Cell (music)

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The 1957 Encyclopédie Larousse [1] defines a cell in music as a "small rhythmic and melodic design that can be isolated, or can make up one part of a thematic context". The cell may be distinguished from the figure or motif: the 1958 Encyclopédie Fasquelle [1] defines a cell as "the smallest indivisible unit", unlike the motif, which may be divisible into more than one cell. "A cell can be developed, independent of its context, as a melodic fragment, it can be used as a developmental motif. It can be the source for the whole structure of the work; in that case it is called a generative cell." [2]

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Tresillo, a rhythmic cell of the tango and habanera. Play (help*info) Tresillo divisive.png
Tresillo, a rhythmic cell of the tango and habanera. Loudspeaker.svg Play  

A rhythmic cell is a cell without melodic connotations. It may be entirely percussive or applied to different melodic segments.

History

The term "cell" (German: Keim) derives from organic music theorists of the nineteenth century. Arnold Schering adopted the term, along with "melodic kernels" (Melodiekerne) in his analysis of 14th-century madrigal, one of the first uses of Gestalt psychology in music theory. [5]

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Related Research Articles

In music, an ostinato[ostiˈnaːto] is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice, frequently in the same pitch. Well-known ostinato-based pieces include both classical compositions, such as Ravel's Boléro and the Carol of the Bells, and popular songs such as Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder's "I Feel Love" (1977), Henry Mancini's theme from Peter Gunn (1959), and The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (1997).

Musical analysis

Musical analysis is the study of musical structure in either compositions or performances. According to music theorist Ian Bent, music analysis "is the means of answering directly the question 'How does it work?'". The method employed to answer this question, and indeed exactly what is meant by the question, differs from analyst to analyst, and according to the purpose of the analysis. According to Ian Bent, "its emergence as an approach and method can be traced back to the 1750s. However it existed as a scholarly tool, albeit an auxiliary one, from the Middle Ages onwards." Adolf Bernhard Marx was influential in formalising concepts about composition and music understanding towards the second half of the 19th century.

Clave (rhythm)

The clave is a rhythmic pattern used as a tool for temporal organization in Afro-Cuban music. In Spanish, clave literally means key, clef, code, or keystone. It is present in a variety of genres such as Abakuá music, rumba, conga, son, mambo, salsa, songo, timba and Afro-Cuban jazz. The five-stroke clave pattern represents the structural core of many Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Bassline

A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard.

Motif (music)

In music, a motif(pronunciation)  is a short musical phrase, a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition: "The motive is the smallest structural unit possessing thematic identity".

The Tristan chord is a chord made up of the notes F, B, D, and G:

Phrase (music) Musical unit

In music theory, a phrase is a unit of musical meter that has a complete musical sense of its own, built from figures, motifs, and cells, and combining to form melodies, periods and larger sections.

A phrase is a substantial musical thought, which ends with a musical punctuation called a cadence. Phrases are created in music through an interaction of melody, harmony, and rhythm.

Subject (music)

In music, a subject is the material, usually a recognizable melody, upon which part or all of a composition is based. In forms other than the fugue, this may be known as the theme.

<i>Density 21.5</i>

Density 21.5 is a piece of music for solo flute written by Edgard Varèse in 1936 and revised in 1946. The piece was composed at the request of Georges Barrère for the premiere of his platinum flute, the density of platinum being close to 21.5 grams per cubic centimetre.

Figure (music) Shortest phrase in music, a short succession of notes

A musical figure or figuration is the shortest phrase in music; a short succession of notes, often recurring. It may have melodic pitch, harmonic progression, and rhythmic meter. The 1964 Grove's Dictionary defines the figure as "the exact counterpart of the German 'motiv' and the French 'motif'": it produces a "single complete and distinct impression". To the self-taught Roger Scruton, however, a figure is distinguished from a motif in that a figure is background while a motif is foreground:

A figure resembles a moulding in architecture: it is 'open at both ends', so as to be endlessly repeatable. In hearing a phrase as a figure, rather than a motif, we are at the same time placing it in the background, even if it is ... strong and melodious

Period (music)

In music, a period is certain types of recurrence in small-scale formal structure. In twentieth-century music scholarship, the term is usually used as defined by the Oxford Companion to Music: "a period consists of two phrases, antecedent and consequent, each of which begins with the same basic motif." Earlier usage varied somewhat, but usually referred to similar notions of symmetry, recurrence, and closure. The concept of a musical period originates in comparisons between music structure and rhetoric at least as early as the 16th century.

