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

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21
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4answers
1k views

Examples of songs or phrases played in different temperaments

I've read about the fact that 12 tone equal temperament is a relatively recent phenomenon, and that historically, each key would have a different character due to the unequal temperament. I'm curious ...
20
votes
8answers
919 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
820 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
359 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
14
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2answers
683 views

Music education audio lessons

I am currently learning to play the guitar, and that has sparked an interest in learning more about music in general. I would like to learn about music theory, ear training, history, musical styles ...
14
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5answers
643 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
429 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
12
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3answers
230 views

What is the reason for pitch inflation?

There's this phenomenon among instrumentalists to constantly raise the pitch of the concert A. This generally occurs among string players, since the range of tunings for woodwinds, for example, is ...
11
votes
1answer
225 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
274 views

Why is Italian the standard for expressive markings in music?

I was reading through the music for Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy a few days ago and I realized that I am often surprised when I see expressive markings (dynamics, tempo, accents and the like) that ...
9
votes
1answer
157 views

Is it a coincidence that “blue” notes are “chromatic”?

According to the OED: The word "chromatic" has been applied to music with lots of accidentals since at least the 17th century. In the 19th century, a "blue note" was one that was incorrect; starting ...
9
votes
2answers
164 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Training and Influences of J. S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly among the most celebrated of Baroque composers, and to many the great composer in all history. The era of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in which he lived, ...
9
votes
2answers
253 views

What changes were made to Dvořák's Cello Concerto by Wihan?

Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, is a standard part of the modern cello repertoire, probably even the most popular concerto on the instrument. For the most part the version played ...
8
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
902 views

Is a violin's shape (particularly the f-holes) necessary or is it just for aesthetics?

Violins have a rather beautiful design. ... is such design necessary? Is a violin's natural sound only achieved when it has this specific shape? I have a particular interest in the f-holes. Are they ...
8
votes
3answers
349 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
votes
2answers
186 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
460 views

When was the first recorded usage of a musical score?

Music is quite universal in the sense that you can hand a musician almost anywhere in the world a piece of sheet music and they will be able to understand it. I've been wondering this for a while now; ...
7
votes
2answers
693 views

Why is the guitar tuned E A D G B E? [duplicate]

Why is the standard tuning for the guitar E A D G B E, from the lowest string to the highest? The interval between strings is a perfect 4th, except for the interval between the G and B strings, ...
7
votes
1answer
254 views

When was the deceptive cadence introduced?

Bach used the Deceptive Cadence as early as his Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, which dates to the early 18th century. Are there earlier uses? A definitive answer may be impossible, but I ...
7
votes
1answer
153 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
0answers
77 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
4answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
146 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
338 views

What is the earliest known use or indication of “col legno”

col legno or col legno battuto meaning : strike (the string) with the wood (of the bow) is commonly found in 20th century chamber music. But I have heard it might have been used earlier (at least 18th ...
6
votes
1answer
343 views

The History of Southern Gospel and Spirituals

I am interested in the history of Southern Gospels and Spirituals. How did these styles begin? What are the history's behind them? Can you suggest an article concerning the history? Are there ...
6
votes
2answers
199 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
275 views

English Horn Etymology

Why is the English Horn called a horn when it is a woodwind instrument, basically a lower oboe? When compared to other horns, such as the French Horn and the Flugelhorn, it seems to be a misnomer.
5
votes
4answers
112 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
806 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 ...
5
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1answer
741 views

Influences of Mozart

Wikipedia article only mentions Hummel from Mozart's childhood but gives no further information. I will appreciate if someone could shed more light here, in particular which composers have had an ...
4
votes
3answers
110 views

Can the “music of the spheres” be applied (or projected) to instrumental music?

I've read lots of books on Pythagoras and the philosophy of the Music of the Spheres, but it all seems to stop at labeling planets with scale degrees. And then what? If they're all there, filling up ...
4
votes
2answers
894 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
votes
1answer
166 views

Was the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras the first one who referred to a musical scale?

I' ve read that the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras was the first one who scientifically proved the theory of music. Also it is refered that he invented the Pythagorean musical scale. Was the ...
4
votes
1answer
63 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
497 views

Where/When did the modern guitar originate?

I keep thinking of Greeks playing Lyres - there had to be a point where someone added strings and the modern shape...
4
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3answers
521 views

What are some examples influences from external cultures on the development of Western classical music?

So, I think it's largely safe to presume that the core of Western musical theory developed almost entirely within Europe -- Greece in its very early history, mainly Italy and also the Franco-Flemish ...
4
votes
3answers
92 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
275 views

Why did Lou Reed make Metal Machine Music?

For background, it's a record that was made "without musical instruments" by rigging up ring-modulators and envelope filters and tone generators to create a sort of living shape of feedback. But ...
3
votes
1answer
129 views

Whose idea was it to put three pedals on a piano?

Who ever decided to put foot pedals on a piano? Do we know who did it, or do we only know the general period that this happened? I would like to know who did this and when did it happen?
3
votes
4answers
205 views

Is there something like the Köchel catalogue for other composers?

I'm looking for public databases containing data about the works of different composers, just like the Köchel catalogue. I'm not really interested in any particular artist, genre, or time period. ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

Who was the first composer to notate a trombone smear?

I've been listening to Henry Fillmore's "Trombone Family". It brought me to thinking, how long have trombone smears been around in written sheet music? Was Fillmore, a.k.a. "Father of the Trombone ...
2
votes
2answers
538 views

Why piano keys are not integer factors of octave notes?

In one of the answers of this question, some pianos with 44, 61, 76, and 88 keys are introduced. I just don't get it. Why notes are not following any formula? I mean, a piano with 63 keys means that ...
2
votes
1answer
272 views

What is psychotropic music?

I hit the term psychotropic music and listened to some works but was surprised that this music style has no good description on the internet (its origin, history, goal, etc.). When googling you will ...
2
votes
2answers
141 views

Which early danceband guitarists tuned to Eb rather than E? [closed]

Often, nowadays, guitarists will tune to Eb etc.as a matter of course, for various reasons.I'm thinking of the 1930s and 40s, when guitarists were playing in dance bands.A lot of the music they played ...
2
votes
3answers
208 views

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

The order of the flats is given by the mnemonic "*B*attle *E*nds *A*nd *D*own *G*oes *C*harles' *F*ather". What is the history behind this strange phrase?
2
votes
1answer
135 views

Original underlying melodies of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies

As we all know, Liszt's 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies contain and conserve some Hungarian and Gipsy tunes (although some of them are in a somewhat modified form). I'd like to know if there's any resource ...