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GENERAL MUSICAL INSTRUCTION.
REVIEW OF THE PROVINCE OF MUSIC, AND OF THE OBJECT OF GENERAL MUSICAL INSTRUCTION. General musical instruction is essential to every person who in any manner, whether as Singer or Player, as Composer or Teacher, desires to employ himself in music on a solid foundation,-in order that with full preparation and foreknowledge he himself may be enabled to pursue, or may be capable of communicating to others, the special branch which may be the peculiar object of attainment. This treatise is therefore the elementary school for the musical world in general; and by its assistance, instruction may be obtained in vocal and instrumental performance and in composition, while, so far as music is concerned, its materials can be wholly dispensed with by no one. As moreover, our work bears a character of universality, in necessary information on our subject, we will not scruple to communicate some peculiar methods (for example, of score reading and playing) which are indeed not indispensable to every musician, but are nevertheless desired by many, and can be nowhere better given than in this book.
General musical instruction is not desired to be merely a grade of scientific distinction, but is intended for all who take any interest in music, that they may have a full comprehension and just appreciation of the art in all its aspects. In order, therefore, the better and more extensively to accomplish our object, we will assume no previous instruction. We will take nothing for granted-but what is universally known by common intercourse, or what is self-evident. By this it will be seen at once that our instruction will be eminently practical. Its rational foundation is demonstrated by the science of Music, whereof in this book, we can only here and there throw in a ray of enlightenment, and then, simply to develop and fix irremovably some important and fundamental ideas, which would not be sufficiently understood and impressed without the deeper illustrations of Science.
If we wish, then, to collect the universal elements of musical knowledge, we must first learn what are those elements upon the nature of which we desire to obtain information. In our conception they are everything that belongs or relates to music. Let us therefore contemplate this art as we everywhere find it.
We know that music works first upon our hearing Everything that we hear is known by the general name of SOUND,
in what manner soever that sensation may affect us; whether it be loud or soft, pleasant or repulsive, and so forth.
In the application of the human voice to music, words are in general combined with it; and in this operation, not only the meaning of the words is manifested, but also their manner of utterance and the single sounds of which the words are composed. The single sounds are called
VOCAL SOUNDS (Laut*).
We see, further, that music is produced either by the human voice or by instruments of various kinds; as flutes, violins, trumpets, and so forth. Everyone knows, that these different instruments are distinguished by their respective kinds of sound. The flute gives a gentle, soft, flowing sound-the trumpet resounds with vehemence, forcing and crashing, and so forth. This distinguishing quality we will call
TIMBRE, OR CHARACTER OF Sound.
We ought to have said, therefore, just now, the character of the sound of the flute is soft; that of the trumpet is crashing, and so forth.
We observe, lastly, that in one and the same instrument the sounds produced have another special difference between themselves. That, for example, the four strings of a violin, or the strings of a harp, sound on each instrument quite differently among themselves. In common parlance, some coarser, some finer; that is, the longer strings of the harp and the thicker strings of the violin sound coarser (lower), and the shorter strings of the harp and thinner strings of the violin sound finer (higher). Considering sound in this relationship, we call it
*The expression Laut is indeed understood to be synonymous with Schall (Sound): it seems, however, advisable to use it in the above sense exclusively, as the prescribed name for a determined and really distinct object. The distinction of Laute into Selbstlaute (Vowels), Doppellaute (Diphthongs), and Mitlaute or Beilaute (Consonants), is familiar.
This word is in italics to distinguish it from tone meaning distance or interval, and this practice will be observed throughout the book. Thus the middle C on the piano (called in this book the one-lined C), which is represented in notation by the note on the first ledger line under the staff in the G clef, and on the first ledger line above the staff in the F clef, is called the tone C-the fixed and determined sound C, or onelined C, of an absolutely fixed and invariable pitch or height in the scale. In like manner we might say the tone C, or the tone D, or DD, or D or any other tone whose height or depth is determined. But on the other hand we should say, the tone C is one tone below D, two tones below E, &c., speaking of the tones D and E next higher than C.-TRANSLATOR.
