User talk:Jerome Kohl

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Italic titles[edit]

A few notes about adding italic titles to articles:

1. The correct template for adding an automatic italic title is {{italic title}}; {{italic}} is a redirect, and should not be used.

2. The automatic title is capable of correctly handling disambiguation suffixes in article titles like Expo (Stockhausen), so you can use {{italic title}} for those too.

3. If you do need to use the full {{DISPLAYTITLE}} markup, as with Rotary Wind Quintet, the correct markup uses a colon, e.g. {{DISPLAYTITLE:''Rotary'' Wind Quintet}}, not {{DISPLAYTITLE|''Rotary'' Wind Quintet}}.

I hope this is helpful. — Paul A (talk) 06:41, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Very helpful, indeed. I have been shying away from this template for a long time, because I just didn't want to take the time to work out how the parameters work. I saw a few additions to other articles, and thought I could figure out from them how it was done. Ah, well, if we don't risk making mistakes, we will not learn much, will we? Thank you for the quick tutorial.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:24, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Probably Vikings from Iceland[edit]

Excellent digression on the Talk:Music theory page discussion of modes and scales! —Wahoofive (talk) 22:22, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Thank you, but it wasn't quite as much of a digression as it might seem: Icelandic folk music is said to be one of the few types of music in the world featuring the "Locrian" Mode XIII or "Hypolocrian" Mode XIV of the Regensburg and Mechelen theory books associated with the Cecilian Movement.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:33, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Where's the Citation?[edit]

Alright, so you restored " Prior to that, the old English name was sunnanæfen ("sun" + "eve").[citation needed]", which is the offensive statement. Where's the citation that this was the case prior to the interpretatio romana that led to Saturday? :bloodofox: (talk) 06:14, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

No one ever specified what exactly was objectionable or uncited. I simply added the most blatantly obvious citation, which appeared to be the main point of contention. Please feel free to remove the codicile, if it pleases you.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:43, 17 July 2014 (UTC)


Dear Jerome Kohl, Thankyou for your thanks, and please accept mine in return for your very helpful improvements on my rather clumsy punctuation and referencing techniques. I hope it will not annoy you, that I have now added a further paragraph showing that Vaccai's view of portamento was quite opposed to that of Manuel Garcia. I have an impression that this caused a real divergence in 19th century teaching methods, which perhaps underlies the conflicting uses of the word portamento down to the present. However you may think my final statement, that it was a conflict not of terms only, to be insufficiently justified from the sources I have cited. Please amend as you think best. With all good wishes, Eebahgum (talk) 19:47, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Not annoyed at all. I'm just chuffed somebody has finally come along who knows something about the subject (unlike myself)! Referencing formats are a question of style, and not every editor can be expected to know what to look for. It is the same in the traditional publishing world: authors are not expected to get all the footnotes formatted exactly according to house style, and that is a good thing, or a lot of editors would be on the dole. It sounds like you are concerned about possible improper synthesis. I shall have a look and see what you have done and, if it looks dodgy, I will say so. All the best.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:17, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Friedrich Goldmann[edit]

Dear Jerome Kohl, thanks for putting in all the effort on the article, but I'm not sure if I understand why you keep on going back to this article and doing dozens of micro-edits (instead of applying all edits in one step)? I've invested two days in finding all the references as required by other users (then again, Helmut Lachenmann for instance has 1 single ref and no one has erased it yet). The new ref-system I applied makes the text more readable with the amount of refs expected here(as compared to refs in brackets after each sentence). Compare Ligeti article refs for instance. If you want to change the ref-layout, I don't mind, but why you would erase properly researched and referenced information without guidelines encouraging you to do so, I don't understand. After all, isn't this about ending up with a cogent article of relevant information, not bits and pieces gathered from limited sources? I'd kindly ask you to stop repeating unnecessary removal of information through individually saved edits. If you still feel this is necessary, maybe we should discuss this with others first then? Thank you very much!--Planetdust (talk) 21:12, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

I gather you did not read my original edit summary, or you did read it but chose not to go to the linked guideline statement. Allow me to give it again here: WP:CITEVAR. It is not I who changed the referencing style in the Friedrich Goldmann article, but yourself. The reason for the multiple micro-edits is a direct consequence of the mass change of referencing style, which was easiest to rectify by reverting, and then adding back in your welcome additions. This also involves merging some new references with old ones which were (inadvertently, I presume) removed. As for the referencing style, when you get around to reading the CITEVAR guideline, you will discover that it requires any such change in referencing format to be preceded by consensus of the relevant editors. I can well believe you spent two days digging up all that material; I spent nearly as long on the material I added yesterday. (You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to find verification of the cemetery where he is buried.) The Ligeti article actully uses a completely different referencing system from the one you tried to introduce for Goldmann, but as long as we are trading examples, I suggest you take a look at Luigi Nono's article, or the one for Arnold Schoenberg. The Harvard-style citations there makes the text more readable, as compared to refs hidden away in footnotes which require a second click to reach the entries in an alphabetical list, as found in the Ligeti article, for example. But this is a discussion that belongs on the Talk page for the Goldmann article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:28, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Ok, let's put the ref format discussion in the FG Talk page. As for the additional references: I suggest removing the one on the death age since it is self-evident (2009 minus 1941, dates considered = 68). --Planetdust (talk) 06:08, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, 2009 minus 1941 does not necessarily produce 68. It depends on the actual dates of birth and death. It seems to me to be worth mentioning in this case because of the tragically early age of death. Still, as you say, it is almost self-evident. Chop out the detail if you like.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:24, 16 August 2014 (UTC)


Sounds like I touched a nerve – you must've suffered through countless such debates and I can only express my sympathy and admire your perseverance. Judging from the topics you've edited recently, I've probably read a lot of your work without being aware of it: thank you for your contributions to Wikipedia. Cobblet (talk) 18:09, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi Cobblet. You are very welcome, and thanks for the kind words. I wouldn't exactly say you've touched a nerve but, after eight years editing on Wikipedia, I have become sensitized both to the problems with reliability of sources, and the need for them despite these weaknesses. I find it helps to at least imagine complete ignorance of a subject—as if I were a reader seeking help from an article, but at the same time knowing full well that Wikipedia is completely untrustworthy. Under those circumstances, naturally I would be looking at the cited sources. Not every reader can discriminate between the reliable, the not-so reliable, and the completely unreliable, and so I feel it is especially important that editors develop a high degree of such discrimination. I figured you probably had taken this into consideration, but I do often see editors simply deleting a claim they do not agree with, even though it has got a citation. I tend to automatically revert such edits, but in this case was previously aware of this situation and decided to look for myself to see whether the source was credible. It wasn't, but I wanted to be sure this was the real reason for your action. There was also the nagging problem of what the heck do we mean by "mode", anyway? This has occupied me off and on for some time now, as you will see if you look at the edit histories of the various "mode" articles. As a practical musician, I am also very much aware how abstract scale systems really are, and how limited their use is in describing actual music. Although this went some way off the topic of the "Edmund Fitzgerald", your comments pointed to some of the critical issues, which I thought were worth discussing a bit.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:09, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Mikhail Mishaqa[edit]

Hello Jerome, with regards to your edit and unusual comment (erm), please check the source before jumping to conclusions and inquire more about the subject's background before questioning the language I employed. Factually speaking, Mikhail Mishaqa was educated in Egypt and in her book (An Occasion for war) Leila Tarazi Fawaz actually says on page 39 "he taught himself medicine and became a doctor". In those days Jerome, it wasn't unheard of for a person to "teach himself" medicine. Please be careful of your language and don't assume another editor with a username different than yours, knows less than you. If you want to change the language to make it more encyclopedic then go ahead, there's no problem with that, but I was just sticking to the actual facts.George Al-Shami (talk) 06:24, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

It may not have been unusual to be self-taught in medicine, but I think the reader deserves an explanation of how one "becomes a doctor" without going through any process of certification. If this was common practice in those days as well to set up practice as a physician without any formal credentials, the article needs to say so, since a "doctorate" is an academic degree bestowed by an institution of higher learning. If as you say the source uses exactly this wording, then it would be best enclosed in quotation marks, to show the wording is not a careless interpretation by a Wikipedia editor.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:40, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

In Freundschaft[edit]

"articles using parenthetical referencing are not supposed to have footnotes)": sure, sorry I missed that in skimming the text--one rarely sees the format in Wikipedia, though as an English student it's second nature to me. However, I do see a few problems--for instance, the Bitondi, Decarsen, Faria, and I references in the bibliography don't appear to be cited anywhere at all. I'll leave this to your judgment. Thanks, Drmies (talk) 18:58, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

These items (and others) should probably be separated into a "Further reading" section, by Wikipedia standards. I'm sure you are aware that this distinction is a quirk not often found in the real world, where all relevant sources are usually collected into a single alphabetical list. Of course, those lists are customarily called "Bibliographies" but this term is mostly re-defined on Wikipedia to mean "books written by the subject of the article". I am working on these references at the moment, and as soon as I have sorted out which ones are actually cited and which are not, you will see the change take place.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:06, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Thanks. In Freundschaft, Drmies (talk) 19:19, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Just today, I added two links with images to William Waterhouse, In Freundschaft, --Gerda Arendt (talk) 21:10, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • ... and today, he is on the Main page. I don't remember if I gave you the link to the book in his memory, with the Stockhausen entry on page 29 (ref 28, page 16 of the PDF)? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 20:57, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't remember seeing this, Gerda, so perhaps you did not call it to my attention previously. I shall go take a look now.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:04, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Aha! I'm sure I had not seen it before, and it is especially poignant since Stockhausen himself passed away only a few weeks after writing this memorial tribute.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:12, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
What you said: "joyful music together" ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 21:39, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Oops! Well, I cannot recall ever having had a memory problem before! However, at that time it did not occur to me that Waterhouse preceded Stockhausen in death by only one month. Adieu, indeed.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:55, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, you had not seen the booklet, I had only quoted from it. - I forget a lot around here (would not "survive" otherwise), but not the great wording you found! --Gerda Arendt (talk) 22:24, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Mary Bauermeister[edit]

Gestern sah ich dies, das möchte dich interessieren wegen Stockhausen

Taksen (talk) 07:23, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Hallo Taksen! Vielen Dank dafür, dass Sie meine Aufmerksamkeit auf diesen Artikel gelenkt haben. Es ist ganz erheblich, und eine interessante Lektüre. Mit freundlichen Grüßen—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:23, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Carl Orff[edit]

The latest edit to Carl Orff changed the category "German composers" to "German classical composers". Is that correct? CorinneSD (talk) 14:21, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

I haven't been following the discussions on those categories, but I did notice a mass edit that changed a large number of German composers to "German classical composers". It seems correct to me, though that word "classical" is annoying since it ought to apply only to composers of the late 18th century (for the 150-year period from about 1650 to 1800, if you are a French music historian).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:26, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Diabolus in musica[edit]

Dear colleague, may I ask you to interpolate (or shortly describe) into Tritone two citations on 'diabolus in musica' from Werckmeister which I supplied for the article Tritonus in German WP. They are both earlier than Fux (not to speak about Mattheson). Olorulus (talk) 17:59, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

I shall see what I can do. Thanks for calling this to my attention.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:21, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. Would you also have a look at the article Summer canon where the only represented translation into 'modern English' renders 'sumer' as 'spring...'. Is it really so in 'modern English'? Olorulus (talk) 09:17, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
You are welcome. I have checked the "Summer canon" article and made some adjustments there. The translation given is sourced, and even annotated for that particular reading with a link to this website. It is not the isolated word "sumer" that is at issue, but the entire first line, "Sumer is icumen in", which may be literally translated as "summer is coming in", or "summer is approaching". In other words, summer is not yet here, therefore it must currently be spring. The cited translation is less literal, and certainly could be criticised for inaccuracy: "Spring has arrived" suggests the season has only just begun. "Spring is nearly over" might be better or, more colloquially and with a touch of sarcasm, "Spring is petering out", but these are both less elegant or poetic even than the rather flat-footed "has arrived". Translating poetry is always such a dismal business, especially when the poetry is well-made to begin with.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:55, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I understand the 'semantic' and 'poetic' arguments. But isn't 'Spring has arrived' rather an isolated instance (though based on a web-link) than a common instance? I thought, maybe, for encyclopaedic 'neutrality' it is worth giving a standard translation along with this (original) one. Olorulus (talk) 06:00, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Probably. All we have to do now is find this "standard" translation.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:08, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

John Fonville[edit]

You may or may not be interested in Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/John Fonville. Hyacinth (talk) 01:05, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

I may indeed be interested. Thank you for calling my attention to this.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:24, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Hymn article[edit]

Hi, Ledes are supposed to provide a standalone introduction to the subject and cover the main topics in the article body in a summary fashion. The current lede in hymn seems too short to me.OnBeyondZebrax (talk) 18:19, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, but they should not rival the article itself for length. "Summary" means a short account of the vital points. Perhaps the lede to the "Hymn" article is a little too short, but your edit, which I reverted, went too far I think. Let's work on this to achieve a more balanced result.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:24, 10 September 2014 (UTC)


I'm a bit confused about the advice to change references (URL). Please tell me where I'm going wrong. The changes which have been made make it difficult to search for the relevant item. ApGlyndwr (talk) 10:29, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

I take it you are referring to the article Experimental musical instrument, and to this edit by User:Hebrides, which seems to have been in response to a tag I had placed, calling attention to the bare external links in the references. This in turn was shortly after you had added the paragraph about the neola, but was not directed at your edit which, in my opinion, adequately labeled the link. As far as I can see, Hebrides did not change the URL at all, but merely embedded it in a cite-web template (I believe this is the preferred method, so long as it does not conflict with the prevailing citation style). How does this make it any different to search for the relevant item—or am I looking at the wrong edit?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:33, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the reply. I had successfully entered the original link on the Welsh language version [1], with no correction from the administrators. I therefore assumed that I could do the same on the page referred to here. The external link that I used originally, takes you immediately to the relevant information about the invention on the site. This seems to me to be more useful to users. However, I am ready to accept whatever method you prefer. ApGlyndwr (talk) 10:04, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

I still don't understand. As far as I can tell, the URL that you originally entered has never been changed, so why would it now lead to a different page that it did originally? Perhaps all would become clear if I check the page you cite from the Welsh Wikipedia.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:15, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

The original link I used was [2]. Why this was changed, and by whom, I don't know, but I appreciate your frank discussion on this matter and apologize for being a bit of a novice when it comes to the finer points of editing. ApGlyndwr (talk) 08:33, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

I think I have fixed the problem. It appears that the URL was linked further to a search string that ultimately redirected to the site's home search page. I have no idea how that might have happened. We need to remove those links to "Neola", which has no article of its own on the English Wikipedia, but instead redirects circularly to the Experimental musical instruments page. Another option might be to use an "ILL" (Inter-Language Link) template to link to the article on the Welsh Wikipedia.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:01, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm very grateful for your excellent help and support. Your latest fixing of the problem is fine, and I'll be happy to come to you for any further guidance. ApGlyndwr (talk) 17:03, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Borrowed chord[edit]

Dear colleague, the problem I encountered in my studies of English terminology of music in this WP is that I cannot appreciate the 'commonness' of one or another term. May I ask you to elucidate this in case of 'borrowed chord'. Is this really a term commonly accepted in the English-speaking world (including, say analysis of late Romantic tonality of Wagner, Bruckner etc.) or just a term used in some handbooks on jazz harmony? If the latter, then maybe it is worth mentioning a limitation of terminological usage in the article borrowed chord? Thank you in advance. Olorulus (talk) 09:05, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

I have to admit that this specific usage is unfamiliar to me. It is cited to a textbook widely used in America (Benward and Saker), with which I have only the most superficial familiarity. A related term used by Benward and Saker is "common chord", in the sense of a chord common to two or more different keys. The term I was taught (long before Benward and Saker was first published) for this latter usage was "pivot chord" (I have always understood "common chord" to be a somewhat quaint British alternative term for a major or minor triad, and am astonished to learn that Americans—somewhere, but never within my earshot over the past forty-odd years—use this expression for the major triad only). "Borrowed chord", on the other hand, I understand in a much broader sense, to refer to any chord that belongs to the some key other than the currently predominant one (for example, a borrowed dominant chord), and not just to the parallel major or minor key. Time does move on, however, and it is possible that my usage is out of date. On the other hand, there are some demonstrable weaknesses in Benward and Saker (see for example the excerpt from Respighi's Trittico Botticelliano cited near the beginning of the article Phrygian mode, where Benward and Saker incorrectly identify the melody as Phrygian on A, despite the fact that it cadences on the fifth of the D minor tonic—something that cannot be seen in the illustration, which omits the accompaniment). I would be a lot happier in the case of "borrowed chord" to have two or three other reliable sources to confirm that the definition in Benward and Saker is actually in general use, and not just specific to their textbook.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:30, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your considerations. Of course, I don't have any idea about 'Benward and Saker' as a commonly recognized source (in their use of terminology, first of all). Now I'm inclined to evaluate 'borrowed chord' as somewhat weird and not commonly accepted. Olorulus (talk) 09:02, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
This discussion set me off on a mission of exploration. It appears that this particular usage of the term "borrowed chord" is specific to American music theory, and first appears (as a rare term) in the 1940s. It is only around 1985 that it begins to be widely used, however, which explains why it is rather unfamiliar to me. As you suspected, it is most commonly found in jazz theory, but I found four or five non-jazz theory textbooks that use it in the same sense as the one found in Benward and Saker. There are much earlier uses of the term, but with a quite different meaning. For example, "a borrowed chord for a bass note is formed by intervals other than the usual ones appearing over the bass note", in in J. S. Bach's "Most Necessary Rules of Thorough Bass", which offers six examples in figured-bass notation, including 6/4/2, 6/3/6, and 5/4/8. J. F. Daube, in The Musical Dilettante (1773) uses the term in the sense I have always understood it, as any occurrence of a note from a key other than the momentarily prevailing one (e.g., a secondary dominant), and I believe Rameau does so, as well.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:33, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you again for additional remarks! Well, the handbook's problem, as I see it by the current WP article, is an attempt to limitate the term meaning with 'parallel key' borrowing. If the term is limited in such way, it becomes weird. Otherwise, if it is used vaguely, it is not a term anymore, because naming 'borrowing' of just everything, which does not belong to the basic chord structure, eliminates a question of 'chord genesis' which is crucial for correct understanding of harmonic processes (especially at the stage of the late tonality). Olorulus (talk) 06:32, 14 October 2014 (UTC)



What is wrong with this as the lede?

"A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music. Symphonies have been composed for orchestra (both symphony and chamber orchestras), concert band, chamber ensembles, organ, piano, choir, or combinations of these resources."

It seems balanced to me. Also, chamber orchestra and symphony orchestra link to the same page, which is simply titled "orchestra". At first, you had them separated as if they were completely different ensembles. A chamber orchestra of today is basically the same as a full orchestra back in Mozart's and Beethoven's day.

