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the varieties of what has been called been pushed to a great extreme. Few “ Chamber-music.” It is a mistake to persons of a certain rank were then to imagine that the complication of har- be found who could not play, and with mony has been a taste gradually ac- superior execution, on at least one inquired. It was a phrenzy sudden and strument; and, where nature permitirresistible, both from its novelty and ted, take a part in vocal compositions; from the real effects it is capable of the awkward and forced complexities producing. Those with the truest of which, certainly did not tend to feeling of musical expression were na- diminish their difficulty, however they turally more or less captivated, like might detract from their real merit. others, by the excitement of harmo- This fever of harmonies had subsided nious accompaniment. Those whose in England, until the establishment of feelings were in the ear alone, rushed the Italian opera, and the celebrity of forward to claim pre-eminence for Handel, in some sort revived it. The the elaborate and injurious additions quarrels of the furious partisans of which excited with such effect their Faustina and Cuzzoni, and the homage grosser sensations. Science too was paid to Nicolini, and afterwards to Faformally enlisted in the service; and rinelli, are strong symptoms of what mathematicians, with neither ear nor is called the revival of music in Engfeeling, eagerly caught at consequence land. A great step, however, was gainin a department where they had never ed. Throughout the musical world, dreamed of shining. The elegantly- melody, forgotten and despised so long, turned sentiment of Heinsius, “ Har. began again to be attended to. Comoniæ pater est numerus," was carried relli and others are known to have to its full extent. Some of the won- been so far sensible of the excellence derfully elaborate movements of the of some of the old airs, both of their early harmonists shew the extremes own and of other countries, as to have to which this mania carried them. made them the ground-work of many Doubtless these harmonies were crude of their sonatas. From about this peand harsh, and often barbarous, and riod, the national melodies of Italy, of later science has done much in sweet- Scotland, and of Ireland, may, it is ening their discordant chords, and re- said, be traced in the compositions of fining their awkward modulations. the best masters. Some of the most Still as the knowledge of harmonies celebrated operatic songs now known, has extended, it is undeniable that have the same origin. And if a single harmonious composition has, upon the instance may suffice, I may mention, whole, been simplified. Hasse, Vinci, that the far-famed “ Nel cor piu" is and Sebastian Bach, and then Handel, taken, almost note for note, from an began to improve and polish the me- old Sicilian ballad. The success of the lody so neglected by their predeces- opera was an acknowledgment that sors; and, as Dr Burney expresses it, songs are essentially dramatic; and it to “ thin the accompaniments” that, is confessed, in words at least, that, to like untrimmed underwood, choked the finished musician, feeling and exup and smothered what they were pression are as necessary as science. meant to adorn.
If such be a tolerably correct sketch We have heard many complaints of of the progress of this art; and if, as the modern rage for musical accom- the course of events has seemed to inplishment. Men of more refined taste dicate, the hypothesis of Rousseau be have joined Mr Cobbett in vitupera- founded in truth, a key is afforded to ting that indiscriminating thirst for the explanation of the many anomasound, which would send honest farm- lies which music, in its modern pracers' daughters “ to make a villainous tice, presents. That natural melody noise on the piano." But this is com- should be both neglected and depraparatively nothing to the extent to ved, appears to have been inevitable. which musical education was carried The difficulties against which it has during the reigns of Elizabeth and to struggle, are immoveable and overJames
. The class through which it powering. It is a most unequal conwas possible to extend it was, of course, dict, to set Mr Coleridge's “ blind at that period much smaller than at boy," with his “ pipe of sycamore, present. But where it did form any be his “ notes as strangely moving" part of education, and it did so of that as they will, against the crash of a of every gentleman, it seems to have whole orchestra. Expressive melody must ever be in danger of being over- Pharaoh's plagues, they follow us into whelmed by mere harmony; and they our very chambers. The difficulty of who essay to rescue lierfrom the depths original composition is thus increased of thorough bass, must, like Hotspur, a hundred-fold, and the most deterdare
mined cultivator of simple, expressive
melody, will find himself, at every " To dive unto the bottom of a sea
step, sliding into some of the innuWhere fathom-line did never touch the metable artificial turns or modulations ground,
with which constant custom has inAnd pluck up drown'd melody by the delibly impressed his imagination. locks."
