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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1answer
56 views

Was there a conscious decision of medieval composers to compose within a harmonic framework?

How much were medieval composers (such as Hildegard von Bingen) aware of modal approach when they composed and "engineered" their pieces? Now, this question is almost stupid. They didn't compose ...
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9answers
6k views

Why did we never simplify key signatures?

I understand that the key signature indicates what are the exact notes represented on the staff lines and spaces and thus tells us the diatonic scale in which the music is composed, which in turns ...
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1answer
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When was “Nashville Tuning” invented?

Answering a question about alternate tuning today got me thinking about Nashville Tuning and that this is basically the exact same concept used by Stanley Clarke (and apparently Ron Carter) to "invent"...
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1answer
57 views

What does the term “ex tempore” mean?

I was going to give an answer and in this quotation about Werckmeister I encountered the term ex tempore. enter link description here I first thought this means memorizing and playing by heart. A ...
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2answers
86 views

Has it always been the tradition for conceto soloists to have their music memorized?

At all the performances of concertos I've attended, the soloists perform without sheet music, whether it is a concerto for piano, viola, or horn. Has this always been the performance tradition for ...
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1answer
31 views

Earliest piano lyre?

When was the first piano built/marketed/sold whose pedals were mounted on what we now call a lyre, instead of onto a harpsichord-like crossbar between the front legs?
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1answer
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When was the change from tablatures to staff notation in the history of music?

As the other day someone asked: Why do we notate keyboard sheet music as we do ... (the question has been probably put on hold as off-topic ...) I think this question is interesting: Why do we notate ...
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2answers
55 views

Books on music theory that give historical context? [closed]

Can someone recommend 1-2 books that introduce music theory but also give historical context? It is easy to find music theory books but many lack discussions of history. I'm looking for books that ...
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5answers
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Fivefold division of the whole tone - What does it mean?

I am recently reading this article: Jan W. Herlinger. Journal of the American Musicological Society. Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer, 1981), pp. 193-216 (Title: Marchetto's Division of the Whole Tone). In the ...
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3answers
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Why is Eastern Music a Mode of Western Music?

Western music (to me at least) is best captured in the major scale. And Phrygian, which is the 3rd mode of the major scale can be used to get a more Eastern sound (for example Jefferson Airplane/White ...
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3answers
122 views

Where did JSBach study composing? Was he an autodidact? [duplicate]

We know that Bach comes from a family of musicians. But who was his teacher in composition?. Who did he study with? Or was he self-taught?
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4answers
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How did composers “test” their music?

How did composers "test" their music, especially in multi-instrument works (eg. chamber, orchestra) or in pieces for instruments they didn't know how to play? Did they really have an orchestra (for ...
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10answers
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Why is reverb typically called “wet' or ”drippy"?

Reverb is a type of natural effect you can get playing in walled spaces, giving a sort of echo/reverberation as the name implies. But I'm referring more to emulated reverb through use of a guitar ...
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1answer
91 views

What do we know about the oldest found melody?

In the 1950ies there has been found a Sumerian fragment of music in Syria: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurrian_songs The complete song is one of about 36 such hymns in cuneiform writing, found ...
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1answer
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Is this accompaniment of Seîkilos Epitaph original?

I've recently asked when the polyphonic music came up. Now I've encountered this accompaniment of Seikilos Epitaph. This sounds exactly like I was imagining that the Greeks would have accompanied ...
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2answers
94 views

What does “vox humana” mean in Organ building?

Reading a thesis about temperature in Organ construction I encountered this term and I didn't know anything about it before. So I wonder what you can tell us about "vox humana".
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1answer
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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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4answers
506 views

Stradivaris: are they worth their price? [closed]

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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0answers
48 views

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
89 views

The New Complexity movement

What are the main ideas incorporated into the New Complexity movement (contemporary classical music, late 20th century)? What kind of notation, musical techniques, or theoretical ideas would composers ...
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2answers
258 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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2answers
144 views

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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3answers
111 views

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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2answers
182 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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2answers
74 views

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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3answers
117 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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4answers
2k views

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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1answer
62 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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1answer
115 views

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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2answers
3k views

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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2answers
67 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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5answers
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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
90 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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4answers
211 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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1answer
53 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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3answers
219 views

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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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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3answers
4k views

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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1answer
337 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
491 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
214 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
55 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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1answer
107 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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3answers
747 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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3answers
371 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
52 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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0answers
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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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2answers
94 views

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 ...