Saxophilist (talk) 19:06, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

I take your point about "chamber orchestra" redirect (though it is not strictly speaking true that today's chamber orchestras are the same as a "full" orchestra in Beethoven's day), but for the rest it gives the false impression that the form is not associated with any particular musical medium. The "balance" is the very problem, and will only lead the average reader to suppose himself ignorant for thinking a "symphony concert", for example, might be a solo piano reccital.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:12, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
How about something like this?
"A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, generally composed for a large classical ensemble, such as an orchestra or concert band. Symphonies have also been composed for chamber ensembles, organ, piano, choir, or combinations of these resources."
"A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, generally composed for a large classical ensemble. Symphonies have been composed for orchestra (both symphony and chamber orchestras), concert band, chamber ensembles, organ, piano, choir, or combinations of these resources."
Either of these should remove any confusion about a symphony concert being a solo piano recital.
Also, a "symphony concert" could also refer to a concert band concert, as many concert bands are called "wind symphonies". Saxophilist (talk) 19:20, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
Ask anyone on the street what a symphony is, and I will bet you good money they will say it is a piece of music for orchestra. If you prompt them by asking could it be for band instead, you will almost certainly see confusion cross their faces—unless of course they are professional musicians. However, on Wikipedia this would be "original research", and we are required to rely on "reliable sources", like the Harvard Dictionary of Music, the Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, all of which confirm that the usual assumption is that a symphony is an extended work for orchestra. Expressions like "large classical ensemble" are vague and, worse, obscure for the non-initiate. Wikipedia is not supposed to deliberately mislead or confuse readers, so I suggest we stick with clearly explaining the usual first, and coming to the exceptions later.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:00, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
I would bet money (if I had any) that most people know what a band is. There's a decent chance that they may have played in one in middle school or high school.
I still think this is the best version, as it shows a neutral stance and lists the ensembles/instruments in the article. Remember the oboe and clarinet articles where you insisted in including less common genres at the top of the page? What's different about this page? It's true that there are much less piano symphonies than symphonies for orchestra or concert band, but that doesn't really matter, as the lede is just stating ensembles/instruments that are mentioned in the article.
"A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music. Symphonies have been composed for orchestra (both symphony and chamber orchestras), concert band, chamber ensembles, organ, piano, choir, or combinations of these resources."
Saxophilist (talk) 23:11, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
Sure, most people know what a band is: lead guitar, bass guitar, a keyboard instrument, drums, and at least one singer, possibly also a horn (= trumpet or saxophone). So what? I'll bet most people know what an accordion is, too, but they would hardly think of it first when asked "what is a symphony?" The important thing here (and which your new proposal still fails to address, is that, since the middle of the 18th century, a symphony is primarily a composition for orchestra, and there is no use pretending that the New Grove and all the other sources I cited are wrong when they say so, no matter how much you may wish otherwise. The article makes clear that there are exceptions, and I certainly agree that the lede should include this, as well. It would not be doing the reader any service if the article on the string quartet did not make clear that this term refers mainly to a group made up of two violins, viola, and cello, and only exceptionally to one consisting of one violin, a viola, a cello, and a double bass, or (heaven forbid) that technically it could also apply to a group of ukelele, banjo, piano, and washtub bass, so why should we conceal from the reader the fact that most people today regard the symphony as primarily an orchestral form of music? Indeed, the word "symphony" is commonly used as a shortened form of "symphony orchestra", and will be understood that way unless a different word is added afterward, such as "symphony band". I know you are a great enthusiast for band music, and it does you credit that you stand up for what you believe in, but don't let your zeal get in the way of accepting plain evidence.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:46, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I meant concert band when I said "band". I believe most people know what a wind band is and may have played in one. Nearly every school in the country has at least one.
The key difference with your example on the string quartet is that it's a specific ensemble made up of specific instruments. If you replaced the viola with a clarinet, it would no longer be a string quartet. In regards to the symphony, it is not an orchestra-exclusive genre of composition. If you replaced the orchestra with a concert band, the piece of music would still be a symphony. The symphony is a genre of music; it is not defined by the instruments. The lede should state what a symphony is (a compositional genre/style) and then list the ensembles that play symphonies.Saxophilist (talk) 01:46, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Well, I did rather believe you probably meant "concert band", but the people in the street we are asking were only offered the single word "band". I suspect if you instead said "symphony band", they would say "huh?" (Unless, of course, they were students at the University of Michigan, or one of a few other American universities.) You will notice that I did not suggest replacing stringed instruments with winds in my example of a string quartet, though I am aware of at least one composition exclusively for winds that is titled "String Quintet". As for the symphony not being defined by the instruments, I beg to differ, and I have got the New Grove, Harvard Dictionary of Music, the OED, and a few dozen other reliable sources on my side. Where are your references that deny this position? I do agree that the lede should say all this, including the fact that it is a form ordinarily associated with the symphony orchestra.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:38, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Even if you replaced the viola with a guitar, it would not be a string quartet in the standard sense, as a string quartet is the name of an ensemble made up of 2 violins, a viola, and a cello. In regards to the symphony style, if you replaced an orchestra with a concert band, it would still completely be a symphony. The ensemble makes no difference in what genre the piece is.
If a symphony is defined by the ensemble, then that would mean that if a concert band played a symphony, then it would no longer be a symphony. Do you see what I mean? A symphony is a style of music. Any set of instruments could play one. Saxophilist (talk) 13:25, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Re: replacing viola with guitar, I'm glad to see you understand what I am saying, and trust that this means you would agree that failing to state the usual understanding of "string quartet" would be a failure to correctly inform readers about that topic. As for the symphony, it is not a "style" but a "form", although the adjective "symphonic" may be used to describe a style. Your argument is sound, as far as it goes, but nevertheless constitutes original research, and in no way refutes the fact that the form has been mainly associated with "symphony orchestras" from the middle of the 18th century down to the present day, as testified by multiple reliable sources.
BTW, as long as we are on the subject, wouldn't it be wise to mention in the article that Berlioz's scoring of the Grande symphonie for wind band is exceptional for the period in which it was written? Or do you know of other symphonies for band from the 19th century (I can't think of any at all)? Further, when did composers start routinely writing symphonies for band? My uneducated guess is around 1950 (Hindemith's Symphony in B-flat is the earliest really notable example, I think, though I know of at least one example that predates it by a decade). Of course, piano symphonies are extremely rare, and organ symphonies only slightly less so. On the other hand, there have been quite a few orchestral symphonies written since 1900 for less than a "full" symphony orchestra (Honegger's Second, for example, for trumpet and strings, 1937), which are just as much an exception to the common notion of what constitutes a symphony as are symphonies for band. It seems to me that this aspect also requires some amplification in the symphony article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:09, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I don't see how my argument constitutes original research. it's a fact that there are symphonies for concert band.
Also, I don't know of any other wind band symphonies from the 19th century, but there may be some.
And Honegger's 2nd's instrumentation is just a variation on the orchestra; it's still an orchestra, albeit with less players. However, a concert band is not a variation on the orchestra; it's a different ensemble. And can you think of any other symphonies scored for an orchestra of strings and trumpet? I can't, but I can think of many symphonies for concert band.Saxophilist (talk) 16:34, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
No one is disputing the fact that there are symphonies for concert band. Did I somehow give the impression that I don't believe this is the case? Where you are going wrong is in denying that the form is mainly associated with the symphony orchestra (double woodwinds, brass, timpani, percussion, and strings—optional other instruments).
Thanks for the confirmation about the 19th century. I figured that you would be more likely to know of any examples than I am.
Honegger's Second is not for "symphony orchestra". What is your definition of "orchestra", BTW? A bunch of bowed-string instruments, with optional winds and percussion? We can go back to the New Grove, Harvard Dictionary, and all the rest, to see if their explanation of the symphony as a form commonly associated since the middle of the 18th century with the symphony orchestra would include an ensemble exclusively of strings, or of a solo trumpet with strings. Somehow I doubt we would find this to be the case, but it is a minor point. They still use the word "orchestra" and not "band" or "percussion ensemble" (think Charles Wuorinen) or "organ" or "piano" when speaking of the usual associations of the form.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:37, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
So if you added a trumpet to a string orchestra, or took away the winds (except a trumpet) from a "full" orchestra, they wouldn't be orchestras anymore? What about a concerto for trumpet and string orchestra? Some concert bands use cellos, but they are still concert bands. Saxophilist (talk) 18:35, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
What are you trying to say?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:45, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
I thought you were trying to say that the ensemble used in Honegger's 2nd would not be considered an orchestra. I would consider it a chamber orchestra of sorts. Saxophilist (talk) 01:31, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
No, I think what I said is that the Honegger is for less than a "full" symphony orchestra (didn't I say that?). The usual assumption, according to sources like the New Grove, etc. is that a symphony is for "symphony orchestra". There are of course quite a few examples written for string orchestra, as well as chamber orchestras of various make-ups. As far as band symphonies are concerned, would you class the brass and percussion ensemble of Alun Hoddinott's Eighth Symphony as a "concert band"? (Not that this has anything to do with the main subject under discussion here. I'm just interested to know.)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:41, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. And while we're at it, I was wondering what the difference is between a "full" orchestra of Beethoven's time and chamber orchestra of today. From my understanding, "full" orchestras were much smaller back in Beethoven's time and earlier. Don't today's chamber orchestras commonly play the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven?
About Hoddinott's 8th, wouldn't that be a brass band and not a concert band? Saxophilist (talk) 02:25, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
Beethoven's orchestra was essentially the one I outlined above: winds in pairs, brass (with 2–4 horns), timpani, percussion, strings. Later 19th-century symphony orchestras add a few instruments here and there, and the number of strings on each part of course varies. In Beethoven's day, the total number of performers probably averaged about 36 (though his Ninth requires rather more than this), whereas a large Romantic orchestra tops up to 80 or so. A chamber orchestra today is more like 12 to 20 players—sufficient for some of the more thinly scored symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, perhaps. Beethoven's First and Second Symphonies might be manageable by a largish "chamber" orchestra today, but the Eroica would certainly require supplementary players for any ordinary chamber orchestra: timpani, three horns, pairs of clarinets and bassoons are more than are usually found in a chamber orchestra, and probably a few extra string players to balance all of that. On the other hand, there are 20th-century chamber symphonies (such as Schoenberg's) that can be played with single players on the string parts, but are fairly heavy on the winds.
I suppose I would call Hoddinott's ensemble a "brass band", though of course a British brass band has a fairly standard complement of instruments that may or may not be what Hoddinott calls for in his symphony. I imagine your definition of "concert band" requires the presence of woodwinds. Must the clarinets (at least) be doubled in sections, or are there such things as one-to-a-part concert bands?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:36, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the information. Very informative.
Clarinets don't necessarily have to be doubled or tripled, but they usually are for balance. The clarinets often have the melody. Frederick Fennell advocated one player per part, but I'm not sure if he applied that to the clarinet section. Saxophilist (talk) 15:11, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
You are welcome. I have always assumed clarinets are massed into sections in concert bands for much the reason you mention, but also by analogy with the string section of symphony orchestras. From a purely practical point of view, I would imagine this also depends partly on just how beefy the brass section is. I didn't know that Fennell advocated one player per part, though I do know that bands frequently also double saxophones and brass, which makes doubling the clarinets inevitable. On the other hand, performances I have seen of Stravinsky's Symphonies d'instruments à vent and the Concerto for Piano and Winds have used one-to-a-part winds, and this seems to have created some reluctance on the performers' part to use the word "band" to describe themselves. (The concerto of course calls for clarinets in A, which tends to inhibit exuberant numbers in that section.) I believe we have discussed this on a previous occasion, but I have been left with the impression that a one-to-a-part scoring is called a "wind ensemble", in contradistinction to a "concert band", which means some or most of the parts are doubled . However, I have never seen this stated in print anywhere, and I believe you do not agree with this distinction.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:11, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Metallic means[edit]

Not related to music (yet, directly), but I thought I'd ask what you think of Metallic mean. Hyacinth (talk) 01:19, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Well, I am no mathematician, but this looks goofball to me. The golden mean is of course a well-established concept, but one does wonder how far down (or up) the periodic table this is meant to go. I suppose if you divide them by two you get either semimetallic or half-metallic means—but which?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:02, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I guess there could be the iron and the lace means as well... Hyacinth (talk) 08:35, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
Hmm. Well, ironing lace gives it a nice, crisp look (especially if you use a little starch), but I think your joke may have gone over my head. Unless of course you are referring to "Machine-made lace is any style of lace created or replicated using mechanical means" from the article Lace (my emphasis).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:30, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Help with article[edit]

Hi Jerome. Can you lend a hand to this page? It need a fresh set of eyes. I feel like this is a priority for the music theory pages.BassHistory (talk) 04:57, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Which article is that, then?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:02, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
First inversion
BassHistory (talk) 05:37, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Ah. That hasn't been on my watchlist up to now. Thanks, I'll take a look.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:43, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Oh dear, oh dear! That article doesn't so much need a fresh set of eyes, as a shovel! It would probably benefit from lopping off three-quarters of what is already there. For the time being, I have tagged the dubious bits, while I have a bit of a think.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:59, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, glad you agree. I had to separate it from Major 6th chord, none of the material is mine. I will alert you other problematic articles if I notice them. Thanks.BassHistory (talk) 06:07, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Oh, great. At the moment, I have only got 2,919 problematic articles on my watchlist. I need a few more!—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:23, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
I saw how enthusiastic you were about Augmented unison, I guessed you would jump at the chance to help with something more fundamental.BassHistory (talk) 07:17, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes, well, the fundamental article is already on my watchlist. At this point I think the best thing to do with the "first inversion" article is take it to the vet and have it put down. There is absolutely nothing there that is not already said—and said far better—in the parent article Chord (music), or its smaller rival Triad (music).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:52, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with that (turning it in to a redirect) per se. What could end up happening though, is there would be a page for second inversion, but not one for first inversion. It's too bad that WikiProject Music theory isn't more active. There doesn't really seem to be rhyme nor reason as to what has it's own article and what doesn't.
Btw, I know we're butting heads at that other page, but I don't see any reason why we can't work well together on other articles.BassHistory (talk) 20:50, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
I should have thought that there would of course be a "second inversion" article (and probably at least a "third inversion" one for seventh chords, if not further articles for ninths and so on). Clearly, this will require a coordinated effort if a tidy solution is to be reached. The WikiProject for music theory has had its ups and downs. A discussion was begun several months ago to develop a plan for dealing with the many problematic articles in a systematic way. It quickly became obvious that this would be too large a task, and so a subset of articles was identified for initial attention. I tackled one or two of those articles myself, and I think two other editors were also actively involved at the time, but I've not heard a peep for a very long time now, and I cannot even remember what the topics were. Perhaps both of us should visit the Talk page for that project to see where things stand. As for butting heads, I see no reason why that should stop us—and the other editors with differing points of view—from working together on that article, as well.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:35, 7 November 2014 (UTC)


Hi, Jerome -- I was just looking at the latest edits to Goliard when I noticed that a sentence was not written particularly well. It is in the sentence from which "does" was (rightly) removed:

Although there are these different theological perspectives, which does not mean that all the poems have religious morals, they represent all the contradiction that existed in Medieval society.

Does this make complete sense to you?

Also, while I suppose this use of "these" is all right, there is another sentence about two sentences below the word "the" which was just added in the latest edit, which also uses the word "these", and I think in this instance it is unnecessary. What do you think? CorinneSD (talk) 03:03, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

To start with, no, this sentence does not make complete sense. Or, rather, I am left with an uneasy sense that the writer meant something other than what it actually says. The "Although" does not call for a "which" clause, but rather one beginning with "this", and the next dependent clause ought to present the completion of the "although" thought. It does not seem to do this. Did the contradictions in Medieval society exist because of or despite differing theological perspectives? The three sections of the sentence simply do not fit together.
For the other sentence, I shall have to examine the article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:40, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Jerome. Sometimes I read things in articles and wonder whether it really is poorly written, or whether it is that I do not know enough about the subject matter to understand it. I think that even in difficult subjects, the sentences can be written so that they make sense to a non-expert, don't you? CorinneSD (talk) 23:17, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Sometimes I read things in articles and wonder whether I have forgotten how to understand English! In the vast majority of cases, I agree with you about making explanations comprehensible to non-experts. The problem is almost always bad writing, sometime precipitated by an author knowing the subject so well that the impenetrability of the prose is not apparent to him or her. While you were posting this comment I had donned my snorkel and flippers, and was working around the underwater part of that iceberg—the results of which you have probably already noticed. I cannot believe that I had previously visited that article and left so much untouched. It is such a catastrophe of bad referencing that the patches of bad writing pale in comparison.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:46, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I saw all your edits. I was impressed with how much work you did on such short notice. I came here to write, "Jeez, those bracket bots are picky!" It picked up on just the small difference between a curly bracket and a regular curved parenthesis. Regarding the poor writing and poorer referencing, maybe a troupe of goliards wrote the article. ;) CorinneSD (talk) 23:57, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
I know. What difference does a little dent in a bracket make, anyway? You can hardly see the difference. I must take exception to your besmirching the reputation of the Goliards as writers, though I do not believe they were very diligent about providing references for their own claims!—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:08, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
You're right. I looked at the article again and realize that they were writers, probably good writers. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to write and not have to provide references? From the little I just read in the article, it is almost as if they were the late night comedy shows of the Middle Ages. CorinneSD (talk) 00:27, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
I was just looking at the latest edit to Goliard. An editor made words in headings lower-case, which I think is fine, but then I actually read a heading which must have been there all along but I hadn't noticed it. It says "Originations of the Goliardic tradition". I was stopped by "originations". I had never heard that word. Is that preferable to "Origins of the Goliardic tradition"? CorinneSD (talk) 17:58, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I would not be surprised to learn the the OED has got an entry for "origination" but I would expect to discover it is either archaic or colloquial. It sounds like a word that would slip in from a native French speaker with less than a native command of English. Theoretically, there should be a small difference in meaning ("coming into being" vs. "mode of coming into being", or something like that), but it is such an odd word that I would change it to simply "origins".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:18, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
(talk page stalker) I am almost sure that the late great Smiley Culture uses "origination" in his fine and classic ditty Cockney Translation. But (a) I might be wrong, as I so often am, and (b) you probably didn't really want to know that, did you?. Sorry. Best wishes DBaK (talk) 21:36, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Yet another (talk page stalker) ;-) I think that there may be a US/UK difference here. Origination is certainly current in modern English, commonly met in broadcasting. Consider "Each episode of The Archers is broadcast twice. Origination is at 7 pm with the repeat at 2 pm the following day". Without going back to the dictionary, I would understand "Originations of the Goliardic tradition" to mean the places where it first occurred whereas "Origins of the Goliardic tradition" suggest the sources from whence it arose. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:35, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, that's interesting, Martin. I've never heard that usage, nor the distinction you explain so well. That must be British English. I think we'd be more likely to hear, "That program will air at 7 p.m. and will be shown again at...". I looked at the section in question and saw that it is not about location at all. It appears that "Origins" is the right word here. I'll change it if everyone agrees, or Jerome can change it. DBaK, I had never heard of "Smiley Culture" before. I didn't even know it was the name of a person until I saw the article. Would you say he was a modern goliard? I hadn't heard of that song Cockney Translation, either; it sounds interesting. If that article is of interest to you, can I ask you what is meant by "toasters" at the end of the second paragraph in Smiley Culture#Biography? I don't understand the second half of that sentence at all. CorinneSD (talk) 23:55, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I've just checked OED2. Origination is not primarily about place but about "comming into existance". As an example Bentham is quoted as referring to the "origination of Governments" when talking about how they are created (social contract), rather than precursors and social requirements. I'm no expert on Goliards (but the parallels between them and Langland's Piers are pretty interesting) or rap artists. I would suggest however that as it stands either "originations" or "origins" is correct. That being the case WP:RF mandates "origins". It would be nice to see the section expanded to include not just the second son syndrome but also the origins(!) of the poetic tradition itself. Regards, Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:56, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
This sounds like the OED agrees with my assumption that the word "origination" refers to "mode of coming into being", as opposed to the mere fact of same. Unless a point is being made in the Goliard article about this, indeed WP:RF mandates the more common word "origins".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:26, 28 November 2014 (UTC)


I can add some online references to recorder woods. I have a splendid olive-wood alto. -- Evertype· 12:41, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Keeping in mind that the list of woods could become unmanageably long, and that olive wood is comparatively rare, please feel free to add any information that has a reliable source. I had to revert that edit because the Robinson source cited at the end of the sentence did not mention olive wood, and sooner or later somebody might check the source and invalidate it entirely based on the fact that it fails to verify olive wood. I hope I made clear in my edit summary that I know the added claim is true, but on Wikipedia the criterion for inclusion is verifiability, not truth.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:09, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

November 2014[edit]

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Georges Bizet[edit]

Just in case you have nothing else to do, there's a "citation needed" tag in the third paragraph of the lead in Georges Bizet. Also, there are several such tags in the article Solfège. CorinneSD (talk) 01:45, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

There should never be any need for a citation in the lead of an article. If the claim made there is not adequately referenced and discussed more amply in the body of the article, then the lead is not doing its job of summarizing the article, and that claim should be removed. I'll have a look, and also at the solfège article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:17, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Jules Massenet[edit]

I have just begun reading the article on Jules Massenet. The last sentence in the lead is:

  • Although critics do not rank him among the handful of outstanding operatic geniuses such as Mozart, Verdi and Wagner, his operas are now widely accepted as well-crafted and intelligent products of the Belle Époque.

Of course I'm not anywhere near being an expert in this field, but I wonder if "well-crafted and intelligent" is the best that can be said of Massenet's operas. CorinneSD (talk) 17:49, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

2) I have nearly finished reading the article. I have a question. Near the end of the second paragraph in Jules Massenet#Operatic successes and failures, 1879–96, I saw the name of the opera Le mage. It leads to an article of that name. In the list of Le mage#Recordings in that article, "Le Mage" is written with the "m" on "Mage" capitalized. So I changed "Le mage" to "Le Mage" in that paragraph in "Operatic successes and failures, 1879–96". Then, later in the article, I saw that "Le mage" was again written with lower-case "m". So now I wonder what is correct. CorinneSD (talk) 18:41, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

In the large and wonderful world of French orthography, both are correct (though not at the same time, of course). There are, in other words, two competing styles of capitalization. As it happens, for once there is agreement in the Wikipedia Manual of Style, and the simpler of these two styles is to be used here. This is to use "sentence case", as most other languages do (English being the big exception). This means the word "mage" should be lowercased, since it is not a proper noun. However, the other style (which is favored by the Modern Language Association, amongst others) is to capitalize the first letter and the first noun in the title. According to this style, "Le Mage" is correct. Of course, this can lead to some fairly convoluted examples, when several adjectives, particles, or conjunctions intervene before finally arriving at the first noun, which is the best argument against this rather arcane system.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:54, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
As for your first question, yes, I would also hope that better could be said of Massenet's operas. As usual on Wikipedia, this boils down to what can be found in reliable sources.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:54, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Charles Gounod[edit]

I just read the article on Charles Gounod. I have a question. In the second paragraph of the lead is the following sentence:

  • His funeral took place ten days later at the Church of the Madeleine, with the assistance of Camille Saint-Saëns to the organ and Gabriel Fauré conducting.

I just wondered if "to the organ" is the right phrase -- "with the assistance of Camille-Saint-Saëns to the organ". If it is, I've never heard that before. I thought it should be "at the organ", or maybe "on the organ".

Also, I was surprised at how short this article was compared to the articles about Bizet and Massenet. I also wondered about the incredible detail about the guitar proportionate to the relatively short article. CorinneSD (talk) 18:23, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

Hello, Jerome -- If you have time, could you check the latest edits to Charles Gounod: [3] and the one that follows it. CorinneSD (talk) 18:12, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Gustav Mahler[edit]

I just started reading the article on Gustav Mahler. I want to ask you something about the following two sentences which appear in the fourth paragraph of the lead:

  • Aside from early works such as a movement from a piano quartet composed when he was a student in Vienna, Mahler's works are designed for large orchestral forces, symphonic choruses and operatic soloists. Most of his twelve symphonic scores are very large-scale works, often employing vocal soloists and choruses in addition to augmented orchestral forces.

I'm wondering whether there is not some redundancy and wordiness in these two sentences, specifically the parts I have italicized. CorinneSD (talk) 18:37, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

It is certainly not the most elegant prose I have encountered. The repetition of "large", "orchestral forces", "soloists", and "choruses" creates an exaggerated urgency, as if the writer is trying to convince us of something he is not very sure of himself. Using the word "very" merely heightens this effect. I remember that this article underwent extensive rewriting a year or so ago, and there was some heat generated in the process. I might want to revisit the discussion and edit history before tackling this sentence, just to make sure I am not disturbing some delicate compromise, but it could definitely be improved.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:12, 16 November 2014 (UTC)
I'm glad you agree. I assume that when you say "I might" and "I am not" you really mean you and are not suggesting that I do that checking. CorinneSD (talk) 17:44, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
Either, both. I suggest that whoever might decide to make changes should first check the edit history.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:46, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

Isaac Albéniz[edit]

I've just finished reading the article on Isaac Albéniz. I made a number of minor copy-edits and a few changes in wording. I wanted to mention some concerns to you:

1) The information in the section Isaac Albéniz#Life is not in chronological order, particularly the second-to-last paragraph about his wife and family. I wasn't sure of the best place to put that information.

