Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ways- laboured, will pardon this composer would endeavour to fup. my preface. :1

ply its place, by factitious and un.. . ,. Catherine Vade, natural beauties; it would be

charged with frequent and regular

T modulations.; but cold, gracelels, Curious extracts from Mr. Rousseau's and inexpreflive. Recourse would 499 letter on French mufic, 4. be had to trills, tops, tha

dove poter 16: T . . other false. graces, which would On ther language molt proper for mulic, serve only to render the song more * barnow first tranflated.'

ridiculous, without rendering is ani ! less insipid.

" TT is easy to conceive that some A music attended with such so,

1 languages are more proper for perfluous ornament will be alwaysmusic than others, and that there, faint and inexprelli ve ; while its may be some languages totally im. images, deftitute of all force and proper for any. Of the latter kind energy, describe but a few obje&s would be à language.composed of in a great number of notes, exa&ly. mixt sounds, of mute, furd, and like Gothic writing, the lines of nasal syllables, of few Sonorous which are full of strokes and cha. vowels, and a great many confo. racters, yet contain only two of nants and articulations; and which three words, and but a very small might want some of those essential quantity of meaning in a great conditions which I fall speak of space of paper. » under the article of measure. For The impoffibility of inventing the sake of curiosity, let us enquire agreeable songs would oblige the what would be the consequence composers to turn all their thoughts of applying music to fuch a lan. to the fide of harmony; and for guage. ..

want of natural beauties to introIn the first place, the want of duce those of arbitrary fashion, force in the sound of the vowels which have no other merit than would oblige the composer to give lies in the delicacy of the execu. a good deal to the notes, and be. tion. Thus, instead of composing cause the language would be surd, good mofic, they would compote the music would be noisy. In the difficult music; and to supply ibe second place, the hardness and fre, want of simple melody, would maquency of the consonants would tiply their accompaniments. If oblige him to exclude a great num. would cost them much less troue ber of words, to proceed on others ble to lay a great many bad things only by elementary tones, so that one upon another, than to invent the music would be insipid and mo- one good one. notonous. For the same reason, it In order to remove the infipidiwould be low and tiresome, and ty, they would increase the contewhen the movement should be ever fion; they would imagine, they so liule accelerated, its haste would were making music when they were resemble that of a hard and angular only making a noise. Umii. body rolling along on the pavement. Another effect which would rem

As such a music would be desti. fult from this defect of melody, i, tute of all agreeable melody, the that the musicians, having gay

falk

false idea ofit, 'would invent'a me-' now the different meafures of vocal lody of their own. Having nothing music could arise only from the of true mufic, they would find no different methods of scanning a dif. difficulty in multiplying its parts course, and placing the long and bocause they would give that name short fyllables with regard to each to what was not so even to the other. This is very evident in the

thorough bass to the unison of Greek music, whose measures were - which they would make no fcruple only so many formula of the ryth:

to recite the counter-tenour, under mi furnished by the arrangements cover of a fort of accompaniment, of long or short fyllables, and of whose pretended melody would those feet of which the language have no manner of relation to the and its poetry were susceptible. vocal part of the song. Wherever! So that, although one may veryti they faw notes they would find a well diftinguith in the musical ryth. 7 tune, although in effect their rune' mus the measure of the profody, TM would be nothing but a fucceffon' the meafure of the vetfe, and the of 'notes. Poces prætereaquie'nibil. ' measure of the care, it cannot be '

Let us proceed now to the measure; doubted that the most agreeable i in the difpofirion of which confifts" music, or at least that of the most

the greater part of the beauty and complete cadence, would be that." expreffion of the fong isang ay 3" ' in which the three measures should

Measure is to melody nearly concurs as perfectly a's poffible. what syntax is to discourse it is! After chefe eclaircillements,''I' - that which connects the words, dif. return to 'my 'hy pothesis, and fupe.

tinguishes the phrases, and gives pose that the language I have been fenfe and confiftency to the whole. speaking of should have a defeca Alt mufic whofe measure is not per- tive prosody, indistinct, inexact," ceived, if the fault lie in the person and without precision; that its long, who executes it, resembles writing and short fyllables should have no in cypher, which requires one to ' fimple 'relations with regard to have a key to explain it ; but if time or number, so as to render its the music have no sensible measure · rythmus agreeable, exact, and res in itself, it is only a confused colegular; that its long syllables should lection of words taken at hazard,' be fome shorter and others longer land written without connexion,* than others ; that its short ones in which the reader finds no sense, · should in-like manner be more or because the author gave them less thort ; that it hould have ma. mone. Ini Di ..ny neither short nor long; and that

