An Extensive Encyclopedic Music Dictionary

An Extensive
Traditional and Folk Music
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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(Section H1)


ha (Scot.) hall, house.

Habanera(= Havanaise)- The Habanera is a Cuban dance from Havana, later introduced to Spain. One of the most famous examples is found in Bizet's Spanish opera Carmen, where Carmen herself sings a seductive Habanera. Ravel includes a Habanera in his Rapsodie espagnole and also wrote a Vocalise en forme de habanera, while Debussy makes use of the characteristic rhythm of the dance.

Hal-an-Tow the name of a song well-known in British traditional music, often sung by morris teams in connection with the May 1 sunrise ritual ("We were up, long before the day-o, to welcome in the summer..."). It was recorded by the Albion Band and was a commercial success for the Oyster Band. There’s some disagreement about the meaning of the title, but the best explanation so far is that it’s simply "heel-and-toe". The rest of the chorus ("jolly rumbelow") appears to be nonsense syllables.

half-cadence. a cadence on the dominant.

half-diminished-seventh. a chord made of a diminished triad with an added minor-seventh; e.g., B D F A.

half-step. the smallest distance between notes in a chromatic scale; syn., semitone, the difference in pitch between any two adjacent keys on a piano keyboard. Also called a halftone or semitone.

Hall, Than pseudonym used by Ritchie, Jean.

hallan (Scot.) a wall shielding the fireplace from drafts from the front door - the forerunner of the foyer.

halt (UK) lame. Also used as a verb in place of "limp".

halyard song one of the types of shanties.

Hamilton, Frank see the Weavers, Carawan, Guy.

hammer a way of producing a decorative note, widely used by all stringed instrument players. The note is plucked and a lefthand finger is brought sharply down onto the fingerboard, producing a note that suddenly rises in pitch (hammering on). The word is sometimes thought of as being modern, but it’s listed in a musical dictionary from 1668. Its opposite is hammering off - the note is played on a stopped string and the finger suddenly lifted off, giving a note that drops in pitch. This latter is also known as "pulling" or "pulling off", an inevitable source of weak jokes.

hammered dulcimer no relation to the Appalachian dulcimer, which is held on the lap or placed on a table and strummed. The hammered dulcimer looks like a small piano with no keyboard and no top. It’s played by hitting the strings directly with small wooden hammers, much as in vibraphone playing. Since there’s usually no provision for damping the strings, the sound is sustained and busy. It’s best suited to acoustic bands or outdoor playing. Considered the forerunner of the piano (along with the clavichord), the hammered dulcimer is found in many cultures (see cimbalom for some other names). Compare with psaltery.

Hammond Jr, John (1942- ) son of Hammond, John and a performer of country blues since 1962. He has recorded numerous albums for various labels and has appeared at major festivals. He is considered an expert at the bottleneck style of blues playing; he plays both the acoustic guitar and the National steel guitar, and performs many of the songs of Johnson, Robert.

Hammond, John (1910-1987) producer for Columbia and Vanguard records. He recorded works by Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, and arranged concerts for musicians like Count Basie and Broonzy, Bill. In the 60s he supervised recordings for Dylan, Bob, Seeger, Pete, Cohen, Leonard and others (it’s largely due to him that Columbia recorded Dylan). His writings on music have been widely published.

Hand Vibrato-A technique used with a bell set where the player waves his hand back and forth above the bell that was played to produce a vibrato. Harmonica-The Western harmonica or mouth-organ is an invention of the early 19th century, inspired by the ancient Chinese bamboo mouth-organ, the sheng. The 20th century chromatic harmonica, of which Larry Adler has been a leading exponent, has inspired a number of composers, including Vaughan Williams, who wrote a Romance for harmonica and orchestra.

handkerchief dance A morris dance in which the motions of the dancer’s arms are accented by the waving of large white handkerchiefs. See also stick dance.

