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c d e f g that the undermost of these lines or degrees should have been the place of the lowest or deepest tone; for example, c-that the next line should have been the place of d, the third, of e, and so on. But upon that plan, so many lines would have been necessary, that it would have been scarcely possible to identify the notes upon them.
Therefore the number of lines for places of notes, has been limited to five,* together with the spaces between, above and below them. This combination of five lines is called the
Here, also, the note of the deepest tone is the undermost, and under the first line; the following tone is on the first line-the third tone between the first and second lines, therefore in the first space, &c. The highest tone is over the last or fifth line.
Now we have many more than eleven tones. How do we represent higher tones than the above eleven?
The twelfth tone would require another line. But as we wish to avoid a superabundance of lines, so, instead of a complete line, we place a small supernumerary line, called a Ledger line, near the staff which still strikes the eye as the principal object. Now we can
11 12 13
place the twelfth tone on the ledger line, and the thirteenth over the ledger line. A second ledger line would give us places
11 12 13 14 15
for a fourteenth and fifteenth tone, and so forth. Let us apply the same expedient to the lower tones. Let us place (for example) the one-lined c on the first line: then we should have to write the little b, under the first line. If we wish to note deeper tones, we must have for a, the first ledger line (that is, under the staff); g would be under the first ledger line; f on the second ledger line; and so on, as is here shewn,—
Now, we should be in a condition to write and
Why exactly limited to five lines? In the first place, because an odd number of lines has a middle line, which divides the staff into halves, and so makes it easier of inspection. Secondly, three lines with their spaces, do not give room, even for an octave, and therefore do not suffice for our system: whereas, five lines, from the undermost to the uppermost, gives ample room for the octave. It follows that a greater number of lines-seven, for example-are not wanted.
read all the notes, if we only knew which particul tone should be on any particular line. If we agree for example, as in No. 5, that the one-lined c shou be on the first line, then we should know that th one-lined d would be immediately over that first lin -the one-lined e, on the second line-the small under the said first line, &c., since the notes follo each other in the same order as on the scale. Bu instead of the one-lined c, we might place any othe tone on the first line; and then all the other tone would take their places thereby. Suppose, fo instance, that e stood on the first line, instead of c then would d be under it, fover it, g on the second line, and so forth. It must be settled, therefore, where any particular tone shall be fixed, whereby the places of all the rest shall be determined.
For this object, there are certain signs, called
which indicate that the line on which they are placed, is appropriated to a certain determined tone. There are three of these Clefs :
The G or Violin Clef, C Clef, and For Bass Clef. 1. THE G CLEF,
has this form,
& or &
flutes, &c.), and the bass clef for the deep octaves, such as those of the double bass, low voices, the bass, &c., while the first is unsuitable for low and the last for high successions of sounds. Accordingly, we soon perceive why even two clefs, for instance, the G and F clefs, are not sufficiently accommodating for all successions of sounds and voices. For
a voice, such as the Tenor, or Alto, or the Tenor Violin, which reaches from about the small to the two-lined c, the F clef would be too low and the G clef too high-the first would require more than four ledger lines above and the other as many beHow much more ease is obtained from the
low. alto clef,
or even from the tenor clef. It seems, therefore, that we require intermediate clefs for intermediate successions of sounds, and that want is fulfilled by the three C clefs for the soprano clef is two degrees lower than the violin (G) clef; the alto clef is four degrees lower than the soprano clef; the tenor clef two degrees lower than the alto clef; and, in fine, the bass clef four degrees lower than the tenor; so that every division of sounds has its appropriate clef.*
We must mention another expedient used to express successions of sounds, widely different in pitch. If, namely, a succession of sounds should stretch so far apart, that no clef can conveniently include them, we change the clefs. A succession of sounds, for instance, from the great to the two-lined 9, would not suit the violin clef, nor the bass, nor any one of the intermediate clefs, as we here shew:
c d e f g If we wish to extend this line of notes, the double G must be placed under the third ledger line, double Fon a fourth ledger line, double E under it; and in like manner the one-lined f over the staff must be placed over the second ledger line, the one-lined g on a third ledger line, and so forth. In old notation, the Fclef is sometimes found on the third, and sometimes on the fifth line.
What is the use of so many clefs? Would not one have been sufficient? We shall soon be persuaded of the contrary. If we used any one clef only, we should want too many ledger lines, either above or below. With the Fclef, for instance, we should want two ledger lines for the one-lined e; the two-lined e would require five, and the threelined e nine ledger lines. If with the G clef we wanted to write the great and double G, we must use six and nine ledger lines. How inconvenient such a method as this would be to write and to read.
Manifestly, the violin clef is the most appropriate for the higher octaves (for instance, for violins,
We introduce, therefore, another clef at the appropriate situation,—
and thus, without a single ledger line, all the tones of these three octaves can be clearly expressed by the change of clef.
