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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55 views

Stradivaris: are they worth their price?

An ordinary violin may cost about 1000 dollars. A Stradivari may cost some millions. Why are Stradivaris so expensive? Are they worth their price?
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What is the “Trio” in a march?

During a band rehearsal the bandmaster may ask when playing a march: Let’s start from the trio! a) What is meant by this term? b) where does it come from?
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Efforts and examples of modernizing Indian lyrics and music?

English lyrics can express anything using “common language” (words you hear in everyday conversation) whether it’s love, politics, poverty, violence, or the end of times. English lyrics are direct, ...
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1answer
44 views

The new complexity movement

What are the main ideas incorporated into the new complexity movement? what kind of notation, musical techniques, or theoretical ideas would composers incorporate into their music during this period?
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How could the Greek (Pythagoras et al.) measure the frequencies - as they didn't have a mobile app? [duplicate]

How could the Greek (Pythagoras et al.) measure the frequencies - as they didn't have a mobile app? They didn't have a tuning fork or any other standardized measure. But even without standards they ...
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213 views

How low is the lowest tone that a human can sing?

Thinking about the range of human voices and the bass voices - especially whether there has been an average of lowest tones through the past - I wonder which is the lowest tone that a human can ...
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Who has brought up the English term **figured bass** for thorough bass?

I wonder when and by whom figured bass has been introduced as synonym for thorough bass in the basso continuo. In my view this must be somehow an error or a misunderstanding of figurierter bass in ...
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2answers
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Varied bass line and varied tune: What is the term used for this style?

I‘ve been looking for the term in English for this kind of gestures or ornamentations: Figuration is understood in the music playing a melody in small note values, in contrast to an ornament. The ...
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169 views

Where is the circle of fifths mentioned for the first time?

How and when was the Circle of Fifths invented, and who is responsible for the discovery of this musical godsend?
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How did the plagal modes differ from their authentic counterpart in practice?

In the traditional modal system there were eight modes. Four that were authentic and four were plagal. These modes are depicted below: Based on the description of the modes the final note of the ...
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112 views

You are the sunshine of my life: how is this off-beat singing called?

Stevie Wonder sings in a typical style I‘d like to know the english term. I wonder as I wander through Stevie Wonders style. What is this style called? Just syncopated? And when came this style up? (...
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Why are so many Eurovision song contest songs sung in English?

One thing that strikes a lot of non-European viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest is that many of the songs are sung in English. Outside of the ESC, are most modern songs produced in Europe ...
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What is the name for a fluid transition between two tones? When did it first appear?

With instruments such as violins or trombones, it is possible to shift from one tone to another fluidly. What is this practice called? When has it first appeared in [Western] music?
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English translation of Brahms' essay: “Octaven und Quinten”?

I am now doing some research on Brahm's essay, Octaven u. Quinten. I cannot read German, so I cannot do anything with the original manuscript. I have read some secondary sources about this essay, but ...
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Ginger Baker dead: Why is he been called the most dangerous drummer? [migrated]

Ginger Baker, the drummer for rock supergroups Cream and Blind Faith, dies at 80. Ginger Baker, the volatile and propulsive British musician who was best known for his time with the rock supergroup ...
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1answer
60 views

How can we play a Bach chorale in different ways? [closed]

Reconstructing Chorales: How can Bach Chorales be arranged or played differently? Are there typical kinds of harmonization named by criteria? What would be the effects? Some styles will be better ...
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7answers
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What made 4/4 time the most common time signature?

Most music is written in 4/4 time, and in today’s world it seems to be the accepted norm. Now, that doesn’t mean mainstream music doesn’t use alternate meters, but it’s just less common than I ...
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1answer
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Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring: What term is appropriate for the instrumental ornaments in Bachs Choral arrangements?

a related question asks if there is a specific term for the voicing in Bach's Chorals: What is the term for the sung voice found especially in Bach's chorale music (eg. Jesu Joy of Man's ...
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Why does Brahms stand next to Bach and Beethoven?

I've often heard the expression, "Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms" as sort of a summary of classical music, or something. I feel that I understand why Bach and Beethoven should serve as pillars of ...
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I wish you a merry Christmas: what is this chord progression called?

Is there a special term for this chain of secondary dominants V/IV, V/V, V/vi ? (or in C major: C,F,D,G,E,Am) It’s a frequent chord pattern in the era of Baroque and has also been used in the ...
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65 views

Composition types of music [closed]

Composition types in Western classical music. Is it possible for people to recognize the types of composition without the knowledge of the name given for the piece?
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Is there a relationship between prime numbers and music?

Is there a relationship between prime numbers and the series of overtones and their frequencies? I've found links to Euler's research about math and about music, and I got goose bumps when I found ...
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2answers
128 views

When was the beginning of polyphony?

I've read a lot about Greek and ancient music. The history books say this music was only monophonic and we know only from iconical research (studying pictures from ancient times) of the practice of ...
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61 views

History of standardization of pitch and tuning: measuring waves

The velocity of a traveling wave in a stretched string is determined by the tension and the mass per unit length of the string. for a string of length cm and mass/length = gm/m. For such a string, the ...
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1answer
48 views

The Blues Face: Origins

I'm sure plenty of you guys know this situation well: Someone's playing some blues guitar lick, and right as things get real stanky, they make a weird face, seemingly in reaction to the lick they're ...
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Do accidental notes have their own name?

