Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Wholefall. A type of ornament. See Ornaments, §6. Whole note

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A type of ornament. See Ornaments, §6.

Whole note.

American term for Semibreve. See also Note values.

Whole tone.

The interval equal to the sum of two semitones. See Tone (i).

Whole-tone scale.

A scale that divides the octave into six equal-tempered whole tones: C–D–E–F–G–A(=B)–C or its sole transposition, D–E–F–G–A–B(=C)–D. Since all the intervals between adjacent degrees are the same, the scale is tonally unstable, that is, a centre can be formed only by emphasizing one of its notes to give it artificial prominence. Moreover, it lacks the fundamental harmonic and melodic relationships of major–minor tonality, namely those of the dominant (perfect 5th) and the leading note (minor 2nd).

Whole-tone melodic passages within the diatonic system were explored fairly extensively by Russian composers in the 19th century. A passage near the end of Glinka’s overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842), given in ex.1, shows how a whole-tone scale in the bass can be harmonized by a series of transitions, all keeping within the bounds of traditional tonality. Dargomïzhsky, in The Stone Guest (c1866–9), came much nearer to using it as an autonomous system, generating contoured melodic lines as well as harmonies (for instance, in the passage from Act 3 quoted in ex.2). But it was in the works of the French Impressionists, particularly Debussy, that it was first used in opposition to the major–minor system, as a means of suspending tonality. The pervasion of the whole-tone scale in Debussy’s piano prelude Voiles (from book 1, 1910) is exceptional, though it figures significantly in the harmony of many of his earlier works, including Pelléas et Mélisande (1902; see ex.3, from Act 4 scene ii) and La mer (1905). It was also an important transitional element in the development of an atonal idiom in Germany in the decade before World War I. Messiaen classified it as the first Mode of limited transposition.


Whytbroke [Whitbroke], William

(b c1501; d between 14 March and 2 April 1569). English church musician and composer. During 1525, at Lichfield Cathedral where he was a vicar choral, he took all holy orders up to the priesthood. By 1529–30 he was employed as one of the chaplains of John Taverner’s choir at Cardinal College, Oxford. In 1531 Whytbroke was appointed one of the 12 minor canons (chaplains of the choir) of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. (The date of his admission (Hennessy) has not been verified but is probably correct.) He evidently enjoyed outstanding qualities since by 1534 he was appointed sub-dean (senior minor canon), a position he held for nearly 30 years. His knowledge of musicians at Lichfield and Oxford seems to have contributed substantially to the repertory preserved in the Gyffard Partbooks (GB-Lbl Add.17802–5), which probably represent the repertory of four-part music performed at St Paul’s during the reign of Mary I. In 1563 Whytbroke found himself unable to subscribe to the protestantism of the Thirty-Eight Articles and in February 1564 he was ejected from his position at the cathedral. Nevertheless, he clearly remained on good terms with his former colleagues. In his will, which discloses that he died a wealthy man, he requested burial in the cathedral cloister near to the grave of John Redford. His legatees included the composors Philip ap Rhys and Edmund Strowger.

Whytbroke’s optional extra part for John Taverner’s responsory Audivi vocem engages a rhythmically active and expansive style which accords well with Taverner’s own part of the composition. A tendency towards vigorous and florid writing is present also in the Mass Apon the Square, one of Whytbroke’s two surviving larger-scale works. His scheme for this work is similar to all the masses which use squares (see Square), with three-part writing as the norm and only occasional use of the full choir. The work is highly segmented, and phrases of the appropriate melody are present throughout as cantus firmi, moving from voice to voice and often highly elaborated. In its choice of squares this mass is almost a twin to the second of William Mundy’s square masses, for it differs from Mundy’s only in its choice of Kyrie melody, which with Whytbroke is the ‘Leroy’ tune. The style of these masses, which in intricacy often look like the reduced sections of big festal works rather than short masses, is one which obviously suited Whytbroke, whose music shows his assurance in the pre-Reformation style, essentially non-imitative and with long, ornate phrases. The votive antiphon Sancte Deus is in a less exuberant idiom, such as seems to have been common for antiphons after about 1530. It is a setting of a text commonly used as a Jesus antiphon, of moderate length (about 150 breves), sectionalized as is usual, but employing few reduced ‘soloist’ sections. This rather unusual structure, together with the fact that the piece is in duple time throughout, suggests an unorthodox approach to the making of a votive antiphon. Whytbroke’s two known English pieces probably date from the Edwardian period. Both are examples of the simplest type of Reformation service music, for the most part homophonic and with one note to a syllable. A Nunc dimittis is appended to the Magnificat in two sources (156026, GB-Ob), but these are two different settings and unattributed; neither is likely to be by Whytbroke.


2 Magnificat settings (Eng.), 4vv, 1 156026, GB-Ob, 1 Lbl, Ob; both ed. RRMR, iii (1995)

Let your light so shine before men, 4vv, 156026; ed. W.H. Cope, A Collection of Anthems for Parish Choirs (London, 1847)

Mass ‘Apon the Square’ (Lat.), 4vv, Lbl

Sancte Deus, sancte fortis, 5vv, inc., Cu Peterhouse 471–4; ed. N. Sandon (Moretonhampstead, 1997)

Optional extra part to J. Taverner: Audivi vocem de caelo, Lbl

In Nomine, 4 viols, Ob; ed. in MB, xliv (1979)


G.L. Hennessy: Novum repertorium ecclesiasticum parochiale Londinense (London, 1898), 61, n.e146

H. Baillie: ‘Squares’, AcM, xxxii (1960), 178–93

R.W. Bray: ‘British Museum Add. MSS 17802–5 (The Gyffard Part-Books): an Index and Commentary’, RMARC, no.7 (1969), 31–50

D. Mateer: ‘The Compilation of the Gyffard Partbooks’, RMARC, no.26 (1993), 19–43

D. Mateer: ‘The Gyffard Partbooks: Composers, Owners, Date and Provenance’, RMARC, no.28 (1995), 21–49


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