Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Sir Frederic Cowen (1852-1935): Some Witty Definitions

The small book Music as she is Wrote is a ‘glossary of musical terms very much up to date by the composer and conductor Frederic H. Cowen.’ It was published c.1915, however this has not dated the humour. I give four short definitions from it below.

A display of musical fireworks, introduced into a song by a prima donna to show the public that she possesses ever so many good (or bad) high notes that she has not had a chance of singing in the song itself. In a Concerto the cadenza is often nearly as long as the whole piece, but it has the advantage of giving the conductor a well-earned rest.

Part Song
A short unaccompanied piece of vocal music in several parts, which begins in one key and usually ends half a tone or more lower.

A succession of notes used to fill up a bar in a composition when the composer has exhausted every other device he can think of.

An obsolete term. 

1 comment:

Graham said...

Thank you for posting those. I looked up the book on HathiTrust and found one just as good you missed


Forty minutes at a high fee once a week for six months. This renders the pupil perfect, the parents pleased, the professor prosperous, and the public (very) patient.

N.B.—Professors of music are usually quite unaware that there are any British composers.