Questions about the music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music during a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times.

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29
votes
5answers
14k views

How do classical composers write music?

I am starting to learn about music theory and today it hit me how do classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven are able to write music for instruments they don't play, such as (for example ...
28
votes
12answers
2k views

Appreciating the music of J. S. Bach

I have been learning piano for many years and am able to really enjoy the music of Beethoven and Chopin. However, when it comes to Bach, I must shamefully admit, I can't see why he is held in such ...
24
votes
8answers
5k views

Why is the key included in classical music titles?

I was always curious why classical composers use names like this Étude in E-flat minor (Frédéric_Chopin) or Missa in G major (Johann Sebastian Bach). Is this from scales of this songs? Weren't they ...
20
votes
5answers
13k views

What is Voice Leading?

In both classical music and jazz, we often encounter the concept of voice leading. What is it?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Did baroque composers think of ritardando on their compositions?

I've been always told that whenever I play any baroque piece on the piano, I should take special care when attending to, for example, the amount of right pedal I should use. It sounded perfectly ...
19
votes
10answers
4k views

Where do musicians draw their melodies from?

It has been in my head for so long. I am a visual artist, animator, I do motion graphics, 3D artwork and most of my work is done visually. I am puzzled by this question. Visual artists, they draw ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there any classical precursor to boogie woogie?

It is often been said (rather too simplistically in many cases) that jazz is a combination of European and African practices. I am interested particularly in classical piano techniques that have been ...
16
votes
6answers
989 views

Progression path from an apprentice to a guru in music theory?

I am a computer science major and have been practicing music (as a hobby) for the past 4 years now. I started digging into the basics of Music Theory a year ago and now wish to advance my knowledge so ...
15
votes
3answers
26k views

Classical music theory notation for chord inversions (figured bass)

In classical music harmony analysis, we see the chord inversions notated like I6/4, I6, V4/3. Examples: What are those numbers? How do they define the inversion? What's the theory behind using ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Classical examples of a 'fifth voice' or 'ghost soprano'

There is an interesting phenomenon in choral (and perhaps also instrumental?) singing in which typically four voices are arranges in such a way that a 'fifth voice' or 'ghost voice' can be heard. It ...
12
votes
2answers
526 views

Score for orchestra tuning

I was talking this monring about Cage's 4:33 and I mentioned that I'd love to see a score for an orchestra tuning. It's one of the most recognisable sounds in concerts and has many distinctive musical ...
12
votes
1answer
214 views

E flat or E natural in score of Beethoven String Quartet Op 131?

I have heard recordings of Beethoven's C sharp minor string quartet Op. 131 where, in bar 53 the third crotchet of the first violin part is played as E flat, and at least one recording where it is ...
11
votes
5answers
404 views

Why is the choice of key considered so fundamental in Classical music that it often effectively becomes part of the name of the composition? [duplicate]

I often hear references to, e.g., "Bach's Fugue in G Minor," sometimes with a number (something like "Bach's Fugue in G Minor #13"). Why is the key of the piece so important that it becomes part of ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Can someone explain the rhythm of a Mazurka?

While perusing some Chopin and Liszt sheets, I tried to play a Mazurka or two. But, I simply don't understand how the rhythm works. It feels awkward and unbalanced when I try and I just don't get it, ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Vivaldi's “The Four Seasons”, Who Chose the Title?

Did Vivaldi himself choose the title "The Four Seasons" and the titles for each of the four concerti, or they're chosen by publishers?
10
votes
4answers
807 views

Does improvisation in the classical idiom differ significantly from jazz and folk improvisation?

How do musicians who actually improvise in classical music, such as Robert Levine, JS Bach, Edgar Meyer, church organists and classical ballet pianists, compose in the moment? Are there any ...
10
votes
1answer
423 views

Earliest-*known* use of a double leading tone cadence?

Background For those who do not know, the double leading tone cadence was perhaps the single defining characteristic of Ars Nova. Earlier music styles used much simpler cadences (movement by 3rds, ...
10
votes
2answers
492 views

Do classical and rock musicians train with different goals?

I expect most musicians aim to master the instrument they play. But articles & interviews I've read suggest that: Classical musicians: Place importance on precision and theoretical knowledge ...
10
votes
2answers
222 views

Is it considered poor skills if a (Western) classical singer has to cough during performance?

I was watching some videos of classical Indian (Carnatic) vocal concerts recently, and I noticed that from time to time the singers cough or clear their throats in the middle of a piece, even between ...
9
votes
6answers
9k views

How can I get a violin sound from my electric guitar?

I have composed a modern classical piece of music which has sections for violins, cellos, some horns and percussion. The problem is that I did all of that using an electric guitar, so I actually don't ...
9
votes
2answers
767 views

My guitar pupil is a pregnant woman. Should she keep playing classical guitar?

What are the consequences for the baby ? Are there any studies that would have noticed positive / negative consequences on the baby of the vibrations a classical guitar induces on the belly and the ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

Why do string players tend to breathe heavily in performance?

Recently, I've started to develop an interest in classical music, specifically chamber music and, more specifically, piano trios. Having listened to a few performances now, I can't help but notice ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Piano (sheet music) curves on top and numbers in circles

I am new to Piano and sheet music in general so I downloaded a "simple version" of Fur Elise to play as I already know how the tune goes in my head. Presently, I only play it with my right hand. A ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How much digital piano polyphony is really needed for classical music?

I am looking for my very first piano to learn to play. I have only played a very little bit when I was a kid, and it was with a cheap acoustic upright piano at home. I'm not going to play ...
8
votes
1answer
462 views

What is the process by which singers identify their voice type/fach?

