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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163 views

Usage of “to paraphrase” in music

The term paraphrase in music seems quite clearly defined. Right coming from searching another term for the fill-ins, echo-ing, answering in a musical dialog of 2 instruments, a singer and piano or ...
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what is a “leitmotif” and by whom has it been introduced into music language?

after debating about Paraphrase in music and whether "paraphrasing" could mind something different I came to the question, that someone has been used the first time the German term of "leitmotif" ...
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What does the word “Grand” in a title of a piece of music (by e.g. Beethoven or Chopin) mean?

Chopin wrote four "grandes valses brillantes" (Opera 18, 34) and Beethoven wrote a sonata (Opus 13) that the publisher called a "grande sonate pathétique". What is the sense of the word "grand" in ...
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Dampers in 19c fortepianos

I recently listened to performances at the 1st International Chopin Competition of Period Instruments, and I noticed that the chords in the fortepianos used there (manufactured in the early 19th ...
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To Slash or not to Slash?

In years gone by, when I saw a chord marked, for example, A, I would use any inversion or voicing I felt was appropriate - still do; it doesn't have to be root position. Or does it? Is there an untold ...
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When did Henri Bertini publish his Etudes, Op. 32?

Can anyone say about when Henri Bertini published his Op. 32 of Etudes? IMSLP doesn't turn anything up.
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755 views

Why is Debussy's Clair de Lune not considered a nocturne?

Leaving the title of the piece aside, it sounds evocative of the night, though compared to what I've listened to from Chopin's nocturnes for example, it sounds more descriptive than contemplative. Is ...
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135 views

What exactly is a Christmas carol?

I looked up differences between Christmas carols and other Christmas songs. Generally about carols being about nativity or some other traditional songs not necessary religious while other Christmas ...
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112 views

When did the practice of exiting-reentering during applause in classical concerts start?

As the title suggests, I'm looking for some information on when the practice (concerning soloists and directors) of exiting and reentering the stage during an applause after a classical performance ...
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258 views

How do people measure which tuning freqency were used during Baroque period?

In a website decribing the story of A=415Hz, it points out that In the Baroque Era, pitch levels as high as A-465 (17th century Venice) and as low as A-392 (18th century France) are known to ...
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487 views

A pianist that used a wooden spacer/tool to artificially increase the length of their fingers

I've once heard a story about a pianist of the past who wrote a music piece that critics told him was impossible to play - the length of any person's fingers wouldn't be sufficient. But he used some ...
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Why are key signatures put in a circle?

Why are key signatures arranged in a circle like it is today, why not a triangle... or a square? Who came up with the idea to arrange the key signatures in a circle?
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Why are some Beethoven works given names like WoO 40 or Hess 238?

Why is it called WoO 40 or Hess 238? These are names of Beethoven's symphonies. They have peculiar names.
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Is this entire movement by Bach really only a single measure with just two chords?

I'm spending a lot more time with early music, and as I was studying the score to J. S. Bach's third Brandenburg Concerto, I encountered something unexpected: an entire Adagio movement that's only one ...
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What Constitutes Theory?

There are many questions here concerning theory. Hardly surprising given the site's title! What I'm trying to establish is where theory starts and possibly ends. For example, is just knowing a major ...
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When was the dominant ninth chord incorporated in music theory?

The "ninth chord" that Rameau, Kirnberger, Marpurg or Koch (inter alia) discuss during the 18th century is the chord formed by a triad and an added ninth, and its explanation is always through a "...
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28 views

Where to find original song booklets of composers that released in their time [closed]

As I know, as I understand, composers shared new compositions with pressed booklets in their time. Where to find those booklets? Are there any archive? or any information about booklets? Thank you!
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What is the generic term for Allegri's Miserere-like music?

What is the word/adjective that could describe music pieces similar to Allegri's "Miserere" or Henry Ley's "A Prayer of King Henry VI"? This music appears to be be sung a capella, with a four-voice ...
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Need help understanding the difference between diatonic and chromatic semitones

I am writing an essay on musical temperaments for which I was doing some research on the history of tuning and how it evolved over time. I understand the Pythagorean tuning system quite well now but I ...
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241 views

What is the historically informed way of playing the 1/16 notes in Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 overture?

Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 starts with a slow overture with 1/16 notes at the middle and end of each measure: Some performances play it "as written" [Koopman], but some play the 1/16 notes ...
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When were chords invented?

