Word of the Day

Saturday, November 10, 2018

solmization

[ sol-muh-zey-shuhn, sohl- ]

noun

Music. the act, process, or system of using certain syllables, especially the sol-fa syllables, to represent the tones of the scale.

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What is the origin of solmization?

Solmization comes from French solmization, a derivative of solmiser “to (sing) sol-fa.” The system of solmization is attributed to Guido of Arezzo (c995-1049), a Benedictine monk from Arezzo, Tuscany, who also invented the staff notation used in Western music. Solmization entered English in the 18th century.

how is solmization used?

The pupil seems to gain the knowledge of intervals with the power of making them. But surely it would facilitate the labour were the knowledge of distances first instilled by means of solmization.

, "On Reading Music," The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, Vol. IX, 1827

Guido has been properly called the father of modern music, and the title is richly deserved for in addition to the so-called Guido scale, or hexachord, or solmization–or whatever you call his do-re-mi, plan or fancy–he also invented the staff lines and intervals in music, and many other methods of teaching music in use to this very day.

, "Monk Started Guido Scale 900 Years Ago in Italy," The Reading Eagle, November 14, 1965
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Friday, November 09, 2018

rococo

[ ruh-koh-koh, roh-kuh-koh ]

adjective

ornate or florid in speech, literary style, etc.

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What is the origin of rococo?

If any word looks Italian or Spanish, rococo certainly does. But in fact rococo is a French word meaning “out of style, old-fashioned” and is a humorous distortion of rocaille “pebble-work, shellwork,” which was done to excess in some 18th-century art, furniture, and architecture. The French word may have been influenced by the Italian adjective barocco “baroque.” Rococo entered English in the 19th century.

how is rococo used?

Should you contemplate purchasing a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, a “mega-genius” according to Aaron (in private), he will tell you beforehand that García Márquez “is so rococo and torporific you’ll need an insulin shot every twenty pages.”

John Nichols, On Top of Spoon Mountain, 2012

… such versions respond to perfectly legitimate concerns about what is comprehensible to a child, who might well feel ‘squashed by the words and strangled by the sentence’ … when faced by some of Kingsley’s more rococo passages …

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, "Introduction," The Water-Babies (1863) by Charles Kingsley, 2013
Thursday, November 08, 2018

volute

[ vuh-loot ]

noun

a spiral or twisted formation or object.

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What is the origin of volute?

Volute is a technical word, a noun used in architecture, ornamental decoration, and marine biology. It comes from French volute or from Latin volūta “scroll.” Volūta is a noun use of volūtus, the past participle of volvere “to turn.” Volute entered English in the late 17th century.

how is volute used?

The interior of the tiny temple was dim, and wisps of incense smoke made graceful volutes in the air.

John Maddox Roberts, SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates, 2005

My, how light this Alonso de Avila was, forced to walk on mere earth only because of the richness and gravity of his damask and jaguar-skin suits, his gold chains, and his tawny mantle decorate with a reliquary–all of it lightened, let me assure you, by the feathers in his cap and the volutes of his mustache, the wings of his face.

Carlos Fuentes, The Orange Tree, translated by Alfred Mac Adam, 1994

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