We therefore have several and very different tones. The tones of the longer and thicker strings we call deeper tones-those of the shorter or thinner strings, higher tones. In general, the tones of men's voices are deeper than those of boys' or women's voices. The tones of flutes, violins, or trumpets, are higher than those of the bassoon, bass, or French horn. We say the tones in general, because as each voice and instrument is capable of producing many tones, it may well happen, that the highest tones of a deep voice, be higher than the lowest tones of a high voice.
The clearest idea of the difference of height and depth of tone will be obtained by the inspection of a pianoforte or other keyed instrument. Here every key-be it a black or a white key*-gives a particular tone. We have in this sketch before us:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.11.12. 13.
c d e fg α b
Now, if we produce a succession of ones, or sounds of any determined value according to any law, in any order of succession in time, this order of succession in time is called
If such an order do not exist-if the tones have either no determined value, or follow each other in no determined order of duration-the succession of tones is called unrhythmic. A succession of tones without rhythm, and also without any determined value, is certainly imaginable; as for example, in most of the singing of birds. On the other hand, rhythm may be easily produced without determined tones, by means of sound only, as for example, by drums.
A rhythmically arranged succession of tones (whether it be pleasing, expressive, &c., or not) is
A piece of music may consist of one single line of successive tones, which is then described as IN ONE PART,
or of two, three, four, or more simultaneous lines of
twelve or thirteen keys, for just that number of single successive tones; this is said to be
different tones. The tones towards the left, are the deep-those towards the right, the high tones. The extreme left therefore gives the lowest tone, the next a higher, and the keys 12 and 13 the highest tone.† Let us now proceed to other matters.
Every tone or sound produced, must begin at a certain time and occupy a certain time, longer or shorter, determinately measured, or indeterminate. The prescribed time for a tone or sound we call its VALUE.
We therefore say of a tone, it has no determined value, or it has a value of such and such a length, or it has a definite value longer or shorter than, or equal to, that of another tone.
* See page 8.
+ Timbre or character of sound and tone, therefore, are not, as it were, in themselves substantive appearances; but merely qualities which we distinguish in sound or in that which is audible. If we consider a sound (of an instrument or of a bell, for example) in regard to its height or depth, we call it tone; but if we contemplate a sound (irrespective of its height or depth) as distinguished from other sounds (as for example, all the tones, or the same tone of the flute as distinguished from the same or from all the tones of the trumpet), we call it timbre or character of sound.
There are sounds, indeed, which have neither any distinct appreciable timbre or character, nor any determined tone. These we call by various names: noise (Geräusch), clashing, or clattering (Getöse), whistling, roaring (Sausen), chirping, warbling (Schwirren), and many others, imitative of various kinds of noise. Other sounds have a definite character, but no determined height or depth; for example, drums, bells, and others. One can indeed perceive, approximatively, that such and such drums or bells are higher or lower than others; but their difference cannot be measured with exactness. All this, however, may be set aside for the present we do not as yet want it, and have only introduced it here to prevent misapprehension.
We must here mention that the term Klang (timbre or character) in musical instruction, has been hitherto used in a different sense. Gottfr. Weber, in the Introduction to his Theory of Music, has characterized Klang as being a sound of determinable height; Ton (tone), a sound of determined height. For the musician, this distinction seems unimportant; while a sure and precise designation of what we call Klang (timbre or character) appears to be indispensable, and therefore justifis our manner of appropriating it. In the absence of any such correctly distinctive term, various expressions have been used, such as, the inherent stamp of the tone, timbre, colour of the tone, colour of the Klang, quality of the Klang, and several others. This wavering and uncertainty shewed of itself that none of the terms completely satisfied the feeling: indeed, they are partly circumlocutions, partly comparisons, and partly quite incorrect. A more particular explanation belongs to the
Science of Music.
In fine, let it be further observed, that in common conversation, also, the word tone is often incorrectly used for Klang. We hear-" This instrument, this voice has a good tone," whereas the expression should properly be,-"They have a good Klang" (timbre or character of sounds).
IN TWO, THREE, FOUR, OR MORE PARTS; but every line of successive tones, whether sung or produced by an instrument, is called, in technical language,
Also, if various simultaneous lines of successive tones are produced on one and the same instrument —for instance, on a pianoforte-they are considered as so many separate parts.
The simultaneously uniting tones of different parts must have some rational relationship among themselves, in conformity with the rules of art; they must in some manner agree with or be adapted to each other. This relationship is called
In ordinary intercourse we apply this name to the agreement or compatibility of different things: thus we say of two colours suitable to each other, or of two persons agreeing together, that they harmoniz. with each other.
Out of all these essential parts-tones and charac teristic sounds, successions of tones and rhythm melodies and harmonies-is produced
Whoever has heard various musical compositions and compared them together, must have remarked superficially at least, that many of them differ consi derably in extent and management; while other are more or less of a similar arrangement with each other. So we soon become aware that Marches differ from Dances-Secular Songs from Chorales-even in outward appearance; while on the other hand, all Marches, among themselves, Chorales, &c., in their general appearance, more or less resemble each other. These arrangements-these outward distinguishing appearances of works of art-we will call
instrumental schools, and to the able Professors these various arts. Composition and the Science Music require separate treatises. The other branche of our subject we shall either unfold completely, o explain in their elemental principles or general ideas so far as they may be universally necessary.
These, then, are the indispensable contents o General Musical Instruction. We shall conclude with a few general observations (as an Appendix) on musical education and instruction-on the vocation to music as a profession-and on the manner of learning, as the most important of our additional matter, promised in the beginning of our Introduction.
The History of Music and the building or construction of instruments, do not come within the compass of our present treatise. They must be the objects of separate works.
OF THE DOCTRINE OF Tones. FIRST SECTION-OF THE TONAL SYSTEM A Tone is a sound of a determined height or pitch. We have already seen in the Introduction, that there are many tones, many sounds of different height and depth: the number indeed of the different possible gradations of tones must be infinite. In music, however, all possible gradations of tones are not employed, but only a certain number in a determined arrangement.*-The totality of these tones is called the TONAL SYSTEM.
This system of tones contains, therefore, all the tones employed in music.
These tones are above a hundred. Now, it would manifestly cause difficulty if we assigned a different name to each of these. It has therefore been judged expedient to comprise them all in seven groups and names, which are called the seven
These degrees are named after the letters of the alphabet:
* The gradations of tones really used in the production of music, are not selected arbitrarily nor indeterminately, but according to fixed principles, evolved from the laws of Acoustics. We wish to say a few words here, merely to fix the idea of tone more distinctly.
Acoustics show that sound is produced by the vibration of an elastic body. Elasticity is the property of a body, whereby its parts return to rest after being set in motion by an external force.-So we see, with a sword-blade, that if we bend it out of the straight line, and suddenly set it free, it will vibrate until it recover its original state of rest; and so with the low strings of a pianoforte, if we strike them forcibly and hold up the dampers, the vibration goes on visibly before us, while the sound gradually subsides and at length dies away, as the strings resume their former position of rest.
Such an audible vibration may be irregular, as to the continuance of each vibration, as in the drum for instance, and then we hear simply a noise; or it may be regular, each single vibration occupying the same space of time, so that the vibrations can be counted or numbered, and then a tone is produced.
In our system, we place those gradations together, which, while they are perfectly and clearly distinguishable, are still in near, easy, and therefore agreeable relationship to each other: other gradations which are difficult to distinguish, and are moreover repulsive to each other, we reject.
The determination of the relationship of tones, as applicable to the wants of our art (in which, for reasons which cannot be now detailed, we are not allowed to use the tones in their original most simple and natural relationships) is called Temperament, and the practical operation of preparing an instrument (namely, a pianoforte, violin, organ, &c.) so as to render it capable of producing those tones, is called tuning. Should the instrument not give the true relationship of tone, it is said to be out of tune, but the incorrect tones themselves we call false.
