OBOE - A member of the woodwind family. The Oboe has a sound that is clear and penetrating. Its name comes from the French word hautbois, which means 'high wood'.
OCTAVE - From the Latin word for "eight". An interval that is eight diatonic scale steps above or below the original note of the same alphabet letter. For example, D to D, or G to G.
JACQUES OFFENBACH - (1819-1880) A German-born French composer of the Romantic era. His first full-length operetta, "Orpheus in the Underworld" (1858), remains one of his most played works. The Galop from this operetta is the melody most often associated with the can-can.
OPEN STRING - The note produced from a full unstopped string.
OPERA - A dramatic musical play, in which all or most of the dialogue is sung rather than spoken.
OPERETTA - A "light" opera. An opera that is lighthearted in musical style and story.
OPUS - A term composers use identify their musical works. The use of the term may or may not indicate the chronological order of the composition.
ORCHESTRA - A large instrumental ensemble with string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. A full-size orchestra is typically made up of 90 musicians.
ORCHESTRATION - The practice of scoring music for an ensemble, or adapting music composed for another ensemble. For example, a composer may choose to orchestrate a piece of music for full orchestra that was originally written for piano. Understanding how "paint" this new arrangement of the original score with vibrant new colors is the art of orchestration.
CARL ORFF - (1895-1982) German composer. He is best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937). Orff was also internationally recognized for his contribution to music education. His Orff-Schulwerk combines movement, singing, speech, listening and instrument playing.
ORGAN - An instrument with a very large and complex keyboard, with pipes that act as resonators for the sound. A sound is made by striking a key or foot pedal, which sends compressed air through a pipe.
ORNAMENTS - Melodic embellishments.
ORNAMENTATION - Embellishments used to enhance a melody.
OSTINATO - A repeated melodic or rhythmic motif.
OTTAVA - Octave.
OTTAVA ALTA (8VA) - One octave higher.
OTTAVA BASSA (8VA OR 8VB) - One octave lower.
OVERTURE - An instrumental introduction to an opera, play or movie, to set the mood or describe the action that will follow.