Site ©1996 Timothy A. Smith

Abendmusiken: the German equivalent of Vespers, applies particularly to a series of Advent concerts started by Buxtehude in Lübeck (1673)

Abgesang: See bar form.

Abhandlung von der Fuge: "Treatise on the Fugue"

Acadamie royale de musique: "Royal Academy of Music"

Augmentation: Statement of a motive or melody in rhythmic proportions longer than the original

Bar Form: German poetic form consisting of three stanzas, each stanza beginning with two Stollen followed by an Abgesang. When set to music, this type of poetry yields a two-part schematic (AAB) in which the repeating section "A" is called the Stollen and the non-repeating section "B" the Abgesang. This form is employed in most chorales as well as much German folk music.

Accademia di Santa Cecilia: "Academy of St. Cecilia" (Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians)

Alt-Bachisch Archive: "Archive of the Early Bachs"

Amalien-Bibliothek: "library of Amalia"

Anthem: a sacred choral composition, in English, accompanied or unaccompanied, intended for use in the Protestant liturgy. Analogous to motet in the Roman rite.

Apotheosis: a person or an ideal that has been glorified or deified.

Architectonic: the science of architecture and structural design; the science of systematizing knowledge.

Aria: Movement from an opera, oratorio, or cantata for solo or duo voices as opposed to full chorus. The melodic, lyrical, and often virtuoso, characteristics of the aria stand in contrast to the recitative.

Bach Gesellschaft: "Bach Society" initiated by Robert Schumann in 1850 (sponsored by the publishers Breitkopf & HÄrtel), dedicated to the revival and reprinting of Bach's music.

Bach: in German the word "Bach" means literally "brook" or "stream."

Ballet: a performance by dancers accompanied by music (usually not choral).

Basso Continuo: the part of a baroque score (figured bass part) played on two instruments (generally organ or harpsichord and bassoon or 'cello); the musicians who play such a part.

Blasiuskirche: Church of St. Blasius

Bromide: a trite saying or statement; a platitude.

BWV: abbreviation for "Bach Werke-Verzeichnis" (thematic catalog of the works of J. S. Bach edited by W. Schmieder).

Cantata: an unstaged secular or sacred composition, with several movements, for single voice or voices (alternating aria, duet, recitative, full chorus, etc.), normally accompanied by instruments. The vocal equivalent of sonata.

Cantor: In Roman Catholic or Jewish services, the one who sings or chants solo portions of the liturgy as opposed to the chorus; in the Protestant tradition, a director of music.

Cantus Firmus: literally "firm chant," a pre-existing melody such as a chorale tune to which counterpoint has been set. See Cantus Firmus unit from Mus 303 class.

Canzona: an important Italian instrumental form of the 16th and 17th centuries, evolved from the French chanson, and precursor of the 18th-century sonata.

Cappella Sistina: the papal choir of the Sistine chapel.

Capriccio: an highly imitative precursor of the fugue that was less restrained than other precursors such as the canzona, fantasia, or ricercar, and often featuring a theme intended to represent an event.

Centenarian: in 1415, a century before Martin Luther, the Bohemian priest John Huss had been burned at the stake with these last words: "They may roast a goose now (Huss means goose), but in 100 years God will raise up a swan they will neither burn nor roast."

Chamber Music: music that is played by one person on a part: e.g. string quartet, trio sonata, solo sonata, etc.

Chamber Piece: music that is played by one person on a part: e.g. string quartet, trio sonata, solo sonata, etc.

Chamber Sonata: originally sonata "da camara" (chamber) and "da chiesa" (church) designated the place of performance, not style. In the 18th century the former came to mean a suite-like work with introduction and three or four dances.

Chamber Work: music that is played by one person on a part: e.g. string quartet, trio sonata, solo sonata, etc.

Chapel Master: English equivalent of Italian "Maestro di Cappella" and German Kapellmeister. One whose responsibility was to direct and/or compose the music in a church or private chapel.

Chorale: a hymn of the Lutheran church.

Chorale Cantata: a cantata that uses the same chorale melody as cantus firmus, or text, in each of the movements. Chorale cantatas typically conclude with simple setting of the chorale upon which each movement is based.

Chorale Partita: see Chorale Variation.

