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Geoffrey Chew

revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

(Gk.: ‘lamentation’)

Ancient Greek lament for a dead person, analogous to the Roman Nenia (also, according to Maas, the leader of such a lament). The latinized plural form of the term (threni) is used in the title of the biblical book of Lamentations; it was so used by Stravinsky in his setting of texts from that book (Threni, 1958); it also occurs as the designation of a category of chant sung during Lent in the Mozarabic rite (see Mozarabic chant §4, (vii)).

The music of lamentation was intended to praise the deceased and provide a release for the intense emotions of the bereaved; its power in dissipating grief is well attested in ancient culture. Plutarch (Table-Talk, 657a) observes that thrēnoidia (threnody) and the epikedeios aulos move the emotions and cause tears to flow, thus little by little consuming and removing distress; Aristides Quintilianus (On Music...


Ian Rumbold

(Ger. durchkomponiert)

A term describing a composition with a relatively uninterrupted continuity of musical thought and invention. It is applied in particular in contexts where a more sectionalized structure might be expected, as with a Strophic song text, an opera divided into numbers or an instrumental piece divided into movements.

In the context of art song, ‘through-composed’ describes settings in which a repeating verse structure is contradicted by the use of substantially different music for each stanza, unlike most hymns and folksongs, where strophic texts are reinforced by an equivalent repeating musical structure. Das Wandern, the opening song of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, for example, is strophic, with the same music repeated for each text stanza, while Halt! (the third song of the cycle) is through-composed, with new music for each stanza. Furthermore, a song cycle as a whole, with its potential for the complex organization of constituent songs, may, unlike a collection of independent songs, be thought of as a larger-scale example of through-composition....



Ben Ridler

revised by Louis Jambou

(Sp.: ‘touch’; Port. tento)

A term derived from the Spanish verb tentar (‘to try out’, ‘to attempt’, ‘to test’), and applied exclusively to instrumental music from the mid-15th century onwards, first in the Iberian peninsula and then in Latin America. Until the mid-16th century tientos were played on various instruments (ensembles, plucked strings, keyboard); from the end of the 16th century they were written chiefly for keyboard instruments, particularly the organ. 20th-century composers revived the form, writing tientos for ensembles or orchestras. The plural, tientos, also designates a flamenco genre for solo guitar.

Alfonso de Palencia provided the first documented example of the practice of ‘trying out’ (tentar) a keyboard, string or wind instrument (Batalla campal entre perros y lobos, c1550): this piece, now lost, served as prelude to another work. The earliest tientos to have survived independently are the 13 for solo vihuela in Luys Milán’s El maestro...



John A. Emerson

A term of late 18th-century French origin widely applied by scholars of folklore and by musicologists to pre-existing opéra comique songs, vaudeville tunes, parody songs and 16th- and 17th-century chansons, and in a special sense to medieval monophony. A feature common to the later classes of French popular song was the adaptation of new words by the librettist or songwriter to well-known vocal or instrumental melodies; the ‘timbre’ was the melody’s label, or identification tag. It was a brief form of words, sometimes taken from the refrain or first couplet of the original poem, sometimes of more obscure origin (e.g. ‘La Pandoure’); for dance or other instrumental tunes the timbre gave the dance type together with the composer or work of origin (e.g. ‘Musette de M. Blaise’). The timbre was printed above the new text. During the 16th century these borrowed tunes were nearly always prefaced with the phrase ‘Chanson sur le chant:’; later, this was replaced by a simpler form, ‘Air:’. The term is closely associated with the large anthologies of airs, chansons and vaudeville songs edited during the early part of the 19th century by such collectors as Pierre Capelle, ...



A dance-song, probably of Andalusian origin, which between 1780 and 1790 enjoyed a great vogue in Spain as the finale to the popular tonadillas. It is usually in 6/8 time with syncopated rhythm, and the tempo is faster than that of the seguidilla, which until then was the preferred final number. The verse form of the tirana in the tonadillas consists ordinarily of four lines of eight syllables with a varying estribillo (refrain). It was danced by a couple, the woman waving her apron and the man his hat or handkerchief. Though later banned because of increasing licentiousness, it persisted into the late 19th century. The famous Tirana del trípili (ex.1), attributed to Blas de Laserna, became known throughout 19th-century Europe after Mercadante used the theme in the overture to his opera I due Figaro (1835). Granados also used parts of the refrain melody as the two main themes for the first movement of his piano suite ...



