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William Kirk Bares

Hybrid genre with origins in London’s acid house scene of the late 1980s. Originating with the English DJ and producer Gilles Peterson, the label denotes a craze, a marketing category, and a durable transatlantic jazz subculture with links to hip hop, rave and club music. Notable bands include the Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Galliano, and Us3 in the UK and Digable Planets, Groove Collective, and Brooklyn Funk Essentials in the USA. During the music’s heyday in the 1990s, groups fused improvised live jazz with soul-jazz beats and elements of hip hop, including lyrics by established rappers like Guru and MC Solaar. The dance-oriented music tapped into the era’s fascination with jazz history, DJ culture, and retro kitsch. Jazz publications of the 1990s, including the UK-based ...

Article

Curtis Price

Instrumental (rarely vocal) music performed before and during the intervals of late 17th- and early 18th-century English plays and semi-operas. A full suite of act music comprises nine pieces: two pieces each of ‘first music’ and ‘second music’, played to entertain the audience waiting for the play to begin; an overture, usually in the French style, sounded after the prologue was spoken and just before the curtain was raised; and four ‘act tunes’ played immediately at the end of each act of a five-act play or semi-opera (except the last)....

Article

A piece of music played, in English semi-operas and plays of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, at the end of each act (except the last). See Act music.

Article

M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet

(Fr.). A French 18th-century stage work in one act, akin to the opéra-ballet and performed at the Académie Royale de Musique (the Opéra). Like the opéra-ballet, an acte de ballet includes airs, duets, choruses (particularly choeurs dansés) and sometimes other vocal music as well as instrumental dances. Being in a single act, it had a continuous, though slight, dramatic action: the plot was often designed to provide maximum opportunity for colourful scenic displays. Under the title ‘Fragments’, an evening’s performance at the Opéra might be made up of several ...

Article

Air (i)  

Nigel Fortune, David Greer and Charles Dill

A term used in England and France from the 16th century onwards, frequently and rather loosely as synonymous with ‘melody’, ‘tune’ or ‘song’.

When Thomas Morley (A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, 1597) applied the term to all the secular vocal forms of his day except the madrigal, the most serious of them, he was following his Italian predecessors and contemporaries in using it to refer to light pieces in a simple, canzonetta-derived style (...

Article

John H. Baron

A term used by French composers and publishers from 1571 to the 1650s to designate many secular, strophic songs sung at court. From 1608 until approximately 1632 these were the most important and numerous vocal compositions in France.

Airs de cour were composed either for four or five unaccompanied voices (a few examples are for six and eight voices) or for one voice usually with lute accompaniment. They were written for the entertainment of the king and his courtiers by the finest composers at court, all of whom were excellent singers. Nearly all ...

Article

Alabado  

A hymn of praise for the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin Mary or other saints. It was brought to the New World at least as early as 1716 by the Franciscans, who continued the Spanish custom of chanting the alabado, or alabanza, as it is called in Spain, in their missions to Texas and California, as they had done in their monasteries. One of the earliest ...

Article

Michael Tilmouth

A term used in ancient Greece in the period of Pindar for the prelude or introduction to a song but subsequently associated with the melodically extravagant, chromatically inflected solo songs or monodies of which Timotheus of Miletus was the most significant exponent. Hans Kotter used the term (in Greek) in the early 16th century for a freely constructed keyboard prelude in a tablature (in ...

Article

Meredith Ellis Little

18th-century term used on the Continent to refer to various types of English dance, primarily the ever-popular country dances, but occasionally also the hornpipe. Country dances were a recreational activity in the French court of Louis XIV as early as the 1680s, but they were soon altered to conform to French taste by the use of characteristic French steps such as the ...

Article

Robert N. Freeman

A genre of 18th-century Austrian cloister theatre: a compact, Latin operetta or semi-dramatic cantata in one act or part, of a congratulatory character. It consisted of a series of solo ariosos or arias alternating with recitative, with at least one ensemble number (duet, trio or quartet), as well as a final chorus that usually functioned as an encomiastic licenza (...

