Musical Dictionary – M


A metronome is any device that produces regular, metrical ticks (beats, clicks) β€” settable in beats per minute. These ticks represent a fixed, regular aural pulse; some metronomes also include synchronized visual motion (e.g. pendulum-swing).

Uses for the metronome
  • Learning consistency of tempo and rhythmic beats
  • Practicing technique (during drills: setting the metronome progressively to higher speeds; or during performance: exposing slow-downs due to technical difficulties)
  • Sheet music often has metronome-markings, that show the speed at which the work should be played
  • Click tracks: Musicians can separately play the different parts of a word, according to a synchronized click-track (using headphones); and audio-engineers then mix the tracks together, synchronizing the parts at the clicks.
  • Backing tracks are often created with electronic synthesizers and inherently adhere to strict beats
Metronomes in the Media
Because its beat is perfectly steady, the metronome is an excellent practice tool for musicians. Practicing with a metronome is extremely useful for developing and maintaining rhythmic precision, for learning to keep consistent tempos, for countering tendencies to slow down or speed up in specific passages, and for developing evenness and accuracy in rapid passages. Most music teachers consider the metronome indispensable, and most professional musicians, in fact, continue to practice with a metronome throughout their careers.
β€”The NPR Classical Music Companion (2005) [13]


Middle C

Middle C is designated C4 in scientific pitch notation because of the note’s position as the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard. While other note-octave systems (including those used by some manufacturers of digital music keyboards) may refer to “Middle C” with a different designation, the C4 designation is the most commonly recognized in auditory science and in musical studiesit is frequently used in place of the Helmholtz designation c’.

While the expression “Middle C” is generally clear across instruments and clefs, some musicians tend to use the term to refer to the C note in the middle of their specific instrument’s range. For example, C4 may be called “Low C” by someone playing a Western concert flute (which has a higher and narrower playing range than a piano), while C5 (523.251 Hz) would be “Middle C”. This technically inaccurate practice has led some pedagogues to encourage standardizing on C4 as the definitive “Middle C” in instructional materials across all instruments.[2]

Middle C on the piano and various clefs


  1. Hoffman, Miles (1997). The NPR Classical Music Companion: Terms and Concepts from A to Z. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  2. Large, John (February 1981). “Theory in Practice: Building a Firm Foundation”. Music Educators Journal 32: 30–35.