III. Vocal quartets are so called whether accompanied by instruments or not. The 4-part songs of Mendelssohn have been mentioned. No modern oratorio is considered complete without its unaccompanied quartet, Spohr having set the fashion with his exquisite 'Blest are the departed' in the 'Last Judgment.' Modern opera is learning to dispense with concerted music, Richard Wagner having set the fashion. To enumerate the fine operatic quartets from 'Don Giovanni' to 'Faust,' would be useless. In light opera the 'Spinning-wheel' quartet in 'Marta' stands pre-eminent.
IV. The whole body of stringed instruments in the orchestra is often incorrectly spoken of as 'the Quartet,' from the fact that until the time of Beethoven the strings seldom played in other than four-part harmony. It is now the usual custom to write the parts for cello and double bass on separate staves, and in Germany these instruments are grouped apart, a practice which is decidedly unwise, seeing that the double bass requires the support of the cello to give the tone firmness, more especially the German four-stringed instrument, the tone of which is so wanting in body.
V. The term is also applied to the performers of a quartet, as well as to the composition itself.
[ F. C. ]
QUARTET, DOUBLE for 4 violins, 2 violas, and 2 cellos. This variety of quartet should bear the same relation to an octet that a double chorus bears to an 8-part chorus; the parts being divided into two separate sets of four. Spohr's three Double Quartets (Op. 65, 77, 87) are probably the only specimens in print.
[ F. C. ]
QUARTETT ASSOCIATION, THE. A society for the performance of chamber music, started in 1852 by Messrs. Sainton, Cooper, Hill, and Piatti, with such eminent artists as Sterndale Bennett, Mlle. Clauss, Mme. Pleyel, Miss Goddard, Pauer, Charles Halle, etc., at the pianoforte. They gave six concerts each season at Willis's Rooms, but ended with the third season, the time not having yet arrived for a sufficient support of chamber music by the London public. The programmes were selected with much freedom, embracing English composers—Bennett, Ellerton, Loder, Macfarren, Mellon, etc.; foreign musicians then but seldom heard—Schumann, Cherubim, Hummel, etc., and Beethoven's Posthumous Quartets. The pieces were analysed by Mr. Macfarren.
QUASI, as if—i.e. an approach to. 'Andante quasi allegretto' or 'Allegretto quasi vivace' means a little quicker than the one and not so quick as the other—answering to poco allegretto, or più tosto allegro.
QUATRE FILS AYMON, LES. An opéra comique; words by MM. Leuven and Brunswick, music by Balfe. Produced at the Opéra Comique, Paris, July 15, 1844, and at the Princess's Theatre, London, as 'The Castle of Aymon, or The Four Brothers,' in 3 acts, Nov. 20, 1844.
QUAVER (Ger. Achtelnote; Fr. Croche; Ital. Croma). A note which is half the length of a crotchet, and therefore the eighth part of a semibreve; hence the German name, which signifies, 'eighth-note.' It is written thus , its Rest being represented by .
The idea of expressing the values of notes by diversity of form has been ascribed by certain writers to De Muris (about 1340), but this is undoubtedly an error, the origin of which is traced by both Hawkins (Hist. of Music) and Fétis (art. Muris) to a work entitled 'L'antica Musica ridotta alia moderna Prattica,' by Vicentino (1555), in which it is explicitly stated that De Muris invented all the notes, from the Large to the Semiquaver. It is however certain that the longer notes were in use nearly 300 years earlier, in the time of Franco of Cologne [Notation, vol. ii, p. 470], and it seems equally clear that the introduction of the shorter kinds is of later date than the time of De Muris. The fact appears to be that the invention of the shorter notes followed the demand created by the general progress of music, a demand which may fairly be supposed to have reached its limit in the quarter-demisemiquaver, or 1 of a quaver, occasionally met with in modern music.
The Quaver, originally called Chroma or Fusa, sometimes Unca (a hook), was probably invented some time during the 15th century, for Morley (1597) says that 'there were within these 200 years' (and therefore in 1400) 'but four (notes) known or used of the musicians, those were the Long, Breve, Semibreve, and Minim'; and Thomas de Walsingham, in a MS. treatise written somewhat later (probably about 1440), and quoted by Hawkins, gives the same notes, and adds that 'of late a New character has been introduced, called a Crotchet, which would be of no use, would musicians remember that beyond the minim no subdivision ought to be made.' Franchinus Gafurius also, in his 'Practica Musicæ' (1496) quoting from Prosdocimus de Beldemandis, who flourished in the early part of the 15th century, describes the division of the minim into halves and quarters, called respectively the greater and lesser semiminim, and written in two ways, white and black (Ex. 1). The white forms of these notes soon fell into disuse, and the black ones have become the crotchet and quaver of modern music.
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The subdivision of the quaver into semiquaver and demisemiquaver followed somewhat later. Gafurius, in the work quoted above, mentions a note ⅛ of a minim in length, called by various names, and written either (symbol characters) or (symbol characters), but the true
- There were really five, including the Large, which Morley calll the Double Long.
- It is worthy of notice that in the ancient manuscript by English authors known as the Waltham Holy Cross MS., a note is mentioned, called a 'simple,' which has the value of a crotchet, but is written with a hooked stem like a modern quaver. That a note half the value of a minim should at any period have been written with a hook may help to account for the modern name crotchet, which being clearly derived from the French croc, or crochet, a hook, is somewhat anomalous as applied to the note in its present form, which has no hook.