Terms and Processes Used in the Interpretation of Music: Letters G-M


G (No Listing)



A keyed musical instrument, formerly in extensive use, but now little known. In shape it was exactly like a grand pianoforte, to which its internal arrangements were also similar. The sound from the strings was produced by a small piece of crow-quill, or a piece of hard leather, which projected out of a slip of wood, called the jack, that stood upright between the strings, and was pushed upward by the key till the quill, or leather, twitched the string , causing a brilliant but somewhat harsh sound, deficient of any means of modification in respect to loudness or softness. Specimens of the harpsichord, although now becoming quite rare, are still to be found in good preservation, but rather as articles of virtue or curiosity than as useful musical instruments. Many Italian and Dutch harpsichords were highly ornamented by the most eminent artists with valuable oil paintings on the inside of the lid. The date of the invention of the harpsichord is uncertain. Before the fifteenth century there is no trace of its existence. It was introduced into England early in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century Kirkman, and later Broadwood and Schudi, were the famous makers in London. After the invention of the pianoforte the harpsichord and all instruments of the same kind, such as the spinet, were in time entirely superseded. The harpsichord shown in the accompanying illustration was presented to Nelly Custis by George Washington. It was made in London, is eight feet long, three and a half feet wide, and has two banks of 120 keys.



In music, the production of tone either by an instrument or by the voice. It is of no importance in keyed instruments like the piano or organ, as the performer can only strike the proper key and is powerless if the isntrument is not in tune. But the matter of intonation is of utmost importance in the voice and all string and wind instruments. Only a person having a finely trained ear is able to produce proper intonation. Hence we speak of pure and false intonation.



A keyboard for the pianoforte invented by Paul von Janko in 1882. This was introduced to the English public in 1888, and in New York in October, 1890. The Janko keyboard consists of six rows or banks of keys, placed in a semicircle and presenting a fan-like appearance. Each note has three different keys, one lower than the other and attached to a key-lever, so that each key may be struck in three different rows. Six parallel rows of whole-tone intervals are thus produced. The keyboard slants, the keys are rounded on both sides, and the sharps and flats are distinguished by black bands. A freer use of the fingers is claimed than with the accepted keyboard. By reason of the many rows, the hand can maintain its natural position with the long fingers on the upper notes and the shorter ones on the lower. All scales and chords have uniform fingering, the relative position being the same in all keys, and the only necessary change is to raise or lower the entire hand. The octave is brought within the stretch of the sixth on the ordinary keyboard, and half tones bay be played legato with one finger. The new keyboard can be adapted to any pianoforte, grand, upright, or square, without harm to the instrument. Chromatic scales in thirds, sixths and octaves can be executed with as much facility as the ordinary scale on the ordinary pianoforte, because one performer can produce effects that now are obtainable only in four-hand playing.



A frame containing a set of keys, placed in the front part of the pianoforte or organ. The word is also applied to the keys, or digitals, taken collectively. The natural keys are of wood covered with white ivory, and the raised keys, touched to produce sharps and flats, are blocks of ebony or other hard black wood. The influence of the keyboard upon the development of modern music is important. The earliest keyboard of which we have record was that of the jydraulic or water organ, a Greek invention of the second century. In this the keys, eighteen in number, were all level. Strange to say, the principle oof the balanced key, which had to be rediscovered in the seventeenth century, was then well known. Our modern chromatic keyboard was in use as early as 1361, though the keys were so large that they had to be struck with the fist. Their width was, however, gradually lessened, and in the spinet made by Pasi, of Modena, in 1490 (the earliest instrument of this class), and in the organ of Saint Blaise at Brunswick (1499), the compass was approximately that of our present keyboard. In most of the early instruments the natural notes are black and the sharps and flats white. Several attempts have been made to reform the keyboard. The principal objection to all rearrangements is the fact that there is a mass of beautiful music, written for the modern pianoforte, which could not be adapted to an improved instrument.

L (Nothing Listed)



The process of changing from one key to another within the same composition. In a movement of even the smallest dimensions monotony would result if the composer should confine himself strictly to one key. There are two kinds of modulations, passing and final. Passing modulation introduces chords belonging to other keys only incidentally and soon returns to the original key.But when a piece modulates so that the original key is abandoned and a new key takes its place, the modulation is final. In the sonata-form (see SONATA) the first development of the principal subject confines itself only to passing modulations. A final modulation occurs at the entrance of the secondary subject (generally to the dominant key). The second or development section is concerned entirely with passing modulation. But even here the choice of keys is not arbitrary. However, no rules can be given; the artistic and aesthetic instinct of the composer is the sole guide. According to the theory of the present day, all modulation is regarded in its relation to the principal key of the piece, and in a wider sense, all keys are but steps within the unlimited domain of tonality. Older composers are very sparing and careful in the use of modulation, but those of the nineteenth century (especially Wagner, Schumann, Chopin) practically removed all barriers. The means of modulation are various and cannot be discussed in an article like the present. The most frequent expedient is the different interpretations put upon the same chord. Thus the chord c,e,g may be conceived as tonic of C, dominant of F, sub-dominant of G, etc., and consequently can be used to modulate at once to those keys. In modern music the chord of the diminished seventh plays an important part in modulation. Thus C#, e, g,bb leads into D minor; the same chord conceived as e, g, bb,db into F minor; as g, bb, db, fb to A flat minor; as a#, c#, e, g into B minor, etc. The principal works on modulation are: Draseke, Anweisung zum kunstgerechten Modulieren (Freienwalde, 1876); Riemann, Harmonie und Modulationslehre (Leipzig, 1900); Jadassohn, Die Kunst zu modulieren (Leipzig, 1890).


The keyboard of an organ played by the hands, in contradistinction to the pedal, played by the feet. The number of manuals varies from two to four according to the size of the organ. In older French organs even five manuals are found. The names of the different manuals are: (1) Great organ; (2) choir-manual; (3) swell-manual; (4) solo-manual; (5) echo-manual. Each manual really is a separate organ in itself, having its own set of pipes and stops. By means of couplers any or all of the manuals can be connected, so that by striking a note on one manual the same note sounds on all the other manuals that are coupled. The usual compass of manuals is four octaves and a fifth, C-g.


A small machine for indicating the correct time or speed at which a musical composition should be played. It was invented in 1816, and consists of a pendulum, actuated by clockwork, which swings in front of a graduated scale. To the upper part of the pendulum-rod is attached a movable weight which can be set at any figure indicated by the scale. The figure 60 means that when the weight is set there the pendulum swings 60 times a minute. Thus it beats exact seconds. When set at 120 it beats half seconds. The metronome indication appears always at the beginning of a composition. M.M. (Malzel's metronome, from its reputed inventor, Malzel) By means of the metronome the composer is enabled to give the minutest directions in respect to the tempo, for the old terms allegro, andante, presto, etc., can only serve as approximate indications, leaving much to the temperament of the individual performer. The metronome is of the greatest value and is much used today in training beginners to play strictly in time.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Terms and Processes Used in the Interpretation of Music: Letters G-M
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my Collection of Books: The New International Encyclopedia; 1902-1905 Dodd, Mead and Company-New York Total of 21 Volumes
Time & Date Stamp: