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of Music

Page 255

240 mesto

of tone is apparent in his Trois petites Liturgies de la
Présence divine (“Three Short Liturgies of the
Divine Presence”), which is scored for soprano
choir, celesta, vibraphone, maracas, Chinese cym-
bals, gongs, piano, ondes Martenot, and strings. Des
Canyons aux étoiles, inspired by Utah’s Bryce
Canyon, similarly uses evocative and innovative
instrumental combinations. Perhaps the most dis-
tinctive characteristic of Messiaen’s music is his
treatment of rhythm, which reflects an interest both
in Oriental and medieval rhythms and in serial tech-
niques (see SERIAL MUSIC), which sometimes he
applies to rhythms as well as to pitches. His six-
hour-long opera, Saint-François d’Assise (1983),
includes all of his musical “trademarks.” Although
in his last years he concentrated increasingly on
large structures, his best-known and most frequently
performed work is Quatuor pour la fin du temps
(“Quartet for the End of Time”), written while in a
Nazi prison camp for the instruments available
there: violin, clarinet, cello, and piano.

mesto (mes′tô) Italian. Also, mestoso (me stô′sô).
A direction to perform in a sad, melancholy manner.

mestoso See MESTO.

meter Also, British, measure. The arrangement of
beats (units used to measure musical time) into mea-
sures, groups of equal size (time values) and with
regularly recurring accents. From about 1600 to
1950, most European and American music has been
organized into measures of equal duration, which
are separated from one another by bar lines. The
meter of a piece is indicated by the time signature,
which tells how many beats there are in a measure
and the value of the note that receives a beat. For
example, the time signature 3/4 shows that there are
three beats per measure (3), one for each quarter
note (4). It should be noted that meter simply orga-
nizes musical time into measures. It is not identical
with RHYTHM, which involves both meter and the
patterns of time values within measures. In Euro-
pean and American music there are two principal
kinds of meter, duple and triple. DUPLE METER has
two basic beats to the measure, which may be subdi-
vided into two, three, or more parts. TRIPLE METER

has three basic beats to the measure, which may be
subdivided into two, three, or more parts. In duple
meters the accent tends to fall on every other beat,
beginning with the first beat (the 1–2–3–4 of a
march, for example; see ACCENT). In triple meters
the accent tends to fall on the first of every three
beats (the 1–2–3, 1–2–3 of a waltz). (See also COM-

metrical psalter See under PSALM.

metric modulation A shift from one meter to
another, accomplished gradually by anticipating it
with a change in rhythm, much as a pivot chord (see
under MODULATION, def. 1) introduces a change of
key. The change in meter is usually indicated by a
new time signature and tempo indication, such as e
= 110 (110 eighth notes per minute; see
METRONOME for explanation).

metronome (me′trə nōm′′). A mechanical, elec-
tric, or electronic device for sounding or showing a
steady beat at various speeds. There are a number of
such devices. The oldest in common use was that
first marketed in 1816 by Johannes Nepomuk
Maelzel (1772–1838). Maelzel’s metronome (the
idea for which he may have stolen from a Dutch
inventor) has a swinging bar driven by clockwork. A
sharp “tick” is produced at each end of the swing,
and the rate of these ticks is adjusted by moving a
small weight up or down a graduated scale on the
bar. The rate can be varied from as slow as 40 ticks
per minute to as fast as 210 ticks per minute. The
metronome is used by setting the weight at the
desired rate. A piece or section marked, for example,

fig. 156 p/u from
p. 247

Page 256

middle C 241

q = 125 should be played at the rate of 125 quarter
notes per minute, which will be sounded out by set-
ting the metronome at 125. Similarly, the indication
“125 M.M.” calls for a setting of 125 ticks per
minute, M.M. standing for “Maelzel metronome.”
Today many musicians prefer an electronic
metronome, in which the pulse is indicated by click-
ing sounds or a blinking light.

Meyerbeer (mı̄′ər ber′′), Giacomo (jä′kô mô),
1791–1864. A German composer who is remem-
bered chiefly for several grand operas produced in
Paris relatively late in his life. The most famous of
them are Robert le Diable (“Robert the Devil”), Les
Huguenots, Le Prophète, and L’Africaine. All have
librettos by the renowned French dramatist Eugène
Scribe (1791–1861).

mezza voce (med′dzä vô′chàe) Italian: “half
voice.” A direction to sing at less than normal vol-
ume, that is, moderately softly.

mezzo (med′dzô) Italian: “half.” 1 A shortening
of MEZZO-SOPRANO. 2 Means “moderately” when
combined with another word, such as MEZZO PIANO.

mezzo forte (med′dzô fôr′te) Italian. A direction
to sing or play moderately loudly. It is usually
abbreviated mf.

mezzo legato (med′dzô le gä′tô) Italian. A
direction to perform smoothly but more lightly than
full legato.

mezzo piano (med′dzô pyä′nô) Italian. A direc-
tion to sing or play moderately softly. It is usually
abbreviated mp.

mezzo-soprano (med′dzô sô prä′nô) Italian.
Also, mezzo (med′dzô). A woman’s voice with a
range and tone quality midway between those of an
alto and a soprano. The usual mezzo-soprano range
is from the A below middle C to the second F or G
above middle C.

mezzo staccato (med′dzô stä kä′tô) Italian.
Another term for PORTATO.

mf The abbreviation for MEZZO FORTE.

m.g. The abbreviation for main gauche (“left
hand”), used in keyboard music as a direction to
play a note or passage with the left hand.

mi (mē). In the system of naming the notes of the
scale (see SOLMIZATION), the third note of the scale
(the others being do, re, fa, sol, la, and ti).

