« AnteriorContinuar »
We wish our word to be taken only so far as our assertions may find living confirmation in each person's own bosom. The deeper explanation, the scientific and complete knowledge of the nature of art, does not belong to this preparatory instruction, but to the science of music. The introduction to the character of different periods of art, artists, and different kinds of art, must be referred to the history of art. Neither studies should be entered into before we are deep in art, and in playing and singing; in order that we may not form exaggerated conceptions in lieu of our own observations, and empty formula in lieu of living inspections. The whole of the instruction for performance, indeed, even in the slight sketch we have given of it, is certainly not for beginners. To such it is empty sound; and must be merely confusing and misleading to any one who has not been long intimate with art and its external materials, and who has not often experienced its influence, and been filled with its emotions.
SECOND SECTION.-THE MEANING OF ARTISTIC
We have become acquainted with rhythm-tone and character of sound as the fundamental materials of music. The mind of the artist employs them all for its objects, and therefore for mental and indeed artistic objects. This could not be done if those fundamental materials were incapable of accomplishing the objects of the artist's thoughts and feelings. And if they had not, moreover, a peculiar and sure significance, they could not produce a peculiar and sure effect upon other persons. The artist might otherwise produce he knew not what. He might feel and intend to announce joy, perhaps, while the hearers, or even each individual hearer, might experience quite a different sensation; one perhaps grief, another anger, &c. Such art would not be art, but a meaningless, if not a senseless jest.
Our consciousness and daily experience teach us something better We are conscious of certain emotions and feelings produced in us by music, and recognise very clearly that those effects are not accidental-caused, for example, by the disposition we carried with us; otherwise the same composition would affect us differently at different times, sometimes affecting us with joy, at others with sorrow, &c. We see, also, that the effects of music are not singular, as affecting an individual only; for so far as men in general resemble each other, the same composition in general produces the same effect upon each. That would be a bad march which were not stimulating to all, and a wretched funeral song which caused some to mourn and others to dance.
Only such compositions as have no decided contents (and there are, no doubt, plenty such), can produce such contrary effects.
It may be a question how far determined musical contents may be considered as operative? But this question we now put aside, it being our present business to point out and introduce, but not to carry through to the end. The Science of Music must answer this question.
As to the meaning of motion-swift, slow, interrupted, equable, unequal, &c.-it were idle to speak. We are all aware of these attributes, not only in music, but in speech, in action, in demeanour, &c. We therefore withhold any observations upon slowness or quickness of time in musical measure; it must be in correspondence with the more or less lively emotions, which the composition is intended to excite.*
If we wish to interpret the meaning of motion, we must distinguish the motion in itself, the quicker or slower passage of a succession of tones, the motion from a fixed point; thus for example:
to which point the fleeing tones seem to hold, and the motion towards a fixed point, as to an object thus:
where the succession seems to be drawn, as it were, into the fixed point. The meaning of these forms of motion depends upon the force with which they are detained or drawn by the fixed point; by the power which we display over, or in the motion; by the action of the will, with which we strive for the point, either uninterruptedly or through delays and varying retardations. Hence we perceive in an objectless flight of tones, as for example in this357.
that no single tone is a principal object, but that the hastening through all is the meaning of the phrase, or at least of its rhythmic form. Again, in another quick motion towards a fixed goal, as here358.
we see the power of the object—TONE, which draws with such violence so many tones in uninterrupted
* As the emotions of the mind have in their nature no determined measure, and do not depend solely upon their cause, but also upon the disposition of the party suffering, and upon numberless external and inappreciable circumstances, we see how natural it is that our indications of time should not be an exact absolute measure: and moreover, that the determinations of the Metronome (page 33,) cannot be used as an absolute law, but only as a more exact indication for performance.
succession towards itself; while the same succession of tones in interrupted rhythm, thus
exemplifies its meaning by its name.
We must here bring forward again the method of performing the legato and staccato, as mentioned in our remarks on rhythm at page 30. We there considered them as acting on single tones only, which become longer in legato, and shorter in staccato.
