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Article

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 ...

Article

Matthias Thiemel

The intensity of volume with which notes and sounds are expressed. In the 20th century dynamics came to be seen as one of the fundamental parameters of composition which function interdependently to create musical meaning and structure.

Dynamic variation is so natural to the performance of almost all styles of music that its presence can normally be assumed even when indications for it are mainly or even entirely absent from the notation. That dynamic transitions occurred in the music of ancient Greece is suggested by Plutarch’s accounts, and it is likely that the monophonic hymns of the 1st century ce displayed nuances of volume illustrating their meaning or imitating the tone of speech. Medieval musicians had no word for ‘dynamics’ per se, but it is implicit in the concepts of structura and processus. By the early Renaissance period dynamic values were reflected in changes in the number of voices and their registers. In Josquin’s ...

Article

Leon Botstein

A term used in music to denote a multi-faceted but distinct and continuous tradition within 20th-century composition. It may also refer to 20th-century trends in aesthetic theory, scholarship and performing practice. Modernism is a consequence of the fundamental conviction among successive generations of composers since 1900 that the means of musical expression in the 20th century must be adequate to the unique and radical character of the age. The appropriateness of the term to describe a coherent and discrete movement has been underscored by the currency of the word ‘postmodern’, which refers to the music, art and ideas that emerged during the last quarter of the century as a reaction to Modernism (see Postmodernism). The word ‘Modernism’ has functioned throughout the century both polemically and analytically; although it is applied loosely to disparate musical styles, what links its many strands is a common debt to the historical context from which it emerged....

Article

Noise  

Paul Hegarty

Traditionally, noise has been thought of as the outside of music and meaning. In systems theory, noise is disruption of the signal or message; in biological terms, it is associated with pain, in legal terms it is associated with disturbance. Noise is also that which has hitherto been excluded from being proper music, so can include radical new directions in musical form (Wagner, Coltrane) as well as noises deemed unmusical. The term noise implies a judgement about the type of sound, performance, or piece, not an inherent quality of it. This means that the idea of noise has always been historicized within music philosophy. Luigi Russolo proposed (in 1913) that noise was both an essential part of nature and a new reality of the industrialized metropolis. Purposeful use of noise, would, ironically, bring a new social harmony. John Cage expanded the definition of what could occur in the place of music, from silence (more accurately, the absence of silence) to machine sounds (turntables, radios, prepared pianos). In ...