contralto (n.)

"voice intermediary between the soprano and the tenor, lowest female voice," 1730, contralt, from Italian contralto, from contra, from Latin contra "against, opposite" (see contra) + alto (see alto). As "person with a contralto voice," 1776; as an adjective, 1769.

In medieval music, in which the melody was either in a middle voice or passed from one voice to another, and which utilized only male singers, the upper voice was naturally called altus. As music for mixed voices developed, that female voice which was nearest the altus, and thus most contrasted with it, was called contr' alto. [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more 
musette (n.)

late 14c., "small bagpipe," from Old French musette "bagpipe" (13c.), from muser "to play the bagpipe, make music," from mus "mouth, muzzle," from Medieval Latin musum (see muzzle (n.)). By 1788 as "a composition for or as though for a musette," a quiet pastoral melody, usually in imitation of a bagpipe, from this sense in French.

MUSETTE. The name of an air generally written in common-time, and the character of which is always soft and sweet. From the style of this air, dances were formerly invented of a similar cast, and which were also called Musettes. Musette was also the name formerly given to a small kind of bagpipe much used in most countries of Europe, the performers on which were called Musars. [Thomas Busby, "A Complete Dictionary of Music," 1806]
Related entries & more 
overcome (v.)

Old English ofercuman "to reach, overtake, move or pass over," also "to conquer, prevail over, defeat in combat" (the Devil, evil spirits, sin, temptation, etc.), from ofer (see over) + cuman "to come" (see come (v.)). A common Germanic compound (Middle Dutch overkomen, Old High German ubarqueman, German überkommen).

In reference to mental or chemical force, "to overwhelm, render helpless," it is in late Old English. Meaning "to surmount (a difficulty or obstacle); succeed, be successful" is from c. 1200. The Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" was put together c. 1950s from the lyrics of Charles Tindley's spiritual "I'll Overcome Some Day" (1901) and the melody from the pre-Civil War spiritual "No More Auction Block for Me." Related: Overcame; overcoming.

Related entries & more 
Edda (n.)
1771, by some identified with the name of the old woman (literally "grandmother") in the Old Norse poem "Rigsþul," by others derived from Old Norse oðr "spirit, mind, passion, song, poetry" (cognate with Old Irish faith "poet," Welsh gwawd "poem," Old English woþ "sound, melody, song," Latin vates "seer, soothsayer;" see wood (adj.)).

It is the name given in Icelandic c. 1300, by whom it is not known, to two Icelandic books, the first a miscellany of poetry, mythology, and grammar by Snorri Sturluson (d.1241), since 1642 called the Younger or Prose Edda; and a c. 1200 collection of ancient Germanic poetry and religious tales, called the Elder or Poetic Edda. Related: Eddaic; Eddic.
Related entries & more 
descant (n.)

c. 1400, deschaunt, "a counterpoint added to a given melody," from Anglo-French deschaunt, Old French deschant, from Medieval Latin discantus "refrain, part-song," from Latin dis- "asunder, apart" (see dis-) + cantus "song, a singing; bird-song," from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").

The English spelling was partly Latinized in 16c., but it is an exception for its retention of des- in English. It is attested from 1560s in the sense of "the art of composing part-music," also "the upper part or voice." It is attested from 1570s as "a warbled song, a song with various modulations." The transferred sense of "a continued discourse or series of comments on a subject" is recorded from 1590s.

A metaphor taken from musick, where a simple air is made the subject of a composition, and a number of ornamented variations composed upon it. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
Related entries & more 
alto (n.)

1784, "man with an alto voice," literally "high," from Italian alto (canto), from Latin altus "high," literally "grown tall," from PIE root *al- (2) "to grow, nourish." Originally a man's high voice; now more commonly applied to the lower range of women's voices (which is more strictly the contralto), an extension recorded by 1848. So called because higher than the tenor, which in old music had the melody.

The alto in a man is totally distinct from the contralto in a woman. The tone is utterly different — the best notes of the one are certainly not the best notes of the other; and although in certain cases a contralto may sing with good effect music written for a male alto (e.g. in some oratorios), yet the converse is scarcely ever true. ["How to Sing," 1890]

As a type of saxophone, from 1869. Also an old name for the viola (1833), from Italian.

