mortgage for a year.

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