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41

It is because the double bass, essentially, comes from a different family of instruments than the cello, viola and violin. This is a controversial assertion among music historians, as these things evolved continously, but many scholars do not consider the double-bass to be a part of the violin family at all. The argument goes like this: About two ...


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 ...


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 ...


12

You can find examples of both color schemes, and others, throughout history. It all depends on what was popular at the time and what a customer wanted to order. Early on, in Europe, the "natural" keys were made of ebony or ebony veneer, while the "accidental keys" were of plain maple. Later on, it became possible and affordable to import elephant ivory ...


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

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

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

Well, the thing to remember is that the harpsichord and organ have no touch sensitivity like piano, and the piano wasn't invented yet. So any kind of keyboard music was written to be played all at the same volume, and composers made the sound fuller or emptier by managing the voicing. If you play a Bach fugue on a piano, you can add dynamics but it won't ...


9

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 ...


7

One of the central harmonic (and melodic) innovations of early 20th-century music was the conflation of the linear and harmonic dimensions. That is to say, a collection of pitches might just as easily be a motive or a melody as it might be a chord. In the common-practice world the linear, melodic dimension tends to be dominated by whole and half steps while ...


7

In his comment, Patrx2 listed the 8 traditional church modes: Dorian (and Hypodorian), Phrygian (and Hypophrygian), Lydian (and Hypolydian), and Mixolydian (and Hypomixolydian). The "Hypo-" forms are called plagal modes (as opposed to the four authentic modes). The plagal modes have the same "final" (tonic) and the same pitch classes as their corresponding ...


7

The early history (from about 1500 to 1850) of bass tunings are very variable, with anything from 3 to 6 strings and tunings in anything from thirds to fifths. Reference. In the classical period, the virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti played a 3-string bass tuned C G D an octave below the cello, which was more or less the standard instrument that Haydn, Mozart ...


7

Today we have digital tuners and we agree that all instruments are tuned to A = 440 cycles per second. There were no such standards in those days. I doubt any of them would have perfect pitch in the modern sense of the term, because every church they went into would have a pipe organ tuned to a different reference pitch. Furthermore in that time, pipe ...


6

When the piano was invented it did not have 88 keys and did not start on A. As composers such as Beethoven starting composing music that demanded a wider range of available notes, piano makers of the day responded by building piano's with an expanded range. The precursor of the piano was the harpsichord which was not the first keyboard (the organ was ...


6

Go to Wikipedia and look up the articles on each of these composers. At the bottom, under "References" you will find bibliographies of well-regarded printed book biographies of each of these composers, as well as books on music history. Hit the library and look them up and read them. Are you asking about what kind of instruments in general, or about the ...


5

If you take a look at music like the two-part inventions and three-part symphonies by Bach, they make a lot of musical sense, and while they are intended as practice pieces, the prevalent problem (and increase of diffuculty when going from inventions to symphonies) is not one of hitting particular combinations of notes at the same time but rather of ...


5

Historically these modes arose as ways of describing and categorizing music that already existed. For medieval liturgical song, or Gregorian chant, the system of modes made it easier to match antiphon chants with a psalm tone. The right psalm tone would mean that at the end of the psalm it was easy to go back and sing the antiphon again. The modes describe ...


4

Martin Luther, long before he broke with the Catholic Church, believed that music was a form of prayer, through which the people spoke to God and God spoke back. History states that he didn't actively encourage his congregation to sing along until after his publishing of the 95 Theses and his excommunication, but some sources say he encouraged it at ...


4

I'd go with the Venice archive variants, but then, I probably wouldn't go with Longo's edition - he had some tendency to "correct" things. Kenneth Gilbert's Urtext edition (Volume 5 here) goes entirely with Venice. I don't know if K. 208 is to be found in the M√ľnster (Santini) or Parma archives as well (can't find indexes), but then, we lack anything ...


4

Our musical notation evolved over a very long time, during which it became increasingly detailed. This meant that innovation tended to happen at the short end of the time-scale, which probably explains the "inflation" which occurred during the middle ages and early renaissance. I'm not sure there was ever a time when there were just two values. The story ...


4

As Laurence alludes to, when discussing "perfect" pitch, there is a difference between relative pitch and absolute pitch. Relative pitch -- knowing where a pitch falls within the context of a scale, and hearing the purity of intervals (rather than individual pitches) -- can be learned relatively easily, through exposure to music, and most musicians probably ...


3

Vivaldi's Four Seasons is one of the best and earliest examples in music history of what is called programmatic music or tone poems. The instrumental music was written by Vivaldi to tell a specific story which has accompanying words that are written down, not sung. Vivaldi chose the titles for each movement. Vivaldi wrote four poems, one for each movement, ...


3

My music history professor, Joel Sheveloff, told us that Goldberg would not have played the whole thing through for the Count every night. He imagined the Count requesting numbers according to his mood: "Play some of the canons." "Play the quodlibet." I don't think we can know for sure, but Prof. Sheveloff had better credentials than I do. Even so, ...


3

To answer your question directly, yes, the Goldberg Variations are a continuous musical work. There is no indication in the score of a break or intermission. In fact, there are fermatas over the bar lines after some variations, which is a performance indication. They were meant to be played continuously, and appreciated as a piece of art as a whole. You ...


3

The fact that a piano can go down to low "A" depended entirely upon the railroad and shipbuilding industries of the 1800s. It had little to do with the wishful thinking of artistic considerations. Read on and I will explain. I had so many comments to make that I decided I needed to add another answer. @RockinCowboy cited one lone source that implied that ...


3

I am by no means a Scarlatti expert, and have no specific knowledge of this piece, but in general: It depends on your audience. If this is something formal (like an audition), you'll want to find out if they have a preference as to source material. If you're playing it for your own benefit, or your friends, or even a college recital, go with your ear. Just ...


3

Many of the old traditional folk songs originated before the advent of recorded music. Typically folk songs were composed for the enjoyment of friends and family and neighbors with no thought of profiting commercially, thus there was no desire or need to copyright the songs or even write them down. Many folk songs became popular and were transmitted ...


3

It's a very distinct and verbose way to name 7th chords that is derived from classic theory. I'm not sure if it has a name or even needs a name as there's always more then one way to name chords for example some people use Co7 to represent a fully diminished chord and some people use Cm6b5 to denote the same chord and call it that. I'll refer to it as 7th ...


3

I don't know if the major-minor thing has a name, but the idea is to dissociate the actual intervals from the tonal function. Calling a chord a "major minor seventh" is simply describing the chord without any context, and calling a chord a "dominant" chord is describing a relationship with the tonic. In the kind of Classical music that is typically used to ...


3

The reason why a Bb is used instead of a B has to do with the key aspects of the Lydian mode itself which is the #4 and how it acts. The only difference between the Ionian mode and the Lydian is the 4th which is perfect in the Ionian mode and augmented in the Lydian mode. In Fux's counterpoint whatever mode you were in, you would want your cantus firmus and ...



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