Chorale Prelude: an organ work, composed for use in a Protestant service, that develops motives from a hymn (chorale) or uses that hymn as a cantus firmus.

Chorale Fantasia: a chorale prelude that employs an ornamented version of the chorale melody as cantus firmus See fantasia and Decorated Cantus Firmus unit from Mus 303 class.

Chorale Fugue: a chorale prelude (or other instrumental work) that uses motives from a (chorale) as fugue's subject. In this context the term "fugue" is used rather loosely, more like fugato. Except for the difference of instrumentation, chorale fugue as a procedure is synonymous with chorale motet.

Chorale Motet: a choral work that uses motives from a (chorale) as fugue's subject. In this context the term "fugue" is used rather loosely, more like fugato. Except for the difference of instrumentation, chorale motet as a procedure is synonymous with chorale fugue. See Ein feste Burg Cantata BWV 80.

Chorale Variation: theme and variation work for organ or harpsichord in which a chorale melody is the theme. Chorale variations are essentially a series of chorale preludes on the same tune. Unlike chorale preludes, however, chorale variations tend to display more virtuosic idioms. Chorale variations of Pachelbel and Bach are sometimes called partitas while those of Scheidt are called "versus."

Christ der du bist der helle Tag: "Christ, Thou Who Art the Bright Day"

Church Sonata: originally sonata "da chiesa" (church) and "da camera" (chamber) designated the place of performance, not the style. In the 18th century the former came to designate a four-movement work: slow-fast-slow-fast.

Clavier: Fr. (later Gr. then Eng.) word for keyboard. Could, depending on the century and place, refer primarily to harpsichord, clavichord, organ, or piano.

Collegium Musicum: an organization of amateurs working together to perform serious music.

Combination Tone: phenomenon first noticed by Tartini in 1714 wherein the playing of two pitches produces a third pitch the frequency of which is the difference between the pitches that generate it (usually much lower than the first two).

Concerted: any musical composition that contrasts opposing timbres or performance forces; polychoral music; music involving spacial separation between instrumental/ choral ensembles

Concerto Grosso: a concerto that contrasts the timbre of the full orchestra (ripieno) with those of a smaller group of instruments (concertino). The most important orchestral genre of the baroque.

Concerto: an instrumental composition featuring alternating passages dominated by the orchestra and passages dominated by a solo instrument (solo concerto) or small group of instruments (concerto grosso).

Conservatorio de' mendicanti: music conservatory for commoners.

Consistory: a clerical board responsible for matters pertaining to policies and personnel.

Consonance: an entirely subjective term that is applied to combinatons of pitches considered, depending upon the time period, to be pleasing to the ear.

Contrapuntal: music consisting primarily of simultaneously sounding and rhythmically independent melodies (as opposed to music having a single melody accompanied by other voices).

Contrapuntist: one who writes counterpoint.

Counterpoint: from the Latin "punctus contra punctum" (point against point), denotes the compositional practices that are invoked when one writes simultaneously sounding melodies.

Das Beschützte Orchestra: "The Accomplished Orchestra"

Der Generalbass in der Composition: "The Thoroughbass in Composition" is one of the most important music theory treatises of the 18th century.

Der vollkommene Capellmeister: "The Perfect Chapel Master"

Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik: "The Art of Strict Musical Composition"

Diet of Worms: In 1521 the Holy Roman Emperor summoned Luther before the Imperial Diet, at Worms, to seek a compromise. When Luther would not compromise he was excommunicated.

Difference Tone: phenomenon first noticed by Tartini in 1714 wherein the playing of two pitches produces a third pitch the frequency of which is the difference between the pitches that generate it (usually much lower than the first two).

Dilettante: a lover of the fine arts.

Diminution: Statement of a motive or melody in rhythmic proportions shorter than the original

Dissonance: term applied to combinations of pitches that are subjectively determined to be harsh sounding or displeasing to the ear.

Dogma: a body of beliefs, tenets, or doctrines authoritatively confirmed or taught by the Church.

Durchführung = German word for middle entries of the fugue's subject subsequent to the exposition (that is, during developmental episodes). This same word is used of the development section of Sonata-Allegro.

