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Denzil Wraight

(Fr. archiquier, eschaquier, eschiquier; Ger. Schachtbrett; Lat. scacarum, scacatorum; Sp. eschaquer, scaquer)

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 Clavicytherium), since a letter written to Juan I of Aragon in 1388 referred to ‘an instrument seeming like organs, that sounds with strings’, but the instrument was not named. Galpin (Grove4, suppl.) believed that the Dulce melos described by Arnaut de Zwolle (c1440) was identical with the chekker. However, instruments with hammer action, such as the dulce melos, appear to have been rare, whereas the name ‘chekker’ appears frequently, and there is no evidence to support this identification. Galpin further suggested that the chekker’s name was derived from the fact that the action was ‘checked’, in the sense that the motion of its keys was stopped by a fixed rail; this is unconvincing and could in any case apply to a clavichord, a harpsichord or a virginal. These suggestions can therefore be disregarded....


Coltman, John W.  

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 1980 after a distinguished career culminating in six years as Director of Research and Development. In his youth he had become an accomplished flute player, and during his undergraduate studies at Case he encountered the notable acoustician Dayton C. Miller. This meeting led to a lifelong interest in the acoustics of the flute, and Coltman developed a laboratory at his home in which he conducted many important and illuminating experiments on flutes and flute playing. Particularly significant was his contribution to the understanding of the subtle interaction between the air jet blown across the flute embouchure hole by the player and the resonances of the air column within the flute pipe. Over four decades, starting in the mid-1960s, he published more than 40 papers on the acoustics of flutes and organ pipes. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers....



Owen Jander

revised by 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 (WaltherML) applied to music the rationalistic concept of declamation, which originally dealt with speech, and focussed his attention on recitative. J.J. Rousseau (Dictionnaire, 1768) dealt with declamation as the relationship between musical and linguistic accent, which had been much discussed in French singing treatises, such as Bénigne de Bacilly’s ...


Diapason (i)  

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by Martin Renshaw


Dotted rhythms  

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 (see also Notes inégales; for notational meanings of the dot before 1600 see Notation, §III). The principal issue is the degree to which such rhythms sounded uneven, rather than the specific manner of their notation (e.g. the dot may be replaced by a rest or tie).

Dozens of contemporary theoretical and pedagogical sources indicate that the dot was ordinarily equal to one half the value of the note or rest preceding it, just as it is today. But the treatises also present various exceptions. The dot could stand for a tie (...



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; see Electric guitar §2 .

See also Organ stop .

Natural echoes arise from the reflection of a sound wave by a solid surface, such as a wall or cliff. For the echo to be perceived as distinct from the original sound, the extra path length travelled by the reflected sound wave must have a minimum value of around 17 metres, corresponding to a minimum time interval of 50 milliseconds between direct and reflected sounds.

The reverberant sound field in a concert hall is created by multiple reflections of sound waves. In a well-designed hall, the direct sound reaching a member of the audience is followed by a series of reflections within a time interval of around 35 milliseconds. These ‘early delayed arrivals’ are not heard as separate echoes; because of the ‘precedence effect’ they are perceived as a reinforcement of the direct sound. Subsequent reflections blend smoothly into the reverberation. A concave surface, focussing sound waves into a particular part of the hall, can give rise to an audible echo; a ‘flutter echo’ can arise from successive reflections between parallel walls....


Gender attribution  

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)....


Hutchins [Maley], Carleen  

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 (1949–59) and Stradivari expert Fernando Sacconi. While she and Harvard physicist Frederick A. Saunders performed more than 100 acoustical experiments (1949–63), Hutchins taught herself acoustical physics by making string instruments. In 1963 Hutchins and colleagues Robert Fryxell and John Schelleng founded the Catgut Acoustical Society. She published the CAS journal for more than 30 years, helping bridge the gap between violin makers and acoustical physicists. Hutchins made more than 500 instruments, authored more than 100 technical papers on violin acoustics, and edited ...



