Glossary of Musical Terms


Nachtmusik (German: night-music) is best known from Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, A Little Night Music, a serenade.


A natural is a note that is neither a sharp nor a flat. The adjective is used to describe the natural horn or natural trumpet, without valves.


Neoclassical style in music indicates a 20th century eclectic return by some composers to various styles and forms of earlier periods, whether classical or baroque. The style is exemplified in the score for the ballet Pulcinella by Stravinsky or by the same composer's opera The Rake's Progress.


A nocturne is a night-piece, music that evokes a nocturnal mood. It was developed as a form of solo piano music by the Irish pianist and composer John Field in the early 19th century, leading to its notable use by Chopin. The title has been used more recently by other composers for both instrumental and vocal compositions.


A nonet is a composition for nine performers.


Notation is the method of writing music down, practices of which have varied during the course of history. Staff notation is the conventional notation that makes use of the five-line staff or stave, while some recent composers have employed systems of graphic notation to indicate their more varied requirements, often needing detailed explanations in a preface to the score. Notation is inevitably imprecise, providing a guide of varying accuracy for performers, who must additionally draw on stylistic tradition.


A note in English is either a single sound or its representation in notation. American English refers to a single sound as a tone, following German practice.