An Extensive Encyclopedic Music Dictionary

An Extensive
Traditional and Folk Music
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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MacArthur, Margaret began collecting the songs of New England, particularly in Vermont where she lived. By 1951 she was singing on a local radio station, and with the coming of the folk revival, she made recordings for Folkways, and is now in demand at major festivals. When she isn’t backed by members of her family, she accompanies herself on dulcimer or a small harp.

MacColl, Ewan (1915-1989) born Jimmy Miller, Ewan probably had as much influence on British folk music as Pete Seeger did on American. Born in Scotland and later living in London, Ewan was originally a playwright during the 40s, but during the early 50s turned to promoting British traditional music during the folk revival in the UK. In the late 50s, he and his wife Seeger, Peggy collaborated on a series of radio-ballad productions for the BBC, from which we get legions of his fine compositions. He was an active collector of songs, and he and Peggy have published a number of ballad books, both of collected songs and their own works. He is best known as a songwriter with dozens of great songs, (many of which were co-written with Peggy) of which "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Shoals of Herring", "Sweet Thames Flow Softly", "Dirty Old Town", and "Ballad of Springhill" are just a few.

machine head (or just "machine") a tuning peg with gear drive between the knob and the peg for fine adjustments of pitch on stringed instruments. Almost all quality instruments have them, except for friction-fit types like the violin and dulcimer.

MacNeil, Rita (1944- ) the Cape Breton sing-songwriter began her career in Toronto in the early 70s, singing feminist songs. By the late 70s and early 80s, she was performing at major Canadian folk festivals and had recorded three albums. Her later songs were to reflect her Maritime roots. She now has at least ten albums, along with several Junos. Her best-known songs are "Working Man" and "You Taught Me Well". She is currently (1995) the host of a popular music show on CBC television ("Rita and Friends").

Macon, Uncle Dave (1870-1952) (David Macon) began playing professionally out of his Nashville home in 1918, recording a number of records in the 1920s. His music was based on traditional songs of the area, vaudeville tunes, English ballads, etc. In 1926, he became one of the first members of the Grand Ole Opry’s cast, where he performed until 1952. In 1927, he and Sam and Kirk McGee McGee Brothers formed a group called The Fruit Jar Drinkers and made a number of recordings. Dave’s banjo and performance style widely influenced many old-timey and folk pickers, including Seeger, Pete. Some of the songs he popularized include "Rock About My Saro Jane", "Jordan is a Hard Road", and "Sail Away, Ladies".

macrotonal scale. a scale having intervals larger than a semitone and not a sum of semitones.

madrigal a British term referring to a style of song, usually unaccompanied, and usually sounding vaguely like a hymn (there may or may not be religious references). There are two basic types, the madrigal proper and the air (or "ayre"). The madrigal proper is complicated, with contrapuntal elements and much variation on the melody with each new verse. The air is much simpler, less contrapuntal, and has the same melody for each verse. There is another category, the "ballett", which has a refrain, but this is beyond the scope of the document. The term "madrigal" is only occasionally encountered in folk music, although many of the chorus songs are no doubt derived from the madrigal form. See also glee, ballade, burden.

Madrigal-Originally a form of vocal composition of 14th century Italy, the madrigal became, in the 16th and 17th centuries, a favourite form of part-song, stemming first from Italy. In England the madrigal became popular in the last two decades of the 16th century in adaptations of Italian compositions and in new works by English composers.

Maestoso-Maestoso (Italian: majestic) is used to suggest a majestic manner of performance, either in mood or speed.

magazines see Come For To Sing, Dirty Linen, Living Tradition, The, Broadside, and Sing Out!.

maggot a fairly rare word meaning a dance or the tune for that dance. The Playford Dancing Master lists many, including "Betty’s Maggot", "Huntington’s Maggot", and "Captain’s Maggot". The derivation of the word has nothing to do with larvae, but comes from a ME word meaning "whim" or "odd fancy" (the word fancy also appears in tunes for dancing), which would also indicate that there may not be any specific dance steps. See also fiddle tunes.

