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Article

Rainer E. Lotz

[Giovanni]

(bSan Girolamo di Lusiana, province of Vicenza, Italy, May 15, 1898; dMilan, Aug 1960). Italianbandleader, saxophonist, and violinist. He was brought up in Switzerland, where he formed a café orchestra with his brother Felice, who played banjo and violin. From 1925 to 1932 he toured Italy, Germany, and Switzerland and made several recordings as a leader for Homocord (1927–8, including Just Once Again, 2514, and Say it with a Red Rose, 2524, both 1928), in which Arthur Briggs may have taken part. Abriani held an engagement in Calcutta from 1932 to 1934, during which time he recorded for HMV’s Twin label. After returning to Europe he toured (1934–9) and made further recordings (1937–9), and then settled in Italy. Although he was not himself a jazz soloist, he often employed excellent jazz players as his sidemen. (A. Mazzoletti: Il jazz in Italia: dalle origini al dopoguerra...

Article

Absatz  

Article

Clive Brown

(Ger.).

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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Article

Roger Scruton

The term ‘absolute music’ denotes not so much an agreed idea as an aesthetic problem. The expression is of German origin, first appearing in the writings of Romantic philosophers and critics such as J.L. Tieck, J.G. Herder, W.H. Wackenroder, Jean Paul Richter and E.T.A. Hoffmann. It features in the controversies of the 19th century – for example, in Hanslick’s spirited defence of absolute Tonkunst against the Gesamtkunstwerk of Wagner – and also in the abstractions of 20th-century musical aesthetics. It names an ideal of musical purity, an ideal from which music has been held to depart in a variety of ways; for example, by being subordinated to words (as in song), to drama (as in opera), to some representational meaning (as in programme music), or even to the vague requirements of emotional expression. Indeed, it has been more usual to give a negative than a positive definition of the absolute in music. The best way to speak of a thing that claims to be ‘absolute’ is to say what it is not....

Article

Richard Parncutt and Daniel J. Levitin

The ability either to identify the chroma (pitch class) of any isolated tone, using labels such as C, 261 Hz or do (‘passive’ absolute pitch), or to reproduce a specified chroma – for example, by singing or adjusting the frequency of a tone generator – without reference to an external standard (‘active’ absolute pitch (AP): Bachem, 1937; Baggaley, 1974; Ward, 1982). Both skills may be called ‘tone-AP’. Absolute pitch may also involve recognizing whether a familiar piece is played in the correct key (passive), or singing a familiar song in the correct key (active); this skill is known as ‘piece-AP’.

Cognitively, both tone- and piece-AP involve two separate sub-skills: long-term pitch memory and an appropriate form of linguistic coding for attaching labels to stimuli (Levitin, 1994). True tone-AP requires individual internal pitch standards for all 12 chroma. This template can shift with age by as much as two semitones (Vernon, ...

Article

Clive Brown

[Stossen].

The normal German equivalent of the Italian verb staccare (‘to separate or detach; to play staccato’); the noun Stoss was used to mean staccato. Like its Italian counterpart it implies not only separation but also, in many cases, accent. Stoss means literally a blow or shove and the verb means to push, shove or jab. The prefix ab- indicates ‘off’. J.G. Walther, in his Musicalisches Lexicon, 1732, made a distinction between staccato and stoccato deriving the one from staccare (Ger. entkleben, ablösen), and the other from stocco (‘a stick’; Ger. Stock), which he considered to imply that the note was pushed or jabbed (gestossen). Walther's etymology, whether accurate or not, emphasizes the dual meaning of the term staccato in German usage. It was often, especially in the context of keyboard playing, used merely to indicate that notes were to be shortened; thus Türk equated the noun ...

Article

Erik Levi

(‘Abstract Opera no.1’)

Opera in one act, op.43, by Boris Blacher to a libretto by Werner Egk; Mannheim, Nationaltheater, 17 October 1953 (previously broadcast on Hessischer Rundfunk, 28 June 1953).

This 35-minute opera scored for soprano, tenor and baritone, mixed choir and instrumental ensemble is divided into seven self-contained scenes entitled Angst (Fear), Liebe I (Love 1), Schmerz (Pain), Verhandlung (Negotiation), Panik (Panic), Liebe II (Love 2) and Angst (Fear). There is no conventional plot as such; rather the opera, constructed in arch-form, offers an exploration of various states of mind. The vocal writing dispenses with comprehensible speech and relies on syllables and stage gestures to make its effect. In the opening scene the dialogue between the three soloists consists entirely of primeval wails based on the sound patterns of ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. Following this is the first love scene which ends in hilarity when a dressmaker’s dummy is shot by the soprano. At the centre of the work lies the fourth scene, ‘Verhandlung’, in which an infantile and barely comprehensible discussion between a Russian (baritone) and American diplomat (tenor) breaks down through lack of communication. With the return to the ‘Angst’ scene at the end of the opera comes an overriding feeling of the futility of modern life....

Article

Peter Walls

(Ger.).

In string playing Abstrich and Aufstrich denote ‘down-bow’ and ‘up-bow’, respectively. ‘Down-bow’ is indicated by the sign (a stylized representation of the frog of the bow) and ‘up-bow’ by (representing the point of the bow). These symbols were first described by Baillot (L'art du violon, 1834) who implied that they had been in general use for some time. ...

Article

Clive Brown

Singspiel in one act, j106, by Carl Maria von Weber to a libretto by Franz Carl Hiemer after Antoine Galland’s story Le dormeur éveillé; Munich, Residenztheater, 4 June 1811.

