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Music Term: Glissando

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1-9


Definition and background:

A rapid ascending or descending of the scale. If a glissando is performed on a piano or harp, not every semitone is played, because the finger is drawn across only the white keys in the case of the piano, or the scale available in the case of the harp. If, however, a glissando is performed on a stringed instrument such as a violin, each semitone would be sounded as the finger is either slid up or down the length of a string, or fingering each note separately. A glissando is also possible on wind instruments, however, each note must be fingered separately with the notable exception of the trombone.Due to the unique construction of the trombone with no valves or keys, the glissando is easy to perform. Slang terms for the trombone glissando include tailgate and smear.A glissando with the voice is known as portamento or glide.The common abbreviation for glissando is Gliss.See also [Fr.] Glissement; [Ger.] Glissando; [It.] Glissando; [Sp.] Glissando.Also - Abbreviation Gliss; (Trombone Slang) [Eng.] Smear; [Eng.] Tailgate. (simulated Italian) a continuous sliding from one pitch to another (a true glissando), or an incidental scale executed while moving from one melodic note to another (an effective glissando). See glissando for further information; and compare portamento in this list.a way of playing the piano or harp, involving rapidly sliding up or down the scale, in which every tone or semitone can be clearly heard. often confused with portamento

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