Here we perceive in the legato a more flowing and gentle manner of producing successions of tones; in the staccato a more detached and unrestrained
manner, and therefore sometimes more piquant. A combination, indeed, of the two manners is attempted, which is indicated by the signs of both, thus:
Here it is true that the tones must be held on until the beginning of the succeeding tone; but each is to have a separate expression, about so,—
in such a manner, that notwithstanding the holding on, each tone is separated by accentuation.
This is produced in two ways, but with one object only. What we accentuate, we indicate as the more important. We effect this either by dwelling longer on it, or by giving it a greater volume of sound, expression, or loudness. The tones e, g, and c, in the preceding example, No. 359, are already distinguished from the others by greater length. By loudness, not only can the accent of greater length be supported (as we have pointed out by the fz. in No. 358), but an entirely different meaning may be given to one and the same succession of tones. Such would be the case if we performed the example, No. 357, according to the upper or under accentuation, marked in the following copy thereof:362,
we have four accented notes; whereas in the second (B) we have only two; and in the third (C) only one. The last will therefore be the most flowing, and the first have the most members and be the most expressive. That possibly, however, by the division of a bar into members, the rhythm may be more exactly determined, and an excessively difficult bar be rendered easier, and an easy phrase be rendered more difficult, is clear; for example, this phrase in
or accented in any other manner, at pleasure. Hence, we comprehend the distinctions of different kinds of bars. The less accented notes a bar contains, the more easily it moves and flows. Consequently, the three-part bar is easier and more flowing than the two-part; and again, the combined or compound bars, than the single, &c. It is therefore by no means indifferent whether a phrase be written in 3, or §, or 12. In the first case, at (A)
in a little phrase whose members consist. of one bar only. The more extended and comprehensive we make these moments, the more connected and satisfying will the whole become. The following phrase constructed on the preceding, but in two-bar rhythm, will make this immediately perceptible :
Here we must advert to a considerable distinguishing influence of the numbers two and three.
The two-bar rhythm, like the number two in division, is the simplest and easiest or most flowing. The four-bar rhythms seem more ample and dignified, but they also are intelligible and flowing, because the number two (or half) is perceptible in them. The three-bar rhythms, on the contrary, seem to step forward unwillingly, and with a kind of violence. Their character is so decidedly different, that Beethoven, for instance, thinks it necessary in one of his greatest works, expressly to call attention to it. In the Scherzo of his ninth symphony, there are four-bar rhythms, thus:
which Beethoven marks with Ritmo a tre battutethat is, rhythm in three beats (bars). Rhythms of five bars, in fine, are long and burthensome, if not dragging, &c.
We will repeat, that symmetrical or equipoised sections give to the whole a more equable, intelligible, and quiet character. Varying or irregular sections produce disturbance, or even unsteadiness, and at last disconnection of the whole; which, indeed, might either be a fault or occasionally a very proper mode of expressing a passionate hesitating state of mind. Here, also, it becomes the question what sort of sections, symmetrical or unsymmetrical, follow each other. So many combinations are possible, that to think of showing them all would be to misapprehend the object of instruction. Let each one accustom himself to recognise the rhythmic order and its meaning in real compositions, and to feel and understand their influence on the whole. *
It is not in general considered difficult to persons somewhat gifted with musical talent to distinguish the rhythmical sections; and it has
In tonic matters, also, several different meanings may be distinguished. Here, however, we enter upon a more foreign and delicate subject, and we must consider how far our readers can and will accompany us in the discussion thereof.
In general, the higher a tone is, the more it becomes strained and shrill: the deeper it be, so it grows lax and hollow. Rising successions of tones increase in vehemence, and vice versa. But here several other relationships come into joint operation, all of which we cannot now contemplate; for example, that at a certain point the height is too strained to operate with force, and now, on the contrary, breaks down in the finest and most charming tones-which certainly, to a reflective mind, points significantly enough to the original sense.
