Hello and welcome to another week and another pack of vicious lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question by the incredible Tohrinha, who asked:
What is a song of six-pence?
This question about musical culture might best be answered with another question, namely: what isn’t a song of six-pence? But as that does not provide any helpful information for Tohrinha – or our other intrepid readers – we will elaborate further.
“Six-pence” refers, of course, to pent-up energies, often released in puffs of breath. A song could be the product of any amount of these pent-up energies, though the most common range in the single-pent to eight-pence range – and, of course, a song can be produced without any pence at all.
Although this notation is now considered archaic, older songs would list a recommended amount of pent-up breaths along with the time signature, clef, and standard sharps and flats for the song.
The higher the song’s pence, the greater balance the musician must strike between restraint and release of the music. Thus, a low-pence song feels light and breezy, while a song of six-pence or eight-pence conveys a constant tension. This is most readily apparent in a song played on a wind instrument, or sung, but it is present in any medium. In a song of six-pence, the musician holds their breath (for vocals or wind instruments) or otherwise restrains their energy (for other media) for the span of six breaths before the start of the song, and repeats the exercise every time a rest-note of sufficient length manifests in the song. The result is a song of six-pence: a song that walks the line between tension and release, between carefree and careworn, between stillness and motion.
Disclaimer: Factually Deficient and its writers do not hold a degree in music. The information above is incredibly faulty.