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#1607850 - 01/29/11 02:32 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]  
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Originally Posted by debrucey
If they're french, call them melodies, if theyre german call them lieder, if theyre english call them english song. Context will help.
So I say "I'm working on an English song by Warlock" As an English composer did he write any songs other than English ones? A little redundant.
In the singular, Lied is not as well-known by non-German speakers as the plural Lieder. Once again, I can see the need to stop and explain what a Lied by Schubert actually is.
And melodie? Fine if you know what it is, but to many it will simply sound like you're talking about a melody=tune.


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#1607856 - 01/29/11 02:45 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Ferdinand]  
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Originally Posted by Ferdinand
Originally Posted by beet31425
"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

How do you feel about "octave passage" or "broken chord passage" ?

That's a good point. Those phrases don't bother me at all. And in their context, "scale passage" bothers me less.

Maybe it grates on my ears because the descriptor is just one blunt syllable. Who knows. I make no claims to consistency. smile

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1607860 - 01/29/11 02:57 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto

But about people calling instrumental pieces "songs", I don't ever do it, but that's only because it ticks people off, not because it annoys me or I see anything wrong with it. I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that. Besides, there are so many different kinds of music that it gets tricky if you restrict the meaning of song to a piece of music with a singer. What about choral music, or music with choir and soloist? What about rap? What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song? What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


Well, then, what do we do when someone talks about a particular "song" of a composer who wrote symphonies, chamber music, piano concertos and sonatas, and operas as well as songs? Do we have to go through a whole litany of questions to find out that it wasn't a "song" at all, but some other form? A little more precision at the outset with appropriate terminology could save a lot of time.

Regards,


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#1607878 - 01/29/11 03:48 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by Ferdinand
Originally Posted by beet31425
"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

How do you feel about "octave passage" or "broken chord passage" ?

That's a good point. Those phrases don't bother me at all. And in their context, "scale passage" bothers me less.

Maybe it grates on my ears because the descriptor is just one blunt syllable. Who knows. I make no claims to consistency. smile

-J

When you put it that way, I must admit that "scalar passage" is more euphonious.
Even so, I'll stick with the other.

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#1607894 - 01/29/11 05:27 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]  
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Originally Posted by debrucey
If they're french, call them melodies, if theyre german call them lieder, if theyre english call them english song.
But if "song" is to mean any piece of music, then calling something "English song" just means "English piece of music", which doesn't help at all. laugh


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#1607896 - 01/29/11 05:31 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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not unless you're familiar with the phrase 'english song' referring specifically to english art song

#1607904 - 01/29/11 06:07 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that.


Since we already had good words, like "piece", "composition", or just the word for the genre of the music, like "sonata", "nocturne", "prelude", or, heaven help me, "song", I don't see the need for a new one. The current usage of "song" to mean any piece of music doesn't help anything or really add to the language. It is just an example of language being debased as a result of technology, and that's all.

#1607906 - 01/29/11 06:31 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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Besides choking on their beer (sorry about that peevers) , are their any non-mathematicians who understand the meaning of “scalar” as used by us peasants in describing some of the note structures encountered in the WTCs of JS Bach.

But then wasn’t it some Elizabethan English Johnnie who penned “What’s in a name?” ...
and adding something about a musk-rose, or was it a geranium (some such) ... not endangering the niff of the place ... if called by “any other name.”



#1607913 - 01/29/11 07:20 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
...What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song?


Good basic questions.

A song is a piece of music with lyrics that potentially can be sung. If you don't actually sing (i.e., vocalize the words) it, but instead perform it some other way, say by humming it or whistleing it or "ohh and ahhing" it, it's still technically a song because it still obviously has lyrics that could potentially be sung.

The melody of any given song can be virtually anything, varying widely and wildly over it's key or thru multiple keys - or practically nothing at all, as in those monkish works that consist of a single note repeated ad infinitum.

A song, of course, can be sung (when one chooses to so perform it) without any instrumental accompaniment at all, which is known by one and all as singing it a capella .

Playing an instrumental arrangement of a song is still a song because, once again, the song still has lyrics that potentially could be vocalized, and a standard arrangement will contain the complete melody composed for the song.

The instrumental accompaniment for a song is a little more difficult to pin down. Some would probably say that for the accompaniment of a song to still be considered the song it should mostly retain the melody of the song, and that when it ceases to frequently "quote" that melody it ceases to be that song.

This, of course, opens up the question about a jazz performance of a song. Here typically, after the initial quotation of the song's melody, the player proceeds into the usually extended improvisation section where the melody becomes totally left behind and completely unrecognizable. At this point the question arises about whether the performance ceases to be of the song itself. I guess since most jazz artists eventually get around to requoting the melody at the end that the entire performance could be consider one of the song. Esoteric considerations certainly - but perhaps pertinent even if somewhat stretching definitions.


Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


One can hum a complete symphony if one wishes to invest the time and effort, but it won't make it a song. If one adds lyrics to some part of a symphony then that part could be referred to as the song portion of the symphony, and could be technically performed separately as a song (or as "the song from the symphony").

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a contadiction in terms.

JF

Last edited by John Frank; 01/29/11 09:42 AM.

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#1607931 - 01/29/11 08:21 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1607946 - 01/29/11 08:47 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto

But about people calling instrumental pieces "songs", I don't ever do it, but that's only because it ticks people off, not because it annoys me or I see anything wrong with it. I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that. Besides, there are so many different kinds of music that it gets tricky if you restrict the meaning of song to a piece of music with a singer. What about choral music, or music with choir and soloist? What about rap? What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song? What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


Well, then, what do we do when someone talks about a particular "song" of a composer who wrote symphonies, chamber music, piano concertos and sonatas, and operas as well as songs? Do we have to go through a whole litany of questions to find out that it wasn't a "song" at all, but some other form? A little more precision at the outset with appropriate terminology could save a lot of time.



Not only that, there is the obvious etymological connection of "song" and "sing", which this new usage violates.

You'd think, since suddenly a certain part of the population has started referring to music such as the Chopin etudes as a "songs", that there would be a corresponding shift in the word used to describe performing that music. But it hasn't happened - so far as I know, no one here talks about "singing" that etude. I suppose we can look forward to that development next.


#1607951 - 01/29/11 09:02 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: currawong]  
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Originally Posted by currawong

And melodie? Fine if you know what it is, but to many it will simply sound like you're talking about a melody=tune.


But that is the the main meaning in German. I studied music at a Conservatory in Austria and that's the only sense I ever heard it used (my lessons were in German). My professor used it that way exclusively. I'm not sure what other meaning you could be referring to. My professor was famous for screaming while playing for him "Melodie herausbringen!"

In French I know it can refer to art songs from the romantic period. Is that what you are referring to?

#1607984 - 01/29/11 10:24 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?


Having studied music theory all through high school and several years of college, you have absolutely no arguments from me.

If we all speak the same language, it help us to better communicate.




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#1608154 - 01/29/11 02:50 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: TrapperJohn]  
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Originally Posted by John Frank

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a contadiction in terms.


Oh, no it isn't, anymore than "play it cantabile" .

#1608182 - 01/29/11 03:27 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: TrapperJohn]  
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Originally Posted by John Frank
A song is a piece of music with lyrics that potentially can be sung. If you don't actually sing (i.e., vocalize the words) it, but instead perform it some other way, say by humming it or whistleing it or "ohh and ahhing" it, it's still technically a song because it still obviously has lyrics that could potentially be sung.
I don't think you've heard Rachmaninov's most famous "song".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW630zFA93Y

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/29/11 03:31 PM.
#1608199 - 01/29/11 03:44 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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I think at this point in time more people worldwide use the word "song" to mean any piece of music instead of the "correct" definition the OP suggested. The reasons, use of Ipod etc., have been explained a million times at PW. I'd assume that some newer dictionaries already have this as one of their definitions. Words can and do change their meaning with time.

I think that there's no reason why every piece of music has to be described with a single word as some have suggested. I'd call a song transcription just that or just "transcription". It's based on a song, but it's not a song. I'd call a work for chorus a "choral work" and not a song.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/29/11 03:54 PM.
#1608203 - 01/29/11 03:49 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: landorrano]  
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by John Frank

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a cont{r}adiction in terms.


Oh, no it isn't, anymore than "play it cantabile" .


Maybe he should have called them "Instrumental Pieces in the Style or Manner of a Song (without words)" - rather clumsey I grant - or simply use the instruction as a new musical form called a "Cantabile", as in "Cantabile No. 2, Op.xxx" ...

But, looked at another way a "Song Without Words" is a song-wannabe smile

JF


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#1608210 - 01/29/11 04:01 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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The iPod adverts used to bug me - the capacity was always measured in 'songs'. I don't have many songs in my collection. Apart for Winterreise, Die Schone Mullerin, and a few others.. It's mostly solo piano, chamber music and symphonies. So a 5000-song capacity was useless to me. That's why I have a cheap Sandisk player with a capacity measured in GB. I refuse to buy a music player from a company that thinks everything is a song, and that a song always lasts 3 minutes exactly.

As for scalar music - that's so last century. People in the know are all into vector and tensor music now.


#1608215 - 01/29/11 04:09 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?


No - they're simply freaking ignorant.

Last edited by carey; 01/29/11 04:10 PM.

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#1608314 - 01/29/11 06:44 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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Whenever I hear Mozart sonatas being called 'songs', I cringe..


