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Questions and Answers

G. L.—In singing hymn-tunes, or other music for four parts, if the prevailing character be harmonic, the soprano should be more prominent than the other three parts, as in “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” for example. But if it be more polyphonic in char­acter any one of the other voices may be brought into momentary prominence. Thus in Barnby’s well-known tune, “Merrial,” which is often sung to the words “Now the day is over,” the soprano is not the most prominent part, but the tenor, particularly in the second and third lines. If the inner voices are clearly melodious, especially if they are imitative in character, they should have a certain prominence. A good drill in this kind of interpretation is fur­nished in English part-songs, and particularly in madrigals.

C. M.—1. The diminished seventh chord is not found in the major key, according to some authori­ties, the judgment depending, in a measure, upon several systems of harmony. Richter’s “Harmony” does not accept chords beyond sevenths; hence you can construct the diminished seventh only on the leading note of the minor scale. Modern chromatic harmony considers that a key comprehends both major and minor of any letter,—C-major and C-minor, for example,—and the diminished seventh is referred to the dominant as a root, thus: Key of C, the dominant is G, the full chord of dominant ninth is G, B, D, F, A; in C-minor the latter note will be A-flat; drop the root, and we have the chord of the diminished seventh—B, D, F, A-flat.

2.  Anton Dvorâk, famous contemporary composer, was born in Mühlhausen, Bohemia, September 8, 1841. He studied at Prague, played viola in the National Theater and later also filled organ positions. In 1891 he came to New York City as director of the National Conservatory in that city, but has since returned to Europe, and is now director of the Conservatory at Prague. He has written notable works for orchestra, string instruments, piano, voice, and several large choral works.

3.  Edvard Grieg was born at Bergen, Norway, June 15, 1843; studied in Leipzig and in Copenhagen. He made his home in his native city for many years. His compositions embrace sonatas, concertos, songs, chamber-music, piano-pieces, and several large works for orchestra.

4.  Theodore Lack was born at Quimper, France, September 3, 1846; studied at the Paris conserva­toire, and afterward located in Paris as a private teacher and composer. Later he was made an officer of the Academy and of the Department of Public Instruction.

H. L. H.—The rule as to the use of accidentals is that it has no force beyond the measure or octave in which it occurs. If a chromatically-altered note be tied over to the next measure, the sign need not be repeated. If the last note of one measure be chromatically changed, and the same note occurs as the first note in the following measure the sign need not be repeated. The accidental must be contra­dicted, otherwise it continues in force. In practice composers often use accidentals unnecessarily as a matter of precaution.

E. P.—An English version of Paisiello’s song “Nel cor piu non mi sento” was published under the title “Hope Told a Flattering Tale.” This is the air that Beethoven used in his well-known “Variations.”

H. M. F.—The “Stabat Mater” is the title of a Latin hymn, and is the lamentation of the Virgin Mary over the sufferings of her son, Jesus Christ. It was written in the thirteenth century. The English text published with some editions of Rossini’s setting is not a direct translation. A more faithful version can be found in the Episcopal Hymnal. Rossini com­posed part of his music to this hymn in 1832. He finished it in 1839.

C. L. K.—Vincenz Lachner was born July 19, 1811, in Swabia; studied in Vienna; was Court Capellmeister at Mannheim from 1836 to 1873; and after that removed to Carlsruhe, where he died January 22, 1892. His compositions include symphonies and overtures for orchestra, and choruses for male voices.

 S. S.—1. The treble clef is the name generally ap­plied to the G or violin clef. The character was originally the Gothic letter G and was placed on the staff to show where the degree G should be. Simi­larly the character used to denote the bass clef is derived from the old Gothic letter F. The C clef, used for the tenor clef, is also derived from the letter C, according to the old way of writing it.

2. Consult a standard dictionary.

3. The name “Harmonic” is applied to one form of the minor scale, and consists of a major second, minor second, major second, major second, minor second, augmented second, minor second. Example: C, D, E-flat, F, G, A-flat, B, C.

4. A whole note cannot be written in a measure in 3/4 time, but a whole rest is used to denote a full measure of rest, no matter what may be the time-signature.

F. J. F.—The perfect fifth, when altered by raising the lower note, or lowering the upper, becomes what is ordinarily called a diminished fifth, although the term “imperfect fifth” is used by some writers. Per­fect intervals were accepted by the early composers and theorists. When later thirds and sixths came into use, the terms major and minor were applied to them, according to the size of the interval. Termi­nology in music has been a matter of growth, and must be viewed historically. We can hardly break in on the meanings accepted for years and say that a perfect interval when lessened ought to be called minor, since, as first used, and for many years since then, that term applied to a major interval when lessened. Another fact that has a bearing on this question is the matter of inversion. A major in­terval inverted becomes minor, and vice versâ; a perfect interval remains perfect; a diminished inter­val becomes augmented, and vice versâ. Hence if you called the diminished fifth a minor fifth, when, on inversion it becomes an augmented fourth, you would have confusion and irregularity.

Sister M. M.—1. We have not heard that Paderewski is composing or has composed any “rag-time” music. Since, in a loose sense, “rag-time” is synony­mous with syncopation, all composers may be said to have made use of this device at one time or other.

2.   In the first position of the common chord of C the fourth finger of the left hand should fall upon E. This rule is frequently violated by a use of the third finger instead of the fourth, but there are many reasons why it should be strictly observed.

3.  The F-sharp-minor scale is sometimes fingered in the manner you suggest, with the thumb of the right hand on A.

4.  In the case of a chord prolonged for several measures, the better effect is obtained by releasing the keys and sustaining the chord with the damper pedal.

5.  Generally speaking, when the left hand has an arpeggiated chord, a single note or chord in the right hand will be played with the lowest tone of the ar­peggiated chord. Such matters, however, are largely regulated by the taste of the performer and the con­text of the passage.

6.  The grace-note A in the minuet of the old régime (last line) takes its value from the F, A following.

W. E. G.—1. It is rather difficult to decide who is the greatest composer living at the present time. Edvard Grieg is generally considered to be one of the greatest harmonists who have ever lived. He has, however, not written in the larger forms to any extent, and his music partakes too much of national characteristics. Dvorâk, who has written much in the larger forms,—symphonies, operas, etc.,—is also a striking example of nationalism in music. This trait is held to debar a composer from the very front rank, since truly great music should be universal in character, and untinged by racial peculiarities or traits.

2.  The most valuable characteristic of the Leschetizky method from a technical stand-point is the rule requiring the finger to press down the key as far as it will go, both in piano and forte passages, using a slower finger-action when a less volume of tone is desired, a more rapid action when a greater volume is called for; soft rapid playing being the only exception to this rule. The most striking feat­ure of the method, perhaps, is the personality of Leschetizky himself, and the chief value to be gained is the personal contact with the master, who is a teacher of decided force and originality.

3. The word “galop” as applied to the dance is from the French, and is pronounced with the p silent. We do not make use of the English word in this connection.

4.  Mr. William Sherwood must be accorded a place among the first rank of pianists of American birth.

A Reader.—Following are some organ-solos of moderate difficulty suitable for Christmas services: “Christmas Pastorale,” from “Messiah,” Handel-Dun­ham; “Holy Night,” Dudley Buck; “Christmas Pre­lude, Postlude, and Pastorale,” opus 25, Nos. 2, 3, and 6, George E. Whiting; “Christmas Pastorale,” Merkel.

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