I have said that every national the difference between the one and music takes ils principal character the other thould be indeterminate from the language which is pecu- and almoft incommenfurable. It is? liar to it i and I should have added, clear that the national music, beá that it is the prosody of that lan- ing obliged to receive into its mea.' guage which principally conftitutes sure the irregularities of the profo. Cts character. As vocal music long dy, would have fuch measure of preceded the instrumental, the lat- course vague, unequal, and hardly Eer häth always received from the perceptible; that its recitativc Former both its tune and time : would in particular parcake of this

0 2

1500

irregularity; that it would be very ftant reproaches againt their bad difficult to make the force of the taste, and by hearing real mube in notes and syllables agree; that the a language more favourable to 11, measure would be obliged to be they would at length endeavour to perpetually changed, and that the make their own resemble it : ,in verses never could be set to an ex. doing which, however, they would act and flowing measure ; that even only deprive it ofits real character, in the measured airs, the move and the little accordance it might ments would be all unnatural and have with the language for which void of precision ; that if to this it was constructed. If they should defect be added ever so little delay thus endeavour to unnaturalize in time, the very idea of its ine. their singing, they would render it quality would be entirely loft both harsh, rough, and almost unutierin the finger and the auditor ; and able : if they contented themselves that, in'fine, the measure not be with ornamenting it with anyother ing perceived,nor its returns equal, than such accompanitnents as were it could be subject only to the ca. feculiarly adapted coit, theywould price of the musician, who might only betray its infipidity by an in. hurry or retard it as he pleased : so evitable contraft : they would de. that it would be impossible to keep prive their music of the only beau. up a concert without somebody to ty it was susceptible of, in taking mark the time to all, according to from all its parts that uniformity the fancy or convenience of some of character by which it was conleader.

ftituted ; and by accuftoming their Hence it is that singers contract ears to disdain the finging only to such an habit of altering the time, listen to the symphony, they would that they frequently doit designed in time reduce the voices only to ly even in those pieces, where the a mere accompaniment of the ac. composer has happily rendered it companiments.

. i! perceptible. To mark the time Thus we see by what means the would be thought a fault in com. music of such a nation would be pofition, and to follow it would be divided into vocal and inftrumenanother in the tale of finging ; tal; and thus we see how by giving thus defects would pass for beau. each different characters to the two ties, and beauties for defects : er. fpecies of it, they make a moc. Tors would be established as rules; frous compound of them when and to compose music to the talte united. of the nation, it would be necessa. Thefymphony would keep time;

Ty to apply carefully to those things and the singing would suffes no re.. which would displease every other straint ; so that ihe singers and the people in the world.

ymphonists in the orchestra would Thus, whatever art might be be perpetually at- variance, and used to hide the defects of such putting one another outa . This music, it would be impossible it uncertainty, and the mixture of

Thould be pleafing to any other the two characters, would intro 'tars than those of the natives of duce in the manner of Accompani

the country where it hould be in ment, such a tamenefs and inlipi : vogue. By dint of suffering con. dity that the symphonists would

get gee such a habit, that they would with as ill success as it was absurd. not be able even to'exécute the best ly premeditated. . , . music with spirit and energy. In. On a contrary supposition to the

playing that like their own, they foregoing, I might easily deduce · would totally caervate it; they all the qualities of a real music,

would play the soft strong, and the formed to move, to imitate, to . ftrong soft, nor would they know please, and to convey to the heart

one of the varieties of these two the most delicate imprefsions of terms. As to the others rinforzando, harmony : but as this would lead dulce*, risoluto, con gusto, Spiritoso, me too far from my present subject, foArnuto, con brio, they would have and particularly from our generally no words for them in their lan. received notions of things; I shall guage, and that of expression would confine myself to a few observations be totally void of meaning. They on the Italian music ; which may I would substitute a number of tri- enable us to form a better judg

