A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Doubles
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DOUBLES (Fr.). The old name for 'Variations,' especially in harpsichord music. The doubles consisted of mere embellishments of the original melody, and were never accompanied by any change in the harmonies. Examples are numerous in the works of the older masters. Handel's variations on the so-called 'Harmonious Blacksmith' are called 'Doubles' in the old editions. In Couperin's 'Pièces de Clavecin,' Book i, No. 2, may be seen a dance 'Les Canaries' followed by a variation entitled 'Double des Canaries,' and two instances will also be found in Bach's English Suites, the first of which contains a 'Courante avec deux Doubles' and the sixth a sarabande with a double. The term is now entirely obsolete. (2) In combination the word 'double' is used to indicate the octave below; thus the 'double-bass' plays an octave below the ordinary bass, or violoncello; a 'double' stop on the organ is a stop of the pitch known as 16-feet pitch (see Organ), an octave below the 'unison' stops. (3) The notes in the bass octave from
are often spoken of by organ-builders as double G, double F, etc. (4) The word is applied to singers who under-study a part in a vocal work, so as to replace the regular performer in case of need.
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