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V

vamp  Short passage with simple rhythm and harmony that introduces a soloist in a jazz performance.

variation  A formal principle in which some aspects of the music are altered but the original is still recognizable; it falls between repetition and contrast.

verismo  Operatic "realism", a style popular in Italy in the 1890s, which tried to bring naturalism into the lyric theater.

verse  In poetry, a group of lines constituting a unit. In liturgical music for the Catholic Church, a phrase from the Scriptures that alternates with the response.

Vespers  One of the Divine Offices of the Roman Catholic Church, held at twilight.

vibraphone  A percussion instrument with metal bars and electrically driven rotating propellers under each bar that produces a vibrato sound, much used in jazz.

vibrato  Small fluctuation of pitch used as an expressive device to intensify a sound.

vielle  Medieval bowed-string instrument; the ancestor of the violin.

viola  Bowed-string instrument of middle range; the second-highest member of the violin family.

viola da gamba  Family of Renaissance bowed-string instruments that had six or more strings, was fretted like a guitar, and was held between the legs like a modern cello.

violin  The violin's four strings are set in vibration (usually one at a time) by drawing a bow across them with the right hand while the fingers of the left hand stop the strings, changing its vibrate length and thus the pitch.

violoncello  Bowed-string instrument with a middle-to-low range and dark, rich sonority; lower than a viola. See cello.

virelai  Medieval and Renaissance fixed poetic form and chanson type with French courtly texts.

virtuoso  Performer of extraordinary technical ability.

vivace  Lively.

vocable  Nonlexical syllables, lacking literal meaning.

vocalise  A textless vocal melody, as in an exercise or concert piece.

voices  The standard voice types, from highest to lowest, are: (female) soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto; (male) tenor, baritone and bass.

volume  Degree of loudness or softness of a sound. See also dynamics.