Aing, cold, and flovenly ornaments, ment of our own, in the place of the masterly stroke. If it be asked what langoage will of the bow: and however numerous admit of the best grammar, I antheir orchestra, 'it would have no swer that of the people who reafon effect, or none but what was very best ; and if it be asked what nacion disagreeable. As the execution should have the best music, I should would be always saggish, and the answer that whose language is beft fymphonists are ever more solici. adapted to music. This is what I tous to play finely, than to play in have already established, and shall time, they would be bardly ever have farther occafion to confirm it together; they would never be able during the course of this letter. to give an exact and just note, nor Now, if there be in Europe a lan. to execute any thing in that cha. guage adapted to music, it is cer. racter. Foreigners would be almost tainly the Italian ; for that lan. all of them astonished to find an guage is soft, sonorous, harmonic orchestra, boafted of as the firft in ous, and more accented than any Europe, hardly worthy to play at other; which four qualities are

a booth in a fairt. It would be precisely those which are most pro: naturally expected that such mufie per for singing.

cians should get an aversion to that. The Italians pretend, that our * mosic which thus disgraced their [the French) melody is Alat and

own; and that, adding ill will to void of tune; all other nations also · bad rafte, they would put in exe. unanimously confirm their judg*cution the delign of decrying it, ment in this particulari. On ous

part

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

There is not, perhaps, four French Symphonists in Paris who know the difference between piano and dolce ; and indeed it would be unnecessary for them fo to do ; for which of them would be capable of executing it ?

Not that there are not some very good violin-players in the ochestra at the opera : on the contrary, they are almost all such, taken separately, and when they do not pretend to play in concert.

There was a time, says my lord Shaftesbury, when the custom of speaking French had brought French music also into fashion among us (the English). But

O 3

the

Part, we accuse theirs of being ca. of it, at least, with regard to mo, pricious and barbarous*. , I had lody; to which alone the whole much rather believe that one or dispute is in a manner reducible, the other were mistaken,' than be 'I took some of the most celebrat. reduced to the necesi'y of saying, ed airs in both kinds of music; thạt, in a country where arts and and divesting the one of its trills sciences in general are arrived to an and perpetual cadences; the other high degree of perfection, that of of the under notes, which the com. music is as yet unknown. Z poser does not take the trouble to

The least partial among ust write, but leaves to the judgment of contented themselves with saying the fingert. I rolfa'd them exaaly that, both the Italian and French by note, without any ornament, music were good, in their kind, and without adding any thing to the and in their own language : but, sense or connexion of the phrase, besides that other nations did not I will not tell you the effed which subscribe to this comparison, it still the result of this comparison had on remained to determine whịch of my own mind, because I ought to the two languages was the best a. exhibit my reasons, and not to dapted to music in itself. This is a impofe my authority. I will only question which was much agitated give you an account of the method in France, but will never be so I took to determine, so that, if elsewhere ; a question which can you think it a good one, you may only be decided by an ear that is take the same to convince your. perfectly neuter, and which, of self. I must caution you, howerer, course, becomes daily more diffi- that this experiment requires more cult of solution in the only country precautions than may år first apwhere ihe object of it can be pro. pear necessary. blematical. I have made some ex. The first and molt difficult of all, periments on this subject, which is to be impartial and equitable in every one may repeat after me, and your choice and judgment. The which appear to serve as a solution second is, that in order to make the Italian, exibiting fomething more agreeable to nature, prefently disgusted us with the other, and made us perceive it to be as heavy, Aat, and infipid, as it is in fact. ? . . Puen, is i t? Or,1,LAY

* It seems these reproaches are much lefs violent fince the Italian music hath been heard among us. Thus it is that this admirable music need only thew itself what it is, to justify itfelt againlt every thing that is advanced against it,

+ Many perfons condemn the total exclusion which the connoiffeurs in music give, without hesitation, to the French muực... Thefe conciliating moderators would have no exclusive talte ; just as if the love of what is good muft neceflaruy work some regard for what is bad.

This method was very much in favour of the French music for the under notes in the Italian are no less effential to the melody, than thofe which are written down. The point is less what is written, than what ought to be sungi and indeed this manner of writing notes ought to pass for a kind of abbreviation, whereas the cadences and trills in the French music are requilite, if you will, to the taste, but are by no means eflential to the melodyy they are a kind of paint, which ferves to hide its deformity, without removing it, and which ferves only to render it the more ridiculous to the ears of good judges...! .... this

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »