tablature a system of music notation originally designed centuries ago for players of the lute and other instruments, popular today among folkies for notating music for fretted instruments. It uses as many lines as there are strings (six for the guitar, for instance) and numbers instead of notes to indicate the fret to be used; in early-music lute tablature, letters of the alphabet are used instead of numbers. While it's a workable system, it applies only to the particular instrument for which it's written, and has even more limitations than formal notation. However, it does simplify the complexities of writing for fretted instruments and can be of great benefit, especially if combined with real notation.

tabor (pron. "tay-bore") a small drum worn suspended from the waist. Often played with one hand while the other fingers a three-hole whistle, which is called pipe-and-tabor playing.

tacet (music notation, fr. It. "tacere", "to be silent"; also "tace", "tacciono", "tacit") an instruction calling for an instrument or instruments or voices to be silent during a particular passage.

tack piano a piano with steel tacks or similar inserted into the hammers to give a bright, percussive, metallic sound. Sometimes called honkytonk piano.

tag (also "tagline") a bit of melody and/or lyric used to end a selection. It can be one of many standard endings (such as the "shave-and-a-haircut" tag), or a repeated line from the verse or chorus, or something created for the occasion. See also coda.

tailpiece a fan-shaped device on the bodies of some stringed instruments (such as the violin and certain guitars) for anchoring the strings.

Taj Mahal (1942- ) (Henry Fredericks) a singer, guitarist, and sometimes banjo player who varies from country blues to rock and reggae music. He has been around since the folk revival in the 60s, playing clubs and festivals, and has a number of albums on Columbia, on which are favorites like "Celebrated Walking Blues" and "Statesboro Blues" (which is by Blind Willie McTell).

He teamed briefly with Cooder, Ry and Jesse Davis in the 60s in a group called "Rising Sons", and appeared in and did the soundtrack for the 1972 film "Sounder". He recorded for a few other labels after 1976, but records only occasionally now.

talkin' blues a recited poem, comic or polemic in nature, and driven along by a simple rhythmic run or chording on guitar or banjo. There are usually asides between verses. This is from the "Original Talkin' Blues" (the title may or may not be accurate):

"Wanna get to heaven, lemme tell ya how to do it,
Gotta grease your feet in a little mutton suet.
Slide on outa the devil's hand,
Ooze over to the Promised Land.
Take it easy.
Go greasy."

The talkin' blues were popular among protest writers in the 60s and 70s, although few remain today, usually because the topical subject has faded away. The songs (which you might call folk rap) have little or nothing to do with the actual blues.

talking blues see talkin' blues.

tall tales always a good subject for folk songs. A list would go on and on. Clever exaggeration gives us "The Ram of Derby", "The Crocodile", "Martin Said to his Man", "The Frozen Logger", and dozens of others. See also nonsense songs.

tambour (Fr.) a drum or drummer.

tambourin (Fr.) a tabor.

tambourine a hoop about 12" in diameter or more, with tiny cymbals loosely fastened in slots. There may or may not be a drum head stretched over the hoop. When struck with the hand or against the body, it produces a sharp, loud, jangling noise. A great favorite with bands of all types. "Timbrel" is an old word for the tambourine.

Tampa Red (1904-1981) (Hudson Woodbridge or Whittaker) a guitarist in the early Chicago blues style. He used a rhythm section, and made recordings for Blues Classics (1935-1953) and used bottleneck style for Yazoo (1928-1937). He also accompanied Rainey, Ma and Spivey, Victoria, and had a group doing hokum blues called "Hokum Jug Band".

Tanner, Gid see Skillet Lickers.

tarantella 1. A rapid, energetic dance in triple time originating in Italy. 2. The music for this dance.

taropatch an instrument like a ukelele, but larger and with four steel-string double courses. Like the uke, it seems to have Hawaiian connections through European ancestry; the name refers to the edible taro vegetable of the Hawaiian islands.

The taropatch was made by the Martin company from 1916 to 1931. It was an attempt to increase the volume of the uke, but didn't sell well because of the playing difficulty of the double courses. Martin replaced it with the concert uke, which had the larger taropatch body but the normal four strings. See tiple for another relative of the uke.

