1902 Encyclopedia > Music > History of Music: Renaissance and Baroque Eras; Early Opera.

(Part 4)


History of Music: Renaissance and Baroque Eras; Early Opera.

When descant ceased to be improvised, and with the advance of notation the writing of a carefully-planned accompanying part became more and more practicable, such a part was defined as counterpoint—point or note against note. Counterpoint is simple when each melody is in notes of the same length as those of an accompanying melody ; it if florid when one melody proceed in longer or shorter notes than another melody. At first the use of perfect concords only was allowed in counterpoint, but of these never two at the same interval, as two 5ths or two 8ths, in succession. 3ds and 6ths were afterwards introduced. Then discords were admitted under either of two conditions : (1) that they were approached and quitted by step and not by leap, and were always unaccented ; (2) that they were suspended from a note of a previously-sounded chord, or from a note without harmony, and that they were resolved by passing to a concord while the harmony lasted against which they were discordant. Subsequently one more class of discords was employed ; these were elements of the harmony, being added to, not substituted for, the notes of a chord, and they were resolved, with the change of the entire chord, upon notes of that chord whose root was at the interval of a 4th above the root of the discord. It is from the institution of the art of constructing counter-point that the history of the music we know, and the capability to produce it, are truly to be dated. Throughout the period of transition from what must be regarded as an instinct of the people to what was truly a scholastic problem, there were English writers on music in such numbers as to prove the high consideration in which it was held in Britain, ant the great pains spent to evolve principles for its regulations.2 John of Dunstable is especially to be noted, of whom Tinctor the Netherlander (c 1460 A.D) wrote, in discussing the art of counterpoint : "Of this new art, as I may call it, the fountain and source is said to have been among the English, of whom Dunstable was the chief." Contemporaneous with Dunstable, but far behind him in esteem, was Egide Binchois, a musician of Picardy.

The first essays at composition in harmony were in the forms of canon—that is, in which successive parts have the same melody, but begin each at stated period after its precursor. When the first part completes a rhythmical sentence prior to the entry of the second part and continuous the melody as accompaniment to the second, and so on with regard to the third or fourth parts if there be so many, the composition has in England always been styled a round or catch, as distinguished from the closer canon, in which the successive parts enters without regard to the close of a phrase ; but elsewhere than in England no distinction is made between the catch and the canon. The term round refers to the return t the beginning by the first part, while the other parts respectively continue the melody. The term catch springs from each later part catching up the tune during its continuance by the others. The term canons relates to the problem of finding the one or more points in a melody whereat one more successive parts should begin the same tune. Very early allusion is made to the singing of catches by the English people, which continued in practice until after the Restoration ; every trade had its characteristic catch ; there were many on pastoral subjects ; those which engaged composers in the time of Charles II, are mostly of a bacchanalian cast ; and the form was appropriated in the later Georgian era to sentimental subjects, when the practice of singing catches had passed from the people at large, but was preserved in some convivial clubs that consisted of men of fortune, who paid and listened to, but took no part with, professional singers.

Quite distinct from the canon is the fugue (fuga). In it a short complete melody flies (hence the name) from one part to another, while the original part is continued in counterpoint against it. To suit the different compass of high and low voices, this melody is transposed into the key of the dominant (the 5th above or 4th below) when assigned to the second entering voice ; in the first instance it is called the subject or dux, in the second it is called the answer or comes, and they were formerly also distinguished as masculine and feminine. A subject is real when it admits of exact transportation into the key of the dominant; it is tonal when it needs modification to be fitted for this change, and then, if authentic, its answer must be plagal, and, if the subject be plagal, the answer must be authentic. The copious rules of fugal development needed many years for their ripening, but the beginning of this art-form dates from very primitive times, and a speculation has been already offered as to its origin (p.18).

The earliest piece of music for several voices that has been found in any country is an English "six men’s song," contained in a manuscript which best judges assign to the period prior to 1240. It is a canon for four voices, with independent parts for two more, which stand as a foot, or burden, or ground bass to support all the others. The original words are a description of summer; these are proof of the secular origin of the music, but there are also written to the notes the words of a Latin hymn, which prove the practice above noticed of utilizing the peoples, songs for church purposes. The Arundel MS., which had lain unnoticed in the library of the Royal society and has lately been transferred to that of the British Museum, comprises several compositions in two-part and three-part counterpoint, and it belongs to the year 1260 – a new addition to the many proofs of the earlier and greater advance of music in England than in other countries. In the Parisian library are some pieces by Dam de la Hale, the Hunchback of Arras, which consist of a secular tune as bass with its original words, and two florid parts above with sacred Latin words. The reputed author lived in the later half of the 13th century, but it is surmised that the contrapuntal parts may have been added to his tune at a subsequent period by another hand; if this be so, the English pieces are the first, and seem to be the only extant specimens of counterpoint of the period.

Thus far the advance of music was earlier and greater in England than elsewhere. In the 15th century Flanders produced the musicians of most esteem and greatest influence. Early among these was Ockenheim or Ockeghem of Hainault (c. 14201513), who was surpassed in fame by his pupil Josse Desprès (more commonly known by what must have been his pet name of Josquin) of Hainault. He practised the art in his own country, in Italy, in France, and in Austria, and was everywhere regarded as its highest ornament. Though not credited with the origination of principles, he is highly extolled for his practical application of those already acknowledged, and the renown of many of his scholars shows him to have as good a teacher as he was a voluminous composer. In his works, however, the artificiality of the prevailing style is obvious; many of them have some secular song for "cantus fermus" which supports the florid melodies set to sacred texts that it was the musician’s highest aim to engraft upon them. Some of them are notable for a pleasantry or even a jest framed on a punning application of the names of the notes or on the choice of a text that was pertinent to the occasion for which they were written. Others are distinguished for the multiplicity of their parts. All are of a character to elicit admiration of their ingenuity rather induce delight by their beauty.

Tinctor, already mentioned, founded in Naples the first musical conservatory, and coincidently Willaert, another Fleming, founded one in Venice, their object being, as implied in the definition, to conserve the art of music from corruption. Not only in these exclusively musical schools and in similar institutions which sprang up in the same and other cities was the art cultivated, but in the academies of general learning that were established in all the Italian cities when studies of the classics became the passion of the age there was generally provision for the teaching of music.1

In the 15th century and later, because musical erudition was still applied entirely to the service of the church, and because Italy was the ecclesiastical centre, musicians of all lands went to Italy, and especially to Rome. It was, however, in England first, and it has been only in England until America adopted the practice, that academical honours have been given to musicians. John Hamboys (c. 1470), author of some treatises on the art, is the reputed first doctor of music. The record exits that in the university of Cambridge conferred the degrees of doctor and bachelor respectively on Thomas Seynt Just and Henry Habyngton. Probably these degrees were granted on the strength of pedantic lore formally required. In the following century a musical composition also was exacted from candidates for graduation. It may seem an anomaly that art-excellence should be tested by academical regulation, since by some supposed to soar above rule; but, rise as it may, to be art it must be founded on principles, and, if in its working of to-day it overstep its limits of yesterday, it is for ever unfolding new exemplifications of those natural laws whereon it is based, and the greatest artist of any time is he who can most deeply probe, and is thus best able to apply the phenomena; upon these grounds, the, it is not beyond the province of the schoolman to test and to declare the qualifications of an artist.

The knightly calling, in the age of chivalry, not only referred to heroic acts and deeds of arms, but regarded skill in verse and melody, in singing and accompaniment. Princes and nobles of highest rank practised these arts, and were then styled troubadours, who were sometimes attended and assisted by jongleurs to play to their singing. See TROUBADOURS. Their music seems to have been rhythmical, as was necessary to fit the verses, and the perfect, or ternary, or triple time is said to have prevailed in it more commonly than that which we should now write as two or four in a bar. A similar race of knightly songsters in Germany were the minnesinger (see vol. x. p. 525). They set great value on the invention of new metres, and he who produced one with a melody to suit it was called a meister (master), while he who cast his verses in a previously accepted metre or adapted them to a known melody was styled tondieb (tone thief). For the most part, their pieces comprises a fore-song, a far longer section in several stanzas, to each of which the same melody was repeated, and an after-song, all three divisions having their won separate melody. Their music is said to have been in the church style of the period, but was distinctly their own composition. The exercise of the gentle arts by the nobility declined with the decline of chivalry, and as it fell into disuse among them it was adopted by the burgher class in the guilds of meistersänger (see vol. x. p. 526). One of the most meritorious and by far the most prolific of the whole craft – his compositions being numbered by thousands – was Hans Sachs of Nuremberg (14941576). He was by trade a shoemaker, and all the members of the guild followed some such calling, and devoted themselves to the study and practice of song as recreation from their daily labour. They cultivated the arts of both composition and performance of song in its twofold aspect of verse and tune, for which, according to tradition, they enacted most rigid and perhaps pedantic laws. None of their work has come down to us, but the name have left affords an instance of the aspirations of the common people to that intellectual condition which is not the exclusive prerogative of the church nor the privilege of the wealthy. Guilds of meistersänger were also established in other towns of North Germany., The title and its application generally declined until the 17th century, but lingered feebly in a few places until 1836, when the latest-lived guild was dissolved at Ulm.1

