Questions tagged [history]

For questions about how music has developed and changed over time or for questions about concepts and ideas of a historic period of music. Do not use just because the subject of the question is a historic figure or piece.

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Were modernists at the beginning of the 20th century elitists?

Modernists and their defenders would never entirely escape the charge of intolerance, snobbery and élitism and a distaste for the democratization of culture made possible, ironically, by the ...
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How did Western music come to embrace metrical rhythm as its primary metric structure?

Western music generally uses a limited set of metrical rhythms — simple and compound meters in accent groupings of 2, 3, or 4.1 With exceptions, of course, this is true in the bulk of classical music, ...
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Shostakovich style (5th, 10th) [closed]

During my music education I was more focused on classical styles of western composers up until times of Beethoven. Namely, I understand the structure and some ideas behind music by Vivaldi, Bach, ...
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Are "name that song" questions appropriate here? [migrated]

Are "name that song" questions appropriate here on music.stackexchange.com? For instance, if users have already asked on all the other forums, Reddit, etc.
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What are the lyrics for Frisco Town from Memphis Minnie (1929) willing to say? [migrated]

I haven't a perfect knowledge of English, and history and country/blues music from the 20's sometimes carries images that I can't figure clearly. In her song Frisco Town, in 1929, what is Memphis ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Origins of musical stave notations [closed]

I was wondering whether anyone knows the history of how the notations for clefs, sharps, flats, naturals, notes, and pauses, and their locations of the stave, took place. How were these shapes ...
2 votes
1 answer
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The definition, and the origin of this sign notation "x"

Here is an example of the double sharp (within the red mark) from Liszt Les Preludes, see below. I suppose this notation "x" is called double sharp. Questions: What are (1) the definition, ...
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VII-i cadence in a minor key

I have read many people claiming that this cadence is actually a disguised V-vi in the relative major. But as a pianist and composer I do not feel this way at all. For a concrete example, here is a ...
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Does the Scarlatti's 'Cortege' really sound like Gaudeamus Igitur?

Every time I hear https://imslp.org/wiki/Keyboard_Sonata_in_E_major%2C_K.380_(Scarlatti%2C_Domenico), I think I'm hearing the melody for the third and fourth lines of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
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How did we move from using syllables (ut, re, etc) to refer to intervals to using syllables to refer to notes?

My understanding of syllables used in solmization is when Guido d'Arezzo created syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, it was a mean to refer to intervals in any hexachord built on :2:2:1:2:2: intervals ...
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what is the oldest use of 9th chords in western music and when did they become popular

From page 752, of Laitz's The Complete Musician 4th edit. ''(...) By continuing the process of stacking thirds, these composers added another third above the seventh, creating a ninth chord; by adding ...
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Why does the ABC song's music differ in China from that of most other countries? [closed]

Why is the Chinese version of the ABC song different to most of the rest of the world? Most of the world has a fast "LMNOP" and a whole song similar to this: In Britain, America, France, ...
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Instances of note beams across measures

How rare was it, in classical and romantic periods, for composers to notate eighth note and sixteenth note beams across measures? Are there examples from composers other than Schubert? In two of ...
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What's the earliest known example of music written for an electronic instrument?

The other day I stumbled upon Joseph Schillinger's First Airphonic Suite, a 1929 orchestral suite that includes a part for theremin. Since this was written 10 years after the invention of the theremin,...
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When did drop voicings (e.g. drop, 2 drop 3 etc.) become codified for guitar?

Nowadays the Drop 2 and Drop 3 7th chord voicings for guitar are well-known, especially in Jazz circles. I don't remember hearing about these when I was reading Metal Solo You Can't Play Monthly back ...
1 vote
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Did percussion instruments communicate spoken words in click languages?

There are a number of click languages in Africa where 'clicks' function as part of their language. It seems like it would be possible to communicate some words with percussion instruments (maybe a ...
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Why do notes have stems?

How is it that stems became a part of standard music notation? I was genuinely unable to find an answer to this anywhere on the internet - I couldn't even find an instance of anyone asking the ...
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Historical origin of the raised sixth scale degree in minor

The way I understand the melodic minor scale — with its raised 6 and 7 ascending and lowered 6 and 7 descending — is that it's representative of how composers operated when composing in minor. However,...
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Why was Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor (Bach) composed?

I'm doing an assignment on a baroque period composition, and I chose Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor by J.S. Bach. One of the things I need to do is explain why it was actually composed. I'm having a ...
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Why are band instruments built in flat keys?

Instruments in a military bands (and similar) are usually built in the keys of B-flat or E-flat. (Whether these instruments are treated as transposing instruments or not is irrelevant. The key that ...
5 votes
2 answers
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When could humans first measure pitch accurately?

This article suggests that accurate measurement of pitch wasn't possible until around 1870. Another source suggested that is was possible around the time of J.S. Bach. Does anyone have more info on ...
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what is a "rhythmic gesture"?

Per Wikipedia, taken originally from Winold, 1975, chapter 3, among the general characteristics of music from the common practice period is "rhythmic gestures of a limited number of rhythmic ...
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Did any pianist in history ever sight-read one of Liszt's Transcendental Études?

Liszt was known to be able to sight-read any piece, even Chopin's Etudes Opus 10 and Grieg's Piano Concerto, both Piano and Orchestral Part. Since Liszt also composed some Études himself, I was ...
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Who played the solos at the climax of Bill and Ted Face The Music? [closed]

I'm sure this information isn't hard to find if I searched for the right terms, but I have searched and come up with results for how they would have loved to have included Van Halen and about the ...
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First guitar with fretboard inlays?