Tarriers formed in 1956, the Tarriers consisted of Darling, Erik, Arkin, Alan and Bob Carey. They had a hit in 1957 with "The Banana Boat Song", which came after the similar "Day-O" by Belafonte, Harry. The group continued performing into the 60s, with various changes of personnel, including Brickman, Marshall.

tatie (Scot., also "tattie", "tottie") potato.

tatters a morris kit made up from hundreds of small strips of cloth of various colours sewn onto a shirt and trousers.

Tawney, Cyril British sailor, folksong collector and songwriter. He is one of the few authors who can make a song sound absolutely traditional. Some of his output includes "Gray Funnel Line", "Sammy's Bar", "Sally Free and Easy", "Chicken on a Raft", and "On a Monday Morning".

Taylor, James a singer/songwriter who has been popular from the late 60s to the present. Although he's a pop musician, he's welcomed by folkies because he writes charming melodies. Unfortunately, some of his early songs contained much about personal troubles, so much so that his commercial success spawned ranks of emulative young followers belonging to what you might call the Can't Cope Cult (see navelgazers). Folk clubs in the 70s were overrun with Taylor wannabes who were somewhat lacking in musical and lyrical talent.

technician 1. A singer or instrumentalist who has mastered musical techniques is said to be a good technician. It might also be used to indicate that the performer has great technique and nothing else: "He's a good technician, but mechanical." 2. The gnomes who appear between sets at festivals and begin adjusting lights and microphones. They may be paid technicians, or they may be weekend volunteers.

temper 1. (v.) To adjust the tuning of the notes in the musical scale in use. See temperament. 2. (n.) The overall adjustment of the tuning of the scale in use.

temperament the adjustment of the relative pitch of notes in the musical scale. There have been various systems, all of them with shortcomings. There is no perfect scale.

(A note to the interested who plan on investigating the subject to any extent: there's a certain amount of conflicting material in music dictionaries, sometimes because the authors have taken one of many variants as a model for a whole system. The figures for temperament entries have been checked, but definitive answers turn out to be wiggly ones because there have been so many attempts to reach the ideal tuning. Onward.)

The system in common use is the equal-tempered scale. The octave is divided into 12 equal semitones, which solves the problem of changing keys without tuning clashes. The drawback is that the intervals created are slightly at odds with those arising from the harmonic series - everything is just slightly out of tune except the octaves. Fans of the other scale systems listed below claim to be able to hear a great improvement over the ETS out-of-tuneness, and it's certainly true that you can hear beats from an ETS piano and that some notes from the harmonic series are missing from the ETS.

For information on systems used in the past, see just intonation, meantone scale, Pythagorean scale. The "well-tempered" scale, widely believed to be the equal-tempered scale, is not that alone, but includes several of the variants explained in the Pythagorean scale entry. By Bach's time, there were a number of systems suitable for all keys ("circulating temperaments"), with fairly good agreement in the more distant keys.

For related information, see cent, comma of Pythagoras, diesis, ditone, harmonic series, microtone, natural scale, pitch discrimination, short octave, syntonic comma, twelfth root of two.

It's of interest to note that the various western scales, all of which are based more or less on the simple ratios of the harmonic series, may well be something cultural rather than any absolute musical truth. Other cultures have used scales with complex ratios, and in fact, western listeners in psychoacoustic tests have chosen as favorite intervals those that are *not* based on simple integer ratios. Alexander Wood, in his "The Physics of Music" (1944, revised 1975), said that "There is no standard imposed by nature." The interested are referred to an excellent discussion in the book "The Psychology of Music", Diana Deutsch, Academic Press, 1982.

temperance songs the various temperance movements that came and went over the past centuries in Britain and North America developed a large body of anti-drinking songs. Many survive, but only as songbook curios. There are only a few in the folk tradition, such as "Nancy Whisky", and even that one lacks the fervent moralizing so necessary for a good temperance song. "Here's to the Grog" is a much more likely sort of song among folkies.

There are parodies of temperance songs, though. "Away With Rum" is one of the best (its author seems to be unknown):

"We never eat cookies because they have yeast,
And one little bite makes a man like a beast.
Oh, can you imagine a sadder disgrace
Than a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face.

