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Article

Chekker  

Denzil Wraight

(Fr. archiquier, eschaquier, eschiquier; Ger. Schachtbrett; Lat. scacarum, scacatorum; Sp. eschaquer, scaquer)

The earliest term used in archives and other writings to denote a string keyboard instrument. Its exact meaning is still the subject of debate and research, but it is probable that most references are to a clavichord. There appears to be no Italian equivalent of the name; Farmer suggested that it is derived from the Arabic ‘al-shaqira’ and tentatively identified this as a virginal, but there is no supporting evidence. Some writers identified the chekker as an upright harpsichord (i.e. a Clavicytherium), since a letter written to Juan I of Aragon in 1388 referred to ‘an instrument seeming like organs, that sounds with strings’, but the instrument was not named. Galpin (Grove4, suppl.) believed that the Dulce melos described by Arnaut de Zwolle (c1440) was identical with the chekker. However, instruments with hammer action, such as the dulce melos, appear to have been rare, whereas the name ‘chekker’ appears frequently, and there is no evidence to support this identification. Galpin further suggested that the chekker’s name was derived from the fact that the action was ‘checked’, in the sense that the motion of its keys was stopped by a fixed rail; this is unconvincing and could in any case apply to a clavichord, a harpsichord or a virginal. These suggestions can therefore be disregarded....

Article

Echo  

Murray Campbell and Mary Térey-Smith

The repetition of sound after a short time interval. In addition to the applications discussed below the term is used for a signal-processing device (also known as a delay) that produces a slightly delayed playback of sounds either by a tape loop or by digital delay; see Electric guitar §2 .

See also Organ stop .

Natural echoes arise from the reflection of a sound wave by a solid surface, such as a wall or cliff. For the echo to be perceived as distinct from the original sound, the extra path length travelled by the reflected sound wave must have a minimum value of around 17 metres, corresponding to a minimum time interval of 50 milliseconds between direct and reflected sounds.

The reverberant sound field in a concert hall is created by multiple reflections of sound waves. In a well-designed hall, the direct sound reaching a member of the audience is followed by a series of reflections within a time interval of around 35 milliseconds. These ‘early delayed arrivals’ are not heard as separate echoes; because of the ‘precedence effect’ they are perceived as a reinforcement of the direct sound. Subsequent reflections blend smoothly into the reverberation. A concave surface, focussing sound waves into a particular part of the hall, can give rise to an audible echo; a ‘flutter echo’ can arise from successive reflections between parallel walls....

Article

D. Quincy Whitney

(b Springfield, MA, May 24, 1911; d Wolfeboro, NH, Aug 7, 2009). American violinmaker, acoustician, and writer. A trumpeter and biology graduate of Cornell University (AB 1933) and New York University (MA 1942), she left both disciplines to embrace string instruments and acoustical physics. While teaching science and woodworking at the Brearley School, chamber music colleagues convinced her to take up viola. A woodcarver since childhood, Hutchins, at age 35, decided to make a viola. Hutchins then studied luthiery with Karl A. Berger (1949–59) and Stradivari expert Fernando Sacconi. While she and Harvard physicist Frederick A. Saunders performed more than 100 acoustical experiments (1949–63), Hutchins taught herself acoustical physics by making string instruments. In 1963 Hutchins and colleagues Robert Fryxell and John Schelleng founded the Catgut Acoustical Society. She published the CAS journal for more than 30 years, helping bridge the gap between violin makers and acoustical physicists. Hutchins made more than 500 instruments, authored more than 100 technical papers on violin acoustics, and edited ...

Article

Member of Mozart family

(b Augsburg, Nov 14, 1719; d Salzburg, May 28, 1787). Composer, violinist and theorist.

