Singing Glossary – A Guide to Singing

singing glossary
singing glossary

Ever been in a singing class and felt like they might as well be speaking a different language? Well that’s because they are! Most singing terms are Italian which can make picking up technique even more tricky. All of our Singing Lessons at City Academy are built to ensure our students develop a good knowledge of musical terms and technique. Our Head of Singing and professional singer, Bernadette Doyle, has put together a Singing Glossary of useful terms to give you a head start!

Singing Glossary: A - D

A CappellaSinging without any form of accompaniment
AltoLow female voice
BaritoneMale voice located between bass and tenor in range and tone quality
BassLowest male voice type
Belt The loudest sound a singer can make, mixing their lower and upper resonances
DiaphragmThe dome shaped muscle attached to the bottom of the lungs that separates your chest and stomach cavities. The main muscle involved in breathing
DictionThe pronunciation and enunciation of words
DynamicsThe variations in volume in a given song

Singing Glossary: F - P

FalsettoComes from the Italian word for “false.” Usually the highest part of a man’s voice when singing in an upper register
FlatTo be under the correct pitch
IntonationThe relation of one note to another, and the relative pitching of each note
LarynxCommonly called the voice box, is an organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration
LegatoNotes which are sung smoothly and connected
Mezzo SopranoThe second highest female voice type
Nodules/NodesSmall non-malignant lesions or bumps that occur on the vocal cords
PhrasingRefers to the breaths in-between notes and rhythm of the song
PitchThe high or low frequency of a sound
singing terminology

Singing Glossary: R - Z

RangeThe notes that a performer can sing comfortably
RegisterThe range of a voice or instrument
ResonanceThe modification and amplification of the vocal sound by certain areas of the body
ScaleAny set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch
SharpTo be above the note
Soft paletteThe soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth
SopranoHighest Female Voice
StaccatoThe opposite of Legato - each note is separate from the one before and after it
TenorHighest male voice
ToneThe color or timbre of pitch
VibratoThe vibration of the singing sound
Vocal chord/foldsTwo muscular folds that connect from the inside front to the inside back of your larynx; their change in thickness and vibrating length, due to adjustment in tension, affects the pitch and intensity of your tone
singing guide

At City Academy we run Singing Classes for adults, as well as a range of exciting opportunities including six different Choirs, Open Mic Nights, Musical Theatre Classes and more, whether you're new to singing or have previous experience.

We hope you found our glossary useful, you are now ready for the world of singing!

For more information read our Singing blog posts, or browse our Singing Classes: