Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

or with signs at (b), when the expression is meant to be very strong and overwhelming; or the signs at (c), when at the same time the notes are desired to be protracted beyond their full time. The following directions are also usual, for some varieties of the same object :

Ben pronunziato-meaning well, firmly expressed,
Accentuato-distinctly and strongly accented,
Marcato-clearly and forcibly expressed,
Pesante-heavily, impressively,
Martellato-(hammered), with suddenness and

and are placed over the notes.

For the lesser or greater loudness of considerably extended passages, the same terms are used, and also the following, again, in about five gradations:1 Pianissimo, piano assai, pp, and also ing very gently or softly.

2 Piano, p-softly.


3 Poco forte, pf, mezzo forte-a little loud, rather


[blocks in formation]

Each of these expressions refers to whole passages in a composition, and its effect endures until it be contradicted, or another gradation of sound be enjoined.

The above five gradations give us distinct conditions or states of sound: but we may wish to pass imperceptibly, from one to the other.

The imperceptible passage from piano to forte is thus represented :

or (particularly in cases of great extension), byCrescendo, cresc.-increasing,

Poco a poco cresc.-increasing gradually, Cres. al forte, or al fortissimo-increasing to loud, or to very loud,

*The signs at (b) are not usual in England.-TRANSLATOR.

[blocks in formation]

This division, which has been entirely devoted to rhythm, has shewn us only one side of it, namely, the formation of bars, the fundamental forms of measures of sound, together with motion and accentuation.

So far, the doctrine of musical rhythm is by no means exhausted. We shall enter much more fully into this branch in the first to the third sections of the fourth division. This separation is indispensable; For without a knowledge of the principles of bars, instruction in melody cannot be represented; and without melody, the doctrine of more elevated rhythm must remain an empty word, without living application.

[blocks in formation]

Every musician ought to take a general survey, and acquire some knowledge of the most useful of these instruments, in order that he may be aware of their peculiarities, and that an increased familiarity with them may be more easy of attainment. Only so far, will our present instructions go. The more intimate knowledge which belongs to the real use of an instrument, must be left to particular study, from the third and fourth parts of the author's instructions for composition.

The instrument given to us by nature is the human voice; and its musical application is called SONG.

Song is usually combined with

and this also, from its position, demands the due consideration of the musician.

The artistic mechanical contrivances known under the general name of


are of many kinds and species.

+ Diluendo is very little, if at all, used in England.-TRANSLATOR,


We will first divide them into


1. Stringed instruments,

2. Wind


3. Instruments whose sound is produced by percussion or beating,

4. Ditto, by friction or rubbing.

Each of these classes contains many individuals, of which we shall mention the most usual only.

Stringed instruments are of two species, viz:those whose sound is produced by striking or drawing the string out of its position of rest, and those whose sound is produced by rubbing the string with a bow.

Wind instruments are of three species, viz:—those whose body is made of wood, ivory, &c., which we comprise under the name of


such as are made of metal, called

A third species consists alone of

in which by pipes, a bellows and keyboard, the sounds are created and displayed.


are reduced here to such as produce their sound by the blow of a stick or hammer on a distended skin. We will only mention in passing, such as are made of disks, or rods of metal. Others, such as bells &c., we omit, as not belonging to music. Of


we shall not have many observations to make.

The combination of all or many of the instruments of friction for the production of music, is called a STRINGED ORCHESTRA.

A similar combination of wind instruments is called a


ment, or at least each kind thereof, has a separate staff or notation for itself, and all these staves are placed, bar corresponding to bar, over each other. Such piece of written music is called a


Many scores, indeed, have been made also for few instruments, or for one only-the pianoforte, and have been called arrangements; but the best of these combinations can no more represent the score, than an engraving can irradiate the living colours of a painting. It must therefore be desirable to every friend of art, to make himself somewhat at home in scores. To the composer, conductor, or teacher, this knowledge is absolutely indispensable.

A peculiar relationship between the pitch of certain instruments and their notation, requires here a few explanations. There are some instruments whose tones are an octave lower than they are written. In such, therefore, these tones


would not be produced as such, but as the following:


in the lower octave. It is said of them, that they



Secondly, there are tones in the organ, which sound two octaves lower than they are written, and consequently they are called


Thirdly, there are tones also in the organ, an octave higher than they are written, and which would make the example above, No. 133, sound as if it were written thus :


A general combination of both the preceding, They are called (more or less perfect) is called a


If the instruments of friction, reed instruments, and brass instruments, with their proportion of percussive instruments act, in concert, they are called a GREAT ORCHESTRA.

The combination of several singing voices is called a


Music is divided into different species, according to the organs brought into action in its production. Compositions for singing are called VOCAL MUSIC.

For instruments,


Vocal music may be alone, or united with instrumental music; in the former case it is called


Choral music (particularly of devotional subjects and in appropriate form) without accompaniment, is marked with the words


it is said to be set a capella.

Compositions for several voices or instruments are usually so written that each single voice or instru


Other mechanisms produce tones two or three octaves higher.*

On the other hand, all instruments, registers, and voices, which produce their tones as written, are called of


Further on, we shall become acquainted with other deviations in the notation, and with instruments whose tone appears to be one, two, three, and more degrees higher than it is written.

Now we come to a musical element, particularly suggested in this division, which is


All musical mechanisms (with the exception of These are also in the organ.

+ A pipe in any simple wind instrument (or in an open flute stop of an organ), of about eight feet in length, gives the great C; the deepest and therefore in this respect, the normal tone on the key board of the organ. A similar organ pipe, twice as long, that is, of sixteen feet, gives the deeper octave (the double C). Again doubled in length (thirty-two feet), the pipe produces an octave still lower. Half the normal length (four feet), gives the higher octave, that is, the little c, and so forth.

According to this proportion in measurement, the increasing or diminishing pipes of the organ are called of eight feet, of sixteen feet, or of four feet, &c.; and hence this manner of naming has passed generally to all other musical instruments. Thus much in explanation of the singularity of the expression.

some percussive instruments) have the property in common of producing some part of our system of tones. Their difference in this respect consists merely in the number of tones which each can produce, some producing many, others only a few. The tone, however, is alike in all, and it is of no importance that any particular instrument should, or should not, be able to produce any given tone. The difference now material to us in this place is, the Timbre or Character of Sound. The same tone, in consequence of the difference of character, is quite another thing when heard from the flute or the trumpet, from the violin or the human voice, &c.

On this matter, however, we cannot in this book* do more than make some passing remarks, and this chiefly to excite and direct the observation of beginners and other attentive students, so that they may acquire at least a general conception of musical effects in this regard.


The human voice is the material with which vocal music is formed, generally combined with speech, but sometimes not.

[blocks in formation]

or falsetto. The sounds of the head voice are produced by a more or less forcible constriction of the cavity whence the voice proceeds. Through this, to a certain degree unnatural contraction, the voice assumes a fife-like character, gentle but weak, and far inferior to the full and bold, but cordial and expressive voice of the chest.

The falsetto is used only in the higher tones. The lower, and by far the greater part of the tones, are given in the chest voice. Some tones on the adjoining borders of the registers may be given in either. A particular way of producing the voice is called MEZZA VOCE.

(meaning) half voice. This is a kind of piano, in

More minute information upon this point will be found in the Author's Treatise on Composition, Parts 3 and 4.

+ The tone of the voice is formed in the Larynx, a mechanism consisting of cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, at the upper end of the Trachea, or more properly it is the highest part thereof, which, especially in men, can be seen and felt exteriorly, under the throat. The Corda vocales, with the muscles attached to them, together with the mucous membrane, form an opening termed rima glottidis, which leads upwards from the trachea into the cavity of the mouth. On the greater or less tension of the corda vocales and contraction of the rima glottidis, depends the height or depth of the voice. The more forcible the tension, the higher is the tone.

which the voice is very gentle and tender, but perfectly distinct in its character.‡

The voice is divided into two classes, the male and the female; in the latter of which, boys' voices may be included.