John Caldwell

(It., from toccare: ‘to touch’)

A piece intended primarily as a display of manual dexterity, often free in form and almost always for a solo keyboard instrument. The toccata principle is found in many works not so called, and a large number of pieces labelled ‘toccata’ incorporate other more rigorous styles (such as fugue) or forms (such as sonata form). In the 16th and 17th centuries the term was sometimes applied to fanfare-like pieces (e.g. the opening fanfare of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, 1607), but the origin of this usage and its relationship to the current one are obscure. (For the putative connection with the Shakespearean ‘tucket’, see Tuck, tucket).

Freely composed keyboard music, independent of the dance, of cantus firmi or of any vocal model, first appeared in certain 15th-century German manuscripts, such as the tablature of Adam Ileborgh and the Buxheimer Orgelbuch. Here sequences of chords alternate with somewhat aimless scale passages, and the usual title is ‘praeludium’ or ‘preambulum’. The style was continued in the early 16th century, in the tablatures of Kotter, Kleber and others (...


E. Thomas Stanford

(from Náhuatl)

A 17th-century villancico emulating Aztec song-dance. The surviving texts are either completely in the Náhuatl language of the Aztecs or in Spanish with the frequent insertion of Náhuatl words and phrases. Three well-known tocotines by the Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz survive, unfortunately without music. The 18th-century Jesuit historian Francisco Javier Clavijero wrote that the Amerindian dance was of pre-Hispanic origins, but was of such propriety that priests permitted it to be danced in churches. The name of the dance derives from a series of syllables which denoted drum rhythms and dance steps, and it may be presumed that its performance would have included the use of the ...



Donna G. Cardamone

(It from tedesco: ‘German’)

A 16th-century genre of polyphonic song that satirizes Germans attempting to speak Italian. Mispronounced words, garbled syntax and verbs rendered as infinitives are standard features in the texts (e.g. ‘Mi folere star contente’). The earliest todescas form a substantial category in sources of Florentine carnival songs or Canti carnascialeschi, especially I-Fn Magl.XIX.121 and Banco Rari 230 (facs. in RMF, iv, 1986). Stock characters are German lancers and bakers, whose descriptions of their trades and ability to play instruments are merely pretexts for boasting about sexual prowess.

Later todescas describe the lancer's notorious addiction to the bottle (Trince got è malvasie, RISM 15665 and Le Jeune’s Trink Trink Trink pon pokras, 1608) or his habit of serenading courtesans with ribald word-play, such as cazze/cacce in Azzaiolo's Bernardo non può stare (1559¹9) and Lassus's Matona mia cara (1581). Bavarian courtiers were evidently amused by the parodies of their countrymen offered by Lassus (...


Michael Tilmouth

revised by David Ledbetter

(Fr.: ‘tomb’, ‘tombstone’)

An instrumental piece or group of pieces, in the character of a lament, commemorating the death of some person, usually real but occasionally imaginary. The term was originally a literary one; in the 16th and early 17th centuries it was applied in France to short poems, or to collections of poems by several authors, commemorating the death of such people of distinction as François I and Marguerite of Navarre, or great poets like Ronsard. It was adopted about the middle of the 17th century by musicians: French music of that time was indebted to literature in many ways. It appeared first in a tombeau by Ennemond Gaultier for the lutenist Mesangeau (d 1638), and there are a number of examples for lute by various members of the Gaultier family, most of which follow the tradition of the earlier Déploration in which musicians often commemorated their teachers or other notable musicians....


Ton (i)  

Horst Brunner

(Ger.; pl. Töne)

A term used in medieval and Renaissance German literature to describe a verse form together with its melody. The verse form includes the entire metrical and poetic scheme of the stanza. Several poems could be, and were, written to the same Ton, particularly from the 14th century onwards. Among the Meistersinger it was common practice to write poems on a received Ton, usually by another Meister: Hans Sachs (1494–1576), perhaps the most famous of the Meistersinger, wrote 4286 Meisterlieder in only about 275 Töne, of which he composed 13 himself.

This is more clearly illustrated by reference to the example of Klingsor’s Schwarzer Ton. Ex.1 shows the four surviving complete versions of the melody and their dates (for facsimiles of three of the versions see Sources, MS, §III, 5). In spite of the enormous chronological distance between the three manuscripts, the four versions agree melodically in many details: all the versions evidently derive from the same melodic scheme, and the differences may be explained by the influence of oral transmission as well as by changes of melodic style over the centuries....





