This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Spot the Frippet: diapente.

The Greek dia means through, and pente means five.

So, diapente: five what?

Well, five nothing, as it happens. This is because musicians are rubbish at counting. 

For example: if you start at your thumb (and assuming your name isn't Frodo) how many steps, finger to finger, does it take to get to your pinkie?

Full marks if you said four - but musicians will say five because they count the beginning of a series as one.

A diapente is a distance of musical jump. If you jump up from doh a diapente jump takes you up to so, which, if we count them (starting on doh, right?) goes ray me fa so, or a jump of four notes. 

(Not wishing to complicate things, but if you count all the notes on a piano from the sound doh to the sound so, including the black ones, then it's a jump of seven notes.) 

Anyway, diapentes can be found near the beginning of Baa Baa Black Sheep or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: the jump from the second Baa to Black, or the first kle to the second Twin are both diapentes. It's the beginning of Also Sprach Zarathustra, too.

You can also hear the two notes of a diapente by playing two next-door violin strings.

(In a diapente, the notes can be sounded at the same time, or one after the other.)

For the hitherto unmusical, stretch an elastic band round a book, then wedge a couple of pencils under the elastic band, one at either end of one face of the book. Now twang the band between the pencils. No, twang it more softly, so you get a note. Okay? Now wedge another pencil under the band exactly a third of the way from one of the end pencils to the other. Now press a finger down hard on this middle pencil and twang the longer bit of the elastic band: hey presto, the difference between the first note and the second is a diapente!

Neat, huh? So: can you play the beginning of Twinkle Twinkle?

Happy twanging!

Spot the Frippet: diapente. This word comes from the Greek phrase dia pente khordōn sumphōnia, which means concord through five notes.

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