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Questions and Answers

L. M. T.—There is no one work which goes exhaustively into the subjects you mention. Grove’s “Dictionary of Music and Musicians” is very full, but it does not give the pronunciation of proper names and musical terms. Riemann’s “Dictionary,” in one volume ($4.50, postage paid), is very full, and the best one-volume dictionary on the market. We can also recommend Mathews’s “How to Understand Music,” two volumes ($1.50 each, postage paid), which is indispensable to the musician who wishes a thorough understanding of music. It is not a biographical dictionary, however. The dictionaries in general use—such as Webster’s, Century, and Standard—give directions for the pronunciation of words in foreign languages.

M. E.—1. “Ped à chaque mesure” means “use the pedal in every measure.”

2. When eight sixteenth notes, in 2/4 time, come in a measure, the first note should receive the strongest accent, the fifth a slight accent to distinguish it as the first of a group of four, whether the notes are marked staccato or not.

B. C. S.—Dr. William Mason’s address is 14 West Sixteenth Street, New York City. We cannot give you the addresses of Harold Bauer or Mr. Paderewski. The former may be addressed through the Mason & Hamlin Piano Company, Boston; the latter, through the Steinway Piano Companv, New York City.

  1.  A metronome can be used to advantage with beginners to get them to keep strict time, but must not be used continuously for any length of time. Make tests to see if the time-sense is developing by having the pupil play without it.
  2.  We think Landon’s “Foundation Materials” or “First Steps in Pianoforte-Playing” very good books for beginners.
  3.  If you find you cannot reach the proper tempo for a certain piece, why not drop it for a time and take it up later, after having made special studies and drills in the finger-technic necessary, scales, passage-work, arpeggios, etc.?

M. G.—1. The intervals of the diminished sixth and the augmented third are harmonically inconceivable, and the harmonic test is the correct one. Take the minor sixth, C to A-flat, and raise the lower notes to C-sharp, or lower the upper to A-double-flat. Neither of these two combinations, C-sharp to A-flat, or C to A-double-flat, will exist as a part of a chord, or in the same scale. It is possible that C-sharp and A-flat might occur in the following way: The soprano could be A; the alto, C-sharp. If it were desired to move to G, some writers would make the chromatic succession A, A-flat, G. In such case a diminished sixth would seem to have resulted; but it is not a distinct, harmonic interval, only an accidental chromatic interval, which could have used G-sharp for A-flat. The same statements apply to the inversion of the diminished sixth, the augmented third.

2. The diminished third can exist, and is found in the familiar augmented sixth chords, when inverted; for example, F, A, C, D-sharp (German sixth, or augmented 6/5 chord), inverted, gives the diminished third, D-sharp to F.

W. E. G.—It is not possible to make any very satisfactory progress in transposition without a good knowledge of harmony. If a skillful harmonist has thoroughly memorized a composition, he can transpose it to some other key with less difficulty than in other conditions. It is a good plan to memorize pieces.

E. S.—The keyboard of the piano and organ are constructed according to the scale; hence it would be a radical departure if all white keys represented whole tones. For example, according to your suggestion, the white keys would be, commencing with A, as the piano does, A, B, C-sharp, D-sharp, E-sharp, or F, G, and so on. It is plain how much more intricate the fingering would become,—say, in the key of C: C (black), D (black), E (black), F (white), G (white), A (white), B (whiteV, instead of all white keys, and contiguous. Every scale would demand both white and black keys.

  1.  A.—We should think that forty minutes is a sufficiently long period for the practice of children in school-classes. We suppose you have reference to drill in sight-singing, etc. In many schools the recitation period is forty-five minutes, which is not too long. The hour recitation is rather taxing to children.

G. B.—Joseph Aloys Tichatschek, the famous Wagnerian tenor, was born in Bohemia, July 11, 1807, died in Dresden, January 18, 1886. He was the son of a poor weaver. In youth he began the study of medicine in Vienna, and to support himself entered the chorus of one of the opera-houses. Having discovered what seemed to be a more than ordinary voice, he gave serious attention to vocal studies, dropped his medical course, and was given the position of chorus-master. Ambitious of reaching distinction in his new profession, he kept on with his studies, was given minor rôles, starred at Vienna and Dresden, and, in 1837, was given a permanent engagement at the court opera. In 1872 he was pensioned. He created the parts of Rienzi and Tannhäuser.

E. P.—1. The letters M.M. followed by figures indicate the tempo of the piece. For example, if it be desired that 60 quarter notes should be played in a minute,—that is, a quarter note each second,—the indication would be, a quarter note = 60. The means for measuring time-values, as applied to music, is the metronome, the graduated scale of which has figures ranging from 40 to 208. A pendulum, with a movable weight, that can be adjusted, gives ticks to a minute according to the number to which it is set.

