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#1607247 - 01/28/11 07:38 AM Two peeves about terminology
Toastburn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/10
Posts: 221
Loc: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I have two current peeves about current terminology that I see in these forums and elsewhere. Am I marching to my own drum or might other readers agree with me?

1. "Scalar" According to my Shorter Oxford dictionary, and a Google search for "define:scalar", this word usually means a number, or a mathematical quantity that has only magnitude. The "wordnet" site from Princeton also has the definition "of or relating to a musical scale", but this is the only site to offer this, and does not offer a date of first use.

It seems to me that "scale" is always the proper word to be used, as in "here is a scale (-based) passage" vs. ".. scalar passage".

Why appropriate a word from another usage with a totally different meaning when the usual word "scale" will always serve adequately? To me, "scalar" sounds wrong and pompous when used in a musical context to mean a scale passage.
(btw I have a degree in maths so I know what the mathematical use of "scalar" does mean).


2. "Song" WHY DO SO MANY PPL CALL EVERY PIECE OF MUSIC A SONG???
A "Song" conventionally is a work of music for one or a few voices. For many voices it becomes a "chorus". If no voices are used then it is ipso facto an instrumental work, and can be referred to generically as a "work" , a "piece", an "opus", or specifically by whatever title the composer has given it (prelude, album leaf, impromptu, concerto, symphony, intermzzeo, rhapsody, etude, etc etc )

It really annoys me to see for example the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth called a "song"! ARGH!

OK! </rant> what do you think?
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#1607273 - 01/28/11 08:33 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I say scalic to distinguish from the mathematical definition of scalar.

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#1607274 - 01/28/11 08:34 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
“Scalar” as an adjective, avoids the dreary long-winded “ close sequence of notes in major and minor musical scales" ... most of us enjoy use of “scalar” in referring to Bach’s WTCs .

Your other beef is largely an “age” thing ... the younger generation talk of “songs” ... until they learn the Pianist Corner lore of springing an opus number (better still adding the genre, movement and measure) ... whenever I hear Beethoven’s 9th called a song, Sherlock Holmes identifies a teenager ... why not welcome them to the club?

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#1607280 - 01/28/11 08:45 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Why appropriate a word from another usage with a totally different meaning when the usual word "scale" will always serve adequately? To me, "scalar" sounds wrong and pompous when used in a musical context to mean a scale passage.

Not to me, I've used it for a very long time.



"Song" WHY DO SO MANY PPL CALL EVERY PIECE OF MUSIC A SONG???

I agree with you there.


... one more thing, and completely unrelated, I find it extremely annoying when people yell, whistle and jeer instead of simply applauding to express their approval for a performance ... as long as we're ranting here. smile
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#1607292 - 01/28/11 09:06 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
You say ee-ther And I say eye-ther
You say nee-ther And I say ny-ther;
Ee-ther, eye-ther, Nee-ther, ny-ther, ...
Let’s call the whole thing off!

Thank you brothers George and Ira.

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#1607294 - 01/28/11 09:08 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
If the performer deserves it I will applaud and cheer quite enthusiastically every once in a while. I certainly appreciate it when I'm the performer lol

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#1607391 - 01/28/11 11:01 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
BruceD Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Neither "scalar" or "scalic" exists in any music dictionary (print or on-line) that I have seen, although I still use "scalar" regularly instead of "scale-like;" I think many musicians do.

"Song" for every musical form undoubtedly comes from on-line music sources such as YouTube and iTunes. Since youth nowadays listens to and buys much - if not most - of their music from downloads, it's not surprising that the term has become ubiquitous among the younger, in spite of its total lack of precision and meaning.

Regards,


Edited by BruceD (01/28/11 11:02 AM)
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#1607394 - 01/28/11 11:03 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
I just say "scale passage"
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#1607409 - 01/28/11 11:17 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
It doesn't need to. Dictionaries record usage, they don't proscribe it ;-). I've seen scalic in a number of musical journals but I've used it myself for ages. Its formation is grammatically correct so I see no reason why I shouldn't use it just cos it's not in a dictionary.

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#1607415 - 01/28/11 11:26 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Since songs must be sung, why can't the final movement of Beethoven's 9th be, technically, a song? I agree that a piece that has no singing shouldn't be labeled a song, but when it does, calling it a song is really not erroneous. In this particular case, it was the first time a composer melded a symphony with a large chorus and soloists, so it's correct to call it both a "song" and a "symphony".
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#1607429 - 01/28/11 11:42 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Dont forget that once upon a time there were only two types of pieces. Sonatas and cantatas. Pieces that were played and pieces that were sung.

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#1607439 - 01/28/11 11:54 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: BruceD]
packa Offline
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Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1399
Loc: Dallas, TX
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Neither "scalar" or "scalic" exists in any music dictionary (print or on-line) that I have seen, although I still use "scalar" regularly instead of "scale-like;" I think many musicians do.

The OED traces the musical sense of scalar to the early part of the 20th century, so that is almost as well established as the mathematical meaning, which dates to the mid-19th century. Interestingly, the oldest and original meaning of "scalar" was "like a ladder" (17th century). Scalic is also defined in OED as relating to musical scales. The earliest citation is 1933, so it's almost as old as the documented musical sense of scalar (1928).
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#1607441 - 01/28/11 11:55 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
mathmom Offline
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Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 27
Loc: Salt Lake City, Utah
Are you serious? Not to be mean, but it's posts like these that leave me feeling like there is no place for me on these message boards. I am, what I would call, a "serious pianist for pleasure." I have played the piano since I was 8 years old and I'm now in my mid 30's. I play the piano every single day. I do not consider myself an adult beginner, although I relate much more to the tone and feeling of that forum than this one. I wish I could come here to gain insight, yet all I feel is judgement, condescension, and egotism over here. Please, I wish there was a middle forum for people like me. We could call it "amateur enthusiasts." Basically, pianist's corner without the pomp.