Magnificat-The Magnificat is the canticle drawn from the biblical words attributed to the Mother of Christ, My soul doth magnify the Lord. It forms part of the evening service of Vespers, in the Divine Office of the Catholic liturgy, and thus appears in composed settings. As part of the evening service of the Church of England it has similarly been subjected to musical treatment. There are notable settings in the early 17th century by Monteverdi and a hundred years later by Johann Sebastian Bach and by Vivaldi, among many others.

mailing list, folk see Internet folk

maillins (Scot.) farmlands.

main (Scot., also "mayne") strength, power.

main stage festivals tend to have one large stage and a number of smaller ones, which are sometimes tents. The night concerts are held on the main stage; during the day, it’s used for a variety of purposes, including workshops and demonstrations.

Mainer’s Mountaineers an old-timey group formed in the early 30s by J.E. Mainer (1898-1971). They were known as "The Crazy Mountaineers" when they began broadcasting in North Carolina. They recorded for labels such as RCA, Arhoolie, and King, and continued to record a large number of albums into the 60s.

major chord something budding guitar and banjo players encounter all the time. A chord is made up of three or more notes, and a minimum major or minor chord is built from the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the scale - a C major chord contains C, E and G. This is called a triad. Note that the major triad consists of a major third (C to E) and a minor third (E to G). A lot of folksongs can be played with only the three principal chords, which are built as above on the first, fourth and fifth notes of the scale; for instance, in the key of C, the principal chords are C, F and G, a trio familiar to all instrumental beginners. The word "principal" refers to the fact that the three chords contain all the notes of the major scale among them, so one of them will probably harmonize (more or less) with a musical phrase. See also minor chord.

major key see scale.

major scale the eight notes of the major scale are arranged as tone-tone- semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone. This pattern is our familiar do-re-mis. See scale for further information.

major seventh by convention, adding the seventh note of the scale to a major chord requires the seventh to be flatted - C7, for example, contains the notes C-E-G-Bb. If the seventh is not flatted, the chord becomes a major seventh - Cmaj7, for example, contains the notes C-E-G-B.

major. a mode consisting of T-T-S-T-T-T-S.

major-chord. a chord whose triad is major; see major-triad.

Major-Major (= Latin: greater) is used in musical terminology to describe a form of scale that corresponds to the Ionian mode, the scale on the white notes of the keyboard from C to C. The intervals between the first note or tonic (key note) and the second, third, sixth and seventh degrees of the major scale are described as major (that is, C to D, a major second; C to E, a major third; C to A, a major sixth; C to B, a major seventh). A major chord or major triad consists of a bottom note with a note a major third above, and, optionally, a note a perfect fifth above the bottom note. In this way the chord or triad C - E - G is described as major.

major-seventh chord. a chord consisting of a major triad with an added major seventh; e.g. C E G B.

major-triad. a triad consisting of a root, major-third, and perfect-fifth.

Makem, Tommy (1932- ) originally a member of the Clancy Brothers, Tommy left in 1969 to pursue a solo career. He has played concerts all over the world, and for years had a Canadian TV show called "Tommy Makem and Ryan’s Fancy". He has recorded a large number of albums.

Malagueña-A malagueña is a Spanish dance from the region of Málaga. The word is later used to indicate a form of Spanish gypsy song. There is an example of the mood and rhythm of the Malagueña in Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole.

Mallett, David singer-songwriter from Maine, whose best-known song is "The Garden Song", which was recorded by Denver, John. His best-known songs in folk clubs would be "I Knew This Place", "Fire", and "Ballad of St Anne’s Reel".

mando-banjo see banjolin.

mando-cello a large version of the mandolin, though not as large as the actual cello.

mandola a mandolin larger than the familiar "bluegrass" style, but smaller than the mando-cello. Martin made one with a guitar body.

mandolin the mandolin family (which evolved from the lute family) is huge, and includes everything from cello-sized instruments to models like the Greek bouzouki. However, the one that comes to mind when you say the word to folkies is the "standard" or "bluegrass" mandolin. It’s a small instrument with four pairs of unison strings tuned exactly the same as a violin, GDAE, with the G below middle C. While the sound is abrupt and not very rich, players can go very fast, making it ideal for rapid solos (see bluegrass). Limited chording is possible as an addition to a band’s rhythm section. There is also a long-necked variant on the bluegrass mandolin. The longer strings yield a much richer tone. What do you get if you cross a guitar, a mandolin, and a ukelele? Ans: a tiple.

