British to American Music Terms

Submitted by wngreen on Mon, 2010-02-15 14:10

Crosspost from ProudlySelfish

Many of you who follow my twitter feed have probably watched one of the videos with me practicing my Alto Horn. I play in a British Brass Band. We have had the pleasure over my 4 year tenure to be visited by composer/conductor Nigel Horne. Getting the British style just right is changeling for any group and Nigel's passion and demand from the podium always leaves us playing one notch better then we though possible and about 300x better then where we started at the beginning of practice!

For an odd reason Nigel and us in the band often run into major communication difficulties. I'm not talking about the typical torch/flashlight stuff -- British musical terms come from a wholly different musical tradition then our common musical terms in America. For the most part we keep the frustration level low by staring at each other blankly as someone in the section quickly figures out what Nigel is talking about. I'm no musical linguist (Alton Brown style pause...) so here are my translations for some of the terms I've heard before stolen from various parts of the interwebs.

leader (UK) = concertmaster (USA)
produce (an opera) (UK) = conduct an opera (USA)
Conservatoire - Conservatory
bar (UK) = measure (USA)

Notes (UK - USA):

Breve - A note of two bars' length (a count of Cool in 4/4 time (no AmE equivalent of which I'm aware)
Crotchet - Quarter note
Minim - Half note
Quaver - Eighth note
Semiquaver - Sixteenth note
Demisemiquaver - Thirty-second note
Hemidemisemiquaver - Sixty-fourth note
Semibreve - Whole note
Semitone - Half step

Anyone want to add to the list? I know there are some folks who are fluent in the Queen's English out there!