MM

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#1607458 - 01/28/11 12:19 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: mathmom]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: mathmom
Are you serious? Not to be mean, but it's posts like these that leave me feeling like there is no place for me on these message boards.

mathmom: There is sometimes too much judgment and pomp on this forum. But, to be honest, I don't see it on this particular thread. The tone seems perfectly friendly. Maybe this kind of nit-picking ("song" vs. "piece", OED-based digging into "scalar") isn't your cup of tea, and that's fine-- not everyone is so "notation-nerdy". Personally I happen to love it, and I hope I never discuss it in anything but a fun, non-condescending way.

As for the OP: You'll get plenty of sympathy here on "song"; it's been discussed many times before. But you'll get little sympathy on "scalar". So what if it's used in mathematics in a completely different way? Mathematicians also have their own precise definitions for "normal", "connected", and "compact", but there's no confusion with the everyday use of these words. smile

-Jason
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Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schne Mllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1607522 - 01/28/11 01:50 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: packa]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: packa
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Neither "scalar" or "scalic" exists in any music dictionary (print or on-line) that I have seen, although I still use "scalar" regularly instead of "scale-like;" I think many musicians do.

The OED traces the musical sense of scalar to the early part of the 20th century, so that is almost as well established as the mathematical meaning, which dates to the mid-19th century. Interestingly, the oldest and original meaning of "scalar" was "like a ladder" (17th century). Scalic is also defined in OED as relating to musical scales. The earliest citation is 1933, so it's almost as old as the documented musical sense of scalar (1928).


Language is a thing that changes over the years. No one talks like they did a century ago, and the same goes for the previous century. So now if a term that has been used for one thing is being applied to something completely different, how is this a problem? Is anyone confused that they mean math when they're talking scales? There are synonyms all over the place in English, and the only way to discern the meaning is to see the context of the sentence. I don't see that as a problem.
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#1607574 - 01/28/11 02:53 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
"Am I marching to my own drum or might other readers agree with me?"

Yes, some agree. Others disgree. While others, couldn't care less.

I can't speculate what the percentages are, but can only say, try to be tolerant of others. There's nothing you can do to change the world in this thread.

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#1607613 - 01/28/11 04:06 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
survivordan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/09
Posts: 844
Loc: Ohio
I use the word scalar quite often to describe a passage of music made up of a scale or scales. If that sounds pompous, egotistic, and condescending, then you've got the wrong idea.
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#1607726 - 01/28/11 07:47 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
gooddog Online   content
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Toastburn
WHY DO SO MANY PPL CALL EVERY PIECE OF MUSIC A SONG???


Ahh. One of my pet peeves. Songs are sung, but I'm beginning to think the argument is like

Sigh.
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Deborah

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#1607745 - 01/28/11 08:10 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: gooddog]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1207
Loc: London UK
I don't mind "song" so much. It's when a kid leans over the orchestra pit and says "can you dplay that track again?"

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#1607747 - 01/28/11 08:13 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 832
About the scalar thing, I don't really know anything about it.

But about people calling instrumental pieces "songs", I don't ever do it, but that's only because it ticks people off, not because it annoys me or I see anything wrong with it. I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that. Besides, there are so many different kinds of music that it gets tricky if you restrict the meaning of song to a piece of music with a singer. What about choral music, or music with choir and soloist? What about rap? What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song? What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.

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#1607752 - 01/28/11 08:31 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that.
So what are we going to call one of those pieces for voice and piano written by Schubert, Schumann, Faure, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Granados, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Copland, Barber? Those pieces which we used to call "songs"? Do we now have to call them "pieces for voice and piano"? "Song" was a perfectly good specific word for these gems of the repertoire.

*sigh*
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#1607760 - 01/28/11 08:52 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time....

This is true, meanings do change. But that hasn't happened with "song" yet, not in the classical community. By and large, almost all serious, knowledgeable classical musicians today use "song" only for sung music. If you call the Moonlight sonata a song, you will sound inexperienced and uneducated, fairly or not.

It's like using "ain't" in a job interview: people will start making assumptions about your education and level of sophistication. Because every word we use carries with it, like an aura, all of these implications and associations that go far beyond the dictionary definition of the word. In the case of "song", this isn't a snobbish thing or a bad thing. smile

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schne Mllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1607782 - 01/28/11 09:43 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
Play me that Moe's art song that has them scalicky riffs, and I ain't taking no for an answer!

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#1607812 - 01/28/11 11:53 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 945
Loc: California
Let's abolish the use of scalar in musical contexts, and instead start using scalene.

Seriously, I agree with the OP -- scalar outside of math does sound strange. Scale works fine as an adjective in my book.

Another term that's jarring when used non-mathematically is common denominator.

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#1607821 - 01/29/11 12:14 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
All this scalar, scalic, scalene ... sound very fishy!!

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#1607829 - 01/29/11 12:33 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Ferdinand]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Let's abolish the use of scalar in musical contexts, and instead start using scalene.

Seriously, I agree with the OP -- scalar outside of math does sound strange. Scale works fine as an adjective in my book.

Another term that's jarring when used non-mathematically is common denominator.

"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

But there's no reason to think we all will agree on terminology any more than on composers or pianists....

-J
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schne Mllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1607833 - 01/29/11 12:37 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: btb]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: btb
All this scalar, scalic, scalene ... sound very fishy!!
A red herring, I think, btb...
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1607841 - 01/29/11 01:03 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The big question is

why does a herring turn “red” when fried? ... and served with mash potatoes ... yum!!