In Western music theory, the term sentence is analogous to the way the term is used in linguistics, in that it usually refers to a complete, somewhat self-contained statement. Usually a sentence refers to musical spans towards the lower end of the durational scale; i.e. melodic or thematic entities well below the level of 'movement' or 'section', but above the level of 'motif' or 'measure'. The term is usually encountered in discussions of thematic construction. In the last fifty years, an increasing number of theorists such as William Caplin have used the term to refer to a specific theme-type involving repetition and development.

Spanish Tinge

The Spanish tinge is an Afro-Latin rhythmic touch that spices up the more conventional 4
4
rhythms commonly used in jazz and pop music. The phrase is a quotation from Jelly Roll Morton. In his Library of Congress recordings, after referencing the influence of his own French Creole culture in his music, he noted the Spanish presence:

Then we had Spanish people there. I heard a lot of Spanish tunes. I tried to play them in correct tempo, but I personally didn't believe they were perfected in the tempos. Now take the habanera "La Paloma", which I transformed in New Orleans style. You leave the left hand just the same. The difference comes in the right hand — in the syncopation, which gives it an entirely different color that really changes the color from red to blue. Now in one of my earliest tunes, "New Orleans Blues", you can notice the Spanish tinge. In fact, if you can't manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz.

In music, the term swing has two main uses. Colloquially, it is used to describe the propulsive quality or "feel" of a rhythm, especially when the music prompts a visceral response such as foot-tapping or head-nodding. This sense can also be called "groove".

Piano Quartet No. 1 (Brahms)

The Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, was composed by Johannes Brahms between 1856 and 1861. It was premiered in 1861 in Hamburg, with Clara Schumann at the piano. It was also played in Vienna on 16 November 1862, with Brahms himself at the piano supported by members of the Hellmesberger Quartet. Like most piano quartets, it is scored for piano, violin, viola and cello.

Excursions, Op. 20, is the first published solo piano piece by Samuel Barber. Barber himself explains:

These are ‘Excursions’ in small classical forms into regional American idioms. Their rhythmic characteristics, as well as their source in folk material and their scoring, reminiscent of local instruments are easily recognized.

Bell pattern

A bell pattern is a rhythmic pattern of striking a hand-held bell or other instrument of the idiophone family, to make it emit a sound at desired intervals. It is often a key pattern, in most cases it is a metal bell, such as an agogô, gankoqui, or cowbell, or a hollowed piece of wood, or wooden claves. In band music, bell patterns are also played on the metal shell of the timbales, and drum kit cymbals.

Rhythm in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan African music is characterised by a "strong rhythmic interest" that exhibits common characteristics in all regions of this vast territory, so that Arthur Morris Jones (1889–1980) has described the many local approaches as constituting one main system. C. K. Ladzekpo also affirms the profound homogeneity of approach. West African rhythmic techniques carried over the Atlantic were fundamental ingredients in various musical styles of the Americas: samba, forró, maracatu and coco in Brazil, Afro-Cuban music and Afro-American musical genres such as blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, funk, soul, reggae, hip hop, and rock and roll were thereby of immense importance in 20th century popular music. The drum is renowned throughout Africa.

Guajeo

A guajeo is a typical Cuban ostinato melody, most often consisting of arpeggiated chords in syncopated patterns. Some musicians only use the term guajeo for ostinato patterns played specifically by a tres, piano, an instrument of the violin family, or saxophones. Piano guajeos are one of the most recognizable elements of modern-day salsa. Piano guajeos are also known as montunos in North America, or tumbaos in the contemporary Cuban dance music timba.

Tresillo is a rhythmic pattern used in Latin American music. It is a more basic form of the rhythmic figure known as the habanera.

References

  1. 1 2 quoted in Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1990). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music (Musicologie générale et sémiologue, 1987). Translated by Carolyn Abbate (1990). ISBN   0-691-02714-5.
  2. Nattiez 1990, p.156.
  3. Garrett, Charles Hiroshi (2008). Struggling to Define a Nation: American Music and the Twentieth Century, p.54. ISBN   9780520254862. Shown in common time and then in cut time with tied sixteenth & eighth note rather than rest.
  4. Sublette, Ned (2007). Cuba and Its Music, p.134. ISBN   978-1-55652-632-9. Shown with tied sixteenth & eighth note rather than rest.
  5. Ian D. Bent, revised by Anthony Pople (2001). "Analysis, §II. History, §4. 1910-1945" . Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.