Hexachord

Definitions

  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Hexachord (Mus) A series of six notes, with a semitone between the third and fourth, the other intervals being whole tones.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n hexachord In Greek music: A diatonic series of six tones.
    • n hexachord The interval of a major sixth.
    • n hexachord An instrument with six strings.
    • n hexachord In medieval music, a diatonic series of six tones, containing four whole steps and one half-step (between the third and fourth tones). The hexachord was an attempt to improve on the ancient tetrachord as a unit of musical analysis. The entire series of recognized tones, from the second G below middle C to the second E above it, was distributed among seven hexachords, beginning on G„, C‚, F‚, G‚, C, F, and G, respectively. Each hexachord was perfect in itself, and similar to every other; its tones were designated in order by the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la. (See solmization.) Any given tone was designated both by its letter name and by its syllable name in full; middle C, for example, being known as C soi-fa-ut, etc. In actual singing the solmization and the singer's conception of the tones passed from one hexachord to another as far as necessary, the process of changing being called mutation. In contrapuntal writing the most perfect possible imitation was considered to be that which occurred between analogous tones of two hexachords. The hexachord system is doubtfully attributed to Guido d'Arezzo, in the eleventh century. It continued in use until, in the eighteenth century, the octave as a unit of analysis and the modern theory of key-relationship were recognized.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Hexachord hek′sa-kord a diatonic series of six notes, having a semitone between the third and fourth.
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Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Hexa-, + Gr. string, chord: cf. F. hexacorde,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. hex, six, chordē, a string.

Usage

In literature:

This change, however, was made after the scale was divided into a system of octaves instead of hexachords.
"Critical & Historical Essays" by Edward MacDowell
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