Hiemer based his libretto on the second part of Galland’s version of the well-known tale of ‘Abu Hassan, or The Sleeper Awakened’ from the Arabian Thousand and One Nights. In the opera Abu Hassan (tenor), cup-bearer to the Caliph, and his devoted wife Fatime (soprano) are being pressed for payment of debts by the moneylender Omar (bass), who is also unsuccessfully making advances to Fatime. Abu Hassan hits on the idea of pretending that his wife has died and claiming money from the Caliph (speaking role) for her funeral, while Fatime does the same with the Caliph’s wife, Zobeide (speaking role). They succeed in their plot, but when the Caliph and Zobeide try to discover which of them is really dead they both feign death. Abu Hassan, however, leaps up and reveals the subterfuge when he hears the Caliph offer 10 000 gold dinars to anyone who can clear up the mystery. For about half the opera Omar is imprisoned in a cupboard, where he has been forced to hide because of the unexpected return of Abu Hassan while Omar was trying to make love to the reluctant Fatime. Fatime explains to her husband, in an undertone, what has happened, and they decide to punish Omar by leaving him there in fear of discovery. When the Caliph is informed of Omar’s activities by Abu Hassan, at the end of the opera, he orders the cupboard to be taken to the city prison....

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Abume  

Article

James Tyler

Article

Howard Mayer Brown

According to C.P.E. Bach, Marpurg and Quantz in the 18th century, an Abzug is a decrescendo into the principal note from a long appoggiatura. Georg Simon Löhlein (Clavier-Schule, 1765 and later) said ‘Abzug’ is synonymous with ‘Schneller’, that is, a trill with one repercussion starting and ending with the main note, the ornament called ‘inverted mordent’ by some writers. For these meanings of the term see F. Neumann: ...

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Howard Mayer Brown

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AC/DC  

Robert Walser

Australian heavy metal band. Formed in Sydney in 1973 by the brothers Angus Young (b Glasgow, Scotland, 31 March 1955; guitar) and Malcolm Young (b Glasgow, Scotland, 6 Jan 1953; d Elizabeth Bay, Australia, 18 Nov 2017; guitar), its best-known line-up stabilized in 1975 with Mark Evans (b Melbourne, 2 March 1956; bass), Phil Rudd (b Melbourne, 19 May 1954; drums), and Bon Scott (Ron Belford Scott; b Kirriemuir, Scotland, 9 July 1946; d East Dulwich, London, 19 Feb 1980; vocals). Cliff Williams (b 14 Dec 1949) replaced Evans in 1977, and upon Scott’s death, he was replaced by Brian Johnson (b 5 Oct 1947). By 1976, they were Australia’s leading rock band and decided to move to London in the hope of broader success, which they achieved in the UK and the USA by the end of the decade. They are known for crude, rowdy, and sometimes juvenile lyrics that celebrate excess, transgression, and communal bonding, delivered through very hoarse, sometimes screaming, vocals. Their music is blues-based, displaying few of the Baroque influences that strongly affected most heavy metal bands. It is usually built around riffs that are primarily chordal and rhythmic rather than melodic. Their ensemble work is both forceful and precise, featuring effective use of the two guitars for complementary rhythm parts. Their most popular and critically respected album is ...

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Article

Name for a group of American travelling companies drawn from resident troupes of the New York Academy of Music, 1854–86, variously under the management (1854–77) of Maurice Strakosch, Bernard Ullman, Max Maretzek and others. Under this umbrella were a variety of individual companies, including the Strakosch Opera Company, Ullman-Strakosch Opera Company and Academy of Music Company, all of which made extensive tours of the USA. From ...

Article

Graham Sadler

[Acante et Céphise, ou La sympathie (‘Acante and Céphise, or Empathy’)]

Pastorale-héroïque in three acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau to a libretto by Jean François Marmontel ; Paris, Opéra, 19 November 1751.

To protect Acante (haute-contre) and Céphise (soprano) from the menacing genie Oroès (bass), the fairy Zirphile (soprano) gives the lovers a talisman. This provides them with the telepathic power (‘la sympathie’ of the subtitle) to sense each other’s feelings even when separated. The work, which celebrated the Duke of Burgundy’s birth, includes more inventive music than such a puerile plot deserves, and incorporates the earliest surviving clarinet parts in French opera. The overture, a representation of the nation’s joy at the royal birth, uses cannon fire in its portrayal of fireworks....

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Article

(It.: ‘hastening’, ‘quickening’; gerund of accelerare)

A direction to increase the speed of a musical performance, often over a fairly long passage. It is usually abbreviated to accel., and is in practice much rarer than its contrary, rallentando. Koch (Musikalisches Lexikon, 1802), translating it as eilend, drew attention to terms he considered more common at the time, ...

Article

Accent  

Matthias Thiemel

The prominence given to a note or notes in performance by a perceptible alteration (usually increase) in volume (‘dynamic accent’); a lengthening of duration or a brief preceding silence of articulation (‘agogic accent’); an added ornament or pitch inflection of a melodic note (‘pitch accent’); or by any combination of these. The term is also used for any of the notational signs used to indicate that such prominence is required. On instruments capable of immediate dynamic nuance, including the voice and most strings, wind and percussion, an increase of volume is usually the chief element in this prominence, commonly at the start (with a more assertive effect), but alternatively just after the start (with a more insinuating effect, for which one specific term is Sforzando). On instruments not capable of much if any dynamic nuance, such as the harpsichord and the organ, prominence of this type can be given, and an effect of dynamic accentuation simulated, by agogic accents. In principle, any quality that distinguishes notes from their predecessors and successors can produce a ‘subjective’ or ‘perceptible’ accent....