So if I understand correctly in western tonal music we chose 12 lucky notes that we decided use tremendously more than the others, among which we have gloriously named 7 even luckier notes as follow : ...
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What was the motivation for the invention of electric pianos?

Around the 1970s there were a lot of manufacturers creating electric pianos like the Rhodes piano and the Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. These electric pianos don't sound very close to a real piano, but ...
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3answers
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Why don't pianos use multiples of 12 for the number of keys?

In one of the answers of this question, some pianos with 44, 61, 76, and 88 keys are introduced. I just don't get it. Why notes are not following any formula? I mean, a piano with 63 keys means that ...
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0answers
155 views

Why is Beethoven's tempo so off?

There is one thing that brought me this question. Well 2 actually. First off is Wim Winters and his Authentic Sound channel where he argues that Beethoven is using double beat for his tempos. He ...
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2answers
486 views

Why is Western European music harmonically driven?

I was reading an article where they said that the lute was derived from the oud, a fretless melodic Middle Eastern instrument. But they added frets to the lute in order to make it easier to harmonize ...
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3answers
179 views

How important was music theory for classical composers?

From my knowledge, there are many composers in the classical and romantic period who are almost obsessed with musical theory and logical reasoning. For example, Brahms wrote a lot of essays on the ...
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1answer
52 views

Flamenco guitar strings

Before the invention of nylon, from what material were strings made for use by flamenco players? I have tried different search engines and forae but found no answer or similar question.
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5k views

When did the half-step/whole-step modulation in the middle of a song become popular?

Many pop songs in modern times will use a half step or a whole step modulation in the middle of a song in order to increase excitement. I would like to know when this strategy started, and if it is ...
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How to understand 20th-century pop music as evolution of classical harmony

With sufficient training, a student of harmony may build forwards from Bach through Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, etc... understanding music of a period in terms of what has gone before. But it's going ...
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1answer
103 views

In the partimento tradition, what strategies were used to harmonize non-bass melodies?

In my readings on partimento theory (mainly the books by Sanguinetti and IJzerman) I have so far only encountered rules for harmonizing a bass melody. This is to be expected of course, because ...
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119 views

Did the rain stick originate independently in multiple continents?

There is a traditional rain stick (percussion instrument) in Africa, Latin America, and I believe in Australia as well. Was it invented separately, or did one culture influence another? Here is a ...
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744 views

Music Theory: Facts or Hierarchy of Opinions?

To get right to the point, what I want to know is: what makes a claim acceptable in the world of music theory? From my understanding, music theory has very little to do with any "natural law" or ...
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1answer
107 views

What did Ligeti mean by 'shimmering effect'?

Stephen A. Taylor, Chopin, Pygmies, and Tempo Fugue: Ligeti's "Automne a Varsovie", Vol 3.3., Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory. I looked up 'shimmering' on ODO. David Bruce explains ...
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1k views

History of “jazz minor/melodic minor” harmony

I'm curious about the development of modern (post-bop-ish) jazz harmony. In Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book, he shows how modes of the melodic minor scale can be used to form and improvise over chords ...
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366 views

Why did the natural major scale and the minor scales come to dominate common practice music? [duplicate]

I suspect that it might have something to do with tonality and functional harmony. A diminished or augmented tonic chord, due to dissonance, would be less satisfying and conclusive as the final chord ...
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1answer
50 views

When are the historical landmarks in the evolution of the bass (F) clef?

I found this image on the web showing the evolution of the bass (F) clef but there's no date or source for each instance. Can anyone provide the approximate date of these changes?
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Tracing the origin of the clefs [duplicate]

In written music and preceding the key signature there is always a symbol, it is named the clef and it indicates the pitch of the notes written on the stave. There are quite a few different ones which ...
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Is the tritone (A4 / d5 / DA3 / Dd6) still banned in Roman Catholic music?

The tritone is one of the most dissonant intervals in music. It is also known as the "Augmented 4th", "Diminished 5th", "Doubly Augmented 3rd" or "Doubly Diminished 6th", and it is composed of three ...
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Anotations in Beethoven original score of the 9th symphony

I once heard that in the original handwritten score of the first movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony there are references to the creation myth as annotations. However, these were not replicated in ...
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1answer
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What was the shortest note length commonly used during baroque period?

Eighth and sixteenth notes were obviously common enough. I've also seen some examples of 1/32 and 1/64 (link). Were 1/32 and 1/64 used frequently? And what was the shortest note length commonly used ...
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2k views

What is the oldest instrument ever?

What is the oldest musical instrument played other than the human voice, but body parts are acceptable? Did Neanderthals use instruments to play music?
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3k views

How did Mozart know about voice leading rules like consecutive fifths?

What education did Mozart receive in order to know basic harmony rules, like consecutive fifths are bad? And how did he make sure his compositions do not have errors? Did he have to check every voices ...
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3answers
539 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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2k views

Why is ra lower than re while la is higher than le?

According to Wikipedia and this answer, the solfège syllables for 2 and ♭2 are re and ra, respectively, while the solfège syllables for 6 and ♭6 are la and le, respectively. Is there a reason for this ...
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1answer
142 views

What's the biological purpose of music? If music serves no purpose for survival? [closed]

What's the biological purpose of music? If music serves no purpose for survival? It's intuitive that people mey develop to do certain things, but in order for them to be "of fundamental type", I ...