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Using Musical Terms: Capitalization
and lower case terms
lower case for?
Tonalities: modes, pentatonic, major and minor, except when they are part
of a title:
Mozart modulates to C major?
Sonata in C Minor (a title)
Genre names, except when they refer to a specific title:
Musical forms and sections of
forms are not capitalized:
recitatives and arias
exposition, development and
Liturgical words, especially those that begin a movement or section, are
Mass, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus,
Requiem, Dies irae
Dynamics, endings and other
musical instructions use lower case and
italics. Complete words are
preferable to abbreviations, but when shortened, italics are still required.
Tempo markings are capitalized only when they refer to the beginning of a
In the Adagio movement?
Pitches, chords and time signatures
In written text, pitches are
capitalized and chords are given in roman numerals, or their use, whichever is
?Happy Birthday? begins on C
and on the tonic chord, but moves to a V7.
4/4, 9/8, 3/2 (do not use
fractions with one number over the other)
Musical periods are generally capitalized:
Middle Ages, but medieval music
Romantic composers and romanticism
twentieth-century music, contemporary
centuries are lower case
(hyphenate the two adjectives)
in the seventeenth century (no
Instrument and voice names are lower case:
french or english horns (non-literal
meaning of the nationality)
soprano, alto, tenor, bass