saxophone

Playing on one’s name

Many instruments evolved over centuries, their names changing in tandem with their timbre. The lute became the guitar, the viol progressed to the violin and the sackbut got transformed into the trombone. Just occasionally, however, an inventor introduces a brand … Read More →


Backer_Judgment_(detail)

The devil’s in the detail

“Why should the devil have all the best tunes?” … or something along those lines. The exact quotation and its source have long been the subject of speculation. But the devil certainly has attracted the attention of many fine composers … Read More →


vocal-clout

Vocal clout

Tomorrow, 13 September, is the occasion of the famous Last Night of the BBC Promenade Concerts, renowned for the fervour of its patriotic singing by some 6,000 voices in the audience and, no doubt, millions more joining in from home. … Read More →


Mahlercartoon_1907

Craftsman’s art and music’s measure

Most music is referred to as ‘absolute music’. It simply comprises notes that combine to weave melodic charm. Most Haydn symphonies serve as an example. At the other end of the composing spectrum lie artefacts – physical objects other than … Read More →


turn-sign2

Taking turns

Like those used on Christmas trees, ornaments in music make melodies more attractive, injecting a bit of zip and sparkle into an otherwise mundane note. Some of them carry technical names that students struggle to remember but, on paper, a … Read More →