2) The last sentence in the first paragraph in Isaac Albéniz#Life reads:

  • By the time he had reached 12, he had made many attempts to run away from home.

However, no reason for his attempts to run away from home is given. One can guess that he was trying to reach the Paris Conservatoire, but that is not certain. I'm wondering whether the sentence is needed at all.

3) There seems to be a little repetition regarding the teacher and composer Felip Pedrell. He is mentioned in the fifth paragraph in Isaac Albéniz#Life, but then that and other similar statements are in the first paragraph in Isaac Albéniz#Middle period – Spanish influences.

4) I'm wondering about the formatting in the first block quote in Isaac Albéniz#Middle period – Spanish influences. I know it's a quote, but maybe the numbered items could be shown in list form.

5) In the paragraph right after that block quote, the one beginning "Following his marriage", I thought it was a little odd to have such a brief paraphrase from Walter A. Clark followed by such a long block quote from Chase. That somehow doesn't seem balanced.

6) In that paragraph, Walter A. Clark is identified for the first time as "The Albéniz biographer Walter A. Clark" (I removed commas around the name), but then, in Isaac Albéniz#Later period, he is again identified, this time as Walter Aaron Clark: "The suite shows what Albéniz biographer Walter Aaron Clark describes as...." Is this full second identification needed?

Best regards, CorinneSD (talk) 01:06, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

You have been busy! The easiest question to answer is the last one: No, it is certainly not necessary to write out the biographer's full name the second time; his surname should be sufficient. I am not familiar enough with the literature to know whether Mr Clark is normally referred to with all three names, but I would guess not, based on the fact that the first reference gives only his middle initial. Under these circumstances, providing the middle name sounds pretentious and excessive. The rest I would have to see i context, but it all sounds to me as if you have identified problems in the narrative and already have a fairly good idea of what to do about them.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:26, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
@#4: I have taken a look at this, and I am not so sure it is actually a block quotation. It is formatted like one, but I find it difficult to believe a list like this would be set up as running text in a book, especially without enclosing the numbers in the customary round brackets. The lack of an inline citation at the end raises further suspicions. Have you checked online to see if there is a GoogleBooks preview for this source?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:32, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I looked on GoogleBooks and found the book by Pola Baytelman but was unable to see a preview. I don't know if I missed it, but I couldn't find anywhere to click in order to see a preview. It does not seem to be a biography in the usual sense of the word. I also looked for the book on Questia and could not find it. CorinneSD (talk) 02:44, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

Camille Saint-Saëns[edit]

I've just finished reading the article on Camille Saint-Saëns. I have one question:

In the first paragraph of the section Camille Saint-Saëns#Reputation, the last sentence reads:

  • This is hardly surprising—Saint-Saëns's career began while Chopin and Mendelssohn were in their prime, and ended at the commencement of the Jazz Age; but his image endured for years after his death.

I believe "his image" should be "this image" -- referring to him as ultra-conservative -- you have to read the sentence before this one to get the whole picture. Just thought I'd check with you before I changed it. CorinneSD (talk) 03:32, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

One more question: In the second paragraph in the section Camille Saint-Saëns#Relationships with other composers, it says "the March from Tannhäuser". I noticed that "the March" is in regular font. I wondered if that was correct. CorinneSD (talk) 03:38, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

I don't know about "his image" vs. "this image". I imagine this would be resolved by checking the cited source. As for "the March", yes, it should be in regular (that is, Roman) font. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music, in the section on titles.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:01, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
O.K. Thanks. CorinneSD (talk) 15:22, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I hope you had a nice Christmas. I also hope you have Camille Saint-Saëns on your watchlist and will review the series of edits made by an IP. I can't judge the history or musical details as you can, but I see some problems with syntax and conciseness. I'm going to leave it as it is so that you and others can judge all the edits; I'm sure you can also fix any grammatical and stylistic problems. CorinneSD (talk) 15:48, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
I had a very quiet and pleasant Christmas, thanks. I hope you had a good holiday, as well. Saint-Saëns was not on my watchlist, but it is now. You will have noticed I made a few edits, both to fix inefficient prose and to demand some references for iffy claims. I am not especially well-informed about Saint-Saëns, and it is possible that all of the material I have questioned is common knowledge. This does not change the fact that anything not obvious to your average PhD music theorist requires a reliable source on Wikipedia.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:13, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Hector Berlioz[edit]

I'm now reading Hector Berlioz. Am about half-way through it. I just thought I'd point out to you that there are quite a few "citation needed" tags in this article. CorinneSD (talk) 04:33, 18 November 2014 (UTC)


There is a discussion about a navbox for recorders here. As a major current contributor your input would be particularly valued. Regards, Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:46, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the notification. I shall have a look at that discussion.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:21, 23 November 2014 (UTC)


Every modern manufacturer calls the non-German fingering "baroque". Few if anybody uses "English". Your edit to "'Baroque' (English)" seems very purist, and not in a way that most people will understand. -- Evertype· 01:23, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

There are two broad classes of fingerings called "baroque", those actually given in 18th-century tutors, and the adaptation of these fingerings made by Arnold Dolmetsch starting in 1919. The term "baroque fingering", though used by commercial manufacturers of school recorders to distinguish the Dolmetsch system on the one hand from the "German" system and, more recently, from "Renaissance" fingerings. "Most people" may not care one way or the other about this, but without clarification, those who do know the difference are going to be confused or uncertain. If you like, I can plant twenty or thirty citations on that image caption to verify the difference (Brian Blood's online article from the Dolmetsch website would be one), but I don't think that would be very constructive, do you?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:00, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but while Mollenhauer and Moeck and Dolmetsch and others may also manufacture "school recorders", they also manufacture high-end recorders, and those use the same "baroque" fingering (and sometimes "german" fingering). I imagine most users of this encyclopaedia article are interested in what is generally available—and few people are able to buy instruments over two centuries old. My thought is that the post-1919 "baroque" fingering is the most common use of that term today—that is, it should be the default in these articles—and it seems really unnecessary to have to explain this in photo captions. Perhaps... an article Recorder fingering with a variety of sections based on this and this might be a way forward? Note tghat last page calls the modern fingerings "baroque" and adds "sometimes called 'modern' or 'English' fingerings". -- Evertype· 13:03, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
As far as I am aware, "school" recorders are the only kind manufacturers produce today with German fingering. Since the use of the expression "baroque fingering" is meant by those manufacturers to distinguish from the German type, what is the point of mentioning the fingering system in the photo caption at all? To me, and to anyone who has ever dealt with recorder makers (as opposed to manufacturers—I am thinking of the hand-made instruments by Dolmetsch as opposed to their factory-made ones, or instruments by Prescott, Von Huene, Morgan, Loretto, Ohannesian, Marvin, Blezinger, Vylder, Wenner, van der Poel, Bolton, Paul Richardson, Rohmer, and other craftsmen, none of whom make instruments that are anything like 200 years old), the flag "baroque fingering" has a contrary meaning of "historical 18th-century fingering", which therefore is confusing without a context. It is not possible to reliably judge from a photograph whether a recorder is tuned for baroque or "baroque" fingering, but it is very easy indeed to tell a German-fingering instrument from the size of the third fingerhole from the bottom. So, once again, what is the utility of pointing out a difference that can plainly be seen by those who know the instrument well (and is bound to raise for them the question of which of two distinct classes of "baroque" fingering is meant), but on the other hand is almost certainly a meaningless distinction for those who do not? Indeed, as you say, the Dolmetsch fingering is practically universal in factory-produced instruments today, so the only reason I can think of for specially mentioning a fingering system on a modern instrument is if it is not the standard Dolmetsch/English/(neo-)Baroque system. I suggest that the mention of fingering system should be removed entirely from the caption. Or was this intended to point out that the garklein recorder (as well as the soprano accompanying it in the photograph) is not of Renaissance or Medieval design? If the latter, then it would be simpler to point out the reverse-conical shape and the three-part construction of the soprano, with ornamental turning on the joints.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:17, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

I've just had a look at a couple of Adler recorders (East German). One was purchased in England in 1965, the other has very similar packaging and labelling so I would assume the same sort of date. They both refer to "English fingering", not Baroque. Incidently they are a "descant" and "treble", but I suspect that reflects the market they were being sold into. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:29, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

Excellent examples, thank you, Martin. Lest there be any confusion, Adler was a maker of inexpensive instruments that in general are classifiable as "school" recorders. I imagine that these particular exemplars were packaged, as you suggest, for export to English-speaking countries other than the USA. Had they been intended for domestic consumption, they would have been labeled "Sopran" and "Alt". In that time-frame, however, I can testify that "descant" and "treble" were well-understood in the US—or at least the parts of it I inhabited—even if "soprano" and "alto" were the preferred terms.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:45, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
It makes a lot of sense not to mention the fingering in a photo caption unless it's German or something other than today's standard. -- Evertype· 13:03, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
This sounds like we are in perfect agreement, then. If you have not already removed the unnecessary remark on fingering, then I shall.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 08:06, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

A barnstar for you![edit]

Barnstar of Diligence Hires.png The Barnstar of Diligence
The Barnstar of Diligence is awarded in recognition of a combination of extraordinary scrutiny, precision and community service. Hafspajen (talk) 00:23, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm sure I am not half as attentive to such things as you are, Hafspajen, so this means a lot to me.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:47, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
ME?? Holly molly. No way. I there has ever been a distracted professor-type, that's me. You know, the one who is cooking the watch while looking at the egg... You deserve this fully! Hafspajen (talk) 00:53, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree. Congratulations on a well-deserved award. CorinneSD (talk) 17:10, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

Stockhausen Blog[edit]

Hi Jerry, I responded to your comment on my talk page. I figured it was more appropriate there than here. Thx EdChang-uatu (talk) 19:55, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

George Crumb[edit]

Hello Jerome-

I noted the inaccurate status about George Crumb....I am a cellist of some 30+ years and very much enjoy Mr Crumbs compositions. I am trained in music as well. There are people who are far far more gifted than myself, there are libarians, there are composers and other musicians all of whom would agree without hesitation that Crumb is an avant garde composer. I do not care in the least about the contentious nature of a category, to call Crumb a contemporary classical composer is roughly akin to calling Rachmaninoff an ivory tickler. I do not wish to go the 3 RR route, however, the idea of documenting music to be accurate is the key here......I have also create the articles for Vox Balanae, and Crumbs Cello Sonata....please, if we cant agree, I ask to at least document this composer correctlyCoal town guy (talk) 14:55, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Documentation would be nice. The reason for the contention is two-fold: the term "avant garde", at least with reference to composer's of Crumb generation, generally is used to distinguish European composers from American ones (the latter, when not of a conservative bent, are generally referred to as "experimental", though this word, too is highly problematic). The second reason is that the term "avant garde" is used journalistically to refer to just about anything that is even slightly non-traditional. Bartók, for example, is "avant garde" by this definition; so is Schoenberg. As a result, the term is so broad as to be virtually meaningless. I don't much like the word "classical" except when applied to European composers of the latter half of the 18th century, but at least "contemporary classical music" has currency (though I admit that this, too, is an awfully vague expression). Nevertheless, if you have got a reliable source that says Crumb is "avant garde", I am not going to stand in your way.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:18, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
I wanted to say thanks for responding and keeping an open dialog about this composer and the article content. I agree 100% with you. My experience has left me impressed with Crumb specifically as he challenged advanced instrumental techniques and did not rely on electronics or pre recorded sounds...At least he has not done so to the best of my knowledge before 2008...I will strive to get a good ref, I believe I have a few at home, BUT I think I can get one from a google book as well.Coal town guy (talk) 16:39, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
No probs. One small quibble with what you have just now said, however: some of Crumb's music from fairly early on does require electronics. For example, Ancient Voices of Children not only specifies amplification of the piano in order to make many of the effects audible at a distance of more than a few inches from the instrument, but, in practice, the mandolin must also be amplified if it is not to be just a visual ornament on the stage. On the whole, though, you are correct that Crumb's interests lie mainly in the realm of acoustical instruments, and the results can be (if you will pardon the expression) electrifying. When the Kronos Quartet was still resident in Seattle, we used to get treated about once a month to Black Angels, which was a favorite also with the local composer crowd who could not stand "avant garde" music. But this is all just Original Research.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:51, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
VERY COOL....I am very familiar with where Crumb grew up. His extended cello techniques (sea gull harmonic) for Vox Balaenae supposedly were "invented" by another American bassist, I cant however find a hard ref stating, yup, person x invented this technique. Extended technique pretty much started my interests in music...BUT YES, that too is under the aegis of original research. Interesting how little John Cage is mentioned as far as his use of prepared pianoCoal town guy (talk) 16:59, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Trying to get a pic for this article...THEN an info box would be most cool....Coal town guy (talk) 15:24, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I think an infobox for any composer biography article is very uncool, and in the case of a composer whose style is as contentious as Crumb's is, would be a disaster. In any case, before adding an infobox, please see the position expressed at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Composers#Biographical_infoboxes, and please seek consensus on the Talk page for the Crumb article, where I shall certainly oppose such a suggestion.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:22, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
You are reminding me of my best cello teacher..Miss that lady...I thought about the info box thing alot actually. You are correct, IF we were to take the current mold of infoboxes and repeat basic information in the article....Assuming we are literate, repetition does not breed mastery, its just repetition, honest. I thought that maybe, JUST MAYBE, it would be swell to have a useful infobox.....I know I know, after you finish laughing we can discuss it later. However, I just happen to notice this MIGHT be something you dont like...Thats swell. BUT as I recall, we are not here to make things we like, its that whole encyclopedia thing. Again, contention before a word is even written is a sign of looking for an emotional tampon. Thats not me...ergo, I withdraw any effort in totum on this article..its all yours now....Coal town guy (talk) 23:17, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Please don't withdraw like that, simply because someone (in this case me, though I am not alone) has got a different point of view on something like infoboxes. It is not technically true that I am contesting an infobox "before a word has been written". I have in fact been involved in the composer-infobox discussion for several years now, even if mainly in a peripheral capacity. I am bringing that past baggage with me to the George Crumb page, that is all, and I am aware of the vehement feelings of many others in the Composers and Classical Music Projects on this subject. I thought you might want to know, before getting too emotionally attached to the idea yourself.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:36, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I will attempt to again edit, as I too have a bit of pile of mental suitcases from my experiences here. I was trained as a cellist. SO, I went out on a limb and thought, golly, why NOT edit the cello article. I had to explain why, having a dampit was in no way "standard equipment" on a decent well made and maintained cello. Thats right, I had to explain why a 15 thousand dollar piece of wood thats nearly 200 years old does not require a wet rubber hose inserted into it to destroy the instrument. IMAGINE my joy when I then had to insert a chart explaining the parts of the cello in an article describing the cello. ALL OF THIS, AFTER DISCUSSION?!?!?!? I m not attached to any structure, I am attached to documenting a rather decent composer. I PROMISE to listen to any disagreement or argument as long as whatever it is, improves the article content. IF you are able to extend the same courtesy, lets edit this thing and make it a better article...Otherwise due to bad genetics and luck, I dont have that time to give awayCoal town guy (talk) 01:41, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Locrian mode - "Revert unsourced claims"[edit]

It is often hard for me to decide what is the source of that kind of reaction towards my (really) minor editings of English Wiki articles - part xenophobic, part pseudo-intelectual pride, maybe other factors I am partially responsible for. The Locrian mode article is a dwarf. This is not the first time I ask myself... what it is exactly the people with solid educational background (like yourself) DO (other than undoing stuff) in relation to incomplete materials like this? Where is your study for me to derive "credible source" for my claim (validity of which musicologist like you could easily determine for himself)? My determination is based on my ability as musician to determine the tonal structure of every song I've ever heard. Wouldn't be easier for you to try to back up my claim (which you know is true) with your knowledge? The procedure is absent, but isn't that your job as a senior member?--Utar Sigmal (talk) 03:24, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

One of the peculiarities of Wikipedia is that "the threshold for inclusion is verifiability, not truth". This can prove very annoying, especially for editors who have got a solid background in whatever subject is being discussed, and somebody slaps them with a citation from an Idiot's Guide to type of book. Who on earth would want to be guided by an idiot? In the present case, however, I find that identification of mode is slipperier than one might imagine. Take a look at Talk:The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, just for a start, where the song (apparently—the sources are not as clear as one might prefer) shifts from one mode initially to a different one for the majority of its length. While popular music does tend to stay in one key, there is a distinct problem with tonal centering in so-called modal popular music. This has only become a matter of formal investigation relatively recently, but the fact is that harmonies and melodies in popular music often exhibit an ambiguity about which scale degree is actually the tonic, and whether the "second center" in a typical binary pair (say, C and G) should be regarded as dominant or subdominant. The Locrian mode is particularly troublesome in this regard, since what may seem to some listeners to be a Locrian construction may to others actually be the upper half-octave of a piece in Phrygian mode, settling not on the song's tonic, but rather on the fifth scale degree. The nature of harmonic support is usually regarded at the deciding factor in such cases, but even here analysts are often divided as to what the characteristic harmonies really are. It is precisely because Locrian music is comparatively rare that the article on that mode is "a dwarf". If I am wrong about this, by all means produce a reliable source to prove it, and I shall sit down and shut up.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:47, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Octatonic scale[edit]

Please check the article Octatonic scale. As I see it (in this current incarnation), the material is mostly a (faulty sometimes, see Glinka) description of the 'Rimsky-Korsakov' scale', or (in later terminology) Messiaen's 2nd mode, though 'octatonic' actually means any 8-different pitch-scale (should not be octave btw.) and nothing more. May you edit the article to make this interrelation more distinct and clear? Olorulus (talk) 08:47, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

In English-language music theory, there are several terms used interchangeably for the scale that alternates whole and half steps. (I think this is already explained in the "octatonic scale" article.) Etymologically, of course you are perfectly correct that the term should describe any scale with eight degrees but, just as "pentatonic scale" in general use means the anhemitonic scale alternating one and two whole tones with minor thirds, so does "octatonic scale" mean just this particular scale unless specified otherwise. In the West it is particularly associated with Stravinsky and (as you mention) Messiaen, and was only really identified with Rimsky-Korsakov after Richard Taruskin published an article in (I think) 1988 about how Stravinsky came to know of this scale. As far as I recall, "the" Rimsky-Korsakov scale is actually two scales, the "harmonic" and the "melodic" versions, one that begins with a semitone, the other with a whole tone.
I shall take a look at the article with your criticisms in mind, and see what I can do to improve it. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:42, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for these clarifications and edits. Olorulus (talk) 15:34, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
You are welcome. It is a start, at least. That article could use a lot more work.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:46, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Édouard Lalo[edit]

Do you agree with the latest edit to Édouard Lalo in which an editor added to the lede a sentence that appears later in the article? The article is rather short, so I'm not sure it is necessary to have that sentence twice. CorinneSD (talk) 18:22, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

That article was not on my watchlist but, now that you have called my attention to it, no, I do not think that addition is well-judged. The material is far too detailed for a lede, with the references to Thomas Beecham and all the rest. A lede should be a general introduction to the subject of an article, not the entire content of it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:53, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
O.K. Thanks. CorinneSD (talk) 20:04, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
I hope the article is on your watchlist now since further edits are being made. CorinneSD (talk) 03:32, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I suppose I had better add it, then. I don't imagine you would ever let me forget it otherwise ;-)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:31, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, I would have let you forget the article until some new issue appeared, but it's easier if you see it yourself. How many music articles are there on WP? CorinneSD (talk) 03:12, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Pleyel et Cie[edit]

Jerome, I just looked at the latest edits to Pleyel et Cie and was dismayed. An editor apparently does not like passive voice and changed sentences so that they are now in active voice. I think the sentences were fine as they were and now sound awkward. As I'm sure you know, passive voice is often used in academic writing. I would have reverted but since I can't judge the other parts of the edit I didn't want to risk undoing something reasonable. Can you take a look at the edits? Thanks. CorinneSD (talk) 03:10, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

To be honest, I don't see much to choose between the active and passive voice in the changes made to that article—apart from the mangled grammar in the sentence about closing down piano manufacture in France (it is still not clear whether the announcement was made at the end of 2013, or if that is when manfacture was to cease). I suppose I do slightly prefer the passive construction, but not enough to make a fuss about it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:52, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Deciphering Akkadian/Hurrian musical terminology[edit]

You wrote "A source is needed to tie [the Akkadian system referenced in the Hurrian hymns] to the Greek Myxolydian." First of all, the Myxolydian is not "Greek" in origin at all; that is just a Greek name for a scale they did not use much and attributed to Lydians. The Celtic use of it for reed instruments is not dependent on any contact with Greece and reflects very ancient usage. The even more ancient pentatonic scale is formed by inserting 3/2 "G" between 2/2 "C" and 4/2"C+", and 4/3 "F" and 5/3 "A" between 3/3 "C" and 6/3 "C+", with a "D" at either 10/9 or 9/8 to make a partial circle of fifths (with annoying comma). The next logical step is inserting 5/4 "E" and 7/4 "A#" between 4/4 and 8/4. The simplest integer fractions were doubtless discovered independently in multiple places. The "source" for identifying the scale this way is the nomenclature itself. The 7-4 (which I label A#:F) and 6-3 (A:E) are the "opening" and "closing" of a sequence; if an Ionian ("major") scale were intended, 4-1 (F:C) and 3-7 (B:E) would be the opening and closing of the partial circle of fifths. The 3-7 interval instead gets an odd designation as "like a reed pipe" specifically telling us to look at how reeds were tuned, and 5-7 (G-A#) is said to be for sherum "melody" rather than isqum "proportion" (like C:E). With this understanding the namings of 5-7 (A:C) and 7-2 (A#:D) as "third" and "fourth" are perfectly clear as procedural instructions. They could have no absolute pitches (the tuning fork not invented until Tudor times and even the ivory pitch-pipe not until the Alexandrian period) but would start with getting basic intervals sounding harmonious: it is necessary to have C:G and D:G right before placing A correctly with respect to C, D, and G, and all of those right before fitting A# with the others (E and F are easy). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Nord Eckert (talkcontribs) 15:36, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

This all sounds very logical indeed, but what does it have to do with the Hurrian Hymn, h.6, and who says so? There are four or five wildly disparate transcriptions of this hymn (see the reference in the article, cited to M L West in footnote 11), which in turn depend in large measure on interpretation of a Babylonian tablet dating from about a thousand years earlier. That Babylonian tablet indeed sets forth tuning ratios of the sort you describe, but to interpret them as a Mixolydian tonos, octave species, or harmonia (let alone a "mode", which is a medieval European concept that sits only very uneasily on the Greek system) is a huge leap of faith, requiring amongst other things the fixing of a reference tone (not necessarily a "tonic" in the modern sense, or a "mode final" in the medieval one). Wikipedia requires that any such assertion be supported by a reliable source. It is possible that such a source exists, but invoking a website on the Scottish Highland pipes does not fit the requirement. As it stands, this is called Original Research on Wikipedia. FWIW, the external links in the "Hurrian songs" article include a website that in turn links to eight different attempts at transcription (two are currently dead links), including melodies in diatonic "white key" scales ending on E, D, A, and C, as well as this particularly intriguing one.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:17, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for the reply.

