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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 Straight No Chaser (devoted entirely to acid jazz), debated whether acid jazz was innovative or derivative, genuinely or only superficially jazz. Its advocates touted its accessibility and potential to revive neglected jazz artists and grooves. Collaborations with veteran jazz musicians like Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers and Ron Carter added credibility to the movement....


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).

The earliest known suites of act music were composed by Matthew Locke in the 1660s for various unidentified productions of the Duke’s Company, London; the earliest surviving suite for an identifiable play is John Banister’s for The Indian Queen (1664). The first set to be published was Locke’s for the 1674 ‘operatic’ production of Dryden and Davenant’s The Tempest...



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 actes de ballet by different authors or one with other short works; popular entrées from opéras-ballets were taken out of their original context and given as actes de ballet.

The earliest example is Zélindor, roi des silphes by François Rebel and François Francoeur (1745), termed a ‘divertissement’. As a designation in scores and librettos, acte de ballet is most frequently found in the works of Rameau: ...


Air (i)  

Nigel Fortune, David Greer and Charles Dill

(Eng., Fr.)

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 (see Aria §1). The term was also consistently used in England from the same year for published volumes of lute-songs, several of which, however, are serious. Here the spelling ‘ayre’ was often preferred. After the decline of the lute ‘ayre’, towards the mid-17th century, the form ‘air’ was often used again in its more general sense. By the 18th century it clearly denoted a simple, unpretentious song, quite different from the Italian or italianate aria, which in both operas and cantatas was often a complex, highly developed form....


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 airs were published first by the royal printers Le Roy & Ballard, later by Ballard alone, often in series of collections appearing over a number of years. From 1608 a number of airs in these collections were taken from the year's most successful ballets de cour.

In the preface to the first collection of airs de cour...



[alabanza] (Sp.-American: ‘praise’).

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 ...


Michael Tilmouth

(Gk.: ‘prelude’)

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 CH-Bu ) assembled for the humanist Bonifacius Amerbach (ed. in SMd, vi, 1967; facs. in W. Apel: The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 900–1600, Cambridge, MA, 1942, 5/1961, p.29; transcr. also in HAM, no.84g).

W. Merian: Der Tanz in den deutschen Tabulaturbüchern (Leipzig, 1927/R), 37–75 Y. Rokseth: ‘The Instrumental Music of the Middle Ages and Early Sixteenth Century’, NOHM , 3 (1960/R), 406–65 O. Tiby: ‘La composition anabolique’, Histoire de la musique, ed. Roland-Manuel, 1 (Paris, 1960), 419–22

See also...


Meredith Ellis Little

[anglois, angloise] (Fr.: ‘English’)

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 pas de bourrée and the contretemps de gavotte; the resulting hybrid was called Contredanse . In 1699 Ballard published a Suite de danses … qui se joüent ordinairement aux bals chez le Roy which contained 17 ‘contredanses anglaises’.

Pieces entitled ‘anglaise’ are generally in a style reminiscent of the music accompanying country dances: they may be in duple or triple metre or in 6/8, and they have an obvious accent on the first beat of the bar; the melodies are lively, often covering a wide range and with some disjunct motion. Examples of the stylized anglaise may be found in J.S. Bach’s French Suite no.3, J.C.F. Fischer’s ...


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 (see Licenza). The arias, ensembles and choruses were cast predominantly in da capo form, and the whole was introduced by an orchestral overture (‘intrada’, ‘introduzione’, ‘sinfonia’) that typically followed the Italian three-movement pattern. The weight of the concluding chorus and the elaborate scoring (a feature possibly derived from the Italian serenata) were characteristic. Joseph Haydn’s Applausus hXXIVa:6, composed in 1768 for the Cistercian monastery at Zwettl, is in many respects representative.

The applausus was often performed scenically on a stage with costumes. It may have evolved out of the musical prologue and epilogue encasing the acts of the old Baroque cloister drama (...



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 (AABB) or a da capo structure. Although ariette is a translation of the Italian ‘arietta’ (‘little aria’), an operatic ariette was ordinarily a substantial piece of composition accompanied by an orchestra.

