An Extensive Encyclopedic Music Dictionary

An Extensive
Traditional and Folk Music
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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(Section T3)

Townsend, Graham many-time winners of major fiddle contests, Graham (1942- ) and his wife Eleanor (1944- ) have recorded many albums of Canadian fiddle music. Their styles encompass a number of fiddle traditions and are remarkably smooth. They were members of maple Sugar, formed in the 70s and specializing in Canadian music, stepdancing, etc.

tr (music notation) a symbol calling for a trill.

track 1. A selection on an LP or CD. 2. Almost all recordings are made with a tape recorder that can record from 4 to 24 individual tracks (channels) (compare with stereo from the floor). This allows the vocals, the instruments and any effects (such as reverberation) to be mixed together in the final stereo mixdown with almost complete control of the balance. This is generally done under the supervision of the producer with comments from the performers. It isn’t always done to the satisfaction of folkies - see rock mixers. 3. See also lining track.

traddie (adj.) traditional folk music. It’s a difficult term to explain, since traditional fans often include the music of certain contemporary songwriters. In general, it refers to melodies and performance styles from a country’s past. It can also refer to a person interested in this; see traddies below.

traddies folk fans interested mainly in traditional music, and usually experts on the topic. The term is generally affectionate, but can be used pejoratively, as in "Those traddies just want to burn all the electric instruments." Traddies in the latter definition are often referred to as folk Nazis. Traddies who dislike change of any kind are occasionally called moldy figs.

train songs trains have been a tremendous source of inspiration for songmakers, particularly in the US. The train was the primary method of transport and had a profound effect, both on individuals and the country’s development. Whole books could be written (and have been) on train songs. Train wrecks figured prominently ("Wreck of the Old 97", below), as did the engineers ( Casey Jones). The train was also a means of escape, or at least something would-be escapers dreamed about ("Midnight Special" refers to prison inmates, but could be for anybody who’s stuck anywhere). The person who did make the break was often struck with loneliness ("900 Miles"). A typical train wreck song, and a good example of the folk process, is "The Wreck of the Old 97". It’s based on a wreck that happened in 1903 near White Oak Mountain, Virginia. Vernon Dalhart had a huge hit with the song in 1924, although authorship was never established (despite litigation). The tune is based indirectly on Work’s "Ship That Never Returned" (see Work, Henry Clay), being closer to a parody of Work’s song called "The Lovers That Never Returned". This accounts for the tacked-on feeling of the last verse, the one about "Ladies, you can all take warning, from this time on and learn...", which is directly from the parody. There are so many versions of this one that the words often get garbled. "Wide Open Mountain" and "lost his average" often appear instead of "White Oak" and "airbrakes". If you get the impression that the turn of the century was jam-packed with train wrecks, you’re right. The equipment was less than high-tech and they lacked the electrical signaling system that came later. Since the railroads are no longer singularly important, modern songs about trains tend to concentrate more on their winding down than anything, with Steve Goodman’s "City of New Orleans" (1970) a prime example.



Transcription-Music may be transcribed or arranged for instruments other than those for which it was originally designed. Well known transcriptions are found among the short pieces arranged for violin and piano by the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler.

transcriptions the writing down of pieces of music, often for a different instrument or instruments than in the original. In the 60s and 70s, songbooks of folk music were quite popular, but the work of transcribing the songs was obviously turned over to someone who knew nothing about the tradition, since they were usually set for piano in awkward keys for folk instruments. The old modal tunes were often crammed into a minor key and given chords that barely worked. The lyrics were often garbled, which would indicate that they were taken down from a recording. The situation has greatly improved.

transducer. a device that changes one form of energy into another; e.g., a loudspeaker changes electrical energy into mechanical energy and sound. A microphone changes sound into electrical energy. A tape recorder changes an electrical signal into magnetic energy.

transformation. 1. (Babbitt) (set-theory, linear) in a row, P, R, I or RI and/or any of their transpositions. A transformation of a row is normally indicated with the transposition-number, e.g. "R7" indicates the Retrograde transposed up seven semitones. 2. [4, 5] (Solomon) (set-theory, linear) an operation of R, I, RI or a quadrate used to generate a new variation.

translation. [1,4] moving a figure through a dimension of time, pitch, space; e.g., a recurring theme is a translation through time, while one major chord is a translation of another in pitch, as in transposition.