I am trying to gain insight about the process by which vocalists identify their voice type or fach. I am not looking for any discussion about the basic distinctions between, say, soprano and alto. ...
8
votes
1answer
217 views

How to determine the pitch of the auxiliary note in an ornament

I thought that the auxiliary note of a lower mordent (or other ornaments) was simply the note before in the scale unless the mordent had an accidental on top of it. However, I ran into this ...
8
votes
1answer
228 views

Did Rostropovich ever play his Humoresque himself?

"Humoresque" op.5 for cello and piano is the only piece composed by Mstislav Rostropovich himself. Did he ever play Humoresque himself? From some sources I know that he didn't, whereas other sources ...
7
votes
6answers
526 views

Do you have to enjoy a lot of music to make the investment of learning the piano worth it?

I'm currently learning how to play the piano and realizing there are actually not so many pieces that I would like to play. Over the years my taste in music has narrowed a lot. Even though I've tried ...
7
votes
4answers
576 views

How to recognize the end of a piece of music

I'm a philistine, myself, but on the few occasions I've attended a classical-music performance, the audience seemed to know to applaud immediately after a piece ended, but to not applaud between ...
7
votes
3answers
352 views

What makes a great conductor?

What qualities do great conductors share? Are there unique qualities that make a particular conductor great that do not exist in other conductors?
7
votes
3answers
919 views

Difference between variation and development

The question concerns western classical music. I have tried reading about and understanding the difference between variations and development, and what I understand is that development is more complex:...
7
votes
3answers
343 views

Physiological basis for note durations?

For some reason (probably read something like this a long time ago), I have it in my head that there was some sort of physiological basis for some note durations. This may have been something like, a ...
7
votes
2answers
411 views

Beethoven repeated sforzando

In some Beethoven works (e.g. 8th symphony - first movement) there are some parts with repeated sforzando. Are these intended as simple sforzando or sforzando within crescendo? Is there any historical ...
7
votes
5answers
297 views

Where does a “cresc. ” begin (end)?

I'm curious about the "cresc." sign . which one is getting louder , no.1 or no.2? and when does this cresc. end ? Does it end until the next sign come out ?
6
votes
8answers
3k views

How does a advanced classical pianist start to play pop music?

I consider myself an advanced classical pianist, being able to play many Etudes, Ballades and Sonatas by Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin, for example. However, I have been struggling to play pop music for ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a specific name for music that sounds like it has no rests?

Example: Prelude no. 2 from Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”. That piece sounds like it has no rests. It’s a constant flow of music the entire time. I love pieces like that. I want to know if there’s a ...
6
votes
2answers
621 views

Retrograde and Inverted songs

As there is very few people that know about this, here is the only place I can ask. I am looking for retrograde and inverted remakes of classical songs. Even better if they are being played ...
6
votes
3answers
231 views

From Classical to Flamenco Guitar

I'm Still learning Classical Guitar, and i plan to learn flamenco as well. My question is from classical experience, can i play flamenco music but just learning the right hand techniques (Rumba,...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

What is “Sonata-Allegro form” and what other similar forms should I be aware of?

There are lots of classical pieces called "Sonata", and they usually have 3 movements. But there are guitar Sonatas by Paganini that only have 2 movements! And I heard there's a crazy Tchaikovsky -- ...
6
votes
2answers
326 views

Placement of F# on Alto Clef

For the past four or so years now, I have been playing the Viola. Y'all know what that means: Alto clef. Up until just a few weeks ago, I have always seen an F# displayed in a key signature like this: ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Cello: Is it possible to play a double stop of a major 9th on the I and II strings?

The cello is using scordatura, the tuning is Cb Ab Eb Ab (from the fourth to the first string). I want to know if the following passage is possible, tempo is around 220~240 quarter notes per minute: ...
5
votes
8answers
15k views

Digital Pianos vs Old Upright Pianos for classical music

What should I take in consideration to make my final decision on selecting a $500-600 price range digital piano or old upright piano for classical music (practicing at home). Some part of me tells me ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Playing a classical piece at full speed

I can play a certain classical piece (specific tune is not important, I don't think) very well at a relaxed speed with proper fingering, even tempo, etc. It sounds just fine. However, when I listen to ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

In classical music scores we often find French horns of different pitches. Why is that?

For example, in many pieces, there are two horns in F and two in E flat. What is the reason? Divide the horns to be able to give each group the better matching parts concerning intonation? For pitch ...
5
votes
2answers
542 views

What made Mozart unique as an improviser?

Robert Levin states that Mozart improvised and has devised his own form of Mozart-like improvisation. What is known of Mozart's improvisation technique?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How did JS Bach improvise?

Before his compositions were rediscovered JS Bach was not known as a composer--that Bach was CPE Bach--but as one of the foremost improvisers and performers of his time. What is known about JS Bach's ...
4
votes
4answers
863 views

How long do you hold a fermata?

I am new to piano and just downloaded this book, it seems simple enough for a beginner like me but there is a symbol that I don't really understand, a fermata. Googling I see I am supposed to hold ...
4
votes
3answers
514 views

How to compose a simple “introduction” to a short musical piece?

I would like to add some music to a video clip I made (it lasts about 2 minutes). The video is basically some panoramic view of nature sights, nothing fancy. I am going to play a simple Sor's etude in ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Absolute Beginner wants to play Jazz Piano

Alright people, I have successfully tamed the beasts calling themselves my "parents". Now I am a free mind with money of his own to play music again. I have a CTK-451 which basically is a 61 keyboard ...
4
votes
2answers
167 views

Dissonances and harmony

When I listen to Bach, Handel or Vivaldi (especially Baroque composers) every single note seems to fit there perfectly I mean pretty consonant to their location. As I was trying to learn tonal ...