Should a composer of expressive airs, It is a question, whether one air, du- in a style similar to that of the old ring the last hundred years, has been melodies, exist at this moment, he composed by a professed musician, would be denied the very name of with any direct and intentional referé musician. He would be hooted at by ence to any principle in nature, upon nine out of ten, and for three or four which musical expression can be found- different reasons. He would be told ed. Strong as the assertion may seem, that his music required no execution ; the chances are, that he who embraces he would hear it called simple stuff music as a profession, and goes through that a child might play or sing; he an elaborate musical education, is less would be twitted with monotony of likely than other men to produce a key ; he would be reproached with not naturally expressive combination of concluding upon the key-note, and sound. This is no paradox, whatever with a score of other offences against may be thought of it. The fact is, rules of which he and nature knew that the harmonists have exterminated nothing. He would be accused, as the melodists, as the great missal every musician who has dared to verge thrush does the common mavis. The towards simplicity has been, of want race of bards, half poets half musicians, of science. This was the fate of Pichas disappeared, because it is next to cini, of Pleyell, and of Shield. The impossible that such a being should constant craving for variety and for continue to exist; nor, if he could, difficulty—the superior extent of the would he dare to bring forward one oris class of those who are affected by harginal composition. Ranking amongst mony only—and the consequent multhe profounder studies, constituting tiplicity of its professor's publications, a lucrative branch of trade, and giving exhibitions, and gains, must probably employment to thousands, harmony always give scientific music a preponmust go nigh to overturn melody, by derance. He only can be celebrated, its very weight and momentum, if by who either distinguishes himself in elanothing else. Itisall-pervading. Now, borate composition, or in the performwho does not know how difficult it is ance of almost impossibilities of vocal for the greatest poetical genius to free or instrumental execution. himself, in any considerable degree, That no alteration can take place in of those common-places and idioms the present state of music, it would be which long custom, and eternal repe- presumption to say. That, since the tition of versifiers, have made a habit invention of counterpoint, it has alalmost as inevitable as a natural ten- tered materially, though slowly, candency. In music this is ten times not be doubted. The advances, too, worse. The common-place" musical towards natural expression, however phrases," as they are styled, which faint or sophisticated, are such as prove have spread themselves everywhere some recognizance of that principle of through the medium of the volumi- poetical imitation which seems to be nous and endless compositions of scie the foundation of musical expression. ence, have of necessity become almost That much of modern practice is toa part of the nature of every one who tally inconsistent, and at direct variance is possessed of a musical ear. They with that principle, is true. It may be fly abroad “ upon the wings of the difficult to imagine how it has happenwind,” like the feathered seeds of the ed that, admitting so much, the whole thistle or dandelion. There is no avoid- has not followed but the fact is so. ing them. We hear them by day and If we look over a collection of moby night; in the theatre, in the street, dern music, we shall find, that, in the in the church, in the ball-room. Like management of the time, the principle It is easy
of natural imitation has been, upon rule is there for the distribution of the whole, alhered to. As in nature, light and shade over a surface where grief expresses itself slowly, and joy no intelligible form, no natural picture rapidly; so in modern compositions, is delineated. We may indeed * maras well as in the old airs, the vivaces ble” such a surface; but if the lights are played quickly, and the affetuosos were shadowed and the shadows lightmore slowly. As in nature, we find enedif the ffs were turned into that passion hurries particular words pps, and the pps into ffs, what difand tones, although the general effect ference could it make? iş plaintive and slow, so in the old pa- to give emphasis to that which is thetic airs we find that semiquavers to destitute of meaning, just as a boy the extent of two or four at once, are reading Latin“ nonsense-verses" at generally and judiciously used. In mo- school, applies to them the same indern music, the same principle seems tonations that he is taught to give to to be decidedly admitted ; but push- a line of Virgil. This is only a trick, ed by a love of novelty and of execu- however, to make that look something tion to an excess which, far o'erstep- like sense, which in reality is devoid ping the modesty of nature, of course of it, and if the emphasis were retotally mars the effect originally in- versed, it would do just as well. The tended. To the exaggerations of the most glaring instance, perhaps, of the stage may be traced many of the cor- united use and abuse of imitation in ruptions of musical expression; and it modern scientific musical expression, seems to be probable, that the intro- is the “ shake.” The shake is in readuction of long hurried hubbubs of lity a poctical heightening of that trepassages into airs essentially slow, has mulous effect of the voice which is ale been much encouraged by theatrical ways produced, especially at the close performances. Be this as it may, it of a sentence where the tone begins to would be an easy matter to point out drop, by intense feeling. In accorda score or two of scientific adagios and ance with this law, in all music the largos which a person, unable to read shake is introduced