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TO THE EDITOR.
I Have given some attention to the remarks of your Correspondent on the Minor Key, to which I need make but one objection, viz. that if the minor 6th and 7th are to be used in ascending as in descending, it will necessarily preclude the possibility of forming a perfect cadence, the leading chord of which is always the major common chord, with or without the minor 7th on the 5th of the key, whether the key itself be major or minor. The major 6th is a natural gradation from the 5th to the major or 7th, or vice versa, when the fundamental harmony of the 5th of the key is not changed, or it is used as a part of a leading chord. Although the progression from the minor 6th to the major 7th is not frequent, it is sometimes introduced with good effect, as also vice versâ. The mistakes of your Correspondent in the references he has made to Handel and Corelli, must be evident to any one who understands the nature of harmony, with which liowever your Correspondent does not seem to be thoroughly acquainted; for speaking of the Overture to Samson, he says, "Now the key note 1) is a 5th to the former original key note G, A is the 7th below the octave to the original key note G, and E is the 3d below the octave to that original key. The relative proportions, therefore, to the original key note G, which these keys, D, A, and E exhibit, arc 5, 7, 3, or if differently arrranged 3, 5, 7, which constitute exactly the dissonant chord in thorough bass.
Now it is evident that no arrangement of figures can ever form a chord of the 7th of the notes G, D, A, E ; to which I may add that the modulation of the first movement of the above Overture, to which of course he alludes, is from G to D, from D to E minor finishing in G, the accidentals G*, F, and Bb causing no change of key. In page 14 he says, “ In Corelli's Sonatas, Op. 4 Sonata 8, the first movement, not one of the notes G is sharp. The movement is in the key of A minor."
This is another mistake, as that movement is not in A, but in D minor.
Were I to make any further observations on this subject, I should
naturally anticipate what I may have to offer at some future period on Modulation, through the medium of your valuable compendium, the first number of wbich has afforded me such gratification, as to ensure my most cordial wishes for its successful continuance; in which sentiment I beg leave to remain,
JAMES TAYLOR. No. 58, Poltergate Street, Norwich,
9th June, 1818.
TO THE EDITOR.
I Beg leave to resume the subject which I commenced in your first number, and to continue my essay towards concentrating some of
the elements of vocal science.
OF STYLE AND MANNER.
We are naturally affected by sounds, and various passions and emotions are excited by means of our sense of hearing, independently of the association attached to words. Mr. Burke has observed that great or sudden or tremulous sounds produce emotions of the sublime, and he quotes the effects of soft and sweet sounds in music, as causes of the beautiful. [Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful, Sec.25. Part 3.) To unite these effects of sound with the impressions conveyed by language, and by their conjoint influence to heighten those impressions, is the primary object of the art of singing. We find in the works of every composer, often in the melody itself, but more frequently in the accompaniments, imitations of natural sounds, which are, however, in subservience to certa in laws by which the ear seems to be governed, but which in truth have been formed by a long and accurate observation of those sounds and changes which the ear has been perceived to receive with pleasure. Hence arise the various degrees of loud and soft, of slow or rapid movements, and of sudden breaks, which are supposed to indicate particular passions, affections,
and emotions, and which come at last by their asssociation with words, really to figure such images to the mind.* " There are in art fluca tuating as well as fixed principles.” These are commonly among the characteristics of national taste, and they also serve to mark the
* A judicious author says, “ It may be proper to point out, on what foundation a simple melody is more pathetic than a complex and artificial. Ist. In the expression of the passions. Nature doth not offer mysical sounds to the human ear.
For though the natural tones of grief and joy (the two passions which are most effectually expressed by music,) approach nearer to musical precision than any other, yet still they are in a certain degree inconcinnous and unmusical. 2d. As the tone of the passions are in some degree unmusical, so they are generally more sinple in their composition or succession than th tones which are commonly employed to form a regular melody. From the first of the remarks it follows, that all musical expression of the passions must be imperfect, for the musical sounds not being found in nature, if the artist strictly imitates the sounds he hears, they will be unmusical, the imitations defective. The imagination has a power of imposing its impressions on reason in a certain degree. This we find at a proper representation of a tragedy, where though the scenery, the persons, the dresses, the composition, and other accompanying objeots, are not a precise transcript from nature, though the imitation be defective, yet it is still highly affecting. But if the representation departs from nature beyond a certain degree, nature then revolts, and the affecting power is lost. And thus musical imitation, though imperfect in a certain degree, still boasts this power. If imperfect beyond a certain degree, its affecting power is lost. But as it follows from the second remark, that the farther musical sounds depart from simplicity, the farther they depart from nature; so the consequence is clear, that simple melody, though an imperfect imitation, may be pathetic, while a complex and artificial melody (by departing from nature beyond a certain degree) will entirely lose its affecting power. This naturally leads to the consideration of a mysterious circumstance which lies yet unaccounted for at the very foundation of musical expression. The fact is this, that musical sounds which are employed to express passion (as grief or joy) by an “imperfect imitation are more affecting than the natural or perfect voice of these passions when given without musical intonations.” It seems not easy to assign a clear and sufficient cause for these appearances. Let the following conjectures have what weight they may.
