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Ruth I. DeFord


A title given to a light secular vocal piece, particularly in the Italian style, from the late 16th century to the late 18th. As a normal diminutive of ‘canzone’ (song), the term may refer generically to any short, simple song. Its first appearance on a title-page was in the second edition of Orazio Vecchi's Canzonette … libro primo a quattro voci (1580). The term ‘canzonelle’ used in two collections of 1574 by Gasparo Fiorino is probably unrelated to the later term ‘canzonetta’.

The canzonetta developed in the 16th century from a fusion of characteristics of the three-voice Villanella (also called ‘canzone alla napolitana’) and the madrigal. Scholars have sometimes classified the five- and six-voice canzoni of Giovanni Ferretti, Alessandro Romano and Girolamo Conversi as canzonettas, but most of these publications were entitled ‘canzoni alla napolitana’ or ‘napolitani’. In Conversi's first book for five voices (1572) and Ferretti's second book for six voices (...



John MacInnes

[caoineadh] (Ir. and Gael.: ‘weeping’, ‘keening’)

A lament sung over the dead. The term is known in medieval Gaelic literature, as is cluiche caointe(ach) (‘game of lamentation’) referring to funeral games for great men. The term ‘caointe’ (‘keens’) can apply to commemorative literary elegies such as Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (Lament for Art O’Leary) (K.H. Jackson: A Celtic Miscellany, London, 1951) by his widow Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill in 1773, rather than keens sung over corpses.

In Ireland keening began only after the body was laid out for the wake, bereaved relatives usually addressing the dead by name. It was resumed on the arrival of relatives, during the funeral procession and at the graveside. Women were more commonly found as keeners than men, although professionals of both sexes sometimes worked together. In the mid-19th century their payment ranged from five shillings to £1 in addition to food and drink. Usually four keeners were employed. O’Curry reported:...


Alejandro L. Madrid

A singing tradition from the Mascogo community in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila that is closely associated with singing African American spirituals. Customarily sung during funerals and Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, capeyuye gets its name from a phonetic variation of the phrase “Happy New Year.” It is sung in creole English by a group of ...


Don Harrán

(It.: ‘chapter’)

A stanzaic form of Italian poetry often set by composers of the frottola. It is identical with the terza rima verse of Dante’s Commedia and Petrarch’s Trionfi. Each stanza consists of three lines of 11 syllables, in iambic metre, with a chained rhyme scheme (i.e. aba bcb cdc). See...



Greg Downey

An acrobatic Brazilian dance and martial art, with a distinctive instrumental and vocal accompaniment. The art derives primarily from African challenge dances with limited influence from Portuguese and other cultures. Long suppressed for its association with slavery, rebellion, and urban unrest, capoeira emerged in the 20th century as a Brazilian national folk art, especially in Bahia.

In a jogo (game), two practitioners seek to out-maneuver, evade, and upend each other with fluid, often circular, kicks, leg sweeps, and headbutts, while moving in harmony with the musical accompaniment. The basic swaying step, the ginga, emphasizes fluidity and constant movement. Capoeira vocal practice includes solos and call-and-response sequences, with song types distinguishing preparation and play. Adept soloists improvise verse and calls that comment upon and regulate the game.

Capoeira schools disagree about the proper configuration of the ensemble, but unanimously concur that the berimbau, a single-string musical bow struck with a stick and played with a ...


Erich Schwandt

(It.: ‘whim’, ‘fancy’; Fr. caprice)

The term has been used in a bewildering variety of ways. Works entitled ‘capriccio’ embrace a wide range of procedures and forms, as well as a great variety of performing media, vocal and instrumental. The word first appeared in the second half of the 16th century, and it was used almost immediately in connection with pieces of music (the earliest reference, applied by Jacquet de Berchem to a set of madrigals, is in 1561). The term was used, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, for works in various media, including madrigals, music for voices or instruments, and instrumental pieces, particularly keyboard ones. According to Furetière (1690), ‘Capriccios are pieces of music, poetry or painting wherein the force of imagination has better success than observation of the rules of art’. ‘Capriccio’ does not signify a specific musical technique or structure, but rather a general disposition towards the exceptional, the whimsical, the fantastic and the apparently arbitrary....



