An Extensive Encyclopedic Music Dictionary

An Extensive
Traditional and Folk Music
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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(Section B2)

Baring-Gould, Sabine (1834-1924) the Reverend Baring-Gould did some original field collecting, publishing a number of textbooks in the 1890s. He saw no problem in reconstructing and editing to suit his own tastes, something that must have driven folklorists mad. Like many collectors of his time, he was convinced that folksong must be rural, and like Child, F.J., ignored the large repertoire of city and town songs. As Lloyd, A.L. pointed out in "Folk Song in England", Baring-Gould collected a version of "Strawberry Fair" and said that it contained a double-entendre that the old singers probably didn’t even understand, so he completely rewrote it. The dreadful obscenity was this: "Oh, I have a lock that doth lack a key...And if you got the key then come this way." Sexual metaphor is the very stuff of amatory folksong. There must bethousands of examples (see Foggy Foggy Dew). If Mr B-G wanted to keep this giggler from schoolchildren, that’s one thing, but he should have left the song alone. See also bowdlerize, genteel, rewrites.

baritone one of the ranges of the voice. It falls below tenor; the usual specified range is from the G or A at the bottom of the bass staff to the F above middle C. See also vocal ranges. 2. The word 'baritone' describes a type of male voice of middle range. The word is also used to specify pitched and valved brass instruments of lowish register and as an adjective to distinguish the rare lowest member of the oboe family, also known as a bass oboe, sounding an octave (eight notes) lower than the normal oboe.

barker 1. (from carnival slang) A morris dancer, often the Fool, who introduces the dances to the crowd, drums up donations, etc. 2. (UK) A tanner.

baroque (Fr. "bizarre") a term usually associated with European formal music from about 1600 to about 1750. It isn’t really classical, although it’s put under that heading when speaking generally. Bach and Handel were the great representatives of the time. The common use of the word, usually referring to art or architecture of the period, has the sense of something big, dark, and ornate, usually excessively so. See also rococo.

baroque pitch musicians who play period instruments and music often use a lower pitch standard than our current A440 - one semitone lower at 415.3 Hz.

Baroque-Once used as a term of critical disapproval, the word 'baroque' is now used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1600 to about 1750, although any such periodisation in history can only be a rough guide. In musicology the term was borrowed from the history of art and architecture. In music the baroque era may conveniently be divided into three fifty-year periods, Early Baroque, Middle Baroque and Late Baroque. The first of these is typified by the Italian composer Monteverdi, the Middle Baroque by composers such as Henry Purcell in England or Lully in France and the Late Baroque by Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

Barrand, Tony began singing with John Roberts in 1969; both are English expatriates living in the northeast US. In 1973/74, they organized the noted morris and sword (see sword dances) teams of Marlboro, Vermont, where North America’s largest morris Ale is held. They have made a number of albums; some are a general approach to British traditional music, while others specialise in ritual songs. Tony is the author of "Six Fools and a Dancer", a book about the history and performance of the morris. He is widely considered to be an expert on both folksong and folk dance.

barre chord (also "bar chord") playing a fretted instrument chord by placing the index finger across the fret and using the other three to select notes of the chord. The advantage is that they can be played on any fret, giving a large repertoire of chords. The disadvantage is that they’re somewhat difficult to play quickly.

barrel organ usually a hand-cranked portable organ, though the term includes much larger, permanent types. The notes are selected by a rotating barrel-and-pin arrangement, eliminating the need for musical talent. Widely used by "organgrinders" in street music, or so cartoonists would have us believe (they do seem to be rather rare, especially the ones with monkeys). Sometimes confused with the hurdy gurdy.

barrelhouse a loose term that can be an adjective, usually referring to a blues piano style of the 20s-40s (and usually rather rough, or at least loud and spirited), or a verb that seems to have an open definition in the same way as boogie.

basic-interval-pattern. (set-theory, nonlinear) abbrev. bip (Forte). the normal-order of an interval-class set.