Ehrenpforte: "Gateway of honor"

Ein feste Burg (ist unser Gott): "A Mighty Fortress (Is Our God)"

Elector: Title given to German princes who were entitled to vote for the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Ex nihilo: "Out of nothing," normally used in conjunction with theistic special creation, where God created the universe out of no pre-existing material.

Fantasia: an highly imitative but improvised-sounding composition in which "fantasy" (freedom) takes precedence over form.

Figural Music: a term widely denoting many types of written compositions; in the 18th century, more complicated choral music with instrumental accompaniment.

Figured Bass: a form of musical shorthand used during the 17th and 18th centuries. The bass line was written out while the chords were symbolized by figures or numbers.

Florentine Academics: The "Florentine Camarata" was a group of late 16th-century composers and teachers from the city of Florence.

Forkel: Johann Nicolaus Forkel's "Über J. S. B.'s Leben, Kunst, und Kunswerke" (on J. S. Bach's Life, Art and Work, Leipzig 1820) was the first major biography of the composer, and foundation for all subsequent biographies.

Fortspinnung: term used by the Germans to describe music that is a rather consistent "spinning forth" of the same motive; that is, most European music since 1600, but especially music of the baroque.

Fugato: a passage in a fugal style that characterizes a portion of a composition that is not a fugue. Fugal style means having a motive that functions as subject and is answered at another pitch level.

Fughetta: a short fugue, typically a fugal exposition without development.

Fundamental Bass: term used by Rameau meaning the root of each successive chord in a progression of chords; sometimes used interchangeably with thoroughbass.

Gallant: term denoting the mid- to late- 18th-century style known as "rococo" (light and elegant), as opposed to the serious and heavily-ornamented baroque.

Gott ist mein König: "God is My King"

Gradus ad Parnassum: "Steps to Parnassus"; in Greek mythology Parnassus was the mountain dwelling of the muses. A composer, having climbed Parnassus, would, according to the metaphor--have achieved a perfect compositional technique.

Handbuch bey dem Generalbasse und der Composition: "Handbook on the Thoroughbass and Composition"

Harmonic Series: a series of pitches that are acoustically present in what the ear perceives to be a SINGLE pitch. The relative loudness of each pitch in the series is what determines a pitch's timbre.

Harmony: pitches sounding simultaneously in time; the study of such pitches.

Hausmann: director of music for the town

Historisch-kritische Beiträge: "Historical-Critical Edition (or Reference)"

Hofkapelle: "royal chapel"

HofKomponist: "court composer"

Hofmusicus: "court musician"

Hortus Musicus: "musical garden"

Hutter Compendium: doctrinal statement of the Lutheran Church in accordance with the 1536 Formula of Concord (a theological treatise and military alliance between German Lutherans and certain Swiss Protestants).

'il furibondo Geminiani: "the frenzied (or mad) Geminiani"

Incidental Music: music that is written for a play. Such music might consist of dances, marches, etc. to be played during scenes, or short introductions and postludes to be played before and after each scene.

Indulgence: a certificate declaring that its bearer had been forgiven for a particular sin. Luther preached that forgiveness was not for sale, that one need only ask God, in faith (sola fide), to be forgiven.

Institutioni Harmoniche: "Institute of Harmony," probably the most important treatise on music theory to come out of the Renaissance.

Inventio: literally "invention," a term used by 18th-century theorists to designate the essential motive expressive of the "affect" (Gr. Affekt) of a work, from which the remainder of the work was supposed to derive by elaboration.

Invention: Bach's title for 30 short imitative keyboard works (1720-23) in two and three parts. While Vitali and Bonporti also used the term "invention," their works are very different; today the term is used almost exclusively in reference to Bach.

Inversion: two contrapuntal lines repeated after having switched positions: low voice becoming high and high becoming low. In a canon, inversion means moving the follower voice in the opposite direction of the leader.

Invertibility: the possibility that a triad might appear with the root in a position other than as the lowest pitch; the possibility that two melodies (high and low) might switch positions.

Italian Concerto: a solo grosso or concerto grosso typically in three movements (fast slow fast) in which each movement often takes a ritornello form.

Jacobikirche: St. James's Church

Janus-faced: in Roman mythology Janus was the two-faced patron god of beginnings and endings; two-faced, deceiving.

Johanniskirche: Church of St. John

Kapelldirektor: "director of music in the chapel"

Kapellmeister: literally "chapel master"; title for one whose responsibilities were to compose and/or conduct the music at a church, cathedral, or royal chapel.

Kitsch: a work of art that is shallow, pretentious, gaudy, without substance, or calculated to have popular appeal.

Klavier: Gr. spelling of Fr. word clavier for keyboard. Could, depending on the century and place, refer primarily to harpsichord, clavichord, organ, or piano.

Klosterschule: monastery (or convent) school

Konzertmeister: "concert master"; in Bach's day this responsibility often included directing the ensemble in addition to playing in it.

L'art de toucher le clavecin: "The Art of Playing the Harpsichord"

Lamento Bass: "lamenting bass" (a bass line descending by half steps) was a gesture presumed by the 18th-century ear to represent the Affekt of sadness.

Lateinschule: grammar school

Libretto: the text of an opera, cantata, oratorio, or passion.

Liebfrauenkirche: "Church of Our Lady"

Liturgy: the authorized or sanctioned acts and orders of worship in a Jewish or Christian church (particularly Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican).

Madrigal: primarily a 16th-century choral idiom developed in Italy, patterned after certain poetic forms (often Petrarch), and later exported to England.

Maestro di Cappella: literally "master of the chapel"; title for one whose responsibilities were to compose and/or conduct the music at a church, cathedral, or royal chapel.

Magnificat: Latin for "magnify" from "My soul doth magnify the Lord," the virgin Mary's song of thanksgiving as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.

Margrave (Gr. Markgraf): hereditary title for governor of a province in Germany 'Markgrafschaft' until the late 19th century, originally military governor of a county's de-marc-ation (same word-origin)

Marienkirche: Church of Mary

Mass: the sacred liturgy first of the Roman Catholic church, and later of the Lutheran and Anglican rites, in which the Last Supper of Jesus, or Holy Eucharist, is celebrated. Derived from the priest's last words "Ite missa est" (the table is concluded).

Mass Ordinary: Those portions of the Mass which are "ordinary" in any service, any Sunday of the church opposed to the proper elements which are linked to particular services in the year.

Mass Proper: Those portions of the Mass which are "proper" to particular Sundays of the church year...not done in every service throughout the year like the Ordinary elements.

Meer: in German the word "Meer" means "ocean." Beethoven is making a pun on the word "Bach," which means "brook" in German.

Meistersinger: German minstrel who competed in singing contests of songs composed according to strict rules formulated by various craftsmen's guilds which offered prizes and status rankings (pupil, friend, singer, poet, and master).

Melody: pitches and rhythms sounding sequentially in time (one after the other).

Michaeliskirche: "Church of St. Michael"

Michaelisschule: "St. Michael's School"

Missa canonica: "canonic Mass"

Missa sine nomine: "Mass without a name"

Missa: Latin for Mass

Monadic: a style of vocal writing developed late in the 16th century in reaction to polyphony; solo song characterized by recitative-like declamation and accompanied by the thoroughbass.

Monochord: vibrating string of a fixed length that, when divided into various equal parts, produces all of the pitches considered to have been consonant. Favorite device of theorists to provide an acoustical justification for the idea of consonance.

Monody: a style of vocal writing developed late in the 16th century in reaction to polyphony; solo song characterized by recitative-like declamation and accompanied by the thoroughbass.

Morte e sepoltura di Cristo: "the death and burial of Christ."

Motet: generally an unaccompanied choral composition, in Latin, to a sacred text that is not part of the Mass ordinary or proper. In the German baroque, the motet was usually in the vernacular, and sometimes accompanied by instruments.

Motive: a very small melodic unit.

Musicalisches Lexicon: "Lexicon of Music and Musicians"

Nadir: opposite of zenith; the lowest point, time of greatest dejection or depression.

Neue Clavierübung: "New Keyboard Practice"

Neue Kirche: "New" Church

Nikolaikirche: "St. Nicolas Church"

Numerus perfectus: "perfect number" (the number six)

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland: "Come, Savior of the Heathen"

O Gott, du frommer Gott: "O God, Thou Righteous God"

Obbligato: a melody of some independence that accompanies another musical idea. Historically the term has meant that the obbligato part is "obligatory" and cannot be omitted. Unfortunately the term is often used meaning the opposite. In German spelled "Obligato"

Ode: a strophic musical form having a free meter and patterned after Classical Greek or Latin poetry. An ode is usually in praise of a deity; it may contain several movements.