The dawn of the 16th century is marked by the appropriation of musical scholarship to secular writing. It was about that time that the madrigal came into vogue. The etymology of the word is obscure, but the class of music to which it is applied is clearly distinguished. It is stamped with the imitative character of the canon, but is free from the rigid continuance of one melody by the successively entering voices; and it has as much resemblance yet unlikeness to the fugue in having the flight of a musical phrase from one to another of the vocal parts, but not being steadfast to one subject throughout its design, -- nay, imitation sometimes ceases in the madrigal when particular words need special emphasis. The villanelle, villancico, chanson, or the part-song of the period is distinguished from madrigal by the definite rhythm, a quality excluded from this latter by the response in one part to the uncompleted phrase of another; and the lighter species of composition was so arranged as to suit a single voice with a lute accomplishment when a voice to each part was not available for the performance. Still more marked in rhythm and more slight in structure was the ballet, so named because it was sung as an accompaniment to dancing (balata, from ballare), or the fal-la, so named because often set to these two syllables. All these classes of music were as often played as sung, and in English copies are generally described as "apt for voices or viols." The Flemish masters have left as many and a admirable specimens of secular work as of church music; Italian musicians, who rose from the teaching of the Flemings, successfully emulated the two-fold example; but in England secular composition seems to have been the indigenous development of national intuition and at its outset at least the pieces comprises in the Fayrefax MS., which are mostly of a pastoral and always of a tuneful character; of these, Dr. Robert Fayrefax the collextor, Sir Thomas Phelyppes (a priest), Newark, Theyngham, Turges, Tudor, Browne, Gilbert Bannister, Richard Davy, Cornyshe, and other were the composers.

The renowed Roman school, to which we must now pass, owed its existence to the precept as much as to the example of foreigners, chiefly from Flandes. Claude Goudimel (c. 15101572, known as a Fleming, though his birth be assigned to Avingnon, was the first to open a seminary for musical tuition in Rome, and the most famous musicians of the century were its pupils – Palestrina (ob. 1594), Orlando di Lasso (ob. 1594), the brothers Animuccia, the brothers Nanini, and many more. Lasso, Lassus, or Latres of Mons is signalized among these for the great number and great beauty of his works, and for the wide area over which he spread his labours. In his own land, in Rome, in France, in England , and chiefly in Bavaria, he was active as a choir-master and as a composer, and did as much to advance art by making his music express the words to which it was set as by teaching the executants to realize this expression in performance. He is praised for breaking from the long previous practice of writing prolix florid passages to single syllables, a weakness manifest in the music of his countryman Desprès and of intervening writers.

Several musical treatises by Spanish writers of this period are extant, which are not regarded highly for the novelty of their views, not for more than usual perspicacity in the statement of them. It might have been supposed that Spain would have been as favourable to the production of musical talent as Italy has always been. That the contrary is the fact is, however, patent; but the explanation lies with the ethnologist rather than with the musician.

Though the church from time to time appropriated the secular art-forms from their rise to their maturity, its chief authorities were always jealous of these advances, and issued edicts against them. Se in 1322 Pope John XXII. Denounced the encroachments of counterpoint, alleging that the voluptuous harmony of 3ds and 6ths was fit but for profane uses. So too the twelfth or Ionian mode – the modern scale of C major, the only one of the church modes, save under special conditions the fifth of Lydian mode, that accords with the tonality of present use – was stigmatized as "lascivious" and proscribed form the sanctuary. More accordant with present views of propriety was the many-sided objection to the employment of tunes of the people in place of the church’s plain-song as bases on which to erect counterpoint, an the construction of this counterpoint in the most ornate of the several florid species. Enlarging on the primitive practice of adapting Latin words to popular tunes, the best approved masters, in the two centuries preceding the epoch now under notice, took tunes of this class, to which it is stated the original words were commonly sung by congregations at least, and even by some members of the authorized choir, while other of the singers had such extensive passages to execute that to make the sacred syllables distinct was impracticable. The whole custom of composition and performance was rigorously condemned by the council of Trent, in consequence of which Palestrina was commissioned in 1563 to write music for the mass that should be truthful to the spirit of devout declamation and aim at the utmost approach to musical beauty. To this end he made three experiments; the first two were declared successful, and the third was accepted as the fulfillment of all that could be desired for religion and for art; it was named, after the preceding pope, "Missa Papae Marcelli." This great work was set forth as the standard to which all ecclesiastical composition was required to conform; and so it did conform until a new musical idiom arose, until the popular ear thirsted for new forms of expression, and until musicians sought and found favour in meeting the general demand. In the three hundred years between that time and this, pontiffs and conclaves have again and again enacted statues to conserve the purity of ecclesiastical art, but art as often gas run of control and proved that every succeeding era adds to its capabilities.

Despite the unbroken continuance of their use in the Roman service, great ignorance now prevails as to the church modes and their permitted modification. Ears trained by modern experience recoil from the uncouth effect of the melodic progressions incidental to some of these artificial scales, while antiquaries protect the infallibility of extant copies of music constructed in those modes, and insist on the authority of such manuscripts to secure purity of performance. A Treatise on Counterpoint by Stefano Vanneo of Recanati (1531), however, expressly states that the notes in the modes were subject to inflexion. That accomplished singers necessarily knew what notes should be raised or lowered by sharps or flats, and that these signs were never written but for the direction of boys and other executants who had not attained to mastery of their art. The treachery of tradition is exemplified in the loss of the rules for this once generally understood practice of notal inflexion; but the inference is strong that, could these rules be recovered, many of the melodies nor called Gregorian might resume a musical character of which they are robbed by strict adherence to their written notes.

In England during the 16th century choral music kept pace with the age. This is evidenced in the works of Tallis and Byrde (Bird, or Byrd), who wrote for the Roman ritual, and continued their labours for the Anglican service as modified by the Reformation, which exercised the genius of many another, of whom Orlando Gibbons was the crowning glory, for the few of his works that are accessible in comparison with what he is believed to have produced are classed among the masterpieces of their style and their period. The same musicians, or most of them, are as notable for their secular as for their sacred writings.

It was in the middle of the 16th century that the class of composition now ranked as the highest was originated. The oratorio dates its existence and its name from the meetings held by san Filippo Neri in the oratory of his church in Rome, at first in 1556, for religious exercise and pious edification. He was the confessor and friend of Giovanni Animuccia, whom he engaged to write music to be interspersed throughout his discourses. Originally this consisted of laudi or short hymns, the extent of which was afterwards enlarged; by and by the spoken matter was replaced by singing, and ultimately the class of work took the form in which it is cast by present composers. Such is the source of the didactic oratorio; the dramatic oratorio is an offshoot of the same, but is distinguished by its representation of personal character and their involvement in a course of action. The first instance of this kind of writing was the production of Emilio del Cavalieri, La Rappresentazione dell’ Anima e del Corpo, which, like its didactic precursor, was given in the oratory of a church in Rome (1600).1

To the beginning of the 16th century is due a more significant matter than the secularization of studied music, than the reform of the music of the church, and even than the labour of those musicians of whose great names only the most notable have been cited. The matter in question refers not to art-forms nor to artists, but to the fact that music has its foundation in the natural laws of acoustics, and thus is lays open the principle for which Pagan philosophers and Christians has been vainly groping through centuries, while a veil of mathematic al calculation hung between them and the truth. Jean Mouton of Holling in Lorraine (14751522) is the earliest musician in whose works has been found an example of the phenomenal chord of the dominant 7th approached with the full freedom of present-day practice. The discovery is usually ascribed to Claudio Monteverde, of whom and of his great art services much will be said when treating of the ensuing century. Like other of the wonders of nature, the chord and its application seem not to have come suddenly into knowledge, much less into acceptance, but to have experimental upon with less or more of hardihood by one musician after another, until good effect had silenced dispute and authorized the adoption of this beautiful harmony into the language of music. The discovery of the grounds of its justification is to be traced to a still later time. The speciality of the chord consists in its comprising between its 3d and 7th the interval of the diminished 5th, the two notes of our diatonic scale which are omitted by many primitive nations – the 4th and 7th from the keynote – and which perplexed the considerations of theorists and practitioners, as has in the foregoing been repeatedly shown. Speculation as to the new delight the first hearing of this combination must have occasioned is precarious; the opposition with which it was encountered by the orthodox is certain.

Yet another prominent feature in musical history dates from the beginning of the 16th century, the practice of hymnody. Luther is said to have been the first to wrote metrical verses on sacred subjects in the language of the people, and his verses were adapted sometimes to ancient church melodies, sometimes to tunes of secular songs, and sometimes had music composed for them by himself and others. Many rhyming Latin hymns are of earlier date whose tunes are identified with them, some of which tunes, with the subject of their Latin text, are among the Reformer’s appropriations; but it was he who put the words of praise and prayer into the popular mouth, associated with rhythmical music which aided to imprint the words upon the memory and to enforce their enunciation. In conjunction with his friend Walther, Luther issued a collection of poems for choral singing in 1524, which was followed by many others in North Germany. The English versions of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins and their predecessors, and the French version b y Marot and Beza were written with the same purpose of fitting sacred minstrelsy to the voice of the multitude. Goudimel in 1566and Le Jeune in 1607 printed harmonizations of tunes that has been become standard for the Psalms, and in England several such publications appeared, culminating in Ravenscroft’s famous collection (1621); in all of these the arrangements of the tunes were by various masters. The English practice of hymn-singing was much strengthened on the return of the exiled Reformers form Frankfort and Geneva, when it became so general that, according to Bishop, Jewell, thousands of the populace who assembled at Paul’s Cross to hear the preaching would join in the singing of psalms before and after the sermon.

