The study of how music has developed and changed over time.

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Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?

Out of the 4 instruments of the Violin Family (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass), the bass is the only instrument tuned in fourths. Wikipedia states The double bass is generally tuned in ...
3
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1answer
40 views

Find the origin of folk

The origins of a specific piece of music can be difficult to find. Especially when there are multiple variations in multiple languages. Folk music is often old and translated many times. Sometimes ...
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2answers
63 views

who were the first known people to play a reed instrument

I would like to know who the first people to come up with the idea of reed instruments of any kind
8
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1answer
117 views

Scales in modal versus tonal music

When tonal music replaced modal music, why were 6 of the 8 scales (modes) used in modal music abandoned in favor of only two, major and minor? Superficially this would look like a reduction in the ...
6
votes
3answers
131 views

Modern Harmonic Movements

I know quite a bit about the progression of harmony during the common practice period and up to basic jazz theory, but anything beyond the early 20th century just drops off for me. I know a little ...
2
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6answers
184 views

Grand Staff using the Bass Clef and Treble Alto-Tenor Clef

Does anybody have any additional information regarding the origins and usage of the Treble Alto-Tenor Clef symbol? I found it in the late Gardner Read's book on Music Notation, and beyond that - ...
1
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3answers
141 views

What is the origin and advantages of this system of chord naming/ notation? e.g. G7 is major minor seventh not Dominant 7th

I've received a few emails through my website asking me what a major minor seventh chord was. At first I thought they had mixed up the sequence and were referring to the A-#7 chord (root chord of ...
4
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3answers
91 views

Which source for Scarlatti K208? Can I mix and match versions?

I'm working on Scarlatti's K208. The Dover edition includes variants from the Codice Veneziano (C.V.), Codice Santini (C.S.) and from the London original edition (E.O.). The first picture shows a ...
12
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3answers
313 views

Did baroque composers expect you to “bring out” the voices in their pieces, the way today's critics seem to enjoy in players?

So, I recently had a, sadly, way too short conversation with a pianist on the train. According to the guy, in the 17th and 18th century polyphonic keyboard works were not played in such a way that ...
4
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2answers
128 views

Congregational involvement in Protestant and Catholic services during the time of Luther

How involved was the congregation in the performance of music in a Protestant service of Martin Luther and a Catholic service in the Counter-Reformation?
6
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4answers
217 views

Were the Goldbergs meant to be played in one go?

See, in this very interesting interview (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/03/16/148769794/why-i-hate-the-goldberg-variations) Jeremy Denk has the following to say: The piece is ...
1
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0answers
49 views

Nutcracker theme in Shostakovich's 5th symphony? [closed]

I've been listening to Shostakovich's 5th symphony a lot lately. And in the second movement, the allegretto, I feel like I hear a melody very similar to the famous nutcracker melody in the "Dance of ...
8
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2answers
650 views

Why is the lowest note on the piano an A?

I've always wondered why almost every piano's lowest note is an A. In fact, I've never seen a piano whose lowest note is not an A, and I have also noticed that this pattern only occurs in pianos; most ...
12
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2answers
177 views

What did ancient cuneiform notation look like, and how did it work?

I looked at Wikipedia of course... According to Wikipedia: The earliest form of musical notation can be found in a cuneiform tablet that was created at Nippur, in Sumer (today's Iraq), in ...
3
votes
3answers
115 views

The melody+chords pattern in perspective

Most of us who know the basics of music theory and share the "common" musical culture (western mainstream popular songs, mass media, "classical" music from the common practice period), tend to think ...
7
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3answers
522 views

Historical origins of 8-count bars in dance vs 4-count bars in music

I'm a dancer, and one of my dancer friends recently posed a question which I thought musicians might be able to answer. In our particular style of dance (west coast swing) and in many others that ...
0
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2answers
88 views

How do archaic instruments affect contemporary music?

Many once-common instruments are now rare or obsolete. For example, some transposing instruments have fewer variants than they used to – the B♭ soprano clarinet has largely supplanted the A and C ...
10
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4answers
1k views

Did they ever make a double bass this huge?

I have seen some pictures where the double bass is literally enormous. Seems like a single person wouldn't be an able to play it on his own. But I don't know for sure if these pictures are real or ...
1
vote
3answers
124 views

Chord Roles/Reputations

Does there exist literature examining the particular psychological/emotional role/reputation of each chord in a movement? (For example, I am currently infatuated with IVmaj7, which is to say I find ...
10
votes
1answer
313 views

What's the earliest known piece of polyphonic music?

Do we know what is the earliest known piece of polyphonic music? I know that there are some 12-th century composers like Léonin and Pérotin that did this kind of thing, but did they compose the ...
5
votes
1answer
55 views

Record Label Instrumentals

Does anyone know if record labels keep a copy of every instrumental of every song produced by their producers? I know that there are places online that have regenerated or reproduced instrumentals of ...
3
votes
6answers
179 views

What's music? A question about 'foundations' [closed]

First of all, I'm new here. I'm a mathematician who's intersted in understanding music in a foundational way. Basically, I want to understand why we call things musical notes, and why there are a ...
2
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1answer
125 views

What does “I Solisti Veneti” mean?

What does Vivaldi mean by "I Solisti Veneti"? What does the title mean? There doesn't seem to be a translation I could find of.
11
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4answers
1k views

Why were sound effects like the gunshot included in the General MIDI (GM) standard?

I recently learned about the general MIDI standard and one thing that I cannot understand is the last sound effect is always a gunshot. Most of the other effects like applause, telephone ring, and ...
5
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2answers
111 views

When did the appearance of the quarter rest in music change from its original appearance?