transports in the 18th and 19th centuries, the English got the idea that they could solve problems of crime and overcrowding by shipping "criminals" off to Australia and Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). Many people received the sentence of transportation for small misdemeanors. There is a large body of songs from the transported, detailing the hardships of the new life that had been forced on them. Transportation was stopped by Australia one area at a time between 1840 and 1868. "The Transports" is also the name of a musical production by Bellamy, Peter. It’s sometimes called a "folk opera".

transpose on-the-fly to read a piece of music in one key and play it in another. Not a bad technical feat.

transpose to write down or play a piece in a different key from the original.

transpose. verb for transposition.

transposing instrument transposing instruments sound in a different pitch from the one notated - the reason for this is usually to simplify the instrument’s notation. For instance, the only folk instrument that uses transposition is the guitar: it sounds one octave lower than the written music. This moves its range onto the middle of the treble staff, eliminating the bass staff. It goes somewhat above and below the staff, but this is easily accommodated with leger lines. See also notation, guitar.

transposition. a translation in pitch.

Transposition-Music may be transposed when the original key is changed, a process all too necessary in accompanying singers and for whom a transposition of the music down a tone or two may be necessary. Some instruments are known as transposing instruments because the written notes for them sound higher or lower than the apparent written pitch, when they are played.

transposition-number. (set-theory, linear) the measure of transposition indicated as the directed-interval from a reference, usually P0. If a melody is transposed up three semitones, its transposition-number is 3, but if it is transposed down three semitones its transposition-number is 9 (see directed-interval).

transverse a transverse instrument, such as a flute or fife, is held out to the side, as opposed to the whistle, which is held in a straight-ahead position. Also called "cross".

Transverse flute-The orchestral flute (= Italian: flauto traverso) is transverse, held horizontally, as opposed to the recorder, which is held vertically.

Traum, Happy (1939- ) with his brother Artie, Happy started in the NYC folk revival of the late 50s and early 60s. Both are known as singers, songwriters, and guitarists. Happy produced a series of guitar tutorials using books and tapes, and was the editor of Sing Out! in the late 60s. He has a number of albums and has done much backup work for other performers.

Travellers Canada’s most enduring folk group - although it has been through many changes of personnel, it’s currently 41 years old, having been formed in 1953. They were modelled after the Weavers. Their best-known song is probably the Canadianized version of Woody Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land"; one of them explained in an interview that they heard Woody’s version in the mid-50s and were told that nobody was doing it south of the border because of the blacklist. They wrote in some Canadian names and began popularizing the song in Canada. They have played everywhere by now, and have about 15 albums.

travelling people can refer to Gypsies, or to any of the nomadic peoples of the UK and Ireland (the latter are usually known as "tinkers"). Folk songs about them reveal that they have never been treated particularly well, but at present (1994), a woman of the Irish travelling people has been elected to a political position, and says she will spend much time in an effort to increase the awareness of the situation. In 17th century Scotland, the Gypsies came under a death sentence unless they left (see historical accuracy for "The Gypsy Laddies", a song that derives from this). The above-mentioned politician said that even today, the travelling people are often banned from pubs. A famous song about the travelling people is "Farewell to the Thirty Foot Trailer", by MacColl, Ewan. Another is "When the Yellow’s on the Broom" by Scotland’s Adam MacNaughton.

Travis picking (from Travis, Merle) often incorrectly applied to any type of fingerpicking, Travis picking often uses damping to mute the bass strings for a staccato effect, and includes some rather difficult jazz chords. The player uses the righthand thumb and index finger (and can add the middle finger, although Merle didn’t).

Travis, Merle (1917-1983) Kentucky singer/songwriter/guitarist who mixed folk, country, jazz and pop into his masterful guitar playing and songwriting. His thumb-and-finger guitar style, using a damped staccato bass and jazz chords, became known as Travis picking; it was learned from, or at least initiated by, a guitar teacher named Mose Rager, who also taught Ike Everly, father of the {Everly Brothers}. His songs include "Dark as a Dungeon", "No Vacancy", and "Sixteen Tons"; he also popularized songs such as "Nine Pound Hammer", "John Henry", and "I Am a Pilgrim".