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#1607845 - 01/29/11 01:11 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
If they're french, call them melodies, if theyre german call them lieder, if theyre english call them english song. Context will help.

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#1607848 - 01/29/11 01:24 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: beet31425]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 945
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Let's abolish the use of scalar in musical contexts, and instead start using scalene.

Seriously, I agree with the OP -- scalar outside of math does sound strange. Scale works fine as an adjective in my book.

Another term that's jarring when used non-mathematically is common denominator.

"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

But there's no reason to think we all will agree on terminology any more than on composers or pianists....

-J


How do you feel about "octave passage" or "broken chord passage" ?

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#1607850 - 01/29/11 01:32 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: debrucey
If they're french, call them melodies, if theyre german call them lieder, if theyre english call them english song. Context will help.
So I say "I'm working on an English song by Warlock" As an English composer did he write any songs other than English ones? A little redundant.
In the singular, Lied is not as well-known by non-German speakers as the plural Lieder. Once again, I can see the need to stop and explain what a Lied by Schubert actually is.
And melodie? Fine if you know what it is, but to many it will simply sound like you're talking about a melody=tune.
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#1607856 - 01/29/11 01:45 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Ferdinand]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: beet31425
"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

How do you feel about "octave passage" or "broken chord passage" ?

That's a good point. Those phrases don't bother me at all. And in their context, "scale passage" bothers me less.

Maybe it grates on my ears because the descriptor is just one blunt syllable. Who knows. I make no claims to consistency. smile

-J
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schne Mllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1607860 - 01/29/11 01:57 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18290
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto

But about people calling instrumental pieces "songs", I don't ever do it, but that's only because it ticks people off, not because it annoys me or I see anything wrong with it. I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that. Besides, there are so many different kinds of music that it gets tricky if you restrict the meaning of song to a piece of music with a singer. What about choral music, or music with choir and soloist? What about rap? What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song? What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


Well, then, what do we do when someone talks about a particular "song" of a composer who wrote symphonies, chamber music, piano concertos and sonatas, and operas as well as songs? Do we have to go through a whole litany of questions to find out that it wasn't a "song" at all, but some other form? A little more precision at the outset with appropriate terminology could save a lot of time.

Regards,
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#1607878 - 01/29/11 02:48 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: beet31425]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 945
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: beet31425
"scale passage" sounds terrible to me. smile I much prefer "scalar passage".

How do you feel about "octave passage" or "broken chord passage" ?

That's a good point. Those phrases don't bother me at all. And in their context, "scale passage" bothers me less.

Maybe it grates on my ears because the descriptor is just one blunt syllable. Who knows. I make no claims to consistency. smile

-J

When you put it that way, I must admit that "scalar passage" is more euphonious.
Even so, I'll stick with the other.

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#1607894 - 01/29/11 04:27 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: debrucey
If they're french, call them melodies, if theyre german call them lieder, if theyre english call them english song.
But if "song" is to mean any piece of music, then calling something "English song" just means "English piece of music", which doesn't help at all. laugh
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#1607896 - 01/29/11 04:31 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
not unless you're familiar with the phrase 'english song' referring specifically to english art song

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#1607904 - 01/29/11 05:07 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that.


Since we already had good words, like "piece", "composition", or just the word for the genre of the music, like "sonata", "nocturne", "prelude", or, heaven help me, "song", I don't see the need for a new one. The current usage of "song" to mean any piece of music doesn't help anything or really add to the language. It is just an example of language being debased as a result of technology, and that's all.

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#1607906 - 01/29/11 05:31 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
btb Offline
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Besides choking on their beer (sorry about that peevers) , are their any non-mathematicians who understand the meaning of “scalar” as used by us peasants in describing some of the note structures encountered in the WTCs of JS Bach.

But then wasn’t it some Elizabethan English Johnnie who penned “What’s in a name?” ...
and adding something about a musk-rose, or was it a geranium (some such) ... not endangering the niff of the place ... if called by “any other name.”

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#1607913 - 01/29/11 06:20 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
...What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song?


Good basic questions.

A song is a piece of music with lyrics that potentially can be sung. If you don't actually sing (i.e., vocalize the words) it, but instead perform it some other way, say by humming it or whistleing it or "ohh and ahhing" it, it's still technically a song because it still obviously has lyrics that could potentially be sung.

The melody of any given song can be virtually anything, varying widely and wildly over it's key or thru multiple keys - or practically nothing at all, as in those monkish works that consist of a single note repeated ad infinitum.

A song, of course, can be sung (when one chooses to so perform it) without any instrumental accompaniment at all, which is known by one and all as singing it a capella .

Playing an instrumental arrangement of a song is still a song because, once again, the song still has lyrics that potentially could be vocalized, and a standard arrangement will contain the complete melody composed for the song.

The instrumental accompaniment for a song is a little more difficult to pin down. Some would probably say that for the accompaniment of a song to still be considered the song it should mostly retain the melody of the song, and that when it ceases to frequently "quote" that melody it ceases to be that song.

This, of course, opens up the question about a jazz performance of a song. Here typically, after the initial quotation of the song's melody, the player proceeds into the usually extended improvisation section where the melody becomes totally left behind and completely unrecognizable. At this point the question arises about whether the performance ceases to be of the song itself. I guess since most jazz artists eventually get around to requoting the melody at the end that the entire performance could be consider one of the song. Esoteric considerations certainly - but perhaps pertinent even if somewhat stretching definitions.


Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


One can hum a complete symphony if one wishes to invest the time and effort, but it won't make it a song. If one adds lyrics to some part of a symphony then that part could be referred to as the song portion of the symphony, and could be technically performed separately as a song (or as "the song from the symphony").