WHEN did the appearance of the quarter rest in music change from its original appearance - as a backward looking number 7 -( ) to its current look ()? I have been searching the Internet with no luck. ...
13
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3answers
862 views

Origin of the 'squigly line' used for quarter note rest?

This has been driving me nuts - I can't find a single thing on the net that would indicate why the quarter rest is penned the way it is. Did it evolve from some initial or abbreviation or was it ...
9
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1answer
248 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, ...
2
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1answer
178 views

Why did Shostakovich not release his 4th, but did release his 5th symphony?

Why did Shostakovich not release his 4th, but did release his 5th symphony? (The 4th was released eventually, just not when it was written)
11
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1answer
108 views

How were tuning/temperaments indicated on scores (if they ever were)?

Bradley Lehman claims that the details of the intended tuning for the Well-Tempered Claivier are encoded in the squiggle at the top of the manuscript (related wikipedia link). Are there other ...
10
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1answer
128 views

Where did the term backbeat come from?

In most modern music in 4/4 beats 2 and 4 are where the snare hits are and are usually referred to as the backbeat. Normally in 4/4 the 2 and 4 beat would not be accented, but the snare hits do just ...
15
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4answers
343 views

Are octaves, fifths, fourths and thirds considered as “consonant” in all music cultures?

Our western music culture revolves around the rule that certain intervals are very consonant, and others (such as the interval between a B and F) are dissonant. The octave is the most consonant ...
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2answers
295 views

What are the origins of music theory? [closed]

When learning music theory, I always have wondered about the vocabulary words, and how weird some of them were. Who came up with the words? Now, I'm just curious about not just the origins of the ...
10
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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?
9
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2answers
381 views

Naming convention for augmented 6th chords

There are three types of Augmented 6th chord the German, the Italian, and the French. Most chords are named for the intervals they contain or their function, but these seem like just arbitrary names ...
26
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4answers
596 views

When were the terms “Major” and “Minor” applied to keys?

In 1547, Heinrich Glarean published Dodecachordon in which he posited that in addition to the 4 existing pairs of church modes (plagal and authentic versions of modes with finals on D (Dorian), E ...
8
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2answers
136 views

Intended tempo of exercises in Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum

Fux uses whole notes for the cantus firmi in his book, so do others influenced by his work. But I find them almost unbearably slow within the usual tempo ranges. I know that there must have been a ...
26
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4answers
1k views

Has music notation become more prescriptive?

Another question asks about the Meaning of 1/1 and 1/2 beneath pedaling marking near some sustain pedal markings. It looks like they are used to specify a particular amount of pedal to use while ...
13
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2answers
890 views

Baroque music composed in the 21st century

Which characteristically Baroque elements of music composition still have currency in the 21st century? Are there any 21st-century composers or songwriters who still compose primarily or largely in ...
7
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1answer
245 views

Who invented modal Jazz?

Can anyone be said to have done so? Or was it just a movement that emerged from the various people playing at the time? I believe that Kind of Blue was the first album to popularize it but can Miles ...
0
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2answers
145 views

Which disco tracks were the most influential in electronic music? [closed]

While attempting to better my understanding of the roots of electronic dance-able popular (as opposed to classical or experimental) music, I found out that most of its influences come from disco and ...
10
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4answers
193 views

Was the viola da gamba or violin particularly associated with England in the late 16th or early 17th century?

The viola da gamba was an instrument in use throughout western Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries; the modern(ish) violin became popular around the turn of the 17th century. But instruments ...
4
votes
3answers
123 views

Book about development of music

I'm not new to the musical world, and for quite a bit of time I've been wondering on all the reasons that are behind our usual way of understanding music (7-note diatonic scale, 12-note chromatic ...
1
vote
1answer
95 views

How many disruptive ideas in music harmony were there, that became widely accepted? [closed]

How often radically new musical ideas become common practice? New in a sense where composer/performer is unquestionably first to abruptly depart with musical tradition with no similar precedent, even ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Why are so many Eurovision song contest songs sung in English?

One thing that strikes a lot of non-European viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest is that many of the songs are sung in English. Outside of the ESC, are most modern songs produced in Europe ...
6
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1answer
109 views

Fux counterpoint: why is it in the modal system?

Assuming Fux's counterpoint was written in 1752, why are there some references to the modal system and none to tonality? I mean... 1752 is way beyond the end of modality! Composers already had the ...
8
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3answers
2k views

Origin of the asymmetrical keyboard layout of a piano

The piano keyboard has white keys based on the C Diatonic scale plus black keys, which add the remaining notes used in western music. The asymmetrical way in which the black and white keys are placed ...
8
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3answers
295 views

History of screaming in music throughout the world

Screaming is a common technique in metal and other music genres but according to Wikipedia it has also been used in blues music and very few times in more classical Western works. Are there other ...
12
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1answer
197 views

Singing an opera “all'italiana”

When an opera is played without staging (be it either a rehearsal or an actual concert) it is called all'italiana (translated: "in the italian style"). Or, at least, this is how we call it here in ...
18
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4answers
4k views

Why is the aeolian mode the minor scale?

I've studied music theory for many years now, and one thing has always confused me about the naming methodology for the minor scale. A major scale is based off the Ionian mode and consist of only ...
9
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2answers
375 views

Where did the British names for different note lengths come from?

I was always taught to use a certain set of names for the length of a note, such as crotchet, minim, quaver, and so on. I'm aware though that those terms aren't used as much outside the UK, and that ...