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Music in the Age of Enlightenment: Keyboard Music


an economic system in which the means of production of goods are privately owned and continually reinvested to bring ever-increasing wealth to private individuals

Alberti Bass

an animation of simple triads brought about by playing the notes successively and in a pattern; a distinctive component of the style of keyboard composer Domenico Alberti

Murky Bass

German name for a rumbling octave bass, created by repeating a bass note in alternating octaves, that became a favorite technique of both Italian and German keyboard composers of the eighteenth century


original name for the piano because, unlike the harpsichord, its mechanism allowed the player to control the force of a blow to the string and thus could play piano or forte


a technique of crunching dissonant chords used by Domenico Scarlatti


a technique in keyboard playing in which the left hand must cross over the right to create an exciting three-level texture

Frederick the Great

the enlightened king of north German Prussia who transformed Berlin into a cosmopolitan capital full of art and learning

Essay on the True Art of Playing the Keyboard

the most influential instruction book for keyboard in the 18th century, written by C.P.E. Bach

Empfindsamer Stil

German for "sensitive style," the term applied to the hyper-expressivity that affected northern European, and particularly German, arts generally in the second half of the eighteenth century


German term for the vibrating sound produced by the clavichord technique of holding and "wiggling" a key up and down


an imaginative composition the exact nature of which depends on the period of origin; in earlier eras these were usually contrapuntal works; later, the term suggested an improvisatory piece in free form, or sometimes pieces incorporating preexisting themes

Bach-Abel Concerts

a series of public concerts begun in London in 1764 by J.C. Bach (son of J.S.) and another German musician, Carl Abel; the concerts featured the most recent works of Bach and Abel as well as other fashionable composers; continuing for nearly twenty years, they became a model for the public concert series in London and on the Continent

Square Piano

a small box-shape piano with strings running at right angles to the keys, which could be set upon a table or simple stand

Grand Piano

a term that first appeared in England toward the end of the eighteenth century that denoted a large piano with sturdy legs and strings running roughly in the same direction as the keys

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