1-20 of 145 Results  for:

  • Abbreviation: "AMw" x
  • Musical Concepts, Genres, and Terms x
Clear all


The opera-based fantasy for the piano flourished during much of the 19th century. In an era when operatic music had a strong and immediate popular appeal, as well as an aura of glamour, yet was not generally accessible to a large part of the musical public, it is not surprising that alternative means were derived for its dissemination, mostly through the most popular domestic instrument. The repertory of operatic adaptations, of one kind or another, was very large, and used not only for domestic music-making but also at concerts by virtuoso pianists.

The simplest form of piano music derived from opera is seen in the variations composed during the Classical era, for example those by Mozart on opera themes by Salieri, Paisiello, Gluck and others, or by Beethoven on themes by Dittersdorf, Grétry, Salieri and others. Chopin continued this tradition in his variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’ from ...


Maurice J.E. Brown

(Ger. Charakterstück)

A piece of music, usually for piano solo, expressing either a single mood (e.g. martial, dream-like, pastoral) or a programmatic idea defined by its title. The term is usually applied to pieces written since the early 19th century, although a number of harpsichord pieces by Couperin and Rameau and other earlier composers anticipate the genre. An early use of the term occurs in Beethoven, who called his Leonore Overture no.1 a ‘characteristic overture’, by which he must have implied that it was characteristic of operatic overtures and dramatic in style. The two marches by Schubert published posthumously as op.121 (d968 b) were called ‘marches caractéristiques’ by the publisher Diabelli, no doubt to suggest that they were characteristic of Schubert’s marches, many of which had already been published; at that time (1830) the term was still unusual. An early frequent use of the term is in the piano music of Stephen Heller. He gave titles to many pieces, sometimes of a general nature, e.g. Four Arabesques (op.49) or Three Albumleaves (op.157), and others more definite in their implications, as in ...


A term for a feature of Western neumatic notation. Liquescence arises in singing diphthongs and certain consonants to provide for a semi-vocalization of that vowel or consonant as a passing note to the next pitch. It is indicated by special neume shapes in all the regional notations of Western chant. Mocquereau listed the following situations where liquescence occurs: on the consonants l, m, n, r, d, t and s, when these are succeeded by another consonant; on the double consonant gn; on i and j, when these follow another consonant; on m and g, when these have a vowel on either side; and on the diphthongs au, ei and eu. Liquescent neumes include the following, in which it is understood that the last note of each neume is semi-vocalized: the Epiphonus, two notes in ascending order, the liquescent podatus (see Pes); the Cephalicus, two notes in descending order, the liquescent ...


Karl-Heinz Schlager

Benedictine monastery on the island of the same name in Lake Constance. Founded in 724, it was a prominent centre of intellectual life until the 10th century. According to tradition, Charles Martel made the island over to the missionary Pirmin after defeating the Alemanni in 722. Charlemagne, another early patron, made the monastery independent of the diocese of Konstanz. In 815 Reichenau received the privilege of immunity and freedom to elect its own abbot. From 846 to 849 the connections of the monastery reached as far as St Denis, Corvey and Fulda in the north and Rome in the south; but by the mid-9th century Reichenau was already beginning to take second place to St Gallen.

The Reichenau monastery school, modelled on that of Tours, was set up under Abbot Waldo (786–806) in accordance with the aims of Carolingian educational reform. Of interest to historians of medieval music theory are a number of liturgical, mathematical and musical writings produced by men associated with this school, including Abbot ...


Horst Brunner

(Ger. Barform)

A term denoting in musicology the three-part form AAB. The sections are called first Stollen (pes; A), second Stollen (pes; A), together forming the Aufgesang (frons), and Abgesang (cauda; B). German terms are normally retained because the concept of bar form was first introduced into musical terminology through Lorenz’s investigations into the form of Wagner's works. It is based on an incorrect use of the word ‘Bar’ in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. In Act 3 scene ii Walther von Stolzing sings the first stanza of his Prize Song, which has AAB form. Hans Sachs then sings: ‘Das nenn’ ich mir einen Abgesang! Seht, wie der ganze Bar gelang! … Jetzt richtet mir noch einen zweiten Bar’. Bar here means ‘a tripartite stanza’. In this Wagner was not in full accord with the terminology of the German Meistersinger of the 15th to 18th centuries from whom the word comes....


Jim Samson

A term applied both to the history of social responses to art, and to an aesthetic that privileges those responses.

