THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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COMPOSITION (Lat. compositio, from componere, to put together), the action of putting together and combining, and the product of such action. There are many applications of the word. In philology it is used of the putting together of two distinct words to form a single word; and in grammar, of the combination of words into sentences, and sentences into periods, and then applied to the result of such combination, and to the art of producing a work in prose or verse, or to the work itself. In music “composition” is used both of the art of combining musical sounds in accordance with the rules of musical form, and, more generally, of the whole art of creation or invention. The name “composer” is thus particularly applied to the musical creator in general. In the other fine arts the word is 813 more strictly used of the balanced arrangement of the parts of a picture, of a piece of sculpture or a building, so that they should form one harmonious whole. The word also means an agreement or an adjustment of differences between two or more parties, and is thus the best general term to describe the agreement, often called by the equivalent German word “Ausgleich,” between Austria and Hungary in 1867. A more particular use is the legal one, for an agreement by which a creditor agrees to take from his debtor a sum less than his debt in satisfaction of the whole (see Bankruptcy). In logic “composition” is the name given to a fallacy of equivocation, where what is true distributively of each member of a class is inferred to be true of the whole class collectively. The fallacy of “division” is the converse of this, where what is true of a term used collectively is inferred to be true of its several parts. A common source of these errors in reasoning is the confusion between the collective and distributive meanings of the word “all.” Composition, often shortened to “compo,” is the name given to many materials compounded of more than one substance, and is used in various trades and manufactures, as in building, for a mixture, such as stucco, cement and plaster, for covering walls, &c., often made to represent stone or marble; a similar moulded compound is employed to represent carved wood.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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