Haack [Haacke, Haak, Haake], Friedrich Wilhelm

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Hommann [Homan], Charles

(b Philadelphia, 25 July 1803; d ?Brooklyn, NY, after 1866). American composer, violinist and organist. He was the son of John C. Hommann, a German musician who emigrated to Philadelphia in the 1790s, and the brother-in-law of Charles Frederic Hupfeld. Hommann was one of the earliest American composers to be trained exclusively in the USA. From 1819 to 1829 he was organist at St James's Church and later at the Third Dutch Reformed Church in Philadelphia. A notice of several of Hommann's works in the Musical Review (New York, 1 September 1838) describes him as a ‘native of Philadelphia; a teacher of the Violin, and Piano Forte, and a clever organist; quiet and unassuming in his deportment’. By June 1855 he was living in Brooklyn. He was named executor of Hupfeld's will in 1862, but was not mentioned when the will was probated in 1864.

Hommann's works include a four-movement symphony in E and an overture in D written for the Bethlehem Philharmonic Society; a prizewinning overture in D (Philadelphia Philharmonic Society, 1835), three string quartets and a string quintet housed in the Musical Fund Society Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Van Pelt Library, Philadelphia; and a rondo for piano in the Library of Congress. (The chamber music for strings has been published in a modern edition, RRAM, xxx, 1998.) Several organ voluntaries, psalm settings and other works for chorus, solo voice and piano are also known. His compositions, especially the chamber and orchestral works, show that Hommann was a talented composer who deserves better than his present obscurity.


R.A. Gerson: Music in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1940/R)

J.E. Swenson-Eldridge: The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia and the Emergence of String Chamber Music Genres Composed in the United States, 1820–1860 (diss. U. of Ann Arbor, 1995)

J. Graziano and J. Swenson-Eldridge: Charles Homman: Chamber music for Strings (Madison, WI, 1998)


Hommel [hummel, humle].

An onomatopoeic name (probably derived from hommelen (Dut.): ‘to hum’ or ‘buzz’) for a partly fretted box zither used in the Low Countries and adjacent parts of Germany, and in Scandinavia (see illustration). The hommel may have been developed in the Netherlands from the smaller and less dynamically powerful Scheitholt and Epinette de Vosges, which examples from the early 17th century greatly resemble; in later instruments shape and stringing were not standardized. Hommels have been trapeziform, rectangular, and in the shape of a fiddle, viol or half bottle. Some have a superimposed fretboard or fretbox (the latter, sometimes called a second soundbox in the Low Countries, is also found in Appalachian dulcimers) and up to 12 bourdons arranged in double or triple courses and attached to metal wrest pins instead of wooden pegs. The fretted strings are stopped and all the strings sounded by the same methods as on the épinette de Vosges; there is evidence, however, of hommels having sometimes been bowed in Friesland and the province of Holland. Some forms, with local names such as vlier, blokviool, krabber and pinet, are still played in Belgium and reproductions of earlier hommels are often used in modern folk groups in the Netherlands.

See also Low Countries, §II, 3.


C. Douwes: Grondig ondersoek van toonen der musijk (Franeker, 1699/R)

S. Walin: Die schwedische Hummel (Stockholm, 1953)

F.J. de Hen: ‘Folk Instruments of Belgium, Part One’, GSJ, xxv (1972), 87–132

H. Boone: ‘De hommel in de Lage Landen’, Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments Bulletin, v (1975) [special issue, incl. Eng. and Fr. summaries]

A. Pilipczuk: ‘Die “Hummeln” in Schleswig-Holstein, Vierlanden und Niedersachsen’, Lichtwerk-Heft, no.63 (1998), 27–33

For further bibliography see Zither.



(from Gk. homophonia: ‘sounding alike’).

Polyphonic music in which all melodic parts move together at more or less the same pace. A further distinction is sometimes made between homophonic textures that are homorhythmic (ex.1) and those in which there is a clear differentiation between melody and accompaniment (ex.2). In the latter case all the parts – whether melodic soprano, supporting bass, or accompanimental inner parts – work together to articulate an underlying succession of harmonies. Homophonic music balances the melodic conduct of individual parts with the harmonies that result from their interaction, but one part – often but not always the highest – usually dominates the entire texture. While in principle the same basic precepts govern the melodic behaviour of all the parts, in practice the treble tends to be more active than the others and to have a wider ambitus, and while conjunct motion is the rule in upper voices, leaps are common and sometimes even prevalent in the bass. Inner parts are used to fill in between the two outer voices, which form the contrapuntal framework of the music.

Homophonic textures occur in most if not all European musical traditions. Since at least the middle of the Baroque period music theorists have regarded the homophonic arrangement of four voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) as the normative texture of Western music: it has been generally assumed that all tonal music, including melodic imitation, can be represented in terms of a four-part texture and heard as chorale-like successions of harmonies. An important pedagogical practice has thus arisen around the 371 chorale harmonizations of J.S. Bach, while Gottfried Weber chose a homophonic composition – the march of the priests from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte – for the first ever roman-numeral analysis of a complete piece, in the third edition of the Versuch einer geordneten Theorie der Tonsetzkunst zum Selbstunterricht (Mainz, 1830–32, ii). This music-theoretical catechism even now continues to form the basis of instruction in composition and analysis in many undergraduate music curricula.


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