Miscellaneous musical notes

Some singers allegedly have four-octave vocal ranges. This is very doubtful. That would cover F below the bass clef to F above high C, allowing the same person to sing Sarastro and the Queen of the Night. (Update: I’ve found numerous claims that certain singers have ranges of five octaves and even more. My impression is that they’re counting the ability to produce sounds, not their usable singing range. I can produce three octaves myself when I have a cold, but you wouldn’t want me to.)

You don’t “rise to a crescendo.” A crescendo is a rise in volume, and if you want it to be effective you start softly.

If random notes scattered in an illustration represent music, then random letters likewise scattered ought to represent literature.Franz Schubert postage stamp

Alto is the shortened form of contralto. They mean the same thing.

There are two musical instruments whose name means “small”: the piccolo and the cello. The piccolo makes sense. The cello does too, if you know its name was originally violoncello, or “little big viol,” but I can’t think of any other case of a word being worn down to its suffix while retaining its specific meaning.

Until the twentieth century, no one set out to write “classical music.” Bach and Beethoven wrote for their audiences, employers, or students.

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2 Responses to “Miscellaneous musical notes”

  1. emozes Says:

    Thanks for the clarification regarding also and contralto. I wasn’t aware of that, and always assumed that a contralto is lower-pitched than an alto, in the same way that a counter-tenor is higher-pitched than a tenor.

    • Gary McGath Says:

      “Contralto” is commonly used to mean a particularly low alto, though that’s not strictly correct. Originally it meant “against the high voice.” “Alto” by itself should really mean soprano but doesn’t.


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