The female voice lies an octave higher than the male. If, for example, a female or boy's voice intends to produce the tone which in a male voice would be the little c, it would in reality sound the one-lined c. And in like manner, if a male voice were to follow a female voice in singing this passage136.

he would intonate it an octave lower, and, therefore, thus :


The male and female voices are each divided into two chief species.

The chief species of the male voice are

THE BASE, the deep; and TENOR,§ the high. The chief species of the female class are COUNTER-TENOR, or CONTRALTO,|| the deep; TREBLE or SOPRANO, the high.

Besides the principal species, secondary divisions likewise occur, such as the BARYTONE,

a higher bass, between the bass proper and the tenor; MEZZO SOPRANO,

a deeper treble, between the treble proper and the contralto. Or they are distinguished simply as FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, &c.

Bass, tenor, contralto, soprano, &c., the highest voice counting as the first.

Apart from these secondary divisions,
THE BASS (basso)

comprises the tones (about) from great F, up to the one-lined d or e. It is almost entirely chest voice, and has the firmest, most massive, but also roughest character. Its tones are almost without exception, written in the F or bass clef.

THE TENOR (tenore)

extends from about the little c d to the one-lined g or a. Its three or four upper tones belong mostly to head voice. Its character is more gentle, yielding, but giving an impression of youthful strength. It is also more capable in general of fiery inward passion than the bass character. Its tones are usually written in the tenor clef. It may be observed that this clef comprises most conveniently, all its tones; that is, with the fewest ledger lines


Mezza-voce singing has been latterly much admired in Lind, and earlier in Sontag. It might have been considered still more wonderful in the great Catalani, who, though but rarely, interwove it with matchless grace in her otherwise colossal and magnificent song. Inimitable was she in a passage peculiar to herself, in which she ran up the scale in mezza voce, repeating each tone three or four times with the utmost rapidity, while panting in the tenderest emotion.

§ The Tenor has had its name Tenor (contents, chief contents), from the ecclesiastical music of the middle ages, it being the function of this voice, in preference, to sing the plain chant (cantus firmus), which as the principal part, was therefore the chief thing or contents to be done.

|| (In German)" Alt” from Altus, alta vox-properly the high voice, in respect of the tenor, then considered the chief voice.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

the vowels. The consonants are accompanying characteristic sounds, added to the vowel sounds. Of the consonants, we shall only give the following sibilants, as an example :

s, sch, sz, c, z, ts, tz, &c.

With all these materials, speech, musically considered, exhibits a large variety of forms and broadly marked differences of expression. It seems clear and full in the Latin, lofty and ingenious in the Greek, picturesque and sublime in the Hebrew, passionate in the Italian or Spanish, mixed and cloudy in the French, and especially in the English. The German has not the advantage of pleasing the ear, but in deep significance of characteristic expression, it stands preeminent.

These assertions, however, must be considered as merely superficial notices, upon a subject very interesting for many reasons to a musician. Least of all, can the character of a language be given or estimated from its characteristic sound only. French has been elevated by its poets and by Gluck, in union with music, to the highest dignity and most appropriate expression: and who can ever forget that Shakspeare and Byron have spoken to us in English.

We have yet an observation to make respecting the notation of songs, with regard to the placing of the syllables under the notes.

We have before stated that two, four, and more quavers, semiquavers, &c., may be joined together by a common line of duration, thus:

[blocks in formation]

THIRD SECTION.-STRINGED INSTRUMENTS. According to our intimation at page 45, we shall consider under this head (the bowed instruments being excluded) only the stringed instruments most in use, and shall therefore limit ourselves to the keyed instruments, the harp, and guitar. KEYED INSTRUMENTS. §

Such are in general, all instruments whose sound is

§ However superfluous it may appear to enter into any particulars concerning the nature of these universally familiar instruments, a few words touching their principal feature will not perhaps be useless. That, is the sounding board, which in the pianoforte is under the strings; it is the body (as it is called) of the harp, and the body of the guitar, and of bowed instruments, whose strings are stretched upon it.