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a contadiction in terms.

JF


Edited by John Frank (01/29/11 08:42 AM)
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#1607931 - 01/29/11 07:21 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
stores Offline
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I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?
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#1607946 - 01/29/11 07:47 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: BruceD]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto

But about people calling instrumental pieces "songs", I don't ever do it, but that's only because it ticks people off, not because it annoys me or I see anything wrong with it. I understand originally a song was just a piece of music featuring a singer. But language changes. You can't expect a word to mean exactly the same thing for all time. People nowadays use the word "song" to refer to a piece of music. That's what it means now. And personally I think we need a good word for that. Besides, there are so many different kinds of music that it gets tricky if you restrict the meaning of song to a piece of music with a singer. What about choral music, or music with choir and soloist? What about rap? What if you're just playing the instrumental accompaniment for a song - isn't that part of the song? What if you're playing an instrumental arrangement of a song - does it suddenly cease to be a song? What if there aren't words - if it's just humming? It's not as simple as sonata/cantata anymore.


Well, then, what do we do when someone talks about a particular "song" of a composer who wrote symphonies, chamber music, piano concertos and sonatas, and operas as well as songs? Do we have to go through a whole litany of questions to find out that it wasn't a "song" at all, but some other form? A little more precision at the outset with appropriate terminology could save a lot of time.



Not only that, there is the obvious etymological connection of "song" and "sing", which this new usage violates.

You'd think, since suddenly a certain part of the population has started referring to music such as the Chopin etudes as a "songs", that there would be a corresponding shift in the word used to describe performing that music. But it hasn't happened - so far as I know, no one here talks about "singing" that etude. I suppose we can look forward to that development next.

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#1607951 - 01/29/11 08:02 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: currawong]
ando Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong

And melodie? Fine if you know what it is, but to many it will simply sound like you're talking about a melody=tune.


But that is the the main meaning in German. I studied music at a Conservatory in Austria and that's the only sense I ever heard it used (my lessons were in German). My professor used it that way exclusively. I'm not sure what other meaning you could be referring to. My professor was famous for screaming while playing for him "Melodie herausbringen!"

In French I know it can refer to art songs from the romantic period. Is that what you are referring to?

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#1607984 - 01/29/11 09:24 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: stores]
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Originally Posted By: stores
I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?


Having studied music theory all through high school and several years of college, you have absolutely no arguments from me.

If we all speak the same language, it help us to better communicate.
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#1608154 - 01/29/11 01:50 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: TrapperJohn]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: John Frank

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a contadiction in terms.


Oh, no it isn't, anymore than "play it cantabile" .

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#1608182 - 01/29/11 02:27 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: TrapperJohn]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: John Frank
A song is a piece of music with lyrics that potentially can be sung. If you don't actually sing (i.e., vocalize the words) it, but instead perform it some other way, say by humming it or whistleing it or "ohh and ahhing" it, it's still technically a song because it still obviously has lyrics that could potentially be sung.
I don't think you've heard Rachmaninov's most famous "song".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW630zFA93Y


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/11 02:31 PM)

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#1608199 - 01/29/11 02:44 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
pianoloverus Offline
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I think at this point in time more people worldwide use the word "song" to mean any piece of music instead of the "correct" definition the OP suggested. The reasons, use of Ipod etc., have been explained a million times at PW. I'd assume that some newer dictionaries already have this as one of their definitions. Words can and do change their meaning with time.

I think that there's no reason why every piece of music has to be described with a single word as some have suggested. I'd call a song transcription just that or just "transcription". It's based on a song, but it's not a song. I'd call a work for chorus a "choral work" and not a song.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/11 02:54 PM)

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#1608203 - 01/29/11 02:49 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: landorrano]
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: John Frank

With all due respect to old Felix, a "song without words" is a cont{r}adiction in terms.


Oh, no it isn't, anymore than "play it cantabile" .


Maybe he should have called them "Instrumental Pieces in the Style or Manner of a Song (without words)" - rather clumsey I grant - or simply use the instruction as a new musical form called a "Cantabile", as in "Cantabile No. 2, Op.xxx" ...

But, looked at another way a "Song Without Words" is a song-wannabe smile

JF
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#1608210 - 01/29/11 03:01 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
KeemaNan Offline
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The iPod adverts used to bug me - the capacity was always measured in 'songs'. I don't have many songs in my collection. Apart for Winterreise, Die Schone Mullerin, and a few others.. It's mostly solo piano, chamber music and symphonies. So a 5000-song capacity was useless to me. That's why I have a cheap Sandisk player with a capacity measured in GB. I refuse to buy a music player from a company that thinks everything is a song, and that a song always lasts 3 minutes exactly.

As for scalar music - that's so last century. People in the know are all into vector and tensor music now.

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#1608215 - 01/29/11 03:09 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: stores]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
I really don't understand some people. How difficult is it to actually use the proper terminology to differentiate things? Are people so freaking lazy that they just can't be bothered?


No - they're simply freaking ignorant.


Edited by carey (01/29/11 03:10 PM)
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#1608314 - 01/29/11 05:44 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Drunk3nFist Offline
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Whenever I hear Mozart sonatas being called 'songs', I cringe..
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#1608376 - 01/29/11 07:09 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: ando]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: ando
In French I know it can refer to art songs from the romantic period. Is that what you are referring to?
That's what debrucey was referring to. He suggested that instead of calling all these vocal works "songs", one could call them specifically Lieder (German), melodie (French) or English song (English). Of course I agree they are all correct terms, but "song" also covers them all. In my experience melodie as the term for French art song is not widely known by people who aren't singers. And not always by people who are! smile
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#1608410 - 01/29/11 07:58 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: mathmom]
David-G Offline
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I have never heard "scalar" in a musical context. If I did, I would be mystified.