1. THE KINDS OF TONIC MOVEMENT. The motion by jumps (over-intervening degrees), is uneasy and violent; that by steps, from one degree to the next adjoining is more quiet and gentle. The diatonic scale is on that account more quiet, softer, and more tuneful than any kinds of jumping motion; and still more so, because its succession of tones (the major scale) contains the nearest related and next necessary tones, in the most convenient and equable order. The chromatic scale moves in still smaller and more equable steps, being half tones only; but just for that reason it is trivial and distressing.
If we turn from the scales to the motion in jumps, we have before us the successions of tones arising from the chords. Every succession of tones formed out of a chord, appears to us in its unity as an assemblage of parts belonging to each other, and flowing readily together; and so, we have two originally separated elements now in conjunction, the distance of the steps between the tones (exteriorly uncombined), and the internal harmonic connexion. Thus these successions of tones are sometimes light and flowing, while at others they are unsteady and tottering :
2. THE INTERVALS.
We have hitherto considered the steps of the tones merely in a superficial view with regard to their distance. We become soon aware, however, that each of them has its own proper meaning: that the different steps do not differ in quantity only. Some, at least, of the observations belonging to this place, will be confirmed by every zealous and attentive student of music.
In order to proceed with the greater security, let us take the major scale, since it contains greater intervals only; and let us separate one octave from the upper higher one. We know that in the higher octave, the same succession of tones and the same tones reappear, only in a higher and more attenuated sphere; first the octave of the tonic, then the ninth or second in a higher octave, and so forth.
Hence it is clear why all intervals beyond the octave, compared with intervals within the octave, are of an overstrained nature. The ninth is a step into the second, but in a higher region; and the octave is the overstrained return of the tonic. Hence the force of soaring into the octave, the violence, excess, and exaggeration in the ninth and tenth, until at last, in much more extended strainings, the relation ceases to be perceptible, and the interval falls off into two incongruous tones.
Within the octave, the fifth has an undefinable hovering excursive tendency; the fourth is firmly and strongly appropriate (therefore the kettle-drums are mostly tuned in fourths); the second is for quiet, measured continuance; the third is decided and calculating; the sixth tends to gentle union; the seventh is full of solicitude. To this we will add, that all minor intervals produce diminution or alleviation; all diminished intervals produce uneasiness; all extreme intervals produce passionate emotion, and even distorted exaggeration of the sense of the major intervals. Let each one make these facts perceptible to himself, by trial with the major and minor third and seventh, the dimiuished and extreme fifths, the major and exteme fourths, and with that striking extreme second in the minor scale (page 19).
Here we must revert to that extraordinary departure from the rule of our whole system, which we mentioned at page 95, namely, the pitching the tone too high in strong and vehement emotion, and too low in depressed sensations; and also, that violent and passionate conjunction by transition from one tone into another. They are extreme measures whose meaning speaks for itself, and ought to be employed only with the greatest caution.
Lively sensibility will recognize immediately what we have here so cursorily pointed out; but one misunderstanding must be avoided: it must by no means be supposed, that the significance of the intervals is universally exhibited. We have ourselves, seen already (page 99) that it is often intentional, that the single tone, or its relation, should not have its own proper effect, but that it should be an indistinguishable part of a greater whole, or be very little perceptible. It is also conceivable, that, often, intervals without meaning, and even against their
proper meaning, should be used by the composer, as all means whatsoever are sometimes used by painters, poets, and so forth; and occasionally, indeed, in error. Such a mistake does not always show itself by the manifest failure of the work, as it may have been palliated or concealed by other means. Who would wish to measure the nature of intervals in all possible cases of art; or to make an important matter of their having been now and then misunderstood? All that we wish, is to make use of the sense or meaning of an interval, when it is properly and intentionally indicated. When they appear in the right sense, they are a means of comprehension, and performance; when they are intentionally used, but erroneously, we can explain the error to ourselves, and perceive the right course, but we cannot ground upon it our comprehension of the work, nor our performance of it.
a succession which we would not admit without further consideration; but which, if allowed to subsist, will correspond exactly with its character, as we have pointed it out.