Handy, W.C. (1873-1958) (William Christopher Handy) a multi-talented songwriter, arranger, collector, editor, and musician who started in the minstrel tradition with a group called "Mahara’s Minstrels". He was the author of "St Louis Blues" (1914), "Beale Street Blues" (1917), "Memphis Blues" (1912), and many others. He joined with Harry Pace (1884-1943) to form Pace and Handy, a successful music publishing company originally in Memphis, but which moved to NYC in 1918. It was dissolved in 1921, becoming Pace Records. Pace recorded many black musicians until it was taken over by Paramount in 1924. W.C. continued to write and arrange; his autobiography is called "The Father of the Blues".

Hannah the sun. The word seems to have originated among black prisoners in the US south.

Harburg, Yip (1898-1981) (Isadore Harburg) not a folkie by any means, but perhaps he should be considered one for his superb 1932 song, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime". Few professional songwriters could get away with what would later be considered a protest song, and an artful one at that. Other well-known works: "Over the Rainbow", "Off to See the Wizard", and "Follow the Yellow Brick Road", co-authored with Harold Arlen for the film "Wizard of Oz" (1939).

Hardanger fiddle a Norwegian violin with drone strings under the main strings and fingerboard; it’s used occasionally by folkie fiddle players.

Hardin, Tim (1941-1980) began as a singer-guitarist-pianist in the folk revival and was popular at clubs and festivals from the 60s to the 70s. Originally, he performed traditionally-styled folk and country, but later began to experiment with jazz-oriented blues and complex arrangements.

harmonic a note produced on any instrument is not one, pure frequency. It consists of a series of tones (see harmonic series). These tones follow a strict order, because physics says that the note will divide itself up according to simple ratios: after the fundamental, which is the lowest frequency and the one that determines the pitch, the first harmonic is the octave with a ratio of 2:1. Next is the fifth, with a ratio of 3:2. As the frequency goes up, the harmonics eventually produce all the notes of the natural scale (see harmonic series, below). Some may be absent, depending on the method of producing the note, and some may be extra-loud. It’s the balance of harmonics that gives the note its characteristic sound, and why we can tell the difference between the note played on a violin and the same note played on a flute. See also formant. Harmonics can be demonstrated on any fretted instrument (guitars make good ones). Place a lefthand finger lightly on a string over the 12th fret (a node point) and pluck firmly near the bridge. A high-pitched tone should sing out. This is the octave harmonic. Repeat over the 7th fret. This is the fifth (if you’ve plucked the E string, the harmonic will be a B note). Harmonics are occasionally used as musical notes (and then called, although rarely, flageolets), particularly by guitarists (since the guitar harmonics are easy to do and quite loud), and violinists - the string is lightly touched while bowing to subdue the fundamental note (and any other harmonics that don’t have a node at that point). Violin harmonics are thin and very high-pitched, giving quite an atmospheric effect. There is a discrepancy in terms between the musical and physical use of the word. In music, the first harmonic is the octave. In physics, the first harmonic refers to the fundamental.

harmonic minor see scale.

harmonic series a note, or any musical sound, is made up of a series of sounds, each called a harmonic; the pitch of each harmonic is related to the fundamental note by its numerical position: the octave is twice the fundamental, the third harmonic is three times the fundamental, the fourth harmonic four times, and so on. The presence or absence of various harmonics, and the loudness of each, determines the musical tone or timbre (see also formant). Note: there are two different ways of counting the harmonics. One is to specify the fundamental, and the next tone (the octave) is called the "first harmonic". The second method is to call the fundamental the first harmonic, and that’s the method used here, since it simplifies explaining the frequencies. Note 2: the following applies only to a pure musical note. Every sound produces harmonics, but they aren’t always related by simple integers. If you thump your fist on the desk, for instance, there’ll be lots of harmonics, but the relationship between them is every which way, and so the resultant sound has little musical pitch. The harmonic series is the basis for our musical scale series, although there are differences from our modern standard.

Here are the first 16 harmonics for a C note with the pitch taken as 1 Hz for illustration. You can see that all of the notes of the scale in C have been generated, except that F is sharp, and a flatted seventh is added (F appears as harmonic 21, or it can be taken as 4/3 above C).





































