A recent writer on vocal terminology makes the following statement
as an introduction to certain remarks advocating a more definite use of
terms relating to tone production by the human voice:--The correct use
of words is the most potent factor in the development of the thinker.
If this statement has any basis of fact whatsoever to support it then it
must be evident to the merest novice in musical work that the popular
use of many common terms by musicians is keeping a good many people from
clear and logical thought in a field that needs accurate thinkers very
badly! However this may be, it must be patent to all that our present
terminology is in many respects neither correct nor logical, and the
movement inaugurated by the Music Section of the National Education
Association some years ago to secure greater uniformity in the use and
definition of certain expressions should therefore not only command the
respect and commendation, but the active support of all progressive
teachers of music.
[Footnote 43: Floyd S. Muckey--Vocal Terminology, The Musician, May,
1912, p. 337.]
Let it be noted at the outset that such reforms as are advocated by the
committee will never come into general use while the rank and file of
teachers throughout the country merely approve the reports so
carefully compiled and submitted each year: these reforms will become
effective only as individual teachers make up their minds that the end
to be attained is worth the trouble of being careful to use only
correct terminology every day for a month, or three months, or a
year--whatever length of time may be necessary in order to get the new
habits fixed in mind and muscle.
The Terminology Committee was appointed by the Department of Music of
the N.E.A. in 1906 and made its first report at Los Angeles in 1907.
Since then the indefatigable chairman of the committee (Mr. Chas. I.
Rice, of Worcester, Mass.) has contributed generously of both time and
strength, and has by his annual reports to the Department set many of us
to thinking along certain new lines, and has caused some of us at any
rate to adopt in our own teaching certain changes of terminology which
have enabled us to make our work more effective.
In his first report Mr. Rice says:
Any one who has observed the teaching of school music in any
considerable number of places in this country cannot fail to have
remarked the great diversity of statement employed by different teachers
regarding the facts which we are engaged in teaching, and the equal
diversity of terminology used in teaching the symbols by which musicians
seek to record these facts. To the teacher of exact sciences our
picturesque use of the same term to describe two or more entirely
different things never ceases to be a marvel.... Thoughtful men and
women will become impressed with the untruthfulness of certain
statements and little by little change their practice. Others will
follow, influenced by example. The revolutionists will deride us for not
moving faster while the conservatives will be suspicious of any change.
At this meeting in Los Angeles a list of thirteen points was recommended
by the committee and adopted by the Music Department. These points are
given in the N.E.A. Volume of Proceedings for 1907, p. 875.
Since 1907 the committee (consisting of Chas. I. Rice, P.C. Hayden, W.B.
Kinnear, Leo R. Lewis, and Constance Barlow-Smith) have each year
selected a number of topics for discussion, and have submitted valuable
reports recommending the adoption of certain reforms. Some of the points
recommended have usually been rejected by the Department, but many of
them have been adopted and the reports of the committee have set many
teachers thinking and have made us all more careful in the use and
definition of common terms. A complete list of all points adopted by the
Department since 1907 has been made by Mr. Rice for School Music, and
this list is here reprinted from the January, 1913, number of that