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Swell  

Peter Williams, Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Edwin M. Ripin and John Koster

A device for the gradation of volume in keyboard instruments.

Peter Williams, revised by Nicholas Thistlethwaite

The Swell organ is that manual department of an organ whose chest and/or pipes are enclosed on all sides by a box, one side of which incorporates a device (lid, flap, shutters, sashed panel, etc.) that can be opened and closed by connection with a foot-lever or pedal. A stop or half-stop may be thus enclosed, or several departments (Choir organ, Solo organ) or even the whole organ (Samuel Green, St George's Chapel, Windsor, 1790). The connection from foot-lever to swelling device can be mechanical, pneumatic, electrical, etc. and may be so made that fine gradations in the degree of closure are possible.

Some examples of the small Brustwerk of the 16th century may have had doors that could be opened; most authenticated examples before about 1700, however, have semi-fixed fretwork doors. The idea of foot-operated movable doors or, in chamber organs, flaps, occurred occasionally to builders (T. Mace, ...

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T  

Article

Peter Williams

(It.: ‘single key’)

A phrase used by composers to instruct the keyboard player of a continuo part to play the bass note(s) alone, without chords above. The phrase seems to occur in music (e.g. Corelli op.5) before it is described in theory books (Heinichen, 1728, Pasquali, Albrechtsberger), where the player is directed to play only those notes, singly (Heinichen) or with their octave (Adlung) or (if long) restruck (C.P.E. Bach etc.). C.P.E. Bach noted that the Italians did not in practice ever play tasto solo. Many composers also gave figures for passages marked tasto solo and in this case the figures may merely indicate the harmony implied or stated above by other instruments; these are either for the continuo player to fill in if necessary or, as in the case of Bach’s cantata bass parts, for the sake of the copyist writing out a part from the full score. To distinguish single notes from those doubled at the octave above or below, C.P.E. Bach applied the phrases ...

Article

Mark Lindley

Tunings of the scale in which some or all of the concords are made slightly impure in order that few or none will be left distastefully so. Equal temperament, in which the octave is divided into 12 uniform semitones, is the standard Western temperament today except among specialists in early music. This article traces the history of temperaments in performing practice and in relation to the main lines of development in the history of harmony; for additional technical and historical details see Tuning, Pythagorean intonation, Just intonation, Microtone, Mean-tone, Well-tempered clavier, Equal temperament and Interval, especially Table 1.

Since the 15th century, tempered tuning has characterized keyboard music and in Western culture the art music of fretted instruments such as the lute. Its prevalence is due mainly to the fact that the concords of triadic music – octaves, 5ths and 3rds – are in many cases incommensurate in their pure forms. Three pure major 3rds (e.g. A♭–C–E–G♯) fall short of a pure octave by approximately one fifth of a whole tone (lesser diesis); four pure minor 3rds (G♯–B–D–F–A♭) exceed an octave by half as much again (greater diesis); the circle of twelve 5ths, if the 5ths are pure, does not quite cumulate in a perfect unison; and, most important of all in the context of Renaissance and Baroque music, the whole tone produced by subtracting a pure minor 3rd from a pure 4th (C–F–D) is about 11% smaller than the whole tone produced by subtracting a pure 4th from a pure 5th (C–G–D). These discrepancies are summarized in ...

Article

David H. Fox

revised by David L. Junchen

[cinema organ]

A type of pipe organ built between 1911 and 1940 specifically for the accompaniment of silent films and the performance of popular music in the magnificent movie palaces that arose during the first four decades of the 20th century. Used at first to substitute for the house orchestra during breaks, the theater organ eventually superseded the orchestra, for a single organist could improvise a more flexible accompaniment to the action on the screen. In the United States the term “theater organ” is preferred; in the UK “cinema organ” is used. Many characteristics of the theater organ can be traced to innovations in organs built between 1895 and 1910 in the UK and United States by Robert Hope-Jones (1859–1914), an early pioneer of the use of electricity in organs. Hope-Jones developed many of his innovative ideas in his native England, but not until he immigrated to America and later worked with the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company of North Tonawanda, New York, was his concept of the “Unit Orchestra” fully realized. This included the use of rapid electropneumatic action, remote consoles, numerous couplers and accessories, and, in particular, unification. With this economical system, the effect of a larger organ was obtained by the expansion of the number of pipes in each individual rank, and electrically “borrowing” additional stops from each rank at different pitches and on different manuals. “Double touch” enabled the organist to play a solo with a different stop arrangement from its accompaniment on a single manual, by applying additional pressure to the keys....

Article

Barbara Owen

Article

Tipping  

Article

Tirare  

Article

Tirer  

Article

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by John Koster

With reference to keyboard instruments, a term used to describe either the amount of force required to depress a key (‘touch weight’) or the distance that a key may be depressed (‘touch depth’ or ‘key dip’). Thus a keyboard may be said to have a heavy or a light touch, as well as a deep or a shallow touch. In harpsichords, the touch weight necessary to depress a key and cause two or three sets of jacks to pluck their strings is approximately 60 grams and the touch depth is about 7 mm. In modern concert grand pianos, the force necessary to depress a key to sound pianissimo is about 100 grams and the touch depth is about 10 mm. In 18th-century grand pianos, the corresponding figures are about 35 grams and 6 mm. In clavichords, the touch weight may be less than 10 grams. In organs, the weight and the depth of the touch vary considerably and depend in part on whether the action is electric or mechanical. For further information, see M. Cole, ...

Article

Sarah Maria Sargent

As applied to keyboard instruments, a term used to refer to the manner of depressing and releasing the keys. Touch is produced by the motion of the finger, the speed and position of the hand and the use or omission of arm weight. Kullak (1855) stated that touch is the art of producing sound on a keyboard instrument, not just beautifully but correctly according to context, including the demands of the particular instrument.

