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Chekker  

Denzil Wraight

The earliest term used in archives and other writings to denote a string keyboard instrument. Its exact meaning is still the subject of debate and research, but it is probable that most references are to a clavichord. There appears to be no Italian equivalent of the name; Farmer suggested that it is derived from the Arabic ‘al-shaqira’ and tentatively identified this as a virginal, but there is no supporting evidence. Some writers identified the chekker as an upright harpsichord (i.e. a ...

Article

Murray Campbell

(b Cleveland, OH, July 19, 1915; d Pittsburgh, PA, Feb 10, 2010). American scientist and acoustician. After studying physics at Case Institute of Technology (BS 1937), he carried out research in nuclear physics at the University of Illinois (PhD 1941). He then joined the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, remaining with the firm for the rest of his professional life; he retired in ...

Article

Owen Jander and Tim Carter

In music, the relation between verbal stress and melodic accent in the setting and delivery of a text. Clear and appropriate text setting, measured by quantity or quality, was extolled by humanist thinkers in the Renaissance on the basis of classical precedent, and it was central to the emergence of recitative and the ‘new music’ in Florence during the late 16th century. Throughout the Baroque period, the notion of the musician as orator, persuading and moving an audience, depended on proper declamation. The subject was often discussed by theorists, particularly as clear declamation became threatened by the more musical demands of the aria. J.G. Walther (...

Article

Edwin M. Ripin and Martin Renshaw

A term used by Greek theorists to designate an octave, either the interval or the scale. The English use of ‘diapason’ to denote the range or compass of a voice or instrument derives from this.

Article

Stephen E. Hefling

Rhythms in which long notes alternate with one or more short notes, so called because the long notes are usually written with the aid of the dot of addition (see Note values). Dotted rhythms are found in mensurally notated music of all periods; this article, however, deals mainly with music of the 17th and 18th centuries, in which it was customary to alter certain sorts of written rhythmic values in performance (...

Article

Echo  

Murray Campbell and Mary Térey-Smith

The repetition of sound after a short time interval. In addition to the applications discussed below the term is used for a signal-processing device (also known as a delay) that produces a slightly delayed playback of sounds either by a tape loop or by digital delay; ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Many types of instruments throughout the world have been assigned male, female, or sometimes ambivalent gender. These attributes, rooted in prehistoric animism and sexual dualism, bear on the perceived nature of the instruments themselves (which might be thought to embody male or female spirits, or to personify abstract sexualities) and also on their musical and social functions and the circumstances surrounding their making and playing. Even if an instrument is not given a gender, customs may govern whether it is appropriate for use by men or women or both. An attribution depends on many aspects of an instrument and a society’s attitude toward those aspects, among them morphology (e.g. phallic, like many bagpipes; womblike, like many bells and drums; or evoking pregnancy, like the rounded body of a lute), material, means of sound production (e.g. blowing, beating, stroking), high or low pitch, sound quality and power or affect, degree of apparent physical effort involved in playing, and playing posture (e.g. many Victorians considered holding the cello between the legs unladylike; in Kerala, India, a woman who raises her hand near her breast in order to strike a drum could appear immodest)....

Article

D. Quincy Whitney

(b Springfield, MA, May 24, 1911; d Wolfeboro, NH, Aug 7, 2009). American violinmaker, acoustician, and writer. A trumpeter and biology graduate of Cornell University (AB 1933) and New York University (MA 1942), she left both disciplines to embrace string instruments and acoustical physics. While teaching science and woodworking at the Brearley School, chamber music colleagues convinced her to take up viola. A woodcarver since childhood, Hutchins, at age 35, decided to make a viola. Hutchins then studied luthiery with Karl A. Berger (...

Article

Clive Greated

(b Springfield, MA, May 24, 1911; d Wolfeboro, NH, Aug 7, 2009). American violin maker and acoustician. After studying biology at Cornell University (AB 1933) and taking an MA in education, she went on to study violin making with Karl A. Berger (...