Andrew Kirkman

The melisma on the final word, ‘caput’, of the antiphon Venit ad Petrum (ex.1), found in the Maundy Thursday ritual of the Washing of the Feet (the mandatum ceremony) in the English Use of Salisbury and other liturgical uses (Bukofzer, 1950) and used as a cantus firmus in three surviving masses and a Marian motet. The earliest work based on the melisma, a four-voice mass ascribed in the Trent codices to Du Fay, has been shown to be a misattributed work by an anonymous English composer. This mass was clearly one of the most revered compositions of the 15th century. It has survived in no fewer than seven manuscripts, more sources than any other mass cycle written before the 1480s. It may also have been the most influential English mass from a time when insular cycles were providing a model for cyclic mass composition across Europe. Its four-voice texture, using a low contratenor and long-note tenor cantus firmus, with the structural melody stated twice in each movement in so-called double-cursus format, is found also in a large number of similarly constructed masses composed on the Continent beginning in the late 1440s (Wegman, ...





David Fallows

(Lat.: ‘song’)

Like the English ‘song’, the German ‘Lied’ or the French ‘chanson’, the word has been used narrowly for specific musical genres and more broadly to denote practically any musical or poetic manifestation. It is found in Latin from the earliest years, and there is some question as to whether at that time carmen was distinguished by its metrical character or by the manner in which it was performed. Certainly it always tended to imply lyric poetry, though other meanings are found, particularly epic poetry and instrumental music (Boethius, De musica, i/1: ‘pugnantibus animos tubarum carmine accendi’; but there are also many classical references). Isidore of Seville, on the other hand, insisted on metre being the distinguishing feature (‘Carmen vocatur, quidquid pedibus continetur’, Etymologiae; ed. in PL , lxxxii, 118) and mentioned heroic, elegiac and bucolic carmina. It should be no surprise, then, that by the late 15th century the word should have several entirely different meanings. The author of the ...


Thomas B. Payne

(Lat.: ‘songs of Beuren’)

The title given by Johann Andreas Schmeller to his complete edition (1847) of the poems in an early 13th-century German manuscript (now D-Mbs Clm 4660) that had come in 1803 from the Benedictine abbey of Benediktbeuern, about 50 km south of Munich. Since then the manuscript has been known by that title even though it is now generally agreed that it probably did not originate in Benediktbeuren and may have come from Seckau in Carinthia or the Tyrol. The manuscript is perhaps the most important source for Latin secular poetry of the 12th century; there are in addition some Latin sacred lyrics, German poems, liturgical plays and a satirical ‘Gamblers' Mass’. Several of the poems have music in unheighted neumes – a style of notation that is relatively rare at so late a date. The melodies must, for the most part, be reconstructed from concordances in the St Martial and Notre Dame repertories. Orff's cantata ...



John Stevens and Dennis Libby

During the Middle Ages, an English or Latin song of uniform stanzas beginning with a refrain called a ‘burden’ that is repeated after each stanza. Medieval carols could be on any subject, but were mostly about the Virgin or the Saints of Christmas. In recent centuries the word has usually referred to strophic songs (some with refrains) associated with Christmas, many of them with texts derived from medieval English carols.

The form of the medieval carol is related to continental refrain forms such as the rondeau, virelai and ballade, to the Italian lauda spirituale and to the processional hymn. The surviving music falls into several categories: (i) fragments of apparently popular carols, mostly monophonic; (ii) 15th-century polyphonic carols, represented by nearly 120 compositions; (iii) early Tudor carols by Fayrfax, Browne, Cornysh etc; (iv) courtly-popular carols by Henry VIII and his contemporaries.

The strictly formal definition of the carol needs supplementing, partly because a definition by musico-poetical form inadequately describes a social phenomenon such as the medieval carol. From a social point of view there are at least four major types of carol to be considered: (...



Robert Mullally

[carol] (Fr.; It. carola)

The principal social dance in France between the 12th and 14th centuries and in England throughout the 14th century. The word is derived from the Greek choraules (denoting a musician accompanying a chorus on a reed pipe), by way of the medieval Latin form corolla or carolla. Alternative derivations from the Latin corolla (‘little garland’) and kyrie eleison are now discounted.

The term first appeared in the early 12th century as a translation of the Latin chorus in certain versions of the Psalter, and it is found in vernacular French texts in the second half of the 12th century. However, it is only in French texts of the 13th and 14th centuries (romances and other narratives, moral and satirical writings) that detailed information about the choreography and music of the carole is found. Because these sources are often in verse, their statements about the characteristics of the dance should be treated with caution. They do, however, enable us to establish fairly confidently the basic choreography of the ...



Julia Sutton


A graceful, often playful figure dance of the late 16th and early 17th centuries for a couple or, more rarely, a trio (two men and a woman, or vice versa). Examples appear in the two large dance manuals of Fabritio Caroso (21 in Il ballarino, 1581, and 11 in Nobiltà di dame, 1600), and in Livio Lupi’s Libro di gagliarda, tordiglione, passo e mezzo, canari e passeggi (2/1607), as a ‘cascarda in duple’.

