Terminology Reform

A recent writer[43] 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