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Question & Answer Department - Conducted by Arthur de Guichard

Question and Answer Department
Conducted by Arthur de Guichard

Eb Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2 (Chopin).

Q. What is the correct fingering of the following passage, according to the composer himself? See Nocturne in Eb, Op. 9, No. 2. —Artie, Providence, R. I.

A. Finger as indicated above the notes:


Subdominant and Submediant.

Q. What is the reason for calling the fourth note of the scale (Fa) the subdominant? Is it because it is just below the dominant? If so, then I cannot understand why the sixth degree is called the submediant? Please enlighten me.Puzzled, Greenville, Texas.

A. The dominant is the fifth above the tonic, the subdominant (under dominant) is the fifth below the tonic; the mediant is the note midway between tonic and dominant, the submediant (under-mediant) is the note midway between the tonic and subdominant, descending from tonic.


Q. When are these signs to be considered as accidentals: qa_signs.jpg ?—A. M. G., Boston, Mass.

A. When they do not form an integral part of the scale of the composition or movement.

Changing a Note’s Pitch.

Q. What is meant by the term changing the pitch of a note,” and in how many ways can it be done ?—I. Stubbs, East Providence, R. I.

A. The pitch of a note may be modified, without changing its position on the staff, by the use of sharps, flats, double sharps, double flats, and naturals. The modification may be chromatic, ascending or descending, melodic or harmonic, and affect one or more notes of a chord:—


To Eradicate or Not to Eradicate— Tonsils.

Q. Does having the tonsils removed affect the quality of one’s voice? I sing, and the doctor advises having my tonsils removed; do you?—A. D. L., Alexandria, La.

A. Yes; if the operation is well performed, you will have a better voice after it. However, you should tell the operating specialist that you are a singer, in order that the greatest care may be taken not to injure the pillars of the fauces. The majority of the best world-singers, even including the late Adelina Patti, have undergone it, not only without injury but with actual benefits. N. B: Refuse all application of caustic (nitrate of silver) in any form whatever.

Degree of Doctor of Music.

Q. Is it possible for one to study for Mus. Doc. degree in an University? If so, please enlighten me what course to take; that is, after having passed matriculation, is it necessary to become a Bachelor of Music? Kindly give me some idea of the requirements.—“Student,” Johannesburg, South Africa.

A. To obtain the Mus. Doc. degree it is necessary, in any reputed university, to pass the Entrance (or Previous) Examination, to keep certain terms, to pass the Mus. Bac. examination, and to give proof of musical distinction by submitting not more than three musical works to the Chairman of the Special Board of Music. For example, Cambridge University (England) requires that Mus. Bac. candidates shall keep nine terms by residence and pass an examination in two parts consisting of Acoustics; Composition, both instrumental and vocal; Counterpoint in not mere than five parts, including double counterpoint; Harmony; Canon in two parts; Fugue in two parts, especially as to the relation of subject and answer; Form as exemplified in the Sonata; knowledge of the Organ (stops, quality, pitch) and of all orchestral instruments; Analysis of some classical composition in harmony and form; Playing at sight from figured bass and from vocal and orchestral score; Musical history; a general knowledge of standard classical works of the great composers.

Next higher to the Mus. Bac. is the degree of Master of Music. The Mus. Doc. degree is not conferred upon persons under thirty years of age. For other particulars write to the Chairman of the Special Board of Music, Trinity College, Cambridge (England), or to the Registrar of any other University.

 “Head” Tones—Head Placement—Soprano and Tenor.

Q. (i) I would like to know just what a “head tone” is in singing; (ii) also, if it is possible to sing all the tones, in a natural range of voice, with head placement? (iii) It appears that in a soprano or tenor voice, the tones below second F above middle C are all sung with one placement, and those above the same F are sung with an entirely different placement, I would like to know the difference between them. These questions are of vital interest to me.Margaret M., Parkway Blvd., Alliance, Ohio.

A. (i) The terms “head-voice” and “chestvoice” are misnomers, misleading and, by their adoption and consequent endeavors to force a voice at or in those localities, responsible for many constricted tones, congested throats and ruined voices. The voice is really a throat-voice (be careful not to call it “throaty!”) because all voice is generated there, in the larynx—without which you could not sing. Simultaneously with the attack of the note, it is swiftly impelled by will-power into the mouth cavity, nasal and frontal sinuses, according to the pitch, lower or higher. Want of space prevents a full description of these processes, (ii) If soprano, sing all your tones up to C# (third space, treble) in your natural voice, mezzo-piano (or mezzo-forte—both terms meaning the same). When you reach D, D# or E, a difference in sound is noticed, brighter, purer, better—caused by the natural rising of the larynx and, usually, a movement of the soft palate. (iii) The tenor voice experiences a similar change, one octave lower, the male voice being one octave lower than the female. This crucial subject cannot be treated adequately in these columns.

German Names of Notes.

Q. What is the meaning of “Ces” and what language is it? - B. C., Cincinnati, O.

A. “Ces” is the German name for Cb— “Cesses” is Cbb- Thus : As is Ab, Ases is Abb; Des is Db, Deses is Dbb; Es is Eb, Eses is Ebb; and so forth. Rule: For flats add es to the note-name; for sharps add is to the note-name.

The Diminished Seventh.

Q. 1. Does the chord of the diminished seventh occur only in the minor mode? 2. Define it. 3. Explain the resolutions of the chord.Artus, 42nd St., New York City.

A. The chord of the Diminished Seventh may occur in any mode, major, minor, or chromatic. The question, however, most probably means “does the diminished seventh belong to a major or a minor chord?” It belongs to a minor chord. 2. The best definition is that it is the first inversion of the dominant minor ninth, with the root omitted. Its best description is that it consists of three superposed minor thirds. Thus:


The root of this chord is C, which is the dominant of F major or minor. 3. The regular resolution, the dominant minor ninth (otherwise, the diminished seventh) falls one degree; the minor seventh (the dominant seventh of the root) falls one degree; the leading note E (the third of the root) rises one degree. The interval of a minor third is very useful for enharmonic changes ; therefore this chord of the diminished seventh is, of all the chords, the most prolific in enharmonic changes. It will be noted that, as the root (C) of the dominant chord is omitted, the note above it (the leading note) becomes the root of the chord.

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