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John Caldwell

A freely composed or improvised piece, usually for the organ in the context of a church service. The term is occasionally met with outside the church, as for example when Burney extemporized at the harpsichord before a distinguished audience in Venice: ‘I played a Voluntary, for I could neither see, nor remember anything, I was so frightened’ (Dr Burney's Musical Tours in Europe, ed. P.A. Scholes, London, 1959, i, p.135). In his remarks about improvisation Roger North discussed the aptitudes necessary in an organist who would create such a piece and the chief characteristics of the style. In the Anglican church the voluntary has been played at the Offertory (at which point before the Commonwealth the choral part of the Communion service often ended) and after the psalms or the second lesson at Matins and Evensong, as well as before and after the service, as is usual today.

As a musical term the word ‘voluntary’ is imprecise. At various times it has overlapped with ‘verse’, ‘fancy’ and ‘fugue’ as well as with less frequently used terms. The word ‘verse’, indicating a short organ piece, is derived from the custom whereby the organ provided a substitute for the chant in the Latin rite, playing the odd-numbered verses of a hymn or other item in alternation with the choir (...


Michael Tilmouth


Prelude. The term appears frequently in German operatic scores from Wagner’s Lohengrin (1846–8) onwards. Following Wagner’s prescriptions in Oper und Drama, the Vorspiel was invariably linked closely with the musical and dramatic events of the opera. The two that function as symphonic prologues to the first and third acts of ...


Andrew Lamb

(Fr. valse; Ger. Walzer)

A dance in triple time which became the most popular ballroom dance of the 19th century. Not only has it proved the most celebrated and enduring of dance forms, but its influence on musical history has probably been greater than that of any other (with the possible exception of the minuet). It attracted the attention of major composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and was accepted into all forms of musical composition. As a dance form its musical quality was developed to an unusual extent.

The actual origins of the waltz are somewhat obscure, but it is clear that its evolution as a separate dance form was gradual. The name can be seen to be derived from the German verb walzen, which in turn is connected with the Latin verb volvere denoting a turning or rotating. French writers, starting with Castil-Blaze, have found an ancestor of the waltz in the 16th-century ...



Warwick Edwards

An English term in use around 1600. ‘Wayes’ is the title normally given to a series of short contrapuntal compositions in two or three parts (often in canon) on a cantus firmus, apparently intended for practice in polyphonic writing. Examples of its use are in John Farmer’s Divers and Sundrie Waies of Two Parts in One, to the Number of Fortie, uppon One Playn Song (1591); William Bathe’s A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song … in Which Work is Set Downe X. Sundry Wayes of 2. Parts in One upon the Plaine Song (1600); Forty Wayes of 2. Parts in One (on Miserere) by Thomas Woodson in GB-Lbl Add.29996, ff.184v–9 (only 20 given); Pretty Wayes: for Young Beginners to Looke on in the same manuscript, ff.192v–193, 195v–196 (16 anonymous compositions on the plainchant ‘Iam lucis orto sidere’); Thomas Robinson's ‘Twenty Waies upon the Bels’, the second of two lute duets that open his ...


Geoffrey Chew

[Weihnachtlied, Weihnachtsgesang] (Ger.: ‘Christmas song’)

In a general sense, any song for Christmas (similarly, Weihnachtskonzert means ‘Christmas concerto’, Weihnachtsmusik ‘Christmas music’ or ‘Christmas piece’, etc.). It is often used in the same loose sense as ‘Christmas carol’ is in English.

The term was applied particularly to the simplest type of 18th-century Pastorella: a simple song, often strophic, often for one or two voices accompanied by two violins and continuo (or by the organ alone), sung in central European rural churches at Christmas, often at Midnight Mass. Other more or less equivalent terms, which probably cannot be precisely differentiated, are aria de Nativitate; aria pastoralis or aria pastoritia (possibly translations of Hirtenlied, ‘shepherd song’); Krippellied, Krippenlied or Krippelgesang (‘crib song’); and Weihnacht Aria and so on. Some Weihnachtslieder, noted down in 1819 when their popularity had already declined, are in the folksong collection of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna; an informant from Maria-Taferl gave some details of their use (reproduced in Klier, i, 45–7; Klier also printed many of the songs), though these do not apply to all Weihnachtslieder. Many survive in manuscript in, for example, local parish churches and others were printed as broadsides at Vienna, Steyr, Linz, Innsbruck and elsewhere....


