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Music Term: Foot

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1-9

Foot


Definition and background:

A unit of two or three syllables in classic Latin and Greek verse. A verse consisted of anywhere between two and six feet, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter and hexameter. The main types of foot are the iamb (short - long), trochee (long - short), anapest (short - short - long), dachtyl (long - short - short), spondee (long - long), and the tribrach (short - short - short). The verse types were named according to the type of foot and the number of feet in each line. (See Prosody) In organ building, the foot is a measure of the pitch at which a pipe sounds. An open flu pipe sounding the pitch " C" (two octaves below middle C) actually measures about 8 foot in length. This pipe represents all pipes, regardless of their actual length, that sound the pitch directly corresponding to the key pressed. So, pressing the " C" key (two octaves below middle C) will produce that specific pitch. If the pitch produced by that key is an octave lower, the pipe would be twice as long, or 16 foot and if the pitch is an octave higher, the pipe would be half as long, or 4 foot. unit of measure of organ pipes

The foot is used in the traditional convention used to denote the nominal sizes of brass instruments and to distinguish between one instrument and another of the same nominal pitch but of double or half the tube length. Common examples the approximate length of the basic tube are: 21/4-ft B-flat, 21/2-ft A, 21/4-ft G, 3-ft F, 31/4-ft E-flat, 31/2-ft D, 4-ft C, 41/2-ft B-flat, 5-ft A, 51/2-ft G, 6-ft F, 61/2-ft E-flat, 7-ft D, 8-ft C, 9-ft B-flat, 10-ft A, 11-ft G, 12-ft F, 13-ft E-flat, 14-ft D, 16-ft C, 18-ft B-flat. The actual compass of notes will depend on the particular instrument and the repertoire. For instance, a french horn in 12-ft F will often play a higher lying part than an ophicleide in 8-ft C. This is a different conventional use of the word "foot"' from that used in specifying organ and harpsichord stops, though both conventions stem from the useful coincidence that a conical or open-ended cylindrical pipe sounding a series of resonance mode frequencies approximating to a harmonic series based on the fundamental C2 has a length of just about 8ft.


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