bass 1. The lower part of an instrument’s range ("Play it on the bass strings"). 2. The electric bass guitar, now almost a standard because of its portability. It’s tuned E A D G, one octave below the E A D G of the guitar. You might occasionally see the six-string version, tuned E A D G B E, one octave below the guitar. 3. The acoustic or upright bass, also called the "double" bass, since it often plays the bass notes one octave below the melody. Also tuned E A D G. Oddly, the acoustic bass is sometimes called the "string bass", even though all basses have strings. 4. The lowest of male voices. The range is usually specified from the F at the bottom of the bass staff to the E above middle C. Good bass singers are rare. See also vocal ranges.

bass guitar 1. The electric four-string or six-string bass guitar. Almost always fretted, although models with fretless necks are available. 2. The acoustic four-string bass guitar. At a glance, it could be mistaken for a large six-string guitar. The sound is necessarily soft; this is one instrument that benefits from a pickup. Also known as a "guitarron". Occasionally seen with six strings.

bass run see run.

bass. the lowest pitch, or the lowest note. Notice that bass is not the same as root, tonic, or fundamental, and that bass is a pitch, not a pitch-class.

bass-arpeggiation. (Schenker: Grundbrechung). the fundamental bass movement in a composition, normally the roots of I V I.

Bass-baritone- A bass-baritone is a male singer with a range that includes both bass and baritone registers, described by Wagner, who wrote for this kind of voice, as a high bass.

basscan a homemade bass using a large metal can as the resonator - a variation on the washtub bass ("gutbucket").

Basso continuo- The basso continuo or continuo is the figured bass commonly used in music of the baroque period. It was the normal practice to make use of a bass instrument of some kind, for example a cello or bass viola da gamba and a chordal instrument, a keyboard instrument or plucked string instrument, the part of the latter indicated by numbers added to the music for the bass instrument, showing the chords as a basis for improvised accompaniment or 'filling in' and embellishing of harmonies. Literally, continuous bass; a Baroque practice in which a bass line mechanically keeps the beat as well as supplying the foundation of the harmony.

Bassoon-The bassoon is a double-reed wind instrument (= German: Fagott; Italian: fagotto). It is the bass of the woodwind section in the modern orchestra, which can be augmented by the use of a double bassoon of lower range.

Bass-The word 'bass' describes the lower register and lower sonorities in music. In vocal music it indicates the lowest type of male voice, and in instrumental music is generally used to indicate the bottom part. As an adjective it is used to describe instruments of lower register, such as the bass clarinet. In common speech the word bass may indicate the double bass, the largest and lowest instrument of the string family, or, in brass bands, an instrument corresponding to the orchestral tuba, the bass of the brass family.

Battlefield Band Scottish group performing up-tempo arrangements of traditional and contemporary folk on synthesizer, bagpipes, fiddle and guitar. The musicianship is exemplary and they’re quite successful - they had a pop hit with Creedence Clearwater’s "Bad Moon Rising", one of the few hits featuring bagpipes.

bawbee (UK, also "bawbie", "baubie", etc.) a halfpenny.

bawdy a bawdy song has references to sex and is full of naughty words. Bawdy songs will be bowdlerized for the consumption of genteel people, with the result that all the life goes out of them.

B-B is a note in the musical scale (= German: H; French, Italian, Spanish etc.: si).

beam not a word that’s used often. In notation, it’s the line or lines joining the stems of two or more notes together for clarity in interpreting the meter. Not to be confused with tie.

beat 1. To non-musicians, the beat of a tune is how it makes you tap your foot - fast, slow, etc. 2. To musicians, it means the number of beats per measure. 3. See beatnik. 4. When two notes that are slightly different in pitch are played together, a low-frequency pulsing may be heard - these are beats, and their frequency is usually the difference between the frequencies of the two notes. Beats can be heard from a well-tuned piano - if you sound a C and the G above it, the natural scale G harmonic of the C note will beat with the G note, whose frequency is set to the equal-tempered scale. Also called "combination", "difference", and "resultant" tones.

beat-frequencies. a difference-tone where the difference in two frequencies is 20 Hz or less.

beatnik a media word for members of the counterculture, coined after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, taken from that and Jack Kerouac’s popularizing of the phrase "beat generation". Similar to "hippie" in the 60s. They used to hang out in coffeehouses and listen to jazz and folk music, among other things. Now more of a joke word than anything. It was a joke in the early counterculture, too; people who called someone else a "beatnik" always got a big laugh. In moments of seriousness, they might say "beat", but even this was seen as a populist, restrictive label.

beats. 1. a constant unit of time that forms a background clock in music. 2. difference tones whose frequency difference is below 20 Hz, resulting in separate pulses rather than a "tone". These are often used in tuning instruments.