When several voices are united in a musical composition, they are noted on several staves running simultaneously together, and to every staff is given the proper clef for the voice to be written on it: that is, for instance, the G clef for the high, and the F clef for the low voices. † Under this arrangement
*It is true on the other hand, that by superabundance, the clefs may become perplexing and burthensome. So, formerly, the violin clef was found on the first line (as before-mentioned) and also the C clef, on the second line, as Mezzo soprano clef; the F clef was used on the third line, as baritone clef, and on the fifth line as deep bass clef. These supernumerary clefs, however, are now very properly abandoned.
A case, of rare occurrence however, must here be stated. sionally, in works of many voices, space is deficient for the introduction of each particular succession of sounds, or for the admission of separate staves, for successions of sounds, widely differing from each other. In this case, the two voices are compressed into one staff, with the clef most appropriate for both; and if needful, a second clef is added for such notes as could not be written conveniently under the clef first chosen, while this first chosen clef remains in operation for all the other voices. Thus in the richly scored Mass of Beethoven, S. 48, space is wanting to givo
each clef is considered as operative for the whole length of the staff at the beginning of which it is placed, until the introduction of another clef. If the intrusive clef is to continue its effect in the following line of staff, it is customary to place first on that staff the original clef, and then the clef newly introduced for instance, if the violin clef is to avail from the beginning of a staff of bass-notes, it should be written thus:
Method of learning to read the Notation. Those who proceed no further in music than singing or playing some instrument, will not, in general,
separate staves for the high and low bassoons, and therefore their parts were thus written :
The upper succession of notes here is throughout in the tenor clef; the under, from the second to the last bar but one (what we have so far said does not exemplify this case) is in the F clef. Let it be remarked, that the F clef, merely to strike the eye, is falsely placed; which seems to show that this manner of writing was solely employed as an expedient of necessity. It ought, indeed, to be avoided if possible, and is only justifiable, as in this instance, by its object and its success.
* It is very desirable that every one who takes an interest in music, should thoroughly comprehend the advantages of our system of notation (which will be still more manifest when we shew in the first section of the second division, its singular aptitude for the exemplification of rythmical proportions) since from time to time, up to the present moment, schemes for new systems, often of the most extraordinary description, have been made public. Such propositions, to abandon a system whose origin recedes unknown, into tens of centuries, coeval with all art, and improved and illustrated by all art-loving nations; such propositions can be entertained only where the reasonableness, necessity, and power of historical development are forgotten. These undertakings can indeed have no influence on the steadfastness and prosperity of art; but they may disturb and mislead the inexperienced, and the perhaps numerous bodies of students for a time, and even detach them from high musical education. Of this kind is the Cypher System, which is not as yet altogether laid aside. This was introduced many years ago by some well-intentioned schoolmasters, who were, however, not over well informed in music, for the purpose of facilitating the progress of their scholars. The Cyphers were in three compartments, (representing three octaves) whereby the elevation of the octave and the degree of sound could be expressed, viz:
That the vivid self-descriptiveness of our notation is entirely absent from this cypher system, and that it can only recite a number of notes without exhibiting their rhythmic proportions, is abundantly manifest. Moreover, the supporters of this system do not attribute to it an equal rank with our notation. It is to be used for a time only, to spare the learning of the notation until further advancement: but the notation must be learned at last, and therefore two systems instead of one only.
In other respects, there is scarcely a way or a bye-way that has not been searched for improvements or alterations in musical notation. The Greeks and their followers employed their variously placed and transformed alphabet, as signs of sounds. Then, out of, and with these, was formed a notation of separate signs, called Neumen, which were in use until the twelfth century. In order to assist their inspection, and make their height and depth more perceptible, the Neumen were placed higher or lower. Then, in the ninth or tenth century, one single line was drawn, as it were a foundation line. Afterwards two lines were used, the under one red, and the upper yellow. To these Guido Aretino added a black line over each, so that in all there were four lines, and at the beginning of these, the names of the notes were placed in letters of the alphabet, from which, in after time, arose our clefs. It was not until the tenth century, that some attempts at notes appeared, on seven, eight, ten, and even twelve lines and more. By about the twelfth century, the use of notes had become more general; still, however, the neumen signs, and various other forms of expressing sounds, particularly for different instruments (the lute for instance) called Tablatures, maintained a partial dominion during another century. See the article, Notensystem, &c., in the Universal Lexicon der Tonkunst.
| require the knowledge of more than two clefs. must, however, be desirable to every such studen to read the notes easily and with certainty; an moreover, to learn them in such a manner as to ren der the acquirement of an instant command of the other clefs, a matter of equal facility.