"to interpret them as a Mixolydian tonos, octave species, or harmonia (let alone a "mode", which is a medieval European concept that sits only very uneasily on the Greek system) is a huge leap of faith": when I said "Myxolydian scale" I did not intend to imply that the Akkadians already had the full classical+medieval literature on musicology and were picking a "mode" (I did not use that word) from among the many available. They were of course closer to those who had no prior music theory at all available and were inventing scales from scratch. Of the heptatonic scales, the Myxolydian was the most easily discovered (add the next two simplest fractions to the pentatonic) and was anciently widespread (I cited its use among the Gaels, the last to be reached by Greco-Roman thought, because it indicates a pan-European pre-classical range). This is why it should be at the head of the list of candidates for the primeval scale on which all Akkadian scales were based.

"requiring amongst other things the fixing of a reference tone": that is precisely what was impossible with the technology of that time, which is why everything was described in terms of relative, not absolute, positions. Note 1 would be set wherever the performer was comfortable. But there was a choice as to which notes were repeated (up an octave) at notes 8 and 9: that is, nid qablim meant F,G,A,A#,C,D,E,F+,G+ which is a "major" scale with diminished fourth (A# instead of Bb) and augmented sixth ("Ionian" also had its sixth at 27/16 the base note rather than 5/3, and the modern "Equal Tempering" puts the major third as well as the major sixth closer to the augmented than to the "adjusted" positions).

"eight different attempts at transcription": naturally, since I am myself, my opinion as to why there are different interpretations is that everyone else has missed the point which I am the first to grasp. Which is to say, your objection on the basis of the "No Original Research" rule is well taken. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Nord Eckert (talkcontribs) 20:45, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Very civil of you to take it that way. Wikipedia can be a very frustrating place to work but, on the other hand, it can also be a great place to test your assumptions and see what you can marshall in defense of what you believe to be true. As I re-read what you have written, it dawns on me that you are not trying to describe the music of h.6, but rather the lyre tuning of the earlier Babylonian treatise. In this sense, the bottom note of the lyre is your reference tone, regardless of what melody may be played upon it. It is therefore not at all impossible to fix a reference tone. For your construal, this is the bottom string of the lyre, against which the rest are tuned. For the Greeks, on the other hand, it was mesē (the "middle"), and for early 17th-century English viol and lute players, it was the top string on the instrument, tuned up "as high as you dare". Melodic musical compositions, on the other hand, have certain behaviours that may or may not define a reference pitch. In modal music, this is usually (but not always) the note upon which the melody ends. The name "Mixolydian" originated as a name for a type of music with a particular quality, different from, say, Dorian or Phrygian music. Whether or not this had anything to do with reference pitches is an open question, but it is certainly true that the word eventually came to be associated with transposition levels, with scale types ("octave species") and, eventually, "modes". Consequently, when you use the word "Mixolydian", I naturally assume you mean one or more of these things. When you add the word "ancient", it narrows the field to just those things the Greeks may have meant (and, for the Greek theorists, the diatonic genus was usually a poor third choice, with the enharmonic as the primary reference for even the skeptical Aristoxenus, and by the Roman Imperial period, the chromatic genus, apparently, from a practical music-making point of view). On the other hand, almost everything else you describe suggests the modern (jazz) sense of Mixolydian: a diatonic (major) scale with flat seven, only using principles of just intonation instead of twelve-tone equal temperament. Or, as your external link suggested, the tuning of the Highland Bagpipe chanter, only ignoring the deliberately flat octave tone. I think you can see what an enormous gap there is between this and the (not entirely certain) tuning scheme of the Babylonian treatise, and there is yet a further distance to bridge in connecting this scheme with the Hurrian tablet h.6. If the most respected experts in the field are in substantial disagreement about the reading of these ancient texts, I suppose it may be possible to find one of them reckless enough to use the word "Mixolydian"—certainly more than one of them has ventured the word "diatonic"—but it will equally be even easier to find others with a contrary opinion (just as some of these experts insist the tuning is actually pentatonic).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:44, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

I must confess that it never occurred to me that ancient Greek "Mixolydian" meant something different from what modern jazz musicians or bagpipers use it for; I even thought the variant spelling "Myxolydian" was the correct form and "Mixolydian" the corruption, rather than the reverse (I thought the prefix was the Greek derogatory myxos "muddy; gooey" as in the colonial-amoeboid phylum Myxomycetes "slime molds"). Having confessed my terminological ignorance here, might I correct a misnomer of yours? The simple-fractions diminished-seventh heptatonic scale (I will call it "dim-7" from now on avoiding the M-word) is not a "just intonation": the term "just" refers to exclusive reliance on powers of 3 and 2, accepting that factors of 5 and 7 will be slightly missed; beyond A-augmented at 27/16 (missing 5/3) the "just" circle of fifths goes to E-aug @ 81/64, B-aug @ 243/128, and F# @ 729/512 while the circle of fourths comes down to Gb @ 1024/729, with the clash F#/Gb = ~73/74 being the "diabolic comma" (the reason Pythagoreans were so upset to discover that square root of 2 is irrational).

To get into the right mind-set to read these texts, you really need to drain your head of every musical concept invented since Pythagoras and get back to what it was like to create music ab initio; these materials are akin to the sources Pythagoras studied in the east before the Greeks knew anything. When you speak of the diatonic genus being disfavored and the freedom of chromatic or enharmonic preferred, you take for granted a technology that did not yet exist. The kinnor (root of Greek kithara, English guitar, and with "satam" shift Indic sitar, Balkan zither), in which your fingers can press the strings against an underboard to vary the notes, was a novel invention when the Old Testament was being composed and certainly not available to the Hurrian composers. With an instrument of the "lyre" class, once you tuned the strings, THAT WAS IT, the full set of notes you had. The singer might ululate a wild cadenza, but the accompanist could not. And these were not Irish harps with dozens of strings. Hebrew 'asor is the same root as 'eser "ten" but originally "a bunch" (of grapes etc.) and could mean less than ten (in counting days or years, 'eser meant "seven"). 10 notes is more than most of their instruments could make. So the guess that the tuning was just pentatonic (with some of the notes repeated up an octave) is not unreasonable (although I think it mistaken): if the dim-7 scale was old enough to spread pan-European by classical times, pentatonic was pan-Eurasian by late Neolithic (still a favorite out in China). I think heptatonic is the better guess since (duh!) 7 positions are described (note 8 and, if available, 9 and 10 would be octave repeats).

"the bottom string of the lyre, against which the rest are tuned": not necessarily. Everything is defined relative to "note 1" but that might not be "string 1". In nid qablim tuning, "string 1" (the lowest) would be "note 4" and this makes the scale (set of available notes) like what we would call "major". The isqum tuning with "string 1" sounding "note 3" creates a "Phrygian" scale (in the medieval sense; I don't know what the Greeks called Phrygian), string 2 (note 4) up a semitone from string 1, string 3 at a minor third, 4 at a perfect fourth, 5 a "reedy" almost tritone flat-fifth, 6 a minor sixth, 7 a minor (not diminished) seventh. The relations of all the notes to "note 1" (at string 5 in nid qablim tuning, string 6 in isqum tuning) is fixed regardless of which note is put at the bottom-- at least, this is how I understand the system to have worked, YMMV. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:4:2D80:7DD:2491:84C3:C6CE:4D49 (talk) 07:25, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

OK, sure (though I might quibble about the "just tuning" thing, since there are such things as 7-limit, 11-limit, etc. just tunings), though one problem with "draining one's head" of post-Pythagorean music theory is that it leaves precious little with which to work. What I meant about your "Mixolydian" interpretation is that it appears to depend on a string-1 reference tone (that is, nominal G in a scale without sharps or flats), does it not? Or is the G in question actually string 4 (in which case you would actually be dealing with something closer to the medieval Hypomixolydian)? As for the Greek Mixolydian ("half" or "mixed" Lydian, with the stem μιξο-, according to the OED ), perhaps you will find Mixolydian mode#Greek Mixolydian useful (disregarding the Sappho legend, of course), if you have not consulted it already. The "preference" for the enharmonic genus is perhaps more on the part of the theorists. By the time of Aristoxenus, it appears to have been at least on the wane in practice, if not actually extinct. But from the point of view of theory, it is easier to explain the diatonic and chromatic in terms of the enharmonic than to work down from the diatonic. The supposition of a predominance of the chromatic genus in the Imperial period is no more than that—a supposition—since there is so little surviving music from that time. It would be a bit like musical archaeologists of the distant future concluding that 18th century music was mostly in the key of B minor on the basis of the only two surviving works from that period—part of a mass by somebody named Bach, and a flute sonata from something called Tafelmusik Telemanns.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:07, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

"there are such things as 7-limit, 11-limit, etc. just tunings" Apparently "just" has suffered a terminological creep like "Mixolydian"; the ancients had no generic term for tuning to rational multiples involving whatever prime factors, since it had never occurred to them to do anything else (the concept of the twelfth root of two was beyond their mathematics, and calibrating it was beyond their technology). Since "equal" tuning was invented the term "perfect" has been used for the rational multiples, e.g. a perfect fifth is 3/2 = 1.50000 while an equal fifth is 2^(7/12) = 1.4983.

"it appears to depend on a string-1 reference tone" I had been taking "reference tone" to mean an absolute pitch like "concert A" (the modern 440Hz tuning fork) or "Alexandrian A" (the classical 432Hz pitch-pipe), which the Mesopotamians didn't have. They speak in terms of relative pitches only, and the six intervals are in the order A#:F "opening", F:C, C:G, G:D, D:A "adjusted", A:E "final" so that the "note 7" (what I am calling A#) might be considered more the start point than "note 1" (my C). But all notes are defined in terms of each other, more than all from one.

"nominal G in a scale without sharps or flats" That's actually a poor approximation to dim-7. The "equal tempering" error is in the same direction as the Mixolydian comma, so that keyboard-F is too sharp to be diminished 7th to keyboard-G by a factor of 56/55 (almost a third of a semitone, "31 cents" if you are used to that language), like the 55/54 discrepancy between "concert A" and "Alexandrian A" which annoys Baroque purists so. A Mesopotamian hearing that would say you failed to get the rebuttum "fourth item" right.

"perhaps you will find Mixolydian mode#Greek Mixolydian useful" I did look at that, as soon as you made it apparent that the Greek usage of "Mixolydian" was something different from "dim-7 scale" (the only usage of the term that I had known).

"it is easier to explain the diatonic and chromatic in terms of the enharmonic than to work down from the diatonic" Only if you can take for granted the ability to subdivide the octave as finely as you desire.

"one problem with "draining one's head" of post-Pythagorean music theory is that it leaves precious little" Exactamundo. Consider: Australia knows only the didjeridu flute with no holes-- they also have bullroarers, but the didjeridu is the only thing that makes a "note", or rather "chord" since the odd-integer overtone frequencies are prominent (and their relative amplitudes can change depending on how you blow it). Amazonia knows two-note flutes (cover the single hole with your finger, or don't) tuned to a perfect fifth, and makes them in two sizes so that the high note of one matches the low note of the other, creating a three-note "scale"; also, bows no longer suitable for archery are repurposed as single-string "instruments"; Native American music in general is dominated by percussive instruments and rhythmic figures, the only "melody" a droning chant that may go up and down by a fifth or fourth. The Old World acquired multi-stringed instruments and reeds to supplement the flutes and drums, and probably advanced from a three-note scale to pentatonic, around the time metallurgy and writing were just starting. Ok, starting from THERE: what is your next step? Don't ask the Romans, who were as long past the Mesopotamians as we are past the Romans. My reconstruction: use the complementary intervals of the perfect fifth and perfect fourth to create a three-note scale, extend by another pair to pentatonic with the "adjustment" to capture the 5 overtone, extend by another pair with (if you like, and I believe the Mesopotamians did) a further adjustment to capture the 7 overtone. And that is what Pythagoras learned and started from.

  1. Check. "Just intonation" has several variant definitions. I assume the broadest of these, unless otherwise specified. (I have long felt we should add subscript numbers to terms like "tonality", "dissonance", "classical", so that we will not be misunderstood.)
  2. "Reference tone" is probably another one of these. You now understand that I mean "any tone at all used as a reference point, regardless of whether it is tied to a particular frequency or absolute pitch". In this way, we speak of the third and fifth of a major triad as referencing the root tone of the chord.
  3. If you say say so. I get the impression here that I am talking to a mathematician with an interest in music. For my part, I am a musician with only just enough maths to be able to manage to understand why I am playing in tune or not. As far as Alexandrian A is concerned, I don't do the equal temperament error when I am playing Baroque music, but I know only too well where my A will be if I tune a keyboard in mean tone with C set to a modern-B tuning fork (an equal-tempered whole tone above 440Hz).
  4. I am not accustomed to the term "dim-7 scale", but I think I know what you are talking about: the bagpipe-chanter job, with the septimal seventh, right? (For me, a diminished seventh is a semitone (whatever that might be) smaller than a minor seventh (however large or small that might be).
  5. I wasn't thinking of fine divisions of the octave so much as having only two notes available within a fixed interval of a perfect fourth. In other words, four consecutive strings of a lyre. It seems easier to explain gradually decreasing the pyknon (and progressively enlarging the smaller intervals below it somewhat irregularly) until it disappears into a whole tone in the diatonic genus than to explain why a pyknon should suddenly appear in place of one whole tone instead of the other within a tetrachord, and why the other intervals shrink in the way that they must to eventually reach the enharmonic. In this context, the whole-number ratios are nice to have, but are really just window dressing from a practical musician's point of view. I think Aristoxenus would have agreed.
  6. Yes, I see that. I just hope you have got a reliable source for it ;-)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:27, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

1. Then I will use the more explicit "circle-of-fifths tunings" when I mean strictly powers of 3 and 2, and "perfect" when I want to emphasize hitting the rational multiples exactly.

2. The notes are all relative to each other. Each interval is with reference only to the two notes it contains, and implicitly to the other intervals linked through those two notes. I annotated the proportions as 1, 9/8, 5/4, 4/3, 3/2, 5/3, 7/4 "with reference to" note 1, but you can multiply these all by 4/5 to make 4/5, 9/10, 1, 16/15, 6/5, 4/3, 7/5 "with reference to" note 3 (shift notes 1 and 2 to the other end of the octave to yield 1, 16/15, 6/5, 4/3, 7/5, 8/5, 9/5 and this is what I think "isqum" tuning was) or multiply by 3/4 "with reference to" note 4 (and shift 1, 2, and 3, yielding 1, 9/8, 5/4, 21/16, 3/2, 27/16, 15/8 "nid qablim" tuning). No note is intrinsically the "reference" any more than any other; the numbering 1 to 7 may be because note 1 was on string 1 in the oldest standard tuning, or just because 4-7 was the "head" (lit. "mouth") of the circle of fifths and therefore 7 went up top in the numbering.

3. "a mathematician with an interest in music" is exactly right. I teach math for a living; played Bach on the piano in high school but didn't keep at it, sing in a chorus!concert-audio-clips/c22tl but as a musician am just a dilletante. More major side interests are linguistics and religious history: Hebrew and Tibetan are the languages I am most interested in, Greek and Latin I am not at home in.

4. "dim-7 scale" was my neologism since "Mixolydian" was causing confusion. To me "augmented" and "diminished" refer to audible commas of less than a semitone: the notes at 7/4, 16/9, and 9/5 (times whatever is the current reference note, call it C) are all in the A# to Bb range (not quite half a semitone from the lowest of them to the highest) and quite distinct from 15/8 B (perfect major third above perfect fifth). What you call "septimal" and I call "diminished" is the 7/4, below the "minor" seventh at 16/9 (perfect fourth above perfect fourth), which is lower than 9/5 (perfect fifth above perfect minor third).

5. "having only two notes available within a fixed interval of a perfect fourth" is precisely what I meant by taking it for granted that you can subdivide the octave any way you please. How do you plan to make these notes "available" with no tuning forks, pitch pipes, recorder flutes, or even chimes? Ancient reeds and strings were even worse than modern instruments at keeping notes from one session to the next. The only good way to place a note was by harmonizing to another: the ear can readily tell when you have two notes a perfect fifth or fourth, or an octave, apart, and when you have jumped around the circle of fifths tuning enough to place the notes about where you want them, you can start to chase subtler harmonies.

"the whole-number ratios are nice to have, but are really just window dressing" Au contraire, they are the only reason your brain enjoys music at all. Your conscious mind may not do mathematics much, but the unconscious aural circuitry does, and if two random notes that you make "available" don't approximate some recognizable ratio, the brain won't perceive them as fitting together at all. Even when a discord is pleasing, it is so in the same way that the incongruity in a joke's punch-line is: as subverting the expectation of a rational fit.

If you enjoy variations in subdividing the tetrachord, you might like Indic and Arabic musicology. Unfortunately most sources take for granted that you already know what they are talking about, but if you are interested I'll see if I can find dig up something accessible to read. India calls the octave 22 s'rutis rather than 12 semitones, parsing octave = fifth+fourth as 13+9 rather than 7+5, fifth = major third + minor third as 7+6 rather than 4+3 (the gap between perfect minor third at 6/5 and major at 5/4 is really one seventeenth of the octave, too small to be one semitone and too large to be one s'ruti), and major third as 4+3 which I would call augmented second (equals the gap from perfect fourth to perfect fifth) and diminished second (they are much less than a semitone apart). In Hindi solfege, sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-dai-ni-sa means do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do and while the interval from ma (fourth) to pa (fifth) is fixed at 4 s'rutis, the sarigama and padainisa half-scales are independently set, in one of six ways 4+3+2, 4+2+3, 3+4+2, 3+3+3, 2+5+2, or 2+4+3 (D-aug with major or minor E, D-dim with major/minor, or C# with major/minor). Thus there are 36 possible combinations of sarigama and padainisa, although some are rarely used. Arabic scales similarly fix the fourth and fifth and choose two half-scales to fill the tetrachords: the "rast" mode is very unlike medieval or modern European music, with C:D:E-half-flat:F in proportions 9:10:11:12 (diminished second, and "medial" third about halfway in between minor and major, not very harmonic with that awful 11 factor, but nicely melodic) and "Hejaz" mode C, C#, E-aug, F with a wide jump in the middle like the 2+5+2 possibility in the Indic half-scales.