Tre Corda-three strings. Means to release the soft pedal.

treble 1. Sounds of a high pitch. Technically, at least with regards to sound equipment, sounds with a frequency above 1,000 hertz, since this is the usual frequency where the bass and treble EQ curves meet ("crossover point"). 2. The higher register or registers of an instrument. Opposite bass. 3. (v.) To play a note rapidly three times with the same time value as one; a common ornament in fiddle tunes. Sometimes confused with triplet. See also staff. 2. The treble voice is a voice in the higher register. The word is generally used for the unbroken voice of boys, although the register may be similar to that of the female soprano. Treble instruments are instruments of higher register and the G clef in use for this register is commonly known as the treble clef. Originally the treble or triplum was the third part added above a duplum or second additional part, lying above the lowest part, the tenor of the medieval motet.

tree (UK) the word is often used to mean wood. "Treen" refers to small objects made of wood - kitchen implements, boxes, etc.

tremolo 1. To play a note or chord over and over rapidly. This is a common technique among mandolin players and classical guitar players. 2. In instrument amplifiers, to rapidly vary the loudness of a note or chord up and down by means of an electronic volume control with an adjustable rate. Tremolo and vibrato are often confused. 2. Tremolo (Italian: trembling) indicates the quick repetition of a note, particularly in string-playing. This is impossible on the keyboard with a single note, but tremolo effects can be achieved by playing in rapid alternation two notes of a chord.

triad a chord made up of three notes. The major triad is the basic building block in chord structures; it is built on the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale. A C Major triad, for instance, would contain C, E and G. See also major chord.

triad. three pitch-classes spelled, or arranged, in thirds. A triad is three pcs already arranged in thirds. E G C is not a triad, but C E G is.

triadic-chord. a trichord that can be spelled in thirds.

Triangle-The triangle is now part of the orchestral percussion section. It is an instrument of indefinite pitch made from a steel bar bent into the shape of an equilateral triangle and is played by being struck with a steel beater or, for softer effects, a wooden stick. It was used occasionally in opera in the earlier 18th century, but came into its own with the Turkish music of, for example, Mozart's opera The Abduction from the Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). Its appearance in Liszt's E flat Piano Concerto in 1853 caused some amusement among hostile critics. Tremolo effects are occasionally demanded.

trichord. a chord containing three pitch-classes; triads are a special class of trichords.

trill the trill or shake is an ornament, consisting of rapid alternation of adjacent notes: for instance, to trill on a C note, you would play C-D-C-D-C over and over. In notation, the symbol is "tr".

Trill-A trill is a musical ornament made by the more or less rapid alternation of a note and the note above, in the classical period generally starting on the latter.

Trio sonata-The trio sonata, the most popular of middle and late Baroque instrumental forms, is a sonata for two melody instruments and basso continuo, usually a bass instrument and a chordal instrument, and consequently usually calls for four players. Trio sonatas are found at their best in the work of Corelli at the end of the 17th century. These consist of two sets of a dozen church sonatas (sonate da chiesa) and two sets of a dozen chamber sonatas (sonate da camera). There are distinguished later examples by Telemann, Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach, although the six organ Trio Sonatas by Bach interweave three strands of melody, one for each hand and one for the feet, and are, of course, for one player.

Trio-A trio is a composition designed for three players or the name of a group of three players. The word also indicates the central contrasting section framed by a repeated minuet or scherzo.

triple with regards to rhythm and meter, triple rhythms have a number of beats per measure that’s based on three: 3/2, 3/8, etc. See also simple meter, compound meter. The other type of basic meter is duple.

triple. a simple meter consisting of a strong beat followed by two weak beats.

triplet three notes (or the equivalent) in the time allotted for two. The notes are tied and the number "3" is printed over them. Sometimes confused with treble. See quadruplet for related information on the playing of these.

tritone an augmented fourth, such as C to F#, which encompasses three full tones. If you sound C and F# together, the effect is somewhat sour. In medieval times when the rules of music were much tighter, the tritone was called "diabolus in musica" - the "devil in music". It’s common today; for instance, the D7 chord (D-A-C-F#) contains an obvious C-F# tritone.

tritone. any interval consisting of three whole-steps.

trochaic see foot.

Trombone-The trombone made its first appearance in the middle of the 15th century. It is a brass instrument with a cup-shaped mouthpiece and a slide that enables the player to shorten or lengthen the tube and hence the notes of a particular harmonic series. The early trombone was known in English as a sackbut. The instrument had ceremonial associations and in the later 18th century was only occasionally used in the orchestra, notably by Mozart in his masonic opera The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) and in his Requiem Mass. With Beethoven the trombone becames an accepted if not indispensable part of the orchestra.

Troppo-Troppo (Italian: too much) is found in tempo indications, warning a player not to overdo an effect, as in allegro ma non troppo, allegro but not too much.

