B is a note in the musical scale (= German: H;
French, Italian, Spanish etc.: si).
Badinerie (French: teasing), indicates a piece of
music of light-hearted character. The best known badinerie is the lively
last movement of Bach's Suite in B minor for flute, strings and continuo.
Bagatelle, used as the title of a short light-hearted
piece of music, was employed most notably by Beethoven in a series of such
compositions for piano. The descriptive title was thereafter used by a
number of other composers.
The bagpipe is an ancient instrument, at least in
its most primitive form, and is still found in a number of countries. It
is a reed instrument, with the reed sounded by air expressed from a leather
bag. It generally makes use of a single pipe that can be fingered to produce
different notes, with additional drones, pipes that produce single notes,
a marked feature of bagpipe music and of its imitations for other instruments.
The sophisticated and more versatile French musette, a bagpipe operated
by bellows, gave its name to a baroque dance suite movement, marked, usually
in the bass, by the continuing sound of a drone, a repeated single note.
Ballad, derived from the late Latin verb 'ballare',
to dance, came to be used primarily to describe a folk-song of narrative
character or a song or poem written in imitation of such a folk-song. The
title Ballade was used by Chopin to describe four piano-pieces of otherwise
concealed narrative content, apparently based on narrative poems of ballad
type by the patriotic poet Mickieiwicz, while Brahms in one of his Ballades
transfers into music an old Scottish narrative ballad. The Ballade of French
music and poetry of the 14th and 15th centuries denotes a different and
fixed literary and musical form.
In written Western music the bar-line came to be
used, a vertical line through the stave, to mark metrical units or bars
(= measures). By the later 17th century the bar-line had come to be used
immediately preceding a strong beat, so that a bar came to begin normally
with an accented note. The double bar or double bar-line marks the end
of a section or piece.
A barcarolle is a boating-song, generally used to
describe the boating-songs of gondoliers in Venice, imitated by composers
in songs and instrumental pieces in the 19th century. Chopin wrote one
such Barcarolle for piano, and Mendelssohn provided four shorter piano
pieces of this kind. At the end of the century and in the early 20th century
the French composer Gabriel Fauré wrote thirteen Barcarolles. There
is a particularly well known barcarolle in Offenbach's opera The Tales
of Hoffmann (Les contes d'Hoffmann).
The word 'baritone' describes a type of male voice
of middle range. The word is also used to specify pitched and valved brass
instruments of lowish register and as an adjective to distinguish the rare
lowest member of the oboe family, also known as a bass oboe, sounding an
octave (eight notes) lower than the normal oboe.
Once used as a term of critical disapproval, the
word 'baroque' is now used in music to designate a period of musical history
from about 1600 to about 1750, although any such periodisation in history
can only be a rough guide. In musicology the term was borrowed from the
history of art and architecture. In music the baroque era may conveniently
be divided into three fifty-year periods, Early Baroque, Middle Baroque
and Late Baroque. The first of these is typified by the Italian composer
Monteverdi, the Middle Baroque by composers such as Henry Purcell in England
or Lully in France and the Late Baroque by Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel
The word 'bass' describes the lower register and
lower sonorities in music. In vocal music it indicates the lowest type
of male voice, and in instrumental music is generally used to indicate
the bottom part. As an adjective it is used to describe instruments of
lower register, such as the bass clarinet. In common speech the word bass
may indicate the double bass, the largest and lowest instrument of the
string family, or, in brass bands, an instrument corresponding to the orchestral
tuba, the bass of the brass family.
A bass-baritone is a male singer with a range that
includes both bass and baritone registers, described by Wagner, who wrote
for this kind of voice, as a high bass.
The basso continuo or continuo is the figured bass
commonly used in music of the baroque period. It was the normal practice
to make use of a bass instrument of some kind, for example a cello or bass
viola da gamba and a chordal instrument, a keyboard instrument or plucked
string instrument, the part of the latter indicated by numbers added to
the music for the bass instrument, showing the chords as a basis for improvised
accompaniment or 'filling in' and embellishing of harmonies.
The bassoon is a double-reed wind instrument (= German:
Fagott; Italian: fagotto). It is the bass of the woodwind section in the
modern orchestra, which can be augmented by the use of a double bassoon
of lower range.
The beat or pulse in a piece of music is the regular
rhythmic pattern of the music. Each bar should start with a strong beat
and each bar should end with a weak beat. These may be known as the down-beat
(strong, at the beginning of a bar) and the up-beat (weak, at the end of
a bar). Up and down describe the gestures of a conductor, whose preparatory
up-beat is of even greater importance to players than his down-beat.
A berceuse is a cradle-song or lullaby, in lilting
triple or compound time. The most famous example of the use of this title
is by Chopin, who wrote one Berceuse, followed by Liszt.
Bewegt (German: agitated) is used as a tempo indication
meaning something the same as the Italian 'agitato', although mässig
bewegt is used as the equivalent of allegro moderato.
A two-part form; a musical structure containing two
main divisions. Often each of these is repeated. They may be
equal or unequal in length; in the latter event the second section is normally
the longer. Generally the first section leads from the tonic key
to a related one (most often the dominant), while the second reverses this
direction. Many dance movements of the 17th and early 18th centuries
are written in binary form, as are most keyboard works by Domenico
Scarlatti and many short movements and works of the 18th and 19th centuries.
As a rule, the two sections of binary form have
related or similar contents. When material used in the opening section
returns at the end of the second section, the form is known as rounded
binary. From this form evolved the Sonata
form, which plays such a vital role in sonata,
and chamber music repertoires.
Rounded binary form somewhat resembles ternary
form. Both may be represented by the schema, A B
A. However, the B section of a ternary form is contrasting rather
than derivative and the return of the A section is handled differently
in the two forms.
The simultaneous combination of two different melodic
or harmonic patterns, each being characteristic of a different key.
It is frequently used in 20th-century music and is a means to create powerful
The bolero is a Spanish dance, popular in Paris in
the time of Chopin and in Latin America. One of the best known examples
of the dance in art music is Ravel's ballet music Boléro, music
of mounting intensity described by the composer as an orchestrated crescendo.
A bourrée is a duple-rhythm French dance sometimes
found in the baroque dance suite, where it was later placed after the sarabande,
with other lighter additional dances.
The brass section of the orchestra includes metal
instruments where the sound is produced by forcing air through a cup-shaped
or conical mouthpiece. The brass section usually consists of trumpets,
trombones and tuba and French horns.'
Brio (Italian: vivacity, fire or energy) appears
as an instruction to performers as, for example, in allegro con brio, fast
with brilliance and fire, an indication used on a number of occasions by