Tag Archives: Malcolm X

Music and Etymology

Guess who got me into etymology. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Malcolm X, in his autobiography. Rather than looking up definitions, it soon seemed preferable to attempt to divine them through familiarity with the constituent parts of the word – making it nearly impossible to forget.

In a subject like music, the bulk of whose vocabulary consists in old and foreign words, an etymological outlook can offer a key to these baffling terms and associations. With this in mind, I’ve created a new Lesson Support Page entitled Music & Etymology. I must stress here that this is not really my own work but simply a series of links to a fantastic online etymological resource. At the moment the work is at the brain-storming stage and I feel that further developments (and perhaps suggestions from users) will help me decide which of the following options to choose:

  • alphabetical – favouring those looking for a specific term
  • thematic – grouping together related words e.g. interval; triad; chord – favouring browsing

I’ve also yet to decide what to do about words which do not appear on www.etymonline.com. Should I provide my own pointers? Leave them blank – encouraging reader research? Omit them from the list altogether?

Clearly, this will an ongoing project requiring constant updating. However, there’s no rush and it’s important to bear in mind the following proverb of Lao Tzu at the outset of a seemingly huge task:

“ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”