The placing of the coral song o the church within the lips of the people had great religious and moral influence; it has had also its great effect upon art, shown in the productions of the North German musicians ever since the first days of the Reformation, which abound in exercises of scholarship and imagination wrought upon the tunes of established acceptance. Some of these are accompaniments to the tunes with interludes between the several strains, and some are compositions for the organ or for orchestral instruments that consists of such elaboration of the themes as is displayed in accompaniments to voices, but of far more complicated and extended character. A special art-form that was developed to a very high degree, but has passed into comparative disuse, was the structure of all varieties of counterpoint extemporaneously upon the known hymn-tunes (chorals), and several masters acquired great fame by success in its practice, of whom Reinken (1623-1722), Pachelbel (1653-1706), Georg Boehm, and the great Bach are specially memorable. The hymnody of North Germany has for artistic treatment a strong advantage which is unpossessed by that of England, in that of the most part the same verses are associated with the same tunes, so that, whenever the text or the music is heard, either prompts recollection of the other, whereas in England tunes were always and are now often composed to metres and not to poems; and tune in a given metre is available for every poem in the same, and hence there there are various tunes to one poem, and various poems to one tune.2 In England a tune is named generally after some place – as "York," "Windsor," "Dundee," – or by some other unsignifying word; in North Germany a tune is mostly named by the initial words of the verses to which it is allied, and consequently, whenever it is heard, whether with words or without, it necessarily suggests to the hearer the whole subject of that hymn of which it is the musical moiety undivorceable from the literary half. Manifold as they are, knowledge of the choral tunes is included in the earliest schooling of every Lutheran and every Calvinist in Germany, which thus enables all to take part in performance of the tunes, and hence expressly the definition of "choral." Compositions grounded on the standard tune are then not merely school exercises but works of art which link the sympathies of the writer and the listener, and aim at expressing the feeling prompted by the hymn under treatment.

On the verge of the 17th century a novelty in music was originated that was as pregnant of consequence as anything that has yet been noticed; this was recitative with its special characteristic s. Vincenzo Galilie was one of a band of Florentine nobles and gentry who devised the appropriation of music of free declamation, and they engaged authors and productive and executive musicians to put the conception into practice. Galilei had already come prominently into the public notice in a controversy with Giuseppe Zarlino, the most esteemed of all the writers on music in his age, who was the author of a treatise that expounded and justified the Ptolemaic division of the major and minor tones, and the former below the latter; this was answered by Galilei in support of the Pythagorean doctrine of equal tones, which is confuted by the phenomenon of harmonics, and Zarlino in turn replied to him. During two and a half centuries the art of music had been untouched by the New Learning, which had had the effect of regenerating all the other arts, and had wrought the intellectual change now known as the Renaissance. The members of the Florentine association thought it possible to apply ancient principles in modern practice, and so to reproduce the effect to which the newly-revealed writings of Greece testified, but of which these gave no such technical description as could be the groundwork of any reorganization. Obviously, the poetic power of Greek music must have lain in the force it gave to declamation; in exalting speech into song it must have given to words a clearer yet more varied significance than they could else have had, and to the passions words embody it must have given an otherwise impossible medium of expression. There existed two classes of music at the time under notice. The music of the people consisted on concise rhythmical tunes that were either composed to accompany dancing, or do constructed that, though made for singing, they were applicable to that other use; and these tunes, being repeated again and again to the almost countless stanzas of some ballad poems, could have in themselves no quality of expression beyond a vague character of sadness or gaiety; for, what might have been expressive of the prevalent feeling at one stage of a long story would necessarily be fallacious in the subsequent diversities of the tale. The music of the schools consisted of ingenious contrivances of wholly artificial nature, either to assign the same melody to several successive voices in canonic continuance or fugal imitation, or else to multiply more and more the parts for simultaneous execution; in the former case definition of rhythm is annulled, as has been shown by the entry of one part with a phrase while that phrase was uncompleted in another part, and in the latter case the manifold melodies so obscured the sound of one another that none could be distinguished, -- a fact that must be self-apparent if we think of the sound of twelve, or twenty-four, or some many as forty simultaneous currents of song. In this music there could neither be expression nor even articulation of the words, and hence, our Florentines assumed, the purpose of music was perverted and its inherent poetical essence was abused. Such combination of diverse melodies is now styled polyphony, a term that might better be applied to simple counterpoint in which the many sounds are onefold in accent than to the florid counterpoint it is employed to define, wherein the many parts have various movements. With the idea before them of the ancient rhapsodists the association proposed the setting of music to verses with the main, nay, only object of expressing the words. This music was not to be rhythmical, but was to consists of longer or shorter phrases in accordance wit h the literary sense; its intervals were not be chosen with regard to their melodic interest, but in imitation or idealization rather than exaggeration of the rising and falling of the voice in ordinary speech, the sped being hurried or relaxed by the exigency of the passing sentiments; and the accomplishment of the singer was to be on some unobtrusive instrument or, later, some combination of instruments, that should, as did the lyre of cold, verify the intonation and, in the new era (what had not been in the classic), enhance the vocal expression by some pungent harmony. Applied solely to recitation, the new invention was called recitative (recitative), musica parlante, or stilo rappresentativo. The first instance of its composition is said to have been a cantata – that is, a piece for a single voice with instrumental accomplishment – Il Conte Ugolino, composed by Galilei, but of this no copy is known to exits. Doubt prevails as to whether Il Combattimento d’Apolline col Serpente by Giulio Caccini or Il Satiro by Emilio del Cavalieri was the earlier production; they were both given to the world in 1590, were both in dramatic form and both exemplified the new, if not the revived, classic style of music. Caccini was fitted to make the experiment by practice and excellence as a vocalist more than by contrapuntal erudition, and he was soon associated with Jacopo Peri, a musician of his own class, in the composition of Dafne, a more extensive work than the foregoing, indeed a complete lyrical drama, which was privately performed in the place of one of the Florentine instigators of the experiment in 1597, or, according to some, in 1594 These two again worked together on the opera of Euridice, which was publicly represented in Florence at the nuptials of Henry IV. of France with Maria die Medici in 1600, its production having been preceded by that of Cavalieri’s posthumous oratorio in Rome, La Rappresentazione dell’ Anima e del Corpo, before noticed. That the first public performance of a dramatic oratorio and of a secular opera, both exemplifying the recently-devised declamatory power of music, should have occurred in the same year is a remarkable coincidence. That the first experiments in the novel art of lyrical declamation were confined to practiced executants who brought their experience as vocalists to bear upon composition for a hitherto untried phase of vocal effect was excellent for the purpose of proving the proposition. The success of the experiment was, however, to be established when a composer already renowned as such, one who had drawn exceptional attention by his then new views of harmony, gave the force of his genius and the weight of his name to the novel class of writing. Such was Monteverde (15681643), who in 1607 brought out at the court of Mantua his opera of Arianna, followed in 1608 by his Orfeo. In these works, and in those of the same nature that he subsequently produced at Venice, is anticipated the principle (and, so far as the resources of the time allowed, the practice also) which was revived by Gluck some hundred and fifty years later, and of which the votaries of Richard Wagner in the present day assume their hero to have been the originator, -- the principle, namely, that the exigencies of the action and the requirements of the text should rule the musical design in a lyrical drama, and that the instrumental portions of the composition should, quite as much as those assigned to voices, illustrate the progress of the scene and the significance of the words. The last specialty is exemplified in the harmonies and figures of accomplishment, and in the appropriation of particular instruments to the music of particular persons, so as to characterize every member of the action with special individuality. Such must be the true faith of the operatic composer; it has again and again been opposed by the superstition that feats of vocal agility and other snares for popular applause were lawful elements of dramatic effect; but it has ever inspired the thoughts of the greatest artists and revealed itself in their work, and no one writer more than another can claim to have devised or to have first acted upon this natural creed.

Monteverde had been attacked by Giovannin Battista Artusi for his use of what are now known as fundamental harmonies, which the composer might have learned from the music of Mouton (already named), but which he more probably rediscovered for himself; he had defended the practice, and his theoretical assailant had retorted. Polemics ran high as to the relative rights of contrapuntal legislation which had been developed through the course of ages, and the freedom of thought which had as yet neither rule nor tradition; for every separate use of an unprepared discord was tentative as to effect and speculative as to reception by its hearers. It will presently be shown that the discovery (no lighter term will suffice) of Mouton and Monteverde has its base in the laws of nature; here it is enough to say that it was a turning-point in the history of music, the throwing open the resources of the modern as opposed to the limitations of what may justly be called the archaic. The distinction of these two styles was not clearly defined till long afterwards; but a writer may here be named, Angelo Berardi; whose work (1687) more fully than any other sets forth the contrapuntal code and enunciates the requirements in fugal writing, such as the affinity of subject to answer, and whatever else marks the style and the class of composition.

