Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Terms and Processes Used in the Interpretation of Music: Letters P-S



A term in music. In passing from one chord to another, an intervening note, not belonging to either chord, may be used to assist the progression. Such a note is called a passing note or note of transition. They differ from suspensions in not being prepared and in always entering upon the unaccented beat.


Any part of a musical instrument acted on by the feet. The pianoforte, the harp, and the organ are furnished with pedals, which, however, serve an entirely different purpose in each instrument. In the pianoforte their object is to effect a change in the quality or intensity of the sound; the damper pedal prolongs the sound after the finger is lifted from the key, and the shifting or una corda pedal softens the tone. The pedals of the harp are the means by which the chromatic changes of intonation are effected. In the organ the pedals are keys put in action by the feet. The division of the organ which is connected with the foot-keys is called the pedal organ, and contains the largest pipes. The introduction of pedals in the organ has been attributed to various men, among them a German of the name of Bernhard, who lived in the fifteenth century. Pedals known as combination pedals are also used in the organ by which certain fixed combinations of stops may be utilized. Recent improvements in organ-building have made possible the choice of such combinations by the performer, who before commencing to play arranges the combinations he wishes to use, to act on the swell and on the stops.


The name given, in music, to the simple motives containing in themselves no satisfactory musical idea, which enter into the composition of every melody containing a perfect musical idea, e.g. The phrase most usually consists of two measures; in compound time it may be comprised in one measure, and an extended phrase is one which contains three measures. In the more simple and regular forms of musical composition, two phrases unite to form a section, ending in a cadence, and a perfect musical idea is formed of two such sections terminating, the first with the dominant, the second with the tonic harmony.


The proper rendering of musical phrases. A musical composition is analogous to a literary one, the sentences being replaced by phrases; upon their correct interpretation depends the intelligible presentation of the whole piece. One of the most important elements of phrasing is accent, the general principles of which will be found under RHYTHM; but in no case must an accent be so insisted upon as to break the unity of the musical phrase. On the contrary, the ordinary accent is often postponed or anticipated in order to emphasize the general effect of the phrase. For the same reason, especially in rapid passages, accents are often added; while in quick movements accents are sometimes omitted so as to give an impression of unity to a number of separate bars. Two common faults in phrasing are breaking up a group of notes which together form a musical sentence, and running together two distinct sentences. In instrumental work, especially, there is a tendency to make a break at the end of a bar; but in reality a sentence always ends on the accented division of a bar, the bar-stroke having absolutely no relation to phrasing. In vocal music the musical accents correspond with those of the text and the phrases are, as a rule, dependent upon the lines or word sentences. Vocal phrasing, therefore, is obviously much simpler than instrumental. The signs most commonly used to indicate phrasing are the dash; the curved line, denoting legato; and the slur; but the interpretation of any composition is to a great extent a matter of personal appreciation and discrimination. For some helpful suggestions on the subject, consult: Ehrenfechter, Delivery in the Art of Pianoforte Playing (London, 1897); Goodrich, Theory of Interpretation (Philadelphia, 1899); Goodrich, Theory of Interpretation (Philadelphia, 1899); Lussy, Traite de l'expression musicale (6th ed., Paris, 1892).



In music, an eighth note. Its measure is equal to half a crotchet, one-fourth of a minim, or one-eighth of a semibreve.



In music, the compass of a voice or instrument; specifically, a series of tones produced by the same mechanism and having the same quality. Generally considered, there are three registers in the female voice and two in the male voice. Those notes which proceed naturally and freely from the voice constitute the so-called chest-register. The head-register embraces those notes which are produced by a somewhat strained contraction of the glottis, while the falsetto register is that midway between the two.


In music, an interval of silence occurring in the course of a movement between one sound and another. With the use of measurable music, rests began to be represented by regular fixed signs. For rests of a number of bars, it is now usual to draw one or two oblique lines across the staff, and write on them in figures the number of measures during which the voice or instrument is to be silent. A rest, like a note, may be prolonged by one or more dots.



A piece of mechanism applied to instruments of the trumpet and trombone family, for lengthening and shortening the sounding tube. The term slide signifies a diatonic series of two or more tones, either ascending or descending, one of which is to be accented and the others played as grace-notes.


A stringed musical instrument with a keyboard, smaller and weaker than the harpsichord, and, like it, one of the precursors of the pianoforte. The general outline of the instrument nearly resembled that of a harp laid in a horizontal position, with the keys occupying the position of the sounding-board. The oldest extant specimen is dated 1490.


The strings of musical instruments are made either from silk, from the entrails of sheep, or from metal. Formerly the metal strings were made of brass or copper, but now they are generally made of steel (for the pianoforte). For the string-instruments (violin, guitar) gut strings are generally used. The thinner the string the higher is the pitch. Excessive thickness for the lower strings is avoided by winding them with thin copper or silver wire. Recently strings, especially those which are over-spun, have been manufactured from silk. For the violin the highest or E string is also sometimes made of silk, but its tone quality is inferior to that of a gut string. The silk strings are chiefly used by violinists for the purpose of practicing in warm weather, when the moisture of the fingers causes the gut strings to snap in a short time.


In music, a set of pipes in an organ, forming a separate department, which are capable of being increased or diminished in intensity of sound by the action of a pedal, or by a series of shades or shutters overlapping each other like Venetian window-blinds, within which the pipes in question are enclosed. The first recorded swell organ was made in 1712 by Jordan, and in 1763 Shudi introduced the so-called Venetia swell, but the compass of all the early swells was very incomplete.


In music, the joining together of two similar notes by means of a tie, so that the accent intended to fall on the second (strong beat) comes on the first (weak beat). The effect produced is that of contra-tempo. The effect of syncopation can also be produced by merely shifting the accent by means of sf marks (Eroica Symphony, Scherzo). The North American Indians made extensive use of syncopation, and in this were followed by the Southern negroes. In fact, the music of nearly every savage or semi-civilized nation shows traces of syncopated rhythm.

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