Barry Kernfeld

A substyle of Bop, serving as a continuation of the preceding Cool jazz substyle among predominantly white musicians based in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1950s. Miles Davis’s nonet recordings of 1949–50, collected together under the rubric of the ‘Birth of the Cool’, were particularly influential on the West Coast players. These were less distinguished improvisers than Davis, with the notable exception of Art Pepper, and therefore came to rely on a formulaic approach in which group arrangements tended to be more interesting than individual solos. The style also suffered from its reliance on a small circle of studio musicians (headed by Shorty Rogers), whose appearance in various combinations gave the music a certain sameness. Perhaps its most innovative contributions came in the small group performances involving Shelly Manne (on his album The Three, 1954, Cont.) and Jimmy Guiffre, who while working essentially in a bop-derived idiom, also explored ideas that prefigured some of the more delicate qualities of free jazz. Despite the fact that a few important black-American players, most notably Hampton Hawes, were deeply involved in the style, its consideration raises politically charged issues: it is difficult to disentangle West Coast jazz from the notoriously racist policies of the Hollywood studios, in which environment many of its practitioners worked....


Hugh Benham

The name of three early Tudor four-voice masses, one each by Taverner, Tye and Sheppard. All are built on a cantus firmus that somewhat resembles a melody with words beginning ‘Westron wynde’ found in GB-Lbl Roy. App.58, f.5 (see ex.1). The melody may be a single voice-part from a courtly polyphonic song, or a popular tune that was sung as it stands: the words certainly seem popular in character. Ex.2, from Taverner's mass, shows the melody used in the Western Wind masses. This may have been re-cast from the tune shown in ex.1 to make it more suitable for use as a cantus firmus; it seems not to be a polyphonic voice that could accompany the melody in ex.1.

Taverner, Tye and Sheppard all repeat the cantus firmus throughout their masses, making small rhythmic changes to accommodate new sets of words, and introducing differences of melodic detail at cadences. All three composers sometimes omit the third phrase of the cantus firmus. Whereas Taverner’s mass often has the melody in the treble, but sometimes in tenor or bass, Tye’s restricts it to the mean (beginning on D), and Sheppard’s nearly always has it in the treble. Various two- and three-part scorings are exploited in addition to four-part writing....


Malcolm Boyd

(Ger.: ‘cradle song’)

A song actually or supposedly designed to lull children to sleep; the German equivalent of the English Lullaby and the French Berceuse. Numerous examples of the Wiegenlied exist in German folk music (see E. Gerstner-Hirzel: Das volkstümliche deutsche Wiegenlied, Basle, 1984), and its influence can be discerned in many of the settings with piano accompaniment that belong to the 19th-century lied tradition, notably those of Bernhard Flies (wrongly attributed to Mozart as k350) and Brahms (op.49 no.4). Both these songs are typical of the genre in their use of flat keys (F major and E♭ major) and in their time signatures (6/8 and 3/4 respectively). Brahms’s Geistliches Wiegenlied for alto, viola and piano op.91 no.2 actually uses a folk melody, ‘Josef lieber, Josef mein’, and Brahms also included a Wiegenlied among the 14 folksong arrangements he made about 1858 for Clara Schumann’s children. Schubert’s well-known Schlafe, holder, süsser Knabe...


Donald Hunsberger

A wind band performance concept created in 1952 when Frederick Fennell founded the Eastman Wind Ensemble at the Eastman School of Music. Its primary principles differed from the traditional concert/military band of the period in that the wind ensemble utilizes flexible personnel assignments and instrumentation distribution, a repertoire primarily of original works for wind band, and the use of an orchestral style of performance.

