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Peter Branscombe

(Ger.: ‘song-play’)

A kind of dramatic entertainment developed in Germany in the early 19th century in which songs are introduced into a play. It differs from the older Singspiel principally in its inclusion of songs that as lyric poems already enjoyed some currency; the melodies (normally with simple instrumentation) were new, though some of the songs from such works later came to be regarded as folksongs. Ensembles and choruses were not at first admitted, and the music had an almost entirely lyrical rather than a dramatic character. Despite statements to the contrary, the Liederspiel differs generically from the French vaudeville and the British ballad opera, in both of which the melodies were normally familiar airs specially provided with new words, whereas normally in the Liederspiel the words were pre-existing and the melodies new.

The first Liederspiel was Lieb' und Treue, by J.F. Reichardt, staged at the Berlin Royal Opera House on 31 March 1800...


Jim Samson

A movement or, more commonly, period of cultural history. When understood as a period, Romanticism is usually identified with either the first half or the whole of the 19th century. The term is used with reference primarily to the arts, but it can also embrace philosophy, socio-political history and, more widely, the ‘spirit’ of the era.

In literature Romanticism is commonly taken to cover roughly the first half of the 19th century, though the philosophical origins of the movement lie well back in the previous century. Literary Romanticism took its definitive form in the late 18th century in polemical and creative writings by the Schlegel brothers and their circle in Germany, and in the early 19th century by Wordsworth and Coleridge in England, and by Lamartine and Hugo in France. It is usually accepted that Romantic features continued to exert an influence after the middle of the century, but as a period term ‘Romanticism’ gives way at that point to ‘Realism’ and ‘Symbolism’, movements associated initially with French writers. Historians of the visual arts have conventionally adopted a broadly similar chronology, identifying early Romantics such as Géricault and Delacroix in France, Turner in England and Caspar David Friedrich in Germany, and again arguing for a dispersal of the original Romantic impetus following the middle of the century (...


Harry Haskell

A term once applied to music of the Baroque and earlier periods, but now commonly used to denote any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises, instruments and other contemporary evidence. The ‘early music movement’, involving a revival of interest in this repertory and in the instruments and performing styles associated with it, had a wide-ranging impact on musical life in the closing decades of the 20th century.

The roots of the modern early music revival lie in early 18th-century England, France and Prussia, where a complex of social and cultural conditions gave rise to the concept of a canonical repertory of ‘ancient’ music. In England, the religious upheavals of the Commonwealth and Restoration fostered a renewed appreciation of the sacred music tradition. Preservation efforts, led by musicians of the cathedrals and Chapel Royal, took on an increasingly moralistic character. The clergyman Arthur Bedford, for instance, in his ...


Ian D. Bent

(Ger. Hermeneutik)

The discovery of meaning in a text by way of understanding, i.e. by an approach to a text that is empathetic rather than empirically verifiable. This approach is applicable particularly where a text appears at first sight to have no meaning, or where its meaning is remote or opaque, or where there may be another meaning or meanings than those that are immediately accessible. It has sometimes been considered as an actual practice, and sometimes as the theory, lying behind the practice of interpretation. In the later 19th century it acquired the status of a methodology for the historical and social sciences, in contrast to scientific method.

‘Texts’, in the above definition, may be restricted to written texts, or taken also to embrace spoken utterances, and may be expanded to include works of art. This expansion makes way for its application to music, whether composed or improvised. Hermeneutics came to prominence in writing about music implicitly in the 19th century and explicitly in the early 20th, and has undergone a resurgence since ...



Meredith Ellis Little

(Fr. menuet; Ger. Menuett; It. minuetto; Sp. minuete, minué)

A French dance. In a moderate or slow triple metre, it was one of the most popular social dances in aristocratic society from the mid-17th century to the late 18th. It was used as an optional movement in Baroque suites, and frequently appeared in movements of late 18th-century multi-movement forms such as the sonata, the string quartet, and the symphony, where it was usually paired with a Trio (see also Scherzo).

Though the origin of the minuet is unknown, it was danced in the court of Louis XIV at least by the 1660s. Praetorius (Terpsichore, 1612) is now thought to have erred in claiming it to be a descendant of the branle de Poitou, a claim that was nonetheless repeated over a century later by Pierre Rameau (Le maître à danser, 1725), with the addition of the plausible detail that Pierre Beauchamp, Louis XIV’s dancing-master, had effected the transformation. There is virtually no point of resemblance between the two dances; some of the minuets included in the Philidor Collection consist of the three-bar phrases characteristic of the ...


William Weber, Denis Arnold, Cynthia M. Gessele, Peter Cahn, Robert W. Oldani and Janet Ritterman

Schools designed for special instruction in music, often also in one or more of the other arts. The term originated in Italy as conservatorio; it was adopted by the French as conservatoire and by some German cities as Konservatorium. ‘Conservatory’, commonly used in the USA, has prevailed since the mid-20th century.

William Weber

The idea of a school where music is one of the principal if not the only subject of study dates back to medieval church choir schools. By 1600 these schools usually taught reading and writing, and sometimes rhetoric and literature as well. The concept of the conservatory, however, differs from this model in several respects. First, although in some early conservatories students were expected to take part in church ceremonial, that was never their sole occupation. Secondly, conservatories trained them for the music profession in general, rather than simply for church music. Thirdly, conservatories have usually been answerable to lay people, whether in the narrow sense of having lay governors or more broadly by being partly controlled by state or municipal authorities....


Carole Pegg, Philip V. Bohlman, Helen Myers and Martin Stokes

The study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts. Specialists are trained primarily in anthropology and in music, but the multidisciplinary nature of the subject leads to different interpretations.

Carole Pegg

The origin of the term ‘ethnomusicology’ is attributed to the Dutch scholar Jaap Kunst (1950), who used it in the subtitle of his book Musicologica: a Study of the Nature of Ethno-musicology, its Problems, Methods, and Representative Personalities (Amsterdam, 1950). In European languages it is equated with French ethnomusicologie, Italian ethnomusicologia, German Ethnomusikologie or Musikethnologie and Polish etnografia muzyczna. The term ‘ethnomusicology’ has also been adopted by specialists in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the Netherlands. In Germany and Austria some scholars continue to use the phrase Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft (‘comparative musicology’) to stress affiliation with the work of Stumpf, Hornbostel (Berlin) and Lach (Vienna) (see Wiora, 1975, Graf, ...



James Grier

The preparation of music for publication, performance or study, usually by someone other than the composer. ‘The ideal edition need not have all the answers but should control all the questions so that users can feel themselves in possession of the best available knowledge about this music’, wrote Joel Sheveloff (1986) about the keyboard music of Domenico Scarlatti; his comment is readily extrapolated to the wider problem of editing art music in the Western tradition. This article attempts to outline the questions editors might ask about the music they edit, and by so doing address two goals: to unmask some of the ‘critically based assumptions and perceptions that usually go unacknowledged’ in editing (Brett, 1988), for the benefit of users of editions, and to outline a generalized theory for the editing of Western art music, most of which is closely linked with a written tradition. Musics of other cultures, especially those in which an oral tradition predominates, pose different problems for the editor. Editors in ethnomusicology have developed conventions of their own, particularly in regard to notation, that establish their work as an independent field....


David Fallows

(from Gk. metron: ‘a measure’ and nomos: ‘law’; Fr. métronome; Ger. Metronom, Taktmesser; It. metronomo)

An apparatus for establishing musical tempo. More specifically, it is the clockwork-driven double-pendulum device perhaps invented about 1812 by Diederich Nikolaus Winkel but refined and patented by Johann Nepomuk Maelzel in 1815. The name seems to have entered the English and French languages specifically on Maelzel’s patents filed in London and Paris; and there is no apparent evidence of its earlier use in any European language.

Traditionally the metronome has had two main purposes, which should be considered quite separately.

Nearly all the main developments have been driven by the need for composers and editors to fix the tempo they considered appropriate for a particular work (but see Tempo and expression marks, §4). This began to seem necessary for the first time in the late 17th century, when the music of different nationalities evolved markedly different styles and performance conventions but was internationally available. Thus Etienne Loulié (1696...


Dale E. Monson, Jack Westrup and Julian Budden

(Fr. récitatif; Ger. Rezitativ; It. recitativo)

A type of vocal writing, normally for a single voice, with the intent of mimicking dramatic speech in song. In practice its nature has varied widely by era, nationality, origin and context.

Dale E. Monson and Jack Westrup

Recitativo is properly an adjective. As a noun, short for stile recitativo, it occurs as early as 1626 (Domenico Mazzocchi, La catena d’Adone). It derives from the verb recitare, ‘to recite’, which was also used in the 16th century for vocal performance, for example in Baldassare Castiglione’s Il libro del cortegiano (1528), where the phrase ‘cantare alla viola per recitare’ occurs. The liberalization of poetic forms and blank verse in late 16th-century Italy fostered approximations of the affects of dramatic speech through pitch and rhythm in many different places and circumstances. These attempts, by groups such as the Florentine Camerata, had a number of typical traits: the text was generally not repeated, the rate of harmonic change varied with the affect of the text, an overall slow harmonic rhythm unfolded over a generally static bass line (which gave the impression of declamatory freedom, though chord progressions were still clearly derived from the madrigal), the poetic accents were reinforced by harmonic change, and particularly affective passages or individual words were often supported with strong dissonance (another madrigal borrowing). These sections were not initially known as recitative, although this is implied by Agazzari (...



Bruce Haynes and Peter Cooke

The particular quality of a sound (e.g. an individual musical note) that fixes its position in the scale. Certain sounds used in music that occupy no particular scale position, such as those produced by cymbals or the side drum, can be said to be of indefinite pitch. Pitch is determined by what the ear judges to be the most fundamental wave-frequency of the sound (even when, as for example with difference tones, this is an aural illusion, not actually present in the physical sound wave). Experimental studies, in which listeners have been tested for their perception and memory of pitch differences among sounds with wave-frequencies known to the experimenter, have shown that marked differences of timbre, loudness and musical context affect pitch, albeit in relatively small degree. But long-term memory, called Periodicals, , enables some people to identify the pitch of sounds quite apart from their contextual relation to other sounds. Such aspects of pitch are discussed in ...


Jan Larue, Eugene K. Wolf, Mark Evan Bonds, Stephen Walsh and Charles Wilson

(Fr. simphonie, symphonie; Ger. Sinfonie, Symphonie; It. sinfonia)

A term now normally taken to signify an extended work for orchestra. The symphony became the chief vehicle of orchestral music in the late 18th century, and from the time of Beethoven came to be regarded as its highest and most exalted form. The adjective ‘symphonic’ applied to a work implies that it is extended and thoroughly developed.

The word ‘symphony’ derives from the Greek syn (‘together’) and phōnē (‘sounding’), through the Latin Symphonia, a term used during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is essentially in this derivation that the term was used by Giovanni Gabrieli (Sacrae symphoniae, 1597), Heinrich Schütz (Symphoniae sacrae, 1629) and others for concerted motets, usually for voices and instruments. In the 17th century the term ‘symphony’ or (more commonly) ‘sinfonia’ was applied to introductory movements to operas, oratorios and cantatas (see Overture), to the instrumental introductions and ritornellos of arias and ensembles (...


Margaret Bent and Alexander Silbiger

[musica falsa](Lat.: ‘false, feigned or contrived music’ synonymous with falsa mutatio, coniuncta )

These terms were used by theorists from the late 12th century to the 16th, at first in opposition to musica recta or musica vera, to designate ‘feigned’ extensions of the hexachord system contained in the so-called Guidonian hand. Most scholars accept that notated polyphony of this period required performers to interpret under-prescriptive notation in accordance with their training (by contrapuntal and melodic criteria about which scholars disagree), ensuring the perfection of consonances, and approaching cadences correctly. These requirements could often be met within the rectasystem, but musica ficta was used ‘where necessary’ – in modern terms only, by ‘adding accidentals’; in medieval terms, by ‘operating musica ficta’.

In modern usage, the term musica ficta is often loosely applied to all unnotated inflections inferred from the context, for editorial or ‘performers'’ accidentals rather than notated ones (whether properly recta or ficta). Editors usually place accidentals that they have supplied, on behalf of performers, above the affected note or in brackets or small type, to distinguish them from those having manuscript authority. (On the placing of editorial accidentals, see especially Anglès, ...


Howard E. Smither

An extended musical setting of a sacred text made up of dramatic, narrative and contemplative elements. Except for a greater emphasis on the chorus throughout much of its history, the musical forms and styles of the oratorio tend to approximate to those of opera in any given period, and the normal manner of performance is that of a concert (without scenery, costumes or action). The oratorio was most extensively cultivated in the 17th and 18th centuries but has continued to be a significant genre.

Distant antecedents of the oratorio may be found in the musical settings of sacred narrative and dramatic texts in the Middle Ages: the liturgical drama, the Divine Office for saints' feasts, the Passion and the dialogue lauda. Medieval miracle and mystery plays, as well as rappresentazioni sacre, are also related to the oratorio, but the real beginnings of the genre are to be found in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods, where an ever-increasing interest in settings of dramatic and narrative texts gave rise first to opera and then to oratorio. Such texts were widely used for polyphonic madrigals in the 16th century (e.g. Andrea Gabrieli, ...


Ian D. Bent

revised by Anthony Pople

A general definition of the term as implied in common parlance might be: that part of the study of music that takes as its starting-point the music itself, rather than external factors. More formally, analysis may be said to include the interpretation of structures in music, together with their resolution into relatively simpler constituent elements, and the investigation of the relevant functions of those elements. In such a process the musical ‘structure’ may stand for part of a work, a work in its entirety, a group or even a repertory of works, in a written or oral tradition. The relationship between the structures and elements proposed by analysis, and experiential, generative and documentary perspectives on music, has circumscribed analysis differently from time to time and from place to place, and has aroused debate. Less controversially, a practical distinction is often drawn between formal analysis and stylistic analysis; but this is unnecessary insofar as on the one hand any musical complex, no matter how small or large, may be deemed a ‘style’; and on the other hand, all the comparative processes that characterize stylistic analysis are inherent in the basic analytical activity of resolving structures into elements....


Brian Trowell

The verbal text of an opera. For discussion of the printed wordbook, see Libretto.

The term ‘libretto’ has been extended from its literal meaning of ‘small book’ to denote the literary content of an opera, not merely its separate physical existence. The sung text will also appear in the musical score, though the visual layout of verse forms and poetic lineation will there vanish, and scene descriptions and stage directions will often be omitted or shortened. Score and wordbook together form a blueprint for theatrical performance, where the words will (one hopes) be heard, as song, as recitative, or in some forms of opera as speech, and the other arts prescribed or implicit in the libretto will be realized as acting, movement in space, dance, decor (including machines), lighting and costume. It is evident that ‘literary content’ is an insufficient description, for the libretto, unlike the play text, is only part of the blueprint. With these cautions in mind the libretto, like the play text, may be discussed as literature....