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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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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650 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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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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570 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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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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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 ...
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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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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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651 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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604 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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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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1answer
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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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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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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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858 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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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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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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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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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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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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627 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
388 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
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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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661 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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Proper playing of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor

I am going to try to learn Rachmaninoff's C minor concerto for the piano, most likely simplified. I always love the song, but what is the correct way to play it at 7:10 of the video (measures 9 and 10 ...
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Why did Aristotle think Dorian is the manliest mode? [closed]

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&...
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1answer
746 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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1answer
524 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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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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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
275 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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255 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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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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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
623 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
335 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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What is so special about the devil's interval (tritone)?

I'm interested in learning more of the Devil's interval: how it originated, some of its uses and what exactly about the interval of a diminished fifth makes it sound ominous?
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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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