Article

Howard Mayer Brown

Although it now has only the general meaning of ‘musical instrument’, the word ‘Instrument’ in German used to have the more specific meaning of ‘keyboard instrument’. To judge from the title-pages of late 16th-century German keyboard anthologies by Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach (1571, 1575 and ...

Article

Nicolas Meeùs

A set of levers (keys) actuating the mechanism of a musical instrument such as the organ, harpsichord, clavichord, piano etc. The keyboard probably originated in the Greek hydraulis, but its role in antiquity and in non-European civilizations appears to have remained so limited that it may be considered as characteristic of Western music. Its influence on the development of the musical system can scarcely be overrated. The primacy of the C major scale in tonal music, for instance, is partly due to its being played on the white keys, and the 12-semitone chromatic scale, which is fundamental to Western music even in some of its recent developments, derives to some extent from limitations and requirements of the keyboard design. The arrangement of the keys in two rows, the sharps and flats being grouped by two and three in the upper row, already existed in the early 15th century....

Article

Claus Bockmaier

To introduce Coloration. A term used in German-speaking lands during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to describe the use of commonplace melodic figures to generate musical textures. During the 15th century, standardized coloration formulae were the starting point for many compositions, especially those which elaborated upon a cantus firmus (...

Article

Hugh Davies

A transducer which converts variations of electrical current into sound vibrations. The principle of the loudspeaker is the exact reverse of that of the microphone. It is driven by an amplifier (which may be housed in a separate cabinet or combined with the loudspeaker in a single ‘combination unit’), and is the exact reverse of the microphone. The loudspeaker is an essential component of every electro-musical system. A loudspeaker cabinet for professional or domestic use normally contains at least a substantial mid-range unit and a ‘tweeter’ for higher frequencies; a larger cabinet or a separate bass loudspeaker will also incorporate a low-frequency ‘woofer’. A loudspeaker installation for a large space, temporary or permanent, is normally known as a PA (‘public address’) system....

Article

Meane  

Owen Jander

English term referring originally to the middle part of a three-voice polyphonic texture. R. Brunne’s Chronical of Wace (c 1630) refers to ‘the clerkes that best couthe synge, wyth treble, mene & burdoun’. In discussions of discant, 15th-century theorists (Leonel Power, Pseudo-Chilston) applied ‘mene’ to the part sounding a 5th or a 3rd above the plainchant. In the Mulliner Book ten compositions by John Redford (...

Article

David Fuller

An ambiguous term in English, owing its existence to the fact that it is the literal equivalent of the Latin punctus organi or organicus punctus, the German Orgelpunkt, and the French point d'orgue. Although listed in all musical dictionaries, the English term is usually avoided in practical situations in favour of the more precise ‘pedal’ or ...

Article

Laurence Libin

The study of musical instruments in terms of their history and social function, design, construction and relation to performance. Organology has interested scholars since at least as early as the 17th century. Praetorius, in his Syntagma musicum ii (1618) provided an important section on instruments, including some non-Western types, with realistic illustrations drawn to scale (...

Article

Peter Williams and Rosa Cafiero

A term used fairly frequently in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to denote exercises in figured-bass playing, not so much as accompaniments to a solo instrument as self-contained pieces. Composers using this term were very often Neapolitan or Milanese, though the significance of this is unknown. The word may or may not refer to the 17th century practice of divisions, i.e. performing variations on a repeating (figured) bass; more likely it reflects the common Italian practice ...

Article

Edwin M. Ripin and John Barnes

A clavichord equipped with a pedal-board like that of an organ. Instruments of this type are mentioned by Paulus Paulirinus of Prague (c 1460) and Virdung (Musica getutscht, 1511), and a 15th-century drawing shows a clavichord with a two-and-a-half-octave compass B...

Article

A name given by lexicographers to the Sambuca lincea, an enharmonic harpsichord or Arcicembalo , invented by Fabio Colonna , and described by him in 1618.

Article

Nicolas Meeùs

A term to denote the tuning of some of the lowest notes of keyboard instruments to pitches below their apparent ones. The practice was employed from the 16th century to the early 19th to extend the keyboard compass downwards without increasing the overall dimensions of the instrument....