The strings of all these instruments have by themselves alone, but a feeble sound, which to be musically serviceable must be increased in volume. Now, it has been observed that when any sonorous body, such as a pipe or string, is made to sound, all sonorous bodies sufficiently near and at liberty to vibrate, produce of themselves, either the same sound,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

This instrument also, is so well known, that we need but say few words about it.

The harp, as is well known, has many strings, freely exposed to the impact or seizure of the fingers on both sides, and is therefore capable of producing harmony as well as melody. It is inferior, however, in this respect, to the pianoforte, from the short duration of its sounds, whereby (in its present construction at least) the effect of the combination of long and short sounds cannot be produced. But, for pure musical sounds, of silvery, bell-like character, the harp is most admirable: these, particularly in pianissimo, it can evolve in really delicious and aërial harmonies.


or a sound nearly related to it, and thus strengthen the original sound. So, on the pianoforte, (the dampers being raised), if a deep tone be produced with force, the nearest related tones will be heard with it. the deep tone, being for example C, the sounds produced of themselves would be the octave c, then the fifth g, then again, c, e, g and bb, (see note at page 17). This sympathetic vibration can not only be heard, but seen also. This may be effected by placing little saddles of light paper on several of the strings of a pianoforte. On the deep key being struck, the little saddles will be thrown off the related strings, by their vibrations, but will remain quiescent on the unrelated strings, although these may lie nearer to the deep tone. Now, the air under the sounding board, and these several contrivances themselves, are the accompanying vibrators for all the sounds, and by their means alone the required power is given to the strings. A violinist can produce a similar effect by placing an open vessel on his violin, whereby the air in the vessel is found to vibrate. From this same source proceeds the ressonance, sometimes favourable, sometimes the contrary, in a musical sense, of vaulted roofs and hollow floors.

A still greater disadvantage of the harp, as compared to the pianoforte, is the impossibility of its possessing simultaneously, all the semitones.

The harp, in its quiescent state, is limited to one major scale; and if a tone be required, which is not contained in that scale, a string must be altered to produce it. There are two ways of effecting this object, and therefore two kinds of harps.

The Hook, or Irish harp, is of the earlier kind. In the neck of this, there is near the peg for each string, a little metal hook, by the turning of which, the strings are drawn tighter, and are thereby raised a semitone. But this process requires a pause in the playing, since it must be applied to each string separately.

The Pedal Harp has in a great degree overcome this imperfection. By this invention, the strings required are raised a semitone throughout all their octaves. The pedal harp is tuned to Eb major. By the pedals, d may be converted into d c into c, bb into b, eb into e, f into f, g into g, and ab

into a.

[blocks in formation]

but they are heard to sound an octave deeper. The instrument is therefore said to be of sixteen feet

tone, as we have explained at page 45.


Bowed instruments are those whose strings, mostly four, are stretched over a sounding and finger-board, and whose sound is produced, as the name imports by the friction of a bow. By this manner of production, the character of their sound is sometimes highly attractive, at others most harshly repulsive;

* The Mandolin and Cithern are inferior specimens of this class of instruments, which has been well known from the earliest antiquity in Greece, India, and China. The first is common in Italy. The second, set with wires and struck by a bit of quill, is still occasionally met with in the Alpine regions. Formerly the beautiful and comparatively powerful lute was much admired. This instrument had supernumerary strings, which resounded with those played upon: owing, however, to the difficulty of keeping it in tune, it fell out of use. The Theorbo was a more important instrument: it was of the nature of a large guitar, but had strings on two or three sides, and was principally used in orchestras for the thorough bass, or in obligato accompaniments.

The Eolian harp might also be mentioned here, were it not rather a natural than an artistic instrument. Its strings are distended over a sounding board, and tuned to unison. When properly exposed to a current of air, whereby the strings may be set in motion, fairy-like and enchanting harmonies are wafted from its coincident vibrations.

« AnteriorContinuar »