I am afraid that "song" for a piece of classical music leaves me cringing too.

Originally Posted By: mathmom
Are you serious? Not to be mean, but it's posts like these that leave me feeling like there is no place for me on these message boards. I am, what I would call, a "serious pianist for pleasure." I have played the piano since I was 8 years old and I'm now in my mid 30's. I play the piano every single day. I do not consider myself an adult beginner, although I relate much more to the tone and feeling of that forum than this one. I wish I could come here to gain insight, yet all I feel is judgement, condescension, and egotism over here. Please, I wish there was a middle forum for people like me. We could call it "amateur enthusiasts." Basically, pianist's corner without the pomp.

MM


MM, why do you say that? I hope you are not calling me pompous. I am just saying how I feel. I expect the other posters are too.

If people want to call pieces "songs", then they are quite at liberty to do so. But they can't help it if I don't like it.

Please don't be put off this forum. There is some interesting stuff here. Everyone's contribution is welcome.

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#1608413 - 01/29/11 08:04 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Drunk3nFist]
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted By: Drunk3nFist
Whenever I hear Mozart sonatas being called 'songs', I cringe..


They should be slapped silly and forced to listen to Cage.

Whenever I hear anything at all even slightly less than glorification or idolization with reference to Mozart I snort, sputter and swear laugh

Long live Wolfy!

JF
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#1608476 - 01/29/11 09:40 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: KeemaNan]
tomasino Offline
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Originally Posted By: KeemaNan
. . . I have a cheap Sandisk player with a capacity measured in GB. I refuse to buy a music player from a company that thinks everything is a song, and that a song always lasts 3 minutes exactly.


You are a person of true integrity. As crazy as it sounds to buy one thing or another on that basis, I sincerely applaud. I've done things like that based on some sort of principle too.

Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--and I know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of classical music--and a song is a song, and will remain so in my usage.

And I'm sorry I ever bought an ipod. Apple be damned.

Tomasino


Edited by tomasino (01/29/11 09:41 PM)
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#1608481 - 01/29/11 09:55 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: tomasino
Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.
+1 (and it's a "run" in cricket, too! smile )
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#1608582 - 01/30/11 02:52 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: KeemaNan]
Rick Offline
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Quote:
As for scalar music - that's so last century. People in the know are all into vector and tensor music now.


Now that's some funny stuff! At least for an engineer like me. Glad I quit drinking temporarily, or my screen might have gotten sprayed!


Rick (very similar to screen name)

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#1608604 - 01/30/11 04:02 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]
David-G Offline
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Originally Posted By: tomasino
Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--and I know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of classical music--and a song is a song, and will remain so in my usage.Tomasino

Very well said!

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#1608611 - 01/30/11 04:28 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]
daro Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Not only that, there is the obvious etymological connection of "song" and "sing", which this new usage violates.

You'd think, since suddenly a certain part of the population has started referring to music such as the Chopin etudes as a "songs", that there would be a corresponding shift in the word used to describe performing that music. But it hasn't happened - so far as I know, no one here talks about "singing" that etude. I suppose we can look forward to that development next.

So it sounds a little naive if people call some pieces songs; still, if people aren't "singing" the etudes, they are at least, thanks to Liszt, out there holding "recitals" and "reciting" them. Not only did people somehow manage to get over that rather egregious linguistic abomination, but today it's hard to imagine the language without that word.

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#1608627 - 01/30/11 05:48 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted By: tomasino

Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run."


Your point is then that it really is a point, but by long-standing tradition we choose not to call it by it's proper name, but instead refer to it by it's "nickname" - a run. This is sort of like our time-honored tradition of referring to taxes as "revenue enhancements" rather than by the proper name of involuntary confiscation laugh

Originally Posted By: tomasino

I understand, because like the true-blue baseball fan, I value tradition--



There are many great ones, although not necessarily including the one about bulking up on steroids and breaking records and garnering fame and fortune aided and assisted by their stategic - and hopefuuly undetected - use? smile

Just kidding - I've been a diehard baseball fan for most of my life - Go Phillies!

JF
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#1608629 - 01/30/11 05:52 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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The distinction between what something is 'technically' called (ie. its dictionary definition) and what something is commonly referred to as a nickname or whatever, is a very moot one.

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#1608675 - 01/30/11 08:45 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]
casinitaly Offline

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Originally Posted By: debrucey
The distinction between what something is 'technically' called (ie. its dictionary definition) and what something is commonly referred to as a nickname or whatever, is a very moot one.


I disagree. The distinctions are there for those who care - or for those who need the distinction.

In the first situation, I for one appreciate the nuances of word choice and if I use one word, I expect it to be interpreted with a standard meaning.

In the second - those who are speaking a second (3rd or 4th) language (any language) but who don't live in a country where it is the first language DEPEND on standard usages and can be thrown off by variants.

In the end it comes down to a) areyou speaking to people who know these common references and b)how much do you want to be sure you aren't misinterpreted?

In an international community such as this, no one can assume that what something is commony referred to in one place is going to be perfectly understood in another.
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#1608685 - 01/30/11 09:09 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
debrucey Offline
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For an analogy:

A Tannoy is a widely used word meaning public-address system, despite the fact that Tannoy is a brand name. This technical distinction doesn't matter in the majority of cases, as, through usage (which is the most important factor in the changing of language) tannoy has come to mean public-address system to most people, whoever the manufacturer may be. How people use words is far more important that what dictionaries say about them. I don't think we disagree about the multilingual implications of this however.