Well before the term ‘reception’ came into general use in art histories, musicologists attempted to generalize about people’s awareness of, and attitudes towards, particular repertories. Such generalizations have long played a key role in social histories of music, where the objective is above all to illuminate music’s functions within society. Occasionally this has involved repertories that are remote historically or geographically, as in the reception of Bach and Palestrina by 19th-century composers, or the reception of East Asian traditions by contemporary European composers. In such cases the investigation approaches a familiar terrain of the ethnomusicologist, who is frequently concerned with the reception of repertories by alien cultures, for example, Indian classical traditions in Britain, Central Asian maqam traditions in Israel, or western popular music in the Middle East. And this in turn highlights a feature common to almost all reception histories. They are concerned less with individual responses, which are properly the subject of a cognitive psychology of music, than with collective, intersubjective responses based on determinate groups of listeners, whether these are defined by nationality, social class, cultural milieu or profession (composers, for instance). The premise, then, is that there exist certain stabilizing factors (...



Pamela M. Potter

The doctrines of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) that dominated Germany’s government from 1933 to 1945. Nazism superimposed an ideology of nationalism and racism on all areas of culture, but although Nazi ideologues expounded on various notions of a musical ideal, the movement never articulated its designs for promoting or implementing a particular musical aesthetic. Many of the features of German musical life one might associate with Nazism, such as mass participation, folk culture, nationalism, anti-Semitism and arch-conservatism, had strong currents in German musical life long before Hitler came to power. Rather, the greatest impact of Nazism on music lay in more tangible policy measures of the Hitler regime: reforming music professions, restructuring musical organizations and purging German musical life of Jews and political opponents.

Music was unquestionably central to Germany’s cultural identity, and Nazi bureaucrats recognized its importance for maintaining Germany’s reputation and dispelling foreign perceptions of Nazi philistinism. They saw that in order to preserve Germany’s envied position as the centre of high musical achievement, it was necessary to guarantee social and economic security for musicians and composers. The situation of creative artists had been in gradual decline since the turn of the century, and a multitude of musicians’ and composers’ lobbying groups had fought for professional and economic safeguards. The Nazi government, unlike previous systems in Germany, centralized the administration of cultural affairs. Through the establishment of the Reichskulturkammer and its music division, the ...


Gerda Wolfram

(Gk., from stichos: ‘verse’, ‘psalm verse’)

A hymn of the Byzantine rite sung between the verses of psalms by two choirs in alternation. Collections of stichēra are contained in the Stichērarion. Stichēra are poetic strophes that belong to the genre of troparia (see Troparion), the oldest part of the Byzantine repertory. Such troparia are preserved in the stichēraria for the Offices of Christmas and Epiphany, and for the Great Offices of Good Friday. Many stichēra in liturgical books of the 10th century onwards were probably written in the 8th century or even earlier.

At Hesperinos stichēra are inserted between the closing verses of the psalm complex kyrie ekekraxa (Psalms cxl, cxli, cxxix and cxvi). The evening hymn, Phōs hilaron, is followed by the stichēra aposticha, a selection of stichēra with a single psalm verse and concluding doxology. At Orthros stichēra are inserted into the final verses of hoi ainoi, the ‘Lauds’ psalms (Psalms cxlviii–cl). A ...


Cecil Adkins

An ancient single-string instrument first mentioned in Greece in the 5th century bce, and said to have been an invention of Pythagoras. The monochord remained a viable musical device, used mainly for teaching, tuning and experimentation, until the advent of more accurate instruments in the late 19th century.

In its earliest form the monochord's single string was stretched across two fixed bridges which were erected on a plank or table. A movable bridge was then placed underneath the string, dividing it into two sections. The marks indicating the position of the fixed bridge were inscribed on the table beneath the string. The resonating box, seen in drawings after the 12th century, was a late medieval addition which increased the portability in addition to enhancing the tone of the monochord. After 1500 one of the end bridges was replaced with a nut, the attendant lowering of the string enabling the user to press it directly on the belly of the instrument. Although simple to use, this modified monochord was considerably less accurate. The name monochord was usually retained for multi-string instruments when the strings were tuned in unison or when the instrument was used for the same purposes as a monochord. The medieval instrument varied from about 90 to 122 cm in length. During the Middle Ages the selection of a monochord's basic pitch was influenced by its size and by the voice range of the user rather than by any existing standards....


Thomas B. Payne

(Lat.: ‘songs of Beuren’)

The title given by Johann Andreas Schmeller to his complete edition (1847) of the poems in an early 13th-century German manuscript (now D-Mbs Clm 4660) that had come in 1803 from the Benedictine abbey of Benediktbeuern, about 50 km south of Munich. Since then the manuscript has been known by that title even though it is now generally agreed that it probably did not originate in Benediktbeuren and may have come from Seckau in Carinthia or the Tyrol. The manuscript is perhaps the most important source for Latin secular poetry of the 12th century; there are in addition some Latin sacred lyrics, German poems, liturgical plays and a satirical ‘Gamblers' Mass’. Several of the poems have music in unheighted neumes – a style of notation that is relatively rare at so late a date. The melodies must, for the most part, be reconstructed from concordances in the St Martial and Notre Dame repertories. Orff's cantata ...



Howard Mayer Brown

revised by Claus Bockmaier

(1) The 15th- and 16th-century term for a beat, i.e. a unit of time measured by a movement of the hand, first discussed in detail by Adam von Fulda (De musica, 1490). One tactus actually comprised two hand motions, a downbeat and an upbeat (positio and elevatio, or thesis and arsis). Each motion was equal in length in duple time (tempus imperfectum); in triple time (tempus perfectum) the downbeat was twice as long as the upbeat.

In theory the tactus in 16th-century music measured a semibreve of normal length (integer valor notarum), a breve in diminution (proportio dupla), and a minim in augmentation. Gaffurius (Practica musice, 1496) wrote that one tactus equalled the pulse of a man breathing normally, suggesting that there was an invariable tempo then of M.M. = c60–70 for a semibreve in integer valor...


Giuseppe Gerbino

A melodic-harmonic formula used in the 16th and 17th centuries as an aria for singing poetry and as a subject for instrumental variations. Ex.1 shows the structural notes of the romanesca pattern: a descending descant formula supported by a standard chordal progression whose bass moves by 4ths. This scheme is to be viewed as a flexible framework, rather than as a fixed tune; it provided, though often disguised by elaborate ornamentation, the melodic and harmonic foundations for countless compositions labelled ‘romanesca’.

The origin of the romanesca is uncertain. Although the name would seem to suggest a connection with Rome, the earliest extant musical examples are found in non-Italian sources. The term appears for the first time in 1546, in Alonso Mudarra’s Tres libros de musica en cifra para vihuela (Romanesca, o Guárdame las vacas) as well as in Pierre Phalèse’s Carminum pro testudine liber IV. A set of variations on ...


Laurenz Lütteken

(from Gk. isos: ‘identical’ and melos: ‘melody’; Ger. Isomelie)

A term coined by Heinrich Besseler for the melodic resemblances in the upper parts between different sections of certain isorhythmic motets of the first half of the 15th century. Isomelic recurrence may take place at the beginning of successive taleae and may involve transposition, as in the triplum of Du Fay’s Rite maiorem (ex.1). Since color and talea do not normally overlap in 15th-century motets (by contrast with earlier practice), isomelic resemblance may also be found at the beginning of successive colores, as in the triplum of Du Fay’s Fulgens iubar (ex.2). Isomelism of this kind, also found in music of the Old Hall Manuscript (see Bukofzer), is not related to the cantus firmus. (In this special meaning of coloration, the term was used by E. Reeser.) Isomelism was once regarded as highly significant, but its importance has since been disputed. Scholars at first interpreted it as a product of conscious compositional procedure: either as a means of ‘symbolizing’ isorhythmic structures, and hence clarifying them (Besseler), or simply as a device which could be inserted in order to mark off isorhythmic sections (Bukofzer, Eggebrecht, Reichert). At the other extreme, Sanders regarded it as a mere by-product of motet composition. More recently, an intermediate view has gained acceptance (see Finscher and Laubenthal)....


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 ...


Ruth Tatlow and Paul Griffiths

Numbers appear in musical notation in a variety of ways, sharing, for instance, tempos, pulses, figured basses and bar numbers; they are also used to describe intervals (e.g. 3rds, 4ths, 5ths) and tunings of the scale in temperaments. This article, however, is concerned with numbers that can be neither heard nor seen but are used in the process of constructing a composition. For other uses of numbers in music see Cryptography, musical, and Rhetoric and music.

Ruth Tatlow

In the past 50 years some startling claims have been made about how Renaissance and Baroque composers might have used numbers in their music. The numbers are generated from the score by counting, for example, how many breves, bars, pulses or notes there are, or how many times a word is repeated, in a phrase, section, complete voice or movement. Characteristic of this so-called ‘numerological’ approach is the swift move from counting to interpreting. When a number recurs or is deemed significant it is treated as symbolic and interpreted either by traditional symbols or through the use of a number alphabet....


Sean Hallowell

Originally, a poem in which the passing of an individual is announced and communities to which the departed belongs are called to mourn.

Pioneered by French poets in aristocratic service, the déploration qua literary genre enjoyed a modest lifespan, with eight known works surviving from the 16th century. Longstanding custom, however, recognizes a musical tradition by the same name, one numbering 30 known compositions spanning the late 14th to late 16th centuries. Among composers the déploration ramified from a French mainstream into Spanish, Netherlandish, German, Italian, and English tributaries. Accordingly, déplorations are variably designated in sources by such terms as apotheosis, epicedion, monodia, epitaphium, lamentation, complainte, naenia, madrigale, greghesca, and elegy.