1st. Have not musical sounds a mechani, cal power over the human frame by which they awaken it into a higher degree of sensibility and sympathy than it possesseth in its more cool and torpid state ? 2d. Are we not generally so constituted as to sympathize much more strongly with those in whom we find amiable qualities than their opposites ? And as pity melts the soul to love, so doth not love melt the soul to pity? 3d. Doth not a sweet voice, like a fine countenance, create a strong prejudice in favour of its possessor, and induce a belief of amiable inherent qualities? 4th. May not the voice and figure of a distressed or joyous object be so horrid or uncouth, ridiculous or ugly, as in a great measure to lessen if not totally to destroy the sympathy of those who hear and see it? If these observations be true, then by carrying the voices of expressions of grief or joy into sweeter tones and higher degrees of melody than they possess in nature, yet still preserving the resemblance so far as not to destroy probability, may we not on the principles here given create a higher degree of affection and sympathy than the natural voice of the passions can give?
changes which time and the intercourse with other countries produce. To these combinations of nature and art, we may attribute the rise, the progress, and the present state of singing.
It must not however be forgotten, that this art is less reconcileable to nature than others. Poetry and Painting are referable only to nature, with an allowance which the mind readily gives to the beau ideal, or to the standard of imaginary beauty. Our admiration of the poet'or the painter is guided by the resemblance which his productions bear to nature; of this every man is in a degree a judge. In singing, art has departed so widely from the primitive expressions of natural passion, that there is little which affords an object of comparison. In this department of musical science, taste* therefore depends much more upon cultivation than in any other art, since the graces of singing are almost entirely factitious; many of those most in esteem are valuable only for their difficulty in execution, and the labour and practice they consequently imply ; and many are such as an untaught ear would condemn as absurd : but that singing is consonant to nature in the degree that it is really good, I believe to be demonstrated by that universal testimony which the general approbation of a numerous and mixed audience never fails to bestow. Thie proximate causes of this almost unerring criterion appear to be the articulate pronunciation, and the pure tone which are constituents of excellence, and which every one is capable of distinguishing. This principle will be further established wben we come to treat separately of the several parts of vocal performance.
It appears then that singing has one uniform object, viz. the exciting various emotions by the union of sentiment and sound. To accomplish this end, the art arranges itself into various divisions. The most natural arrangement would appear to arise out of the class of enotions to which the song is addressed, and from hence it immediately strikes us that the word “STYLE” which is commonly used as applicable to the singer, in point of fact is applicable only to the composition, and that “ MANNER" is the most accurate term we can adopt to signify the power of expression that belongs to the performer. The word “ manner,” however, bas hitherto been common
* That faculty or those faculties of the mind which form a judgment of the works of imagination and the elegant arts.
Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful.
ly taken in a bad sense, and connected (particularly in the drama and in painting) with the personification of the quality, in the term
mannerist,” by which has been signified, one wbo too constantly repeats his own peculiar mode of imitation in the one art and of handling in the other. Thus by the adoption of the term style we are in danger of confounding principles, and if we rather choose the word manner we incur the hazard of entailing a certain portion of the contempt from the use which custom lias already associated with such a distinction in art.
Sir Joshua Reynolds has divided the labours of the painter into the study of a great style and an ornamente style, and perhaps it is not easy to find a classification that better suits the fine arts in general. Poetry and music are both not only susceptible of the same arrangement but per haps no other can be considered as so plain and inartificial. In poetry grandeur and simplicity of ideas and expression may be said to constitute the great style. The definition will hold likewise in painting and in music, while the same loose arrangement and wandering flow of tliought and expression that distinguishes the ornamented style, will alike apply to them all. Led by this analogy, I shall then venture, notwithstanding the objections above stated, to use the terms style and manner in singing in the acceptation they have obtained.
It is scarcely possible completely to describe in what the great style consists. In a singer it asks a combination of all the faculties of the mind and graces of execution which address themselves to and command the higher feelings of nature. The elements of this style are power, pure tone, and a varied expression, an entire command of manner, correct taste and perfect simplicity, or in other words that genuine sensibility and that intellectual dignity which enables us to embody in their finest forms the conceptions of the poet and the composer, and to employ in the best manner the powers of nature and of the art.
The difficulty of reaching this degree of eminence, combining with other causes which have been enumerated in my former letter, has originated a style intended to supply the place of the great style. This we may term the ornamented style. It consists in the substitution of light, graceful, florid, and surprising passages of execution for the pure, dignified, or impassionate notes which compose the