Troubadour-Troubadours were the court poets and composers of Southern France in the 12th and 13th centuries. The trouvères flourished particularly in the 13th century to the north of the country. Their surviving music forms an important body of secular song from this period. See also minstrel..

Trumpet-The trumpet has a long remoter ancestry. The modern trumpet, a standard member of the brass section of the orchestra, differs from its predecessors in its use of three valves, by which the length of the tube can be changed to produce the notes of the harmonic series from different fundamentals. Baroque trumpeters came to specialise in the use of the upper or clarino register of the valveless natural trumpet, a register in which adjacent notes were possible. Experiments during the 18th century led to the short-lived keyed trumpet, which could play adjacent notes in the lower register as well. This was used by Haydn in his 1796 Trumpet Concerto. The valve trumpet came into relatively common use in the second quarter of the 19th century. Trumpets are built in various keys, although the B flat and C trumpets are now most often found.

truss rod (also "tension rod") a steel rod or bar in the neck of a guitar to offset the tension of the strings (see below) and prevent the neck from curving more than a preset amount (some tilt upward, or sweep, is normal to prevent buzzing of the strings). Some models are adjustable. They are not for adjusting the action, as is commonly thought, and adjustment requires a certain amount of skill. The tension in a steel, medium- gauge six-string set is 82.1 kg (181 pounds) with a scale length of 64.8 cm (25 ½"), according to the D’Addario string company.

Tuba-The tuba provides the bass of the orchestral brass section, with varying numbers of valves to allow the shortening and lengthening of the tube. It was developed in the second quarter of the 19th century.

Tubb, Ernest (1914-1984) a Texas C&W singer with roots in old-timey music. He spent 40 years with the Grand Ole Opry and headlined the first country show to play Carnegie Hall.

Tubular bells-Tubular bells, tuned metal tubes suspended from a vertical frame, are used in the percussion section of the modern orchestra for special effects, making their earlier appearance primarily in opera.

tune 1. (n.) synonymous with melody - the variations in the notes of a musical selection. See parts of music. 2. (v.) to adjust the pitch of the notes of a musical instrument (see also tuning systems. 3. (n.) a song or instrumental. Collectors are fond of telling the anecdote of an elderly laborer who said, "I used to be reckoned a good singer until these heretunes came in."

tuner 1. Any tuning aid that can be used to set an instrument to a standard (see pitch). These include the tuning fork, the harmonica, the pitch pipe and the electronic tuner. The last is popular: a microphone in the unit picks up the instrument’s note, a circuit decides what it is, and a display indicates how sharp or how flat it is. Singers in the a cappella style prefer the pitch pipe for ease of use. 2. A small thumbscrew on members of the violin family or other instruments, used to make fine adjustments to the tuning without fooling with the friction pegs, which are fairly coarse in their action. Located in the tailpiece. 3. Any tuning peg on any stringed instrument. 4. (UK) A loom maintainer.

tuning fork a bifurcated metal strip that when tapped produces a note of standard or concert pitch, usually A440. It is amplified by holding it against the instrument body, or for those with solid dental work, in the teeth. Still in use for tuning instruments, but is largely being replaced by the electronic tuner.

tuning jokes small stringed instruments are plagued with pitch drift, and the musicians who play them are plagued with not being able to fix this in a hurry. This inevitably means that the flustered musician will emit a tuning joke to cover the twanging. The worst of them, and the most repeated, are along the lines of "This is an old Chinese song - Tu Ning", or "Close enough for folk". Everyone everywhere has heard every possible tuning joke. The best of them is one reserved for musicians who have had considerable commercial success: "By the time I realised I didn’t know how to tune, I was making too much money to quit." The worst possible tuning mess occurs when a string band asks someone with a fixed-pitch instrument (such as a concertina) to sit in with them. They discover that they’re at a different pitch from the concertina and have to tune to it. The blitz begins.

tuning systems see cent, comma of Pythagoras. equal-tempered scale, harmonic series, just intonation, meantone scale, natural scale, pitch, Pythagorean scale, temperament.

Tuning-fork-The tuning-fork, an English invention of the early 18th century, is a two-pronged metal device used to give a note of fixed pitch when it is struck against a hard surface. Its musical use is for the tuning of other instruments to a standard pitch.

