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Questions tagged [history]

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

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Why do we always call a quarter note a **quarter** note? [closed]

Edit: After a lot of discussion I try to restate my question so that it becomes easier to understand: A concise version of my question, suggested by Stinkfoot: Why do we always call a quarter note a ...
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Prevailing theories about discovery of harmonic intervals

Are there any prevailing theories for how Paleolithic man discovered and shared knowledge about harmonic intervals? EDIT: I'm not referring to the mathematical characterization of the overtone ...
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1answer
590 views

Historically informed performance - Tuning

I recently attended a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto by Nicola Benedetti and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Marin Alsop. At the end, Nicola played an encore: a version of ...
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2answers
258 views

How did Pythagoras and Ptolemy measure the relative pitch of musical notes?

Both Pythagoras and Ptolemy believed that the intervals between notes in music should be ratios of small integer numbers. This is known as Just Intonation. Pythagoras liked them to derived from ...
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1answer
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What orchestral compositions have parts for Trumpet in H?

I know I've played parts written in H, but I can't find any from Google search. H is the German equivalent of B. Source: http://web.library.yale.edu/cataloging/music/names-keys-french-german-italian-...
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Why was Le Concert Spirituel playing out of tune at Proms 2012?

I know it sounds like an odd question, but I was listening to a recording of Handel's music for the Royal Fireworks (available here on Youtube), and there are sections where the horn players are ...
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4answers
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Why is a 440 Hz frequency considered the “standard” pitch for musical instruments?

I was reading the Idiot's Guides: Music Theory (3rd edition), and I read: The "standard" pitch today that most musicians tune to is the A above middle C, which equals 440 Hz; all the other ...
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1answer
88 views

Was alto in the past lower in pitch than where they are today?

I wonder why alto clefs are so low that they doesn't seem to match the range of alto(female low voice). Why did J.S. Bach use alto clef so much for the middle part of his fugue? Is it because alto was ...
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300 views

History of the baby grand piano

The first pianos were made in around 1700. Researching a little online, I've been able to find lots of info on the history of the piano. But when was the "baby grand" piano first created and/or ...
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“The intervals considered dissonant have changed since the 'Middle Ages'”; How so?

In reading my new book 'Complete Classical Music Guide', I understand the following: If two notes are separated by a consonant the sound is pleasing to the ears. If they are of a dissonant ...
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1answer
348 views

Performing music from long ago

Let's say a modern orchestra wants to perform a piece of music composed by Mozart. Which of the following is true? Mozart wrote the score for every instrument in the orchestra. Those instruments ...
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2answers
340 views

Is the Baroque Schleifer, slide, or glissando symbol evolved from the Gregorian chant quilisma?

I posted this question on Wikipedia a year ago, with no answers. These two musical signs look eerily similar. The Baroque Schleifer or slide (see Wikipedia page): The quilisma in Gregorian chant (...
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1answer
208 views

Why do we use such different picks for guitar and oud?

The oud and the guitar are strung similarly (six strings vs. six courses of strings), and are both played with a flat pick; but the guitar pick is much smaller and flatter than the risha used for the ...
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3answers
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How did baroque music sound at the time?

Historical context Let's for example consider Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (click here to enjoy). It was composed at the very beginning of the 18th century in Germany. At that time: ...
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5answers
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Why is a 2-5-1 progression so often associated with JAZZ?

Why is a 2-5-1 progression so often associated with JAZZ?? Is there something inherent in this progression that makes it sound jazzy? Or rather, is it just that jazz people started to use it, ...
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3answers
958 views

The Basso Continuo and the Jazz Rhythm Section

I've seen many musicologists compare the Basso Continuo of the Baroque Era to the Jazz Rhythm Section, an analogy which I think is valid and understandable. Here's one reference (of many) that I ...
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1answer
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What's so important about Venice in the Baroque period?

Many famous Baroque musicians and composers, for example Vivaldi, were children of Venice and did their work there. What other reasons are there for Venice being a great spawning ground for Baroque ...
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2answers
674 views

Who were the first “classical” composers to be recorded playing/conducting their own music?

The phonograph was invented in 1877. While the first versions of the technology had low fidelity and short playback time by modern standards, these limitations gradually lessened, and eventually ...
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1answer
251 views

About slash and 7th chord's meaning and their history

In today’s music, there are certain musical features that makes music jazzy and good and I think those are the use of 7th chords and tensions. And of course there are Slash chords(along with them, if ...
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1answer
287 views

What kind of skill did the average amateur pianist have in the classical era?

We hear of composers as the greats of the keyboard, but I imagine there were also a lot of people who had the time and money to learn to play in their own homes. Probably not a huge number, but I ...
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1answer
95 views

Is there an English-language edition of “Dynamik und Agogik” by Hugo Riemann? [closed]

This book is cited by many theorists and it has inspired a lot of further works including the well-known book "Note Grouping" by Thurmond. There is a German language public domain version available at ...
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1answer
522 views

Who titled 'Tonic sol-fa' and Why?

We're all aware of tonic sol-fa - sometimes otherwise called solfege in the U.S., but in U.K. meaning moveable doh. But the question I can't find an answer to is why sol-fa. Doh is the root/tonic, sol ...
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2answers
354 views

Succinct Definition of “Western vs. Non-Western Music”

Does anyone have a succinct way of defining "Western Music" as opposed to "Non-Western Music"?
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2answers
260 views

Why did Aristotle think Dorian is the manliest mode?

In Aristotle's Politics 1290a, he writes: of musical modes there are said to be two kinds, the Dorian and the Phrygian; the other arrangements of the scale are comprehended under one or other of ...
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1answer
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What is the origin of the triangle symbol for maj7 chords?

