Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE BEAUTIFUL

NATURE, ART, AND LIFE.

OF THE BEAUTIFUL IN ART.

SECTION VI.

MUSIC

MUSIC A DIRECT UTTERANCE OF EMOTION-INDEFINITENESS ITS CHARM

ITS CAPABILITIES-OF VIBRATION-ORIGIN OF MUSIC-PERFECT ACCORDANCE WITH LAW-BACON'S ANALOGIES AND SIMILITUDES-UNIVERSAL HARMONY-ORIGIN OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC-GIANT HARPS-TELEGRAPHIC WIRES-STRINGED AND WIND INSTRUMENTS TIMBRE-MUSIC FURNISHES THE KEY TO ALL ORDER-CHLADNI'S EXPERIMENTS-MIRACULOUS POWERS ASCRIBED TO MUSIC IN GREECE, CHINA, HINDOSTAN, PERSIA, AND ARABIA-DAVID AND SAUL-MUSIC

SPELLS-SHAKSPERE THE POET-LAUREATE OF MUSIC. MUSIC AMONG THE JEWS AND CHALDEANS-IN EGYPT-GREECE-ROME

AMONG THE EARLY CHRISTIANS-ST. AMBROSE-GREGORY-D'AREZZO -ST. AUSTIN-ALFRED-OLDEST ENGLISH STANZA-BLONDEL-DANTEBOCCACCIO-CHAUCER-JAMES I, OF SCOTLAND-SCOTTISH SONG-THE ORGAN-OF HARMONY-PALESTRINA-ALLEGRI-THE FLEMISH SCHOOL THE REFORMATION-PSALMODY IN GERMANY, SWITZERLAND, FRANCE, ENGLAND-CONSTELLATION OF ENGLISH MUSICIANS-MORLEY'S DIALOGUE - PURCELL—THE DRAMA-OPERA-ORATORIO-VARIOUS SUCCESSIVE

STYLES IN MUSIC. VOL. II.

TRAITS OF A PEOPLE UNCONSCIOUSLY RECORDED IN THEIR LANGUAGE

AND ARTS-CHARACTERISTICS OF FRENCH, ITALIAN, GERMAN, AND

ENGLISH MUSIC. LIFE AND WORKS OF BACH-HANDEL-HAYDN-MOZART.-BEETHOVEN

WEBER-MENDELSSOHN-ROSSINI, AND BELLINI-MODERN COMPOSERS -NEUKOMM, SCHUBERT, AND R. A. SMITH'S SONGS—CHOICE OF MUSIC

ITS HOME INFLUENCE. TESTIMONY OF CHORON, MACE, AND MOZART, AS TO THEIR MODE OF

COMPOSING–CHOICE OF KEY-EXECUTION-DEGREE OF APPRECIATION IN LISTENERS- OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMEMTAL MUSIC OF GOOD AND BAD MUSIC—BEETHOVEN ON MUSICAL APPRECIATION-OF THE TIME

AND PLACE FOR HEARING MUSIC—SONGS IN THE NIGHT. MUSICAL DESCRIPTION-FORD-DE QUINCEY-MRS BROWNING-THE UNIVER

SAL ADAPTATION OF MUSIC. PSALMODY AND MEANS OF ITS IMPROVEMENT-LUTHER-ZUINGLE

CALVIN—THE ORGAN QUESTION ONE OF EXPEDIENCY—THE ASSISTANCE OF THE ORGAN-ITS ABUSE-OPINIONS OF HORNE AND BAXTERPRAISE THE HIGHEST ACT OF WORSHIP,

Music is the living voice of the Beautiful. Deep, penetrating, spiritual, it is the nearest approximate to mind, the most direct utterance of emotion with which we are acquainted; giving expression to thoughts “too deep for words,” but which are not therefore the less real; for the most elevated feelings are beyond the range even of the most elevated language. Cowper beautifully writes

“There is in souls a sympathy with sounds." This sympathy all have felt, yet underneath it lies a great philosophical truth, simple sublime, the full and literal import of which is only beginning to dawn upon the world.

