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

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4
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0answers
52 views

The development of the musical staff: If and when did it have fifteen lines?

I am doing research on music history and I cannot find information between the four line chant staff and the grand staff. Also, I do believe that at different times in its development the staff ...
7
votes
3answers
868 views

Has opera traditionally been enjoyed by aristocracy only or the masses too?

I was reading A History of Opera by Abbate and Parker. On page 19, they say And although its financial basis has gradually broadened...opera in its primary form, theatrical form has typically ...
2
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1answer
52 views

Why do keyboards have the current configuration, based on Do scale?

As a kid I always wondered why there was a missing key between Fa and Mi in piano keyboards. Later I learned the reason. There is only a semi-tone distance between this two notes and therefor no in ...
2
votes
4answers
62 views

What is the difference between “Opus” and “Song Cycle”?

What is the difference between "Opus" and "Song Cycle", because "Opus" is a separate composition or a set of compositions. A song cycle is the same, isn't it? Whenever I go to wikipedia for a song, ...
2
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2answers
79 views

What are the earliest examples of chord tones like dominant sevenths and ninths being used?

What are some of the earliest examples of chord tones like dominant sevenths and ninths being used? I am trying to determine how basic harmonic music forms evolved toward forms such as Blues and Jazz. ...
0
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1answer
36 views

Which school is the school that Claude Debussy studied in?

I am confused about the school that Debussy studied in. I searched on wiki it said Debussy studied in CNSMDP. But in the other website it said Debussy studied in school located in 14 Rue de Madrid, ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

keyboard instrument with only some of the black keys

I have a vague memory of seeing a photo of an ancient keyboard instrument (a calvichord?) that had only some of the black keys - maybe just B flat and F sharp. Alas, I can't find anything similar ...
3
votes
3answers
612 views

How to grok 20th-century pop music as evolution of classical harmony

With sufficient training, a student of harmony may build forwards from Bach through Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, etc... understanding music of a period in terms of what has gone before. But it's going ...
7
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1answer
91 views

Origin of the Backbeat

Ok, so I've heard a lot on the origin of the backbeat. Some say it came from African voodoo and others say from the Middle East. Where did it actually come from? Also, people say it was expressly ...
7
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3answers
724 views

Was Bach the first to use thumbs on a keyboard?

This question reminded me of a claim that I've heard before, namely, that J. S. Bach was the first keyboardist to utilize the thumbs in his playing technique. I'm not sure where I've heard this, but ...
0
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1answer
73 views

Why (Occidental) conventional rhythm notation became conventional? [closed]

Human languages evolve and adapt themselves to the needs (phonetics, auditory, contextual) of the users. To what extent has been showed that Occidental music notation followed that path? Is it ...
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1answer
43 views

Does the old Druid song, Les Series, have an ancient melody as Villemarque charted it?

This may be too long and specialized for many, but I'll put it up and see what kind of interest or reaction there is: Some of you may have heard of the old Druid number tutorial, Les Series or Ar ...
2
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1answer
100 views

Why saxophone is so common in Jazz Music?

Since the invertor of the saxophone was from Belgium, how did the saxophone become so popular in jazz music? I mean, it was created by a European in the 1840's, it wasn't created by Americans at the ...
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1answer
74 views

Why John Cage 4'33“ last for 4'33”? [closed]

Why John Cage 4'33" last for 273 seconds, but not one/several second(s) more/less?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are the black keys on some ancient fortepianos now white on modern pianos?

I am wondering what happened in the fortepiano's history that made the keyboard colors switch (why black keys on some ancient pianofortes are now white on modern pianos). Here is a picture of a ...
-1
votes
2answers
107 views

Is there any evidence that JS Bach, A Vivaldi and J Handel had perfect pitch?

Is there any evidence that JS Bach, A Vivaldi and J Handel had perfect ear pitch? Perhaps, if one can spend so much time and energy to music he would develop some abilities.
3
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3answers
101 views

Gregorian modes in Renaissance music (with Cabezón's 'Tiento del Cuarto Tono' as an example)

I'd like to ask a question on how Gregorian modes were transformed during Renaissance using a piece of Antonio de Cabezón as an example. His 'Tiento del Cuarto Tono' is written in mode 4, which is, as ...
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2answers
114 views

Fauxbourdon in minor - examples from actual compositions

Dimitri Tymoczko has a very nice overview of fauxbourdon harmony in this syllabus. While he gives several example for fauxbourdon in major, he doesn't give examples for minor. I don't know of any ...
8
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1answer
127 views

Where does the tradition of bowing after a performance come from?