Related entries & more 
grace (n.)

late 12c., "God's unmerited favor, love, or help," from Old French grace "pardon, divine grace, mercy; favor, thanks; elegance, virtue" (12c., Modern French grâce), from Latin gratia "favor, esteem, regard; pleasing quality, good will, gratitude" (source of Italian grazia, Spanish gracia; in Church use translating Greek kharisma), from gratus "pleasing, agreeable" (from PIE *gwreto-, suffixed form of root *gwere- (2) "to favor").

Sense of "virtue" is early 14c., that of "beauty of form or movement, pleasing quality" is mid-14c. In classical sense, "one of the three sister goddesses (Latin Gratiæ, Greek Kharites), bestowers of beauty and charm," it is first recorded in English 1579 in Spenser. In music, "an embellishment not essential to the melody or harmony," 1650s. As the name of the short prayer that is said before or after a meal (early 13c.; until 16c. usually graces) it has a sense of "gratitude." As a title of honor, c. 1500.

Related entries & more 
note (n.)

c. 1300, "a song, music, melody; instrumental music; a bird-song; a musical note of a definite pitch," from Old French note and directly from Latin nota "letter, character, note," originally "a mark, sign, means of recognition," which traditionally has been connected to notus, past participle of noscere "to come to know," but de Vaan reports this is "impossible," and with no attractive alternative explanation, it is of unknown origin.

Meaning "notice, attention" is from early 14c.; that of "reputation, fame" is from late 14c. From late 14c. as "mark, sign, or token by which a thing may be known." From late 14c. as "a sign by which a musical tone is represented to the eye." Meaning "a brief written abstract of facts" is from 1540s; meaning "a short, informal written communication" is from 1590s. From 1550s as "a mark in the margin of a book calling attention to something in the text," hence "a statement subsidiary to the text adding or elucidating something." From 1680s as "a paper acknowledging a debts, etc." In perfumery, "a basic component of a fragrance which gives it its character," by 1905.

Related entries & more 
Anacreontic (adj.)

"of or in the manner of Anacreon," the "convivial bard of Greece," celebrated lyrical poet (560-478 B.C.E.), born at Teos in Ionia. Also in reference to his lyric form (1706) of a four-line stanza, rhymed alternately, each line with four beats (three trochees and a long syllable), also "convivial and amatory" (1801); and "an erotic poem celebrating love and wine" (1650s).

The name is literally "Up-lord," from ana "up" (see ana-) + kreon "lord, master," which Beekes calls "an inherited word from Indo-European poetic language," from PIE *kreih- "splendor," and he compares Sanskrit sri- "magnificence, riches, splendor, fame."

U.S. lawyer and writer Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) in 1814 set or wrote his poem "The Star-Spangled Banner" to the melody of the drinking song of the popular London gentleman's club called The Anacreontic Society, dedicated to "wit, harmony, and the god of wine." The tune is late 18c. and may be the work of society member and court musician John Stafford Smith (1750-1836).

Related entries & more 
ragtime (n.)

also rag-time, "syncopated, jazzy piano music," 1896, perhaps from rag "dance ball" (1895, American English dialect), or a shortening of ragged, in reference to the syncopated melody. Rag (n.) "ragtime dance tune" is from 1897.

If rag-time was called tempo di raga or rague-temps it might win honor more speedily. ... What the derivation of the word is[,] I have not the faintest idea. The negroes call their clog-dancing "ragging" and the dance a "rag." [Rupert Hughes, Boston Musical Record, April 1900]
Conceive the futility of trying to reduce the intangible ragness to a strict system of misbegotten grace notes and untimely rests! In attempting to perfect, and simplify, art is destroying the unhampered spirit in which consists the whole beauty of rag-time music. The very essence of rag-time is that it shall lack all art, depending for the spirit to be infused more upon the performer than upon the composer himself. [Yale Literary Magazine, June 1899]
Her first "rag-time" was "The Bully," in which she made great sport by bringing a little coloured boy on the stage with her. Miss [May] Irwin says the way to learn to sing "rag-time" is to catch a negro and study him. [Lewis C. Strang, "Famous Actresses of the Day in America," Boston, 1899]
Related entries & more 

Page 4