The minor seventh being added to the major triad of the dominant, we produce the chord of the dominant- -a soft harmony solicitous for resolution. If we add further the greater ninth, the chord of the major ninth is produced; or with the minor ninth, the chord of the minor ninth, which resolves into the upper octave. In both, the character of the chord of the dominant, and its seventh, predominates. In the chord of the greater ninth, the feeling of solicitude may be considered as aggerated; in that of the lesser ninth, however, it is much diminished.
But we have already overstepped our object, which was merely to point out the internal sense of the tones. It is, however, difficult to stop at the proper moment, for when we are absorbed in so dark a subject as the nature of our inward sensations of music, we are almost irresistibly drawn deeper and deeper into the exciting mystery. Here, however, we must restrain ourselves, as it is not even the proper place to give further explanations, upon part, even, of what we have said. Outward example, and more complete development, are still required for those who now for the first time enter upon this path. The object here is to awaken and excite the sensations; and that only will nourish and avail which they recognize and are able to retain.
It is now easy to understand the characters of 4. THE MAJOR AND MINOR MODES.
The major proceeds with firmness, certainty, and clearness, in greater intervals, only, from the fundamental tone,
and according to the scale, the snarling extreme second (between the sixth and seventh degrees), and thereby, also, a disturbed equipoise. It sounds therefore to us more dull and sorrowful. As, however, it is often obliged to change that strange step, by altering the sixth and seventh, it assumes a greater variety, but also a changeable and uncertain meaning.
After the two modes, major and minor (not to
The scale would be more even from the seventh, thus: b-c-d-e f-g-a (188.8.131.52.1.1); a form which becomes important in the science of music.
mention the Ecclesiastical modes treated of in the Instruction for Composition), the
5. VARIOUS SCALES
present themselves; and in the first place, those in the major mode,
Among them appears the normal scale of C major, as the clear and calm central point; on the one side of which are ranged the sharpened scales in lighterand on the other side, the flattened scales in more shadowed character; until the opposite ranks meet enharmonically at the remarkable point where they mutually become involved in each other (in F and GD): much too deep a subject to be discussed with any advantage in a work of introduction.
We think it proper here to pause in our remarks. It would be very seriously desirable to discuss the character and inward tendencies of the scales, of the various organs of sound (instruments and voices), of the vowel sounds, &c. But the beginning of it, even, would carry us beyond the intention of a preparatory work; and moreover, the nature of the object would scarcely allow us to break off suddenly.
He whose sensations have been moved or excited by what we have so far written, or by any part of it, may be assured that the same spirit which has manifested itself to him in any part, may pervade the whole organism of art. His own mind will lead him further, or prepare him for higher instruction. To him, however, who is not yet perceptive of this inward feeling, or whose natural susceptibility has been deranged or seared by over-hasty conclusions or determined opinions,-to him we say, any further development would be nothing but an increased burthen.
But we would wish to express one desire-that compositions should not be changed from one scale into another, with such thoughtlessness as unfortunately often occurs. Many circumstances may indeed render such transpositions necessary; but without such necessity, without irremediable urgency, it ought never to be done. If we ourselves have no conviction of the significance or aptitude of each scale, we might at least have sufficient respect for the imaginator and constructor of a work of art, to presume that he did not select without motive, this and no other scale for his work. His determination ought to be honoured, simply because it is his. He who has not a proper respect for artists and works of art, has not a true love for art itself; for which he justly suffers in the loss, also, of its pleasures.
THIRD SECTION,-OF THE MEANING OF
Easier or more generally intelligible is the meaning of artistic forms; for they are not creations of nature which we are to unriddle, but inventions of the human mind, whose object in their formation is sufficiently obvious. He, therefore, who can see distinctly the single forms, and perceive their combinations, can rarely fall into error.
So it is clear, that one part or voice alone is