The opera now became a fixed institution in Italy, its performance was no longer restricted to the palaces of princes and nobles, and it became the best-esteemed entertainment in public theatres. The dramatic oratorio was transferred from the church to the secular stages, becoming in every respect a sacred opera, and only specimens of this class were suffered to be represented during the season of Lent.

Conspicuous, as much for the merit as the multitude of his productions, was Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725), who gave the world 115 secular operas, many oratorios, and, besides these, which might well have been a long life’s labour, a far greater quantity of ecclesiastical music, some of which is characterized as most dense and massive. He is accredited with three novelties in his dramatic writing; the repetition, Da Capo, of the entire first part of an aria after the second part, of which, however, some specimens by earlier writers are said to exist; the accompanied recitative, wherein orchestral interludes illustrate the declamation and figurative accompaniment enforces it, as distinguished from speaking recitative, wherein the accompaniment does little more than indicate the harmony whereon the vocal phrases are constructed; and the sinfonia or overture which is often associated with his name, as distinguished in plan from that which was first written by Lully, his being sometimes styled the French and Scarlatti’s the Italian form of instrumental preface to an extensive work.1 Alessandro Scarlatti is little less famous as a teacher than as an artist; he was at the head of all the three conservatories then flourishing in Naples, and the long list of his pupils includes his son Domenico and most of the other chief Italian notabilities of the next generation. Conspicuous among his contemporaries were Cavalli and Cesti.

Opera was first introduced in France by Cardinal Mazarin, who imported a company of Italian performers for an occasion. The first French opera, Akebar, Roi de Mogul (1646), was composed by the abbè Mailly for court performance. So was La Pastorale (1659), by Cambert, who built his work on the Florentine model, and encouraged by success, wrote several others, on the strength of which he, with his librettist Perrin, instituted the Acadèmie Royale de Musique, and obtained a patent for the same in 1669, exclusively permitting the public performance of opera. Jean Battiste Lully2 (1633-1687) procured the transfer of this patent in 1672, and by it gained opportunity not only for the exercise of his own genius opportunity not only for the exercise of his own genius but for the foundation of the French national lyrical drama, which to this day is wrought upon his model.

The ballet had been a favourite subject of court diversion since Beaujoyeaulx produced in 1581 Le Ballet Comique de la Royne, a medley of dancing, choral singing, and musical dialoque. Lully, in his course to the summit of royal esteem, has composed several pieces of this order, which were performed chiefly by the courtiers, and in which the king himself often sustained a part; and, experienced in the taste of the palace, and indeed of the people, our musician incorporated the ballet as an essential in the opera, and so in France it still remains. It was not singly in the structural intermixture of dancing with singing that Lully’s operas were, and those of his French successors are, unlike the works of the same order in other countries, he gave such care to and exerted so much skill in the recitative that he made it as interesting as the rhythmical matter, nay, varied it often with metrical vocal phrases and accompanied it constantly with the full band, whereas, until Rossini’s Otello in 1818, speaking recitative (recitative parlante, recitative secco) was always a main element in the operas of Italy.

In Germany the seed of opera fell upon stony ground. Heinrich Schütz wrote music to a translation of Peri’s Dafne, which was performed for a court wedding at Torgau in 1627; but only importations of Italian works with Italian singers came before the public until nearly the end of the century.

In England the lyrical drama found an early home. The masques performed at Whitehall and at the Inns of Court were of the nature of opera, and were largely infused with recitative. Eminent among others in their composition were Nicholas Laniere (c. 1588-1664), born of an Italian father who settled in England in 1571; Giovanni Coperario, who during his sojourn in Rome had thus translated his patronymic of John Cooper; Robert Johnson, who wrote the original music for The Tempest; Dr Campion Ives, and William and Henry Lawes. The name of Henry Purcell (1658-1695) figures brightly in this calls of composition; but, except his Dido and Encas, written when he was eighteen, his so-called operas are more properly spoken dramas interspersed with music – music of highly dramatic character, but episodical rather than elemental in the design. This is due to an axiom of Dryden, the principal and indeed the model dramatist of the day, that music is not the natural medium of speech, and hence may only be assigned in dramatical representation to preternatural beings, such as spirits, enchanters, and witches, -- maniacs also, through the abnormality of their condition, being admitted into the privileged category of those who may sing their conceits, their spells, their charms, and their ravings. The "frost scene" in King Arthur, the "incantation" in the Indian Queen, and the cantatas for Altisidora and Cardenio in Don Quixote are masterpieces of lyrical art that give warrant of the success that might have been achieved had Purcell’s librettists given range in the province of humanity for his vivid imagination.

Earlier in the history of English opera was the production of The Siege of Rhodes, an entirely musical composition, the joint work of Dr Charles Colman, captain Henry Cook, Henry Lawes, and George Hudson, which was performed at Rutland House in Charterhouse Square in 1656, under the express licence of Cromwell to Sir William Davenant, and retained the stage until some years after the Restoration; the existence of its music is unknown, but a copy of its libretto in the British Museum amply details its construction. Separate mention is made of this remarkable historical incident as serving to refute the common supposition that Puritan influence impelled the decadence of music in England. In truth, this influence stirred the spirit of opposition in persons of a different tendency and was virtually the cause of a very powerful counter action, and through this of many highly-significant things as to the perpetuation of our music in the future. It was during the Commonwealth that John Playford printed Ayres and Dialogues, a book that comprises with many pleasant pieces the first three that ever were defined by the word glee, -- a term that later times have wontedly acknowledged and boasted as the designation of a class of music specially English. It was during the Commonwealth that the same publisher issued several editions of The Dancing Master, each being a variation of the foregoing; and this is the work to which we owe the preservation of all the beautiful English ballad-tunes of earlier date that are many of them, not to be found in previous print or manuscript. It was in that very opera, The Siege of Rhodes, that Mrs Colman, daughter-in-law of one of the composers, sustained the character of Ianthe, she being the first female who ever took part in a public musical or dramatic performance in England.

Notice must not be omitted of the application of recitative to other than theatrical purpose. The cantata of Galilei has been cited; it was followed by many a piece under the same designation, dramatic monologues in which the mainly prevailing declaration was relived by occasional rhythmical strains, and in the composition f these Carissimi, Stradella, Clari, Purcell, and Blow have left admirable specimens. Later, the term acquired a widely-changed meaning, it having been applied in Germany to compositions comprising matter for solo voices and for chorus, expressly for church use, and in England to works equally extensive on sometimes sacred, sometimes secular subjects. Cantatas are sometimes didactic, sometimes narrative, and sometimes dramatic, though never designed for theatrical use.

The music of the English Church might demand a separate history, because of its importance by the side of the art of other lands, because of the longer permanence of its examples than of works in other branches, and because of its unbroken succession of contributors, covering a period of beyond three countries, whose style has varied with the age in which they wrought, but who in this department have ever aimed to express themselves at their highest. Here, however, only the names of the most noted writers, with an approximation to chronological order, can be given -- Tallis, Byrde, Farrant, Orlando Gibbons, Dr Child, Dr Benjamin Rogers, Dean Aldrich (as distinguished in logic and in architecture as in music), Dr Blow, Michael Wise, Pelham Humphrey, Henry Purcell, Dr Croft, Dr Greene, Dr Boyce, Dr Nares, Dr Cooke, Battishill, after whom the art sank in character till it received new life from the infusion of the modern element by Attwood, coeval with whom was Samuel Wesley, and lastly are to be noted Sir John Goss, Dr S.S. Wesley, Dr. Dykes (popular for his hymn-tunes), and Henry Smart, who bring the list down to recent personal remembrance. Well esteemed among living representatives of this department of music are Barnby, J.B. Calkin, Sir G.J. Elvey, Gadsby, Dr Garrett, Dr Gladstone, Dr H. Hiles, Dr Hopkins, Dr E.G. Monk, Dr W.H. Monk, Sir F.A.G. Ouseley, Dr Stainer, Dr Steggall, Sir Arthur Sullivan, and E.H. Turpin, to which names many might be added. It must be owned, however, that the vast increase of facilities for publication within recent years have multiplied church music almost immeasurably, and exercised the pens more than the wits of writers who prove themselves to be amateurs less by love of music than by love of composing, and still more by love of notoriety, which is gratified in the circulation among their own connexions of works that gain no acceptance by the world at large. The style, in strictly technical sense, of music for the church is and always has been, in England and elsewhere, identical with that which characterizes contemporaneous music on lay subjects. Some English musicians have of late aimed at, or perhaps only spoken of, a distinction of styles for the church and for the chamber, and this under a supposition that to be archaic was to be sacred, a supposition seemingly founded on the present use of, and high respect for, more ecclesiastical music of early date than of secular music of like age. The supposition overlooks the facts, however, that the church appropriated the tunes of the people eight hundred years ago, while the people framed some of their tune son the peculiar church modes, that harmony was practised by the people before it was employed by the church, that the style of madrigals appears coincidently in sacred writing, that recitative was first applied to the opera and to the oratorio in the same year, that Monteverde’s innovations in musical combination were at once adopted by church composers, that Purcell, Handel, and Bach wrote in onefold style for both situations, that the glee-writing of the latter half of the 18th century is undistinguishable from the services and anthems of the period, that Attwood had no different phraseology for the cathedral and the theatre, and that even now, though disguised to the glance by the antiquated notation of minims instead of crotches, the thought expressed and the idioms which is their medium belong not more or less to the one that to the other purpose. Though contention be strong for the contrary, this is true art, presenting the feelings of the time in the time’s own language and not making the sanctuary walls a boundary between art and artifice.