The term came to apply early in the 18th century to music emulating the Italian da capo aria. Campra included five examples in his Italian-influenced opéra-ballet Les fêtes vénitiennes (1710). The ariette migrated quickly to the tragédie en musique with Campra’s Télèphe (1713) and was later exploited by Rameau, starting with ‘Rossignol amoureux’ in Hippolyte et Aricie (1733). Unlike the French operatic air, which was not too long to be integrated within the flow of action and recitative, and did not allow music to overwhelm text, the ...



[aube] (Fr.: ‘dawn song’)

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 ...


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; ...



Louise K. Stein

(Sp.: ‘act’, ‘judicial proceeding’, ‘decree’.)

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 farsa and égloga, lyric poetry and songs were included in the performance of autos by Gil Vicente, Lucas Fernández and Juan del Encina, in very stylized ways. Typically an auto or a farsa would end with a villancico, though some incorporated songs more directly into the drama.

The auto sacramentale was an allegorical religious play on the Eucharist performed during or as an adjunct to public, outdoor processions for Corpus Christi from the 16th to 18th centuries. The best known and historically most important examples of this genre are those by Pedro Calderón de la Barca written for performance at the city of Madrid's annual Corpus Christi celebrations. From ...


Howard E. Smither

(It.: ‘sacred action’, ‘sacred plot’)

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 azioni sacre. A ‘staged oratorio’, or opera sacra, of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was also typically called an azione sacra. Although oratorio was essentially an unstaged genre, the sepolcro was presented with a minimum of staging and action and the opera sacra was fully staged and acted in the manner of an opera.

From the 1780s to about 1820, the theatres of Naples often presented staged oratorios during Lent and usually designated them azione sacra. Such works differed little from the opera seria of the time except for their subject matter, which was that of the traditional oratorio. P.A. Guglielmi’s ...



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 zarabandas and ciacconas were ‘bailes’.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the term ‘baile’ was used for a specific literary form, a combination of poetry, music and dance performed between the second and third acts of a play (thus resembling the intermezzo; ...



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.

During the 1970s, the genre’s golden age, balada featured sophisticated orchestral arrangements and lavish studio production, a trend developed in Spain by producer Rafael Trabucchelli and arranger Waldo de los Ríos. In the 1980s, Miami became the most important balada production center, as the city grew into the main hub for United States marketing and distribution in Latin America. The Miami-based balada industry served as a gateway for Latin American artists hoping to extend their popularity beyond their country of origin to the rest of Latin America and the United States. Balada albums produced in Miami are not limited to slow romantic ballads, but also include up-tempo, dance-oriented songs. During its golden age, the majority of balada singers were males, who targeted a mostly female audience by appearing sensitive and vulnerable. Baladas were regularly featured in Latin American soap opera soundtracks, and many baladistas, such as José Luis Rodríguez, Chayanne, and Daniela Romo, starred in soap operas....


Curtis Price and Robert D. Hume

A distinctively English form in which spoken dialogue alternates with songs set to traditional or popular melodies and sung by the actors themselves. A vogue for the form was sparked by the enormous popularity of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (January 1728) but faded out by the mid-1730s. Some 80 such works were written in these years, but only a handful remained in the repertory. The genre was invented by Gay as a complex vehicle for both harsh and subtle satire; for most of his successors it quickly became little more than a way of padding out farces with popular music.

The term ‘ballad opera’ is a misnomer. The works so described are plays (almost always comic, usually farcical) into which a variety of songs have been worked. Fewer than half the songs are actually popular ballads: the sources of the music vary widely, ranging from D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy...


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’.

The word ‘ballade’ is derived from Provençal ballada, from balar, to dance; the ballade, rondeau and virelai were in their earliest phase songs for dancing, the most common dances being the carole and the tresche. One of the most attractive of the few surviving examples in Provençal is the spring song ...



Kurt von Fischer

revised by 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 Memoriali. Dante mentioned the ballata in De vulgari eloquentia (II, iii.5, 1304–5), stating that, in contrast to the canzone, it demands a singing dancer. The form is also indicative of the dance-song: it originally consisted of a choral refrain (ripresa) and several strophes (stanze) performed by a soloist. Moreover, even in the 13th century the oldest ballate were closely linked with the lauda. The numerous laude-contrafacta of the 14th and 15th centuries are evidence of this link (see Ghisi, 1953). It was in the ...