Originally a form of vocal composition of 14th century
Italy, the madrigal became, in the 16th and 17th centuries, a favourite
form of part-song, stemming first from Italy. In England the madrigal became
popular in the last two decades of the 16th century in adaptations of Italian
compositions and in new works by English composers.
Maestoso (Italian: majestic) is used to suggest a
majestic manner of performance, either in mood or speed.
The Magnificat is the canticle drawn from the biblical
words attributed to the Mother of Christ, My soul doth magnify the Lord.
It forms part of the evening service of Vespers, in the Divine Office of
the Catholic liturgy, and thus appears in composed settings. As part of
the evening service of the Church of England it has similarly been subjected
to musical treatment. There are notable settings in the early 17th century
by Monteverdi and a hundred years later by Johann Sebastian Bach and by
Vivaldi, among many others.
Major (= Latin: greater) is used in musical terminology
to describe a form of scale that corresponds to the Ionian mode, the scale
on the white notes of the keyboard from C to C. The intervals between the
first note or tonic (key note) and the second, third, sixth and seventh
degrees of the major scale are described as major (that is, C to D, a major
second; C to E, a major third; C to A, a major sixth; C to B, a major seventh).
A major chord or major triad consists of a bottom note with a note a major
third above, and, optionally, a note a perfect fifth above the bottom note.
In this way the chord or triad C - E - G is described as major.
A malagueña is a Spanish dance from the region
of Málaga. The word is later used to indicate a form of Spanish
gypsy song. There is an example of the mood and rhythm of the Malagueña
in Ravelís Rapsodie espagnole.
The mandolin, a plucked string instrument similar
to the lute, exists in various forms. It has fixed metal frets and metal
strings in pairs. The prevalent method of playing is tremolando, the notes
rapidly repeated with a plectrum. It has been used in opera, notably in
Verdiís Otello and in Falstaff, and in the concert-hall in Mahlerís Seventh
and Eighth Symphonies.
The manual is a keyboard for the hands, the word
used for instruments such as the organ or harpsichord that often have more
than one keyboard. It is opposed to the pedal-board found generally on
the organ and much more rarely on the harpsichord or fortepiano.
The marimba is a form of resonating xylophone occasionally
used in the Western orchestra in compositions of the 20th century.
The Mass, the Eucharist of Catholic worship (= Latin:
Missa; Italian: Messa; French & German: Messe), has long provided texts
for musical setting. The Ordinary of the Mass, the normally recurrent parts
of the liturgy, consists of the Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy), Gloria
(Glory be to God in the highest), Credo (I believe), Sanctus (Holy, holy,
holy), Benedictus (Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord) and
the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). These are the texts most often set. The Proper
of the Mass changes from day to day, according to the season or the occasion.
The texts of the Proper are less often set, except for texts that may be
used with some frequency.
The mazurka is a Polish dance, transformed by Chopin
in some fifty piano pieces in this form.
Mean Tone Tuning
In tuning, the Mean Tone system was used for keyboard
instruments before Equal Temperament
came into general use. It provided for the pure intonation of the
key of C major and those lying near it at the expense of the more extreme
sharp and flat keys, which is the reason why remote keys were rarely used
in keyboard works, before the adoption of Equal Temperament. There
was, in the Mean Tone system, a pure F# and Bb, but these notes were out
of tune when used enharmonically as Gb and A#.
A measure is, in English, a bar, in the sense of
the music written between the vertical bar-lines written on the stave to
mark the metrical units of a piece of music.
The French art-songs of the 19th and 20th centuries
are known as mélodies, the counterpart of the German Lieder.
A melodrama is a drama with musical accompaniment
and interludes, although the word has come to have a different popular
meaning in English. In the technical sense of the word, Bizetís collaboration
with Alphonse Daudet in LíArlésienne is a melodrama, and the word
is used to describe the grave-digging scene in Beethovenís opera Fidelio.
Meno (Italian: less) is used in musical directions
to qualify other words as in meno mosso, with less movement.
Mesto (Italian: sad) is used in directions to performers
as an indication of mood, as in the slow movement of the Horn Trio of Brahms,
which is marked Adagio mesto.
Metamorphosis, change of shape, is used particularly
to describe the process of thematic metamorphosis, the transformation of
thematic elements used by composers such as Liszt, a procedure unkindly
satirised by one contemporary critic as the life and adventures of a theme.
The metronome is a device, formerly based on the
principle of the pendulum, but now controlled more often by electronic
means, which measures the equal beats of a piece of music, as a guide to
players. The metronome mark of 60 indicates one beat a second, 120 is twice
as fast and 240 twice as fast again. The principle was based on the work
of Galileo, but the most frequently found clockwork metronome was devised
in Vienna by Beethovenís contemporary and briefly his collaborator Count
Mezzo (Italian: half) is found particularly in the
compound words mezzo-forte, half loud, represented by the letters mf, and
mezzo-piano, half soft, represented by the letters mp. Mezzo can serve
as a colloquial abbreviation for mezzo-soprano, the female voice that employs
a generally lower register than a soprano and consequently is often, in
opera, given the parts of confidante, nurse or mother, secondary rôles
to the heroine, usually a soprano. The instruction mezza voce directs a
singer to sing with a controlled tone. The instruction can also occur in
Minor (= Latin: smaller) is used in musical terminology
to describe a form of scale that corresponds, in its natural form, to the
Aeolian mode, the scale on the white notes of the keyboard from A to A.