6. Well, I see Wikipedia isn't the suitable place for my write-up. I did not understand, until you told me, that what I said would be disputed among experts. I saw a video of someone playing their reconstruction of the music, looked up Hurrian Hymns, and saw the tuning described with these Akkadian terms which, from my experience of Semitic linguistics and partial knowledge of music, I could readily read: "obviously" 7-4 is called "mouth; opening" and 6-3 "cap; closing" because they are the start and end of the chain of fifths, and 3-7 "reedy" because it is the awkward flat-fifth/tritone/whatever you prefer to call it that is bound to crop up somewhere in any 7-note scale; 1-4 is "raised" because the circle of fifths needs two octave jumps and the other jump 2-5 is "adjusted" because of the comma problem. I thought it would be nice to explain this to those who know nothing of Semitic languages and little of music, but at least know their way around a scale and aren't afraid of fractions. I did not expect that my explanation would be controversial, and can only say that it looks to me as if those who can read Akkadian cuneiform know beans about music, while the musicians who are excited to play it have no knowledge of Semitic. But I should contact one of them rather than try to make my case in the pages of Wikipedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Nord Eckert (talkcontribs) 04:07, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Indeed, Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own research—everything here should be strictly "second hand". As far as the whole-number ratio business is concerned, we have an interesting example in the enharmonic genus of the difference between you and me (i.e., the mathematician vs the performing musician). In the earliest descriptions of this genus, the large interval at the top is calculated as a Pythagorean ditone (major third) of 81:64, leaving a difference of 256:243 to complete the 4:3 perfect fourth. This smaller interval is to be divided into two smaller intervals still. How did they do this? As far as we know, no one came up with whole-number ratios for this, but it is easy for a musician to imagine. First, use your high-technology scientific equipment (a monochord) to find the pitches for the bounding perfect fourth and the 81:64 ditone from the top note. This leaves one string on the lyre between the lower note of the ditone and the bottom note of the tetrachord. You then move the pitch of this note up and down until the interval above it sounds about the same size as the interval below it. What whole-number intervals do you get? Who cares? You couldn't easily judge by ear whether you had gotten the proportion exactly right anyway, unlike the perfect fourth, the 5:4 major third, or even the 81:64 ditone (very difficult but, with practice, the characteristic sound of the simultaneity can be learned). At a later stage of development, Archytas and Didymus came up with ways of dividing the small interval, but it required diminishing the large Pythagorean ditone to a 5:4 major third. It also resulted in two very small intervals of very slightly different size. Could these be measured accurately with the high-tech monochord? Maybe. Could the musician tell by ear which one was larger? Not very likely, which is why Aristoxenus said they might just as well be regarded as equal, even though there was no way of actually dividing the pyknon this way using whole-number ratios. Aristoxenus, of course, was a disciple of Aristotle, who broke with his teacher Plato on just this sort of issue. In the history of science, this is the great divide that continues to the present time between Platonic idealism (confusingly called "realism") and Aristotelian empiricism. When you are standing on a stage under the hot lights, sweat pouring down your brow and your instrument in tonal free-fall, do you correct your tuning by taking out your monochord and carefully measuring proportions on it? Do you heck! You quickly adjust the pegs until it sounds better again ("close enough for jazz"), and then play on. I think even Plato would have understood.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:38, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Actually all you are illustrating with your example is the difference I pointed out in the initial write-up between "harmonic" and "melodic" fitting of notes. First to bridge our language gap: when you call 81/64 the Pythagorean ditone you are using "Pythagorean" the way I meant "just", that is strict circle-of-fifths tuning to powers of 3 (81 = 3^4) and 2 (64 = 2^6); my name for that note is "E augmented" (if reference is C) reserving "E" for the perfect 5/4 (the gap is the comma of Didymus, about one fifth of a semitone). To create your desired E-half-sharp, you are performing the very simple mathematical operation of striking an average. The proportion you are chasing is not the ratio of E½# to the base C, which is irrelevant because it is not intended to be played as part of a chord with C or with E-aug or with F; it is instead part of a progression. The proportion you seek is between the absolute differences of frequencies (F - E½#) : (E½# - E-aug) and that proportion is the very very simplest proportion ONE TO ONE. That is what makes the note "melodic" although it is not "harmonic". If you actually do want the proportion E½#:C, first you put E-aug and F on a common denominator as you have done in expressing their ratio as 243 to 256. They are 243/192 and 256/192 where 192 is obtained as 64*3, product of the non-common denominators. OK, now you add the numerators and double the denominator to obtain half the sum: the answer is 499/384. If Archytas and Aristoxenus were bad at fraction arithmetic, well, so are the majority of my students. The reason this fraction is so bulky and irrelevant is because that is not the proportion you were interested in to begin, not because you are uninterested in proportions at all. To circle back to the original topic, the "third item" in the Mesopotamian tuning is to adjust those major thirds from the "bridged" proportion with big powers of 3 over big powers of 2 down to the perfect third: this is a "harmonic" adjustment to a simple ratio over a reference note already established. But the "fourth item" was to set the A# note to be halfway between E and D+ so that E, G, A#, C+, D+ has constant frequency-difference: this is a "melodic" adjustment exactly like your process of finding the enharmonic halfway note.

Looking more closely at this, I found that I have disparaged Archytas and Aristoxenus unfairly. They wanted an E½# so that the lower and upper *ratios* (not differences) were equal. The mathematical term is "geometric mean" ("arithmetic mean" is the simple average), typically irrational, here 16:9√3 = 16√3:27. Since the work of the medieval Arabs we can use decimals to calculate to whatever precision is desired. Since the Greeks had no decimals they were seeking two fractions that multiply to 256/243, one a little too large and the other too small but as close as possible (knowing they could not match exactly), because this was the only way they knew to approximate (for calibration). What they wanted was a general procedure for "equal tempering" an arbitrary interval, a problem which was beyond the capabilities of their age. Upshot: if you don't care for the mathematics, there is no point in your studying archaic techniques for successive approximation to an irrational root; this stuff is seriously obsolete from either a mathematician's or a musician's viewpoint, of interest only to antiquarians. And of course, it is nothing at all like anything the Hurrians could have been doing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Nord Eckert (talkcontribs) 15:52, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Hey, great! I understand your second paragraph perfectly. The first one leaves me in the mathematical dust, for the most part. This is largely due to the way terms like "augmented" and "half-sharp" are used in music theory, but also clouded by the fact that discussions of Greek theory usually use E as the immovable reference pitch (because the basic construction of the diatonic tetrachord is semitone, tone, tone, ascending) whereas you seem to be using C instead. Through the fog of my incomprehension, I think we may be talking about two different things. The problematic interval is not the difference between the Pythagorean (81/64) and "other" (5:4) ditone, but rather the division of what is left over after subtracting this (either of these) major third(s) from a perfect fourth. This leftover interval and its dividing note together is called pyknon. (I'm sure you know this already, but I want to lay things out as clearly as possible.) As you say, the Greeks had a problem with this division, not so much because they lacked decimal fractions as because they lacked the concept of logarithms (which ordinarily presuppose decimal fractions, of course). Or, I should say, the Greek mathematicians (read: "music theorists") had this problem. The actual musicians standing on the stage and performing had no problem at all (I imagine), because they could tell by ear whether two intervals sounded alike or different. This is precisely the point where, for me, the fog descends over your first paragraph, because to my musically trained/impaired brain the interval from C up to E is a major third (or ditone, if you prefer), regardless of whether is is 81/64 or 5/4. I can of course hear the difference, but this is "merely" a matter of tuning, not a difference in kind. The former I have learned to call a "Pythagorean major third", the latter a "just major third"; they are both "major thirds". I believe this is akin to the kind of distinction the Greeks called chroai (shades) or eidē (species) of intervals. Of course the mathematically inclined (not to say fanatically obsessed) Pythagoeans wanted to define these differences with precision, but I cannot imagine that these refinements were of much use to any performer, even the most skilled citharede, let alone an aulete (who could adjust pitch "on the fly" by the pressure of his lips), in the midst of a performance.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:25, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

"The first one leaves me in the mathematical dust, for the most part" The point was that the only mathematics you are really doing in finding a "halfway" note between E and F is calling E-F "2" and breaking it down as "1" plus "1"; the fraction-arithmetic to determine how much that "1" amounts to is an irrelevancy. But as I realized in looking up the names, THAT "halfway" note (filling in the melodic progression) is not actually the kind of "halfway" (filling in by equal tempering) that they were seeking.

"discussions of Greek theory usually use E as the immovable reference pitch (because the basic construction of the diatonic tetrachord is semitone, tone, tone, ascending) whereas you seem to be using C instead" C is the reference (what I take to be the Hurrian "note 1") if the tetrachord is broken tone, tone, semitone; E is the reference (what I take to be "isqum" tuning, placing "note 3" on "string 1") in the scale that starts semitone, tone, tone-- I erred again in calling my reconstructed-isqum a "Phrygian" mode when in the language of Boethius it is actually "Locrian" because of the flat-fifth (but klezmer musicians call such a scale "Freygish" which is why I thought "Phrygian" was its standard name).

"This leftover interval and its dividing note together is called pyknon. (I'm sure you know this already" No, you are educating me; Greek just isn't one of the languages I look at much, and I'd never heard the term pyknon until just now.

"they lacked the concept of logarithms" Indeed. They wanted to create equal tempering, but they didn't know how.

"The former [81/64] I have learned to call a "Pythagorean major third", the latter [5/4] a "just major third" " Ay-yie-yie! No wonder we talk past each other. I learned to call 81/64 the "just" major third and 5/4 the "perfect" major third.

"I cannot imagine that these refinements were of much use to any performer": they were chasing these intricate fractions not in the hope a musician would find them by ear, but in order to cut recorder-flutes at precise lengths, as a tuning device. By "recorder" I mean with clarison timbre (few overtones, mostly pure fundamental frequency; opposite of "diapason" timbre rich in overtones) and little inharmonicity (you mentioned that the aulos would change frequency if the aulete blew harder; for some purposes this is a "feature" but for a tuning device this is a "bug"); the name "recorder" came to be attached to such instruments in medieval times presumably because they can be used to store a note with fidelity but (according to the Wiki article!) no analogous name is known from before the 14th century; however I use "recorder" to refer to the ducted flutes carved from bone which start to appear all around Europe from the Iron Age onwards. China began to create chimes around the same time, but these took a while to filter west. Work on tuning chimes and recorders largely ceased a little after 100BCE when Ctesias of Alexandria created ivory pitch-pipes, setting "C" notes to exact powers of two (middle C 256 Hertz, high C 512 Hz etc.) and "Alexandrian A" to 432 Hz, a standard which spread pan-Eurasia (Rome to China) within a couple of generations. How could he accomplish that, in a period when the "second" was just a theoretical, not realizable, unit of time? I know the answer but that is "original research"... Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 21:05, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

All of a sudden, with blinding clarity, I understand your paragraph, previously shrouded in fog. Thank you! There are a few new terminological issues raised now, however. First of all, Boethius does not (as far as I recall) use the term "Locrian" at all. It is found in a few Greek writers as an alternative or obsolete term. The use of the name for the scale with a flat fifth is strictly modern, and more specifically seems first to have come into use during the 19th century, in some quarter of the Cecilian movement's efforts in the reform of chant.
Another is that word "recorder". It is sometimes used as you are doing, but a better term for the entire class of instruments is "whistle flute" (if you want to be pretentious, you can say "duct flute" instead). The word "recorder" is more properly restricted to a whistle flute with seven front finger holes and one thumb hole. As you have read in the Wikipedia article, this word only first surfaces in the 14th century, and seems to be a peculiarly English usage. (In most other languages it is simply the equivalent of "flute".) However, as far as I am aware, the Greeks did not make musical use of such a contraption, though surely they would have known the whistle principle, and I can well believe the pitch-pipe scenario you describe, though I have not myself come across this before.
What I meant to say about the aulos was not so much that the pitch is affected by how hard the player blows (although this is a factor), but by small changes in lip pressure on the reed. This is how reed players correct out-of-tune notes (or deliberately make in-tune notes go momentarily sour for special expressive effects).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:49, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

"The use of the name [Locrian] for the scale with a flat fifth is strictly modern" I'll avoid it then, didn't like the name anyhow. The klezmer "Freygish" mode is a little more complicated anyhow: the second is always just a semitone up (so naming the reference note for it "E" rather than "C" makes sense) but the third can vary, either minor (a tone up from the second) or major (big "sesquitone" jump from the second as in the Arabic Hejaz mode or the Indic 2+5+2 sarigama option) or one way on ascending runs, the other on descending; the sixth may vary similarly. In looking up descriptions I find the tritone is more often described as "raised fourth" than flat fifth because it is more on the A# than the Bb side.

"as far as I am aware, the Greeks did not make musical use of such a contraption" This is the thing about the Greeks, that the people who wrote literature thought crafts were too low-class to describe, even though they had great craftsmen. We get our first engineering book from Vitruvius who tells about all kinds of tricks learned from the Greeks-- why did it take a Latin author to first set them down? The astrological computer found at Antikythera is an exquisite device-- but if we hadn't found it we would never have known they built any such things. From the archaeology we know that whistles and chimes were being made, but from the literature we hear nothing of them, and I take that to mean they were not "instruments" (anymore than you would score a concerto for pitch-pipes and tuning forks) but just tools, and therefore unworthy of mention (the Chinese, by contrast, give us early sources that are explicit about the role of small bells as tuning references). Then the bone penny-whistles are replaced by fine ivory pitch-pipes, and we get our first literary mention of a tuning device-- in Latin not Greek of course; Cicero speaks (if I recall correctly) of Senators seeming to sing their tunes independently, but Catiline holds an ivory pipe behind his back. And this is only a generation or two after the ivory pipes first appeared, testifying to their immediate popularity. In China, too, already under the Han the chimes are replaced by pipes, the pentatonic A-B-D-E-F# calibrated to A=216 Hz, a perfect octave below Alexandrian A, but although some ivory examplars may have made it all the way to the east the Chinese typically make their pitch-pipes out of bamboo, and the favored pipe if you do not have a full set of five is the "wang chung" F# = 360 Hz = 5/3 A, a frequency which has been preserved with remarkable fidelity despite the limited durability of bamboo-- in the West of course, after faithfully preserving Alexandrian A for 18 centuries, as soon as we had the technology to capture it exactly we intentionally screwed it up.

What is happening in the "post-Pythagorean" period is a response to technical advances in musical instrumentation. The technique of pressing strings onto a fingerboard opened up the possibility of a wider palette of notes than just the number of strings, notes which could be chosen quite freely; and the whistles and chimes allowed absolute pitches to be fixed and preserved. So the "obsessive and fanatic" mathematical efforts were driven by this issue of where, exactly, all the notes "ought" to go, striving for a thoroughgoing systematization which they did not have the means to accomplish. In the pre-Pythagorean period of these Hurrian songs, we had none of this, just a small number of notes, defined in purely relative terms with none of them intrinsically the starting point anymore than any other, and the relationships all in terms of the most basic harmonic chords and melodic progressions. Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 06:16, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Jerome, thanks for this discussion. I leave a last squib here so I know where to find again the names of the "reliable sources" I hunted down on the question of the history of absolute pitch: Lü-shih ch’un-ch’iu (late Chou) is the first mention of tuning chimes, and History of Szu ma-Chien (early Han) gives the rules; Praetorius (not post-tuning-fork as I thought!) is first mention of the Western shift to higher A. Praetorius had a fine collection of antique pitch pipes and lamented that Venetian violin-makers were tuning their instruments higher than the old standard; he explains that local instruments always had to match the church organ, and even if the organ was properly tuned when installed, as it aged the ends of pipes would fray and need to be trimmed, sharpening all the notes. Thus, despite the "purist" belief that the old A was used consistently all the way through the Baroque period, the problem actually came up earlier. 2601:4:2D80:7DD:18D4:5C3E:2D56:9771 (talk) 22:12, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

The pleasure is entirely mine. Thank you for the insights into Chinese tuning technology, which is something have not previously encountered. I might just point out that what you have to say about Praetorius is a bit over-simplified. He is indeed a very important source, and one of the earliest to discuss tunings in any detail, but in addition to the organ and violin he also discusses tunings of flutes and recorders, mentioning that the Italians tune those instruments higher than other nations do. He also mentions that the Italians set their choir pitch higher than is usual north of the Alps (and he did not care much for the resulting strident singing), and that the French on the other hand favored a lower pitch. "The old A" simply did not exist, even as late as Bach's day when the Chorton and Kammerton could differ by as much as a minor third. Earlier on, in the 16th century, there is evidence to suggest that pitch standards between some families of instruments, even in the same location at the same time, differed by as much as a perfect fourth (I could look for the reference, but the one I am thinking of is an article in Early Music from around 1982 on German viols). The motivation for establishing tuning standards ultimately was a combination of the mass-production of musical instruments, combined with the rise of the orchestra and mechanized transportation. On the one hand, manufacturers wanted to be able to sell their mass-produced instruments by the hundreds, which more or less meant "one size fits all". On the other, the institution of the touring soloist was greatly facilitated by the railroads and steamships, and it was no good if your oboe or flute was only in tune with the orchestras in Brussels, and you had to find a new instrument to play if you went to Paris, and another one if you wanted to play in Berlin. Mind you, there continued to be problems, right down to recent times. I can remember when woodwind players were warned about playing with the Vienna and Israel Philharmonics, who played at a substantially higher pitch than most orchestras. Bassoonists had to have specially short bocals made to play with these orchestras, and flautists simply had to obtain different, shorter instruments.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:35, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Western pitch: the ivory pipes of the imperial period ceased to be available in Europe after Islam took Africa (and such expensive luxury import items would never have been common anyway under medieval economic conditions), but I had not realized that pitch had drifted so extremely; I was taken in by traditionalist propaganda that the low tunings Baroque ensembles prefer were an ancient preservation.

Eastern pitch: bells have their own intricate mathematics. Where a one-dimensional vibration (string, tube of air) produces overtones in integer multiples (except inharmonicities from the failure of the instrument to behave as an ideal 1D vibrator), a 2D vibration as in a flat circular gong has overtones at irrational roots of "Bessel functions of the second kind" (don't ask), for which reason Indonesian gamelans are tuned to weird "pelog" scales with intervals like nothing we are used to. Any shape without equal distance to the edge in all directions, like a square, would cause the delayed vibrations from the corners to set up wah-wah effects as certain frequencies grow and shrink; nobody likes this (drums likewise have a nicer timbre if the taut surface is circular). Tubular bells of cylindrical shape have a different (still irrational) series of Besselian overtones. The curved shape favored for Western bells actually has the same series as a flat disc, but pulling the center up changes the relative amplitudes, so that the fundamental ("strike note" or "hum") becomes one of the weakest, and the dominant overtones are a pair whose ratio is tolerably like a minor third (6/5, or fourth root of two) so that octatonic scales work nicely.

But what the Chinese found early is that squaring off the bells suppresses most overtones for a more clarison timbre, much as the sharp folds in the triangle make for a clear "ting!" which inspired Sergeant Trumpeter Shore to invent the tuning fork (closest to an ideal "unison" timbre). Szu ma-Chien explains the simple rule for a series of chimes: "cut a third, or add a third"; he speaks in terms of "length" not having the concept of "frequency" (the length is of a bamboo tube, or of a wood bar although xylophones did not long retain popularity in China) and length is reciprocal to frequency, so multiplying length by 2/3 or 4/3 gives frequency times 3/2 or 3/4 (usually alternating but sometimes 3/4 twice in a row to keep within the same octave), that is, circle-of-fifths tuning but they carried this out to very long series. After 12 fifths, you are not back to the same note by the diabolic comma 74.3:73.3 which is a reasonable approximation to the comma of Didymus 81:80, so out of a series of 12 bells number 1, 9, 10, 11, 12 make a pentatonic (if 1=F#, skip C#, Ab, Eb, Bb, F, C, G to D, A, E, B) with F#:A like 5:3 rather than 27:16. This would be exact if 5*3^8 = 32805 equalled 2^15 = 32768; the error is too trivial for the human ear to detect. Chinese being more pragmatic than Greeks, I expect that they did not work this out through fanatical fraction arithmetic, but just by carefully engineering long well-tuned series of bells, each a perfect fifth from the last, and testing what sounded nice. The story in Ch'un-ch'iu (Qun Qiu in pinyin spelling; one of the "Five Classic" books to survive the book-burning under the Qin Emperor) is that the Yellow Emperor challenged Ling Lun to tune a series of 60 bells (after 60 fifths the comma discrepancies amount to more than a semitone) and divide them into twelve pentatonic sets (if you don't mind the 27:16 sound, then 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 etc. would do, but if you want the really harmonious pentatonic, this cannot be done; at best you can make eight good sets, wasting twenty of the bells). The reference to the Yellow Emperor (c. 3000 BCE) is absurd (bells only start appearing in the Iron Age) but it was traditional to ascribe inventions to the primordial founders; however, the name Ling Lun might be a good preservation. 2601:4:2D80:7DD:18D4:5C3E:2D56:9771 (talk) 07:08, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Fascinating stuff about Chinese theory. As I said before, this is not an area I have ever explored myself. I do have a dim understanding of bell and plate acoustics, but it is good to be reminded of things that have largely faded from my memory. As for the myth of a standard baroque pitch, it is even worse than you imagine. The "standard" of setting A=415 was a convention adopted by 20th-century instrument makers. It is more or less an equal-tempered semitone below A=440, itself a standard only adopted in the 1930s (as you know). This is convenient when building keyboard instruments with "transposing keyboards"—that is, where the entire keyboard can be shifted by one string to the left or the right. There are virtually no surviving 18th-century instruments at that pitch, most are lower still, at anything from A=410 down to A=392 or so for French instruments. Some are rather higher in pitch, especially those from Italy, and to make matters even more complicated, transverse flutes were often made with several center joints of different lengths (called corps de rechange) to enable playing at different pitches. The myth of A=415 is something that every player specializing in early music quickly learns about. I vividly recall a summer workshop where a technician had been hired to tune a dozen or so harpsichords down to A=415, rendering every single one of them useless for the woodwind players who could do nothing to bring their instruments up to so high a pitch. When they were re-tuned with a C tuned to a modern B fork, using a modified mean-tone temperament, this brought the A down to about 408, and everybody was happy—except for the manager of the course, who had to pay the tuner twice.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:57, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Kin Hubbard is credited with "Tain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool, but what he do know that just ain't so!" I really bought in to that myth that the "old A" was passed down from the Alexandrians. Now I wonder how well the ivory pitch-pipes of the Roman period really agreed (I don't even know if any survive and of course, if one did, it wouldn't be in good enough shape to blow) but Ctesias did have the resources to calibrate fairly well. His workshop made hydraulic-powered bellows-blown pipe-organs, and clepsydrae accurate enough to count minutes. The firm survived the founder by at least a century, eventually making dancing dolls and the levitating, eye-blinking god for the Temple of Serapis, driven by a primitive steam-engine; the chief engineer of this project, Heron of Alexandria, grew ashamed of conning the gullible for a living and wrote an expose' about how all the devices worked-- unfortunately not saying a word about the pitch-pipes. My reconstruction of a plausible calibration method would involve blowing an "A-augmented" tuned to exactly 27/16 C at the same time as an "A-adjusted" at 5/3 C so that the beat frequency of the "wah-wah" (math: suppose C=240 Hz so that the two A's are A-aug = 405 and A-adj = 400, then by sin(A+B) + sin(A-B) = 2 sin(A) cos(B) they will blend into a note at the average frequency A = 402.5 with amplitude going up and down at the beat frequency B = 2.5 Hz or 150 wah-wahs per minute) would be slow enough to be humanly countable (provided your clock can give you a tolerably accurate minute). It would help if the pipes were of rich timbre (plenty of overtones, so that blowing one pipe would make the other resonate when the frequency ratios are exact): is there a generic term for "lots of overtones"? The term "diapason timbre" that I mentioned earlier turns out to mean specifically powers-of-two overtones, that is the higher octaves; the didjeridu for example is heavy on the odd overtones, light on the evens, so "diapason" would be just the wrong word for its timbre.