Attention must now be directed to the natural as opposed to the artificial basis of music. Marin Mersenne had great love and much practical knowledge of music; he directed his profound learning and rare mathematical attainments to the investigation of the phenomena of sound; and his treatise Harmonie Universelle (1636) first enunciated the fact that a string yields other notes than that to which its entire length if tuned. The discovery was extended by William Noble and Thomas Pigot, respectively of Merton and Wadham Colleges, Oxford, to the perception of the mode in which a string vibrates in sections, each section sounding a different note. The ancient musicians tested by calculation the few phenomena of sound then discovered rather than by observation of the principles these exemplify. The measurement of major and minor tones was, after the distinction of perfect intervals, the subject dearest to their consideration, and it seems the furthest limit to which their knowledge attained. All the laws for melody, all the rules for counterpoint, were founded on this mathematical method. The step or the leap of stated intervals was prescribed; combinations of sounds were reckoned by intervals from a named note, as 5th, or 6th, or 3d, as constituting complete chords traceable to a common source, and intervals which are discordant were permissible only if softened in effect by the previous sounding of their discordant note; the canons for the progression of a single part and for the union of several parts were arbitrarily devised, peremptorily fixed, and rigidly enforced. Mouton and Monteverde found the good effect of musical combinations for which there was no account in the history of their time, and employed them in their works; the innovation was stigmatized by musical grammarians, but it gave delight to the public and was adopted by subsequent composers. No explanation was, however, given of the natural source of fundamental harmonies, as chords of this class are now defined, and their employment was still exceptional, still an act of daring. In 1673 the two Oxonians above named, simultaneously, but independently, noticed the beautiful fact that a stretched string yields a different sound at every one of its modal divisions, and the same is true of a column of air passing through a tube. The sound so generated received form Sauveur1 the name of harmonics, by which they were known for nearly two centuries, but they have of late been renamed partial tones or over-tones2. Here is a table of seventeen of the series: --

== TABLE ==

The figures under the notes show the number of each harmonic, counting from the generator or prime as the 1st. The notes marked * differ in intonation from the corresponding notes in our tempered scale, the 7th and 14th, and also the 13th, and likewise the 17th being slightly flatter, and the 11th being slightly sharper than our conventional notes; but the matter of temperament must rest for later consideration. The 8th above any note is double the number of that note; thus every higher C is double the number of the C below it, namely, 1,2,4,8,16; and so with every higher G, namely, 3,6,12; again with the higher E, namely, 5,10; and with the higher _B, namely, 7, 14. The number of each harmonic is the same as that of its relative number of vibrations in any given time as compared with those of the variously-numbered harmonics, namely, the 8th above has two vibrations to each of the note from which the interval is reckoned, the 5th has three violations to two, and so forth throughout the series. From _B to E, the 7th and 10th, is the interval of the augmented 4th, which was shunned in the classic times, ignored by the Chinese, the Mexicans, and the Scots, ruled against by contrapuntists, and avoided in melody and harmony until employed by the Flemings and the Italian with such good effect that the world accepted it under the conditions of accompaniment with which those men employed it, and felt that a new element of beauty had been incorporated in the resources of the artist. The occurrence, in the harmonic series, of the two notes that are separated by this interval accounts for the discord they produce when sounded together, not needing the artifice of preparation which is required to mitigate the harshness of other discords; they are brought into being when the generator is sounded, and their assignment to voices or instruments in performance is but to make more articulate, or, so to speak, to confirm what nature prepares – in fact, what is induced by the generator. As light comprises all the colours and every gradation between each colour and the next, but yet seems spotless, so every musical sound comprises all other sounds, but yet seems to be one single note; the blue, or the red, or the yellow, or any other ray is separated form its prismatic brotherhood and seems then a complete and independent object to the vision, and so any sound is separated from the harmonic column and then seems all in all to the sense of hearing. Let the reader observe in the musical example that the intervals become closer and closer as they rise, and that when the 8th or double of a note occurs, if there be any break in the numerical succession between such 8th and the note that would, by example of the lower octave, stand next below it, then some now harmonic appears whose number adjusts the broken order; between the lowest C and the next is no break; between the lowest C and the next is no break; between this C and the one above it, 2 and 4, what would else be a blank is filled by G, the third harmonic; between 4 (C) and 6 (G) what would be a blank is filled by E, the fifth harmonic, and so on throughout the series. No division of an interval is ever equal, the lower potion being always the larger; the interval between 2 and 4 is divided into a 5th and a 4th that between 4 and 6 is divided into a major 3d and a minor, that between 6 and 8 by an interval less than a minor 3d and a 2s, and that between 8 and 10 by a major tone and a minor tone. It may be well to pause at this point, as it is the natural justification of what Ptolemy calculated, but Pythagorans failed to perceive. Thus much having been noticed, readers may be left to trace the same principles of larger and smaller division throughout the series. Beyond the 17th harmonic (the note known as the number 9th when forming part of a chord) the series continues on the same principle o f ever lessening distance, ever finer gradation, until the intervals become distance, ever finer graduation, until the intervals become so small as to be almost impossible of articulation and of perception of the discord of the harmonic 7th applies as truly to the discords of the major 9th, the 11th, the major 13th, the minor 8th, and the minor 13th, which last is too high in the harmonic series for convenient exemplification by gradual ascent in this place, and these notes are now all used in combination by composers.

Scientific discovery has seldom been made singly. When time has been ripe for the revelation of a phenomenon, several observers have coincidently witnesses its existence, and simultaneously or nearly so displayed if not explained it to the world. In the instance under consideration, art foreign science, and its votaries continued the employment of harmonious which as yet could alone be justified by their beautiful effect, and even musical theorists did not for ages to come perceive the important, the all-powerful bearing of the principle of harmonies upon the subject they treated. What Mouton first ventures to write must be styled the starting-point of the modern in music, and one cannot too much marvel at the strong insight into the beautiful which those after-minds possesses, -- that, with no theory to guide, without star or compass, they made wider and wider application of the principle he had exemplified, and displayed in their works its utmost power of expansion. Three of the world’s greatest musician s may be cited to show the force owned by genius of piercing to the utmost depth of a natural law, while having but their own delicate sense of property to restrain them within its bounds. Henry Purcell and his two colossal successors, George Frederic Handel (1685-1759) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), wrote every combination of musical notes that down to our won latest times has ever been employed with good effect; and the more the works of these masters are studied the more the works of these masters are studied the more are they found to foreshadow the supposed novelties in harmony employed by subsequently artists. This refers but to the technical materials of which their music is wrought; it is impossible in the present article to discuss fully the form and excellence of their works.

Purcell’s voluminous and superb works for the church, his many composition for the theatre, his countless convivial pieces, and his far less numerous instrumental writings are now but little known, and the ignorance of the age is its loss. They have a wealth of expression that cannot be too highly esteemed, and a fluency of melody that proves the perfect ease of production. The idiom of the period in which they were written is perhaps a partial barrier to their present acceptance, and the different capabilities of instruments and of executants upon them of those days from the means at modern musician’s command make the music written in the earlier age difficult sometimes to the4 verge of possibility, and yet weak in effect upon ears accustomed to later uses.1

Handel’s music has never, since he wrote, been wholly unknown or unloved, at least in England. He was engaged to come hither as a dramatic composer because of his Continental renown; this was immensely increased by the large number of Italian operas he wrote for the London stage, but, excellent of their kind as are these, the change of structure in the modern lyrical drama unfits the wonted witnesses of the works of the last hundred years to enjoy the complete performance of those of earlier time, and hence we hear but detached excerpts from any of them. It is upon Handel’s oratorios and his secular works cast in the same mould that general knowledge of his mighty power rests, and these are a monument that cannot perish. The Messiah and Israel in Egypt are didactic oratories, with which may be classed L’Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderao, and Alexander’s Feast. The others were defined by himself each as an "oratorio or scared drama," and Acis and Galatea, Semele, and Hercules are similarly constructed. Esther (his earliest English oratorio) and Acis and Galatea were composed for performance in the mansion of the duke of Chandos in 1720 and 1721, and were publicly produced with the author’s sanction in 1732, but then, as was expressly notified, without dramatic action. Their success established the class of work and form of representation in English use, for, though Handel subsequently wrote Italian operas, he from time to time engaged a theatre for the performance of complete works in concert wise, and yearly composed some new piece for production in this manner. In 1741 he visited Dublin, taking the Messiah, which had been written with a view to the occasion, and this masterpiece was first heard on the 13th April 1742 in the Irish capital. The reverence with which the work is regarded in England all but equals that for its subject, and the countless repetitions of its performance have made it so familiar to all hearers that the unversed in musical knowledge, little less than the profoundest musicians, feel its sublimity and listen to it with such awe as no other work of art induces. No master has ever excelled Handel in verbal declamation (as at the descent on the last word of "sheds delicious death" in the air of Acis, at that on the last word of "so mean a triumph I disdain" in the air of Harapha, and the extraordinary use of an almost toneless low note of the tenor voice on the last word of "He turned their waters into blood" in Israel in Egypt), in poetic expression (as in the choruses "He sent a thick darkness" in Israel, and "Wretched lovers" in Acis and Galatea), or in dramatic characterization (as in all the personages in Jephtha, who are each distinguished from the others far better in their musical than their verbal phraseology); but the quality in his music which compels the epithet sublime is the broad, simple grandeur of the choral writing, which, rich in the devices of counterpoint, never fails in clearness, never in the melodious flow of each of its parts, and is hence as pleasant to executants as it is perspicuous to auditors. He wrote under the sway of contrapuntal law, from which theorists had not yet defined the exceptions, but the force of his genius broke occasionally through its despotism, and so, in his works as in Purcell’s, the principle of fundamental harmony and the application of the chromatic element are freely demonstrated.2