I'd like to know in what period/year chords were invented and by whom. Did musicians like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven think in chords to harmonize their melodies or did chords only emerge in the ...
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Why aren't notes and intervals plain numbers?

Beginner question: If we were to leave the historical context aside and redesign the system of musical notation: would we base this around the 12 steps we've divided octaves in? What strikes me as ...
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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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Why did it take so long for keys with several accidentals to become common?

(I am referring mostly to the common practice period.) Before the advent of well temperament in the 1700s, moving very far from C was not done often because of the mean temperament causing out of tune ...
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In which music should I add my own embellishments?

I know that music from the baroque era was composed with the assumption that performers would add their own embellishments (when viable, not for canons or fugues). I've also heard that Mozart didn't ...
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Important composers in transitional eras

I understand Beethoven (and Schubert) to be very important composers in the transition from the Classical Era to the Romantic, such that they could be considered the first Romantic composers. Are ...
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160 views

How did popular music influence classical music?

In the baroque, classical, and romantic periods, how did popular "low culture" music influence the classical music produced during those periods? Were influences more frequently from previous ...
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331 views

When did the popular music overtake classical music in terms of influence/significance? [closed]

Preface 1: I do not have any formal training in music, or music history. I am a piano hobbyist, interested in classical pieces. Preface 2: I believe this post is better divided into separate ...
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Where do I get answers to my musical “Why” questions, i.e. are there any “Why” books out there? [closed]

I have been studying music theory for some time now and I have become genuinely interested in the genealogy of music theory. I keep asking why when I study even the most basic of theories. For example,...
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Why did Mozart only write two symphonies in a minor key?

Mozart wrote over fifty symphonies, but only two of them, the 25th and 40th, are in a minor key. Interestingly, those two are some of his most highly regarded and most often played works. Why did he ...
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Beautiful quote about “B durum”

This one goes out to all the scholars and historians. I'm trying to put together a little booklet, for my students, to explain the accidental markings (sharp, flat etc) and where they come from. My ...
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636 views

Example of Classical Composer having two albums/works of two different periods

I would like to find the clearest, most obvious case for a composer whose work at one point of his life is considered to be part of "Period A" and work at another point of his life is considered "...
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310 views

In ancient Greece, did they use the Pythagoras discovery of ratios to create tetra-chord?

To my basic understanding: In ancient Greek they were primarily using tetra-chords and there was three main standard divisions of these tetra-chords called genus. In the same era Pythagoras ...
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What is the historical time line of the diatonic and chromatic scales? (history pov) [duplicate]

I was wondering the historical origin of the diatonic/chromatic scale and how it ended up looking the way it does now in our equal temperament system. And whats the difference between chromatic and ...
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History of triplets

I was wondering about triplets : when and where were they used for the first time in scores? More generally, when were triplets used significantly (i.e. not one single time on one particular score, ...
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479 views

How did the harmonium and violin become an integral part of Hindustani music?

The Harmonium hails from Germany and it is not an Indian instrument. Also, it is a equal tempered instrument. But the harmonium is a very common accompanying instrument in Hidustani Classical and ...
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654 views

Origin of Roman Numeral Analysis

Out of curiosity, I was searching for the origin of Roman Numeral analysis and the only online source I could find was this passage in Wikipedia: Gottfried Weber's Versuch einer geordneten Theorie ...
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622 views

Why is the hexatonic scale that can be derived via a chain of perfect fifths so little-known?

When learning about European classical music, it's heptatonic scales. The pentatonic scale is also very well known and widely used in folk music in different parts of the world. However, before I ...
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Why does unpitched percussion play a less prominent role in classical music than many other genres?

With my little knowledge of classical music I noticed, and I believe most people would agree, that unpitched percussive instrument play a much less prominent role in classical music than in most ...
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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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Why is Debussy's remark brilliant (on going out and smoking, at the start of Beethoven's developments)?

From: Charles Rosen. Critical Entertainments. p. 117 Bottom - 118 Top.   In the same way, attacks on Beethoven could be profound and even persuasive, and would continue to be so after his death ...
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Who invented rhythmic value names based on fractions of a measure of 4/4 music?

In American music a Semibreve is called a "whole note". Here it states that the name "whole note" comes from a German expression (ganze Note): In the world of music, you may encounter different ...
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Why did Chopin name Etude Op. 25, No.5 the “Wrong Note”?

The piece sounds lovely, why did he name it "Wrong Note"?
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387 views

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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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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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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486 views

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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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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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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