Use of the term “déploration” to denote a musical work in which a composer is commemorated may be traced to Ockeghem (d 1497). This musician, who spent almost a half-century in service to the French royal court, was memorialized by literary counterpart Guillaume Crétin in a poem of 412 lines. A frame-narrative necrology featuring a syncretic cast of characters (among them Orpheus and King David), Crétin’s déploration charges all who held Ockeghem dear with the duty of honoring “celluy qui”—according to Lady Music (another ...


Christian Thodberg

[kondakion] (Gk.: ‘scroll’)

A liturgical poem sung mainly at Orthros in the Byzantine rite. One of the two most important poetic forms in medieval Byzantine religious poetry (the other being the kanōn), the kontakion most likely originated in Byzantium, although a strong Syrian influence is evident, particularly the poetry of Ephrem Syrus (cf Petersen, 1985). It is a kind of poetic homily whose narrative and dramatic content greatly influenced later Byzantine poetry. According to legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave to Romanos, a notable 6th-century hymn writer and composer, a scroll on which he wrote, by divine inspiration, a Christmas kontakion, Hē parthenos sēmeron (‘Today the Virgin’).

Introduced into the Byzantine Hours during the 6th century, the kontakion was originally part of the Constantinopolitan ‘cathedral’ vigil that later came to be incorporated into Orthros (see Lingas). In its full form it consisted of an initial strophe – the prooimion or koukoulion – followed by some 18 to 30 strophes – the ...


Hugh Macdonald

(Ger. symphonische Dichtung; Fr. poème symphonique)

An orchestral form in which a poem or programme provides a narrative or illustrative basis.

The form flourished in the second half of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th and was generally in one movement; ‘poematic symphony’ is a name sometimes given to the kindred form in more than one movement. Although some piano and chamber works are effectively symphonic poems, the form is almost exclusively orchestral. Though related to opera and sung music in its aesthetic outlook, it is distinct from them in its exclusion of a sung text. In many ways it represents the most sophisticated development of instrumental programme music in the history of music. Like a number of other ephemeral forms, such as the madrigal and the concerto grosso, it had a relatively short life, lasting from its origins in the late 1840s until its rapid decline in the 1920s: it enjoyed the extreme favour of fashion and suffered consequent severe eclipse. It is thus typical of its period in a way that opera and symphony, for example, cannot claim to be, and it satisfied three of the principal aspirations of the 19th century: to relate music to the world outside, to integrate multi-movement forms (often by welding them into a single movement) and to elevate instrumental programme music to a level higher than that of opera, the genre previously regarded as the highest mode of musical expression. By fulfilling such needs it played a major role in the advanced music of its time, and was a vehicle for some of the most important works of the period....


Rudolf Flotzinger

(Lat., from claudere: ‘to close’, ‘to conclude’)

A term used in medieval grammar and rhetoric in a number of senses, all denoting either the concluding of a passage, or the passage itself thus concluded. Its uses in medieval music theory apparently sprang from these, and occupy a similar range of meanings.

Throughout the 11th to 15th centuries the word ‘clausula’ may have had any of the following meanings, depending on the date of writing and the context: (1) a musical ending, in a general sense; (2) an ending specifically on the final of the mode (hence a close connection with the dual ideas of apertum–clausum (Lat.), ouvert–clos (Fr.), or half- and full close); (3) a specific melodic formula for use at a close; (4) a formal section within plainchant; (5) correspondingly, a section within a polyphonic setting of plainchant; (6) as a special case of the last, a polyphonic section that is marked out from its context by its use of a particular technique of composition....


Julian Rushton

(Fr. quart de tonGer. VierteltonIt. quarto di tono)

An interval half the size of a semitone. The term was used by some 17th- and 18th-century theorists to denote the distance between a sharp and enharmonically distinct flat in mean-tone temperaments (e.g. D♯–E♭). In most contexts, however, it refers to an interval of of an octave, or 50 cents.

Quarter-tones form part of the enharmonic genus of ancient Greek music theory (see Greece §I, and Diesis); they have also been discussed in the context of medieval plainsong (see Gmelch), and were considered by Hothby in the late 15th century (see Reaney) and by Coprario in the early 17th (see Field). Interest in them increased steadily during the 19th and 20th centuries. The ‘Aphorismen’ of Heinrich Richter, published in 1823 under the pseudonym ‘Amadeus Autodidactos’, ventured to propogate quarter-tone music, and Johanna Kinkel urged the emancipation of the interval in her essay of 1853. The Russian futurist painter Mikhail Matyushin (...