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Antiphonal organ  

Laurence Libin

Division of an organ, whose chest and pipes are spatially separated from the main pipework so as to create an antiphonal effect when this division is played in alternation with others. Further, this division can be coupled to others for simultaneous playing that surrounds listeners with sound emanating from different locations. Antiphonal ranks need not have a dedicated manual but, in modern organs, often ‘float’ among several manuals by means of console controls. Development of the Antiphonal division was facilitated beginning in the late 19th century by electric and electropneumatic actions that simplify spatial separation of an organ’s components. However, it remained uncommon and nowadays normally appears only in large instruments. The term is also applied to a separate, independent, sometimes moveable organ, subsidiary to the main one in a building and played from its own console....



Konin Aka

Scraper of the Baule and Agni-Morofwe peoples of Ivory Coast. A serrated stick passes through a hole pierced in a nut; the right hand moves the nut along the stick against which the left hand occasionally presses a small resonator. The instrument, played only by women and young girls, is used for rhythmic accompaniment to singing for amusement....


Arcata in giù  


Arcata in su  


Articulation marks  

Clive Brown

Symbols appended to musical notation which indicate to the performer the manner in which particular notes and phrases should be played.

Until the late 18th century the only signs commonly used to indicate distinctions of articulation were the slur and the staccato mark (a dot, a vertical stroke, or a wedge) placed above or below the note head. In the 19th century composers became concerned to specify their requirements with ever greater precision, and other forms of articulation mark were introduced, though only a few of these were widely adopted. The principal meaning of the slur has remained relatively constant, though the manner of its employment has varied greatly over the centuries. Except where slurs are written over a succession of notes on the same pitch to indicate portato, they specify that notes of different pitches should be performed without separation, that is, legato. There is, strictly speaking, no greater or lesser degree of connectedness; terms such as ...




Bach harpsichord  

Martin Elste

[Ger. Bach-Cembalo, Bach-Flügel]

A two-manual instrument made after 1700 by the workshop of Harrass in Breitenbach, Thuringia. It was owned by the Voss family of Berlin at the end of the 18th century. The instrument then passed into the hands of the family of the Bach scholar Wilhelm Rust, and in 1890 it was sold by the Leipzig collector Paul de Wit to the newly founded Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente, now the Musikinstrumenten-Museum des Staatlichen Instituts für Musikforschung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (catalogue no.316). During the sales negotiations it was said that the instrument had once belonged to J.S. Bach and had come into the possession of the Voss family by way of W.F. Bach. This claim, which cannot be proved, led to its being regarded from about 1900 to about 1960 as the ideal of the harpsichord, so that it was copied and imitated in all sorts of ways. It has a rather unusual disposition (8′ and 16′ on the lower manual, 4′ and 8′ with buff stop and push coupler on the upper manual), which has been followed in instruments produced by Ammer, Dolmetsch, Neupert, Sperrhake and Wittmayer. Recent research has shown that the instrument originally had a three-register disposition (4′ and 16′ in the lower manual; 8′ with buff stop and push coupler in the upper manual) which was expanded to four in the 18th century....



Jeremy Montagu


Band organ  

Durward R. Center

revised by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

A mechanical organ (known as “fairground organ” in Europe) used to provide music for merry-go-rounds and in amusement parks, circuses, and skating rinks in Europe and the United States. The instrument originated in Europe as an outdoor version of the Orchestrion, voiced to sound above the hurly-burly of the fairground. Initially it was put near the entrance in order to attract attention. It was usually built in an elaborately carved and colorfully painted case which sometimes incorporated moving figures in its façade. All but the very largest instruments were designed to be portable, robust enough to travel around the country on rough roads. With the coming of bioscope (moving picture) theatres, the organ sometimes became the front of the show-tent, its façade incorporating entry and exit doors.

The earliest band organs, developed during the 18th century, were essentially barrel organs: they had a wooden cylinder or barrel covered with metal pins that formed a musical program. By about ...


Bassoon stop  

David Rowland

Name given to a strip of parchment or silk which is made to buzz against the bass strings of the piano by means of a handstop, knee lever or pedal. It was first used towards the end of the 18th century and continued to be popular on the Continent until about ...


Bouche fermée  


Buff stop [harp stop and (erroneously) lute stop]  

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by John Koster

(Fr. registre de luth; Ger. Lautenzug; It. sordino, liuto)

A device found on harpsichords of most periods and schools (though more rarely on Italian instruments) as well as on some pianos, especially square pianos of the 18th and early 19th centuries. It mutes the tone by lightly pressing a piece of buff leather, cloth or felt against the strings near the nut, and has the effect of damping the vibrations, especially the high harmonics, so that the sound takes on a duller, pizzicato quality. In harpsichords, the buff stop usually consists of a sliding batten fitted with a small block of material for each note. Sliding the batten to one side brings the blocks against one register of strings, usually at 8′ pitch. In harpsichords by members of the Ruckers family, the buff batten was usually divided into separate treble and bass sections. Occasionally in harpsichords but normally in pianos the buff-stop batten is covered with material along its entire length, so that all the unison strings are damped when the batten is raised or (if placed over the strings) lowered against them. The buff stop should not be confused with the ...