The clavichord is the only keyboard instrument where the player’s fingers have direct control over tone quality because the tangents remain in contact with the strings while they are sounding; the player is accountable for the note not only at the outset but for its entire duration (Troeger, 1987). After the key is struck, the performer can increase or decrease the pressure on the key to alter the pitch or to add portamento or vibrato (...

Article

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by John Koster

One that enables the performer readily to play music in a different key from that in which it is written, generally for the purpose of enabling the music to sound at a different pitch (usually to accommodate a keyboard accompaniment to the fixed or preferred pitch of other instruments or singers) or to permit the playing of music in a ‘difficult’ key while using the fingering of an ‘easy’ key. There are two principal ways in which this may be accomplished. In one, the keyboard simply slides sideways relative to the jacks, hammers, stickers, strings etc. of the instrument of which it is a part. In the other method, there are two keyboards which are displaced from each other by a certain fixed interval.

The latter method is known principally from the standard two-manual harpsichords made by the Ruckers family in the late 16th-century and the first half of the 17th. In these, the upper keyboard sounds at normal pitch, while the lower keyboard, which plays the same strings as the upper keyboard, is positioned so that it sounds a fourth lower. The lower-manual ...

Article

Barbara Owen

(Fr. Tremblant; It. Tremolo; Sp. Temblor)

An important accessory stop found in organs of all sizes since the early 16th century, although it is not always mentioned in early contracts, and is sometimes referred to by other names (e.g. ‘shaking stop’ in Tudor England). By slightly disturbing the wind supply, it causes an undulating or tremolando effect in the music, somewhat like a vocal vibrato. Two types were known to 17th and 18th century organ builders, and it is not known which is of the greater antiquity. The external tremulant (tremblant fort, tremblant à vent perdu, Bocktremulant; see fig.1a) consists of a balanced and adjustable sprung valve which allows intermittent pulses of wind to escape. The internal tremulant (tremblant doux, Schwebung; see fig.1b) consists of a sprung and weighted flap or gate within a wind-trunk, which momentarily interrupts the flow of wind to the chest. Unlike the external tremulant, the internal type is affected by the flow of wind, and behaves differently when a large or small number of stops is drawn. When not in use, the plate of the internal tremulant is pushed up against the side of the wind-trunk, and the bellows of the external tremulant is fixed in a closed position. As the names imply, the external tremulant produced a stronger and less subtle effect than the internal type....

Article

James Blades

revised by James Holland

[chimes, orchestral chimes] (Fr. cloches; Ger. Glocken, Röhrenglocken; It. campane, campanelle)

A set of tuned metal tubes (classified as an idiophone: set of percussion tubes). They are used for bell effects in the orchestra and on the operatic stage, real bells being cumbersome, heavy and difficult to play with rhythmic precision. Tubular bells consist of a series of brass or steel tubes ranging in diameter from about 3 to 7 cm; the greater the diameter, the longer the bell tube. The compass of the standard set of tubular bells is c′ to f″ or g″. Two-octave sets (f–f″org″) are used in continental Europe and Kolberg has produced a three-octave set (c–c‴). The tubes hang in a frame mounted in two rows, keyboard-fashion. They are struck at the top edge, which is capped or reinforced with an inner metal disc or pin. For general purposes a rawhide or plastic mallet is employed, one side usually covered with leather or felt for a contrast in tone. The bells are damped by a foot-pedal mechanism. To play one of the larger instruments, with some tubes 3 metres or more in length, the player stands on a platform; a music stand is incorporated above the instrument....

Article

Douglas Leedy

revised by Charles Corey

Systems of organization of the pitch scale. Such systems are either “just” or “tempered.” Just systems consist entirely of pure intervals, and though literal transposition of patterns or scales may be very limited, other musically useful symmetries are available. Tempered systems are those in which the purity of some or all intervals is deliberately compromised in order to render other intervals less impure, and thus increase the number of musically serviceable intervals. Over the course of centuries countless tunings and temperaments have been proposed, but few have been of practical importance; of these, 12-tone equal temperament has become the standard in Western music since the 19th century.

Until about 1850 many organs in New England were tuned to some practical variant of meantone temperament, while in areas of German influence (such as the Moravian communities) equal temperament prevailed. The universal acceptance of 12-tone equal temperament as standard from the mid-19th century nearly silenced discussion of alternative systems; only a few isolated composers and theorists advocated or experimented with non-standard tuning systems before about ...

Article

Turn  

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Five-stringed small guitar of Mexico. Commonly known as the vihuela, it is played in the mariachi ensemble as a harmony and rhythm instrument, and should not be confused with the Spanish vihuela de mano. It has a loud, crisp, rapid-decay sound. The soundbox is typically 39 cm long with a 29 cm maximum width, a 28 cm neck with four to six movable nylon frets, and 50 cm string length. The maximum depth of the sides is 10.5 cm plus an additional 6 cm depth to the apex of the vaulted, angled back. Wooden pegs inserted from the rear of the pegboard are traditional but nowadays most vihuelas have mechanical tuners. The tuning is a-d′-g′-b-e′ but sometimes the lowest three strings are tuned an octave higher. The soundhole (boca) is surrounded by nácar (mother of pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate ...

Article

(It.: ‘chest voice’; Fr. voix de poitrine)

One of the two primary registers of the singing voice. The voice resonating from the chest is lower in pitch and bigger and darker in sound than that resonating from the head (see Voce di testa). Beginning in the 18th century, singing tutors discussed these registers at length, taking various positions on how to unite the break (...

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