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#1608376 - 01/29/11 08:09 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: ando]  
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Originally Posted by ando
In French I know it can refer to art songs from the romantic period. Is that what you are referring to?
That's what debrucey was referring to. He suggested that instead of calling all these vocal works "songs", one could call them specifically Lieder (German), melodie (French) or English song (English). Of course I agree they are all correct terms, but "song" also covers them all. In my experience melodie as the term for French art song is not widely known by people who aren't singers. And not always by people who are! smile


Du holde Kunst...
#1608410 - 01/29/11 08:58 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: mathmom]  
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I have never heard "scalar" in a musical context. If I did, I would be mystified.

I am afraid that "song" for a piece of classical music leaves me cringing too.

Originally Posted by mathmom
Are you serious? Not to be mean, but it's posts like these that leave me feeling like there is no place for me on these message boards. I am, what I would call, a "serious pianist for pleasure." I have played the piano since I was 8 years old and I'm now in my mid 30's. I play the piano every single day. I do not consider myself an adult beginner, although I relate much more to the tone and feeling of that forum than this one. I wish I could come here to gain insight, yet all I feel is judgement, condescension, and egotism over here. Please, I wish there was a middle forum for people like me. We could call it "amateur enthusiasts." Basically, pianist's corner without the pomp.

MM


MM, why do you say that? I hope you are not calling me pompous. I am just saying how I feel. I expect the other posters are too.

If people want to call pieces "songs", then they are quite at liberty to do so. But they can't help it if I don't like it.

Please don't be put off this forum. There is some interesting stuff here. Everyone's contribution is welcome.

#1608413 - 01/29/11 09:04 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
Whenever I hear Mozart sonatas being called 'songs', I cringe..


They should be slapped silly and forced to listen to Cage.

Whenever I hear anything at all even slightly less than glorification or idolization with reference to Mozart I snort, sputter and swear laugh

Long live Wolfy!

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
#1608476 - 01/29/11 10:40 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: KeemaNan]  
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Originally Posted by KeemaNan
. . . I have a cheap Sandisk player with a capacity measured in GB. I refuse to buy a music player from a company that thinks everything is a song, and that a song always lasts 3 minutes exactly.


You are a person of true integrity. As crazy as it sounds to buy one thing or another on that basis, I sincerely applaud. I've done things like that based on some sort of principle too.

Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--and I know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of classical music--and a song is a song, and will remain so in my usage.

And I'm sorry I ever bought an ipod. Apple be damned.

Tomasino

Last edited by tomasino; 01/29/11 10:41 PM.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

#1608481 - 01/29/11 10:55 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]  
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Originally Posted by tomasino
Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.
+1 (and it's a "run" in cricket, too! smile )


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#1608582 - 01/30/11 03:52 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: KeemaNan]  
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Quote
As for scalar music - that's so last century. People in the know are all into vector and tensor music now.


Now that's some funny stuff! At least for an engineer like me. Glad I quit drinking temporarily, or my screen might have gotten sprayed!


Rick (very similar to screen name)

#1608604 - 01/30/11 05:02 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]  
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Originally Posted by tomasino
Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--and I know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of classical music--and a song is a song, and will remain so in my usage.Tomasino

Very well said!

#1608611 - 01/30/11 05:28 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]  
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Originally Posted by wr
Not only that, there is the obvious etymological connection of "song" and "sing", which this new usage violates.

You'd think, since suddenly a certain part of the population has started referring to music such as the Chopin etudes as a "songs", that there would be a corresponding shift in the word used to describe performing that music. But it hasn't happened - so far as I know, no one here talks about "singing" that etude. I suppose we can look forward to that development next.

So it sounds a little naive if people call some pieces songs; still, if people aren't "singing" the etudes, they are at least, thanks to Liszt, out there holding "recitals" and "reciting" them. Not only did people somehow manage to get over that rather egregious linguistic abomination, but today it's hard to imagine the language without that word.

#1608627 - 01/30/11 06:48 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 3,605
TrapperJohn Offline
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TrapperJohn  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 3,605
Chocolatetown, USA
Originally Posted by tomasino

Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run."


Your point is then that it really is a point, but by long-standing tradition we choose not to call it by it's proper name, but instead refer to it by it's "nickname" - a run. This is sort of like our time-honored tradition of referring to taxes as "revenue enhancements" rather than by the proper name of involuntary confiscation laugh

Originally Posted by tomasino

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--



There are many great ones, although not necessarily including the one about bulking up on steroids and breaking records and garnering fame and fortune aided and assisted by their stategic - and hopefuuly undetected - use? smile

Just kidding - I've been a diehard baseball fan for most of my life - Go Phillies!

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
#1608629 - 01/30/11 06:52 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]  
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Posts: 2,607
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member
debrucey  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,607
Manchester, UK
The distinction between what something is 'technically' called (ie. its dictionary definition) and what something is commonly referred to as a nickname or whatever, is a very moot one.

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