Away, away with rum, by gum, with rum by gum, with rum by gum,
Away, away with rum, by gum, the song of the Salvation Army."

tempo means how fast or how slow you play or sing a piece. The time signature refers to the rhythm and has nothing to do with the speed. Tempo is quantified in beats per minute. A metronome is calibrated in beats per minute, although there has probably never been a folk musician who used one. Music notation will often show a note, an equals sign, and the beats per minute for setting a metronome.

tenor one of the ranges of the voice; most men are tenors. The usual specified range is from an octave below middle C to the G above middle C. See also vocal ranges.

tenor banjo a four-string banjo with a shorter neck than the usual 5-string folk banjo. It's played with a flatpick and is a favorite in traditional jazz and Irish music; tunings include C G D A and G D A E. See also plectrum banjo.

tenor guitar a four-string guitar, smaller than a six-string and much larger than a ukelele and tuned somewhat higher (usually a fourth, to ADGC).

tension rod see truss rod.

tent (Scot.) watch.

tenth 1. The tenth note of the scale; that is, the octave plus two notes. For example, the E in the octave above C is the tenth in the key of C. 2. The compound interval formed by playing two notes a tenth apart.

Terkel, Studs (1912- ) a Chicago writer and broadcaster best known for his books of modern-day Americana ("Working", "American Dreams: Lost and Found", "Talking to Myself"), Studs was also involved in American folk music. He was a friend of the Almanac Singers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and many others, and recorded many of them for his radio show. Some of the performances are available on Folkways. He was the MC at the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959.

His association with the left-wing folksingers cost him his broadcasting job during the blacklist.

Terry, Sonny (1911-1986) born Saunders Terrell in Georgia, the blind harmonica player probably did more than anyone else to advance the art of harp accompaniment - his harp could produce an astounding variety of sounds. He worked alone until 1939, when he met guitarist and singer McGhee, Brownie and formed a partnership that would last until the 70s. He recorded with many other people, including Houston, Cisco and Guthrie, Woody in the famous album of traditional American songs made for Asch, Moses in the 1940s.

tessitura the range of pitch of a passage for vocal or instruments; see also compass. It's distinct from range or compass in that it implies a certain range within a larger total. For instance, a song might have a range of pitch much less than the singer, or you could be speaking of a section of a song of lesser range than the total.

tetrachord 1. A chord of four notes. The smallest would span a fourth in a diatonic system. In antiquity, larger ones could be created by combining tetrachords. 2. An ancient Greek four-stringed instrument. 3. Any four-note scale. Our familiar diatonic scale is made up of two identical tetrachords, C D E F and G A B C. 4. The interval of a fourth.

Texas Slim pseudonym of Hooker, John Lee.

thairbut, thairben (Scot.) out there, in there.

The Band starting as the Hawks in 1959, this group of Canadians backed Bob Dylan when he began performing electrified folk (although not, as often reported, at Newport '65 - that was members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band). They changed the name in the late 60s and brought out the well-known "Music From Big Pink" album. Their best-known songs are "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", both by guitarist Robbie Robertson, who is featured prominently on Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album.

thee ("you") turns up in a great number of old songs, and is still heard today in the northern areas of England. Occasionally said as "tha" ("Tha's having another pint?"). Sometimes "thee" and "you" turn up in the same sentence ("When'll I see thee again, then, you?").

theek (UK.) thatch.

theorbo (also "chitarrone") a large bass lute, usually with 14-16 courses. It has very long un fretted strings extending along the top of the neck; in the largest models they can reach a length of 160 cm. Used mainly in period pieces for accompaniment.

Theremin an electronic music instrument developed in the 1920s and still around. It uses high-frequency oscillators that are sensitive to the proximity of the player's hands, so pitch and loudness can be controlled by gestures. Its swoops and glides made it a natural for SF film sound tracks. So far, it seems to be unused in folk. However, it's interesting to note that pitch-by-gesture was used for centuries in the Gregorian chant - see Guido d'Arezzo, chironomy.

third 1. The third note of the scale, counting inclusively; eg, the note E in the key of C. 2. The interval formed by playing two notes a third apart (such as C and E together).

thirteenth 1. The thirteenth note of the scale; that is, the octave plus five notes. For example, the A in the octave above C is the thirteenth in the key of C. 2. The compound interval formed by playing two notes a thirteenth apart.

this time in morris dancing, the musicians will play the tune through once while the dancers organize themselves into lines. As the first playthrough ends, the squire calls "This time!" and the dance starts. If the dancers fumble it, other dancers in the sidelines may call "That time!"

Thompson, Richard (1949- ) UK guitarist/songwriter; see Fairport.