This is not to be obtained by learning by rote, nor by the note-table introduced by some Professors;† but by a clear insight into the notation, and its agreement or coincidence with the tonal system. It must be felt, that the scale of notes is a true image of the scale of sounds, this latter being the scale, properly so called-that the notes ascend and descend by degrees on the lines and spaces, in like manner as do the tones in the scale. Now, the first exercise, is to fix upon any tone or clef-for example, the G clef (the one-lined g on the second line)—and from that point, to write and name, upwards and downwards, the following gradation of notes; viz. :
Lastly, take a good musical composition, and read out aloud all the notes from it; and if a note should not be immediately recognised, its name can be soon discovered by ascending or descending, degree by degree, to its next neighbouring note. It is indeed possible, that this method may take more time in the beginning than learning by rote; but it impresses the knowledge more firmly, and has the effect besides, that if one or two clefs have been studied in this manner, the other clefs become known as it were of themselves, while the eye has already acquired much
This is, as we are informed, an invention of Mr. J. B. Logier, and manifests equal ingenuity with the other inventions of this brilliant and highly talented instructor, but it is too mechanical; as, indeed, the whole system of this professor could not avoid being, with the particular objects he had in view. The Note-table is a board placed between the keys and the reading-desk. Upon it all the keys of the instrument are represented, as so many equal divisions, and upon each division are marked the clef (F or G) the name of the note of the key immediately under it. In this manner the student has constantly before his eyes four objects in combination,-the key, the clef, the name, and the note, which thus imperceptibly fix themselves by degrees in his memory. It is, therefore, a facilitated learning by rote.
facility in the swift reading of notation. Furthermore, it secures a promptitude, which in all cases must be obtained, in finding and naming the tones of the tonal system, upwards and downwards, and in any order, with rapidity and decision.
'THIRD SECTION-AUXILIARY FORMS AND SIGNS IN NOTATION.
We have no higher clef than the G clef, and no lower than the Fclef. Nevertheless, we require in the former many ledger lines for the higher tones, and in the latter many also for the lower tones. Tones of the three and four-lined octaves are written for the former thus,
With such tones, therefore, an auxiliary kind of writing is used: that is, the higher tones are written an octave lower, and over the notes is placed the cypher,
8, or 8va, (ottava), in order to point out that they are to be played or sung an octave higher than written. If a succession of such tones should be written lower, the sign of the octave is elongated by a line so far as it is intended to act, thus,
8mm, or 8van,
and the place where the notation is to have its prolongs the effect of the 8va sign here, so far as it regular meaning again, is marked with
l, or loco, signifying, "at the right place." notes, for instance,—
This succession of
extends, as before in No. 24.
Sometimes we find in musical writings, instead of all' ottava, simply ottava (8va), which is an inexact, or rather an erroneous manner of writing. When this occurs, we are obliged to guess from circumstances, what was the real intention of the composer. If a passage began with a succession of octaves, and it were followed by a simple 8 or 8va, as in this instance,
alla 6ta (sesta).
Here the second note is to be read as counter C. meaning that with each of the tones indicated by the
the eighth to the tenth as counter G, E, C, but the eleventh as great C.
succession of notes,
This manner of writing is of course applicable to
would be repeated as before; but the repetition would only go as far as the twelfth note (ƒ), then the four following (e-g-c-g), would be passed over, and in lieu of them, those after the sign of repetition (e-g-f-e), would be played.
The following words or signs have the same meaning,
Da capo (D. C.. or D. c., or d. c.)
from the beginning; that is, to repeat from the be
If a long passage or a large part of a composition is ginning. If the repetition is to reach only to a to be repeated, we use the
Sign of repetition or Repeat.
Two bars across the lines, with dots between the lines, on the left of the bars. Here the following distinctions must be observed.
If a part or passage of the composition is to be repeated from the beginning, it is only necessary to place the repeat as above, at the point from which the performer is to return to the beginning; but if the repetition is not to be from the beginning, the opposite sign of repetition must be placed at the point where the repetition is to commence, thus :—
certain point, and the piece of music there close, that point is indicated by—
For Fine (end).
It is well also to add to this sign, in order to make it more striking to the eye, this mark, over the last note,
(which we shall find further on, employed for another object), and to write, instead of simply da capo,D. C. al fine.
that is, from the beginning to the (indicated) end.
If the part is not to be repeated quite from the beginning, but only from a certain point, that point is indicated by the sign
would be played through from beginning to end, and then be repeated from the sign at the third note c, to the note where Fine and the sign are placed, which is the lower c, as the end of the passage.†
Other abbreviations and facilitations we shall learn hereafter.
Finally, we will mention one other sign which is used at the end of a side or of an incomplete pas
+ Here also it is necessary to imagine a piece of music of some extent, instead of the trifle above. One would rather write those few notes over again, than employ the abbreviations.