Capo tasto  

Ian Harwood

[capo] (It., from capo: ‘head’, tasto: ‘tie or fret’; Fr. barre; Ger. Capotaster)

(1) Originally this term denoted the nut (see Nut) of a fretted instrument such as the lute or guitar; it is now generally used to describe a device to shorten the string length, thus facilitating upward transposition without altered fingering. (It is also the term used in Italian writings to describe the stopping of general strings at once by one finger; see Barré (i).) The construction of the capo tasto varies according to the instrument for which it is intended, but it comprises essentially a rigid bar covered with felt, leather or cork, together with some means of holding it pressed firmly against the fingerboard. This bar keeps the strings in contact with the required fret and may take the form of a length of gut tightened round the neck by a peg. The bar may now be held by a metal spring or a piece of elastic. On the English guitar the ...


Change ringing  

Wilfrid G. Wilson

revised by Steve Coleman

An art of bellringing peculiarly English and producing a music of its own. It was developed in England during the 17th century, while on the Continent there was a parallel, although unconnected development in the carillon.

For centuries before the development of change ringing, the general shape and form of the bell and the uses of bellringing had been established. Probably the most characteristic sound in the medieval town was that of the chiming of bells, announcing the time for prayer or simply the hour. The bells were chimed, singly or in twos or threes, by means of a rope and lever which enabled them to be swung just far enough for the clappers to strike them. They were hung in church towers because such buildings were almost the only ones large enough to contain them.

Change ringing in approximately the form we now know it began around the end of the 16th century and expanded considerably, both in popularity and complexity, during the second half of the 17th century. The adoption of change ringing as a pastime by associations of well-to-do young men in the middle of the 17th century was particularly influential in its development, although its strength has always been as a vernacular folk art. The growth of ringing is discussed by Sanderson....


Cinema organ  

David H. Fox

A type of pipe organ built between 1911 and 1940 specifically for the accompaniment of silent films and the performance of popular music. In the USA the term ‘theater organ’ is preferred (for earlier types of organ used in theatres, see Theatre organ). Many characteristics of the cinema organ can be traced to church organs built between 1895 and 1910 in the UK and USA by Robert Hope-Jones (1859–1914), a pioneer of the use of electricity in organs. These included the use of rapid electropneumatic action, remote consoles, numerous couplers and accessories and, in particular, unification. With this economical system, the effect of a 61-pipe rank of another octave was obtained by the addition of 12 pipes to a stop and appropriate electrical connections (see Extension organ and Organ, §VI, 4). ‘Double touch’ enabled the organist to play with a different stop arrangement when applying additional pressure to the keys. This permitted the playing of solo and accompaniment on the same manual, and other effects....


Combination action  

(Fr. appel, pédale de combinaison; Ger. freie Kombination)

In organs, a device that allows the player to put a group of stops into operation at once. Such actions may be either fixed (unalterable) or adjustable by the player, and are found in organs with every type of key action: mechanical, pneumatic or electric. Early mechanical types of combination action were generally foot-operated, but in electric-action organs thumb-buttons between the manuals are common. ...


Composition pedal  

Peter Williams

revised by Nicholas Thistlethwaite

The name given to the foot-operated lever of an organ that takes off or brings on predetermined stops, usually by operating on the draw-stop rods. J.C. Bishop was the inventor, though a counter-claim by his former master, Benjamin Flight, was dismissed by the Society of Arts in 1809. The composition pedal replaced the earlier ‘shifting movement’ which had comprised a foot-lever operating directly on the ends of the sliders in such a way that on depression the stop was taken off, and on release a spring returned the slider to the playing position. According to the builder Jordan’s trade-card of about 1720, its purpose was to put stops ‘off and on by the feet, simply or together, at the master’s discretion, and as quick as thought, without taking the hands off the keys’. Hopkins, in The Organ (1855), used the term ‘single-action’ to describe the composition pedal that ‘either draws out or thrusts in a given number of sliders’ or draw-stops, and ‘double-action’ for the pedal that did both. Such accessories were as popular by the late 1820s (John Abbey’s small organ for the Paris Exhibition of ...


Concert Organ  

James H. Cook

An organ installed in a public performance hall. Owing to their intended use, concert organs stand apart from church organs on one hand and residence organs on the other. Such organs were common in the 1920s and 1930s, less so in the years following World War II. A late-twentieth-century resurgence of interest has produced some outstanding examples, including those in the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas (Fisk ...


Continental fingering  

The Fingering of keyboard music with figures 1 to 5 for each hand, 1 standing for the thumb, a system in general use throughout the world today. The term was used in Britain in the 19th century in contrast to so-called English fingering (not, however, exclusively English), which provided for four fingers (marked 1 to 4) and a thumb (marked +)....



Owen Jander

(Lat.: ‘against the tenor’)

The name given in the 14th and early 15th centuries to a polyphonic line composed in the same range as the Tenor. The practice of writing a part ‘against the tenor’ superseded the typical 13th-century process of adding parts above a tenor line. The first theoretical mention of the word ‘contratenor’ occurs in the treatise In arte motetorum (CS, iii, 88; 14th–15th century), and its earliest known appearance in a musical source is in a fragmentary motet manuscript of between 1315 and 1319 from the cloister of S Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (facs. in Quadrivium, ix (1968), table 1). The innovatory practice of adding a contratenor to a tenor is interestingly revealed in two motets (Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima/Gaude gloriosa and Impudenter circuivi/Virtutibus laudabilis) by Philippe de Vitry (1291–1361), which may be performed either with a conventional single-line tenor (‘tenor solus’) or with the same part ingeniously rewritten in the new manner as two lines, ‘tenor’ and ‘contratenor’....