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Questions & Answers

A department of expert advice for the use of any ETUDE reader who may desire information upon some special musical subject.


1. All questions must be signed with the name and address of the wroter (sic). No attention will be paid to questions not thus signed.
2. If your question is personal and not of a nature that will appeal to the majority of our readers you will receive an answer by letter, and not in this column.
3. If you are writing about other matters (music orders, subscription, etc.) place the questions intended for this department upon a separate sheet of paper and sign your name and address. Do not send questions in the body of a letter referring to other departments.
4. Questions referringg (sic) to the interpretation of special pieces, metronomic markings, etc., cannot be answered in this department, as they are not likely to interest many of our readers.
5. Direct letters, “The Etude Questions and Answers,” 1714 Chestnut St., Phila., Penna. No charge is made for the use of this department. All questions will be placed in the hands of competent specialists.

Q. What is the main difference between a classical piece and a popular piece? (C. D.).
A. This question is very difficult, in fact, almost impossible to answer. The word classic implies an art work which in its form and treatment follows some previously established and authoritatively recognized standards of æsthetic excellence. Thus, the sonatas of Mozart are classics as are the sonnets of Shakespeare and the paintings of Rembrandt. Merely because these works were produced over one hundred years ago does not make them classics. Time has little to do with the definition. In the popular sense, many misinformed students refer to anything that is difficult to perform as a classic. This is erroneous, since some very difficult pieces may not follow the established classical lines. In order to determine the main differences between a classic and a popular piece, you must first make yourself acquainted with the characteristics of classical music. Classical music is written with a view to permanence, and popular music is written for transient purposes.

Q. Give the names of some composers who were afflicted with deafness, blindness or insanity in their old age. (G. U. F.).
A. Beethoven and Robert Franz became deaf. Bach and Handel both became blind. Bach’s sight, however, was restored ten days before his death. Schumann, Wolf and MacDowell became insane.

Q. Give the names of some royal personages who have attempted musical composition. (R. X.).
A. Henry the Eighth (of England), Marie Antoinette (France), Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband), Kaiser Wilhelm (of Germany), Frederic II (of Prussia), Louis Ferdinand (nephew of Frederic II).

Q. What is the real meaning of the word “movement.” (L. G.).
A. 1. One of the divisions of a larger work, such as a sonata, symphony, etc. 2. The motion of a part or parts. 3. Tempo.

Q. How can I tell the different voice parts in a fugue? (Counterpoint.)
A. Only by the closest study and observation. You should also have the assistance of a competent teacher to pilot you through a few fugues. In some modern editions an attempt has been made to indicate the voices by turning the stems of the soprano and tenor voices upward and the stems of the bass and alto voices downward, and printing only the soprano and alto on the treble staff and the tenor and bass on the bass staff. In some editions the voices are indicated at their entrance by the initials S, A, T, or B. Some of the Bach fugues have been printed in colors, the subject in one color, the answer in another color, etc. The entire forty-eight fugues, comprising the “Well-Tempered Clavichord,” by Bach, have been completely analyzed by Riemann and Fuchs.

Q. Should one count when the metronome is used? (Old Subscriber.)
A. Counting is desirable in many cases, especially with young pupils. The metronome should be used when necessary, but its use should be limited. Its principal value is that of maintaining a slow tempo in the preparatory stages. It is also of immense assistance in promoting velocity, by gradually increasing the rate of speed.

Q. Why was the old fingering, in which the X was used, discarded for the present fingering? (J. D. S.)
A. Probably because the fingering was not adopted by the German publishers. In past years the majority of the music used throughout the world was published in Germany. The “X” fingering, which is of English origin, is now limited to a very few editions. Probably not more than two per cent. of the music used in America has the “X” fingering, consequently Continental and American publishers almost exclusively employ the “1” fingering. Most of the pubishers (sic) in England use the “1” fingering now.

Q. What is the most approved way of counting six-eighth or nine-eighth time. One count to each eighth note, or three notes to a count? (Belvidere.)
A. Either may be employed. If the piece is to be played at a rapid tempo, it is often best to count three eighth notes to a beat.

Q. What is a tone picture? (M. O.).
A. Any musical composition may be described as a tone picture. There is no set form known as a tone picture, but the term is most frequently applied to compositions of an idyllic character. For instance, most of the Mendelssohn “Songs Without Words” might be described as tone pictures.

Q. Why is Beethoven sometimes called a Dutch composer when he was really born in Germany and not in Holland? (L. Z.).
A. Beethoven’s grandfather, Ludwig van Beethoven, a bass singer, opera composer and kapellmeister to the Elector Clemmens August at Bonn, was born at Maestricht, and thus the great master was of Dutch descent. The Dutch claim him by ancestry, the Germans by birth and the Austrians because he spent the better part of his life in Vienna.

Q. What is the difference between a scale and a key?
A. A scale is the regular arrangement of a succession of seven notes, ascending or descending, according to principals of construction, making the series chromatic, major or minor as the case may be. A piece may be in the key of “C,” for instance, but not necessarily in the scale of “C,” as the notes of the piece may not appear in the order of the scale during the entire composition.

Q. How many waltzs (sic) did Chopin write? (Young Teacher.)
A. Fifteen. Seven of these were posthumous. He wrote eighty six compositions in all. Seventy-four have opus numbers and twelve are without.

Q. Who is the representative composer of Brazil? (J. S. N.)
A. Antonio Carlos Gomez, born at Campinos, July 11, 1839. Pupil of Lauro Rossi in the Milan Conservatory. Gomez wrote several beautiful operas in florid style. Salvator Rosa was also particularly successful as a composer.

Q. What does the word intrada mean? (M. de S.)
A. It is an Italian word used to signify either an introduction or an interlude.


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