towards the close music, and not having the real notes of a passage, which usually descends. as written, and the divisions of the The natural shake is any thing but bars in his mind's eye, would never that which musicians call a perfect discover to be in essentially slow timne. shake. It is a tremulous imperfect The only effect of such composition vibration, and not a violent and disa upon unlearned hearers, is to surprise tinct oscillation between two tones, and confound them. As to touching which is a matter of most difficult vothe finer feelings, the thing is out of cal acquirement. In nature it rarely the question ; indeed, the evident in- occupies more time than would be retention of the composer is to take ad- quired for a crotchet in a commonvantage of the slowness of the time, in time Andante movement. In modern order to exhibit his own skill and compositions, however, it is no uputhat of the performer, in running sual thing for it to occupy a whiole through divisions and sub-divisions. bar of four crotchets-nay, two such In the management of piano and forte bars—and upon exaggerations like the same principle of imitation may be these composers pride themselves. traced, however faintly. All natural So thoroughly forgotten are the na“ discourses” of passion are alterna- tural reasons upon which these montions of softness swelling into loud- strosities have been originally built, ness, and loudness dying into softness, that in treatises on musical composias the gusts of feeling rise and fall. tion they are not even attempted to be In expressive pathetic airs the iinitaaccounted for. The reader may look tion is accordingly true to nature. in vain for any intellectual explanaBut in modern coinpositions, especially tion of the origin of piano and of forte, of the “ lengthy sort,” though the or of shakes or trills, or retardlations, practice remain, and in full force or pauses. He is taught by experience the reason for it is gone. Ask a mu.. to expect the occurrence of such things sician why such a fortè and such a in certain places, and after passages piano are marked, and he only answers of a certain description--but why, he you with some vague and indefinite is not told and he need not enquire. appeal to taste or to precedent. Ile In the well-known book of Avison, calls it “light und shade ;” but what the foundation of musical expression
is hardly once attempted to be evolved, Eating up the farmer's grass, and for the detection of the very prin- Blythe and merry, by the mass, ciple on which the trentise professes As a little country lass.” to hinge, we are referred to nature ? Then he replies,—“ Hear the farmer cry no-but to the scores of Geminiani,
out zounds! Crescembini and Corelli! Mr Ralph in As he trudges thro' the grounds, his pamphlet does nearly the same If the parish has no pounds,
Yonder beast has broke my mounds; thing. Dr Burney at times seems to Kill, and give him to the hounds." recognize the origin of expression in then Da Capo, both join in repeating melody in the imitation of nature, the last stanza ; and this tacked to a but generally contradicts himself in the next page, foundering between tolerable tune will serve you for a couple the effects of melody and harmony; spirit of ridicule Sir Richard Steele
of months--you observe.” In the same sometimes speaking of them as distinct things, and sometimes confound- makes Trim, in his comedy of the ing them together. Both in the Funeral, sing Campley's Cheque for practice and theory of vocal and in
three hundred pounds; repeating, strumental performers, the same iga
“ hundred-hundred-hundred-benorance, or neglect, of any resort to cause there are three huudred;" a betnature for the explanation of melo- ter reason than can be given for most dious meaning, is exhibited. Scien- repetitions in music. With indiffertific singing and playing constantly comes in. If we criticise the practice
ence to expression bad taste necessarily degenerate into a display of trickery of musical people, we shall everywhere We are called to attend to exhibitions of the voice and hand, which have as which always are the result of a want
find that vagueness and inconsistency little reference to natural intonation as the twirls of a high French ballet of reference to first principles. Thus have to graceful motion. Of the in- a celebrated vocalist of the day, in difference of most professional singers « the Bewildered Maid,” gives the
that marvellously mawkish ballad, to the meaning of the airs they sing, word, “ battle,” with a furious actheir indifference to the quality of the words is a stubborn evidence. They cent in King Cambyses' vein,” alwill as soon attach doggrel trash to is one of melancholy and quiet narra
though the passage in which it occurs a favourite tune as the effusions of our best poets. A glaring instance of tive. I have heard a person of reputed this is the stuff which Mr Braham musical refinement laud the setting of and others are content to tack to the the words, “ follow, follow,” in the melody of Robin Adair, although the well-known Mermaid's song, “ bebest song-writers which this country cause the notes seemed to follow cach or perhaps any other ever produced
other”-a brilliant musical illustration Burns and Moorehave written beau- of oratorical action, so ingeniously aptiful and appropriate songs to this very plied to that famous line, air. Foote, in his Commissary, has
- The long-long-round-of ten readmirably ridiculed this piece of ill
volving-years." taste. Hear Dr Catgut's account of Nay, I have been told, on inquiring the approved mode of writing a comic why a forle was to be followed by a opera: Last week, in a ramble to piuno in the repetition of the two dotDulwich, I made these rhymes into a ted crotchets in “ Fly not yet,” that duet for a new comic opera I have it was an echo! In Bombet's Lives of upon the stocks. Mindfor I look Haydn and Mozart, some notable speupon the words as a model for that cimens of musical criticism occur. The kind of writing."
