Michael Seifert
  • Member for 6 years, 6 months
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  • New London, CT
Do orchestral string instruments need a pause before con sordino?
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25 votes

For what it's worth, here's what Berlioz has to say in his Treatise on Instrumentation: The composer, when indicating the use of mutes in the middle of a piece (by the words con sordini), must not ...

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What is the clearest way to notate this rhythm?
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22 votes

Is this subjective or is there [a] method to this? This question gives me another occasion to link to the Jacobs School Music Notation Style Guide, which is a great resource for beginning composers. ...

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At what point in history did the relationship between pitch and frequency become well-known among musicians?
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18 votes

If you have access to a good academic library, then the following article appears to be on point regarding the Western tradition: S. Dostrovsky, Early Vibration Theory: Physics and Music in the ...

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How is this dissonant harp sound achieved?
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13 votes

I'm not a harp player, but it appears that this is done with the harp equivalent of prepared piano on a few strings. About four or five strings of the harp appear to have some kind of putty attached ...

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How much should I slow down a song to lower it a half step?
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13 votes

The ratio between the frequencies of successive half-tones in a 12-tone equally tempered scale is 21/12. So to lower the frequencies by a half tone, you need to stretch the file so it is 21/12 ≈ 1....

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Too many Dotted Notes per Measure
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11 votes

Here's your original line, almost exactly as you wrote it: X:1 M:9/8 K:C V:V1 clef=bass L:3/8 C, G,,2 | C,/2A,,/2 G,,2 | C, G,,2 | A,,/2C,/2 A,,/2(G,,/2 G,,) || Note that the last tied note is held ...

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Does an instrument like this exist?
10 votes

While you said "not a lap steel" in your question, I did want to make sure that you were aware of the console steel guitar and the pedal steel guitar. These two instruments are ...

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What is this sound, instrument? (Rheingold, Wagner)
9 votes

It sounds like a small hammer hammering on metal. Good ear; while Wagner originally called for anvils, modern productions use metal hammers on heavy pieces of scrap metal to create this effect. ...

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13/8 notation: how many bar lines for readability?
9 votes

The Indiana Jacobs School Style Guide, has some great advice about how to notate complex meters, in their section on "Meter": Dividing Complex Meters. Since the beat value of complex ...

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Incorporating the piano into the orchestra - when and why?
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9 votes

From an article by Ralph Wood entitled The Piano as an Orchestral Instrument (which is dated 1934, so maybe there's more recent scholarship): So far as I know, the earliest composer to add the piano ...

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Can we run out of melodies one day?
8 votes

Your "leftovers of general math" have, I'm afraid, lead you astray. If we want to look at all possible 4/4 bars with 16 sixteenth notes, and each sixteenth note is picked from one of 13 ...

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Is it common to mix multiple clefs on the same sheet?
8 votes

As noted, this piece is an exercise designed to help students learn to switch between clefs with ease. For "real" music, here's what Elaine Gould has to say in "Behind Bars" (a ...

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How would you derive accurate tempos if you have a clock with a second hand but no metronome?
8 votes

Well, this is a fun math problem. If you clap n times for every m ticks of your clock, then this corresponds to 60*(n/m) beats per minute. It's not too hard to assemble a list of values between 30 ...

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Woodwind v brass instruments - what is the defining characteristic?
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7 votes

You might be interested to read up on the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system for musical instruments. Specifically, under this system, wind instruments are categorized as follows: Edge-...

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Alto-ranged brass instrument?
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6 votes

There are a few, but as you might have guessed, they are not terribly common. The alto trombone is pitched a perfect fourth higher than a tenor trombone. The range is usually considered to go from ...

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what is the difference between a french horn in F and a french horn in E flat (or other keys)?
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4 votes

This is a vestige of the history of the horn. Before the Industrial Revolution, the only horns that were available were natural horns. Natural horns can't play a full chromatic series; they sound ...

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Would a tiny pulse of electricity sent through electric guitar strings affect the pickups enough to be heard?
4 votes

Time for some physics! A guitar pickup consists of two parts: a permanent magnet and a coil of wire. These can sense the motion of nearby ferric object (like a steel guitar string) by taking ...

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What Title For String Music?
3 votes

It's your composition, and I would think you could call it anything you darn well pleased. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what counts as a "symphony", a "serenade", a "divertimento", a "suite"...

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Number of instruments for the work
3 votes

Most full scores have pieces have the instruments listed in front of their staves at the beginning of each movement. For example, the score that's posted to IMSLP for the canata you mention lists for ...

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Trouble Understanding Triplets
3 votes

You asked for an example of what triplets & "conventional" notes sound like together. The king of this was Anton Bruckner. He used a figure consisting of a duplet and a triplet quite often in ...

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Best way to indicate a time signature in inline text?
2 votes

Behind Bars does not appear to address this directly. However, even in paragraphs of text, Gould consistently prints time signatures as two numbers stacked on each other, in bold face, exactly as ...

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Is this grouping with duplets correct for 6/4?
2 votes

The second measure is fine, but the first one is wrong. The general rule is that your notes should never cross the "major beats" of the bar. In 6/4, the "major beats" are two ...

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I'm looking for help both understanding and how to properly notate semiquaver triplets in 3/4 time?
2 votes

Conventionally, a triplet is played so that its three consituent beats take the time of two "normal" beats. So as notated, you're right; each of those "triplets" consisting of an ...

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Mahler Symphony 5: Notes say Db but recording says D
2 votes

The individual parts on IMSLP are from a different edition, and have accidentals turning those notes into D♮'s: (From the Flute I part, p. 9.) Which version is "right" I can't say, but at least ...

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What music notation software allows you to code the notation?
2 votes

An older option is MUP, which has been kicking around since 1995 and is now open-source freeware. It takes in an input file that looks like this and outputs a PostScript file that looks like this. ...

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Making a melodic line stand out in written score
1 votes

Have you considered explicitly keeping the melodic line in one hand (probably the left) and having the hands cross in mm. 143 & 145? This would emphasize the continuity of the repeated brass call-...

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When should tenor clef be used?
1 votes

brettv's answer drawing from Alan Boustead's book is a good one. For comparison, here is the advice given by Elaine Gould in Behind Bars. All of the below quotes concern orchestral parts; ...

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Proper format for an Orchestral score?
1 votes

In addition to the answers so far, I have a couple of other things that you might want to modify and/or clarify: In the clarinet, contrabassoon, french horn, and trumpet parts, there are some places ...

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Can a symphony be in many keys?
0 votes

If you know the basics of reading music, you could probably get a score of any piece written before 1900 from the IMSLP and quickly page through it looking for key changes. For example, if you scan ...

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Are the inharmonic frequencies of an instrument in addition to or instead of the theoretical overtone frequencies?
0 votes

Another instrument that uses an anharmonic series is the tubular bells. The theoretical frequencies of oscillation of a tubular bell struck at one end are 1:9:25:49... (all squares of odd numbers), ...

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