He was the son of an Augsburg bookbinder, Johann Georg Mozart (1679–1736), and attended the Augsburg Gymnasium (1727–35) and the Lyceum adjoining the Jesuit school of St Salvator (1735–6), where he frequently performed as an actor and singer in various theatrical productions; he was also an accomplished organist and violinist. In 1737 Leopold broke with his family and matriculated at the Salzburg Benedictine University, studying philosophy and jurisprudence. He took the bachelor of philosophy degree the next year, with public commendation, but in September 1739 he was expelled for poor attendance and indifference. Shortly after, he became a valet and musician to Johann Baptist, Count of Thurn-Valsassina and Taxis, Salzburg canon and president of the consistory; it was to Thurn-Valsassina that Mozart dedicated his ...

Article

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by John Barnes

(Ger. Pedalklavichord, Pedalclavier)

A clavichord equipped with a pedal-board like that of an organ. Instruments of this type are mentioned by Paulus Paulirinus of Prague (c 1460) and Virdung (Musica getutscht, 1511), and a 15th-century drawing shows a clavichord with a two-and-a-half-octave compass B to ƒ″, with a 12-note pedal-board B to b (with b♭ omitted, perhaps in error) beneath it. Such instruments were primarily used for practice purposes by organists, and this function is specifically cited by Paulirinus. Most of them presumably had pull-down pedals directly connected by cords to the bass notes of an ordinary clavichord, but Adlung (Musica mechanica organoedi, 1768) noted that such a system presents problems because the pedal keys must be more widely spaced than the manual and, accordingly, the cords must slant and therefore tend to drag the keys sideways as they are pulled down. This problem could be obviated by the use of a rollerboard, which, however, was noisy and vastly increased the cost of the instrument. A better system was to provide a completely separate instrument to be sounded by the pedal keys; this was set underneath an ordinary clavichord and could be strung with sub-octave as well as unison strings, thereby better approximating the resources of the pedal division of an organ....

Article

Edwin M. Ripin

(Fr. table d'harmonie; Ger. Resonanzboden; It. piano armonico, tavola armonica)

The thin sheet of wood in a piano, harpsichord, clavichord, zither, or the like, that serves to make the sound of the strings more readily audible and helps to form the characteristic tone quality of the instrument. A string presents so small a surface to the surrounding air that its vibrations cannot set the air into vibration with any great efficiency; as a result, the sound produced by a string in the absence of a soundboard, although it may well sustain for an appreciable time, is hardly loud enough to be used for any musical purpose. The soundboard, coupled to the strings by means of one or more bridges over which they pass, provides a larger vibrating surface so that the air can be set into vibration more efficiently and a louder sound can be heard. The soundboard does not serve as an amplifier in the same sense as an electronic circuit or device, since it adds no energy from an outside source; rather, it enables the energy already imparted to the string by a hammer, plectrum, tangent, or the like, to be dissipated more rapidly, so this energy is converted to a sound of higher intensity that lasts for a shorter time. The particular resonance and vibrational characteristics of the soundboard determine which components of the complex vibration of the string will be given particular prominence, and the rate at which they will be dissipated; consequently the shape, thickness and ribbing of the soundboard are of primary importance in determining the quality of the instrument of which it is a part....

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

Tripous  

Warren Anderson

revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

[tripod]

A triple kithara said by the historian Artemon of Cassandrea (fl 2nd century bce), probably following Aristotle’s pupil Dicaearchus (fl c326–296 bce), to have been invented in the 5th century bce by the music theorist Pythagoras of Zacynthus (Athenaeus, xiv, 637b–f). It had a revolving base, and a touch of the performer’s foot made the Dorian, Phrygian or Lydian mode instantly available. Whether or not the instrument (or indeed its inventor) actually existed, Artemon’s account of it has importance for modal theory and organology. Sachs pointed out the most obvious inference: the idea of such a multiple instrument can be based only on the assumption that even at this early period modes differed radically from one another. Light is also thrown on the disputed question of the function of the left hand in lyre playing: the placing of the left hand somehow within the upper part of the tripod remains inexplicable, unless it is seen in relation to a standard technique whereby the fingers of this hand damped strings rather than plucked them....