Oeuvre: French for "repertory" or the entire creative output of an artist.

Opera Buffa: "comic opera" in two acts as opposed to opera with a "serious" plot (opera seria), typically in three acts.

Opera Seria: 18th century "serious opera" in three acts and in the Italian style of A. Scarlatti or Handel (vis a vis opera buffa comic opera, in two acts).

Opera: a staged and acted secular musical drama, accompanied by orchestra, often preceded by an overture. The text is called a libretto. See opera buffa and opera seria

Oratorio: an unstaged drama or narrative of Biblical events composed for voices (alternating aria, narrator, recitative, full chorus, etc.) and accompanied by instruments.

Ornamentation: the 17th- through 19th-century practice of improvising decorative pitches in addition to those that are printed in the score.

Oude Kerk: a Dutch Reformed church.

Overture: an instrumental introduction to an opera, oratorio, cantata, suite (or similar instrumental work). Eighteenth-century overtures were of two distinct styles: Italian and French.

Parnassus: in Greek mythology Parnassus was the mountain dwelling of the muses. The implication of Fux's "Steps to Parnassus" was that a composer, having climbed Parnassus, would have achieved a perfect compositional technique.

Part Writing: a synthesis of practices and beliefs that composers of each style period tend to hold in common with respect to the types of motion permissible between related parts. See, voice leading.

Partita: in the 17th century, a variation; in 18th century Germany, variation of a chorale melody or often synonymous with suite.

Passion Music: an extended choral drama portraying the events of the last week of the life of Jesus Christ, traditionally performed in an unstaged liturgical environment on Good Friday.

Pièces de clavecin: "Compositions for Harpsichord"

Prelude: an instrumental piece that was written to be played before a hymn, ceremony, or other instrumental piece such as a suite or fugue.

Probe: a person interviewing for civic, municipal, or ecclesiastical employment would undergo a "test" or "trial" (examination) by the authorities. In the case of musicians the "Probe" normally involved an audition or concert.

Psalm: a choral setting of a Psalm text.

Quartet: a composition for four instruments and players (usually strings).

Rathsmusikus: a musician in service to the city council.

Recitative: a declamatory style of vocal delivery designed to approximate the natural rhythms and inflections of speech. The recitative was first employed in opera, later in oratorios, passions, and cantatas.

Requiem: literally "rest" (the first and last words of the Roman Catholic "Mass for the Dead"); came to designate that burial service.

Ricercar: term denoting a number of 17th-century instrumental types the most important of which was an highly imitative precursor of the 18th-century fugue.

Ritteracademie: School for Chivalry (Gallantry)

Ritornello: In 17th and 18th century opera, a short instrumental passage that recurs at various points in an aria or between sections of a lengthy choral work.

Sacred Service: may refer in its broadest sense to the liturgy of any Judeo-Christian group. A narrower meaning applies to the music of the Anglican or Jewish liturgies.

Scherzi Musicali: literally "musical jokes"

Schmalkaldic War: expulsion of Protestants from Moravia during the nascent counter-reformation (mid-16th century).

Sebalduskirche: "Church of Sebald"

Seconda Prattica: Italian for "second practice"

Secular Cantata: a vocal setting (choral, solo, or both) of poetry that is not from Holy Scripture or otherwise primarily religious.

Seminario musical dell' Ospedal della pieta: "School of Music at the Hospital of Compassion"

Senario: Term used by 16th-century music theorist, Gioseffo Zarlino, to denote the division of the monochord into six proportions, thereby enabling him to generate all consonances from one acoustical source.

Seventh Chord: a chord containing (or implying) four pitches: a root, third, fifth, and seventh.

Signum Perfectionis: "sign (or symbol) of perfection"

Singspiel: beginning in 1700, "Singspiel" was the German equivalent of the Italian "dramma per musica"--drama with music--which included serious and comic opera. Around 1750 the term came to mean comic opera with spoken dialog.