The wind ensemble performs works ranging from chamber music through compositions for the standard orchestra wind section (3-3-3-3, 4-3-3-1, T percussion), the expanded orchestra winds (instruments in fours plus keyboard, harp, string bass and multiple percussion) to large scale concert band works. The musicians are normally assigned one to a part unless requested differently by a composer or orchestrator; a single concert program may employ eight players for an octet, 22 for an orchestra wind section work, 36 for an expanded orchestra wind section work, and 55 for a traditional concert band composition....





“Women’s music,” or “womyn’s music” is productively understood as a site of women’s thinking about music, a context for the enactment of lesbian-feminist politics and notions of community. The term refers to a geographically dispersed network that arose from performances organized and produced by white lesbian, lesbian-feminist, and feminist musicians and activists and was extended through their subsequent founding of Olivia Records and other women’s music recording and distribution companies in the early 1970s. Women’s music was part and parcel of “women’s culture,” fueled by lesbian energies, that was associated with the radical feminist—as opposed to liberal feminist—politics of the period. Women identifying themselves as “radical” and as lesbian-feminists envisioned transformation, rather than reform, of American society.

Toni Armstrong Jr., the editor of HOTWIRE, an important women’s music journal from the mid-1980s to 1994, described women’s music as “music by, for, about, and financially controlled by women.” In the aftermath of the dissolution of the women’s music recording and distribution industry, women’s music festivals are the legacy of what was formerly known as the women’s music movement. These events are open to women identifying variously as lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual; the audiences, as well as the musicians, are mostly lesbian. Among the central figures of women’s music are white musicians Holly Near, Margie Adam, Alix Dobkin, Maxine Feldman, Meg Christian, and Cris Williamson; often, the name of one of these artists is invoked to reference an era that many maintain has passed. Black musicians include Sweet Honey in the Rock, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, and Mary Watkins, among many others....


Ernest H. Sanders

The so-called Worcester repertory, comprising more than 100 anonymous polyphonic compositions datable from between the early 13th century and the second quarter of the 14th.

The repertory is contained in 59 manuscript leaves, 40 of which are preserved in GB-WO Add.68. While there is no certainty regarding the original provenance of any of the leaves, most of which are in more or less fragmentary condition, the available indications point to Worcester as a major centre of polyphonic composition, hence the frequently used term ‘Worcester Fragments’. Concordances show that the Worcester music was influential elsewhere in England. On the other hand, the ‘Worcester Fragments’ contain little more than a third of all the completely preserved English polyphony of the 13th century. Some of the compositions in other sources may also have originated in Worcester. (For more detailed information on sources seeSources, MS, §VI.)

The repertory can be seen as falling chronologically into five main groups of pieces. Of these the second is by far the largest. Each can further be divided into its several categories of composition. The discussion below follows such a scheme of classification. (‘...


Tim Carter

(Ger. Wortmalerei)

The use of musical gesture(s) in a work with an actual or implied text to reflect, often pictorially, the literal or figurative meaning of a word or phrase. A common example is a falling line for ‘descendit de caelis’ (‘He came down from heaven’). The term is more usually applied to vocal music, although a programmatic instrumental piece might in some sense exploit the technique. Word-painting is often distinguished from mood- or tone-painting (the German Tonmalerei), which is concerned with the musical representation of a work's broader emotional or other worlds, although the categories are not always clear: a Bach aria or a Schubert song, for example, can take a melodic or accompanimental motif generated by word-painting and base the entire musical material on it so as to express the dominant affection or image of the text (grief, joy, stream, spinning-wheel). It is one class of figures (Hypotyposis...


Matthew J. Forss

During the 1970s and 80s, the term “world music” became a way for ethnomusicologists to describe all the musics of the world’s peoples. In a similar manner, record labels from the United States and other countries began looking at ways to better define, categorize, and market “cultural” music. Early on, the music was frequently referred to as “ethnic,” “tropical,” “world beat,” or “international,” among other terms. Without a simple, all-encompassing, and accurate term, record labels and music stores found difficulty organizing and categorizing these products: challenges involved improper filing of records, cassettes, and compact discs, and difficulty marketing the releases without music charts, publications, or other marketing techniques or resources. A suitable definition of the music was not officially recognized by record label executives until a consensus was reached at a 1987 meeting in Britain of international record companies, broadcasters, concert promoters, and others involved with music from around the world. The meeting resulted in coining a new term to encompass the “ethnic” music of the world as “world music.”...


