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Questions and Answers.

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F. de Haan.—“Con fierezza” means boldly, fiercely. The difference between legato and staccato is not merely one of length of tone; there is a marked difference in quality. A properly made staccato tone has a pointed sort of quality which can be distinguished even when the damper pedal is held down. Of course if a player has only one kind of touch, and that the old-fashioned hammer action of the fingers, the use of the damper pedal would render the staccato totally indistinguishable. But nowadays all the best pianists have a great variety of touches each producing a different shade of tone-quality. A staccato made with an elastic push or pull is not in the least like the staccato produced by that fall of the wrist which I sometimes call the conservatory flop in its effect upon the ear and the perception. You will find this subject admirably treated, with numerous examples, in Dr. Hugo Riemann’s work on the pedal, published by Wm. Rohlfing & Sons, Milwaukee, and Schmitt’s work on the pedal.

M. M—1. The custom of using H for B in German music is a survival from an ancient time when a misunderstanding of the sign B quadrat (Datural) occasioned the substitution of H for B and the use of the latter for B flat alone. It is, of course, illogical and absurd.

2. A scale played from key-note to key-note through one or more octaves may be said to be a “fixed scale,” because it is played within definite limits. But when a scale is treated as Dr. Mason treats it in his “Touch and Technic,” where he has it played in canon with both the upper and lower turning-points movable, then it may well enough be called a “movable” scale. I am not aware that these terms are ever applied to scales in any other sense than that above referred to.

M. K. B.—In playing arpeggios of the triads commencing upon a black key it is correct and advisable to begin with thumb or little finger if the arpeggio does not extend beyond an octave, as this plan obviates the necessity of passing the thumb under in the right hand and the fingers over in the left. In playing grand arpeggios (those extending beyond the octave) it is better, and easier, to use the thumb of either hand upon a white key. In the keys of F# and G-flat this is not possible, as there are no white keys in the triad chord, and the thumbs and little fingers must be used upon black keys. Les Arpéges, by C. Mayer, is an excellent example of the fingering.

In scale practice the easiest fingering is always the best. To use the fingering of the scale of C major, for the scales of five and six sharps and most of the flat scales, would be ill-advised, on account of the extreme difficulty.

M. D. C., which occurs in the Schubert Minuetto, mean Minuetto Da Capo; that is, return to beginning of the Minuet. * * *

C. B.—The address of Anton De Kontski is San Francisco, Cal.

A. F. M.—Rests are intended to be observed, whether they are written for singers or instrumentalists. As to the second question, if in playing interludes it is best to glide to the beginning chord in order to give each singer their exact pitch in starting, that depends on how independent your singers are. If they need cues, you will have to give them to them. If not, it is a matter of no consequence.

A M. C.—1. I do not like Stainer’s nomenclature of intervals, because it ignores the distinction between the octaves, fourths and fifths and the other consonant intervals. Thirds and sixths, as they occur in the scale, may be modified without ceasing to be consonant; minor thirds and sixths are consonant as well as major. But consonant octaves, primes, fourths and fifths cannot be modified, i. e., extended or made smaller by a semitone, without making them dissonant. I think this distinction ought to be marked in the nomenclature; so that I prefer to call the consonant primes, octaves, fourths and fifths perfect. The thirds and sixths as they occur in the scale may well be called major. As for the dissonant fourth, I doubt whether the distinction will hold at all. The fourth is certainly the inversion of the fifth, always; and although it does not by itself produce a very agreeable effect, yet neither does the fifth. “Empty fifths” is a very common expression for chords without the third. The “perfect ” (i. e., consonant) fourth is not regarded as a dissonance by most theorists nowadays.

2. Yes, you can play the “Glissando” run for the right hand with the nail of the third finger, hand inverted, or with the second finger or even with the thumb. This last is often done.

3. In Schumann’s “Finale Etude Symphonique” you will have to wave these tenths beginning at the bottom. Few, if any pianists are able to strike them together in the speed required.

E. C. T.—We have received the following information from J. Gib. Winner, son of the arranger and publisher:—

“The words and music of ‘Listen to the Mocking Bird’ were suggested by a colored man, one Richard Milburn, better known as ‘Whistling Dick.’ My father (Septimus Winner, in whose presence he sang and whistled same in a rough way) arranged and published it. I saw one of the first copies about three months ago, and on the title page is as follows: Listen to the Mocking Bird, by Richard Milburn, arranged by Alice Hawthorne. (Alice Hawthorne being one of my father’s nom de plumes).”

A. G. R.—The use of the third or sostenuto pedal is not, as a rule, indicated, but is left to the discretion of the player. It is not very greatly used and is intended to sustain a bass note as a sort of pedal point throughout harmonies which are constantly changing and so render the use of the ordinary sustaining or damper pedal impossible. The sostenuto pedal is very much, and to the highest advantage, used by Mr. Wm. H. Sherwood.

2. The damper pedal is also called the sustaining pedal, and its use is generally indicated.

3. The short, straight line over a note without the dot means accent. The tone should be brought out with more emphasis as by a good hand or arm touch; with the dot, it is the so-called portamento touch, a decidedly incorrect designation. The tone is slightly separated from those which precede and follow it. It also has the effect of accenting, because this touch brings the tone so treated into greater prominence.

There are practically two pitches in use to-day, the international, with a = 435, and the high concert pitch, with a varying between 445 and 455. There is the French pitch, which is somewhat lower than the international, C being 512, while C of the international is 517.3; the expression standard pitch may refer to any of these, according to the user’s idea.

The leading orchestras are using the low pitch, as are also many local orchestras. There are some local orchestras, however, which still use the high or concert pitch because using the new or low pitch necessitates buying new brass instruments. A. L. M.

W. C. P.—The perpendicular lines used in Heller’s Studies edited by C. B. Cady, indicate the smaller divisions of the composition. Some of these divisions are only mental and not to be played. Full information on this subject is given in Concone’s Selected Studies, edited by the same author, which have recently been published.

M. E. K.—Voice is produced by the vibration of lips in the throat called vocal cords, lips which come together and operate very much as do the lips of the mouth when one plays a cornet or brass instrument of any kind. For a low note, with either a brass instrument or the voice, the lips of the mouth or the larynx are so adjusted that a considerable thickness of their substance is brought into vibration; and, as the scale ascends, a less and less amount of the substance of these vibrating lips is brought into use. This is on the principle that a large, thick substance vibrates more slowly than a small amount of substance. The strings of a piano which have much substance in them for low notes and little for high notes illustrate this point. A person who is skillful in managing vibratory lips (either those of the throat or those of the mouth) can make such changes in the amount of tissue or substance brought into vibration very gradually. One who is not skillful will oftentimes find that the lips get away from his control and make the changes suddenly; this, when done under nervous, tense muscular conditions, constitutes a break. The way to learn to regulate the vibration of the vocal lips, and so avoid breaks or unevenness of any kind, is to place the voice properly, as the phrase is. This means to produce the tone with a sense of power or vibration behind the bridge of the nose, and with the lower jaw and tongue devitalized or relaxed. The swell practiced in this way constitutes a good exercise for the purpose.

There is no difference in the construction of the vocal organs of sopranos and contraltos except in the matter of size. The whole larynx or some part of it is larger with a contralto than with a soprano.

If the roof of the mouth is high it gives a larger tube through which to emit the voice, and that is always an advantage.

Frederic W. Root.

 

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