I went down the rabbit hole on Ling Lun's problem, to verify that it doesn't solve. You can make nine (not eight) regular pentatonic sets out of the 60 bells, but the semitone shift from the start to the end means that two late and three early bells make a tenth set that would sound right; however since it only overlaps part of the way around, there are too many of some notes and too few of some others to finish the job. The best eleventh set would be like a Db, Eb, Ab, Ab, Ab with three bells almost exactly like (we want one of them to be Gb instead and another to be Bb, but there aren't anymore of those); and then the last five bells are garbage. The sets are 1,9-12; 13,21-24; 25,33-36; 37,45-48; 49,57-60; 50,51,5-7; 8,16-19; 20,28-31; 32,40-43; 44,52-55; and 2,4,3/56/15 is the set with a note triplicated and two notes missing; 14, 26, 27, 38, 39 unused. I think this solution with ten and three-fifths sets cannot be improved.

The Chinese also used hanging chimes to drive away evil spirits, and when chimes filtered west the Etruscans and Romans used them for this purpose, associating them with the phallic fascinum (see the pretty pictures at ). So I cannot verify that the idea of using chimes as tuning devices ever made it to the west. Similarly the whistles that start to appear in Iron Age Europe might have been dog-callers or children's toys for all I really know. Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 02:32, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Lots more fascinating stuff, thank you. I knew about the use of wind chimes to drive way evil spirits (years ago, my next-door neighbors put up dozens of the things around their house, and they seemed to work—in the end, I moved away), but the phallic associations are new to me. (Don't you just find the damndest things on Wikipedia?)
"is there a generic term for 'lots of overtones'?" I think the expression you are looking for is "(overtone-)rich spectrum".
As for dog-callers or childrens's toys, I recall that another plausible explanation offered is that such whistle flutes, especially the ones with few or no fingerholes, may have been used as lures when hunting birds. I imagine that, for the Iron-Age makers of such devices, the fact that they were often made from the hollow bones of the very birds that were the objects of the hunt would invest the whistles with a certain magic.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:02, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

"you just find the damndest things on Wikipedia" That's why I love this place!

"lures when hunting birds" Makes sense. If neither chimes nor whistles were used as tuning devices in the west, then the Alexandrian invention of pitch-pipes de novo is even more impressive. I saw a "Nova" on the cutting-edge Hellenistic hi-tech in the Serapis temple: it had the first known vending machine, where a coin drop (size and weight both had to be right; already it was necessary to protect against lead slugs) triggered a precise pour of a cup of whatever (holy water? medicine? Ptolemy-Cola?)

"rich spectrum" I was hoping there was some Greco-Roman term, sounds so much more erudite.

If you're enjoying my nerdliness, I'll show you my home-brew logarithmic system, useful for many calculational purposes but especially to make a more systematic language for chroai of musical intervals than "equal/just", "augmented/half-sharp" etc. The nicest base is not 10 ("log") or e ("ln") but r = 171st root of 2, because the "lgr" of most simple rationals can be treated as integer: factors of 2 give 171 exact (factors as 9*19, at least it isn't prime), factors of 3, 5, 7, 17 are within a couple percent of whole numbers, and factors of 11 and 23 nearly at the half-point (13, 19, and larger primes are noxious random decimals, but in ln or log this is true of almost everything). I say "one octave is 171 notes" (reducing all big numbers by octaves, that is the nearest power of two, to a fraction between 1 and 2 expressed in notes) and for purposes where I care about the small remainders (like Ling Lun's 60 bells) subdivide a note into 140 lyrae (a pun on "lyre" and the old Italian "lira"), a base chosen again because it makes everything come out exquisitely near whole numbers (so that the accuracy is a couple decimal places better than the number of digits carried around). The semitone is 14.25 notes (exactly, from dividing 171 by 12) and the "cent" (1/1200 octave, a base I dislike because NOTHING works out in whole numbers of cents) is 19.95 lyrae (again, exact)-- but usually the lyrae can just be ignored. Thus lgr 3 = 271.03 I express as "1 octave, 100 notes, 4 lyrae" or "1..100..4" using a double-dot for my weird bases, single-dot for decimal; lgr 5 is 2..55..7; lgr 7 is 2..138..8

Successive "commas" (fractions where numerator and denominator differ by 1) multiply to previous commas: 3/2 * 4/3 = 4/2 = 2/1, 5/4 * 6/5 = 3/2 etc. And when things multiply, their lgr's add. Ignoring the small change:

the "octave" 171 = lgr 2/1 subdivides as "fifth" 100 = lgr 3/2 plus "fourth" 71 = lgr 4/3, then

100 divides as "major third" 55 = lgr 5/4 plus "minor third" 45 = lgr 6/5,

71 divides as 38 = lgr 7/6 (so 138 = lgr 7/4) and 33 = lgr 8/7,

55 divides as "augmented second" 29 = lgr 9/8 and "diminished second" 26 = lgr 10/9. This is where the Hindu musicology falls down: these are only 3 notes apart, less than half what a s'ruti should be; but India perceives the s'ruti not as a fixed "point" in the spectrum, but as a small range of frequencies, so to make certain intervals you know to start from above the center of the s'ruti and end below center-- and they have uproarious arguments about how to annotate these intermediate s'rutis. The equal-tempered second (2 semitones) is note 28.5 (exactly).

After this non-integers creep in. 45 divides as 23½ = lgr 11/10 plus 21½ = lgr 12/11 (I write ½ instead of .5 when it is off by a few lyrae). So the "medial third" E-half-flat (11/9 C) needed in Arabic rast modes is note 49½ between minor 45 and major 55. It is useless to subdivide the 38 (lgr 13/12 = 19.775 not even nice in lyrae; I only know one musician in history who used the 13th overtone, see "Evil Tempered" explained at ), but 33 subdivides into 17 = lgr 15/14 and 16 = lgr 16/15 where this 16 is the "wide semitone" between note 155 ("perfect B" a perfect major third above G or a fifth above perfect E) and note 171 (high C), and finally 29 subdivides as 15 = lgr 17/16 (last prime to work in whole numbers) and 14 = lgr 18/17 (best approximation to the equal semitone).

The point of this is to give better names to things like the "perfect" major third (what you call "just", 5/4), note 55, versus the "equal" major third (4 semitones), note 57, and "Pythagorean ditone" (what I call "just", 81/64), note 58 (to find this does not require hard arithmetic: four fifths go up 400 notes, scale down by two octaves or 342 notes, there you are, and the integer is right, nearly enough). The difference of 3 notes is the Didymic comma 81/80, and usually by "augmented" I have been meaning up 3 notes, as A-augmented is note 129 (lgr 27/16, that is, three factors of three in the numerator makes +300, with -171 to get back into the octave) and A-adjusted is note 126 (lgr 5/3, that is, +55 for the five upstairs, -100 for the three downstairs, borrow a +171). The diabolic comma (failure of twelve fifths to match the octaves) is also about 3 notes: 1200 is just above 7 octaves = 1197 notes; but the lyrae start to matter (Didymic is 3..9 but diabolic is 3..48) for extreme purposes like Ling Lun's problem. By "diminished" I have generally meant down 4 notes, as "diminished seventh" note 138 (lgr 7/4) below "minor seventh" note 142 (a fourth above a fourth) versus "augmented seventh" note 145 (lgr 9/5 gives +200-55) which is still not near "major seventh" note 155 (the equal tempered notes fall at 142.5 for ten semitones, 156.75 for eleven). To circle all the way back to the original topic (don't think I've forgotten the Hurrians!) the scale I proposed was notes 0, 29, 55, 71, 100, 126, 138. Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 21:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

So I went into the rabbit hole on the "enharmonic" problem of Aristoxenus. Now in my "lgr" system, a comma (A + ½)/(A - ½), that is a fraction whose numerator and denominator are one apart whether or not they are whole numbers, translates into a number of notes 246.7/A where the numerator is lgr e, and the denominator is the average of the numerator and denominator. For example, the comma of Didymus is 81/80 so A=80.5, and 246.7/80.5 is slightly over 3 (for total accuracy you also need to divide 246.7 by 12 times A cubed, and further terms in an infinite series, but for large A these are all trivial). Conversely, given an interval of N notes, let A = 246.7/N and (A+½)/(A-½) is the proportion you seek. What Aristoxenus wanted to do was divide (in the equal-tempering, that is logarithmic, sense) the pyknon of 13 notes between 58 (lgr 81/64) and 71 (lgr 4/3), that is, rationally approximate note 6.5 (halving the 16 notes between 55 and 71 gives note 8, much easier to deal with, as Archytas found). So A = 246/6.5 = 37.95... or call it 38 for a simple rational approximation 38½/37½ = 77/75. The other factor is 256/243 * 75/77 = 256/81 * 25/77 = 6400/6237. Now 1 part in 75 of 6237 is 83.32, so adding 2 parts in 75 raises 6237 to 6403.64, thus 77/75 = 6403.64/6237 exceeds 6400/6237 by barely 1 part in 2000, and these are the simplest fractions partitioning his pyknon that get this close (expressed another way, 77/75 = 1.02666... while 6400/6237 = 1.02613...). The prime factoring of 6237 is 3*3*3*3*7*11, so 11 (the first prime whose lgr involves half a note) is the worst factor required. Could Aristoxenus have found 77/75 * 6400/6237 = 256/243 without the help of the logarithms? Maybe, but he didn't.

Musically I don't understand why he wanted that horrible interval anyway, but: if you go a medial third (that Arabic oud interval 11/9) over a diminished seventh (that Scottish bagpipe interval 7/4) you get into the next octave at 77/36, while if you go a major third (5/4) over a perfect sixth (that Chinese bell interval 5/3) you get to 25/12 = 75/36, and those two notes would be separated by the half-pyknon of Aristoxenus. Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 04:24, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure that Aristoxenus actually "wanted that horrible interval" at all. He seems to find the enharmonic genus excessively refined, and criticizes the Enharmonicists for putting too much emphasis on this genus. Nevertheless, because it was conventionally treated as the starting point for theoretical discussion, he felt obliged to start with its description. From another point of view, it is difficult to know what music using this genus actually sounded like. It may have been ravishingly beautiful as performed, and that would of course have involved many elements in addition to mere pitch intervals.
Your research is very interesting, though I'm not sure what Aristoxenus would have thought of all this. What you are describing sounds to me like an extension of Pythagorean thinking and, as an empiricist, Aristoxenus was understandably rather impatient with such refinements.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:05, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

My bad, I thought Aristoxenus was the Pythagorean who was seeking this pig of a fraction, rather than the empiricist who criticized the lack of practical utility. My system is not "an extension of Pythagorean thinking" except insofar as all mathematics is; it was not derived to solve the enharmonics problem (of which I had not heard) but as a toolkit for resolving any kind of problem (such as the Chinese bells or whatever). Initial application actually was prob-stat, where powers of fractions come up a lot: say, you roll a die twelve times and never see a "6" (expected twice, on average), what's the chance of that? The answer is 5/6 to the 12th power, now if I do not have my calculator, lgr 5/6 = -45, times 12 is -450-90=-540 and lgr 1/8 (down 3 octaves) is -513 (171*3), lgr 9/10 = -26 thus lgr 9/80 (=0.1125) is -539, go down 1 more note, certainly not all the way to 9/81=1/9=0.1111... because that is down 3 notes (comma of Didymus!), so instead of knocking those last digits down 14 (from 1125 to 1111), do less than a third of that (the 1 note gap is a short note, because lgr 5/6 has +7 lyra from the 5, -4 lyra from the 3-factor in the denominator, the answer is back up 36 lyrae from -540; I don't care about the number of lyra just the direction) so the answer is between 0.1121 and 0.1122, very good for back-of-the-envelope calculation (found my calculator, it says 0.112156655). Of course, if you're not the kind of guy who does a lot of calculation, this may not be very meaningful to you.

"it [enharmonic genus] was conventionally treated as the starting point for theoretical discussion" This I have difficulty understanding. It reminds me of the Irish farmer asked for directions by a lost tourist: "Well now, if I were a-going to Dublin, I shouldn't start from HERE at all!" The enharmonic scale looks like a very recondite cul-de-sac at the end, not start, of exploration. Certainly it is nothing like what pre-Pythagoreans like the Hurrians would have been looking at. Once you have a fingerboard, I can see putting three frets at start/mid/end of the pyknon (please educate me some more: did the kitharae have frets or did the player just slide up and down by feel?), but if the number of strings on the lyre is your entire musical palette, you would not waste three strings on notes packed together within less than a semitone.

What I tried to say inelegantly the first time (you say you caught it on second reading) is that there are two ways of putting something in the middle, the "geometric" (musically "equal tempering") which splits the logarithms, and the "arithmetic" (musically "melodic progression") which splits the frequencies, and usually we mean the latter. Take a more reasonable interval than the pyknon, say the fifth, ratio 3/2, 100 notes. Between 1 = 4/4 and 3/2 = 6/4 the arithmetic mean is 5/4, note 55, and most of us prefer that to the geometric, ratio √3/√2, note 50. Say C is a Baroque 240 Hz, G at 360 Hz, and you are putting a note in between: do you want E at 300 Hz, or E-half-flat at 293.94 Hz? Of course, you got G in the first place because in between C at 240 and high C at 480 you would rather put 360 than the diabolical F# at 240√2 = 339.41 Hz, that is, between 1 = 2/2 and 2 = 4/2 it is natural to place 3/2. But, if you want a larger "scale" than just this triad, you want some of the other notes to have those same proportions, which means moving logarithmically (and it is nice to take logarithms using a small base, so that the numbers are humanly scaled instead of being noxious little decimals). The arithmetic mean is always above the geometric, which is why the Pythagoreans said that when they had factored the fraction whose square root they sought into two fractions not quite equal, the larger fraction should be the lower sub-interval: that is, make the error from the geometric mean go in the direction of the arithmetic. This is a sloppy compromise that achieves neither equal tempering nor decent harmonic ratios, sort of falling between two chairs.

What I have been doing is finding what these offsets from the geometric mean to the arithmetic mean amount to in logarithmic terms: I break the octave 171 into 85½ ± 14½, that is 100 and 71, where 85.5 is the diabolic F# (√2) and 100 and 71 are the nice G (3/2) and F (4/3), and then break the fifth 100 into 50 ± 5, that is 55 and 45, where 50 is the E-half-flat and the 55 and 45 are major and minor thirds (5/4 and 6/5). How do I get these numbers 14½ and 5? The whole deal with logarithms is that they deal nicely with multiplication/division/powers of the underlying numbers, and not so with addition/subtraction/averages. The "odd-square commas" (remember I use "comma" in general for a fraction where numerator and denominator differ by one) and their reciprocals are the crucial auxiliary: 9/8 = (3*3)/(2*4) and 8/9, 25/24 = (5*5)/(4*6) and 24/25, 49/48 = (7*7)/(6*8) and 48/49 etc. The middle of the fifth (note 50) has ratio √3/√2 which I rewrite √6/√4, now the square root of 25/24 is 5/(√4√6) so √6/√4 * 5/(√4√6) gives 5/4 (cancelling out the √6) while √6/√4 * (√4√6)/5 gives 6/5. The lgr of 25/24 is about (lgr e)/24.5 so the lgr of the square root (the plus-or-minus offset we seek) is half that, lgr e over 49, where 49 is just 25+24 leaving out the divide-by-two step of taking an average. And 49 goes into 246.7 almost exactly 5 which is very nice (beside the remainder 1.7/49 there are terms 246.7 over 3 times 49 cubed, and over 5 times 49 to the 5th etc. which I compute obsessively-- but for calculational, not musical, purposes since discrepancies at the "lyra" level are well below the human ear's threshold of resolution). The procedure for finding these divisors is easy: add the numerator and denominator of the comma to subdivide, here 3+2=5 (this is the new number introduced, factoring 3/2 as 6/5 * 5/4), then square (to 25), and nearly double (add one less). To subdivide the octave 2/1, 2+1=3 (we are making 3/2 and 4/3), 9+8=17, and 17 goes into 246.7 nearly exactly 14½ times: nice of it to give the odd half, when we are subdividing an interval with an odd number of notes; 246.7 is very well-behaved. By contrast, c = 1200th root of 2, base of the "cents" system, gives lgc e (find this as 1200 divided by ln 2) of 1731.234, and we divide 17 into it to subdivide the octave as 600 ± 101 5/6 cents, and while the fifth of 701 5/6 and fourth of 498 1/6 show that the semitone (100 cents) is a good fit for this, now subdivide the fifth as 350 11/12 ± 35 1/3 and we get major and minor thirds of 386 1/4 and 315 7/12 (4 semitones and 3 semitones? not really).

The divisors do grow rapidly so the offsets become trivial. To return to the pyknon: slip a note between 1 and 256/243? First make that ratio a comma by dividing out the difference of 13: the ratio is 19 9/13 : 18 9/13, now add to 38 5/13, and square it-- meh, let's not, 40 squared is 1600 so this square will be in the 1500 ballpark, nearly double to the divisor of almost 3000, so the difference between arithmetic and geometric means here is less than a tenth of a note, a mere handful of lyrae. Nobody could tell the difference between the arithmetic mean your ear would tell you to slip in, and the geometric mean the Pythagoreans want to approximate, so who cares? I guess Apollo has a really discriminating ear, and they wanted to build Ideal instruments ("ideally" build them, of course) which could satisfy even Him. Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 03:44, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

So, I've dragged you deeper into computational woods than you probably cared to go, but problems like Ling Lun's bells or the enharmonic pyknon are catnip to me, and gave my experimental machinery a good workout (the difficulty with the enharmonic problem is that it is hard to know what they really wanted, given the trade-off between precision and simplicity: is 350/341 or 1283/1250 better or worse than 77/75? I'd have to go to Crotona and burn some incense to the shade of Pythagoras). So I'll end this discussion here unless you have any further questions, and thank you for giving me information, dispelling some of my misinformation, inducing me to look up weird stuff, and providing an opportunity for me to talk about my geeky interests. Best wishes for Hanukkah, Christmas, Saturnalia, Yuletide, Kwanzaa, New Year's, or whichever holiday you prefer! An amusing piece of music-- wonder how they tuned this "instrument"? Robert Nord Eckert (talk) 00:56, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

Octave species[edit]

Colleague, I can't understand you remark 'full citation needed'. Do you doubt the dependance of Boethius' theory on Ptolemy (which is commonly acknowledged and does not need a "confirmation" by Calvin at all) or translation from Greek to Latin (which is perfectly obvious)? Please, clear your point. Olorulus (talk) 18:41, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Not at all. It is the obscure abbreviation, which I understand but hundreds of readers will not, that requires a full entry in the list of references (or at least, should be spelled out once before using the abbreviation for subsequent references). In a specialist publication, this might not be necessary, but Wikipedia is aimed at a general readership. I presume the reason for citing the original and not Calvin Bowers's translation is that you wish to quote the phrase in Latin, and this does not appear in the English edition. Also, if the relationship between Boethius's Latin and Ptolemy's Greek is important, then a citation of the corresponding passage from Ptolemy (quoting the Greek phrase) would also be very useful.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:51, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Look, the references to 'classical' sources by abbreviated title, book nr., chapter nr. (and even sometimes, line nr.) are common in Antiquity scholarly literature all over the world (it's not a 'Russian habit'). The point is that many readers then can locate the 'locus' in question in the edition whis is availalbe for them, i.e. any reader, not just this happy one who has the Bower's (excellent) translation. Say, Frenchmen can use Meyer's translation, Italians can use Marzi's translation, Russians mine, Germans Paul's, or she/he can use any available original edition of the 'classical' author. Anyway, if you see it unappropriate in this current WP, please, help to format my reference. Any additional info (pages, place of publication, ISBN, whatever more) I will gladly supply. Olorulus (talk) 06:54, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, so you understand clearly what I am saying: Wikipedia readers are not, on the whole, accustomed to the conventions of "Antiquity scholarly literature all over the world". For these poor benighted souls, a pointer or two would be not only appreciated, but even necessary. I will see what I can do to supply this for the obsc. sch. refs. you have h.a. OK?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 07:04, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Can this list be helpful to a Wikipedia user?