Edited by debrucey (01/30/11 09:14 AM)

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#1608694 - 01/30/11 09:22 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]
ando Offline
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Originally Posted By: debrucey


A Tannoy is a widely used word meaning public-address system, despite the fact that Tannoy is a brand name.


Not in Australia, I can assure you... wink

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#1608695 - 01/30/11 09:22 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: daro]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: daro
Originally Posted By: wr
Not only that, there is the obvious etymological connection of "song" and "sing", which this new usage violates.

You'd think, since suddenly a certain part of the population has started referring to music such as the Chopin etudes as a "songs", that there would be a corresponding shift in the word used to describe performing that music. But it hasn't happened - so far as I know, no one here talks about "singing" that etude. I suppose we can look forward to that development next.

So it sounds a little naive if people call some pieces songs; still, if people aren't "singing" the etudes, they are at least, thanks to Liszt, out there holding "recitals" and "reciting" them. Not only did people somehow manage to get over that rather egregious linguistic abomination, but today it's hard to imagine the language without that word.


Good point, although the "recital" thing was a bit different, in that it wasn't invented by people out of ignorance of what they were doing. At the time, the concept that one "told" a piece of music as if it were a story or epic poem was very much in the air, and so "reciting" music was not really the same sort of egregious linguistic abomination as the current usage of "song", but was a logical extension of meaning based on how people were thinking about performance.

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#1608701 - 01/30/11 09:29 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]
R0B Offline
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'Songs' are soooooo last year!

Keep up wid da program, go check out Show-pans wicked beatz! They are the dopest.
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#1608703 - 01/30/11 09:37 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
ChopinAddict Offline
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It is sad to see how the Internet (YouTube, iTunes etc.) helps propagate the wrong term "song"... Under some pieces you find "Download this song on iTunes"... crazy
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#1608704 - 01/30/11 09:40 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: debrucey]
casinitaly Offline

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Originally Posted By: debrucey
For an analogy:

A Tannoy is a widely used word meaning public-address system, despite the fact that Tannoy is a brand name. This technical distinction doesn't matter in the majority of cases, as, through usage (which is the most important factor in the changing of language) tannoy has come to mean public-address system to most people, whoever the manufacturer may be. How people use words is far more important that what dictionaries say about them. I don't think we disagree about the multilingual implications of this however.


ok... well, I'm being perfectly sincere when I tell you that I've never heard Tannoy. Ever. Today is the first time. With all due respect,your analogy doesn't work.
Kleenex might be a better analogy.

In any event, I feel there is a difference between a brand name coming to replace the dictionary definition versus a word taking on a different meaning. (and in many cases, a brand name will still only work in the country where it is most used.)

Think of the recent (fairly recent) use of "sick" to mean something is "good or nice", think of the debasement of truly powerful words such as "awesome".


The idea that what people decide a word means is more important than what it does mean takes us to Alice in Wonderland where Humpty Dumpty says that whatever he means a word to mean,is what it means. That can become a bit absurd.

Sure language evolves, it is a fact of life. However, I can only lament the blatant sacrifice of perfectly good words with clear meanings. I repeat, if one's object is to communicate, one uses the language that works for one's audience - (and I don't mean English or Italian, I mean word choice). I've used "one" because if I write "you" it sounds too personally directed and I'm speaking in general terms.


I know not everyone thinks the way I do, and I don't expect them to, I don't need anyone to be convinced (though I'd like it smile ).

Words are my business, they're important to me.
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#1608707 - 01/30/11 09:44 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: currawong]
tomasino Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: tomasino
Many times I've weighed in on this subject on PW, and made the point that in baseball, a point is never called a point--it's called a "run." And anyone who calls a "run" a "point" will be subjected to some degree of chastisement or correction by the true-blue baseball fan, as he has shown that he does not know and understand and love the hallowed traditions of baseball. Do we regard the baseball fan as being a snob because he insists a point is a "run." I don't. I understand. It's not Cricket.
+1 (and it's a "run" in cricket, too! smile )


I'm happy to stand corrected, and honor the traditional word usage of those who understand cricket.

Tomasino
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#1608708 - 01/30/11 09:50 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
R0B Offline
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#1608771 - 01/30/11 11:26 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Dave Horne Offline
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Hoovering - We were watching a British detective show and that word came up. I told my wife about Hoovering; she's Dutch and I'm not sure if they had that brand over here when she was growing up.

Hoovering is exactly like Xeroxing. I don't have a problem with that and even if I did, what can I do about it?
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#1608779 - 01/30/11 11:39 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: casinitaly]
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted By: casinitaly
...Think of the recent (fairly recent) use of "sick" to mean something is "good or nice", think of the debasement of truly powerful words such as "awesome".


That usage of "sick" has found it's way into TV advertising - the commercial for Ford's F-150 pickup has a guy saying "That's sick" to describe his delight at first seeing one...this caught me by surprise - I couldn't figure out why he was denigrating a product he seemed to like so much. My wife explained it to me.

Or take the word "bad", which has slowly had it's usage changed from an adjective meaning, well, "not good" to an adjective meaning just the opposite, or "good", and now to a noun meaning "error" or "mistake', as in "that was my bad..."

Word usage evolves - for better or (usually) worse - can it be stopped? Unlikely. Can this be protested? Most certainly, but fruitlesly.

However, if I'm wrong about this then that's bad (not good) and it's my bad... But if I'm right then that's just gotta be sick...


JF


Edited by John Frank (01/30/11 11:44 AM)
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#1608795 - 01/30/11 12:12 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
casinitaly Offline

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#1608834 - 01/30/11 01:39 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: casinitaly]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: casinitaly
In the first situation, I for one appreciate the nuances of word choice and if I use one word, I expect it to be interpreted with a standard meaning.

In the second - those who are speaking a second (3rd or 4th) language (any language) but who don't live in a country where it is the first language DEPEND on standard usages and can be thrown off by variants.

In the end it comes down to a) areyou speaking to people who know these common references and b)how much do you want to be sure you aren't misinterpreted?

Since I think the more common use of the word "song" today is to mean any piece of music (and not the way suggested in the OP), I don't think there would be any problem in confusing people whose first language isn't English. The meaning and even standard meaning of a word can change.

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#1608844 - 01/30/11 01:50 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
tomasino Offline
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The battle over "song" and "piece" is not over, at least not among classical musicians. And in any event, I'd rather be right than happy.

Tomasino
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#1608855 - 01/30/11 02:05 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: pianoloverus]
casinitaly Offline

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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
In the first situation, I for one appreciate the nuances of word choice and if I use one word, I expect it to be interpreted with a standard meaning.

In the second - those who are speaking a second (3rd or 4th) language (any language) but who don't live in a country where it is the first language DEPEND on standard usages and can be thrown off by variants.

In the end it comes down to a) areyou speaking to people who know these common references and b)how much do you want to be sure you aren't misinterpreted?

Since I think the more common use of the word "song" today is to mean any piece of music (and not the way suggested in the OP), I don't think there would be any problem in confusing people whose first language isn't English. The meaning and even standard meaning of a word can change.



I wasn't really focusing on the question at hand: song versus piece, I was looking at broader issues where perfectly good words are abandonded or put to a (to me at least) incomprehensible use.

For the record, I think a song is sung , a piece is played.
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#1609274 - 01/31/11 06:47 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Toastburn Offline
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I love the way PW threads start off on topic and then wander off on tangents! From scalar and song to Tannoys and Hoovers! And even a pic of a fried herring and mash! Love it!

I now reverse my peeve about "scalar" after reading the thoughtful replies above and thinking some more about it. I do object to "scalic" and "scalene" as I think they derive from "scaly" (as in what's on the outside of a fish), whereas scalar derives from "scale" from the Latin "scala/ae", a ladder. But I'll continue to say "scale passage" myself and promise not to be peeved whan I hear scalar.

And everybody seems to agree that calling any work of music generically a "song" is a modern youth thing probably due to iTunes/iPods/iGadgets calling everything a "song" and the usage is pretty nigh universal. I can only take some small comfort in that students starting formal musical studies at a conservatory will rapidly be told by their teachers the correct terminology to be used in formal musical language, and after graduation will fill forums like this expressing their peeve about the generic use of "song" by others... and so the wheel turns...
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#1609320 - 01/31/11 08:51 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Toastburn
]And everybody seems to agree that calling any work of music generically a "song" is a modern youth thing probably due to iTunes/iPods/iGadgets calling everything a "song" and the usage is pretty nigh universal. I can only take some small comfort in that students starting formal musical studies at a conservatory will rapidly be told by their teachers the correct terminology to be used in formal musical language, and after graduation will fill forums like this expressing their peeve about the generic use of "song" by others... and so the wheel turns...
I think it's more likely that only some of students studying music will be told by their teachers about "correct' terminology. I know music teachers today who regularly use "song" for any piece of music. I also think that the students will mostly continue to use "song" outside the classroom no matter what their teachers tell them and that fairly soon, no one will be concerned about the distinction between "song" and whatever other word you prefer.

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#1609367 - 01/31/11 10:20 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know music teachers today who regularly use "song" for any piece of music.


Now THAT is depressing !!
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#1609386 - 01/31/11 10:53 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Toastburn
[...] And everybody seems to agree that calling any work of music generically a "song" is a modern youth thing probably due to iTunes/iPods/iGadgets calling everything a "song" and the usage is pretty nigh universal. I can only take some small comfort in that students starting formal musical studies at a conservatory will rapidly be told by their teachers the correct terminology to be used in formal musical language, and after graduation will fill forums like this expressing their peeve about the generic use of "song" by others... and so the wheel turns...


Back when I was but a lad, in the day when "i" was an e.e. cummings invention...

...long before it's use was corrupted by the Apple corporation...

...when television was still black and white...

...and so were the clothes...

...and so were the horses and buggies...

...and the dinosaurs...

I called each and every piece of music I learned to play on the piano a "song." I had two piano teachers before the third one, a no-nonsense German virtuoso, broke me of that linguistic habit. I am still able to find the "song" inside of a "piece," but almost always call it a "piece," unless I feel like using the diminutive, "tune."

Just sayin' the use of "song" for "piece" has been around at least that long, and I don't think I was really ahead of the times in any way, shape, or form. smile
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#1609395 - 01/31/11 11:07 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: carey]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know music teachers today who regularly use "song" for any piece of music.


Now THAT is depressing !!
I don't think so. They just understand it's more important to communicate with teenagers in a way that is meaningful to them. I think they see the bigger picture of wanting to get them interested in classical music as being the really important thing. And I agree completely with them.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/31/11 11:08 AM)

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#1609657 - 01/31/11 04:30 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know music teachers today who regularly use "song" for any piece of music.


Now THAT is depressing !!
I don't think so. They just understand it's more important to communicate with teenagers in a way that is meaningful to them. I think they see the bigger picture of wanting to get them interested in classical music as being the really important thing. And I agree completely with them.


PL - I think I understand and appreciate where you are coming from, but IMO (as someone who also taught teenagers for a time) if you only feed teenagers what they WANT to hear, it is less likely that they will be receptive to what they SHOULD hear (i.e., proper terminology). They want to be adults - so treat them as adults. smile
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#1609942 - 01/31/11 11:12 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Cinnamonbear]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear


Just sayin' the use of "song" for "piece" has been around at least that long, and I don't think I was really ahead of the times in any way, shape, or form. smile


How old were you? I vaguely remember that very young children tend to call all music "songs", in the same way they extrapolate and generalize other words they know to cover things for which they have not yet learned the right word. Maybe that's what is happening now - the whole world is being overrun by tots.

