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sackbut  Early brass instrument, ancestor of the trombone.

sacred music  Religious or spiritual music, for church or devotional use.

salsa  "Spicy"; collective term for Latin-American dance music, especially forms of Afro-Cuban origin.

saltarello  Italian "jumping dance", often characterized by triplets in a rapid 4/4 time.

samba  Afro-Brazilian dance, characterized by duple meter, responsorial singing, and polyrhythmic accompaniments.

sampler  Electronic device that digitizes, stores and plays back sounds.

Sanctus  A section of the Mass; the fourth musical movement of the Ordinary.

sarabande  Stately Spanish Baroque dance type in triple meter, a standard movement of the Baroque suite.

sarangi  Bowed chordophone from north India with three main strings and a large number of metal strings that vibrate sympathetically.

saxophone  A woodwind instrument made of metal and sounded with a single reed; the saxophone is a more recent instrument addition to the orchestra.
tenor saxophone -  alto saxophone - soprano saxophone

scale  A series of tones or pitches in ascending or descending order. Scale tones are often assigned numbers (1-8) or syllables (do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do).

scat singing  A jazz style that sets syllables without meaning (vocables) to an improvised vocal line.

scherzo  Composition in A-B-A form, usually in triple meter; replaced the minuet and trio in the nineteenth century.

secco  Operatic recitative that features a sparse accompaniment and moves with great freedom.

Second Viennese School  Name given to composer Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils Alban Berg and Anton Webern; represents the first efforts in twelve-tone composition.

secular music  Nonreligious music; when texted, usually in the vernacular.

semitone  Also known as a half step, the smallest interval commonly used in the Western musical system.

sequence  Restatement of an idea or motive at a different pitch level.

serenade  Classical instrumental genre that combines elements of chamber music and symphony, often performed in the evening or at social functions. Related to divertimento and cassation.

serialism  Method of composition in which various musical elements (pitch, rhythm, dynamics, tone color) may be ordered in a fixed series. See also total serialism.

seventh chord  Four-note combination consisting of a triad with another third added on top; spans a seventh between its lowest and highest tones.

sextuple meter  Compound metrical pattern of six beats to a measure.

sforzando  A sudden stress or accent on a single note or chord, indicated in the musical score by the marking "sf" or "sfz".

shakuhachi  A Japanese end-blown flute.

shamisen  Long-necked Japanese chordophone with three strings.

shape note  Music notation system originating in nineteenth century American church music in which the shape of the note heads determines the pitch; created to aid music reading.

sharp sign  Musical symbol (#) that indicates raising a pitch by a semitone.

shawm  Medieval wind instrument, the ancestor of the oboe.

sheng  A reed mouth organ from China.

side drum  See snare drum.

simple meter  Grouping of rhythms in which the beat is subdivided into two, as in duple, triple, and quadruple meters.

sinfonia  Short instrumental work, found in Baroque opera, to facilitate scene changes.

Singspiel  Comic German drama with spoken dialogue; the immediate predecessor of Romantic German opera.

sitar  Long-necked plucked chordophone of northern India, with movable frets and a rounded gourd body; used as solo instrument and with tabla.

ska  Jamaican urban dance form popular in the 1960s, influential in reggae.

slide trumpet  Medieval brass instrument of the trumpet family.

snare drum  Small cylindrical drum with two heads stretched over a metal shell, the lower head having strings across it; played with two drumsticks. Also side drum.

soft rock  Lyrical, gentle rock style that evolved around 1960 in response to hard-driving rock and roll.

sonata  Instrumental genre in several movements for soloist or small ensemble.

sonata-allegro form  The opening movement of the sonata cycle, consisting of themes that are stated in the first section (exposition), developed in the second section (development), and restated in the third section (recapitulation). Also sonata form or first-movement form.

sonata cycle  General term describing the multimovement structure found in sonatas, string quartets, symphonies, concertos and large-scale works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

sonata da camera  Baroque chamber sonata, usually a suite of stylized dances. Also chamber sonata.

sonata da chiesa  Baroque instrumental work intended for performance in church; in four movements, frequently arranged slow-fast-slow-fast. Also church sonata.

sonata form  See sonata-allegro form.

song cycle  Group of songs, usually Lieder, that are unified musically or through their texts.

soprano  Highest-ranged voice, normally possessed by women or boys.

sousaphone  Brass instrument adapted from the tuba with a forward bell that is coiled to rest over the player's shoulder for ease of carrying while marching.

spiritual  Folklike devotional genre of the United States, sung by African-Americans and whites.

spiritual minimalism  Contemporary musical style related to minimalism, characterized by a weak pulse and long chains of lush progressions, either tonal or modal.

Sprechstimme  A vocal style in which the melody is spoken at approximate pitches rather than sung on exact pitches; developed by Arnold Schoenberg.

staccato  Short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them.

statement  See exposition.

stileconcitato  Baroque style developed by Monteverdi, which introduced novel effects such as rapid repeated notes as symbols of passion.

stile rappresentativo  A dramatic recitative style of the Baroque period in which melodies move freely over a foundation of simple chords.

stopping  On a string instrument, altering the string length by pressing it on the fingerboard. On a horn, playing with the bell closed by the hand or a mute.

strain  A series of contrasting sections found in rags and marches; in duple meter with sixteen-measure themes or sections.

string family  The members of the string family include two types of instruments: bowed and plucked. The standard bowed string instruments, from highest to lowest, are violin, viola, cello and double bass. The harp and guitar are common plucked string instruments. String instruments often play special effects, including trill, pizzicato, harmonic and arpeggio. Also chordophone.

string quartet  The string quartet was one of the most common chamber ensembles. Its makeup is two violins, viola and cello.

string quintet  Standard chamber ensemble made up of either two violins, two violas and cello, or two violins, viola and two cellos.

string trio  Standard chamber ensemble made up two violins and cello, or violin, viola and cello.

strophic form  Song structure in which the same music is repeated with every stanza (strophe) of the poem.

Sturm und Drang  "Storm and stress"; late eighteenth century movement in Germany toward more emotional expression in the arts.

style  Characteristic manner of presentation of musical elements (melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, form, etc.)

subdominant  The fourth scale step, fa.

subdominant chord  Chord built on the fourth scale step, the IV chord.

subject  Main idea or theme of a work, as in a fugue.

suite  Multimovement work made up of a series of contrasting dance movements, generally all in the same key. Also partita and ordre.

swing  Jazz term coined to describe Louis Armstrong's style; more commonly refers to big band jazz.

syllabic  Melodic style with one note to each syllable of text.

symphonic poem  One-movement orchestral form that develops a poetic idea, suggests a scene or creates a mood, generally associated with the Romantic era. Also tone poem.

symphony  Large work for orchestra, generally in three or four movements.

syncopation  Deliberate upsetting of the meter or pulse through a temporary shifting of the accent to a weak beat or an offbeat.

synthesizer  Electronic instrument that produces a wide variety of sounds by combining sound generators and sound modifiers in one package with a unified control system.