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COLLECTED AND EDITED
FRANK HUNTER POTTER
Price, $1.25 net
18, BERNERS STREET
ANH To 72
The English song was profoundly influenced during the eighteenth century by one important force, that popular institution, the Public Pleasure Garden.
No reader of contemporary memiors or novels can be ignorant of the large part which these Gardens played in the life of London, which then, as now, was another name for the social life of England. Pepys and Horace Walpole and Fielding alike give us glimpses of the hold which Vauxhall and Ranelagh and Marybone (which was the common spelling of the word Marylebone, as it was and is its common pronunciation) had upon the affections of the public. And considering the fact that the Gardens were open only four months, or, at the best, five, out of the year, the influence which they exercised on English songmusic is out of all proportion to the amount of time in which it was exerted.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century the tendency of this music was toward the florid, marked by what was technically termed in those days “division,” this being the name for those rapid passages which were produced by the “division” of slow notes into quick ones, such, for instance, as one finds in the roulades in “Rejoice Greatly" and other florid Handel airs, to take the most familiar examples. The music of Purcell was full of it, and in such smaller men as Eccles, who copied and exaggerated Purcell's mannerisms, it was carried to a ridiculous extent. It was even introduced into variations on simple folksongs, and the following example will show the excesses of which it was capable. These variations are of the end of the eighteenth century, but they are fairly typical of the sort of thing which was done at it3 beginning, and of the general direction in which song-music was then headed.
When it came to be a question of singing out of doors, or in a large rotunda where two or three thousand people were perpetually walking about, it was clear that such florid passages could make no effect whatever. But as during the warm months of the year the best singers in England sang in such surroundings songs written for them by the best composers, and the audience was composed of the most select elements of London fine society, it was certain that the singers and public