Soli Deo Gloria: "to God alone be the Glory." J. S. Bach often wrote this (or its abbreviation "S.D.G.") at the conclusion of his scores (secular as well as sacred).

Solo Cantata: multi-movement cantata for solo voice accompanied by instruments; may be sacred or secular.

Solo Concerto: an instrumental composition that contrasts the timbre of the full orchestra with that of a solo instrument; usually written so as to showcase the technical possibilities of the solo instrument and the skill of the performer.

Sonata: an instrumental composition for solo or ensemble that contains three or four sections or movements. See chamber sonata, church sonata, and trio sonata

Song: a composition for solo voice, usually accompanied by one or more instruments.

Species Counterpoint: a systematic categorization (simple to complicated) of 16th-century contrapuntal norms according to the complexity of motion and dissonance in each category (species); developed by J. J. Fux in "Gradus ad Parnassum."

Stabat Mater: a 13th-century sequence of the Roman Catholic Church "Stabat mater dolorosa..." that was added to the liturgy in 1727.

Stadtpfeifer: Town "piper" whose duties were to provide music for municipal and civic functions.

Stile Antico: also known as "Roman" or "Palestrina" style, a term used to refer to the 16th-century conservative, basically choral, style favored by the Roman church. Some composers continued to develop this style into the 18th and 19th centuries side-by-side with the more progressive idioms.

Stollen: See bar form.

Suite: an important instrumental form, of the baroque period, comprised of a series of movements (usually in the same key), patterned after popular dances, typically: allemande, courante, sarabande, gigue, and one more optional dance.

Symphony: beginning in the last half of the 18th century, a composition, for large instrumental ensemble, in the form of a sonata (from the first half of that century).

Teatro alla moda: "theater in the latest style"

Temporal: in music, those parameters--such as beat, rhythm, and meter--having to do with time.

Tertian: a branch of music theory that describes chords as pitches stacked on top of each other separated by the interval of a third. This theory is the basis for most tonal music.

Thaler (or Taler): a silver coin that was the monetary unit in 18th-century Germany; the root word from which we get "dollar."

Theorbo: a large instrument of the lute family.

Thirty Years' War: period between 1618 and 1648 when Protestants and Catholics of Spain, France, Sweden, Bohemia, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire were embroiled in a continuous state of war.

Thomaskirche: "St. Thomas Church"

Thomasschule: "St. Thomas School"

Thoroughbass: 17th- and 18th-century term denoting the basso continuo part or the performance practices associated with the playing of that part.

Toccata: a virtuoso piece for keyboard (usually organ or harpsichord) employing dazzling passage work and dramatic chords in an idiomatic setting for the instrument.

Tonus Contrarius: "contrary melody" (counterpoint) apparently in reference to highly ornamented and harmonically daring chorale variations that Bach composed after his return from hearing Buxtehude's Abendmusik.

Tonus Peregrinus: "pilgrim melody" in reference to a cantus firmus or accompanied chorale melody.

Traite de l'Harmonie: "Treatise on Harmony"

Trio Sonata: composition written in three parts but usually played by four people (the continuo part being "realized" by two musicians). The trio sonata was the most important instrumental form of the baroque.

Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie: "Ancestry of the Musical Bach Family"

Versuch über di wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen: "Essay on the Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments"

Versuch einer Anweisung, die Flöte traversière zu spielen,"Method for Playing the Transverse Flute" (literally for playing the flute "widthwise" or "en chamade")

Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule: "School for acquiring knowledge of the Violin." Leopold Mozart's 1756 book on violin technique.

Viennese Classicism: the late 18th-century style of music typified by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, all of whom worked in Vienna.

Viola Pomposa: while in Cöthen Bach invented this instrument of the violin family which had five strings, tuned much like a viola, but with a range between that of a viola and a 'cello.

Violinschule: "violin school"

Virtuoso: musician with extraordinary technical skills; a composition that requires such skills.

Voice Leading: a synthesis of practices and beliefs that composers of each style period tend to hold in common with respect to the types of motion permissible between related parts. See part writing.

Vorgemach der mus. Komposition: "the Rudiments of Music Composition"

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern: "How Brightly Shines the Morning Star"

Zippel Fagottist: "nanny-goat bassoonist"