Bach was one of a very large family of musicians, who for two centuries practised the art, in many instances with great success; the family glory culminated in him, and was scattered among his many sons, in who, it became extinct. Bach was a more assiduous student than either his predecessor or his contemporary whoa re here classed with him. It was later in life than they that he issued his earliest works, for his youthful renown was more as a player than as a producer. Having no theoretical instructor, he made searching study of all the music of earlier times and of his own.3 Whatever Bach learned of the principles of counterpoint from profounder musicians, he owed his views of plan or design in the structure of a composition to his familiarity with the concertos of Anotnio Vivaldi, and Tomaso Albinoni, both Venetian violinists who visited Germany, and he gained this familiarity by arranging for the organ many of the concertos for several instruments, as also much that the same authors wrote for a single violin.

His arrangement consisted in adding parts to the original, which he kept intact, and so retained the plan while enriching the harmony. To his latest days he was wont to retouch his own music of former years, doubtless with the purpose of improvement, and he thus showed himself to be still a student to the very end of his career. A class of oratorio of which Luther had planted the earliest germ, the recitation of the Divine Passion, had grown into extensive use in North Germany prior to the period of Bach, and to this belongs his largest if not most important work. This is his setting of the portion of St. Matthew’s Gospel which narrates the incidents, interspersed with reflective passages, some taken from the chorals of common use in the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches (the tunes proper to which have special harmonic treatment when here appropriated), and some set in the form of airs, duets, and choruses to verses written for the occasion. Bach set also St John’s version of the Passion, and others. He wrote likewise for church use cantatas peculiar to every Sunday’s requirement in the Lutheran service, and left five series of these, each for an entire year. He produced other sacred and many secular cantatas, a mass of such colossal proportions that it is unavailable for the purpose of celebration, other pieces for the Roman Church, very much for the organ alone that has never been equaled in its intrinsic qualities or as a vehicle for executive display, many concertos and suites for the orchestra of the day, and a cat number of pieces for the harpsichord or clavecin. Among these last must be signalized Das wohltemperirte Clavier (1722), and a sequel to the same, XXIV. Preludien und Fugen durch allen Tonarten, sowohl mit der grossen als kleinen Terz (1740).1 These two distinct works are now commonly classed together a Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues. To describe their purposes reference must be made to the discrepancies between the tuning of intervals by 3ds, or by 8ths, or by 5ths. The B#, which is reached by successive 3ds above C, has 250 vibrations in the sane period that the C, which is reached by 8ths from the same starting note, has 256, and in the same period that the B#, which is reached by 5ths from the original C, has 259 and a fraction. The same is true of every other musical sound as of C, namely, that tuning by 3ds, or 8ths, or 5ths, yields a different note from the other two. Hence it results that notes which are in tune in one key are out of tune in other keys, and consequently musical composition was of old limited to those every few keys that have several notes in common with the key of C.2 The organ Handel presented to the chapel of the Foundling Hospital, London, had the raised or black keys divided, with each half to act on pipes different from the other half, and thus gave different notes for C# and for D_, and the like; and other organs of the period were similarly constructed. Bach’s notion was so to temper the intonation that, while the tuning of no key should be perfect, the discrepancies should be divided so nicely between all keys that no one would be offensive to the hearer, and to illustrate this he wrote in his 38th year a series of pieces in every one of the keys in its major and minor form, calling it "The clavier with equal temperament." This bears on a supposition, once differently advanced and since confirmed by men who have soundly studied the subject, as much as by constant observation of him who first conceived it, although disputed by others; it is, that the ear received tempered sounds as they should be, instead of as they are, perceiving a different effect from the note whose tonal surroundings prove it to be _G from that which is yielded by the same string on a pianoforte when it is required to represent #F.

Such is the practical application in modern use of the term enharmonic with reference to keyed instruments when it means the giving different names to one note; on the voice, however, and on bowed instruments the smallest gradations of pitch are producible, and so all notes in all keys can be justly tuned, which, among others, is one reason for the exceptional delight given by music that is represented by either of those means. The enharmonic organ and harmonium of Mr Bosanquet are provided with a keyboard of a general nature in which the restriction to closed circles of 5ths is avoided. Systems reducible to series of 5ths of any character can therefore be placed on this keyboard. As the relative position of the keys determines the arrangement of the notes, the fingering is the same in all keys, and depends only on the intervals employed. The modern user of the word chromatic has already been stated, and it only remains to say of the other of the three Greek genera, diatonic, that the term now defines music consisting of notes according to the signature of the prevailing key.3 To return to Bach, his orchestration is completer than Handel’s, though yet needing the addition of an organ part that he did not write, but his scores are liable to misrepresentation in modern performance because several of the instruments are obsolete for which they were designed; Bach’s orchestral treatment differs from that of later days in having often a special selection of instruments for a single movement in a work, which are engaged throughout that piece with small variety of interchange, and likewise in having mostly the separate counterpoint for every instrument employed instead of combining instruments of different tone in one melody. But seldom Bach wrote in one or other of the ecclesiastical modes, as did Handel more rarely, and he used more freely than his contemporary the extreme chromatic discords. He may indeed be regarded as a double mirror, reflecting the past in his contrapuntal writing and forecasting the future in his anticipation of modern harmonies.

FOOTNOTES (page 91)

(3) some theorists use the generic terms in limited sense : -- diatonic, proceeding by 2ds; chromatic, proceeding by semitones; enharmonic, changing the name of a note.

Notice of these two extraordinary men would be incomplete without an attempts to parallel if not compare them. Born within a month and within walking distance of each other, speaking the same tongue, professing the same religious tenets, devoting themselves t the same art and to the same productive and executive branches of that art with success that cannot be surpassed they were as different in the character of their works as in their personal traits and their courses of life. The music of Handel for its simple, massive, perspicuous grandeurs may be likened to a Grecian temple, and that of Bach to a Gothic edifice for its infinite involution of lines and intricacy of detail. The greater complexity of the one makes it the more difficult of comprehension and more slow in impression, while the sublime majesty of the other displays itself to a single glance and is printed at once on the mental vision. Handel wrote for effect and produces it with certitude upon thousands; Bach wrote as a pleasurable exercise for mastery, and gives kindred pleasure to those who study his work in the spirit that incited him to produce it.

Contemporary with the working of these two glorious Saxons were the labours of Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), a native of Dijon, who made his mark on history. He wrote many operas and ballets which are held in less esteem than those of Lully, some cantatas and sacred pieces, and a large number of compositions for the organ and clavecin, but, nothwithstanding the merit of these and their success, it is more as a theorist than as an artist that he is now regarded. He published several treatises, embracing principles of performance as well as rules of harmony and a system of composition , and the original views these enunciate have obtained high regard. He distinguishes what he styles the "basse continue" from what he names the "basse fondamentale" in tracing inverted chords to their roots, and differs in this from writers on counterpoint who treated only of intervals from each actual bass note. Thus be looked in the direction of later theories of fundamental harmony, but scarcely obtained sight of the object. He speaks of a chord of the 11th apart from the suspension of the 4th; but his examples show this to be the double suspension of the 9th and 4th, to be resolved on the root and minor 3d of a chord of the prepared 7th, which further has to be resolved on a chord whose root stands at a 4th above the own, and so this chord, having nothing exceptional in structure or treatment, needs no distinctive title. Another point is indeed original, and has obtained somewhat wide acceptance; this is his theory of the chord he defines as the "great 6th," which is named the "added 6th" by his English followers. It consists of a common chord (usually of the subdominant) with a 6th added, and its resolution is on the chord whose root is at 4th below that of the discord, the 5th in the former chord being retained as the root in the latter.

Against this view it may be urged that all harmonic intervals are at uneven numbers form the generator, the even numbers standing for the octaves above any of these, as 8/1 10/ 3 12/5, or else for their inversions, as 6/3 4/5 2/7, and hence the 6th (D in the above example) is not an original but an inverted intervals; further, whatever note may be added in a column of harmony does not affect the concordance or discordance of the notes below it, but it itself the discordant element in the chord, whereas the addition of the 6th to a common chord changes its concordant 5ths into a discord, and therefore the 6th must be otherwise traced. Other theorists have, more in the direct ion of truth, defined this chord as a first inversion, reckoning the 6th from the bass as the inverted root, but giving no account of its exceptional resolution. It was not till the following century that the theory for this chord was propounded with the seeming of truth, showing the 7th below its given bass (G under the F in the above) is the real generator, and showing this to be an incomplete inversion of the chord of the 11th, of which Romaeu inverted but misapplied the name. The subject will be more fully discussed when the period is treated to which this last theory belongs.

Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739) was a Versian of wealthy parentage. He was pressed by his father into the pursuit of the law, and held lucrative appointments in his profession, but love was for music, and in music he has some renown, partly for his compositions, the best known of which are the settings for one or more voices of fifty of the Psalms in an Italian version, and partly for his writings on music, especially a satirical pamphlet, Il Teatro alla moda (1720), as remarkable for the justice with which it censures the correuptions that cankered dramatic art as for its humour. This treatise quotes the principles of the Florentine assumed musical revival in 1600, and is regarded as the precursor of the practical reform effected by Gluck.

The renowned Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is often accredited as a musical theorist because of his several publications on the subject, especially his Dictionnaire de Musique, which was finished in 1764, licensed in 1765, but not published till 1768. Its repute must have been gained by the grace of his language rather than by the soundness of his views, which are elegantly stated but rarely stable when they took to either side of the beaten track of accepted principles. He wrote violently against French music and the French language as a musical medium, being prominent in the literary disputes known as the "Guerre des Bouffons," but recanted when Gluck’s genius was exercised on French opera. Rousseau produced some slight musical dramas, but proof has been adduced that they were the works of other hands.

Padre Martini (1706-1784) worked to far higher purpose than the last named, and the deeper impression he made on music is due to the depth of his knowledge. He was a mathematician and a scholar in other branches of learning, all of which he brought to bear upon his musical studies. He composed for the church and for the theatre vocal and instrumental chamber music, and pieces for the organ. He enunciated no new theory, but rendered great service by the collected publication of many art rarities exemplifying the musicianship of earlier times, and proving his ability to estimate their merit by the inclusion of a large number of canons of his own, which latter are presented in the enigmatic form of ancient use wherein the primary part of parts alone are given, and the reader has to discover the canon that fixes the period and the interval at which the response is to enter. He issued at different dates three volumes of a History of Music, and did not live to complete the fourth, which would have brought the subject only down to the Middle Ages. He was revered by the musicians of all lands, and he is honoured by those of our time for the penetration with which he discovered the excellence of the boy Mozart, and the encouragement that aided largely to confirm the self-reliance of this everlasting prodigy.

German opera owes its birth to Reinhard Keiser of Weissenfels (1673-1739). His first dramatic effort, Ismene, was produced at the court of Brunswick. Success induced him to further exertion in the same field, and its continuance enabled him to undertake the management of the Hamburg theatre, in which, between 1694 and 1734, he produced 116 operas. Even these were but a portion of his works, for he wrote several dramatic oratories, and made more than one setting of The Passion, which last preceded the compositions of the class by Handel and Bach. Little of his music survived him, but his influence on the art of his country was enduring. Matthison distinguished himself in Keiser’s first dramatic essays. Karl Heinrich Graun, a singer, and Johann Friedrich Agricola belong to the next generation of writers of German opera, both of whom won large renown.

It is now time to revert to dramatic music in Italy. Giovanni Battista Buononcini (1672-1750) and his brother Marc Antonio were famed in and out of their own country. They both visited London, where the former opposed Handel, and the rivalry between the Italian and the German musician is notable in the history of the time. Nicola Antonio Porpora (1686-1767) owes his fame more to the success of his pupils in singing, of whom Farinelli and Caffarelli were the most distinguished, than to the merit of his numerous compositions. Leonardo Leo (1694-1746) wrote largely for the stage, but is most prized for his church music, which is of a character so different from his other productions that he is entitled to the twofold estimation of being a light and a sever composer. Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), though born in the neighbourhood of Hamburgh, wrote all his many operas, except the first, to Italian words for Italian singers, and many therefore be best classed among the composers of that country, where also he received his musical education. His excellence as a tenor singer, his skill as a clavecinist, and his marriage to Fautina Bordogni, the renowned vocalist, all helped to bring him and his music into note. His remark, when at the age of eighty he superintended the production of his last opera at Milan coincidently with Mozart’s bringing out of his Ascanio in Alba when fourteen years old that "this youngster will surpass us all," says as much for his penetration as for the diffedence of one who has passed a long life with success. Giovanni Battista Gesi (1710-1736), being born at Pergola, was called by his schoolmates II Pergolese, and is known by all the world under this instead of his family name. Little acknowledged while he lived, he accomplished during his almost momentary career such work as placed his name among those of the most famous of his countrymen. He comic opera La Serva Padrona, little noticed when first given in Naples, has such success when reproduced in Paris that it was shortly afterwards played in every country in Europe. If this piece did not initiate it confirmed the application of music as much to subjects of real as of heroic life, and therefore, though slight in structure and brief in extent, it is historically conspicuous. This and his setting of the Stabat Mater for female voices, which occupied him during his last illness, are the compositions by which he is best remembered. Nicolo Jomelli (1714-1774) was born and died in the Neapolitan territory; he produced many operas in Naples, several in Rome, Bologna, and Venice, and he held for fifteen years as engagement in Stuttgart, where his genius was active; he is particularly esteemed for his expression of sentiment, in which quality some of his critics account him the forerunner of Mozart; much as he wrote for the stage, his predilection was for church music, but the amount of his erudition or his power to apply it scarcely justified this preference. This composer may close the present list, as being the first to break through the example of Alessandro, and to write airs without the "Da Capo" which general approval of that example had rendered conventional if not indispensable. The plan claims respect as proving and fulfilling design, but it is inconsistent with truthful treatment of a subject which naturally proceeds in a continuous course and does not admit of the plenary recapitulation of feeling that has already been developed after this has passed into a different direction; as a matter of effect, the "Da Capo" is rarely charming and often tedious, it is less inappropriate in instrumental than vocal music, and even there some modified allusion to previously stated ideas is far more interesting than the unqualified restatement of what has already been set forth. One characteristic most be named that marks the whole period under present survey – the subordination of dramatic propriety to the display of vocal specialities; these were classified in distinct orders, and custom became tyrannic in exacting that every singer in an opera should have an aria of each class, and that the story must be so conducted as to admit of their timely or untimely introduction. The entire action of the Italian opera of the period is conducted in spoken recitative with few exceptions of accompanied recitative in the most impassioned situations, and the arias or rhythmical portions of the work are episodical, being expatiative or reflective on the circumstances. The volubility that then was esteemed the main, if not the highest, qualification of a vocalist had its imperative exercise in all works for the stage, and the original purpose of dramatic music was thus foiled in making the business of the scene to wait upon the exhibition of the representative.

Instrumental music now began to assume the importance which at present it holds by Italian and German masters had been numerous, bnt executancy on bowed instruments was little advanced, and music written for them was accordingly limited in its style and construction. Vivaldi has been named as a pioneer in the art of design, and to the precedent set by him must be attributed the power of unfolding and arranging musical thought which gives to the orchestral and chamber works of after time a supreme position as intellectual and imaginative exercise. The name of Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) figures prominently in the annals of violin playing, but, whatever the merit of his tone and his style, he employed but a limited portion of his instrument’s compass; and this is proved by his writings, wherein the parts for the violin never proceed above D on the first string, the highest note in the third position; it is even said that he refused to play, as impossible, a passage which extended to A in altissimo in the overture to Handel’s Trionfo del Tempo, and took serious offence when the composer played the note in evidence of its practicability. His compositions are still highly esteemed; they consist of concertos – a term which at the time defined concerted pieces for a band, not, as now, pieces for a solo player with orchestral accompaniment – and sonatas, some fro one, some for two violins with a bass; they are melodious, but their harmony is not always pure, and, strange to say, though they were written in Italy, where the laws of rhythm and accent were written in Italy, where the laws of rhythm and accent were first established, these are slighted in the music; indeed, the longevity of Corelli’s works must be due to some other cause than their merit.

Gioseppe Tartini (1692-1770) greatly advanced the art of the violinist, as is testified by his compositions for the instrument and his treatise on its capabilities, and is further proved by the eminence of many of his pupils. Tartini contributed to science as well as to art in his discovery (1714) of "resultant tones," often called "Tartini’s tones," and yet some writers ascribe the first perception of the phenomenon to Storge, a German, who described it sixteen years later. The phenomenon is this: -- when any two notes are produced steadily and with great intensity, a third note is heard, whose vibration number is the difference of those of the two primary notes. It follows from this that any two consecutive members of a harmonic series have the fundamental of that series for their difference tone – thus, E/C, the fourth and fifth harmonic, produce C, the prime or generator, at the interval of two octaves under the lower of those two notes; E/G, the third and fifth harmonic, produce C, the second harmonic, at the interval of a 5th under the lower of those two notes. The discoverer was wont to tell his pupils that their double-stopping was not in tune unless they could hear the third note; and our own distinguished player and teacher Henry Blagrive (1811-1872) gave the same admonition. The phenomenon has other than technical significance; and experiment by the Rev. Sir F.A.G. Ouseley showed that two pipes, tuned by measurement to so acute a pitch as to render the notes of both inaudible by human ears, when blown together produce the difference tone of the inaudible primaries, and this verifies the fact of the infinite upward range of sound which transcends the perceptive power of human organs. The obverse of this fact is that of any sound being deepened by an 8th if the length of the string or pipe which produced it be doubled. The law is without exception throughout the compass in which our ears can distinguish pitch, and so, of necessity, a string of twice the length of that whose vibration induce the deepest perceivable sound must stir the air at such a rate as to cause a tone at an 8th below that lowest audible note. It is hence manifest that, however limited our sense of the range of musical sound, this range extends upward and downward to infinity.