Thornton, Big Mama (1926-1984) (Willie Mae Thornton) a singer in the R&B tradition who worked with everyone from bar bands to McDowell, Fred to Chenier, Clifton. She had a hit in 1953 with "Hound Dog", predating its success with Elvis Presley. She recorded for Backbeat and Arhoolie.

Thorp, N. Howard (1867-?) "Jack" Thorp travelled the US southwest in 1889-90, covering 1500 miles through New Mexico and Texas. He collected cowboy songs as he went, and in 1908 published a slim book of 23 songs, "Songs of the Cowboys". It included songs still sung today, such as "Buffalo Skinners" and "Windy Bill".

In 1921 he expanded his book to 101 songs, and published his autobiography in 1945. Two musicologists, Austin and Alta Fife, elaborated greatly on "Songs of the Cowboys" in 1966, adding much annotation; their version includes a reprint of the original 1908 edition.

three finger picking the use of the right thumb and two fingers in guitar or banjo fingerpicking.

threnody a dirge or funeral song.

thumb piano a small wooden box, held in the hands, and with tuned metal strips attached to the top. The strips are plucked with the thumbs, producing a vaguely piano-like sound. Aka "kalimba".

thumbpick plucked instruments with steel strings often have a muted bass output unless the player has extraordinary fingernails. The thumbpick is a small plastic loop worn over the tip of the thumb; it greatly increases volume when fingerpicking and often allows a more precise grip. It may or may not be used in conjunction with fingerpicks.

thumbring in case you run across the word in an old song: in medieval times, rings were often worn on the thumb as well as the fingers.

thumb string folk banjos have five strings (as opposed to the four strings of the jazz tenor banjo). The fifth string, which is the highest in pitch, is on the outside next to the bass string and is usually played on the upbeat, giving the 5-string its distinctive syncopation. The string is not fretted, but drones along with the melody and any chord changes. It is usually tuned to the fifth or tonic of the key in use, and while it doesn't harmonize well with some chords, the high pitch usually keeps it from being intrusive.

Guitarists and jazz banjo players (and beginning 5-stringers) are mystified by it.

tiddler a decorated stick used for rhythmic clashing by Northwest morris dancers. They apparently are derived from the implements used by the textile workers in the northwest of England.

tie the curved line joining a note to its repetition indicates that they are to be played as one note with the total time value of the two. The tie allows notes to be played as one over an intervening bar line, and occasionally the tie can be used to create a time value difficult to notate otherwise. Sometimes called "bind" or "bound notes". If the tied notes are different, this is a slur, indicating that they are to be played smoothly.

tierce de Picardie see Picardy third.

tight said of musicians playing together when they really respond well to each other's playing. It goes well beyond being able to keep the beat and not make any mistakes - it implies a certain indefinable character based on the interaction. If you're familiar with the music and the musicians work some magic, you can say "That's tight." But if you have to ask what it means...

timber stairs (UK, also piller, "timmer") stocks, pillory.

timbre tone or sound quality.

timbrel an old word for tambourine.

time signature the numbers at the beginning of music notation are the time signature. They appear to be a fraction, but aren't. The numbers 6/8, for instance, mean six beats per measure with an eighth note getting one beat. See jig for an oddity concerning counting beats per measure.

time value the time value of a note is how long it is sounded in relation to the other notes. A bar is divided into so many beats, with particular notes (such as eighth, quarter or half notes) receiving one beat. See time signature.

tiple (Spanish, "little guitar"; pron. "tipple") a miniature guitar about the size of a ukelele, derived from South American traditions. It has ten steel strings arranged in four courses in ukelele tuning: A D F# B. The courses are strung double-triple-triple-double, and the inner string of each triple course is one octave down from its neighbors. It might have been featured prominently in a Disney film, "Honey, I Shrunk the 12-String".

It was made by the Martin company in the 1920s and was still in their catalog in 1980. While it rarely shows up in North American folk, it's a favorite with South American performers. See also taropatch for another ukelele relative.

tinker an itinerant metalworker, usually a mender of pots and pans. The tinker has many songs, usually because his access to a wide variety of houses sets up any number of stories (see also awl). A typical example would be "The Jolly Tinker", in which the mending operation is not-so-veiled sexual metaphor. The "tinker's dam" (often spelled "damn"), referring to something trivial or worthless, was a disposable barrier used to guide molten solder during repairs.

The term is occasionally used, particularly in Ireland and the UK, to refer to a member of the travelling people.

tint see tine.

tine (Scot., also "tyne") to lose. "Tint" is "lost".

tirl (UK, also "twirl") rattle. To "tirl at the pin" was to rattle the door bolt.

tocher (Scot.) a dowry.

token songs see broken token.

tonality referring to music that favors a keynote or tonic. Most music does have a key - in "The Psychology of Music", Diana Deutsch points out that despite the vast differences in musics around the world, the urge to return to that keynote, or at least hover around it, is pretty much universal. Opposite atonal.

tone 1. The common scale is made up of two basic units of pitch difference, the tone and the semitone. The tone is the difference between, say, C and D, or F and G notes (the multiplier for the frequency increase is about 1.1225). The semitone is half of a whole tone. See twelfth root of two for the arithmetic of the multiplier.

The above applies to our current equal-tempered scale. For older systems, see temperament for references to their derivation.

It's important to realize that "note" and "tone" are not synonyms when it comes to discussing scales or music theory. Notes are sounds of a definite pitch, while tones are the frequency difference between notes. Thus C and D are notes, while the distance between them is a tone. Similarly, the three notes C-D-E enclose two tones.

2. (general usage) The quality of a sound - whether it's "pure", "buzzy", "bassy" or whatever. Properly called "timbre". 3. Any sound of a definite pitch. This seems to conflict with what was said in #1 above, but it depends on context. In entries that discuss temperament, the difference between "note" and "tone" is important.

tonic the first note of the scale, the keynote. Often used incorrectly as a synonym for root. Common sense says that it should be pronounced "tone-ick", but people say it as if you put gin in it. See also progression.

tonic minor a minor key with the same name as a major; for example, C minor is the tonic minor to C major. Also called parallel minor.

tonic sol-fa various methods of teaching singing to those who would like to be able to sing without learning all about notation (they were supposed to learn the notation eventually, but didn't always). In general, the tonic note is assigned the name "do" and it uses the do-re-mis. See also sol-fa sense 2, Guido d'Arezzo.

topical songs see also protest. Any song written as a comment on any current subject, such as politics, disasters, or perceived nonsense in a culture. Many traditional songs were topical songs and have survived, but the usual fate is for the songs to fade away as the topic is forgotten.

top strings the phrase refers to pitch, not physical location. The top strings on a guitar, for instance, are at the bottom when the instrument is held in the playing position.

tough a rarely-used term that has a loose but complimentary meaning. It's somewhat like funky - a skillfully-done sound with a bit of edge to it.

toun (Scot., also "toon") a farm, hamlet, or town, depending on the context.

Townsend, Graham many-time winners of major fiddle contests, Graham (1942- ) and his wife Eleanor (1944- ) have recorded many albums of Canadian fiddle music. Their styles encompass a number of fiddle traditions and are remarkably smooth. They were members of maple Sugar, formed in the 70s and specializing in Canadian music, stepdancing, etc.

tr (music notation) a symbol calling for a trill.

track 1. A selection on an LP or CD. 2. Almost all recordings are made with a tape recorder that can record from 4 to 24 individual tracks (channels) (compare with stereo from the floor). This allows the vocals, the instruments and any effects (such as reverberation) to be mixed together in the final stereo mixdown with almost complete control of the balance. This is generally done under the supervision of the producer with comments from the performers. It isn't always done to the satisfaction of folkies - see rock mixers. 3. See also lining track.

traddie (adj.) traditional folk music. It's a difficult term to explain, since traditional fans often include the music of certain contemporary songwriters. In general, it refers to melodies and performance styles from a country's past. It can also refer to a person interested in this; see traddies below.

traddies folk fans interested mainly in traditional music, and usually experts on the topic. The term is generally affectionate, but can be used pejoratively, as in "Those traddies just want to burn all the electric instruments." Traddies in the latter definition are often referred to as folk Nazis. Traddies who dislike change of any kind are occasionally called moldy figs.

train songs trains have been a tremendous source of inspiration for songmakers, particularly in the US. The train was the primary method of transport and had a profound effect, both on individuals and the country's development.

Whole books could be written (and have been) on train songs. Train wrecks figured prominently ("Wreck of the Old 97", below), as did the engineers ( Casey Jones). The train was also a means of escape, or at least something would-be escapers dreamed about ("Midnight Special" refers to prison inmates, but could be for anybody who's stuck anywhere). The person who did make the break was often struck with loneliness ("900 Miles").

A typical train wreck song, and a good example of the folk process, is "The Wreck of the Old 97". It's based on a wreck that happened in 1903 near White Oak Mountain, Virginia. Vernon Dalhart had a huge hit with the song in 1924, although authorship was never established (despite litigation). The tune is based indirectly on Work's "Ship That Never Returned" (see Work, Henry Clay), being closer to a parody of Work's song called "The Lovers That Never Returned". This accounts for the tacked-on feeling of the last verse, the one about "Ladies, you can all take warning, from this time on and learn...", which is directly from the parody. There are so many versions of this one that the words often get garbled. "Wide Open Mountain" and "lost his average" often appear instead of "White Oak" and "airbrakes".

If you get the impression that the turn of the century was jam-packed with train wrecks, you're right. The equipment was less than high-tech and they lacked the electrical signaling system that came later.

Since the railroads are no longer singularly important, modern songs about trains tend to concentrate more on their winding down than anything, with Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans" (1970) a prime example.

transcriptions the writing down of pieces of music, often for a different instrument or instruments than in the original. In the 60s and 70s, songbooks of folk music were quite popular, but the work of transcribing the songs was obviously turned over to someone who knew nothing about the tradition, since they were usually set for piano in awkward keys for folk instruments. The old modal tunes were often crammed into a minor key and given chords that barely worked. The lyrics were often garbled, which would indicate that they were taken down from a recording. The situation has greatly improved.

transports in the 18th and 19th centuries, the English got the idea that they could solve problems of crime and overcrowding by shipping "criminals" off to Australia and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). Many people received the sentence of transportation for small misdemeanors. There is a large body of songs from the transported, detailing the hardships of the new life that had been forced on them. Transportation was stopped by Australia one area at a time between 1840 and 1868.

"The Transports" is also the name of a musical production by Bellamy, Peter. It's sometimes called a "folk opera".

transpose to write down or play a piece in a different key from the original.

transposing instrument transposing instruments sound in a different pitch from the one notated - the reason for this is usually to simplify the instrument's notation. For instance, the only folk instrument that uses transposition is the guitar: it sounds one octave lower than the written music. This moves its range onto the middle of the treble staff, eliminating the bass staff. It goes somewhat above and below the staff, but this is easily accommodated with leger lines.

See also notation, guitar.

transpose on-the-fly to read a piece of music in one key and play it in another. Not a bad technical feat.

transverse a transverse instrument, such as a flute or fife, is held out to the side, as opposed to the whistle, which is held in a straight-ahead position. Also called "cross".

Traum, Happy (1939- ) with his brother Artie, Happy started in the NYC folk revival of the late 50s and early 60s. Both are known as singers, songwriters, and guitarists. Happy produced a series of guitar tutorials using books and tapes, and was the editor of Sing Out! in the late 60s. He has a number of albums and has done much backup work for other performers.

Travellers Canada's most enduring folk group - although it has been through many changes of personnel, it's currently 41 years old, having been formed in 1953. They were modelled after the Weavers. Their best-known song is probably the Canadianized version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land"; one of them explained in an interview that they heard Woody's version in the mid-50s and were told that nobody was doing it south of the border because of the blacklist. They wrote in some Canadian names and began popularizing the song in Canada.

They have played everywhere by now, and have about 15 albums.

travelling people can refer to Gypsies, or to any of the nomadic peoples of the UK and Ireland (the latter are usually known as "tinkers"). Folk songs about them reveal that they have never been treated particularly well, but at present (1994), a woman of the Irish travelling people has been elected to a political position, and says she will spend much time in an effort to increase the awareness of the situation.

In 17th century Scotland, the Gypsies came under a death sentence unless they left (see historical accuracy for "The Gypsy Laddies", a song that derives from this). The above-mentioned politician said that even today, the travelling people are often banned from pubs.

A famous song about the travelling people is "Farewell to the Thirty Foot Trailer", by MacColl, Ewan. Another is "When the Yellow's on the Broom" by Scotland's Adam MacNaughton.

Travis, Merle (1917-1983) Kentucky singer/songwriter/guitarist who mixed folk, country, jazz and pop into his masterful guitar playing and songwriting. His thumb-and-finger guitar style, using a damped staccato bass and jazz chords, became known as Travis picking; it was learned from, or at least initiated by, a guitar teacher named Mose Rager, who also taught Ike Everly, father of the {Everly Brothers}. His songs include "Dark as a Dungeon", "No Vacancy", and "Sixteen Tons"; he also popularized songs such as "Nine Pound Hammer", "John Henry", and "I Am a Pilgrim".

Travis picking (from Travis, Merle) often incorrectly applied to any type of fingerpicking, Travis picking often uses damping to mute the bass strings for a staccato effect, and includes some rather difficult jazz chords. The player uses the righthand thumb and index finger (and can add the middle finger, although Merle didn't).

treble 1. Sounds of a high pitch. Technically, at least with regards to sound equipment, sounds with a frequency above 1,000 hertz, since this is the usual frequency where the bass and treble EQ curves meet ("crossover point"). 2. The higher register or registers of an instrument. Opposite bass. 3. (v.) To play a note rapidly three times with the same time value as one; a common ornament in fiddle tunes. Sometimes confused with triplet. See also staff.

tree (UK) the word is often used to mean wood. "Treen" refers to small objects made of wood - kitchen implements, boxes, etc.

tremolo 1. To play a note or chord over and over rapidly. This is a common technique among mandolin players and classical guitar players. 2. In instrument amplifiers, to rapidly vary the loudness of a note or chord up and down by means of an electronic volume control with an adjustable rate. Tremolo and vibrato are often confused.

triad a chord made up of three notes. The major triad is the basic building block in chord structures; it is built on the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale. A C Major triad, for instance, would contain C, E and G. See also major chord.

trill the trill or shake is an ornament, consisting of rapid alternation of adjacent notes: for instance, to trill on a C note, you would play C-D-C-D-C over and over. In notation, the symbol is "tr".

triple with regards to rhythm and meter, triple rhythms have a number of beats per measure that's based on three: 3/2, 3/8, etc. See also simple meter, compound meter. The other type of basic meter is duple.

triplet three notes (or the equivalent) in the time allotted for two. The notes are tied and the number "3" is printed over them. Sometimes confused with treble. See quadruplet for related information on the playing of these.

tritone an augmented fourth, such as C to F#, which encompasses three full tones. If you sound C and F# together, the effect is somewhat sour. In medieval times when the rules of music were much tighter, the tritone was called "diabolus in musica" - the "devil in music". It's common today; for instance, the D7 chord (D-A-C-F#) contains an obvious C-F# tritone.

Musical dictionaries of the 18th century also refer to it as a "false fifth" or "lesser fifth".

trochaic see foot.

troubadour see minstrel.

trouvere see minstrel.

truss rod (also "tension rod") a steel rod or bar in the neck of a guitar to offset the tension of the strings (see below) and prevent the neck from curving more than a preset amount (some tilt upward, or sweep, is normal to prevent buzzing of the strings). Some models are adjustable. They are not for adjusting the action, as is commonly thought, and adjustment requires a certain amount of skill.

The tension in a steel, medium- gauge six-string set is 82.1 kg (181 pounds) with a scale length of 64.8 cm (25 1/2"), according to the D'Addario string company.

Tubb, Ernest (1914-1984) a Texas C&W singer with roots in old-timey music. He spent 40 years with the Grand Ole Opry and headlined the first country show to play Carnegie Hall.

tune 1. (n.) synonymous with melody - the variations in the notes of a musical selection. See parts of music. 2. (v.) to adjust the pitch of the notes of a musical instrument (see also tuning systems. 3. (n.) a song or instrumental.

Collectors are fond of telling the anecdote of an elderly laborer who said, "I used to be reckoned a good singer until these here *tunes* came in."

tuner 1. Any tuning aid that can be used to set an instrument to a standard (see pitch). These include the tuning fork, the harmonica, the pitch pipe and the electronic tuner. The last is popular: a microphone in the unit picks up the instrument's note, a circuit decides what it is, and a display indicates how sharp or how flat it is. Singers in the a cappella style prefer the pitch pipe for ease of use. 2. A small thumbscrew on members of the violin family or other instruments, used to make fine adjustments to the tuning without fooling with the friction pegs, which are fairly coarse in their action. Located in the tailpiece. 3. Any tuning peg on any stringed instrument. 4. (UK) A loom maintainer.

tuning fork a bifurcated metal strip that when tapped produces a note of standard or concert pitch, usually A440. It is amplified by holding it against the instrument body, or for those with solid dental work, in the teeth. Still in use for tuning instruments, but is largely being replaced by the electronic tuner.

tuning jokes small stringed instruments are plagued with pitch drift, and the musicians who play them are plagued with not being able to fix this in a hurry. This inevitably means that the flustered musician will emit a tuning joke to cover the twanging.

The worst of them, and the most repeated, are along the lines of "This is an old Chinese song - Tu Ning", or "Close enough for folk". Everyone everywhere has heard every possible tuning joke. The best of them is one reserved for musicians who have had considerable commercial success: "By the time I realized I didn't know how to tune, I was making too much money to quit."

The worst possible tuning mess occurs when a string band asks someone with a fixed-pitch instrument (such as a concertina) to sit in with them. They discover that they're at a different pitch from the concertina and have to tune to it. The blitz begins.

tuning systems see cent, comma of Pythagoras. equal-tempered scale, harmonic series, just intonation, meantone scale, natural scale, pitch, Pythagorean scale, temperament.

turn (also "gruppetto") an ornament that replaces one note with four or more short ones that add to the same time value; one way to decorate a C note, for instance, is to play a rapid D-C-B-C. There are small variations on this, depending on whether you're replacing the note or adding to it. The symbol for the turn looks something like a backwards "S" on its side.

turnaround a snippet of a tune used as an intro to the main tune or song, or as fill between verses. For instance, if you're starting "Red River Valley", the fiddle might play the tune that goes with the words "and the girl who has loved you so true" as an intro.

Turner, Gil (1933-1974) guitar and banjo player, and one of the founders of Broadside magazine. He was a force in bringing to the fore the new songs of Dylan, Ochs, etc. He performed all across the US and made a number of albums, as well as helping to organize the 1970 tribute to Woody Guthrie held at the Hollywood Bowl.

Turner, Joe (1911- ) a Kansas blues singer who recorded for Atlantic in the 50s and had an influence on the development of R&B. One of his songs, "Shake, Rattle and Roll" was a standard with 50s rock-and-roll bands.

twa (Scot.) two.

twelfth 1. The twelfth note of the scale; that is, the octave plus four notes. For example, the G in the octave above C is the twelfth in the key of C. 2. The compound interval formed by playing two notes a twelfth apart.

twelfth night January 6, or twelve nights after Christmas. Formally known as the Feast of the Epiphany.

twelfth root of two the mysterious multiplier for getting from one semitone to the next that always turns up in discussions of the equal-tempered scale. It's not always explained, but it's not that complicated:

The octave in the ETS is divided into 12 equal semitones (see also cent). To find the multiplier that will give us the pitch increase from one semitone to another, we need a number that when multiplied by itself 12 times will give 2, since the octave is a doubling of the pitch. The caret (^) signifies an exponent:

     x12 = 2 (x^12 = 2)
     x = 12th root of 2

The easy way to solve that is to use a calculator to raise 2 to the 1/12 power. The answer to eight places is 1.05946309. So, for a C note of 1 Hz, the scale progression becomes:

     C  =  1
     C# =  1.05946
     D  =  1.12246

And so on. Note that one semitone increase is a pitch increase of about 5.95%, and that one tone is the 6th root of two, or 1.12246. To go down in pitch, take the reciprocal. Actual musical frequencies can be calculated by taking A above middle C as 440 Hz, or you can look them up under the equal-tempered scale entry.

It's of interest to note that the equal-tempered scale took quite a while to spread since its appearance about the 15th century. One of the reasons is that the math of the time had no means of extracting roots that complicated, so early attempts at equal tempering had to be by trial and error. Even when the scale was worked out, it didn't become universal until about the 19th century; the meantone scale and variations on the Pythagorean scale took a long time to die out (and are now making a comeback thanks to period musicians).

twelve-string guitar see guitar.

twin (Scot., also "twine") to cut, separate, as in "he took out his wee penknife, and he twined her o' her life".

twirl (UK) tirl.

Tyburn Hill a place in London, the site of many public executions over the centuries. "Tyburn Tree" was an enormous gallows for multiple hangings; according to 18th-century accounts, prisoners used to be taken there in a cart, as was the famous Sam Hall (see song family).

Tyson, Ian (1933- ) 50% of Ian & Sylvia.

Tyson, Sylvia (1940- ) the other 50% of Ian & Sylvia.

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URL: http://www.folklib.net/folkfile/t.shtml
Created by Bill Markwick (1945-2017)

The Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary Copyright © 1993-2009 Bill Markwick, All Rights Reserved.