The caret (^) marks the notes that are always shown in musical dictionaries as being unmusical, to the annoyance of those who favor scales made from the series (see just intonation). There is no reason that the F#, A, and Bb can’t be considered musical notes, even if they are flat (from the current standard) by a noticeable percentage of a semitone - it’s just the way the scale has evolved throughout our musical history. (If you’d like to experiment with this and you have a guitar and an electronic tuner, tune the 3rd string (G) down by about 30 cents. When a Bb is played on the 3rd string, 3rd fret, it will be in the 7/4 ratio marked above when you play it along with the C on the 5th string, third fret. What a blue note! Try a C-E-Bb super-blues seventh chord.) The ratio of any interval can be found easily from the above series; for instance, a third is C to E, which is 5 to 4. A fifth is C to G, or 6 to 4 (usually taken as 3/2) and so on. The natural third, fourth, and fifth sound just fine, so the scale of just intonation used the above system, and adjusted the non-conformist notes (the A, for instance, can be set by taking it as a pure fourth above E). This didn’t work well when it came to playing in other keys (discussed in natural scale), so another fix was the Pythagorean scale, and then the meantone scale, which got all the thirds correct and allowed at least some key-changing. Eventually we arrived at our present equal-tempered scale. See also temperament.

harmonic. an overtone whose frequency is equal to the fundamental frequency multiplied by an integer. A harmonic series consists of a number of harmonics ascending from the fundamental. Although all harmonics are overtones, the opposite is not so.

Harmonica Frank (Frank Floyd) recorded for Puritan in the 50s, featuring "white rockabilly and black rural rhythm-and-blues styles". He also recorded on the Adelphi label and continued to do stage work at least into the 70s.

harmonica widely known as "harp", "mouth harp", "French harp" andnever as "mouth organ", this is actually a versatile instrument in the hands (mouth?) of a talented player. It’s a wonderful choice for song accompaniment, and can go from a plaintive cry to a hurtling steam-train rhythm. It’s particularly good at accompanying the blues. The harmonica is diatonic, but can manage other keys using the technique of "cross-harp". For instance, if you’re playing a blues in C Major and would like to have a Bb note (see seventh), an F Major harmonica can supply that. It takes a bit of getting used to if you want to play in some other key than the one stamped on the case. Another example: if you have a C harp and want to play in the Dorian mode ("Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is in the Dorian mode), you could just go ahead and play, placing the keynote on D. Since the Dorian mode is the same as the key of D minus the two sharps that are usually there, you’re away (C Major has no sharps or flats). There are also harmonicas with buttons that provide sharps and flats, allowing other keys, but they are rarely used. There is also a glass harmonica, which has nothing at all to do with the above.

harmonic-axis. in tonal music it is believed that tonic and dominant form the structural foundation for a key. This pair forms the harmonic axis.

harmonic-cluster. a tone cluster produced by sympathetic vibration.

harmonic-function. traditional harmonic theory holds that chords have "functions". These functions are believed to spring from the idea of a harmonic axis consisting of I and V. The other sonorities, or chords are considered to be substitutes for I or V, or for the IV, called the dominant preparation. The function of I is that of resolution and stability, whereas V represents instability, tension and drive.

harmonic-minor. a mode consisting of T-S-T-T-S-T+S-S. See also minor.

harmonic-rhythm. the rate of chord change. A fast harmonic rhythm occurs in the Bach chorales, usually a different chord on every beat. A slow harmonic rhythm occurs in minimal music, where a single chord can continue indefinitely. Usually, the harmonic rhythm is inversely proportional to the tempo.

harmonic-sequence. a repeating pattern of root-movements manifested as a chord progression. A series of root movements down by third, for instance, is a harmonic sequence.

harmonic-series. a series of partials whose frequencies are integer (whole number) multiples of the fundamental frequency. In a harmonic series the second partial is 2 times the frequency of the fundamental, the third partial is 3 times the fundamental frequency, etc.

harmonic-tone. a pitch or note that is a part of the chord that is sounding; syn. chord-tone.

Harmoniemusik-Harmoniemusik is music for wind band. In its more limited sense the term is used to signify music for wind bands or wind ensembles in the service of the nobility from the middle of the 18th century to the end of the third decade of the 19th century, and their popular counterparts. The Harmonie, the band itself, which varied in number from a duo to the often found sextet or octet or to a much larger number of players, had its counterpart in France and in England, as well as its successors among emigrants to the United States of America.