Two other forms of the minor scale are commonly used, the melodic minor
and the harmonic minor. The melodic minor scale is a form of minor scale
that uses the natural minor form descending, but sharpens the sixth and
seventh degrees ascending. The harmonic minor scale uses the natural minor
with a sharpened seventh degree ascending and descending.The intervals
between the first note or tonic (key note) and the third, sixth and seventh
degrees of the natural minor scale are described as minor (that is, C to
E flat , a minor third; C to A flat, a minor sixth; C to B flat, a minor
seventh). C to D flat forms a minor second. A minor chord or minor triad
consists of a bottom note with a note a minor third above, and, optionally,
a note a perfect fifth above the bottom note. In this way the chord or
triad C - E flat - G is described as minor.
The word minstrel has been used loosely to indicate
a musical entertainer, providing his own accompaniment to his singing.
The medieval minstrel, a secular musician, flourished between the 13th
and 15th century, generally as an itinerant singer.
A minuet (= French: menuet; German: Menuett; Italian:
minuetto) is a triple metre French dance popular from the second half of
the 17th until at least the end of the 18th century. It appears as an occasional
element of the baroque instrumental suite and later as a movement in the
pre-classical and classical symphony and allied forms, gradually replaced
by the scherzo. The minuet usually has a complementary trio, a contrasting
section in similar metre.
Miserere (Latin: have mercy) is the first word of
Psalms 50, 54 and 55, and the word appears on numerous occasions in Latin
liturgical texts. There is a famous setting of Psalm 50 (= 51 in the Hebrew
and English Psalter) by the early 17th century Italian composer Gregorio
Allegri, the property of the Papal Chapel, written down from memory by
Mozart at the age of fourteen, during his visit to Rome in 1770.
The Latin word Missa, the Catholic Mass or Eucharist,
is found in the title of many polyphonic settings of the liturgical texts.
The phrase Missa brevis, short Mass, was at first used to indicate a Mass
with shorter musical settings of the Ordinary. It later came to be used
on occasion for settings that included only the first two parts of the
ordinary of the Mass, the Kyrie and the Gloria. Mass titles, particularly
in the 16th century, are often distinguished by the musical material from
which they are derived, sacred or secular, as in Missa Adieu mes amours,
or Missa Ave Regina. The Missa Papae Marcelli, the Mass of Pope Marcellus,
is the setting of the Mass written by Palestrina, supposedly to preserve
polyphony from condemnation by the Council of Trent.
Modal scales are found in various forms. Plainchant,
the traditional music of the Catholic liturgy, makes use of eight modes,
the church modes, with names derived from very different, earlier Greek
modes. The first church mode is the Dorian, the third the Phrygian, the
fifth the Lydian and the seventh the Mixolydian. These are the so-called
authentic modes, their range from D to D, E to E, F to F and G to G respectively.
Each authentic mode has an associated plagal mode using the same final
note, but within an octave range that starts a fourth below the final and
extends a fifth above it. These plagal modes take the Greek prefix hypo-,
as in Hypodorian, Hypophrygian, Hypolydian and Hypomixolydian. Theorists
later distinguished two further pairs of authentic and plagal modes, the
Aeolian, A to A, and the Ionian, C to C. The Locrian mode, B to B, is inaccurately
named, but was early distinguished as Hyperaeolian. Early polyphony, reaching
a height of perfection in the 16th century, is modal, and its techniques
continue to be studied as modal counterpoint, a necessary element in the
training of a musician. These listed modes and a variety of other modes
may be distinguished in folk-music, while composers of the 20th century
have constructed their own synthetic scales or modes.
Because many 19th and 20th-century composers have
felt restricted by the major/minor tonal system, the diatonic modes
have been exploited for their melodic and harmonic resources. Even
while staying in the basic framework of the tonal system, modally colored
scale degrees are still possible.
Moderato (Italian: moderate) is used as an indication
of the speed to be adopted by a performer. It may be used to qualify other
adjectives, as allegro moderato, moderately fast.
Molto (Italian: much, very) is often found in directions
to performers, as in allegro molto or allegro di molto, molto vivace or
Music consisting of a single line or melody without
an accompaniment that is regarded as part of the work itself, as distinct
from polyphony and homophony.
Most folk song is also monophonic in principle, though it may often be
sung with improvised accompaniment.
Mosso (Italian: moved, agitated) is generally found
in the phrases più mosso, faster, and meno mosso, slower.
A motet is generally a choral composition for church
use but using texts that are not necessarily a part of the liturgy. It
is the Catholic equivalent of the anthem of the Church of England. Motets
appear in very different forms from the 13th century onwards.
The word motif, coined from French, is used in English
instead of the German Motiv, or English and American motive. It may be
defined as a recognisable thematic particle, a group of notes that has
a recognisable thematic character, and hence longer than a figure, the
shortest recognisable element.
Moto (Italian: motion, movement) is found in the
direction Ďcon motoí, with movement, fast. A moto perpetuo is a rapid piece
that gives the impression of perpetual motion, as in the Allegro de concert
of Paganini or the last movement of Ravelís Violin Sonata.
A movement is a section of a more extended work that
is more or less complete in itself, although occasionally movements are
linked together, either through the choice of a final inconclusive chord
or by a linking note, as in the first and second movement of Mendelssohnís
The simultaneous production of more than one tone
by wind instruments or voices. This technique, based on pitch clusters,
introduces significantly different tone colors as well.
Musica ficta (musica falsa)
Mutes (= Italian: sordino; French: sourdine; German:
Dämpfer) are used to muffle the sound of an instrument, by controlling
the vibration of the bridge on a string instrument or muffling the sound
by placing an object in the bell of a brass instrument.
A chord used by Scriabin
consisting of various types of fourth:
It occurs prominently in his tone
poem "Prometheus" op. 60 (1908-1910) and his Seventh Piano Sonata op.
64 (1911). Other, similar chords are used in his works as well.