(Sp.: ‘song’; diminutive tonadilla; Port. toada)

A general term for any Spanish tune or melody. In the 17th century tonada, tono (see Tono) and sonada were frequently used to refer to a variety of short secular or sacred songs for solo voice, as distinct from the Villancico, although tonos and tonadas for two or even more voices became fashionable during the 17th and 18th centuries....


Roger Alier

(Sp., diminutive of tonada: ‘song’)

An intermezzo sung between the acts of a play or (more rarely) an opera or auto sacramental (see Auto) in 18th-century and early 19th-century Spanish theatre. The name was used originally for a strophic song usually preceding a dance, which is why the theatrical tonadilla is sometimes referred to as a tonadilla escénica. The genre developed from about 1750 in Madrid, where it became a customary part of the miscellaneous fare in the playhouses, along with dances, songs and the main entertainment. The first tonadilla was once thought to have been written in 1757 by the Catalan composer Luis Misón, who was then active in Madrid, but Subirá showed that Antonio Guerrero had included tonadillas in many of his plays a few years earlier. His early tonadillas include Los señores fingidos and Los náufragos.

The tonadilla, which dealt mainly with lower-class characters (peasants, innkeepers, gypsies, barbers etc.), soon found popular acceptance, first in Madrid and then elsewhere in Spain and in Latin America, and developed into a kind of short comic opera akin to the Neapolitan intermezzo. Some ...


Paul M. Walker

In Fugue, an Answer that does not reproduce exactly all the intervals found in the subject. In particular, because a literal transposition of the dominant note a 5th higher or a 4th lower yields the supertonic note, composers often choose instead to answer the dominant note with the tonic note in order to avoid tonal movement into the key of the dominant and its dominant. Although the technique of tonal answer was commonly employed in Renaissance and Baroque composition, there was no agreed-upon terminology to describe it until well into the 18th century, when it was often called ...




Jack Sage

revised by Álvaro Zaldívar

(It., Sp.: ‘tone’, ‘tune’)

(1) A general term for any Spanish tune or melody. It was frequently used in the 17th century, in particular, to designate a short secular or sacred song, generally for solo voice, as distinct from the Villancico, but tonos for two or more voices became fashionable during the 17th and 18th centuries, when tono, Tonada and sonada were used more or less synonymously. Tono nuevo was widely used from about 1590 to about 1650 to imply a recent, highly popular song, tono viejo an old-fashioned song (so regarded if only ten years old or even less), tono humano a secular song, tono divino a sacred song and tono a lo divino a secular song set to new, moralized, religious words.

M. Lambea and L. Josa, eds.: La música y la poesía en cancioneros polifónicos del siglo XVII, 1–3 (Barcelona, 2000–5)F. Bonastre: ‘Tono (I)’, Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana...



Anne Walters Robertson

A 14th-century mass composition in three voices. This incomplete setting of the Ordinary was added to blank spaces in the plainchant missal F-TLm 94 around 1400 (Kyrie, ff.145v, 147; Credo, f.1; Sanctus, ff.225v–26; Agnus Dei, f.226; Ite missa est, f.147v). The mass lacks a Gloria, and the fragmentary Credo, which includes only the tenor voice from the word ‘Crucifixus’ to the end, must be completed from the concordances found in F-APT 16bis, SERc , I-IV , and in the Barcelona Mass. The Agnus, which is also found in a manuscript in the Gerona Cathedral library, may likewise have connections with the repertories of southern Avignon. The Sanctus and Agnus were entered together in the manuscript, and an annotation following the Agnus tells where to find the Ite missa est; these indications suggest that the mass was intended as a unit.

The style of the mass, like that of other 14th-century polyphonic cycles, varies from one movement to the next. The Credo, Agnus and Ite are composed in the manner of solo song: an active upper voice is supported by a slower, untexted tenor and contratenor. The Kyrie and Sanctus, by contrast, look like motets, with the two upper lines moving at about the same rate. These two latter movements also differ in detail: the Sanctus frequently uses voice pairing, while the Kyrie rarely employs it. Both contain hocket passages, however, in contrast with the remaining movements. The Agnus is troped with ‘Rex immense pietatis’, and the Ite with ‘Laudemus Jesum Christum’. The final word (‘gratias’) of the Ite hints that the movement may have been intended as a Benedicamus domino trope. The mass is edited in Harder (...