The pianoforte owes its invention to the period now under review. This instrument may be styled the voice of the musician, the only means whereby unaided he can give complete utterance to his thoughts, the only vehicle for the communication of musical ideas in their entirely. This is not said in depreciation of other instruments of various excellence which have qualities impossible to the pianoforte, but has reference to the totality of musical speech that is possible, and to the convenience with which this is produced on the instrument in question. The characteristic difference between this instrument and earlier ones of a similar class is that the strings of the pianoforte are struck by hammers impelled by the keys under the performer’s finger, and yield louder or softer tone according to the force he uses, whereas its predecessors yielded variety of loudness only by mechanical instead of personal means, and hence were not the living exponents as it is of the executant’s impulse. Whether one speak of the happiness kindled in the homestead by this most facile and most self-sufficient instrument, or of the fuel of such happiness, namely, the measureless amount of music of every style and quality that has been written for the pianoforte, its existence is to be accounted as an influence all but infinite upon society as much as upon art. The term "pian e forte" is applied to a musical instrument by Paliarimo or Pagliarini, a manufacturer of Modena, in 1598, but no particulars have reached us of its structure or effect. Some instruments which foreshadow the chief essentials of the modern pianoforte, made by Bartolomeo Cristofori, a Paduan then working in Florence, are described in letters of 1709, and must have been made some years earlier, and pianofortes by this ingenious inventor still exist bearing date 1720 and 1726. Marius, a Frenchman, submitted plans for an instruments with hammer action to the Acadèmie Rotale des Sciences in 1716, and Schröter, a German, claimed to have devised two models in 1717 and 1721; but the first pianofortes made away from Italy were by Gottfried Silbermann in 1726, who worked from the designs of Cristofori.1

Let us now revert to the opera, in which vast modification were germinated towards the middle of the 18th century, and ripened before its close into noble maturity. Allusion has been made in the notice of Pergolese to the appropriation of the lyric element to comic subjects. At first wholly unregarded as a sphere for art uses, then admitted for interludial purposes in a fabrication, styled intermezzo that was played between the acts of a serious composition, comedy became in course of time the basis of the most highly important, because the most comprehensive and truly the grandest, and further because the most especially musical, application of the art to dramatic ends. The class of writing here to be considered is that structure of concerted vocal music through which a continuous action proceeds, involving the embodiment of the characteristics of the several persons concerned, with their opposition and combination. Handel had been remarkably happy in uniting in one piece the utterances of three, four, and even five distinct person; he did not, however, make these several individualities interchange speech in dialogue, but caused them to sing, as it were, so many monologues at once, in his occasional practice though he was in his excellence. Nicolo Logroscino (1700-1763), a Neapolitan, who never would write but to the dialect of his own country, was so exclusively comic and so surpassingly successful as to gain the cognomen of "Il Dio dell’ opera buffa." It was he who first enchained a series of pieces (technically styled movements) in unbroken sequence, during which different persons entered or left the scene, discoursed in amity or disputation, or united either in the our pouring of a common sentiment or in the declaration of their various passions. For some time this form of lyrical dramatic art was only applied to comic subjects; Paesiello is said to have been the first musician who introduced its use into serious opera; it reached perfect ion under the masterly, magical, may, superhuman touch of Mozart, whose two finales in Figaro and two in Don Giovanni are models which should be the wonder of all time and yet can never be approached. The spoken drama is limited to the onefold utterance of a single person, for, however rapid the colloquy, if any two spoke together, each would eclipse the other’s voice – retort may be instantaneous, but cannot be simultaneous. In a painting the different characters and emotions of the persons presented are shown at once, but, as if under the glance of Medusa, they are fixed for ever in one attitude with one expression. In an opera finale the manifold passions of as many human beings, vivified by the voices of the same number if singers, come at once on our hearing with prolonged manifestation, and this is the wielding of a power that is not in the capability of any other of the fine arts.


82-1 Among other grounds for this derivation a strong one is that in the 13th and 14th centuries the word motetus often defined a florid part next above that which was styled tenor, because it held the chief melody, the word motetus being subsequently changed for medius or mean when that part stood midway between the tenor and the third part above it or treble. Bass, or base of the harmonic column, was then designated the burden.

82-2 John Cotton (referred to as Johannes Anglicanus by the almost fabulous Guido) was the earliest to indicate the good effect of contrary motion between two simultaneous melodies.

83-1 As belonging to this branch of the subject, the principal schools for musical education that have been instituted of late, and are now in existence, may here be named: -- the Paris Conservatoire, 1795, and its five principal branch schools; the Conservatoire of Brussels; the Conservatorio of Naples, an offspring of earlier institutions; the Royal Academy of Music, London, 1822; the Conservatorium of Leipsic, instituted in 1843, mainly through the instrumentality of Mendelsshon; the Conservatorium of Vienna, and like institutions in Dresden, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich, and Frankfort, and also in Milan and Bologna; and the Hochschule für Musik, a branch of the Academy of Arts, Berlin.

84-1 Late in the 13th century a society somewhat similar in its object was established in London, consisting of the wealt6hier merchants. It was called the Puy (the name also given to the poetical festivals in honour of the Virgin in some Norman towns; see Littrè, s.v.). Admission to its ranks was possible only through manifestation of musical or poetic merit. Severe judgment decided in the claims of contesting candidates for honours, which were great and public when desert was found.

85-1 The correspondence of this account with that of the rise of Greek tragedy is obvious.

85-2 The old tune for the 100th Psalms and Croft’s tune for the 104th are almost the only exceptions, unless "God save the king" may be classed under hymnody. In Scotland, also, the tune fro the 124th Psalm is associated with its proper text.

87-1 The Italian "sinfonia" mostly begins with an allegro, which is succeeded by a shorter adagio, and ends with a second quick movement that is sometimes the resumption of the first and is sometimes independent of it, and it is exemplified in the overtures to the Seraglio of Mozart, the Euryanthe of Weber, and several of Auber. The French "ouverture" (the original form of the word, which still remains in France) generally begins with a majestic movement, which is followed by an allegro, often of a fugal character, and concludes with a march or gavotte or some other description of dance, and it is exemplified in the overtures of Purcelland nearly all of those of Handel.

87-2 This is the French form of his names Giovanni Battista Lulli, adopted after he was taken from Florence to Paris a page.

89-1 See Poggendorff, Geshickte d. Physik, p. 808.

89-2 See Helmholtz, Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen.

90-1 Here must be defined the chromatic genus in its modern application, which is signally exemplified in this master’s music; it admits of notes foreign to the signature of the key, but which induce no modulation, or, in other words, change of tonality. Notes expressible only by accidentals are as essential to the chromatic scale of any prevailing key as are those elemental in the diatonic scale which are indicated by the key-signature. Chromatic chords were used by Purcell and Iris nearest followers, chromatic passing-notes (notes that form no portion of chords) came little into use until after the middle of the 18th century.

94-1 These dates have been gathered and verified by Mr A.J. Hipkins, to whose exhaustive papers on this class of instruments and their best esteemed makers readers are referred. See also PIANOFORTE.

More Footnotes

FOOTNOTES (page 90)

(2) A custom of the age is largely and, we now fell, sadly exemplified in Handel’s art legacies, namely, the writing in many instances but an outline of the score which was to be filled up extemporaneously by a player on the organ or harpsichord with counterpoint that is necessary to the effect, and even essential to the idea. So long as the composer lived to make these improvisations, we know they added interest and we doubt not they added beauty to the music; but after-organists lack the ability or courage or both to supply the deficiency. Mendelssohn wrote for Israel such as organ part as he would have played in the performance of the oratorio, diffidently deliberating on what originally was trusted to the fortune of the moment, and the like has rarely been done by other musicians for other works. Mozart wrote for the Messiah, Acis, Alexander’s Feast, and the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day wind-instrument parts comprising such manner as might have been played on the organ had one been in the hall wherein these pieces were first performed in Vienna; but they modernize the character and often alter the idea, while they complete and perhaps adorn the music. That these parts exist, and that their merit induces their adoption when the works are performed, have been a licence for the production of "additional accompaniments" to many a masterpiece of Handel, when such genius as Mozart had has not inspired the writer. The former custom and the later licence are both to be deplored, particularly in our age, when with regard to other arts the aim prevails to purity the works of older time from additions b y strange hands that have accumulated to disfigure them.

(3) Among the masters form whose example he deduced his own principles, some of the most famous are Girolamo Frescobaldi of Ferrara (c. 1587), his pupil Johann Caspar Kerl (1628-1693), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Johann Jacob Froberger, another pupil of Frescobaldi (ob. 1667), Georg Muffat (ob. 1704), whose son was even more prolific and perhaps more notes than he, Johann Pachelbel, Georg Boehm, and most probably Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741), whose work on counterpoint, Gradus and Parnassum, was the text-book by which both, Haydin and Mozart, and is still held in high respect.

FOOTNOTES (page 91)

(1) Supposed by some to have been completed in 1744.

(2) It is supposed that early organs were tuned with true 3ds and flattened 5ths (the "mean tone" system of Zarlino and Salinas),and Mersenne enunciates, though obscurely, a rule for this division.

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