In France, Italy, and the Southern Nations, the syllables, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si
are used for the names of the tones, instead of our c, d, &c. The first six
All tones bear the name of one of these letters, or a name derived from them.*
We easily understand this system of names if we look at the keys of a pianoforte, or the fig. at page 6. We there see longer and wider keys, generally white, and between them, shorter and thinner keys, usually black. Of these black keys, first two, and then three, lie nearer to each other-for instancein our fig. page 6, those marked 2 and 4, and further on, those marked 7, 9, 11, lie nearer to each other than the black keys, 4 and 7, or 11 and 14. These divisions, easily perceived, will serve us for landmarks.
The nearest white key placed immediately before two black keys (we proceed always from Left to Right), gives us
THE DEGREE-C ;
the following white key, d-the next, e; the white key lying on the left, before three black keys, gives f, and so on. In our figure, all the names of the degrees are written on the white keys.
We see on the pianoforte many more keys than we have represented, but the same arrangement of tones and of keys, and therefore of names, constantly returns. The next white key after b (marked 13 on the figure) gives consequently again c; then follows again, d, e, &c., always in the same relationship of tone, but always higher.
We observe, therefore, that every degree in our system of tones, that the whole scale of degrees appears several times; that we have more than one c, d, &c. How shall we distinguish them from each
are the initial syllables of a verse in a hymn to St. John, and were employed by a music master, the Monk Guido d'Arezzo, in the eleventh century, in order to enable his scholars to pitch their voices more easily. The producing of these tones according to these six syllables, is called solfaing, and was long the torment of students of music. Much later, the thought occurred, to give a seventh name (si) to the seventh degree; and it was taken from the initial letters of the last line of that verse, Sancte Johannes.
*Why exactly these, and not the first seven letters of our alphabet in its original order? This arrangement arose as follows: Originally, the alphabetical names were, in fact, used in their common order, A, B, c, d, e, f, g, and B denoted the tone now called by us H, (B in English): but the tones produced by our black keys were then defective; and that key which lies under our H, (B English), was introduced, and was also called B. There were, therefore, two different tones, both having the same name, B. They were at first distinguished by the names of B quadratum, our H, (B English), and B rotundum; and later, the B quadratum received the name of the following letter (after G), H. Still later, the succession of tones beginning with C, [therefore c, d, e, f, g, a, h, (B English),] was recognised as the most important; as the true foundation of all the others; and so, in substance, the matter became correct, although the succession of names remained irregular,
after which follow the
Higher octaves would require additional lines.
The deepest string on the violoncello gives c in the great octave, or the great C. The deepest string on the tenor is the c in the small octave, or the small c; and the deepest string on the violin, the small g, and so forth.
In writing, great roman characters are used for the great octave, and small for the small octavesmall with one line above or below for the one-lined octave small with two lines above or below for the two-lined octave, and so forth. The whole succession of names of tones, from the Counter-B, is therefore as follows:
or also, in a Latin or Italian word, Scala. The scale is complete whether it contain the seven degrees only, or also the eighth; for all beyond is indeed mere repetition in a higher or lower octave.
The countertones, the great and small octaves, and at all events a part of the one-lined octave, are comprehended under the name of the BASS,
or bass tones. The higher octaves, with the whole of the one-lined octave and the higher tones of the small octave, are included under the name of the TREBLE,
or treble tones. The exact boundary would therefore be the one-lined c, but it is allowable not to adhere rigidly to that limitation. The whole distribution is but superficial, for the sake of dispatch when no precise object is in question.*
SECOND SECTION-THE SYSTEM OF NOTATION.
For the representation or indication of tones we use a particular kind of writing, called
This invention is suggested by the idea of the scale (note ladder), which has indicated the steps (Stufen) or degrees whereon the notes in the form of round, blackened or empty spots, are placed.†
It would seem necessary to make as many degrees as there were tones; for example, seven or eight degrees for an octave :
*Is now, our system of tones, such and so far as we here know it, the only one that has been employed-the only one that can be used? By no means. History informs us that in ancient times, instead of seven degrees, five only were employed, and in the following order :