An article on the origin of the "delta" symbol has been doing the rounds recently. It quotes a book by Yusef Lateef, which claims that John Coltrane introduced the "triangle notation" for a major 7th ...
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1answer
421 views

What is this singing style called? [duplicate]

I've been scouring google for over an hour, but I'm at a loss as to how to search apparently. I'd like to know what the singing style used here is called. I've tried looking for Balkan vocal styles, ...
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5answers
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Is it true that Mozart would pale in comparison to child prodigies today? [closed]

Apologies if this question is off-topic. I read in a book somewhere (I think it was Think Like a Freak) that many child pianists today would outshine famous prodigies of the past, for example Mozart, ...
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1answer
314 views

Piano learning books: history

Learning piano, I learnt, changed over time. There are classical books like Hanon, Beyer, and Czerny, and modern ones which I don't know (I am half-way with Beyer's). What are the major differences ...
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3answers
567 views

What led to the historical predominance of the four-part harmony in Western Music?

Introductory music theory heavily empasizes analysis and writing of music with four-part harmony, putatively the basis for music at the beginning of the common practice. Why did four-part voice ...
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4answers
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How did people tune their instruments in the past?

Today we are using electronic tuners and know everything about frequencies but in the past, like before the 16th century, how could people tune their instruments? Did they tune them to specific ...
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1answer
158 views

Different approaches to Latin pronunciation in Early Music

I know there are several different ways to pronounce Latin. I think no one sings classical music using Classical Latin pronunciation in which, for instance, "c" is pronounced as /k/. I believe the ...
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2answers
187 views

Unusual flat symbol?

Etched onto Dmitri Shostakovich's gravestone is his famous "DSCH" motif in musical notation, but I'm perplexed: The flat symbol preceding the E5 is not what I know of to be a flat symbol... What is ...
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1answer
62 views

Evolution from scales to series? [closed]

Somebody told me about the evolution of music. He said that until the beginning of the 20th century, composers use scales (with whole and half tones) to create a melody and to create certain moods. ...
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1answer
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What clef was first?

Adding up to my previous question, what clef was first and why? I guess there should be answers somewhere out there but I can't find them.
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1answer
71 views

How to know you are a good singer [closed]

Please some one help me.I dont have an electronic and no one will listen to me!
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2answers
467 views

What is the origin behind the 1-1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2 tones intervals in the diatonic scale? [duplicate]

In the diatonic scale of C, the progression is 1, 1, 1/2, 1, 1, 1/2 tones. What is the origin behind this progression and why is this made that way and not any other form such as 1-1/2-1-1-1-1-1/2? ...
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1answer
296 views

When did voice parts start using treble clef?

Parts for soprano, alto and tenor voices used to be written with the corresponding variant of movable C clef. When did the transition to treble (G) clef happen, and what drove the change -- composers,...
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1answer
191 views

Regarding Schubert's Missing 'Gastein' Symphony

My understanding has been that Schubert's 'Gastein Symphony' was presumed lost, until scholars realized it was in fact his 9th symphony (the 'Great'). But Wikipedia tells me the 7th Symphony, D. 729, ...
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2answers
90 views

Wood vs Stone first drum

What was the first drum instrument? Was it wood or stone? Maybe there is an answer out there, but all I found were mere discussions.
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2answers
640 views

When was the shoulder rest invented?

When was the shoulder rest for violins invented, and when did it come into widespread use?
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1answer
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At what point in history did the relationship between pitch and frequency become well-known among musicians?

I think I've read that even very ancient cultures were able to discern that an octave difference corresponded to a pipe of twice the length, and so on. But at what point were musicians and composers ...
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5answers
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Why intervals are not named after distance [duplicate]

I was wondering about the foundations of the way we name intervals. For example, the interval between C and G is a fifth because there are five notes from C to G. But it's a common mistake of the ...
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1answer
122 views

Is there a school of Medieval-Russian music?

I'm researching music for the SCA, and I'm supposed to be looking for specific music from the Russian (as a culture) area. I have plenty of information on Medieval music as a whole, but I can't find ...
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2answers
507 views

Why was the Forte-Piano abbreviated as 'Piano' and not as 'Forte'?

Piano is often just short for Forte-Piano, the instrument's christened name. Why is it that the more common name did not become the Forte? Is that just a thing that fate decided or was there someone ...
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2answers
197 views

When was music theory first studied?

Music has been around for a long time, but how about music theory? What was the first instance of a publication on music theory?
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3answers
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Why does “The 12 days of Christmas” change time signature so often?

As you can see from this picture, the song "the 12 days of Christmas changes back and forth between a 3/4 and a 4/4 time signature multiple times every verse. It isn't some sort of contemporary piece ...
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1answer
326 views

History of piano key naming

Hope this hasn't been asked previously, as it could be piano question no. 1000! The convention that C is the name of the key to the left of two black keys came from somewhere. But where? The '...
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4answers
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Unusual keyboard in a picture

I came across the picture which represents the piano keyboard with equally spaced black keys (as if two missing were added to ordinary keyboard). The picture is a painting by Silvestro Lega, named Il ...
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0answers
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Why are the notes… what they are? [duplicate]

Can't find a better way to word it. I know today's A4's pitch is 440hz, I know some stuff about it previously being 432hz, but nothing else. What I've never known, is why. Whenever we (at least in my ...
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1answer
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What is the history of the Augmented Second in World Music

In his book Gypsy Music, Bálint Sárosi states that the Augmented Second --- as found between the second and third, third and fourth, sixth and seventh in a lot of Gypsy as well as Indian and Middle ...