Olorulus (talk) 10:32, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Yes, indeed, thank you for this resource. I believe, however, that it is not quite as thorough (for music theory treatises, at least), as the
Thesaurus Musicarum LatinarumJerome Kohl (talk) 20:31, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

The Grove Citation in Horn Trio (Brahms)[edit]

When I started editing the article on the Brahms Horn Trio, the Grove citation was originally written in the form below:

>Walter Frisch, "Johannes Brahms", Grove Music Online (Subscription access, accessed 12 February 2008)<

I then simply updated the reference to conform with the format contained Template:GroveOnline, I do not have access to Grove and I have no idea if the original author did. Graham1973 (talk) 00:21, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for taking the trouble of confirming what I supposed was the case. The problem is to do with the template, which has not been updated for five years now. Beyond this, citing Grove Music Online can be a slippery business, since it is an amorphous entity, the actual sources covered by it including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second Edition (2001), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992), The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second Edition (2001), The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Oxford Companion to Music, and several others, with articles subject to updating at any time. For some of these, specific dates are given, but in most cases (as with Frisch's article here) the best we can do is give the access date. Since we are now unable to access the article as it existed in 2008, I think we need at least to acknowledge Deane Root as the current editor of Grove Online, and this will require discarding the template, until and unless we can convince whoever is in charge of it to bring it up to date.
BTW, while I have your attention, is there some reason you prefer using <ref>{{harv}}</ref> instead of {{sfn}}, which produces the identical result with the same parameter syntax, but less code? At first, I thought you were planning to convert the inline citations to Harvard-reference format, and was watching with interest to see what sort of firestorm that might provoke.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:48, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, I just tend to use the coding that I am familiar with. Currently trying to sort out just where the original author(?) got some of the assertations in the 'Analysis' part of the article. Google books can be quite frustrating sometimes.Graham1973 (talk) 01:20, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
You are welcome, and I know what you mean about GoogleBooks. They always manage to blank a page just as you are reaching the critical part of a sentence. I also know what you mean about coding. On the whole, I find templates infuriating, in part because of the restrictions they often place on formats, but mostly because they seem designed to make me feel stupid. The one glimmer of light with respect to the SFN (short footnote) template is that the syntax is exactly the same as for the "harv" template, the only difference being that SFN includes the part that would normally be done with <ref></ref>. Not that I see why any sane person would want to do this, but there is quite a lot of it about.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 02:15, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

Best wishes for a happy holiday season[edit]

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Flute-related articles & lists & categories[edit]

Hi, Jerome. Since you've been a major editor of List of flautists over several years, you may be interested in this week's discussions at Talk:Flautist (last few sections) about various ideas for re-arranging the Flautist/Flutist/Flute articles & lists & categories. Please feel free to add your thoughts and perspective.
Best regards,
Patrug (talk) 12:41, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for notifying me. That page is on my watchlist, but I might not have made a special point of checking it. I shall certainly do so now.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:33, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Happy New Year Jerome Kohl![edit]

Here comes a space (I. Dury)[edit]

Sorry. I am a Master of Bad Layout. DBaK (talk) 18:06, 31 December 2014 (UTC)


Hello. Happy New Year, when it arrives. I wanted to let you know that I might be ducking out of the horn renaming debate soon or soonish. I remain of the view that it should really not be called French horn, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep (a) a sense of proportion and (b) a civil tongue in my head when discussing it, as I'm finding some of the things said and done there a touch outrageous. I keep trying to think of a sort of portmanteau response which wraps up my view, and does it in a polite fashion, but I fear that this might be impossible; or that if I do by some miracle manage it then the next response to it will push me right over the edge and the next you hear of me will be my running amok in some shopping centre armed with several conches, a comedy motor horn and a cor anglais or two. Editing Wikipedia when cross is not something I should do! With all good wishes, I remain DBaK (talk) 18:02, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

And a Happy New Year to you, too. If it is any consolation, the impression I get about this debate is that one or two of the more zealous advocates of the name change have already begun acting in the fashion you describe, and it seems to me that their frenzy betrays a belief that their cause is already lost. They certainly are doing nothing to convince me of anything but their passion, which I regard as misplaced. As they say in the bull ring, "English horns? Gore no inglese!"—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:19, 31 December 2014 (UTC)


Please tell me what I should think of this, with the edit summary you chose and no apparent effort to talk to the good-faith editor you reverted nor a discussion on the talk. I recently stood up against the belief that live editing of featured articles is not a good idea. You could have left this one with the main editor, no? - Btw, I have a FAC open. - The year started well with Don Giovanni, - wish you a good and peaceful one! --Gerda Arendt (talk) 13:43, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

First of all, I only discovered it was FA when I clicked the "save" button on that edit. Otherwise, I might have left it with the main editor, yes. That article has been on my watchlist for years now, though I have only made the occasional edit to it, and I had not been keeping a very close eye on it lately. I vaguely recall that there was a flap over an infobox a year or two ago, and assumed there would be the usual long, acrimonious discussion on the Talk page from that time. I appear to have been wrong about that.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:58, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts, - some of mine. I meant FA, you seem to have meant TFA. I was the one who nominated Tippett for TFA today. I didn't care that he has no infobox. - DYK that Beethoven had one for a month, and the discussion on the talk is civilized? ... that the main author of Tippett came to my talk with good wishes for identiboxes, "let's continue to help each other"? The former wars are best remembered as a farce, and we do well not to participate ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 18:19, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I do my best to stay out of those "conversations", though I do have my opinions on the subject.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:56, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Is it too sarcastic to ask if you think reverting is a good way to stay out of discussions? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 20:02, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
It is too sarcastic, yes, but the answer is no, that has nothing at all to do with it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:00, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Then back to serious ;) - You once remarked about edit summaries as something that can't be corrected. What will you write next time you revert a good-faith edit, - hopefully not again "correcting format error". Corrective measures having been taken against me, so I am perhaps a bit (over?-)sensitive to the wording. Or do I misunderstand? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 22:44, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
That was a misjudgment, admittedly. I had incorrectly assumed there was a long and vitriolic discussion on the Talk page, and this was a latter-day attempt to re-foist an infobox on the article. Ordinarily, I would put a link to the position expressed on the Composers Project page, and a request to seek consensus first before adding an infobox to a composer bio article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:51, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
You mean you would point to that old project stuff (2010, I believe) while the arbitrators ruled (2013) it has to be decided on a case-by-case? (No practical ruling, but that's what you get from arbitration.) I like the conversation on the project talk about reversions (feel free to join), where the original generous premises of the projects were quoted: "Use your own judgement in applying these guidelines and all Wikipedia guidelines to composer articles and be bold." - Today Falstaff, btw ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 23:33, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
My recollection is that it has always been on a case-by-case basis. Since it is a volatile issue for many editors on both sides, it seems inadvisable to make such changes without first consulting the editors currently active on the article. Not every editor is aware of this situation, of course, but the ones who actually overwrite an editorial note about this (as I have seen happen on numerous occasions) seem to be deliberately provoking trouble. I'll take a look at the discussion you have linked, thanks.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:03, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
With a note that a project advises against an infobox, it was not case-by-case. Tippett, however, had no such notice, to my knowledge. If a user installs an infobox we can assume in good faith that the motivation is to improve the article, --Gerda Arendt (talk) 17:56, 4 January 2015 (UTC)


A history of the Maxima from 1200-1400 will be published soon, so I'll add a lot of new references once the article (I've seen but can't share) comes through. It discusses also the brief history of notes longer than maxima. I figure that like notes smaller than 256th notes (which appear in that article) or clarinets lower than the contrabass clarinet, it'd be better to add to this article than to make stub-length articles on them. Thanks for your help on that article! -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 17:07, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

That's great news, thanks for letting me know. I look forward to your additions. As you are aware, I was startled to learn of the term "larga" but, even if there is only a single surviving theoretical treatise documenting it, this goes a long way toward explaining where the British term "large" comes from. I agree the the article on the maxima is the best place for a discussion of such esoterica as notes longer still than the "longest". (This reminds me of Bob Marvin's satirical brochure, advertising exact copies of a Bressan alto recorder for such-and-such a price, with "even more exact" copies for a yet higher price.)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:07, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Ha! love the "even more exact" quote. Well, the "minima" was the smallest possible note, while the semi-minima was half of that length. The Johannes de Anglia quote I chose actually turns out to be an anomaly: it's one of the only two securely continental sources to use the term "larga". There are at least 6 English sources that do. Just to prepare, the longer notes will have names like "longissima" and "maximissima", and also "hairy long" -- you might think that when I add these references that I've suddenly gone to the dark side and started vandalizing Wikipedia, so I'll be sure to add footnotes. But before you google for "hairy long" and get the expectedly uncouth results, here's a link: [4]; search for "pilosas" (feminine plural for "hairy"). :-) you'll find larga mentioned in the same sentence. -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 05:16, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
The mind boggles! Interesting to know that there are more sources for larga, and even more interesting that most of them are English (Johannes de Anglia would presumably be an English source, but I think you meant Giovanni di Roma suburbia, detta Anagnia). I wonder how Apel managed to overlook all of them. That's a good point about the minima. Jake of Cork would be horrified at all the itsy bitsy notes we have pulverized music into these days. Telemann had a better sense of humor.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:03, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
You're right on Anagnia. Apel overlooked most of these because he really only needed theorists when he needed a justification for what he was seeing in the musical scores. On the one hand, this freed him to make comments about pieces that had no theoretical justification, but on the other hand it meant he missed a lot of things discussed in theory that never appeared in practice. -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 05:47, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I had no idea we had a List of musical works in unusual time signatures; thanks! -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 05:48, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I see your point about Apel. Of course his primary interest was in the literature, and bless him for it. On the other hand, I wouldn't be so quick to assume that things like note values even longer than the duplex longa were purely speculative. After all, there is no reason to suppose that we have more than just a tiny fraction of all the music that was written down in the 13th century, and it wouldn't take much more than a single discovery in a 16th-century book-binding to blow all of the statistics we have got about medieval notation right out of the water.
You may want to peruse that list of unusual time signatures for a while before deciding to thank me for pointing it out. If you examine the archives on the discussion page, you will find, buried deep in a long and bitter debate over just what should be included and what should be excluded, an astonished squeak from someone who apparently had never emerged from his rock-band's garage, protesting that 3/4 time is nearly as rare as 5/4 or 11/8. Thanks goodness we finally managed to spin off Quintuple meter and Septuple meter into their own articles. I hope one day to track down the statute in British law that requires the signature tunes for all UK television police dramas to be in quintuple or septuple meter (private-eye shows can use undecuple meter instead, presumably because their heros don't have to march to the drum of hidebound superiors).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:16, 14 January 2015 (UTC)


A few of us are working on revising the article on Landscape. An overly long etymology section has been trimmed, and we are discussing the form the article should take and possible sections. Since music has been mentioned, perhaps you'd like to add your ideas to the discussion at Talk:Landscape or even add a section to the article. CorinneSD (talk) 18:54, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

I wouldn't have thought this article would ever come under my view but, since you have brought it to my attention, I will have a look at it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:10, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Counterpoint, contradictions[edit]

Hello. I removed all your contradiction tags from the article on Counterpoint. Species counterpoint is a didactic tool for studying and practicing counterpoint and is therefore rhythmically limited for that very purpose. Do let me know if you have any objections. Adagio Cantabile (talk) 14:32, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

I trust that you edited the article to make this distinction clear. Otherwise I'm afraid I shall have to restore the contradiction tags. However, as I recall, it was not solely to species counterpoint that the contradiction applied. If memory serves, the article describes several other types of counterpoint in which the rhythm between parts is not independent. Thank you for the courtesy of notifying me of your edit. I shall certainly visit the article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:08, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Hello again. I've been pondering on how to rewrite the above mentioned article on Counterpoint, as the entire subject is laid down in a rather incoherent and haphazard manner. However, the first obstacle I ran upon is the very definition. I would venture forward and say that tonal counterpoint is a compositional technique whose nature and rules have been established through study of development of polyphonic compositional techniques from Palestrina through Bach and onwards, and written down by scholars starting with Fux. However, I found it hard to find a notable reference which attempts to define it as such. Textbooks and treatises which deal with the subject tend to avoid definition and go straight into technicalities. If you could find a source which deals with definition of Counterpoint, I would be much grateful. Adagio Cantabile (talk) 23:06, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I suspect that part of the problem is that the various definitions are contextual, with the primary division being between textbooks meant for teaching counterpoint and historians dealing with a broader view. If you adopt the definition given in a textbook on modal (Palestrina) counterpoint, you will get a definition intended cover just the style prevalent in the 16th century; if you take a definition in a text on tonal counterpoint, you will get something a little different (something like that definition given in the lede, and cited to Laitz's 2008 textbook). The real problem sets in when you try to define what counterpoint means more broadly, across all periods of history. For example, discant and organum are both generally regarded as forms of counterpoint, but the rhythmic relationship between the parts is far from independent. In fact, discant is to all intents and purposes note-against-note counterpoint, though the emphasis is on contrary motion between the parts; some types of organum, on the other hand, involve mainly parallel motion between the parts. Even in the 16th century there are types of counterpoint that do not conform to the principles governing, say, the average motet by Palestrina, and even Palestrina occasionally writes homophonic passages in a composition that otherwise follows Jeppesen's rules. I think that the definition given in the Oxford Dictionary of Music is serviceable, though at the moment the server is down on my online access. Percy Goetschius (Applied Counterpoint, New York: G. Schirmer, 1902, p. 1) gives a better definition than Laitz: "the harmonious association of individually perfect and coördinate, but independent, melodies", though even this is perhaps too restrictive to encompass parallel organum or fauxbourdon.
The Wikipedia article suffers from too many chefs, I think. Plainly, at least one editor has tried to make it into an introductory textbook (all that stuff on species counterpoint, for example), while others have attempted to give some historical context. It may be asking too much to do both of these things in a single article, while at the same time maintaining both balance and conciseness. Perhaps a separate article on species counterpoint should be made, to start with. It is, after all, primarily a didactic subject, separated from any real description of musical literature. Walter Piston (Counterpoint, New York: W. W. Norton, 1947, p. 10) puts the distinction between the didactic/practical and historical aims rather well: "Historically, there are three outstanding peaks in the art of counterpoint. ... The first of the periods mentioned [polyphony of the Gothic period and the polyphony of the Franco-Flemish school] has ceased to exert an active influence on our music, but Palestrina and Bach have become the very symbols of polyphony." Mind you, I'm not so sure that Piston would have held to this claim twenty years after writing it, since Franco-Flemish polyphony came to be of considerable interest to many composers in the post-war era.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:24, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Aquarius (opera)[edit]

Please note the comments of User:Voceditenore, which I support, in regard to this article's lack if inline references via the standard [1] system. Also, per WP:Opera's guidelines, we lay out a synopsis with no editable scenes.

If you wish to discuss this, please go to the article's "Talk" page and do so before taking any other action. Thanks you. Viva-Verdi (talk) 01:34, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

The "standard" system you refer to is, unfortunately, not "standard' at all. It is one of several "standard" citation systems used on Wikipedia. I have already pointed you to WP:CITEVAR. Have you read it? I might also point out that Wikiprojects' preferences do not override Wikipedia policies or guidelines. It is not merely common courtesy, but a stated guideline that references should not be changed from the established format without first obtaining consensus of the editors of the article. As this has not been done, I respectively request that you restore the established formatting until such consensus has been obtained. I am copying this discussion to the article's Talk page.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:07, 27 January 2015 (UTC)


I saw your name in the list of opposers to a merge of {{infobox academic division}} and don't understand your argument, please explain. To my understanding, the organisation of a university has nothing to do with how we call an infobox internally (which a reader doesn't even see), as long as the facts are displayed well. - I engaged in the suggested merge of {{infobox hymn}} and {{infobox musical composition}}. The character (and category) of a hymn is in no way diminished if the same (!) information appears under a different internal template name (I suggested {{infobox composition}}). Compare a hymn in two version: hymn and composition. You see that "composition" even tells the reader "hymn", a fact he doesn't see in the former. - If two templates serve the same function to the reader (!), why would we want to maintain and update two? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 08:15, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Hi Gerda. I have no idea about any of this. I don't see my name on the discussion page for the proposed merge of {{infobox academic division}}, and indeed did not even know this existed until this very moment. Can you point me to the page where my opposition to this merge is found? I also know nothing about those other infoboxes. In general I am not much interested in infoboxes, apart from their use on composer biography pages, where I find them inappropriate.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:04, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
Now it's my term to be mystified because I don't find it. Excuse the sidetrack from music please, I must have confused two names or two pages. - Rubbing my eyes more, I see that I confused names. (Thread doesn't need to be archived. - Rehearsing Bach's Missa in B minor for a Sunday concert, - sorry for the German link, - I don't like the title of the English, - one of few times that Bach wrote a title page, and we don't take his name ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 18:35, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
No problem. We are all entitled to the occasional lapse, and preparing a performance of Bach means it is certainly in a good cause ;-)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:18, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Berkeley Horn Trio[edit]

Greetings! In the Horn trio article I've changed the date of composition of the Berkeley trio back to read "1953?". I didn't realise there were conflicting sources on this. I've also removed the "citation needed" tag and part of your hidden comment, which now seemed irrelevant. I'm not sure of the protocol with regards editing other people's hidden comments – apologies if I've broken Wiki-etiquette in doing this! --Deskford (talk) 17:06, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

You have done exactly as I would have done. I think this is the correct protocol but, if not, then we are both tarred with the same brush! This confusion over the year of composition was an infuriating surprise when I collected together the sources for the article on Berkeley's trio. The "late 1940s" assertion is surely a wild and mistaken guess, but the other three years are all plausible. I believe that Berkeley was not an exceptionally rapid composer—certainly not a hasty one—which makes 1954 less likely than 1953, though of course he may have put the finishing touches on the score during the two months leading up to its premiere. I have been unable to come up with any convincing evidence, however, that Berkeley might not have completed it more than a year before that performance, so 1952 stands as a real possibility. Someone else had originally put in "1953?", but it seemed like the best option to me, as well, so I retained it when I reformatted and expanded the table. Thanks for the additional information on other trios in that list, by the way. I don't believe I took advantage of the "Thank" option in the edit history, as I should have done.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:53, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Voice leading[edit]

I have done some recent work on the "voice leading" article. Do you have any opinions or suggestions? Hyacinth (talk) 12:28, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

I will cast an eye over this article, which has never before come to my attention. Thanks for asking.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:59, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

You wrote: " unfounded prejudice that there is little interest in Schenker on the part of British music theorists." Have a look at, you'll see that there are several British theorists in this list, and at least one additional one is missing, Nicholas Cook who I think has done a lot of Schenkerian reseach. And look at, you'll see that the whole project is mainly British.

Searching Schenkerdocumentsonline for "Voice-leading" gives 403 results (which I didn't further check); searching for "Part-writing" gives only two, one in a translation by Drabkin, the other a translation by Scott Witmer (no idea of who he is), both translating Stimmführung. — Hucbald.SaintAmand (talk) 11:58, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Well, I did say my prejudice was "unfounded", but thanks all the same for the list that shows how wrong I was. Thanks also for confirming my impression that even British Schenkerians overwhelmingly prefer "voice leading" to "part-writing". At least I was right about that!—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:11, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Precious again[edit]

Cornflower blue Yogo sapphire.jpg

knowledge and modesty
Thank you for helping me consistently, from my second article on, and for adding your admirable knowledge to this project in almost an understatement, about Stockhausen in particular. You mentioned in Freundschaft: making joyous music together, perhaps something playful as this. In Freundschaft, - you are an awesome Wikipedian!

--Gerda Arendt (talk) 09:42, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

Three years ago, you were the 40th recipient of my PumpkinSky Prize, --Gerda Arendt (talk) 13:31, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Music theory[edit]

I'm a little mystified by your blanking of huge sections of the Music theory article. Although I'm a little bored by the minutiae of WP policies, it seems like common sense that a summary article like this one, with bunches of "Main article" cross-references, wouldn't need to be extensively referenced, since anyone interested in verifying the information can easily go to the main articles cited.

You didn't even leave stubs for those sections, meaning that a summary article on a broad topic (music theory) now doesn't even mention large subtopics. I'm at a loss to understand how this will better serve WP readers. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:54, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

If you like, the headers can be restored, each with a banner requesting content, though some of the subjects were even dubious as areas belonging to music theory, and having separate sections on "chords" and "harmonies" seems absurd for a summary article. I noticed another editor had begun the process by removing one challenged section with no references, and I merely finished the job. Not only were they written like something copied from an undergraduate's class notes, but they had been flagged as unsourced three months ago.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:18, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Covered anonymous[edit]

Dear colleague, you removed a mention about anonymous works printed by Petrucci. Your action is quite typical for a modern musicology, which concentrates mostly on composers' music leaving anonymous contribution neglected. However, if you'd take the trouble to check music paleotypes (Odhecaton is just one of them), you'd definitely see that many compositions have been printed anonymous, these are not like now, not a commercial handful of famous brands. Olorulus (talk) 07:15, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Except that the sentence in question read "some of the most famous composers of the time, including ...". It is only as a joke that one can say Anonymous is a famous composer. It is of course perfectly acceptable to mention that there are also works included in the collection that are not attributed to any composer, but "many others" should be sufficient. Or do you have reason to suppose that all the anonymous works are by the same anonymous composer?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:05, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
I think, you perfectly understand the point. As for my English, I always apologize for it (English is not my mother tongue), to jeer at it is too simple and mean. Olorulus (talk) 09:04, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I apologize if I seemed to be making fun of your English. That was not my intention, but merely to point out that the context (nothing to do with your English usage here, which was fine) made the characterization of Anonymous rather strange. You have already noticed that I adjusted your new version of this observation to include manuscript as well as early print sources. I do not, however, understand your criticism of "modern musicology" neglecting anonymous works. It is of course much easier to evaluate the corpus of one known artist than to try to make sense out of a miscellaneous body of work probably involving hundreds of different composers of unknown nationality, age, or reputation. There is no surer way of increasing the profile of an anonymous work that by attributing it, however tenuously, to a known historical figure, and there can be very few pieces of music that have caught the attention of scholars, performers, or the general public and yet remain firmly of anonymous authorship. Why should this be either strange or unfair?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:33, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Anton Bruckner[edit]

Hello, Jerome -- I have just finished reading the article on Anton Bruckner. I came across a sentence that doesn't seem to fit. It is toward the end of the long paragraph that is the section Anton Bruckner#Study period. Here is the sentence:

  • A devout Catholic who loved to drink beer, Bruckner was out of step with his contemporaries.

