Hot answers tagged

43

Birds don't sing in a key. Keys are human cultural constructions with some basis in physics, but primarily just artful constructions of a sentient mind. In fact, when you hear a parrot or something similar attempt to mimic human song, it's not nearly as "in key" as even an average human singer would be. Birdsong only sounds pleasant because you've learned ...


37

Bird song is not tonal. Read this paper by Wallins and Mercer. A key quote from them: Any similarity between birdsong and modern music is by analogy And Carol Whaling (document available at the same link) provides this spectral plot: Which you can see is not tonal, in the way we think of music.


32

Anacrusis (pickup) is a bit more rhythmic than melodic. Hearing it seems easy to my musical brain, but I can understand how it would not be. Most music has a set rhythm, which we can understand in its simplest form by saying there is a fairly low number (most commonly 4), to which one can repeatedly count while listening to a piece of music such that the ...


18

Questions like this cause endless debate among scholars. The basic fact is that sheet music from the Baroque era tends to have a great deal less detail and specificity about interpretive matters than sheet music written in later eras. Bowing directions for strings are never given; the only dynamic markings used are often just "p" and "f", and there are no ...


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 ...


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 ...


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

Well, that subject is VERY subjective, but there are some points commonly agreed upon: Chord progression plays an important role, but any given progression can have a different feeling depending on the context. For example, take the vi - IV - I - V progression very common in pop music. Sometimes, when played ballad-style and flowingly, it can give an image ...


11

Some very famous pieces of music have started with a mood description written on the sheet music by the composer. Some other have become the perfect example of a given mood (Appassionata, Pathetic for Beethoven) You could start with the MIREX vocabulary clusters Cluster 1: passionate, rousing, confident, boisterous, rowdy Cluster 2: rollicking, cheerful, ...


11

Labels are only of limited usefulness. However, it can be observed metal is ultimately based on the blues and rock and roll. Metal songs are usually closer to the song structures, rhythms and meters of blues and rock--they're just played much louder and harder. Progressive metal incorporates elements of progressive rock and classical music, especially ...


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

Baroque music was all about expressiveness, and the rhythm was not necessarily meant to be held as strictly as the Renaissance tactus. Wheat Williams has mentioned historically informed performance, and as he says, these things are debated academically. But there is some good indication that Baroque composers did think of slowing down at the end of pieces. ...


10

I am really not knowledgable in ancient music theory so the following might be riddled with errors, but here is what I've gathered. What are the original Greek modes? Ancient Greek music scale theory was built upon the concept of the "tetrachord" - literally meaning four strings. A tetrachord consists of a group of four notes with three smaller intervals ...


10

What you are asking about doesn't really have to do with modes or accidentals. Essentially what you are talking about is the difference between modern equal temperament on the one hand, and just intonation on the other. Up until the late 1800s, musical instruments could play the traditional Greek modes and scales based on pure intervals, but a given ...


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

Wheat Williams covered the basics of historically-informed-performance quite well. I want to add that unmeasured preludes (not uncommon in Baroque music) indicate that Baroque composers did have a concept of give-and-take in regards to tempo. (You can look at examples of preludes here or here to see what the music looked like.) So, while the purists may ...


7

Generally speaking, a minority of Bach scholars question the piece's attribution. Christoph Wolf, who is for many the top Bach authority does not question the piece's attribution at all. For what it's worth, the mark's against Bach's authorship can mostly be explained away. There is no direct evidence against his authorship, unlike some other works where ...


7

I'll try to give you a clearer example of a tune with an anacrusis or pick-up: The Star Spangled Banner. This melody has three beats to a measure. The first full measure contains "Say, can you". The two little notes in the very beginning of the tune, sung to the word "Oh" are the anacrusis. Now you need an example of a tune that doesn't have an ...


6

Just to add information, indian classical music is based on the concept of Raga ("color"), a hard to define concept because it doesn't exists in western music as it is, but we can say it's the melodic system used in ICM, the modal framework. Raga generates Bhavas ("moods") and these moods generate Rasa ("essence") and it's the essence of an emotion that the ...


5

According to the note "H" in German musical nomenclature The German nomenclature merely sought to give each pitch-class that ocurred in the system a unique name. Later, when the letter b was employed to effect mutation into other, more distant tetrachords (or hexachords), the German nomenclature was never modified to accomodate it, and its use as a flat ...


5

Very interesting question. For a computer to understand whether song is happy or sad, you must define "happy" and "sad" first. This alone seems almost impossible, since every human has his own understanding of happiness, sadness and all other emotions. You can define "sad songs" as the "songs which induce a sad mood in the listener". In this case, how can ...


5

Wikipedia, following the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, reports correctly that there was a choral symphony published by a now obscure composer, Peter von Winter, in 1814, ten years before Beethoven's 9th. It is called the Schlachtsymphonie or "battle symphony." Beethoven also introduced a chorus at the very end of his Fantasy for Piano, ...


5

Much of Bach's education in composition came from him making hand copies of many musical scores, as music was not mass-printed at the time. Having mastered the Baroque notions of counterpoint and developing motives, combined with his known skill at improvising in the style, why would he seek to give up mastery of a style to be mediocre at a new one? As to ...


5

"Historically informed" practitioners will tell you all kinds of stuff overgeneralized from a narrow modern point of view. For example, that dynamics in keyboards are a modern invention. Clavichords were perfectly capable of nuanced dynamic play, and larger instruments like harpsichords had several manuals and registration possibilities in order to allow ...


4

To paraphrase and oversimplify 'Mastering the Scales and Arpeggios' by James Francis Cooke, the answer (for Greek) is, 'not very much.' There is a very large problem with ancient Greek writing on the subject. We don't really know what the words mean. Much ink has been spilled by writers purporting to know what the words mean, but in the end, there's ...


4

This company builds its business around defining the mood of music. It's important because their goal is to deliver a system which can help you tune the music to the mood you desire. I don't know it they already have an English intro on their site, I couldn't find it. But maybe that is because I get automatically relocated to the Dutch one. Anyway, maybe ...


4

As @user234 noted, this is very subjective, and depends hugely on your musical background and the culture that you're from. Ever since these started mixing and merging, the matter became even more complicated. Basically, there's nothing innately 'sad' or 'angry' in a given chord or a progression, it's just the way you've personally learned to associate them ...


4

I'm not sure where you got spaghetti westerns from, but the examples you've given in your question are generally considered to be on the pop side of things. This dichotomy of "pop vs. classical" or "art music vs. pop music" and the question of what defines those things is truly a complicated one in my mind; in that nearly any definition you can come up with ...


4

I'm not an expert on this topic, but when Donna Summer recently passed away, I wound up reading quite a lot about her, in particular about the influence of her 1977 hit "I Feel Love", which was attributed with influencing everything that came after it that used electric instruments. I'm not sure how much was hagiography and how much with musicology, but it ...


4

1). Whenever a composer makes use of counterpoint within the context of a tonal chord progression, or writes a fugue, the composer is more or less going straight back to the compositional technique of the Baroque composers such as J. S. Bach, G. F. Handel, or Telemann. So there are quite a few examples of these compositional techniques in 20th and 21st ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible