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Question and Answer Department

Conducted by Arthur de Guichard

Q.—What is the correct classification of music, that is to say, as to the different styles or divisions? For instance, we speak of sacred music and of classical music: what are the other styles, and What do they comprise?—G. A. S., Providence, R. I.
—The   broad divisions of music are known as: Sacred, Secular, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Dance Music. There are also divisions of music, plainly defined, known by their nationality: Italian, German, Russian, French, etc. These divisions comprise in turn:—Sacred: Chant, Psalm, Hymn, Choral, Anthem, Motet, Mass, Oratorio. Secular: Folk-Song, Song, Ballad, Romance, Aria, Glee, Madrigal, Cantata, Opera. All the foregoing may be considered as vocal and as vocal and instrumental music combined. Then we have in instrumental music:—Classical: Suite, Sonata, Sonatina, Overture, Fantasia, Symphony, Concerto, with movements of Rondo, Scherzo, etc. Romantic: the majority of the works of Weber, Schubert, Spohr, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, etc. The most distinctly Modern are the French and Russian schools. Of the old Dances are all those found in the Suites, such as the Minuet. Gavotte, Chaconne, Passacaglia, etc., while the new Dances comprise the Polka, Mazurka, Schottische, Waltz, Galop, Polonaise, Quadrille, etc.

Q.—Is it possible for me to determine whether a Key is major or minor by its dominant chord? Please state the reasons.— E. D., Quincy, Mass.
A.—It is not possible to do so, because the dominant of the major and of the minor are the same. In the orginal (sic) form of the B minor mode, as we find it in old church music, the dominant triad was composed of a minor third and a perfect fifth, because the seventh degree of the minor scale was a minor seventh (A to g). When, however, the seventh was made a major seventh, as in the melodic and harmonic forms, the dominant triad became major: E—G#—B, which is the dominant triad both of A major and A minor—and similarly for all the keys. The old church mode, however, gives us E—G natural—B, in the minor.

Q.—What is a cadence? How many are there? Is it the same as a cadenza?—Sister A. M., Cincinnati, O.
A.—Cadence (Latin, cadere, to fall) is the name given to the last two chords of a musical sentence. 1. Perfect authentic cadence, when the chord on the dominant proceeds to tonic harmony with the tonic in the soprano. 2. Imperfect authentic cadence, when the chord on the dominant proceeds to tonic harmony with the third or fifth on the soprano. 3. Perfect plagal cadence (much used in church music) when, the chord on the subdominant proceeds to tonic harmony with the tonic in the soprano. 4. Imperfect plagal cadence, when the chord on the subdominant proceeds to tonic harmony with the third or fifth in the soprano. 5. Half cadence, when the last chord of the musical sentence is a chord on the dominant, preceded by a tonic chord. 6. Deceptive cadence, when the dominant chord proceeds to some other chord than that of the tonic, usually to the triad of some other key. Thus, there are six cadences.—A cadenza is a brilliant passage for voice or for solo instrument, generally introduced before the end of a composition or of one of its movements and frequently improvised.

Q.—What is antiphonal singing? Is it a modern invention? Organist. Denver, Colo.
A.—Antiphonal (Greek, anti, opposite, phone, sound) singing is that practised in churches and cathedrals by two choirs, or two parts of choirs, singing verses or halves of verses alternately, one choir completing the enunciation of the other. The custom is very ancient, dating back at least to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, B. C. 1493 (see Exodus, chap. 15). Examine the Psalms of David and it will be seen that, in most instances, each verse contains an idea expressed in two ways and, undoubtedly intended to be interpreted antiphonally, by two choirs—one echoing the sentiment of the other (examine particularly Psalms 51 and 47), Frequently one choir would consist of women or boys and the other of men, and so forth.

Q. I am very weak in playing music at sight. Could you tell me the best way to improve it?—Jane M., Syracuse, N. Y.

A. 1. Study Harmony, so that you may know the different chords and their inversions directly you see them, no matter what their key may be. 2. Study the reducing of arpeggios to simple chords, so that you may be able to play at sight in straight chords an entire arpeggio study. 3. Devote as much time as possible daily to reading new music—read somewhat slower than the metronome time and read right on, without stopping to correct minor faults.

Q. How can I best learn to modulate quickly from one key to another?—M R C., Pittsburg, Pa.

A Study your scales and their tetra-chordal relations (see answer above to Ida A); study your harmony, particularly the tonic and dominant seventh chords and their inversions. For a very rapid change of key, without violence to the ear, as a rule you may change into a new key by making a note, of the old key (one common to both) very prominent. Thus, a piece ending in the key of E (four sharps), by making the third (G#) very prominent, may proceed at once enharmonically into the key of A-flat or from the key of E-flat (three flats) to the key of B (five sharps), and so forth.

Q. What is the use of E# and B#, and of C-flat and F-flat? Why can we not use the notes F, C, B and E respectively?—L. A M., Milwaukee, Wis.
A. We cannot use the latter because we would be “spelling” incorrectly. A scale must have conjunct letters for its notes; we cannot skip over any. The scale of C is CDEFGABC; the scale of C# is C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C# (seven sharps); the scale of C-flat is C-flat D-flat E-flat F-flat G-flat A-flat B-flat C-flat (seven flats). Again: a major triad (do, mi, sol) consists of a note with its major third and perfect fifth. A major triad on C#, is E# (E, D, E—1, 2, 3, a third) and G-flat; and a minor triad on A-flat is A-flat, C-flat, E-flat. From C# to F would be a fourth and from A-flat to B a second, and there is neither a fourth nor a second in a triad.

Q. What is the difference between a concertina and a concertino? Is it the same thing in two different languages?— E. N. T., New Jersey.
A. It is not. Concertino is an Italian word, meaning a small concerto; concertina is derived from the word conertino and is used to designate a portable instrument of the accordion class.

Q. What is understood by a Harmonic Series?—A. M., Boston, Mass.
A. A Harmonic Series, frequently called a Chord of Nature, is a fundamental note and its overtones. It consists of the fundamental, which, being sounded, gives in regular ascending order an octave, a fifth, a second octave, a major third, a second fifth, a minor seventh, a third octave, then three major seconds, etc. These overtones may be plainly distinguished at a grand piano as far as the minor seventh. Put down the sustaining pedal (the one on the right), then strike a short, quick blow on the C below the bass staff; listen intently and all the intervals named up to and including the B-flat will be clearly heard.

Q. Who invented the system of indicating the different time values by the shapes of the notes? Where did we get the forms of #, flat, natural and about when?—S. S. Penacock, N. H.
A. 1. Franco of Cologne. 2. The # was originally shaped like the sign of multiplication (St. Andrew’s cross): it dates back to the beginning of the XIII century. The flat and # are much more ancient, dating from the X century, The flat (b) took its form from the German b, that letter standing for b flat, while the natural| is a variant of the German h, which stands for b natural.

Q. I live a long way from any big city and find it very difficult to get the services of a piano tuner. I have, however, a very correct and sensitive ear and I possess the necessary implements for tuning, but do not quit? know in what order to go about it. Will you advise me?—A. M. Wyoming.
A. Begin on middle C, or on the A above it, according to the pitch of your diapason (tuning-fork), and proceed alternately by 5ths, 8ves and 4ths, up and down. The usual way however is to tune your C to your C diapason (C above middle C), tune its lower 8ve, the same middle C, then continue in the following order of perfect 5ths and 4ths: G up, D down, A up, E down, B up, F# down, C# up, G# down; then from middle C to F, B-flat up, B-flat down. Continue in the same way for the second octave up, and for the first octave down, checking your octaves as you go. Roughly put, this is the general procedure; it would be advisable, however, to obtain a book on piano tuning, of which there are several good ones to be had.

 

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