Beat-The beat or pulse in a piece of music is the regular rhythmic pattern of the music. Each bar should start with a strong beat and each bar should end with a weak beat. These may be known as the down-beat (strong, at the beginning of a bar) and the up-beat (weak, at the end of a bar). Up and down describe the gestures of a conductor, whose preparatory up-beat is of even greater importance to players than his down-beat.

Bedlam it’s possible that our word for utter confusion derives from a corruption of the name of St Mary’s of Bethlehem Hospital in London, begun in the 16th century and one of the first state-supported mental asylums in England. It’s mentioned often in London songs, and even had a cycle of poems written about it, with a number of inmates getting their own poems (Mad Tom, Mad Maudlin, etc.). Nic Jones set Mad Tom’s poem to music in the early 70s, and the song is now popular with folk musicians as either "Mad Tom of Bedlam" or "Boys of Bedlam".

Beers Family Bob Beers (1920-1972), his wife Evelyne, their daughter Marty and son-in-law Eric Nagler performed widely, doing the traditional music of the eastern US. In 1966, they founded the Fox Hollow Fox Festival, and also started the Fox Hollow recording label.

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827) the great composer occasionally worked with folk tunes. He arranged a number of Scottish tunes for orchestra, and the "Ode to Joy" from the Ninth Symphony has a nice folksong ring to it. Ludwig must have been a folkie at heart - he had no time for pedantry, stuffed shirts, pointless rules and suits in general. The "Ode", incidentally, has had a set of English lyrics written for it, and they can be found in Rise Up Singing as the song "Hymn for Nations". There is also another set of lyrics by Don West, recorded by Seeger, Pete on his "Pete" CD. (It was Pete Seeger who started off the folkie interest in the Ninth with his banjo recording on the "Goofing Off Suite" for Folkways - see also Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.) A bit of Beethoven trivia: if you listen to the Andante near the end of the ballet "Creatures of Prometheus", you’ll hear the opening notes of "My Grandfather’s Clock" (see Work, Henry Clay).

Belafonte, Harry (1927- ) born in Harlem, NY and seen largely as a middle-of-the-road singer, Harry Belafonte’s roots are in folk music. His repertoire of American and West Indian folk songs got him a gig in NYC, establishing him as a singer. In the late 50s, a recording contract produced his hits: "Jamaica Farewell", "Matilda", "Day-O" (which became a hit for the Tarriers as "The Banana Boat Song" - Belafonte’s version tends to be the one remembered), and many others. His albums, particularly the Carnegie Hall concert, show a thorough knowledge of the folk idiom, although folkies might consider some of the arrangements a tad dramatic.

belive (Scot., also "belyve") quickly. Rhymes with "beehive".

Bellamy, Peter (1944-1991) English singer, songwriter and concertina player. Originally a member of the Young Tradition, a group that popularized a great deal of British traditional music, he also wrote songs such as "Roll Down" that appeared to be absolutely traditional. His settings of poems by Kipling, Rudyard are becoming more popular with folkies all the time. He also wrote a folk opera called "The Transports", which is about people transported to Australia because of criminal charges. He wrote scathing record reviews for Folk Review, the English folk music magazine, usually lamenting singers turning away from tradition, or handling traditional music badly. His energetic voice had a rather lush vibrato that wasn’t pleasing to everyone; one critic came up with an anagram for his name: "Elmer P. Bleaty". Like Phil Ochs, he took his own life, ending years of enormous influence on folk music. He will be missed.

bellman(UK) 1. A bailiff. 2. A town crier.

ben (Scot.) in.

Ben marcato-well-marked.

bend in general, to smoothly raise the pitch of a note by a certain amount and then return it to the original pitch. The amount of the bend depends on the musician’s preference; fiddlers can lower the pitch as well, but players of fretted instruments can only raise it by stretching the string to the side (unless they’re using a slide). A common ornament in all types of music. Synonymous with "slur" and blue note.

Benoit, Emile (1913- ) Newfoundland fiddler and composer. He has appeared at many folk festivals in Canada and the US, playing his blend of Celtic and Quebecois fiddle styles. His tunes have been widely played by others; he has two albums of his music.

bent 1. (UK) a reedy grass. 2. A note that has been raised or lowered slightly from its normal pitch; a common ornament in all types of music. Occasionally called a blue note.

Berceuse-A berceuse is a cradle-song or lullaby, in lilting triple or compound time. The most famous example of the use of this title is by Chopin, who wrote one Berceuse, followed by Liszt.

berk see birk.

besom (UK, also "beezom") a twig broom. Occasionally, the twigs used.

best-normal-order (Forte) (set-theory, nonlinear), abbrev. BNO. the most compact form chosen from a set and its inverse (see normal-order). Forte uses the BNO to the exclusion of normal-order, e.g. in his list of all sets in Appendix I of The Structure of Atonal Music (1973), thereby making no distinction between major and minor chords. I.e., C E G, a major chord, has a normal-order of 047 but C, E-flat, G (minor and the inverse of 047) has a normal-order of 037. In Forte's system there is no distinction -- both are 037, identified with the set-name 3-11 (there is no 047 in his list). Solomon (Interface, Vol. 11/2, 1982) proposes a new list that includes the inverse forms; the major chord is named 3-11B.

Bewegt-Bewegt (German: agitated) is used as a tempo indication meaning something the same as the Italian 'agitato', although mässig bewegt is used as the equivalent of allegro moderato.

Bibb, Leon (1935- ) guitarist and singer from Kentucky who began singing in clubs in Greenwich Village in the late 50s. He played major clubs and festivals across the US, and recorded for Vanguard and Columbia.

Bikel, Theodore (1924- ) actor/singer, originally from Austria, who had some success in the folk revival of the 60s. He specialised in international songs, recorded a large number of albums, and played the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He continues to perform.

Billings, William (1758-1795) a self-taught composer who wrote innovative hymns in Massachusetts in the late 18th century. The hymn music of Billings and his contemporaries contributed greatly to the repertoire of sacred harp singing. Billings is considered the first important American composer - his style lay somewhere between the folk approach and European classicism. His "Chester" became a marching song during the American Revolution, and his "Waters of Babylon" and "David’s Lamentation" (aka "Absolom") are still sung today ("Babylon" was recorded by Don McLean on the "American Pie" album). In terms of formal music, the style of Billings and his contemporaries was soon made obsolete by the enormous outpouring of the European composers, but it carried on through the sacred harp, which has been called "religious folk music". It’s interesting to note that "Chester" sounds vaguely like "Onward, Christian Soldiers". It isn’t impossible that Sir Arthur Sullivan, who wrote "Soldiers" more than a century after Billings, might have heard the music and might have been influenced.

bimodality. the simultaneous use of two modes.

binary. a two part form, normally A B. Usually these parts are repeated, hence A A B B, and the first part normally moves from the tonic to the dominant, either as a half cadence or as a modulation. In a minor piece the change is normally from tonic to the relative major key. The second part then moves back to the tonic. Each part is normally subdivided into binary as well. With a four measure phrase as a basic unit, the simplest binary pieces consist of an 8-measure A section and an 8-measure B section with each section repeated. Each of these is subdivided into two 4-measure phrases. A special type of binary, the rounded-binary is very important in music, and is the proto-sonata form. The rounded-binary has the same structure as the simple binary with a repetition of part, or all, of A at the end of B. The binary form is normally an "open" form, which means that the sections are dependent upon one another for their existence. This is due mainly to the motion away from the tonic, e.g. cadencing on the dominant at the end of A. Thus, section-A sounds incomplete by itself.

birk (UK, also "berk") a dunce, an idiot, etc.

birkie (Scot.) fellow, lad.

bis (Fr. "twice") seen in printed songs to indicate that a line of the lyrics is to be sung twice. more often, "2x" is used.

bitonal two keys going at once. Rarely encountered in folk, though folk does like parallel harmonies, and if you play a tune in C with a parallel fifth for harmony, you really have a song in C and G at the same time. Because parallel harmonies drag if carried on too long, the bitonal effect is a passing one.