In seventeenth-century colonial North America, all day-to-day cooking was done in the fireplace. Generally large, fireplaces were planned for cooking as well as for warmth. Those in the Northeast were usually four or five feet high, and in the South, they were often high enough for a person to walk into. A heavy timber called the mantel tree was used as a lintel to support the stonework above the fireplace opening. This timber might be scorched occasionally, but it was far enough in front of the rising column of heat to be safe from catching fire.
Two ledges were built across from each other on the inside of the chimney. On these rested the ends of a “lug pole” from which pots were suspended when cooking. Wood from a freshly cut tree was used for the lug pole, so it would resist heat, but it had to be replaced frequently because it dried out and charred, and was thus weakened. Sometimes the pole broke and the dinner fell into the fire. When iron became easier to obtain, it was used instead of wood for lug poles, and later fireplaces had pivoting metal rods to hang pots from.
Beside the fireplace and built as part of it was the oven. It was made like a small, secondary fireplace with a flue leading into the main chimney to draw out smoke. Sometimes the door of the oven faced the room, but most ovens were built with the opening facing into the fireplace. On baking days (usually once or twice a week) a roaring fire of “oven wood,” consisting of brown maple sticks, was maintained in the oven until its walls were extremely hot. The embers were later removed, bread dough was put into the oven, and the oven was sealed shut until the bread was fully baked.
Not all baking was done in a big oven, however. Also used was an iron “bake kettle,” which looked like a stewpot on legs and which had an iron lid. This is said to have worked well when it was placed in the fireplace, surrounded by glowing wood embers with more embers piled on its lid.
Composers today use a wider variety of sounds than ever before, including many that were once considered noises. Composer Edgard Varese (1883-1965) called thus the “liberation of sound … the right to make music with any and all sounds.” Electronic music, for example-made with the aid of computers, synthesizers and electronic instruments-may include sounds that in the past would not have been considered musical. Environmental sounds, such as thunder, and electronically generated hisses and blips can be recorded, manipulated, and then incorporated into a musical composition. But composers also draw novel sounds from voices and nonelectronic instruments. Singers may be asked to scream, laugh, groan, sneeze, or to sing phonetic sounds rather than words. Wind and string players may lap of scrape their instruments.
A brass or woodwind player may hum while playing, to produce two pitches at once; a pianists may reach inside the piano to pluck a string and then run a metal blade along it. In the music of the Western world, the greatest expansion and experimentation have involved percussion instruments, which outnumber strings and winds in many recent compositions.
Traditional percussion instruments are struck with new types of beaters; and instruments that used to be couriered unconventional in Western music-tom-toms, bongos, slapsticks, maracas-are widely used. In the search for novel sounds, increased use has been made in Western music of Microtones. Non-Western music typically divides and interval between two pitches more finely than Western music does, thereby producing a greater number of distinct tones, or micro tones, within the same interval. Composers such as Krzysztof Pmderecki create sound that borders on electronic noise through tone clusters-closely spaced tones played together and heard as a mass, block, or band of sound. The directional aspects of sound has taken on new importance as well Loudspeakers or groups of instruments may be placed at opposite ends of the stage, in the balcony, or at the back and sides of the auditorium. Because standard music notation makes no provision for many of these innovations, recent music scores may contain graphlike diagrams, new note shapes and symbols, and novel ways of arranging notation on the page