Alta danza   

Term used to define fast and lively dances, such as gagliarde or canarios. These are energy dances full of lifts and leaps. Used as opposed to the term bassa danza (see definition).

Angle harp (or angular harp)

A musical instrument in which the neck forms an evident angle with the resonator. The earliest iconographic references, found in the geographical area formerly occupied by Mesopotamia, date back to 2000 BC.


It is an important pre-Columbian musical instrument of the Paracas and Nasca cultures (both formerly based in what is now Peru), belonging to the same family as the siku and the pan flute, dating back 2,500 years or more. In the vestiges of the Nasca culture, you can find chromatic ceramic antaras.


Small drum or tambourine that is usually played at public parties.


Atabal player.


The ballade is a form of medieval and Renaissance French poetry as well as the corresponding musical chanson form. It was one of the three formes fixes (the other two were the rondeau and the virelai) and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late XIII and the XV centuries.

Baxa danza (bassedanse, bassadanza)

The most popular court dance (originating in XIV-century Italy) of the XV and early XVI century, especially in the Burgundian court, often in a combined time of 6/4 and 3/2 which allowed the use of hemiola. The word "low" describes the nature of the dance, in which pairs of dancers moved gracefully in a slow slide. Term used in opposition to alta danza (see definition).

Cancioneril poems

It is usually called lírica cancioneril the one composed during the 13th to XVI centuries and compiled in anthologies elaborated by some collector of poems called cancioneros.


The cantiga is the traditional genre of Galician-Portuguese medieval poetry (XII-XIV centuries). The cantigas are sung poems, whose lyrics and music were composed by troubadours. The one who played and sang these poems was the jongleur, who sometimes was also a troubadour.

Cantus firmus        

In music, cantus firmus refers to a pre-existing melody which constitutes the basis of a polyphonic composition.


The racial caste castiza was created to classify people who had European and American ancestors. Castizo was descended from a Spanish father and a mestizo mother or vice versa, resulting in three quarters white Hispanic and one quarter native.


The cavaquinho is a small Portuguese stringed instrument of the European guitar family, with four strings of wire or gut, imported into Latin America during the conquest. The Brazilian cavaquinho is slightly larger than the Portuguese one.


The word chanson refers to the French polyphonic song of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, spread by troubadours and troubadours.


The chantre, within the Catholic Church, is the name of an ecclesiastical title given within some collegiate councils. It is an office that designated the master chanter or choir master in the main temples, especially in the cathedrals. In some places, this term also referred to the sochantre who governed the choir by governing the chanting. The name chantre comes from the French chanteur, which would be translated as singer.


The charango is a stringed instrument, probably originating from the Quechua and Aymara populations of the Andean plateau territories. Descending from the vihuela and the baroque guitar, it was originally built with the shell of an armadillo.


Chirimía is a Spanish term for a type of woodwind instrument similar to an oboe. The chirimía is a member of the shawm family of double-reed instruments, introduced to Central and South America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the Spanish clergy.


Knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes.


The cornett, or cornetto is an early wind instrument that dates from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, popular from 1500 to 1650. It was used in what are now called alta capellas or wind ensembles.


The term criollo (= creole) comes from the ancient Castilian (mestizo, home-born servant) and originally indicated the individuals born from parents both European or African in the American colonies; later it extended to indicate mestizo, meaning today prevalent.


The cuatro is a typical Latin American musical instrument, particularly used in Venezuela and Puerto Rico. It is a Latin American derivative of the baroque guitar imported by the Spanish in the XV century.


Medieval poetry compositions not intended for singing and admitting very varied contents. Among others, there is the amateur (= amatorios) and moral (= morales) one.


A grant by the Spanish Crown to a colonist in America conferring the right to demand tribute and forced labour from the Indian inhabitants of an area.


or cobra esparsa is the basic strophe, or stanza, of medieval Trobadoric poetry written in Occitan. It has no fixed extension, oscillating between 3 and 44 verses, but those of 8, 9 and 10 verses predominate. Each cobla of a song was usually sung with the same melody.


The term distinguishes a dance typical of the Balearic Islands in ternary rhythm (3/4 or 6/8) which is danced in pairs and is accompanied by castanets, hand-clapping (palmas in Spanish) and guitar and sometimes sung.


The frottola is the predominant genre of Italian folk song throughout the XV century and the early XVI century. Generally a frottola is a composition for three or four voices with the voice with the highest tone containing the melody; often the voices were accompanied by a musical instrument.


The Guineos, Negros or Negrillas (also called villancico de negros, “black villancico”), were a genre of villancico that sought to portray the African slaves, imitating their music and their way of speaking. It was a villancico that gave voice to African characters speaking in an early Creole variety of Spanish or Portuguese, sometimes mixing some loose words from the Yoruba or Bantu languages, and tending to incorporate the strong percussion rhythmic patterns that were considered typical of African dances.

Maestro de capilla 

The expression maestro de capilla (= chapel master) refers to the person responsible for the music of an ecclesiastical chapel. The term is a translation of the Latin magister capellae; the cappella was the centre of musical activity during the Middle Ages.  The magistercapellae later became maître de chapelle (in French), maestro di cappella (in Italian), Kapellmeister (in German).


The term mestizo was originally used to indicate the individuals who were born from the crossbreeding between the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors or European settlers and the indigenous pre-Columbian Amerindian populations.


Ministril is one of the names given to the musicians or jongleurs who complemented the medieval troubadours. It seems that troubadours, troveros and minnesingers, were proud of their literary activity but they were ashamed of playing instruments, so in a traditional way they resorted to the ministriles for this function of instrumental accompaniment of their songs. Later on, the term ministril was used to differentiate the musicians from the singers.


Mote is the verse or set of verses that is used as a poetic challenge, for the creation of a poetic composition such as glosa or villancicoComposed of one or more verses (often two verses), it can appear in different positions in the response stanza.


A term which, in the XIV-XVI centuries, designated the portative organ.




Simplified language born from the encounter between different languages, especially between a European language and an indigenous language of Africa, South East Asia or America, to solve communication problems in business relations.

Portative organ      

The portative organ, also called organetto, is a small organ, although structurally similar to larger instruments. As the name says, it is a transportable instrument that can be played without the need for stable support, unlike the positive organ.

Positive organ        

The positive organ (also called simply positive or chamber organ) is a small pipe organ, equipped with a single manual. Its name derives from the Latin ponere, "collocate", as it is possible to carry it.


Serranilla is a lyrical-narrative composition in minor art verse (verse of eight syllables or less), typically Castilian, which tells of a love affair with a woman from the sierra or serrana.


The tiento is a musical form for solo instruments similar to the fantasy, typical of XVI century Spanish music. It is a musical form that tries to exploit the possibilities of the instrument, being able to be considered as a predecessor of the etude, in fact sometimes they are ordered with increasing difficulty, as an exercise of technical learning.


The Tinya, also known as Wankar or Wankara, is an Andean percussion instrument similar to a drum, whose use is widespread in the Andean American region: Ecuador, Peru, the Bolivian Altiplano, and northern Argentina and Chile. It is built from very fine rawhide, giving it a vibrant and sharp sound. It has a mystical origin and was used exclusively in spiritual rituals that were celebrated in the Central Andes area.


The villancico is a musical genre born in Spain and Portugal at the end of the XV century that was in vogue during the Renaissance and early Baroque, as well as in the Iberian Peninsula and in the colonies of the New World.


A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music.