Why do we bow after a performance? Where does this tradition come from? For how long has performers been doing this? Maybe there is some sort of interesting anecdote about this.
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Difference Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova?

My music teacher was not very clear: he said Guillaume de Machaut composed in the Ars Nova style and that Machaut called the old style Ars Antiqua. This happened somewhere in the early Renaissance. ...
9
votes
3answers
96 views

Musicians Unions In The Modern Day

Historically, the AFM was the place to be to get anything done with music performance; or so that's what I heard growing up. But I don't hear much about it now. This was even the case while I was ...
5
votes
2answers
125 views

What musical instruments JS Bach owned and had purchased during his career? [closed]

What musical instruments JS Bach owned and had purchased during his career? Is there any historical information on Handel, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Corelli, Tartini?
3
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2answers
112 views

Is the usage of scales (modes) in jazz music common practice?

A friend of mine told me that the usage of scales or modes in jazz music is not common. Even I heard myself in a Miles Davis interview that jazz is a tradition. So here are two questions basically: Is ...
2
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1answer
94 views

Did Bach intend his two volumes known as the “Well-Tempered Clavier” to be a single work?

We all know about Bach's Well Tempered Clavier which we refer to as "book 1" of the "48". However, I have never seen Bach himself refer to the two books as being one glorious set of 48 preludes and ...
10
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2answers
503 views

Why is the “longest note value still in common use” called a “breve”, when breve means “short”?

This Wikipedia page says that the double whole note, or breve, is the "longest note value still in common use". However, breve in Italian means 'short'. How did the longest commonly-used note value ...
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1answer
106 views

Are there any documentaries on the subject of Medieval and/or Renaissance western music and its practice?

I am looking mostly for the essential information on polypohony, gregorian chant, techniques of the time and their development etc, in order to get a grasp of the subject, names and times so I can ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

History of “jazz minor/melodic minor” harmony

I'm curious about the development of modern (post-bop-ish) jazz harmony. In Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book, he shows how modes of the melodic minor scale can be used to form and improvise over chords ...
5
votes
2answers
71 views

Erhu vibrato before Western contact?

Was vibrato known as a technique in China before the introduction of Western string instruments? How common was it to use vibrato when performing the erhu?
12
votes
2answers
397 views

What do these unusual signs on key signature mean?

I know that the more typical notation for the little X in the time signature is used for double sharps, but in the intro of the volume the author of this work seems to say that he is using that ...
7
votes
1answer
372 views

When did the half-step/whole-step modulation in the middle of a song become popular?

Many pop songs in modern times will use a half step or a whole step modulation in the middle of a song in order to increase excitement. I would like to know when this strategy started, and if it is ...
4
votes
2answers
77 views

Why is 1/128th note's prefix “semihemidemisemi”?

I've searched throughout the Internet, and so far they only states the fact that 1/64th note is named "hemidemisemiquaver" and 1/128th note is "semihemidemisemiquaver", with no mention why the prefix ...
12
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3answers
2k views

How did Mozart know about voice leading rules like consecutive fifths?

What education did Mozart receive in order to know basic harmony rules, like consecutive fifths are bad? And how did he make sure his compositions do not have errors? Did he have to check every voices ...
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2answers
93 views

How has deafness been incorporated in music history (present included)? [closed]

I remember hearing about a famous musician who lost their hearing and kept going after that by touch. Who was that? Are there other famous musicians like that person? Can people who were deaf from ...
6
votes
2answers
315 views

How did the plagal modes differ from their authentic counterpart in practice?

In the traditional modal system there were eight modes. Four that were authentic and four were plagal. These modes are depicted below: Based on the description of the modes the final note of the ...
3
votes
1answer
141 views

In Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, why is the B always flat in the exercises done in the F mode?

In Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, when in the F mode (lydian), the B is always flat, at least in the first and second species examples. The cantus firmus proposed by master Aloys avoids the note ...
33
votes
8answers
6k views

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
99 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
77 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
9
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1answer
200 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 ...
7
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3answers
207 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
votes
7answers
439 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 - ...
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vote
3answers
239 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
votes
3answers
116 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
395 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
votes
2answers
173 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?
7
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5answers
255 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 ...
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0answers
56 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
311 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
166 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 ...