When did guitars first get fretboard inlays? Or were they a common feature on pre-guitar stringed instruments before the the guitar was formalised to the shape we now know and love? Was there a ...
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3 answers
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What makes a song a Christmas song? [closed]

Apart from lyrics, what features have been common to Christmas music in different traditions and eras of classical, folk and modern music? Have there been specific melodic intervals, structure, ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Personal / historical background regarding Chopin's Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1

Chopin completed his Nocturne in F minor in 1843. During the time he was creating the piece, what was happening in his compositional or personal life that might influence one's interpretation of the ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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Why is the usual clef for guitar G clef?

Analyzing by two parameters, polyphony and range, music written for guitar should use two clefs, G and F. Usually, solo guitar has a polyphonic expression. Writing two melodies in a single stave could ...
9 votes
3 answers
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Was a 13-line (6 over 7) staff system ever in wide use?

On the Wikipedia article for Passacaglia, there is an excerpt of a piece by 17th-century composer Bernardo Storace. It has a 6-line staff with both G and C clefs above a 7 line staff with both C and ...
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What was the first published "cutaway/cut-out" score?

Sometimes scores are formatted so that silent measures are completely omitted—not just left empty, but left blank, including the staff. The oldest score in this style that I have seen is Lutosławski's ...
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Where does the nick-name for Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 come from? [duplicate]

It is commonly said in music spheres that Beethoven did not give the Sonata the title of Moonlight. That leads me to wonder what is the source of the unofficial name then if not from the composer?
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How did the ancient greek Ionic dialect become the name of the first mode of the diatonic major scale?

How did the ancient greek Ionic dialect become the name of the first mode of the diatonic major scale?...being Ionic. Similarly, how did the ancient greek Aeolic dialect become the name of the first ...
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How would one research standards for English tempo descriptions in BPM ca. 1900?

I am transcribing a songbook of Celtic folk tunes compiled in 1928 and generating MIDI from the transcription so that I can learn them by ear. The book is filled with tempos like: Flowing and not too ...
3 votes
1 answer
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When did trumpet mutes come into use?

My casual understanding is that mutes began to be invented and developed amongst jazz musicians looking to create unique sounds. Certainly I've encountered mutes primarily in jazz playing and also in ...
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1 answer
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Which came first: the dot or the tie?

In considering the question of the benefits of dots versus ties for extending note values, I got to wondering about the origins of those two notations. Did one emerge before the other? For what ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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When did Stradivarius become "Stradivarius!"

Instruments built by the Stradivarius family are popularly thought of amongst the pantheon of "greatest ever".1 But have they always been considered this way? Were they held in similarly ...
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What are the Deciding Factors as to Consonance/Dissonance?

Spawned by a previous question/answer. It seems that consonance/dissonance in intervals and harmonies have varied over time. So how would a decision be made to change one interval from one to the ...
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1 answer
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Did Rachmaninoff make his pieces hard to perform to challenge the pianist?

I'm not sure if this question belongs here, so I apologise if it doesn't. When when I was in high school, I was really into Rachmaninoff's pieces. My teacher once heard me trying to learn one of his ...
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Did Bach name his pieces?

I was listening "Brandenburg Concerto N° 4" and "Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062", and wondered: aside from the catalog number (that came later), did Bach name his ...
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How did Glenn Gould know, in 1955, the proper ornamentation for Bach's "Goldberg Variations"?

This question has its origin in Why does the Open Goldberg score have a G rather than A in bar 9 of variation 25?. See that Q&A for background information. At what time, and on what basis, was ...
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Outside of Equal Temperament, what decides the spelling of notes in a major scale?

I've been reading up on the history of temperament, and how enharmonic notes are more of a limitation of the modern piano (only one black key), and also mathematically they are the same if you use ...
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Identify song name and artist [closed]

I think it was in 70s or 80s a young woman from U.S. went to work for awhile on an island, maybe Jamaica. When she was ready to return I believe there was a problem taking her earnings with her so she ...
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Where can I find related materials in connection with Johann Joseph Fux's The Study of Counterpoint?

Allegedly, Beethoven condensed Fux's work into a "cheat sheet" version for ready reference (from the back cover of the Alfred Mann translation), and Mozart apparently annotated his own copy (...
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Why didn't more composers who composed violin concertos compose viola concertos?

Wouldn't the glut of violin and cello concertos from the Baroque and Classical eras motivate composers to compose Viola Concertos? Isn't adding to the deluge of violin and cello concertos more ...
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4 votes
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How was mixolidian mode introduced in Northeastern Brazilian Music?

Northeastern region of Brazil has a great variety of traditional and folkloric music genres. The most well-known genre is forró, followed also by baião and xaxado. These music genres are usually ...
6 votes
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Has such an anti-musical tune ever been composed?

The following part from chapter 84 of the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality fanfic describes a tune that appears to be designed to be unnerving. The humming started as a simple children's ...
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Why did it take a millennium to use harmony/polyphony (900 AD) when Pythagoras discovered perfect fourth and fifth around 500 BC?

Considering the fact that Pythagoras formulated the properties of Perfect Fifth and Fourth around 500 BC, why did it take so long to include them in Music?. The first instance of using the Fifth in ...
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When was the concept of a "triad chord" first introduced?

Chiara Bertoglio, “A Perfect Chord: Trinity in Music, Music in the Trinity,” Religions 4, no. 4 (December 2013): 485–501, §6. A “Harmonious” God, p. 493, claims: It was not before the 16th century, ...
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Why does guitar have so much more shape/tone variety than all other instruments?

For acoustic guitars, we have dreadnaught, auditorium, classical, jumbo, mini, grand concert, arch top, parlor (then there are new shapes coming from Taylor) Even if I count the whole orchestra family ...
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Accidentals - what's that?

We are aware that an accidental is a sign which changes the pitch of a note usually stated in the key signature, like a natural sign before a C in key D makes that into C♮, etc. Sometimes even the key ...
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