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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’.

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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 ...


Added sixth chord  

(Fr. sixte ajouté).

In functional harmony a subdominant chord with an added major 6th above the bass (e.g. f–a–c′–d′ in C major, f–a ♭–c′–d′ in C minor); it can also be derived as the first inversion of a 7th chord built on the supertonic. The ambivalent construction of the added 6th chord engenders an ambivalence in the way it resolves, as Rameau observed in the ...


Additional accompaniments  


Aeolian (i)  

Harold S. Powers

The name assigned by Glarean in the Dodecachordon (1547) to the authentic mode on A, which uses the diatonic octave species a–a′, divided at e′ and composed of a first species of 5th (tone–tone–semitone–tone) plus a second species of 4th (semitone–tone–tone), thus a–b–c′–d′–e′ + e′–f′–g′–a′. With this octave species identical to that of the natural minor scale on A, the Aeolian mode, together with its plagal counterpart, the Hypoaeolian, closely resembles the descending melodic minor scale.

In the minor mode of tonal music (see Tonality) the dominant lies a 5th above the tonic, or principal scale degree, and the sixth degree is characteristically a semitone above the dominant; for this reason scholars in the last three centuries have tended to think of the minor mode of tonal music as a lineal descendant of Glarean's Aeolian scale. In fact the minor tonalities of tonal music are of heterogeneous origins. Even the key of A minor is indirectly but closely related historically to the old transposed modes 1 and 2 with finals on ...


Affects, theory of the  

George J. Buelow

Ger. Affektenlehre

In its German form, a term first employed extensively by German musicologists, beginning with Kretzschmar, Goldschmidt and Schering, to describe in Baroque music an aesthetic concept originally derived from Greek and Latin doctrines of rhetoric and oratory. Just as, according to ancient writers such as Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian, orators employed the rhetorical means to control and direct the emotions of their audiences, so, in the language of classical rhetoric manuals and also Baroque music treatises, must the speaker (i.e. the composer) move the ‘affects’ (i.e. emotions) of the listener. It was from this rhetorical terminology that music theorists, beginning in the late 16th century, but especially during the 17th and 18th centuries, borrowed the terminology along with many other analogies between rhetoric and music. The affects, then, were rationalized emotional states or passions. After 1600 composers generally sought to express in their vocal music such affects as were related to the texts, for example sadness, anger, hate, joy, love and jealousy. During the 17th and early 18th centuries this meant that most compositions (or, in the case of longer works, individual sections or movements) expressed only a single affect. Composers in general sought a rational unity that was imposed on all the elements of a work by its affect. No single ‘theory’ of the affects was, however, established by the theorists of the Baroque period. But beginning with Mersenne and Kircher in the mid-17th century, many theorists, among them Werckmeister, Printz, Mattheson, Marpurg, Scheibe and Quantz, gave over large parts of their treatises to categorizing and describing types of affect as well as the affective connotations of scales, dance movements, rhythms, instruments, forms and styles....



[confinalis] (Lat.)

In medieval theory, the Final of a transposed Mode. Commonly, a was the affinalis of the Dorian or Hypodorian mode transposed up a 5th and the Phrygian or Hypophrygian mode transposed up a 4th; b was the affinalis of the Phrygian or Hypophrygian mode transposed up a 5th; and c...



Matthias Thiemel

A qualification of Expression and particularly of Accentuation and Periodicals, . The qualification is concerned with variations of duration rather than of dynamic level.

A pause of breath of phrasing (suspiratio) is mentioned in a number of organum sources, and in the 16th century the pause (suspirium) was recognized as having affective value. Calvisius recommended delaying or accelerating the beat in connection with the harmony and the sung text (1602). Modifications of the basic tempo seem to have become increasingly common during this period; they are clearly described in Frescobaldi’s preface to his first book of toccatas, and are also mentioned by Monteverdi.

One of the earliest pieces of evidence for the deliberate use of agogic is Cerone’s mention of the practice of hesitation and holding back in singing in such a way that ‘part of a note is taken away and given to another’ (...


Al rovescio  

(It.: ‘upside down’, ‘back to front’).

A term that can refer either to Inversion or to Retrograde motion. Haydn called the minuet of the Piano Sonata in A h XVI:26 Minuetto al rovescio: after the trio the minuet is directed to be played backwards (retrograde motion). In the Serenade for Wind in C minor no. in Köchel, 1862; for items not in 1862 edn, no. from 2/1905 or 3/1937 given. ...





Howard Mayer Brown

revised by Clive Greated

A mathematical term meaning ‘contained in another a certain number of times without leaving any remainder’ (OED); for example, 2 is an aliquot part of 6. The wavelengths of the harmonic partials of a tone are thus aliquot parts of the fundamental wavelength. Aliquot strings are Sympathetic strings...



Ebenezer Prout

revised by David Fallows

[all'8va] (It.: ‘at the octave’).

An instruction to play an octave above the written pitch if the sign is placed above the notes (sometimes specified as ottava alta, or sopra); if an octave lower is intended, this is indicated by placing the sign below the notes or by specifying with ottava bassa or sotta...



Ebenezer Prout

revised by Robert Donington

(It.: ‘at the unison’).

An instruction that any parts thus shown are to be taken as one part, either at the same pitch or (where the range of the voice or instrument implies it) at the octave (or double octave) above or below. It is frequently abbreviated to ‘unis.’. In orchestral scores the term is used to show that two or more instruments whose parts are written on the same staff are to play in unison; in the later 19th century the words ...




Altered chord  



Bruce Gustafson

(It.: ‘alternately’; Fr. alternativement)

A term used primarily in the 18th century to indicate that the first movement of a pair should be performed again after the second, resulting in ABA form. The word could be applied to either of the movements, which were usually binary dances such as minuets, or to the pair as a whole, with no difference in meaning. The second dance of a pair to be played alternativo was usually in the opposite mode or in a related key, but the element of contrast was also often provided by a reduced texture. Thus the second dance came to be labelled ‘trio’, contrasting with the ‘quartet’ texture of the first, whether or not it was literally in three parts. In modern performance, the internal repetitions of the first dance are often eliminated during the second playing, but there is scant evidence for this practice in the 18th century. In the 19th century, Schumann adopted ...


Alto (i)  

Owen Jander

revised by Ellen T. Harris

(It., ‘high’; Fr. alto; Ger. Alt)

Term, derived from the Latin altus (the vocal part lying above the tenor), now applied to a singer whose voice lies in the region fd″. It first became common in partbooks (especially of secular music) printed in the second half of the 16th century. In the 16th–18th centuries alto parts were sung by men (falsettists, castratos or high tenors) in sacred music; only in secular music were they sung by women. The terms ‘alto’ and ‘contralto’, often used interchangeably, derive from the same source, the late 15th-century Contratenor altus, or part above the tenor. In English usage a distinction is sometimes drawn between alto and contralto voices in solo singing, the former referring either to a boy or (more often) a falsettist, the latter to a female voice, although in practice this distinction is too often blurred to be useful. (See Contralto and Countertenor.) The Castrato...