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

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15
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2answers
312 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
119 views

Why did Liszt change/add so much to his piano transcription of Danse Macabre?

I'm interested to hear if anything is known about the reasons why Liszt decided to introduce some pretty significant changes/additions to the piano transcription of Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-...
3
votes
1answer
111 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
341 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
860 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
339 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
256 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
883 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the history of considering Rock 'n' Roll to be “the Devil's music”?

Historically, what evidence has been cited in support of the claim that Rock 'n' Roll is the music of Devil? This notion exists in the popular culture, fueled by Footloose and half-remembered grade-...
2
votes
4answers
68 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, ...
5
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
84 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
votes
1answer
39 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, ...
34
votes
8answers
7k 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 fourths,...
2
votes
1answer
60 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 now....
3
votes
3answers
619 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
votes
1answer
96 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
398 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 symbol ...
0
votes
1answer
75 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
97 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
47 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
votes
1answer
120 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 ...
-4
votes
1answer
78 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?
7
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
143 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there a known point in history where dissonance became acceptable?

So, I'm not a scholar of music history, but I have a basic timeline. The evolution of Western music theory had several times in which certain chords and intervals were considered too "jarring" or "...
19
votes
3answers
672 views

How much do we know about how ancient Greek and Roman music sounded?

Specifically for music composed earlier than the third or fourth century A.D. I have heard several reports about deciphering examples of ancient greek musical notation. And you can find CDs of "...
8
votes
1answer
149 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.
4
votes
1answer
212 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

What types of guitars are used for spanish music?

I am fascinated by Spanish guitar music, and I have started exploring it. I have heard classical music like Gypsy Kings, Taranta, Romance, etc. Does anyone here know what types of guitars are used in ...
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
120 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 ...
2
votes
7answers
453 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 - ...
3
votes
3answers
109 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
114 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.
14
votes
3answers
696 views

J. S. Bach's place in musical history

Was there any reason Bach didn't follow the trends of the times? He was surely very much in touch with contemporary composers, and knew of Handel's and Scarlatti's works specifically. Amazingly, he ...
19
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
100 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
120 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
134 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?
10
votes
2answers
261 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
96 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
votes
2answers
509 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
votes
2answers
191 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?
8
votes
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
votes
2answers
75 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?
-1
votes
1answer
110 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
394 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
11k 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 ♭ ...