In every age and clime, mankind have acknowledged “the might of song”—the sweet power of its universal language. We have said that poetry possesses greater capabilities than music for expressing definite thought at will : the indefiniteness of musical utterance, however,

is, to those who look deep enough, its greatest charm. To such minds, music is “dear, and yet dearer for its mystery”-its vagueness not being that of inanity, but arising from absolute depth. The production of one musical note involves the operation of those positive laws which pervade the whole universe of mind and matter, marshalling all its varied phenomena into order and beauty. Music is, therefore, as it were, a language of pure roots, many of which notwithstanding the jarrings of sin-are traceable, and can be understood, by the listening heart; for over such language the confusion of Babel has had little power. Hence its infinite suggestiveness. · Imitation is not the province of music, and is rarely introduced by the great masters. Music cannot, as it were, photograph a landscape, or present a definite narrative, but it does more. It can excite or suggest the same or similar resultant feelings to the mind of the sensitive hearer, by means of a deeper and more direct sympathy.

« The glory of the sum of things

Will flash along the chords and go!" It can in this way rouse, thrill, calm, and soothe; interest, keep in suspense, satisfy; give shape to longing hopes and fears, and even shadow forth that future where joy shall be shadowless !

We have already spoken of the pulsations, ripplings, or vibrations in which sound, light, heat, odours, &c., are propagated; of the fixed mathematical ratios, or intervals, in which their waves will combine in order to harmonize and give pleasure; of our being formed with senses which intuitively produce or call for these intervals, whilst, where these are violated, we are shocked by discords. Euler says, “the ear is pleasingly or unpleasingly affected by musical intervals, according to its perception of the simplicity or of the complexity of their ratios of vibration.” This has been objected to on the ground of our being delighted without entering on any such calculations; but Euler does not assert that mathematical processes are necessary to the enjoyment of music, which would be simply an absurdity. Our mind is so constituted by nature, as intuitively to recognize and feel true intervals; and the fact remains that, consciously or unconsciously, such sympathetic perception is the basis of musical delight, and the secret of all harmony of feeling. Considered in this twofold aspect, music has been aptly and beautifully styled, “Poetry taken wing”— “Science passed into ecstasy!” All sound is relative to rest.

“The mute, still air, Is music slumbering on her instrument." There can be no sound without motion, and no motion without sound-though to us it may be inaudible, from being either above or below the limited range of our hearing, in the same way as we only perceive one octave of light.

Some insects begin to hear acute sounds where we altogether cease to mark them. To angelic senses, on the other hand, the sphere-harmonies may be no fabled sound! Thus man, linked to the great universe, perceives, as Coleridge has said, the music

" Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,

A light in sound, a sound like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance everywhere."

The musician modulates his strain

"With murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns

Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.” Not that song is necessarily derived, as some have maintained, from nature's voices, because it harmonizes with them. The same law•rules both, and clearly manifests. itself as an instinct Man, too, says

“I do but sing because I must,

And pipe but as the linnets sing."

The neglect of this simple and obvious truth is apparent in much that has been ingeniously and pleasantly written regarding the origin of music, deriving it from the singing of birds, the murmur of the stream, winds, waves, and other natural sounds, making it altogether imitative; as if man did not also in himself embody, and give the very highest expression to nature's harmonies. The constitution of man's inner being, perfectly corresponding with that of the outward Cosmos, the one is rendered apparent by means of the other. Both are regulated by the same law; not only similar, or so like that striking analogies can be instituted, but a law that is identical ; only in the one case operating higher up the stream of being than in the other.

The glance of an eye—the tone of a voice, reveals deeper and often truer things than language. Yet such glance, tone, or expression--however transient, involuntary, or even indescribable—in order thus to become the legible index of the soul, must assume certain definite lines, hues, tones, &c., in accordance with a law which regulates

« PreviousContinue »