Turca-Alla turca (Italian: in the Turkish manner) is found in descriptive titles of music towards the end of the 18th century and thereafter, as in Mozart's well known Rondo alla Turca, Rondo in the Turkish Style. Turkish music, at that period, was superficially imitated, principally by the use of triangle, cymbals and bass drum, added to a supposedly typical melody of martial character, derived remotely from the Janissary band.

turn (also "gruppetto") an ornament that replaces one note with four or more short ones that add to the same time value; one way to decorate a C note, for instance, is to play a rapid D-C-B-C. There are small variations on this, depending on whether you’re replacing the note or adding to it. The symbol for the turn looks something like a backwards "S" on its side.

turnaround a snippet of a tune used as an intro to the main tune or song, or as fill between verses. For instance, if you’re starting "Red River Valley", the fiddle might play the tune that goes with the words "and the girl who has loved you so true" as an intro.

Turner, Gil (1933-1974) guitar and banjo player, and one of the founders of Broadside magazine. He was a force in bringing to the fore the new songs of Dylan, Ochs, etc. He performed all across the US and made a number of albums, as well as helping to organize the 1970 tribute to Woody Guthrie held at the Hollywood Bowl.

Turner, Joe (1911- ) a Kansas blues singer who recorded for Atlantic in the 50s and had an influence on the development of R&B. One of his songs, "Shake, Rattle and Roll" was a standard with 50s rock-and-roll bands.

Tutti-Tutti (Italian: all) is used in orchestral music to distinguish the part of a solo instrument from that of the rest of the section or orchestra. In English this Italian plural adjective has come to be used as a noun, as in the phrase 'an orchestral tutti', meaning a passage played by the whole orchestra, or at least not specifically by solo instruments.

twa (Scot.) two.

twelfth 1. The twelfth note of the scale; that is, the octave plus four notes. For example, the G in the octave above C is the twelfth in the key of C. 2. The compound interval formed by playing two notes a twelfth apart.

twelfth night January 6, or twelve nights after Christmas. Formally known as the Feast of the Epiphany.

twelfth root of two the mysterious multiplier for getting from one semitone to the next that always turns up in discussions of the equal-tempered scale. It’s not always explained, but it’s not that complicated: The octave in the ETS is divided into 12 equal semitones (see also cent). To find the multiplier that will give us the pitch increase from one semitone to another, we need a number that when multiplied by itself 12 times will give 2, since the octave is a doubling of the pitch. The caret (^) signifies an exponent:

x12 = 2 (x^12 = 2)

x = 12th root of 2

The easy way to solve that is to use a calculator to raise 2 to the 1/12 power. The answer to eight places is 1.05946309. So, for a C note of 1 Hz, the scale progression becomes:

C = 1

C# = 1.05946

D = 1.12246

And so on. Note that one semitone increase is a pitch increase of about 5.95%, and that one tone is the 6th root of two, or 1.12246. To go down in pitch, take the reciprocal. Actual musical frequencies can be calculated by taking A above middle C as 440 Hz, or you can look them up under the equal-tempered scale entry. It’s of interest to note that the equal-tempered scale took quite a while to spread since its appearance about the 15th century. One of the reasons is that the math of the time had no means of extracting roots that complicated, so early attempts at equal tempering had to be by trial and error. Even when the scale was worked out, it didn’t become universal until about the 19th century; the meantone scale and variations on the Pythagorean scale took a long time to die out (and are now making a comeback thanks to period musicians).

Twelve-note composition- Twelve-note composition is composition by the use of the twelve semitones of the octave in a predetermined order or series, which may be inverted, written in retrograde form or in retrograde inversion, and transposed. The system of composition, developed by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century, has had a strong influence over the course of music of the 20th century (see Serialism).

twelve-string guitar see guitar.

twelve-tone-composition. (set-theory, linear) serial composition based on repetition and transformations of an ordered-set of the twelve equal tempered pitch-classes; a tone-row that may form melodies or chords. Octave duplication is avoided.

twelve-tone-row. (set-theory, linear) a specific ordering of the twelve equal-tempered pcs that are used to generate a musical composition.

twin (Scot., also "twine") to cut, separate, as in "he took out his wee penknife, and he twined her o’ her life".

twirl (UK) tirl.

two-voice framework. (Hindemith) a structural outline of the bass line and the most important upper voice, similar to Schenker's Ursatz.

Tyburn Hill a place in London, the site of many public executions over the centuries. "Tyburn Tree" was an enormous gallows for multiple hangings; according to 18th-century accounts, prisoners used to be taken there in a cart, as was the famous Sam Hall (see song family).

Tyson, Ian (1933- ) 50% of Ian & Sylvia.

Tyson, Sylvia (1940- ) the other 50% of Ian & Sylvia.