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 1583), Bernhard Schmid (1577) and others, ‘Instrument’ then meant ‘string keyboard instrument’ in opposition to organ; the volumes are said to be written in a tablature for ‘Orgel und Instrument’. This interpretation was confirmed by Praetorius, who wrote in Syntagma musicum, ii (2/1619), chap.37, that the Symphony – his collective name for harpsichord or clavicymbalum, virginal, spinet and the like – was generally called ‘Instrument’, a usage he criticized for its ambiguity. Like many other musical terms, however, the word meant various things at various times, and it was not always used consistently. In the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, ‘Instrument’ sometimes referred specifically to the clavichord. At least that conclusion seems warranted from the reference to ‘Instrument, Spinet oder Clavicymbel’ on the title-page of Benedict Schultheiss’s ...


Just intonation  

Mark Lindley


When pitch can be intoned with a modicum of flexibility, the term ‘just intonation’ refers to the consistent use of harmonic intervals tuned so pure that they do not beat, and of melodic intervals derived from such an arrangement, including more than one size of whole tone. On normal keyboard instruments, however, the term refers to a system of tuning in which some 5ths (often including D–A or else G–D) are left distastefully smaller than pure in order that the other 5ths and most of the 3rds will not beat (it being impossible for all the concords on a normal keyboard instrument to be tuned pure; see Temperaments, §1). The defect of such an arrangement can be mitigated by the use of an elaborate keyboard.

In theory, each justly intoned interval is represented by a numerical ratio. The larger number in the ratio represents the greater string length on the traditional ...



Nicolas Meeùs

(Fr. clavier; Ger. Klaviatur, Tastatur; It. tastiera, tastatura)

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.

The earliest European keyboards were simple contrivances, played with the hands rather than the fingers. Praetorius (2/...



Claus Bockmaier

(Ger., from Lat. colorare: ‘to ornament’)

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 (see Tactus, (2)); during the 16th century, the term ‘kolorieren’ was applied especially to the art of ornamenting intabulations at the organ. Practitioners (‘Koloristen’) included Bernhard Schmid the elder, E.N. Ammerbach and Jakob Paix.

During the first decades of the 20th century, German musicologists controversially applied the term Kolorierung to several late-medieval vocal repertories, including early 15th-century mass settings and the repertory of English Ordinary tropes, in the belief that such works had been composed from a storehouse of pre-existing melodic formulae.

A. Schering: ‘Das kolorierte Orgelmadrigal des Trecento’, SIMG, 13 (1911–12), 172–204 R. Ficker: ‘Die Kolorierungstechnik der Trienter Messen’, ...



Owen Jander

[mean, mene] (from Old Fr. moien, or meien: ‘middle’)

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 (d 1547) bear such titles as ‘Lux with a meane’; these are three-part keyboard works in which the middle part is ingeniously passed back and forth between the two hands, the notes being written in black to guide the eye. Morley (A Plaine and Easie Introduction, 1597) used ‘mean’ synonymously with ‘altus’, while Campion (A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counter-Point, c 1615) and Playford (A Breefe Introduction to the Skill of Musick, 1654...


Organ point  

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 Pedal point and Pause or Fermata . Organicus punctus is found as early as Franco of Cologne (Ars cantus mensurabilis, c 1260), who used it for the penultimate note of a tenor at which the regular measure is suspended. Tinctoris (Terminorum musicae diffinitorium, c 1472–3) applied it to the sign of the corona, which by that time was used in various situations where it was necessary for one part to pay attention to the other parts instead of to the beat: on final notes which must be prolonged and released together, in canons, where one part might have to prolong a final note until the other parts have caught up, and in passages of block chords where each note was to be prolonged for effect (e.g. Dufay's ...