microtone (mı̄′krə tōn′′). Any interval smaller
than one half tone, which in traditional European
and American music is the smallest interval used.
Microtones are basic to many of the scales and
modes of non-Western music, especially Asian
music, and occur in Western popular and folk
music—for example, the blue note of BLUES. Since
about 1890 a number of serious composers have
shown interest in intervals of various small sizes—
quarter tones (half of a half tone), sixth tones (one-
third of a half tone), sixteenth tones, etc. Notable
among the composers who have experimented with
microtones are Julián Carrillo of Mexico, Alois
Hába of Czechoslovakia, Krzystof Penderecki of
Poland, Hungarian-born György Ligeti, and Charles
Ives, Harry Partch, and Easley Blackwood of the
United States. Several systems of notating micro-
tones have been devised, and some special instru-
ments have been developed to perform microtonal
music, notably several types of quarter-tone piano
(see under QUARTER TONE). Among the more
recent is the zoomoozophone, invented in 1977 by
composer-performer Dean Drummond, a former
pupil of Partch’s. It is a mallet-played percussion
instrument that consists of 129 suspended aluminum
tubes tuned so as to produce 31 notes to the octave
(instead of the conventional chromatic 12). The
system of tuning used is JUST INTONATION (based on
the harmonic series).

Middle Ages See MEDIEVAL.

middle C The pitch C that is located near the cen-
ter of the piano keyboard and is written one line

fig. 157 p/u
from p. 248

Page 509

494 The Facts On File Dictionary of Music

ocarina 267
Oktavflöte 268
oliphant 268
ondes Martenot 123
ophicleide 280
organ 287
organetto 291
Orgel 292
orgue 292
orgue de barbarie 31, 292
orgue expressif 292
ottavino 294
ottoni 294
oud 294


pandoura 298
panpipes 298
Pauke 304
pedal clarinet 305
pedal clavichord 82
pedal guitar 305
pedeal harpsichord 305
pedal organ 306
pedal piano 306
percussion instruments 307
period instruments 308
piano 310
pianoforte 314
piatti 314
piccolo 315
piccolo trumpet 442
p’ipa 315
pipe 315
pipe organ 315
pitch pipe 316
player piano 317
Pommer 319
portative 332
Posaune 320
positive organ 321
post horn 321
prepared piano 61 (Cage), 313
psaltery 327
pyiba 328


qānūn 329


rabab 333
racket 333
racket bassoon 334
ratchet 336
rattle 336
Rauschpfeife 336
rebab 337
rebec 337
recorder 338
reed organ 339
regal 340
ribab 349
ribible 350
ride cymbal 350
rubebe 356
Rückpositif 357
Rührtrommel 357
Russian bassoon 357
ryúteki 156


sackbut 359
samisen 360
sansa 361
santouri 361
sarangi 361
sarod 361
saron 361
sarrusophone 361
sassofono 361
sausage bassoon 362
saw, musical 362
sax 362
saxhorn 362
saxophone 363
saxotromba 364
saxtromba 364
Schalmei 365

Schellen 365
Schellentrommel 365
Schlaginstrumente 366
serpent 375
shakuhachi 378
shamisen 378
shawm 379
sheng 379
sho 379
shofar 379
side drum 381
simphonie 381
singing saw 381
sistrum 382
sitar 382
slide guitar 384
slide trumpet 384
slit drum 384
snare drum 385
sō 210
soprano trumpet 442
sousaphone 395
spinet 313, 396
square piano 397
sruti 397
steel drum 399
steel guitar 399
street organ 31
string bass 404
stringed instruments 404
stromenti di legno 406
studio upright 313
subbass tuba 444
subcontrabass tuba 444
Synket 417
synthesizer 417
syrinx 418


tablas 419
tabor 420
taiko 420
talking drum 420
tambour 421

Page 510

Index of Instruments 495

tambour de Basque 421
tambourin 421
tambourine 421
tambour militaire 421
tambura 421
tamburo 421
tam-tam 421
tanbur 421
tanbura 442
Telharmonium 123
temple block 425
tenor cor 426
tenor drum 426
tenor horn 426
tenor saxophone 426
tenor trombone 440
tenor tuba 444
tenor viol 426
tenor violin 426
theater organ 427
theorbo 428
theremin 123
thumb piano 361
timbales 430
timbrel 430
timpani 431
tin whistle 432
tom-tom 433
Tonette 434
transposing instruments 436
transverse flute 436
Trautonium 123
triangle 437
tri-toms 439
tromba 440
tromba marina 440
trombone 440
Trommel 441

Trompete 441
trompette 441
trumpet 442
tuba 443
tub bass 444
tubular bells 444
tubular chimes 444
Turkish crescent 445
tympani 446


’ud 453
ukulele 453
union pipes 453
upright piano 313


vcl. 457
vibes 458
vibraharp 458
vibraphone 458
viele 460
vielle 460
vielle à roue 460
vihuela 460
vihuela de arco 461
vina 461
viol 462
viola 463
viola da braccio 463
viola da gamba 462, 463
viola d’amore, 463
viole 464
violin 464

violin family 466
violino 466
violon 466
violoncelle 466
violoncello 466
violone 466
virginal 466
virginals 467
vl. 468
vla. 468
vlc. 468
vll. 468


Wagner tuba 444, 472
water organ 473
whistle 474
wind instruments 475
wood block 476
woodwind instruments 476
Wurlitzer organ 123


xylophone 479


zampogna 480
zheng 480
Zimbel 481
Zink 481
zither 481
zoomoozophone 241

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