Mandolin-The mandolin, a plucked string instrument similar to the lute, exists in various forms. It has fixed metal frets and metal strings in pairs. The prevalent method of playing is tremolando, the notes rapidly repeated with a plectrum. It has been used in opera, notably in Verdi's Otello and in Falstaff, and in the concert-hall in Mahler's Seventh and Eighth Symphonies.

Manual-The manual is a keyboard for the hands, the word used for instruments such as the organ or harpsichord that often have more than one keyboard. It is opposed to the pedal-board found generally on the organ and much more rarely on the harpsichord or fortepiano.

Maphis, Joe (1921-1986) born in Virginia, he played guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and was later to be called "The King of the Strings" for his fast, finger-style playing. He joined his father’s Railsplitters band in 1932 and went on to influence many in C&W - he was noted for picking fiddle tunes on the guitar, and may well have inspired others like Watson, Doc. He went professional in 1938, and switched to electric guitar in 1947. In the 50s he played backup for Rick Nelson and many others; he continued to play and record into the 70s.

maracas hollow gourds filled with seeds or pebbles and equipped with handles. They’re shaken to give a rhythmic effect, and are usually played in pairs.

Marcato-marked or accentesd.

marimba a row of tuned wooden bars mounted in a box and played with mallets - similar to a xylophone or vibraphone.

Marimba-The marimba is a form of resonating xylophone occasionally used in the Western orchestra in compositions of the 20th century.

mark (Scot., also "merk") an obsolete coin, worth 13 ½ English pence.

marker folksongs of various types exhibit certain identifying characteristics that serve as markers of that type. In the ballad, for instance, the heroine’s hands will be lily-white, heroes are brave and bold, and they meet while setting out one morning to take the sweet and pleasant air. She will be named Nancy or Polly and he will be named William or Jimmy. The purpose of these cliched markers is twofold: it identifies the song as belonging to a particular genre (and often lists commonalities belonging to particular groups of listeners), and the use of familiar phrases simplifies the learning of a new song.

Markwick, Bill (1945- ) the advantage to writing a compendium like this one is that you get to write your own bio. Born Owen Sound, Ontario. Greatly amazed at the time by the Kingston Trio and even more so by the great wealth of folk music formerly concealed. Fell in love with finger-style guitar in the early 60s and sang as best he could. Played folk clubs from the late 60s on, greatly influenced by Rush, Tom, Van Ronk, Dave, Carthy, Martin, and Shea, Red. Accompanied Margaret Christl for about six months in 1977, which was the same year he had a brief period as a somewhat bungling morris dancer. With Jim Armour, was a resident performer at Fiddler’s Green Folk Club for some years in the early 80s, and played local clubs and three Mariposa Folk Festivals. Now a technical writer. He lives in Toronto, still gets gigs, and is still attempting to sound like Red Shea. He has all his own hair and teeth.

Martellato-hammered, accented stroke.

Martin a favorite guitar of the 60s and 70s, expensive and made in the US since the 1830s, when it was started by Christian Frederick Martin. The guitar lines were expanded after the guitar’s popularity got a boost from performers such as the Carter Family; another peak occurred during the folk revival of the 50s and 60s. They’re the standard high-end, factory-made guitar for many folk and C&W performers, though they’ve been somewhat eclipsed in recent decades by limited-production models from individual luthiers. The Martin dreadnought shape became an industry standard in large acoustic guitars. See also Gibson, Guild. The Martin company, while usually equated with guitars, also made other instruments. There was a very short production run of zithers in the 1880s, tenor banjos in the 1920s, plus mandolins and ukeleles of various types. See tiple and taropatch for two of the ukelele’s cousins. In the 1960s, they turned out electric guitars (such as archtops and dreadnoughts with pickups) as well as amplifiers.