Article

Ariette  

David Charlton

An 18th-century French operatic term denoting different types of vocal solo or vocal ensemble. Its meaning evolved, however, and also changed with the context in which the music occurred. For Brossard (1703), for instance, it meant ‘petit air, ou chansonette’ with a simple binary (...

Article

Aubade  

A term originally applied to music intended for performance in the morning. It has now become simply a generic title. In the 17th and 18th centuries, aubades were played at court by military bands in honour of French sovereigns, and in provincial towns to celebrate the election of municipal officials. The Provençal ...

Article

John Stevens

A French 13th-century chante-fable. The only surviving example of the genre, its sole source is F-Pn fr.2168. It tells, in prose, the romantic story of the love of a count’s son for a foreign girl-captive. Interspersed in the narrative are verse sections (laisses) written in lines with equal numbers of syllables, all sung to the same double phrase of melody (a relic of narrative singing; ...

Article

Auto  

Louise K. Stein

A Spanish dramatic work that developed from medieval liturgical drama. The earliest autos were religious or allegorical plays with a clear didactic or exemplary purpose, and the term was used in a broader sense in the late 15th century and into the 16th to designate one of many kinds of play, secular or religious in nature. As with the ...

Article

Howard E. Smither

One of several terms commonly applied to the Sepolcro, composed to texts in Italian for the Habsburg court in Vienna in the second half of the 17th century. The term was also one of many used for the Italian Oratorio of the 18th century. Both Zeno and Metastasio called their oratorio librettos ...

Article

Baile  

A Spanish term with a wide variety of connotations, all relating to dance. It can refer simply to an occasion for social dancing (thus as an equivalent of the English ‘ball’), or to a specific dance type like the waltz or the minuet, or it can be used as the Spanish equivalent of ‘ballet’. Some 17th-century writers (e.g. Rodrigo Caro and Gonzalo de Salas) distinguished between ‘baile’ and the nearly synonymous ‘danza’, saying that ‘danza’ referred to a courtly, ceremonious dance using grave and measured steps and little or no arm movement, while ‘baile’ referred to an energetic dance involving arm gestures, especially if performed in the theatre. Thus pavans were considered ‘danzas’ while ...

Article

Balada  

Daniel Party

Spanish-language variant of the international pop music ballad. A hybrid of Mexican bolero, Italian and French orchestrated love songs, and early rock and roll ballads, balada emerged simultaneously in Spain and throughout the Americas in the late 1960s. Lyrics are invariably about love and purposely lack references to socio-political issues or local events to maximize potential target audiences. Most often performed by a solo singer, early balada moves at a slow to moderate tempo, and the musical accompaniment, by either a rock ensemble or a studio orchestra, is secondary to the voice. Early baladistas include Mexicans Carlos Lico and Armando Manzanero, Cuban American La Lupe, Spaniards Raphael and Julio Iglesias, Brazilian Roberto Carlos, Argentines Leonardo Favio and Sandro, and Chilean band Los Ángeles Negros....

Article

Nigel Wilkins

One of the three formes fixes (the others are the rondeau and the virelai) that dominated French song and poetry in the 14th and 15th centuries. In its standard late medieval shape the ballade text falls into three stanzas, sharing the same metrical and rhyme scheme and ending with the same refrain. The music for each stanza follows the overall pattern I–I–II. Approximations to this form can be found in monophonic song in the 12th and 13th centuries, when the distinction between the ballade and the virelai in particular was not completely clear. Indeed, even in the 14th century, Machaut called his virelais ‘chansons baladées’....

Article

Ballata  

Kurt von Fischer and Gianluca D’Agostino

Italian dance-song, and poetic and musical form, in use from the second half of the 13th century until the 15th century and beyond.

The word, which was synonymous with danza in earlier times, refers to the functional origin of the word ballare (‘to dance’). The first ballata texts survive without music from the second half of the 13th century in the so-called Bolognese ...

Article

M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet

A type of French Opéra-ballet during the reign of Louis XV, distinguished by having as its principal characters heroic, noble figures, often from antiquity, classical gods and goddesses, or exotic personages, rather than the comic bourgeois and tender heroines of other opéras-ballets. It also differs from the contemporary ...