  1.  The horizontal lines used in the music of The Etude show the use of the pedal. The first perpendicular line tells when the pedal is to be pressed down, the horizontal line, that it is to be held down, the second perpendicular line, when it is to be released.
  2.  In instrumental music two stems are often used to one note to indicate the movements of parts, as in vocal music.
  3.  In syncopation the accent should fall where specially marked, regardless of the natural accent demanded by the time-signature.
  4.  It is not proper to change a double sharp or double flat enharmonically unless the whole chord be rewritten in accordance with the change. Thus the chord D-sharp, F-double-sharp, A-sharp, is the major triad with D-sharp as root. If you should change F-double-sharp to G, you violate the rules of chord construction. The chord will sound the same, on the piano, but it is like a misspelled word. If the F-double-sharp be changed to G, the D-sharp should become E-flat; the A-sharp, B-flat.

S. S. J.—1. The best and simplest method of explaining the major scale is by the use of the tetra-chords, first forming the two tetrachords and then using them to make the scale. For instance: a tetrachord beginning with C would read C, D, E, F, two whole steps and a half-step; then, beginning a whole step higher, the second tetrachord would read G, A, B, C, also two whole steps and a half-step. These two tetrachords form together the major scale C. Continuing, the next major scale will be obtained by adding another tetrachord, thus: beginning on D, a whole step above C, we form the tetrachord D, E, F-sharp, G, two whole steps and a half-step, the sharp being supplied in order to form the necessary whole step from E and at the same time forming the half-step F-sharp to G. Now, from G, the first note of the tetrachord G, A, B, C to G the final note of the tetrachord D, E, F-sharp, G, we have the major scale G.

  1.  A scale is a succession of sounds arranged according to a definite order; a chord is a combination of a number of sounds struck simultaneously; members of a chord struck other than simultaneously form what is called an arpeggio, or broken chord.
  2.  Technic, broadly speaking, is the perfection of mastery in mechanical skill necessary to the adequate performance of any given composition.

R. E. B.—1. In measuring the intervals we prefer Dr. Clarke’s system of reckoning by half-steps. It seems much more simple and easier to understand than using steps and half-steps. The primer you quote gives the perfect fourth as “two steps and one half-step.” Why not say five half-steps? In reckoning the diminished and augmented intervals, in particular, the system of using half-steps only seems much more satisfactory.

2. A repeat sign may be placed anywhere, and, although it very frequently takes the place of a bar- mark, it does not necessarily follow that such is always the case. In the passage you quote the repeat-sign is in the middle of a measure, and means that the repeat begins at the half-measure. It does not otherwise divide this measure, which contains the usual four counts.

M. A. C.—The scales in thirds and sixths should be treated as though in canonic imitation, the fingering remained precisely the same as for the scale in octaves. For instance, in the key of C the first finger of the right hand falls invariably upon C and F, and the first finger of the left hand upon C and G, no matter whether you play in octaves, thirds, or sixths, the remaining fingers falling as usual.

A. M.—1. The so-called “Stuttgart Method” induces a stiff, unnatural condition of the muscles used in piano-playing, and is totally at variance with the principles advanced in Mason’s “Touch and Technic.” As you cannot assimilate the two systems, you had best discard the Stuttgart idea entirely and follow Mason. The drift of modern technic is toward the cultivation of relaxation and elasticity and against all rigidity and unnecessary contraction.

2. The direction, 8va. Piano à 7 Octaves, found in many pieces by Liszt and others, is unnecessary at the present day. In the period in which the pieces containing this direction were written all pianos had not a compass of seven octaves; consequently such passages as the one you quote could not be played an octave higher throughout, and the option is given to play the passage as written.

R. H. N.—Nowadays many pieces and movements from concertos are taken at an extremely rapid pace by concert-players, often to the disadvantage of the composition itself and to the discomfort of the musical listener. There is entirely too much tendency toward mere technical display. The Mendelssohn “Concerto” will suffer but little, if anything, from being played a trifle slower than the metronome speed suggested in most editions, in which the markings are rather general indications of the pace, and subject to such variations as individuality in interpretation will undoubtedly suggest.

G. B.—1. You will find the “pressure-touch” very ably described in the September Etude under “Questions and Answers.” This touch is much in use at the present time.

  1.  All touches, such as “pressure-, stab-, and glance- touches,” may be generally classified as “combination-touches”; that is to say, they are produced by a combination of two or more of the ordinary means,—finger, wrist, and arm. Many teachers have invented names of their own for these various combination-touches, which more or less aptly describe them. They all depend for their success upon a proper condition of the playing muscles; that is, the ability to immediately contract or relax any muscle or set of muscles.
  2.  Chords marked “non-legato”—that is, with both dots and slurs—are most frequently executed with a “pressure-touch.”

4.  Single chords, written in half-notes, with no particular indication as to dynamic effect, are usually taken with the “down-arm.”

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