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Bonnie J. Blackburn


(b Florence, c1480; d after 1545). Italian theorist and composer. Nothing is known of Aaron’s early training, his teacher, or his career before 1516. He claims to have had ‘the greatest friendship and familiarity’ with Josquin, Obrecht, Isaac, and Agricola in Florence (most likely between 1487 and 1495, and not necessarily at the same time). By 1516 he was a priest in Imola, where he wrote his first book, Libri tres de institutione harmonica, translated into Latin by the humanist Giovanni Antonio Flaminio. A contemporary poem by Achille Bocchi praises Aaron for rescuing music ‘from squalor and dismal neglect’. By March 1520 he was a singer in Imola Cathedral and from the next year a chaplain; he was also paid by the city to teach music to those who wished to learn. His career in Imola ended abruptly in June 1522 when he was wounded in a factional uprising and his chapel in the cathedral destroyed (Blackburn, forthcoming). By ...




Clive Brown


As a musical term, absetzen has two meanings: (1) to separate one note from another, as is usual in staccato performance and (2) to transcribe vocal music into tablature for some solo instrument, for example lute or organ. In the 18th century Quantz described staccato playing in general as abgesetzet, and his use of the term implied lifted, off-string bow strokes on the violin; but not all staccato notes (e.g. quavers in Allegro passages and semiquavers in Allegretto) were to be abgesetzt in this sense (see Bow, §II, 2(vii) and Aufheben). For a discussion of this usage, see BoydenH, pp.412f. In its second meaning the term was in general use from the 16th to the 18th centuries. For example, the title-page of Elias Nicolaus Ammerbach’s Ein new künstlich Tabulaturbuch (Nuremberg, 1575) states that the collection includes motets and German lieder ‘auff die Orgel unnd Instrument abgesetzt’.

See also...



A term used in the 16th century (e.g. Ornithoparchus, Musicae activae micrologus, 1517) for the simple forms of plainchant based on recitation tones as used in the Epistle, Gospel, prayers etc.; for a general survey of such forms see Inflection. Accentus forms are contrasted with concentus forms, or with the more developed forms such as antiphons or responsories....


Jack Westrup and David Fallows

(It.: ‘accompanied’; past participle of accompagnare).

A short term for recitativo accompagnato, i.e. Recitative accompanied by the orchestra with expressive motifs, equivalent to recitativo obbligato. It is often used to designate a dramatically important scene, often a soliloquy (e.g. ‘Abscheulicher’ in Fidelio), which is usually followed by an aria. Handel used the term both in the strict sense of recitative, where the accompaniment allows the singer freedom (e.g. ‘O notte’ in ...


David Fuller

(Ger. Begleitung).

In the most general sense, the subordinate parts of any musical texture made up of strands of differing importance. A folksinger's listeners clap their hands in accompaniment to the song; a church organist keeps the congregation to the pitch and tempo with his or her accompaniment; the left hand provides the accompaniment to the right in a piano rag; when one part of a Schoenberg string quartet momentarily carries the symbol for Hauptstimme, the other parts are an accompaniment, though they may take their turns as Hauptstimmen later on. The meaning of the term ‘accompaniment’ is variable and not subject to rigorous definition. The countersubject of a Bach fugue ‘accompanies’ the subject, but in principle all the voices are equal and the countersubject may well be more prominent than the subject. In one sense, the added parts of a cantus firmus composition are an ‘accompaniment’, yet the pre-existing tune may be so stretched out and buried as to become less a melody than a kind of Schenkerian ...




Bruce Carr


A term, meaning ‘not electric’, used in this special sense to designate a recording cut with a stylus activated directly (through a diaphragm) by sound waves rather than by electronic impulses, or, as in ‘acoustic guitar’, an instrument not amplified electronically. It was first applied to recordings in the early 1930s (electric recordings were first made in ...


Ronald Lewcock, Rijn Pirn, Jürgen Meyer, Carleen M. Hutchins, J. Woodhouse, John C. Schelleng, Bernard Richardson, Daniel W. Martin, Arthur H. Benade, Murray Campbell, Thomas D. Rossing, and Johan Sundberg

A term that can embrace all aspects of the science of sound and hearing, but is here treated in two specific senses, that of room acoustics, considered only with reference to the performance of music, and that of sound-source acoustics, limited to various classes of musical instruments and the voice. For other acoustical matters see Hearing and psychoacoustics and Sound; for the history of the subject see Physics of music.

Ronald Lewcock and Rijn Pirn, assisted by Jürgen Meyer

A room that has good acoustics is one in which it is possible to hear each sound clearly in all parts of the room; or, in other words, a room in which the sound is adequately loud and evenly distributed. In addition, it is normally required that the quality of sound being listened to in the room should match the type of sound being produced by the source. Room acoustics are relied on in some cases to sustain the sound in the room after the original source has stopped producing it, thus masking unevennesses in the ensemble, while in other cases sound too much sustained would mask the clarity of individual instruments or small groups. Acoustical problems are further complicated if opera is to be performed, for here every syllable is expected to be clearly heard and understood, and therefore only moderate sustained sound is desirable, yet the large ensemble demands sustained sound. Although scientific study permits a certain degree of accuracy in acoustical design, great difficulty is still experienced in determining the correct specification of the acoustics that ought to be provided....