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Answers to Questions

A department of expert advice for all ETUDE readers. All letters not bearing full name and address of the sender will be destroyed.

Q. What does the slur with dots under it mean ?
 
A. Curved lines and dots combined indicate a touch known as the non legato touch. That is to say the tones are slightly disconnected, but not as abrupt as in the case of a staccato. Usually this is accomplished by a pressure touch.
 
Q. Please explain "virtuosity."
 
A. By virtuosity is meant, the extreme accomplishment of the concert pianist. A great concert pianist is always known as a virtuoso.
 
Q. When and where should the term "Professor" be applied?
 
A. This term is reserved for those holding the position of "Professor" in some university or college of unquestioned standing. Any other application of the term is deprecated by people of good taste. This feeling is so pronounced that many consider anyone who assumes the title without having the position mentioned above a charlatan.
 
Q. How many times was Johann Sebastian Bach married, and how many children did he have?
 
A. Twice. He had seven children by his first marriage, and thirteen by his second.
 
Q. Can anyone with defective hearing become a good player?
 
A. Defective hearing is of two kinds. 1. Inability to hear well (deafness). 2. Inability to distinguish musical sounds. In one of our deaf and dumb institutions there is a brass band composed of inmates who, we are told, play acceptably. It would be possible for a deaf person to learn to press down the proper keys at the keyboard, but it would be next to impossible for a deaf person to play one of the instruments of the violin family acceptably. Inability to distinguish accurately between musical sounds ("tone blindness") is a difficult obstacle for one who desires to become a proficient teacher.
 
Q. What is the highest notes ever sung?
 
A. In 1770 Mozart heard Lucrezia Agujari, an Italian prima donna, sing the high C represented as the second C above the treble staff. Ellen Beach Yaw has accomplished the same vocal aeroplanic feat.
 
Q. Please name some famous singers who commenced their vocal careers at a very early age.
 
A. Alboni (voice already formed at 8), Malibran (sang in public at 5), Jenny Lind (showed signs of an exceptional voice at 3), Parepa-Rosa (début at 16), Patti (début at 16), Pasta (début at 16), Henrietta Sontag (prima donna at 15), Tietjens (début at 15).
 
Q. When an accidental occurs in one octave does it affect notes of the same name letter) in other octaves?
 
A. Strictly speaking, it does not affect other octaves, and in such cases the accidental must be used again.
 
Q. Why do great opera singers retire for the concert stage?
 
A. In some instances to make more money, as in the case of Mme. Schumann-Heink, who has received as high as $5,000 for a single concert, and in other cases because the engagements are more regular and thus more lucrative. In many cases the singer finds himself gradually becoming unfitted for opera in his later years.
 
Q. How is the music printed in The Etude graded?
 
A. From one to ten. This decimal grading has been found superior to the "one to seven."
 
Q. How does one pronounce the title of E. Schtt's (sic) famous valse, "A la bien- Aimee ?"
 
A. "Ah lah beean ay-may." The n in bien should have a slightly nasal sound; a stress should be placed upon the last syllable of aimee.
 
Q. What is the meaning of Stabat Mater,and what is a Stabat Mater.
 
A. Stabat Mater Doloroso means "Stands the Sorrowing her," and refers to the lamentations of the Virgin Mary. It is a famous hymn upon the crucifixion written by Jacoponus in the 14th century. It is frequently sung as a part of the service of the Catholic Church. Many famous and elaborate settings of this poem have been made, the best known being those of Pergolesi, Verdi, Dvörak and Rossini.
 
Q. Where the trill sign appears over a third, are both notes of the third thrilled?
 
A. No. Only the top note is trilled unless another trill sign is written under the lower note of the third.
 
Q. What is the difference between Rhythm and Metre?
 
A. Rhythm is movement in musical time or the division of the melody into characteristic motives and figures. Metre is the arrangement of measures and groups of measures in regular and symmetrical succession.
 
Q. When was the first dictionary of music written?
 
A. In 1474. It was by John Tinctor, otherwise known as Jean de Vaerwere (Johannes Tinctoris). He was born in Belgium about 1446. One copy of this book is now in the British Museum. It is written entirely in Latin and is very short.
 
Q. What is a transmutation chord?
 
A. A chord common to two keys used at the change of the keys.
 
Q. What is meant by the "Zopf" period? I find this in a musical history by a German writer.
 
A. "Zopf" is the German term for "pigtail." This is used by Germans to refer to music of an old-fashioned and antiquated period.
 
Q. I am planning a June pupils' recital and would like to have the names of some famous musicians born in the month of June.
 
A. Here is a list with the dates of their birth: (2) E. Elgar, (6) Sir John Stainer, (8) R. Schumann, (11) R. Strauss, (15) E. Grieg, (17) C. Gounod, (21) Offenbach, (23) Reinecke, (26) Mercadante.
 
Q. What is a tendency interval?
 
A. This is a term used by some theorists to indicate a certain interval, the notes of which usually pass to others because they seem to have a pronounced tendency to do so. It is commonly applied to the diminished fifth and to its inversion the augmented fourth. Play "b" and "f" upon your keyboard. You will notice that when these two notes are sounded together in any series of chords or notes distinguishing the key as that of Major the "b" will have a distinct tendency to demand that "c" shall follow it, and the "F" will have a distinct tendency to demand that the note "E" shall follow it. This tendency may readily be detected by anyone with a sensitive feeling for tonal values.
 
Q. What is the legend regarding the mythological god Pan?
 
A. Pan was the "God of Nature's Music." The legend is that he was pursuing the nymph Syrinx. She prayed the Naiades, the nymphs of the water, to change her into a bundle of reeds just as Pan was laying hold of her. He therefore found a bundle of reeds in his hand instead of the nymph. The wind blowing over these reeds brought forth beautiful musical sounds. Pan cut down the reeds and made of them the "pipes of Pan."

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