Caroso used the term to designate a discrete quick dance, normally in compound duple metre, its lively character often accentuated by dotted rhythms. Typically for many of his dance-tunes, the music is normally in two to four eight-bar strains (each of which may be repeated), built of two-bar units; sometimes a short repeated Ripresa concludes the music. Cascarda figures are typical of Caroso’s figure dances: after an opening in which the couple honour each other and progress around the dancing space, they give right and left hands round or show off to each other in alternating variations; a closing figure brings the dancers together for a bow. The music is normally played through once for each figure, with inner repeats....


Hubert Unverricht

revised by Cliff Eisen

(It. cassazione)

A term used between 1750 and 1775 in southern Germany, Austria and Bohemia as a title of a composition or of a single movement; the soloistic cassation is stylistically related to the Divertimento, the orchestral cassation to the Serenade. Its etymological derivation is uncertain. In Koch’s and Moser’s lexicons and Abert’s biography of Mozart the word is said to derive from cassare (Italian, ‘to dismiss’, ‘to release’), thus meaning ‘farewell music’ (Abschiedsmusik). Wyzewa and Saint-Foix, in their biography of Mozart (i, 201), suggest a derivation from casser (French, ‘to break’), implying that it signified a work whose movements could be played in any sequence. Riemann, in his lexicon (7/1909), derived the word from cassa (Italian, ‘drum’). More probably the word is a slight recasting of a German expression common among musicians of the mid-18th century, ‘gassatim gehen’ (‘to perform in the streets’); as early as 1619...



David Johnson

A type of comic round for male voices, popular in England from the late 16th century until about 1800. The earliest known catches are those in an English manuscript of 1580 ( GB-Ckc 1). Morley gave brief instructions on how to compose them in his Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597), and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night includes a scene where the catch Hold thy peace is sung by three members of the cast. Catches first appeared in print in three collections published in London by Thomas Ravenscroft, Pammelia (1609), Deuteromelia (1609) and Melismata (1611); an important later collection is John Hilton’s Catch that Catch Can (1652).

The essential characteristic of the genre is its humour: catches were a celebration of irresponsible male leisure time, spent out of reach of the demands of women and children. Their words are usually on such subjects as drink, tobacco, music, different trades and their shortcomings, poor service in taverns and, especially, sex in its most ridiculous and least mentionable forms, the bodily functions of women being described with schoolboyish gusto. Occasionally the mixed blessings of fatherhood are also discussed (for example in Atterbury’s ...


Nancy Yunwha Rao

[Cathay Music Society]

Sponsored by the Chinese Six Companies Association, it was formed in 1911 by 13 Chinese teenagers in San Francisco and was the first Chinese Western-style marching band in America. Later its members created the Cathay Club, or Cathay Music Society, which fostered multiple bands and social activities, including a small Chinese instrument ensemble. Bookings ranged from the Orpheum Circuit, which involved tours to the Midwest and South under such names as the Chinese Military Band and the Chinese Jazz Band, to various world fairs, including the Panama Pacific International Exposition (1915). The Cathay Club also provided music at holiday parades and funeral processions for generations of San Franciscans, a tradition absent in other American Chinatowns. It grew to 30 members in the 1930s and around 100 at its peak, when it included a senior band, a junior band, a glee club, and two dance bands. The Cathayans Orchestra and Chinatown Knights, formed by Cathay Club members in the 1920s and 30s, were the first all-Chinese dance bands in the United States, performing big band music through the 1950s. In ...



Colin Timms

(It.: ‘excavated’)

(1) In the 17th and early 18th centuries a setting in aria style (‘arioso’) of the last line or couplet of a recitative text – i.e. an aria ‘excavated’ from recitative. The words normally sum up the sentiment of the passage, and the setting underlines their significance. This kind of cavata, which is described by Salvadori, Neumeister, Walther and Quadrio, is found in most forms of Baroque vocal music, including opera, though the most characteristic examples occur in Italian chamber cantatas from about 1670 to 1720. It may take one of a variety of forms (e.g. AA′, AABB), normally exhibits a contrapuntal texture between voice and basso continuo, and is often the tonal complement of the preceding recitative. The earliest cavata is the six-bar phrase ‘La Ragion perde dov’il Senso abbonda’ in Domenico Mazzocchi’s opera La catena d’Adone (1626, Rome), while some of the latest appear in the church cantatas of Bach (e.g. ...