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

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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 ...
7
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0answers
60 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.
8
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2answers
73 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 ...
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6answers
3k 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 ...
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1answer
57 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. ...
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2answers
81 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 ...
3
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1answer
147 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 ...
10
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1answer
336 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 ...
5
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2answers
87 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?
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0answers
5 views

4 main {sources, influences} of Jazz standard and their {year, decade…} of {foundation,creation} [migrated]

My gf was given this question at Uni and we couldn't find the answer anywhere - so I want to ask you guys. I've translated the question the best I could... For better understanding: I need to know ...
10
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2answers
256 views

Was the pitch A given that letter because the minor key was originally the “basic” mode?

It's something that's puzzled me; The key that has no sharps and no flats, in essence the "basic" key, is C Major. Well, fine, but why C? Why not label that key and note A, if it's the foundation of ...
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1answer
75 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
473 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 ...
4
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2answers
156 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?
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6answers
3k views

Is Beethoven's 9th symphony the first piece that combined a chorus with an orchestra?

(a very good musicology question suggested by BenV, from the definition phase of the "Classical Music" area51 proposal). Beethoven's ninth Symphony (opus 125) is one of the most well-known works of ...
5
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2answers
52 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?
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1answer
73 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 ...
6
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1answer
231 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 ...
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4answers
9k views

Why note B is marked with H in Scandinavia and Germany?

At least in Scandinavia and Germany two notes are marked differently than in most other countries: B -> H B♭ -> B I have heard that this is due to mistake in interpreting messy sheet notes, as ♭ ...
4
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2answers
64 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 ...
8
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1answer
2k views

How did “Mary had a little lamb” become popular blues?

"Mary had a little lamb" had long been a popular choice for blues musicians to jam and solo on stage. Ever since watching the rendition by Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan, it also had been one of my ...
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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
190 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 ...
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2answers
84 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 ...
3
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1answer
124 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 ...
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5answers
5k 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 ...
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1answer
69 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 ...
11
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1answer
115 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 ...
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2answers
71 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
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11answers
3k views

Why does conventional playing style give the string manipulation to the left hand?

For the majority of players, the right hand is used for most tasks that require exacting manipulation: writing, throwing, etc. However, guitar, violin, lute, etc., etc., use the right hand for ...
2
votes
6answers
345 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 - ...
9
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1answer
177 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 ...
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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 ...
7
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3answers
176 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 ...
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3answers
206 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 ...
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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?
14
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3answers
374 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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3answers
109 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 ...
21
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4answers
13k views

What are the practical reasons for still having transposing instruments?

I understand that historically there was a need for transposing instruments. e.g. Brass instruments would use lead pipes to change their key and players in brass bands would like to stick to the same ...
7
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3answers
2k 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 ...
6
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4answers
229 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 ...
13
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2answers
279 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 ...
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0answers
53 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 ...
10
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3answers
2k 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 ...
6
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3answers
611 views

The origin of “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father”

The order of the flats is given by the mnemonic "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father", and the order of sharps by the reverse ("Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle"). What is the history ...
11
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1answer
323 views

When did keyboard partitions start to use the G-clef for the upper staff ?

When you look at very old sheetmusic (for harpsichord or organ), you see that the upper staff has a C-clef, first line. The lower one is the familiar bass F-clef, fourth line. Why and when did the ...
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3answers
153 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 ...
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1answer
184 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.
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2answers
98 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 ...
3
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6answers
198 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 ...