Martin, Bogan, & Armstrong Carl Martin, Ted Bogan, and Howard Armstrong were multi-instrumentalists and singers who began performing a wide variety of material (blues, ragtime, early pop, etc.) in the 1930s, being featured on Tennessee radio. They recorded separately and as a group (in the latter case, on Rounder and Flying Fish). They were popular at North American folk festivals, and travelled to Central and South America with the US State Department as sponsor.

Martinmas (Brit.) Nov. 11.

Mass-The Mass, the Eucharist of Catholic worship (= Latin: Missa; Italian: Messa; French & German: Messe), has long provided texts for musical setting. The Ordinary of the Mass, the normally recurrent parts of the liturgy, consists of the Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy), Gloria (Glory be to God in the highest), Credo (I believe), Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy), Benedictus (Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). These are the texts most often set. The Proper of the Mass changes from day to day, according to the season or the occasion. The texts of the Proper are less often set, except for texts that may be used with some frequency.

matlow (UK) sailor.

maun (Scot.) must

mazurka a Polish dance in triple time that enjoyed international popularity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. There is an accent on the second beat and many dotted notes. Examples can be found by modern folk musicians who record dance tunes. 2.The mazurka is a Polish dance, transformed by Chopin in some fifty piano pieces in this form.

McBride, Owen originally from Dublin, Owen is a commercial artist now living in Toronto. He began performing in Toronto in the 60s, and was asked to sing at the Mariposa Folk Festival. He was a great success, and has appeared at Mariposa more than any other performer. He plays many major festivals and has an album on Philo. Besides his singing of traditional Irish and British songs, Owen does superb storytelling, being one of the few masters of the art.

McCoy, Charlie (1941- ) a versatile multi-instrumental sideman in Nashville, perhaps best known for his harp, guitar, and bass work on records by Dylan, Bob.

McCurdy, Ed (1919- ) best known for his song "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" (a song which, happily, is coming true) Ed is one of the most recorded of the singers of the folk revival of the 50s and 60s. Originally from Pennsylvania, Ed moved to Canada in the 40s, and performed for radio and TV. He has toured widely, performing at all major festivals, and has dozens of recordings.

McDowell, Fred (1905-1972) Mississippi Fred McDowell was one of the last of the country blues bottleneck style guitar players and singers. He was recorded by Lomax, Alan and these recordings brought him offers to play at major festivals in the US and Europe. He made a number of recordings for Arhoolie and other labels, and was an influence on Raitt, Bonnie, who played with him in the late 60s. He introduced one of his recordings by saying "My name is Mississippi Fred McDowell, and I do not play no rock ‘n roll!" He also had an album called "I Do Not Play No Rock and Roll", which might have something to do with the fact that he switched to an electric guitar in the 60s.

McGarrigle, Kate & Anna singer-songwriters from Montreal. Their records have received rave reviews, and their songs have been recorded by others such as Linda Rondstadt ("Heart Like a Wheel") and Maria Muldaur ("Cool River"). Their repertoire is a mix of their own songs, contemporary folk, Quebecois songs, and more.

McGee Brothers Sam and Kirk McGee were the first to play the Grand Ole Opry along with Macon, Uncle Dave in 1926. They continued to play the Opry and make recordings for many years. During the late 50s, Mike Seeger had them record for Folkways, exposing their songs and Sam’s expert finger-style guitar to a new generation.

McGhee, Brownie (1915-1996) (Walter McGhee) born in Tennessee, Brownie began playing professionally in 1935. In the late 30s, he met and started playing with Terry, Sonny and Blind Boy Fuller. He recorded with Okeh and Savoy records from 1939-45, then moved to NYC after Fuller’s death in 1941, where he and Sonny Terry met Seeger, Pete, Leadbelly, Guthrie, Woody and others, and joined the short-lived Headline Singers. It is with Sonny Terry that his name is mostly associated. They toured throughout the 60s and 70s, and made dozens of recordings.