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29

With long open strings, the span to reach notes especially at the nut end would be too much for a lot of players if it retained the 5ths pattern of tuning. Making the tuning in fourths means that the left hand can encompass three notes in a scale and then move across to the next string in the same hand position. That said, it's not difficult to slide up a ...


25

Your logic fits and, as some of the commentators have stated, I've pondered about this in the past. Usually your dominant hand naturally can handle doing a lot more work, like you've stated. In playing instruments, the dominant hand also should be used for doing the "big jobs": in drumming, the dominant hand would be hitting the hi-hats. In a normal 4/4 ...


22

The TL;DR answer: Some instrument families (saxophones, clarinets, double reeds) have variants which change the instrument range by something other than an octave. To make it easy to switch between instruments in the same family, the parts for these instruments are transposed so the same written note has the same fingering, but produces a different actual ...


19

The minor scale is not called the "minor scale" because it is the most minor. Names don't have to accurately reflect the definition. Modes are sometimes classified as "minor" or "major" depending on their third (a minor third usually comes with other minor degrees like the flat 7th which is common to all minor modes of the major scale). And of all the minor ...


19

What a great question! From an early historical standpoint, I can think of several cases where this has happened. I'd be interested in more answers, and especially later historical examples. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, accidentals were often not notated, with the composer relying on the performer's knowledge of musica ficta to provide the correct ...


19

One of the clearest examples is a tablet from Ugarit that is generally labelled h.6. If you search around for Hurrian Hymns, h.6, and Hymn to Nikkal you can see some drawings and photographs. Some of the primary scholars that have written and attempted to decode the notation system are Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, Martin West, Richard Crocker, and ...


18

Technically, there are no reasons, but practically, there are quite a few. Obviously, we've reached the point where we can construct instruments that are fully chromatic, so there is no need to change crooks and play only the overtone series. The practical reasons are many, and mostly stem from the fact that if all instruments were pitched in C, any time ...


17

Here are links to YouTube videos, all three of which were posted by the same person, using the same synthesizer, all three playing Bach's Air on the G String. But each link uses a different tuning system: Equal Temperament: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6XkgNT20Eg Just Intonation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdL8aPQUOk0 Pythagorean Tuning: ...


16

Le quattro stagioni is the original title of this work, which translates to 'The four seasons'. This title was indeed chosen by Vivaldi himself, who deliberately composed the pieces to reflect the mood of each season. The wikipedia article sums the titles up pretty nicely!


15

In the late medieval system there were six normal notes, C D E F G A, and one note that had two forms, soft B (b) which was a semitone above A and hard B (♮) which was a whole tone above A. As written in the earliest sources, hard B looked a bit like an H with an added crossbar which may have been the reason for the change to H (or it was the next letter of ...


15

What education did Mozart receive in order to know basic harmony rules, like consecutive fifths are bad? As pointed out, he was educated by his father. He would have received basic training in Rule of the Octave, counterpoint, etc. Instruction in Mozart's time was essentially in voice leading, not harmony: harmony training didn't really exist until ...


14

No, they are not considered consonant in all music cultures. The perception of consonance and dissonance can be different among cultures. The same interval can be perceived (and labeled) differently by different cultures. This is influenced by many factors (and the harmonic series is not the only one!) For example, in medieval times major thirds were ...


13

I hope no one minds that I got curious, and did a bit of digging into this on my own. I discovered what appears to be an excellent resource answering this very question. The book is entitled Between Modes and Keys: German Theory, 1592-1802 by Joel Lester (1989). I do not have access to a copy of the book, but I've been able to see several relevant portions ...


12

I have to say no. As you said, Beethoven's 9th symphony was the first choral symphony but it was not the first piece to combine chorus and orchestra. There were already pieces from the Baroque that combined them, as the same definition of cantata says: Cantata: A sung piece, or choral work with or without vocal soloists, usually with orchestral ...


12

A couple quick internet searches (which took me here, for example) supports my guess that the term blues refers to melancholy of the music/lyrics (caused by blue devils). A blue note then is something characteristic to that music. One could also think that blue notes are blue because they often sound "sad", being flatter than usual. The term chromatic ...


12

As far as I can find, it was likely just a really big double bass! Whilst it may appear somewhat equivalent to the octobass - it is different to the maintained examples in the Musée de la Musique and Musical Instrument Museum in that: a) It has 4 strings, rather than 3; b) Octobass's appear to normally have a extension mechanism for the 'fingerings', to ...


11

Note that the numbers of keys includes white and black keys, so an 88-key piano is just over 7 octaves and a 63-key keyboard is 5+ octaves (not 9). As in most music (and much of life), non-logical reasons tend to be historical.


11

The short answer is yes (and I have occasionally written such music myself). Musical styles never really die, they just fall out of general fashion. It should be noted that there are a couple categories of music that might be considered in an answer. First off, and perhaps least authentic, are what might be termed "fusion" styles -- mixtures of baroque (or ...


11

The double leading-tone cadence is certainly not the "single defining characteristic" of Ars Nova. As to the chronology, Philippe de Vitry (born before Machaut, and one of the "inventors" of Ars Nova, to whom the eponymous treatise "ars nova" is ascribed) used double leading-tones in his isorhythmic motets. See, for example, the end of Tuba sacrae/In ...


11

Early pianos started out with the existing range of harpsichords, having between four and five octaves, usually starting at low C. This stands to reason, because Bartolomeo Cristofori, generally credited with being the inventor of the piano, was an expert harpsichord maker. By the time of Mozart, the range had standardized to five octaves, starting with ...


10

Léonin and Pérotin were two of the most well-known and advanced composers of early polyphonic music, but they certainly were not the first. It's difficult to say when polyphonic music first emerged because it's origin predates standardized music notation, but its origins are at least a few hundred years before Léonin and Pérotin. A piece was actually just ...


10

I can think of two reasons: Bass is difficult enough the way it is. If you were to play it like a cello, you would need a) much more frequent position changes, and/or b) a strong, independent and wide-reaching (much wider than on cello with its shorter scale) pinky. I think most bassists never use the pinky on its own at all (or do they?), because a bass ...


10

The modulation you describe is often mockingly called the "Truck Driver Gear Change". As you say, it is quite often used, to the point of being cliche. It has it's own page on TVTropes. At one time, there was even a "Hall of Shame" website (gearchange.org) devoted to it, although this seems to have disappeared. Here's a copy of the page from 2012 via the ...


10

It does mean 'short'. In medieval mensural notation, it was a short note, either one third or half as long as a LONGA. It appears there were only two note lengths, breve and longa from 13th up to the 17th Century, reflecting the syllable sung. The longa is obviously a longer note length... Music may have been much slower then!


9

Beethoven's own "Choral Fantasy" came before the Ninth Symphony. It's a weird (and wonderful) piece composed for a particular occasion (actually composed to fill out a concert that was already far too long). The piano starts it as a solo and plays an improvisatory cadenza that's three or four minutes long. Then the orchestra quietly starts in, builds up ...


9

Well, no. You can't really prove the theory of music. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Pythagoras probably wasn't the first human to speculate on the relationships of pleasing sounds, but he may well have been the first to appreciate the value of integer ratios in string length (or he may just be the earliest case we have records about).[*] As to ...



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