best, perhaps, is the chuckling self-saFirst she." There to see the sluggish tisfied way in which he favours us
with the edifying anecdote of Mozart's Thro' the meadows as we pass,
composing the admired overture to
In his account of the performances at W'estminster Abbey, in commemoration of Handel, he talks of the sublimity of effect produced by the multitude of voices and instruments, as if it were something peculiar to the music; forgetting that this kind of sublimity is common to all loud sounds, whether arising from shouting, from thunder, from the firing of cannon, the waves of the sea, or Don Quixote's fulling inills.
Don Juan whilst drunk and sleepy, for listening; and curlosity was the He absolutely hugs himself on the passion to be gratified, We go to hear idea of having discovered, in the lead- the human voice do what it never did ing passage, a striking resemblance to before, for the same reason that we go the half-yawn half-snore which the to see human legs and arms do what nodding composer might be supposed they never did before. We admire to emit at intervals. Now, what, in the him who runs highest upon the mu. name of common-sense, has this to do sical scale, upon precisely the same with Don Juan? or in what way could principle that we applaud the Indian it be a suitable overture to the exploits jugglers twirling their balls, or Mr of that fiery hero, or, indeed, to those Ireland leaping over a pole thirty feet of any body else, unless the celebrated high. journal of Drunken Barnaby be dra- The observation may be fanciful; matized and brought upon the stage. but it is an odd fact, that musicians,
If we inquire into the particulars of in the modern acceptation of the term, the admiration expressed for airs and have failed in securing that respect songs in general, we continually dis- and hold upon the imagination which cover either that the difficulty and the obscurer bards seem to have entrick of the execution, or the general joyed. Shakespeare never brings them smoothness and harmony of the ac- upon the stage but to ridicule them; companiments, are the sole grounds. and “a fiddler, a minikin-scraper, a They are taken for the excitement ra- pum-pum !” are no unusual epithets ther than for the meaning-pretty with the older dramatists. It is remuch as the Indian convert is said to markable, too, that of those to whom have taken the sacrament, wishing “it nature has allotted a share of sensibihad been brandy." Songs are often lity above the common portion of mansaid to be good, when well sung ; a kind, very many have been known to qualification of praise which seems to prefer simple airs to more scientific mean, that the difficulty of getting compositions. Accustomed to delight through them is the real induce- in and to analyse the fluctuations and ment for hearing any one make the at- combinations of the passions, they have tempt. With an expressive air, if the been delighted, above all others, with singer can give the meaning, it is natural, and at the same time poetical nearly sufficient. In music, as in every intonation. Burns was so ;-so is thing else, even an involuntary exhi- Moore ;—so was Madam de Stael ;bition of skill which draws attention so was Jackson of Exeter,-at once from the subject to the performer, is author, painter, and musician. This disadvantageous. In modern singing, last, indeed, drew upon him the wrath however, this rule is reversed. Every of the musical reviewers of his day, convenient pause is occupied by a ca- who accused him of attempting, in his dence, which is neither more nor less Treatise, to include all good composithan a barefaced display of the talents tions in the class of mere “ Elegies," of the performer. In the midst of the as they styled pathetic airs. Buonamost pathetic appeal we are to break parte had similar predilections; and off and
listen to the melodious vaulting was reproached by the irritable Cheruof Madame or Signor. It is just as if bini, with having no other idea of a Mr Kean were to fill up the intervals serious opera, than its being a succesof his bye-play in tragedy by leaping sion of grave andante movements. through the back-scene, because he The Emperor, no doubt, was rather can play Harlequin as well as Othello. too domineering a critic. After tellNow all this goes to prove, that the ing the unfortunate composer, that gratification of what is often called his most elaborate complications of musical taste, is, at bottom, that of semiquavers had no meaning," he mere curiosity; but it remains to be used to take the liberty of striking his shown why curiosity is to be confound- pen though them, and insisting upon ed with a feeling of the effects of mu. is sense, sic. Would they who flocked to hear
a hard Catalani sing Rode's violin variations, " And hapless situation for a Bard. have felt the same pleasure in hear. It was perhaps too much for human ing them played upon a barrel-organ,or nature in any shape ;-but had Naupon the violin even of Rode himself ? poleon never played the tyrant elseCertainly not. It was the difficulty of where, the world would have had no the attempt, then, that was the motive great reason to complain. In pure