Laurence Libin

(Ger. Instrumentenkunde )

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 (Theatrum instrumentorum, 1620). Other technical discussions appear in the encyclopedic works of Mersenne (1636) and Kircher (1650). Modern organologists and reproducers of historical instruments (who might be called ‘applied organologists’) have benefited from the observations of such early scholars, particularly in cases where well-preserved original instruments are rare or nonexistent. In addition to providing practical information useful to performers and instrument makers, organologists seek to elucidate the complex, ever-changing relationships among musical style, performing practices and evolution of instruments worldwide. This study involves authenticating and dating old instruments by scientific means, discerning the methods by which instruments of different cultures have been designed and produced and investigating the many extra-musical influences – such as advances in technology and changing economic conditions – that lead to innovation and obsolescence. The symbolism and folklore of instruments are subjects that organology shares with music iconography and ethnomusicology....



Peter Williams

revised by Rosa Cafiero

(It.: ‘division’)

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 c 1700 of writing bass lines for keyboard players to work into fully-fledged pieces. The definition is attested to as early as 1634 by G.F. Cavalliere in Il scolaro principiante di musica (Naples). Examples are common in MSS, e.g. the ‘Arpeggi per cembalo’ exercises in GB-Lbl Add.14244 (?A. Scarlatti), the organ ‘Versetti … per rispondere al coro’ in Lbl Add.31501 (?B. Pasquini), and the complete solo and even duet figured-bass sonatas for harpsichord by Pasquini in ...


Pedal clavichord  

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by John Barnes

(Ger. Pedalklavichord, Pedalclavier)

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 to ƒ″, with a 12-note pedal-board B to b (with b♭ omitted, perhaps in error) beneath it. Such instruments were primarily used for practice purposes by organists, and this function is specifically cited by Paulirinus. Most of them presumably had pull-down pedals directly connected by cords to the bass notes of an ordinary clavichord, but Adlung (Musica mechanica organoedi, 1768) noted that such a system presents problems because the pedal keys must be more widely spaced than the manual and, accordingly, the cords must slant and therefore tend to drag the keys sideways as they are pulled down. This problem could be obviated by the use of a rollerboard, which, however, was noisy and vastly increased the cost of the instrument. A better system was to provide a completely separate instrument to be sounded by the pedal keys; this was set underneath an ordinary clavichord and could be strung with sub-octave as well as unison strings, thereby better approximating the resources of the pedal division of an organ....




Pythagorean intonation  

Mark Lindley

A tuning of the scale in which all 5ths and 4ths are pure (untempered). Pythagorean tuning provides intonations of several types of scale. A series of five 5ths and 4ths includes the pitch classes of the most familiar kind of pentatonic scale; ascending from F♯ the series would comprise the five chromatic notes of the keyboard. A series of seven 5ths ascending from F yields a diatonic scale comprising the naturals on the keyboard; the 3rds and 6ths in this scale, however, differ from their justly intoned equivalents by a syntonic comma, and therefore do not meet medieval and Renaissance criteria of consonance implied by such terms as ‘perfection’ and ‘unity’. When used as harmonic intervals these Pythagorean 3rds and 6ths are likely to be characterized, on an organ Diapason stop for example, by rather prominent Beats; middle C–E or C–A beat more than 16 times per second at modern concert pitch. A series of 12 Pythagorean 5ths provides a fully chromatic scale that is bound to include, however, one sour ...


Short octave  

Nicolas Meeùs

(Fr. octave courte; Ger. kurze Oktave)

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.

The short octave was not described in theoretical writings before the 1550s; the alleged description of it in Ramos's Musica practica (1482) results from a misinterpretation. However, the system originated earlier in stringed keyboard instruments. It was basically a variable tuning adapted to the requirements of individual pieces, comparable to the Scordatura of string instruments. It was first applied to keyboards showing F as the lowest key; the F♯ and G♯ keys, if present, were tuned to sound lower notes, usually C, D or E. By the middle of the 16th century an apparent E was added as the lowest key, but it was often tuned to a lower pitch. This soon resulted in the standard tuning known today as the ‘...