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#1609947 - 01/31/11 11:16 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: carey]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know music teachers today who regularly use "song" for any piece of music.


Now THAT is depressing !!



I agree. And I think some teachers get pretty desperate in their attempts not to appear old-fashioned to their students, which is kind of sad.

However, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if being old-fashioned becomes a new fashion at some point. There are hints of that already, in the whole "steam-punk" thing.

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#1609950 - 01/31/11 11:24 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Dave Horne]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Hoovering - We were watching a British detective show and that word came up. I told my wife about Hoovering; she's Dutch and I'm not sure if they had that brand over here when she was growing up.

Hoovering is exactly like Xeroxing. I don't have a problem with that and even if I did, what can I do about it?



It isn't exactly like xeroxing. There may be a Xerox brand, but the word itself is from xerography, which was the name the inventor gave to the process. It comes from the Greek root xeros, meaning dry, and which he chose to distinguish it from already existing wet copying methods.

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#1609977 - 02/01/11 12:13 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: tomasino]
argerichfan Offline
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Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: tomasino

I'm happy to stand corrected, and honor the traditional word usage of those who understand cricket.

I never could properly figure out cricket (I guess I was never that British) and pace currawong, I got to the point where I didn't really care one way or the other. (And memories of pouring rain on the Worcester cricket ground.)

OTH, I love baseball, and some of my new American friends are promising to take me to a Mariners game this coming season. (But do they ever play better than the Red Sox?) Yet after proper amounts of beer, I do suppose it should be fun whatever happens. laugh
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#1610011 - 02/01/11 01:59 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: argerichfan]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
I never could properly figure out cricket (I guess I was never that British) and pace currawong, I got to the point where I didn't really care one way or the other.
Oh, I assure you I don't care one way or the other either! laugh But you have to have some excuse to spend the summer flopped on a chair with a glass of wine, haven't you!
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#1610017 - 02/01/11 02:17 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: currawong]
ChopinAddict Offline
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I am so terribly ignorant concerning sports that I should rather hide under a chair! blush
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#1610066 - 02/01/11 05:39 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
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Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Hoovering - We were watching a British detective show and that word came up. I told my wife about Hoovering; she's Dutch and I'm not sure if they had that brand over here when she was growing up.

Hoovering is exactly like Xeroxing. I don't have a problem with that and even if I did, what can I do about it?



It isn't exactly like xeroxing. There may be a Xerox brand, but the word itself is from xerography, which was the name the inventor gave to the process. It comes from the Greek root xeros, meaning dry, and which he chose to distinguish it from already existing wet copying methods.


OK, it's isn't exactly the same, it's almost exactly the same. smile
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#1610126 - 02/01/11 09:21 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
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Registered: 01/09/10
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Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear


Just sayin' the use of "song" for "piece" has been around at least that long, and I don't think I was really ahead of the times in any way, shape, or form. smile


How old were you? I vaguely remember that very young children tend to call all music "songs", in the same way they extrapolate and generalize other words they know to cover things for which they have not yet learned the right word. Maybe that's what is happening now - the whole world is being overrun by tots.



Ha-ha! Good thought, wr! I was about 8 years old, maybe 9. Old enough to know better, I suppose, but then, even coming from a family of fairly careful language users, no one had corrected me to that point, including the piano teachers! laugh

And, yes, I agree it does sometimes feel like the world is being overrun by tots. (I was going to write a rant, here, but thought better of it. I will simply shake my head in resignation and nod in agreement with you.)
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#1610141 - 02/01/11 09:50 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: wr]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3984
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Hoovering - We were watching a British detective show and that word came up. I told my wife about Hoovering; she's Dutch and I'm not sure if they had that brand over here when she was growing up.

Hoovering is exactly like Xeroxing. I don't have a problem with that and even if I did, what can I do about it?



It isn't exactly like xeroxing. There may be a Xerox brand, but the word itself is from xerography, which was the name the inventor gave to the process. It comes from the Greek root xeros, meaning dry, and which he chose to distinguish it from already existing wet copying methods.


YES, it isn't exactly the same, it's almost exactly the same. wink
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#1610147 - 02/01/11 10:01 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: Toastburn]
R0B Offline
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I'm a gonna text my m8s about this thread
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#1610180 - 02/01/11 10:57 AM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: carey]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: carey
PL - I think I understand and appreciate where you are coming from, but IMO (as someone who also taught teenagers for a time) if you only feed teenagers what they WANT to hear, it is less likely that they will be receptive to what they SHOULD hear (i.e., proper terminology). They want to be adults - so treat them as adults. smile
But your post assumes that "song" is not proper and correspondingly that words can't change meaning.

It's not as though teens want to hear "song", it's just the word they know. I think far more than teens that use this word for any piece of music.

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#1610223 - 02/01/11 12:00 PM Re: Two peeves about terminology [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: carey
PL - I think I understand and appreciate where you are coming from, but IMO (as someone who also taught teenagers for a time) if you only feed teenagers what they WANT to hear, it is less likely that they will be receptive to what they SHOULD hear (i.e., proper terminology). They want to be adults - so treat them as adults. smile
But your post assumes that "song" is not proper and correspondingly that words can't change meaning.

It's not as though teens want to hear "song", it's just the word they know. I think far more than teens that use this word for any piece of music.



PL - Both observations above are valid. Words can (and do) change meaning - for better of worse. We can either roll with it - or try to fight it if we feel so inclined.
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