I can see nothing either before or after this to support or explain the second half of this sentence. Also, the connection between the first and second halves of the sentence is not clear. Are Catholics not supposed to drink beer? Does being a Catholic and loving beer make a man out of step? CorinneSD (talk) 04:57, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

I am not myself a Catholic, but I cannot say I have ever come across a claim that beer drinking is inconsistent with Catholicism. Perhaps it is simply a non sequitur. I would suggest putting a {{clarification needed}} tag on it, together with an editorial note explaining the need (for the benefit of the less than entirely sharp).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:04, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
O.K., thanks. CorinneSD (talk) 06:02, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Disambiguation link notification for March 12[edit]

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Category:Scales with unusual key signatures[edit]

You may or may not be interested in Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2015 March 12#Category:Scales with unusual key signatures. Hyacinth (talk) 06:34, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

List of musical symbols[edit]

Re: this edit, I assume what the author meant was that pianissimo could be changed to pianississimo (=ppp) etc. by adding iss to the middle of the word. A little clumsily written, and really more detail than necessary on a summary page, but perfectly legitimate. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:12, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes, that is what I assumed as well, but it was so badly written that I could not be sure, and it did look more than a little comical when taken at face value.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:15, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Josephkleen's edits[edit]

Saw your revert in trombone I don't think Josephkleen is malicious, I think he's just a (probably youngish) idiot. He has edited baritone horn as well. I tried to clean it up without being too obvious, because he seems to think he knows more about brass instruments than he actually does. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 00:32, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks. My initial assumptin was much as you describe, but when he started reverting automatically without evidently reading my edit summaries (and without leaving any of his own), I began to think otherwise. Assuming good faith is well and good, up to a point, but when they start acting like vandals, it is difficult not to assume they are vandals.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:14, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Ah. Okay, thanks. I'll keep my eyes open. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 11:50, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Baritone horn[edit]

JK ... I'm not a super expert wiki editor ... the range diagram on the baritone horn page is wrong, showing the low 1st partial all valves depressed as F1 but it's E1 (obviously, no cite needed, by the mechanism of the instrument). I don't know how those range diagrams are generated. If you know how to generate a new one that's correct ... :) JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 17:46, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Sorry, but I don't know how that particular one was made. Your best option would be to go to the image file on Wikimedia Commons to see if the creator of the file is named, and if he is currently active. If so, then a message can be left on the user's Talk page (or perhaps on the article Talk page with a ping to the user). Failing that, we can always create a new diagram, since it is not a very complicated one.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I tried reaching out about a year ago and the user didn't respond. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 17:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Ah, yes, I see that this user appears not to have been active since 2007. In that case, let us make a corrected replacement image but, before we do so, let us be sure we have got our facts straight, with a reliable source to back up the changes. I am not a brass player of any sort, let alone a player of the baritone horn, so this is a purely theoretical exercise as far as I am concerned.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:11, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, well, all modern three-valve brass work the same way, that's why they tend to be transposing instruments: the fingering is identical. Descending from notational C you go down a tritone to F. Since Baritone's transpositional C is B, its F is E. Here's a chart based on the (more playable) 2nd partials. The pedal tones (the low note in the diagram refers to the lowest pedal tone) are the seven lowest notes in that chart but an octave lower. As you can see in the chart, which treats the baritone horn as a non-transposing instrument, the lowest note is E2 so the pedal is E1. I'm an alto horn player, which is like the bari, only up a perfect fourth, its transposing Middle C is E below Middle C (E3). Its lowest 2nd partial is A2 and its lowest pedal is A1. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 18:55, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I have taken the liberty of replacing the image in the infobox. The new image goes from E one line below the bass staff (8vb) to F on the top line of the treble staff. Since there is no way for me to get a seventh-position pedal tone on a trombone, nor have I tried to do that on the euph, I will take Jacques' word for it. The old image is still used in numerous articles in other languages, but just now I do not have time to clear up that mess.
(and thanks, Prof. K, for fixing Jambe de Fer's surname in the cello article. I had meant to go back and do that, but life's distractions intervened.) Just plain Bill (talk) 20:27, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for taking care of the illustration, Bill. A little less of the "professor" bit, please. I am not one now, nor have I ever been. "Jerry" will do or, if you insist on formality, "Dr. Kohl". You are most welcome for Jambe de Fer. As a matter of fact, I was brought up short myself when I saw that query about "who is this 'de Fer' guy?" It was only your adding the link that suddenly made the penny drop!—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:34, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Oops, sorry. Don't know where I got that notion to start with, but as of now it ceases. Thanks again for what you do here. Just plain Bill (talk) 22:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Are you feeling OK?[edit]

Im sorry, but you current behaviour over citation requests on the Pentatonic article is uncharacteristically irrational - or to put it another way - we don't expect such a person like you to be so silly. Is thre anyone you can call, if you have problems? I am sincerely concerned about you. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:53, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

I dealt with the ancient Greece claim about two years ago, and left the rest stand, apart from the tag on Debussy (which ought to be covered by Benward and Saker, as it is in the musical example). I thought it would look so odd to have M. L. West in a book on ancient Greece as the only confirming source for everythingfrom the Tatras to Stephen Foster that someone would get embarrassed enough to at least find a source for the Impressionists. All that ethnomusicological stuff looks very impressive until you realize there is nothing to back it up. It has been long enough. When sources are found, any or all of it can be restored.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:58, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
OK, I'm relieved that you're not having a "spell" like the co-pilot of that Lufthansa jet! Really not my direct sphere (I'm certainly not a musicologist) so I'll leave you to it - I'm definitely not trying to get at you or anything. Just that the placing of the citation request seemed to refer to the Chopin, where I didn't see that as really needing it - rather than a load of other stuff in an earlier sentence - cites (and cite requests) are usually context specific. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:10, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
I take your point, though I imagine you can also see how tricky this can get when there is a rapid succession of specific claims, as in the present case. On the whole, I prefer not to carpet bomb an article, but when nobody will take the hint, there may be no alternative. The underlying problem in the present case is that the pentatonic scale is so ubiquitous. It is one thing to point to one Chopin étude as an example, but on reflection it must be admitted that this is an exception rather than the rule for Chopin. If this is so, then is it equally the case for Debussy, for American folk music, and so on. I mean, for heaven's sake, the opening phrase of Jerusalem is pentatonic, and probably for programmatic reasons, but this doesn't make the scale characteristic for Hubert Parry's music generally.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 02:39, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough. It was the apparent "tone" of what you were saying and doing more than the content that was starting to concern me. It felt as if I was being yelled at (or am I a bit sensitive this morning? and you're obviously not the type of person one expects that kind of thing from. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 03:20, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
I suppose I was "yelling", though not at you. As I said , I probably dropped a way-too-subtle hint, and nobody noticed. So I got peeved. Sorry if you got caught in the cross-fire between me and my invisible (nonexistent?) opponents.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:11, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

As I've already said - good to have that sorted. Nothing to apologise for really - we all have "those days" (sez he!). -Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:59, 28 March 2015 (UTC)


Thanks for a quick delivery, and exceeding expectations on Neume. Now there's so much on etymology that I'm wondering if it would be better to put it in its own section, or in the history section. (To be exact, I think the perfect place would be Wiktionary, and I tried to enter it there, but was not very successful.) What do you think? — Sebastian 07:31, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

You are welcome. I agree that the etymology is now a little excessive, and really does not belong in the article's lead section. I see no reason why it should not remain in the article, but moved to a more appropriate location (perhaps its own section, as you suggest, or perhaps folded into a lengthened "Early history" section). This would not preclude adding it to Wiktionary, of course.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:37, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Jules Massenet 2[edit]

Even if you agree with the edit, you'll enjoy the edit summary at Jules Massenet. [5] CorinneSD (talk) 00:49, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, that is very entertaining, thanks for alerting me to it. I liked Tim Riley's summary even better, when he reverted that edit.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:06, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Maurice Ravel[edit]

Speak of the devil and he will come to you. Quite by chance, as it happens. I was looking in to see if you might be interested in a peer review I have put up for the Ravel article. I keep running across shrewd and authoritative edits by you in music articles (and now I look at your user page I can see why the edits are s. and a.), and I wonder if you might care to look in chez Ravel. Quite understand if not, naturally. Kind regards, Tim riley talk 15:41, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

I have noticed a flurry of activity on the Ravel article over the last few days, and wondered if something like this might be in the works. I shall have to check the rules to see whether I am allowed to do such a review (after all, I have edited the Ravel article myself in the past, though not extensively). If I am not disqualified, I shall be happy to do a peer review.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:45, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
Anyone is allowed to pitch in at peer review. You might possibly feel more inhibited about supporting/opposing at such time as the article is submitted for Featured Article candidacy, but at this stage you can pitch in with a will, and I hope you'll do so. Tim riley talk 09:56, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I had been confusing peer review with the GA and FA processes. I have already checked the peer-review page for the Ravel article, and see that many hands have already pitched in. I will try to get to this myself, though I have been occupied the last few days with a new article on Votre Faust, which still needs a lot of work.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:50, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
Well, absolutely no pressure on you from me. If you can look in I'll be delighted, but please don't think twice about it if other considerations make it inconvenient. Best wishes, Tim riley talk 21:00, 5 April 2015 (UTC)

Roman numeral analysis[edit]

The roman numerals for the natural minor are i-iio-III-iv-v-VI-VII-i. It does not have bIII, bVI and bVII in the natural minor diatonic scale as stated in the image I have deleted. The sources are from Tonal Harmony by Stephen Kostka and Dorothy Payne and Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music by Robert Gauldin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Composer Unknown (talkcontribs) 22:56, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

You are only deleting half of the image tag, leaving a ragged fragment of it. This looks plainly like vandalism. If you have got a problem with the image, bring it up on the Talk page, and get it corrected. Don't just remove it with no comment.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:33, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

Baddish rewrite[edit]

Hello - could you please have a quick look here? - it's been a bit of a mess for a while and I am not sure how to fix it as it's not my topic. Thanks! DBaK (talk) 07:33, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Oops. That was my baddish, wasn't it? I agree with your strategy of removing actual names in favour of generic descriptions ("major producers"), since we are not exactly dealing with celebrities, and adding one person automatically provokes the addition of dozens of other unfamiliar names. Record production isn't my topic, either, but that article is on my watchlist because of the electronic-music connection.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:00, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo I'm so sorry; I have been totally unclear. The baddishness to which I was referring was in MY attempt to sort it out, not yours. I was just slightly disconcerted because your perfectly sensible removal - that is, reversion, really - of a name left a hole which, bizarrely, had been there for quite some time before its most recent er er er infilling. So I felt I should tidy that up, and one thing led to another, and here we are. But I make no claims at all for the quality of what I wrote; rather the opposite! What I have now left there is sort of OK but not very: please feel very free to sort it out! But no, really, I would not under any circumstances be accusing you of baddish editing! With best wishes DBaK (talk) 19:35, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees, I should have noticed that my reversion left that awkward hole, never mind that it had been there before. I don't see any urgency to convert that sentence from its current, rather utilitarian character into the proverbial silk purse but, now that you have called my attention to it, I shall try to think of something better to do with it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:27, 17 April 2015 (UTC)


The recording of ONE symphony is obviously not nearly sufficient to characterize Boulez as "being known" for his performances of Bruckner symphonies. AlterBerg (talk) 20:34, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

In the body of the article, one of Boulez's several Bruckner symphony recordings (the Eighth) is singled out for special mention. Since the lede ought to honestly reflect the article's content, it seems to me that Bruckner ought to be included. It is also true (though this is not documented in the article itself) that Boulez's performances of Bruckner before live audiences (as opposed to his recordings) have been well received.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:57, 17 April 2015 (UTC)


Jerome, I probably shouldn't have reverted your revert.

Perhaps we can find a way of not stating point-blank that tonality is based on a central tone. There are strong technical reasons for delineating the tonal period (15/16–19 century) on the basis of a central triad, not a central tone. Perhaps more inclusive wording can be found, referencing not only the existing source, but one or two others? Tony (talk) 10:23, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

If you reverted my revert, then, no, you should not have. It is totally unacceptable to alter actual quotations from reliable sources, simply because your mistaken ideas are not confirmed by them. Similarly, it will not do to change the lede section to conflict with the cited material in the article itself. The lede is meant to summarize the article, not initiate a debate with it. You are clearly bent on changing the article to focus exclusively on tonality8, to the exclusion of the other seven senses of the word. If you can figure out a way of retitling the article to reflect this, and then split out the other senses into one or more new articles, then I certainly will not stand in your way but I doubt that this is possible. For one thing, it is an ingrained habit for most people to speak of "tonality" as if it were a single monolithic entity about which "everybody knows" the meaning, intuitively, at least. For another, it is a polemical issue (as the New Grove article makes very clear, though with too much emphasis (in my opinion) on Schoenberg, and not enough on more recent theorists of popular music (the less-highly regarded ones—again, in my opinion). A third issue is that theory of tonality is generally confused with the actual practice of what this theory is meant to describe. That practice, for example in Schubert's compositions, is a fixed entity (that is, the notes in the scores are the same now as they were when the ink was still wet), but theories have changed wildly over the past century, so that explanations of what "tonality" might mean in Schubert (by comparison with, say, Mozart on the one hand and Wagner on the other) varies over time. (Keep in mind that even the sense of tonality8 only began to come into existence late in Schubert's lifetime, and was not fully articulated until half a century later.) None of this can be summed up in a beginner's textbook like Benward and Saker (about which you have yourself expressed some reservations), but it lies right at the heart of what is wrong with the "Tonality" article at present: a titanic struggle has been going on for several years now between forces that want to make it simple and straightforward (I believe you are on this side) and others who want it to accurately reflect reality. I am certainly on the latter side, though at the same time I want to make this very complicated subject as comprehensible as possible.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:59, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

"English Horn"[edit]

Hi Jerome:

French Wikipedia gives five different derivations of the name of the instrument. It says that the matter is under debate. Spanish Wikipedia (the only other language I can read fluently) is quite definite that the name came from cor anglẻ, meaning "bent horn". It gives the following reference:

Michael Finkelman, "Oboe: III. Larger and Smaller European Oboes, 4. Tenor Oboes, (iv) English Horn", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001)

I haven't read it. Maybe you'd find it interesting.

When I was a kid in England in the 1950s, I remember a music teacher at school teaching us the cor anglẻ derivation He may have been wrong in this case, but generally he knew what he was talking about.

Of course I agree with you that Wikipedia is not a reliable source. That's why I edit it!


DOwenWilliams (talk) 20:28, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

(talk page stalker)I'm looking at that Grove reference online right now (thank you Haringey libraries, thank you thank you) and it says: "The open-belled straight tenor oboe and particularly the flare-belled oboe da caccia reminded people of the angels’ horns depicted in medieval and later religious imagery, especially in German-speaking central Europe. In Middle (High) German, the word engellisch meant ‘angelic’ (as engelgleichin modern Hochdeutsch). With the Middle German word for ‘England’ being Engellant, the word engellisch also meant ‘English’. These dual meanings naturally became conflated, and ‘angel's horn’ thus became ‘English horn’. This unlikely epithet remained with the curved, bulb-belled tenor oboe even after the oboe da caccia had faded (c1760) and in the absence of any better denominations." That article, in its current form, certainly does NOT mention the cor anglẻ idea. A couple of others do mention it, but not the Finkelman; where it is mentioned, it is said to be "possibly" or "maybe" a corruption ... but no stronger than that, that I have found yet anyway. Hope this helps. best wishes DBaK (talk) 20:47, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Hi, guys. I take it from this discussion that neither of you have actually looked at the paragraph in the article Cor anglais where this angle (if you will pardon the expression) is discussed. I inserted this sentence myself to replace an earlier, unsourced claim and if New Grove had discussed the problem, I would certainly have included it. Instead, I cited four sources that do discuss this etymology: Michael Kennedy's Oxford Dictionary of Music, A. J. Greimas's Dictionnaire de l'ancien français jusqu'au milieu du XIV siècle, Adam Carse's Musical Wind Instruments, and Sybil Marcuse's Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary. The first two sources broach this theory, the second two contest it, "on grounds that there is no evidence of the term cor anglé before it was offered as a possible origin of anglais in the 19th century." What is interesting here (and, I must add, entirely typical of the Wikipedia reliability problem) is that the Spanish Wikipedia cites an English-language source that utterly fails to support the claim. This needs at least to be challenged on Spanish Wikipedia or, better, be changed there to reflect our far more ample discussion of this proposed etymology here on English Wikipedia. Perhaps, DOwenWilliams, you would like to take care of this, as your Spanish is probably better than my own?
I notice, by the way, that the French Wikipedia article has no sources at all, and there is a "réf. nécessaire" tag on one portion of the etymology discussion. FWIW, the German Wikipedia claims the "anglé" derivation is the "Wahrscheinlichster Ursprung des Namens" ("most likely origin of the name") but, like the French Wikipedia, is utterly devoid of sources. Both the Hungarian and Hebrew Wikipedias appear to have condensed versions of the German, and of course no sources. Portuguese Wikipedia is more cautious, and does actually cite a website (in English) with a short self-published essay that looks suspiciously like it may be based on the English Wikipedia article: The Origin of the name "English Horn". Catalan Wikipedia reflects the English Wikipedia exactly, though like the French and German, it cites no sources. Esperanto Wikipedia cites no sources, but appears to give the same balanced view as Portuguese and Catalan. Czech Wikipedia is absolutely certain that the name derives from anglé, but this extremely short article also has no sources at all. The Dutch Wikipedia seems to be the best of all, citing one source each for and against the anglé etyology (the first in French—to the shame of the French Wikipedia—and the second in Dutch). I am also able to read (with a dictionary) the Simple English Wikipedia article, which says "many weasels people" believe the "anglé" theory though, again, no source is offered. I cannot read Japanese at all, but the Japanese Wikipedia cites exactly the four sources I put into the English article, so I suppose it must be translated from English Wikipedia. A quick check of the Finnish Wikipedia (another language I cannot read) also shows that it has no sources, but it mentions this dubious etymology all the same. Most of the other Wikipedia articles on the instrument are extremely short, and few if any mention this etymological wrinkle.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:32, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
I hope Wikidata doesn't have an "etymology of instrument" field, or they will no doubt go with the Spanish! Johnbod (talk) 02:36, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
No tengo ninguna problema con eso. ¡Ojalá solo que los franceses no tomará ninguna parte en esto! (Nota para algunas francófonos que lean esto: se trata de una broma. Todo el mundo respeta profundamente su cultura y erudición.)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:20, 4 May 2015 (UTC)


I would appreciate if you could take a look at bariolage. Hyacinth (talk) 06:45, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Sure thing.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:24, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Hyacinth (talk) 08:47, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

Ondes Martenot: Cynthia Millar[edit]

Hi Jerome,
re your last edit removing non-notable ondes Martenot players: I believe Cynthia Millar does indeed belong on this list. She is THE ondiste in the USA, especially Hollywood, having played on over 100 film scores, especially for Elmer Bernstein, but also for Richard Rodney Bennett, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini, and Miklos Rozsa. Whenever you hear an ondes Martenot in a Hollywood film score, chances are high it was Cynthia Millar. Best, Martin -- megA (talk) 07:40, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

I had very similar thoughts on seeing that edit – she is well known in the UK too – but until we have an article on her, or at least a good reference, I don't think we can justify including her on that list. --Deskford (talk) 08:48, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Deskford has taken the words right out of my mouth. I had never before heard of Cynthia Millar, though I am not especially well-acquainted with the worlds either of ondes-Martenot performance in general or of Hollywood film-studio recording in particular. If in fact Millar is so widely known, then she certainly deserves a biographical article on Wikipedia, for which it should not be difficult to find the necessary reliable sources. This would in turn automatically solve the problem of how to differentiate her from the two other red-linked names I removed in that same edit.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:27, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I suspected that that would be the problem. It might take some time to draw up an article, as I am very busy right now, but would this list from the Discogs database be a reliable source for it, as a starting point? I suspect that most information would be available from CD credits (which are compiled on Discogs), concert programmes, composer interviews, etc. -- megA (talk) 03:41, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that a list of recordings by itself counts as a reliable source, but with a list that long, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a few third-party sources that can be used to verify notability.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:50, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. This looks like some work ;-) Will need some time... -- megA (talk) 18:14, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

Horn again[edit]

I had plans for this morning and spent it changing French horn to Natural in the Baroque works on my watchlist. (I had changed most earlier, but still many). How about Mozart? French horn in a work by the 12-year-old feels wrong. --Gerda Arendt (talk) 08:06, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

I have already changed the links in at least two of the Mozart entries (Symphony No. 40 and one of the Horn Concertos) to "natutal horn". Mozart died in 1791, and the valve mechanism we identify with the term "French" first came into existence only in 1815. (A number of years ago I heard Hermann Baumann play Mozart's Third Concerto on modern valved horn. He nonetheless played the C minor passage in the central portion of the rondo movement with hand-stopping, because that strange, muted sound is what Mozart would have gotten by suddenly modulating to that key for a horn in E. This was not explained in the programme notes, and I'm sure that many in the audience thought he was doing something weird to make his performance sound "avant-garde".)
A more difficult problem is what to do with, say, the Berlioz Requiem article. Although this work was written a few years after the valve horn was invented, and although Berlioz was a great enthusiast for new inventions, it is unlikely that many horn players even in Paris were playing the new-fangled contraptions, and it would take a careful examination of the score to determine whether he wrote his horn parts for natural or valved horns. Indeed, even if the parts are entirely playable on natural horns, this would not be conclusive evidence, since on the one hand "lipping" and hand-horn techniques (combined with crook changes) permit the natural horn to play notes that one might think available only on the valved instrument and, on the other, composers' habits continue to favour writing the kind of parts characteristic of natural horns long after valved horns became the norm in orchestras after about 1860. We know, for example, that Brahms continued to write his horn parts for the natural instrument, long after they had largely disappeared from the orchestra. Doubtless he thought it was a passing fad, and he didn't want to write music that would no longer be playable, once these impractical machines were no longer anything but rusting junk. Charles-Marie Widor, in his manual of orchestration published in 1904, still describes the natural trumpet and horn, and recommends that the budding composer learn to write his horn parts for the natural instrument, both for the discipline and because the parts will be more grateful to even the valved instrument. That change of article name has stirred up a whole nest of worms that were undoubtedly not foreseen by the editors who decided (against all the evidence) that a consensus had been reached in favour of the change.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:59, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you, enlightening! - What can we do, about the article and the works? - It's a bit as if they had moved "keyboard instruments" to piano, and then replaced all keyboard instrument by piano, --Gerda Arendt (talk) 21:52, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I think the best thing is to let events play out. I believe it will eventually become evident to everyone that this name-change was a huge mistake, but I would not like to see it moved back until a lot of people have expended a lot of effort changing all those links. Only when they have completed this Herculean task should the article name be reverted, so that they can change all the links back again. I think that sounds fair, don't you?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:00, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

Horn (instrument) is now an article.[edit]

Please note that Horn (instrument) is now an article, and no longer a redirect. Cheers! bd2412 T 01:41, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I only just discovered this after reverting your change. My apologies. I do fear there is going to be trouble over this new article, but you have certainly got my support.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:43, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ ......