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Eponymous musical glossary

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  • Charleston (dance) - Named for the city of Charleston, South Carolina, this popular dance of the 1920s featured flappers in speakeasies as a way of mocking the "drys," or citizens who supported the Prohibition amendment. It was considered quite immoral and provocative. Charleston, South Carolina, is derived from Charles Town, named after King Charles II of England.


  • Bandoneón - a free-reed instrument particularly popular in Argentina. It plays an essential role in the orquesta tipica, the tango orchestra. The bandoneón is named for its German inventor, Heinrich Band.
  • Moog synthesizer - a number of analog synthesizers designed by Robert Moog (1934 - 2005).
  • Ondes Martenot - an electronic musical instrument with a keyboard and slide invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, and originally very similar in sound to the Theremin.
  • Sarrusophone - a double-reed woodwind instrument made of brass or silver. It was named after the French bandmaster Pierre Auguste Sarrus. (1813-1876)
  • Saxophone - Woodwind instrument invented in the 1830s. It is made of brass or silver and named for Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax.
  • Stradella bass system - a keyboard system used on the bass side of many accordions. Possibly named for Italian composer Alessandro Stradella.
  • Sousaphone - bass brass instrument named for the composer John Philip Sousa.
  • Theremin - an unusual instrument that requires no physical contact to produce music. It has an array of circuitry that includes two antennas in which a player moves his or her hands. It was invented by Léon Theremin in 1919 and has an eerie sound most associated with Sci-Fi movies of the 1950s.
  • Wagner tuba - a brass instrument that combines elements of both the French horn and the tuba. Named for the German composer, Richard Wagner.


  • Jefferson Airplane - a San Francisco-based rock band that, according to band member Jorma Kaukonen, derives its name as a satire of blues names such as "Blind Lemon" Jefferson.


  • Landini cadence - named for the Italian composer and organist Francesco Landini (1325-1397). The Landini cadence was more pervasive the 14th and earlier 15th centuries, and might be described in its most characteristic form as a variation on the harmonic progression in which an unstable sixth (usually major) expands to a stable octave.

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Published - February 2009

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