John Smock

Dionis Loire from Forest Hills High School in Queens plays Guitar Hero by RedOctane on Friday, Oct. 14, 2005 at the DigitalLife Expo in New York City. Players use colored buttons on the neck of the guitar to shoot targets and make heavy metal music at the same time. The DigitalLife Expo features cutting-edge technology for work, home and play....


Richard Rastall and David Klausner

One of the four principal sequences of medieval English biblical plays. The York cycle survives in the city’s official copy ( GB-Lbl Add.35290). The manuscript was copied some time in the period 1463–77, and additions and annotations were made up to the mid-16th century; it apparently represents a mid-15th-century revision of the cycle’s 47 plays (a further three were never entered). The plays were enacted on wagons in the city streets up until the final performance some time in the period 1569–75.

Vocal music is required by 30 or more cues spread rather unevenly through the plays. Its main purpose is to represent heaven and, by extension, God’s heavenly messengers and earthly agents. A second function of the music is structural, marking entrances, exits and the transition from one scene to another. Where text incipits occur, they can usually be identified as liturgical items, presumably intended to be sung to chant....



L.P. Harvey, Jack Sage and Susana Friedmann

(Arab.: ‘happy noise’, ‘song’; Sp. zéjel)

A kind of strophic song with refrain (see Arab music §II 3., (ii)). This use of the word goes back at least as far as the 12th century, being found in the zajal texts of Ibn Quzmān (d 1160); it probably originated in Muslim Spain. Since about 1912 it has been used by European scholars in discussing the origins of medieval Iberian poetry: the Mūwashshaḥ has usually five but sometimes up to six strophes, the zajal sometimes even more. A characteristic verse form for the zajal was AA bbba ?AA, and for the mūwashshaḥ AA bbb AA as well as others such as AB cccb AB and even extreme elaborations such as ABCABC defdefdef ABCABC. These songs differed from other early refrain songs such as the villancico in that the stanza always contained a three-line monorhyme (bbb, ccc, etc.) or other tripartite rhymes (bcbcbc, defdefdef, etc.). In the case of the ...


Louise K. Stein and Roger Alier

(Sp from zarza: ‘bramble’, ‘bramble bush’)

A Spanish genre of musical theatre characterized by a mixture of sung and spoken dialogue. Covarrubias's Tesoro de la lengua castellana (1611) defines zarza as ‘a spiny mat … a thing that is all linked together and intertwined in itself’. ‘Zarzuela’ is also used generally to describe a mixture or jumble.

Louise K. Stein

The first use of the word ‘zarzuela’ in a theatrical and musical context is found in the auto sacramental De los cantares by Lope de Vega. In a scene that includes rustic dances, one called ‘zarzuela’ carries as its text an adaptation of an older popular peasant song or seranilla.

In the late 1650s ‘zarzuela’ was used to refer to short musical plays of a lightly burlesque nature organized by Gaspar de Haro, the Marquis of Heliche, to entertain the king and his guests at the renovated Palacio Real de la Zarzuela, a royal hunting-lodge in the wooded outskirts of Madrid. The first such plays, with texts by ...


Peter Branscombe

(Ger.: ‘magic opera’)

A term, used more often by music and theatre historians than by contemporary librettists and composers, for a Singspiel with spoken dialogue that relies to an unusual extent on stage machinery and spectacular effects. In theory the term could be applied to any opera that employs magic; but in practice its use is normally restricted to the kind of magic Singspiel that was a staple of the Viennese popular repertory during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Philipp Hafner’s Megära, die förchterliche Hexe (a ‘Zauberlustspiel’, 1763) is an early example, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte the most famous one. The Wenzel Müller-Perinet adaptation, Megera (1806) is actually subtitled ‘Zauberoper’. Müller’s Kaspar der Fagottist, and Wranitzky’s and Weber’s adaptations of Wieland’s Oberon, are typical examples of the recurrent motif of the hero being granted supernatural aids to enable him to rescue a woman in peril. The Kauer-Hensler Das Donauweibchen (...