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melody of songs in the great style. * However improbable it may appear at the first glance, a close examination will convince us, tbat the most difficult graces as they are called are more easily acquired than the chaste and austere elements of the great style. Ornaments well 'performed are apt to seduce our senses by the seeming difficulty of execution, and we are led away by novelty,t by wonder and sure priset at what perhaps we never conceived practicable: the emotion rises with the rank of the performer, we give credit for more value than there really is, and take it upon the trust of his personal reputation. The judgment is thus silenced, while the ear is filled with new, agreeable and unexpected sounds. But we are influenced only by an emotion of surprize, the affections are never engaged. To satisfy ourselves that these ornaments are more easy of acquisition than the great style; we have only to recollect that they are attained by mere repetition, by a vast number of acts, and imply no mental exertion whatever. The great style is therefore to the ornamented, relatively what the productions of reason and the imagination are to the agile exertions of the body. That such is the principle is clearly shown by the title which the Italians have given to this species of performance-aria d'agilita. $
It follows then that the manner of a singer must very much de
* The most perfect instance of the great style is Handel's “ I know that my Redeemer liveth;” of the ornamented Gratias agimus tibi,” one of Catalani's most favourite songs of agility.
+ Novelty wherever found, whether in a quality or action, is the cause of wonder; admiration is directed to the person who performs any thing wonderful.—Lord K'aim's Elements of Criticism.
# The Emperor Charles 6th told Farinelli that he neither moved nor stood still like any other mortal. Those gigantic strides, said he, those never ending notes and passages, only surprise, and it is now time for you to please : You are too larish of the gifts with which nature has endowed you; if you wish to reach the heart you must take a more plain and simple road. These few words bought about an entire change in his manner.- Burney's State of Music in Italy. Page 207.
English music can scarcely be said to possess any comic style. The Itae. Ilan Buffo, besides being a comedian, is a sound musician; he must possess considerable knowledge and facility; we have scarcely any thing of the kind that deserves a comment. Our opera of Tom Thumb is a ludricrous exception enough. The most beautiful airs are adapted to the vilest words. Hasse's famous song “Pallido il sole,” which Farinelli sung every night for 10 years to Philip the 5th, of Spain, is put into the mouth of the ghost of Gaffer l'humb, and the well known duet in Sampson “ Traitor to Love” is set to words besinuing “ Get you to Holl."
pend upon the style which he adopts, and his choice must necessarily be guided by the talents with which nature has fitted him ; but since cultivation can do so much for the mere voice, perhaps the range of a performer must be determined rather by the faculties of the mind than by any power or facility of execution; these being but secondary considerations.* Experience shews us that scarce any one singer, of whatever eminence, has risen to the top of his art in more than one style. Indeed there are causes which render the possession of a diversity of talents almost impossible. Like judgment and wit, the powers which constitute the one destroy the other. The mind must be directed and confined to one porsuit. I would therefore here only recommend the student to fix his first attention on the great style, to study principles, and to form as correct and pure a taste as possible, for if nature should have denied him those powers which are necessary to maintain the highest rank, he will descend to any subordinate station, with advantages not commonly enjoyed by those with whom he is to contend; while on the contrary, if he be too much employed in the practice of the mechanical parts of the art, he will become attached by habit to inferior excellencies, and can never elevate his mind to the contemplation of the accomplishments that are the most truly desirable of attainment.Certain qualities are requisite to the perfection of every style. These will be detailed at large, when we speak of the natural and acquired
* It must however be understood, that whenever the art is spoke of with a view to the public exercise of talent, a given quantity of ability from nature is presupposed, since it would be absurd for a person of confined voice to thiuk of pursuing singing as a profession. The instances of young people who are misled by the partiality of friends to the attempt are numberless, and often exceedingly ridiculous. I remember the late Dr. A. having been engaged in a correspondence with a lady in Ireland, who wished to be ushered into the musical world under his protection, and, according to her letter, Madame Mara could not be expected to surpass her;—she could sing every thing.– The lady accordingly came to England; but, upon hearing her sing, the Doctor, with his customary honesty, exclaimed, “Madam, you must go back to Ireland; for, by God, unless you and I were shut up in a band-box together, I could not hear you."
About the same time, a person who had lavished an enormous sum in Italy upon the musical education of his wifi, brought her to Dr. A. for lessons. The Doctor very candidly told him that the lady had no ear; she sung too sharp, and that nothing could be done. This was a severe stroke upon one who aspired to become the Prima Donna at the Opera. The Doctor's opinion was however verified by the public judgment, for I saw her advertised afterwards at Sadler's Wells or the Circus, in the ensuing winter.
powers which constitute a singer. In the division of this title, I purpose not to enumerate the particular faculties which are essential to each, but to lay down the principles of them all, which are alike, and differ only in degree.
Mr. Brown, whose work on the structure of the Italian opera was the subject of a letter in your last Review, has endeavoured to class the different parts of such a performance according to sentiments, but without going into a too minute refutation of his opinion, I must enter my dissent to his classification, as too general for practical purposes among English singers, and not suited to the circumstances which accompany our concerts. In Italy the division of musical labour is more complete than among ourselves, and the duty which devolves upon public singers far less complicated. Our English performers of eminence have sometimes been called upon to sing in the church, the theatre, the orchestra, and the chamber, and it is their constant task to study and to execute in the concerts of London and at provincial meetings, compositions selected from anthems, from oratorios, and from operas, indeed from the writings of all masters of all nations and in all styles. The serious singer of the foreign opera is rarely called upon to exert his talents in any other place than upon the stage, and still more rarely in any other composition than an opera song. Hence there is not only at present a greater command of style and of manner required in an English singer, but also a modification depending upon the place in which his powers are exercised. For this reason I shall first class the style and manner according to the place in which the performance is held, and wbich so considerably affects the mode of singing, that I am not sure whether the adoption of such a classification may not be found more perfect than that according to sentiment, for the intensity of the expression of the sentiment depends much upon the place. It is true that in an oratorio we meet with light, and in an opera grand compositions; but nevertheless they are tinted, as it
were, in their expression, by the place and the occasion. The church is opened only for religious services; in the theatre we are excited to various emotions; the orchestra admits of a more univer
range than either, yet reduced in fervency below the church, and raised by dignity above the theatre.-All these derive from their public nature a peculiar character, while the music of the chamber, on the contrary, like the intercourses of private life, and like the
finer charities of domestic affection, is most familiar, but most chastened and most refined ; yet they all recur to the same grand principles. Considering then the GREAT and the orNÁMENTED STYLES as the leading distinctions of the art, and regarding MANNER as something peculiar and proper to tlre individual performer in its exercise, I shall in my next letter go on to discuss the modifications which arise from place, under the titles of the Church, the Oro chestra, the Theatre, and the Chamber.
TO THE EDITOR:
APPREHENDING it to be a part of your plan to insert noticeg of any novelties in music that may seem worthy attention, I transmit to you a slight account of a new instrument, called the Edophone, invented and made by Charles Henry Vander Bergh, now exhibiting in the metropolis.
The Edophone has the appearance of a lady's work-table; the shape is a parallellogram, and it occupies about four feet by two. It is played on by keys like a harpsichord or pianoforte. Along the back lies a solid block of metal of a peculiar composition, knowri only to the inventor, and the exact proportions in which the several metals are combined, he avers to be indispensible to the production of the best possible tone. The side of the block that lies next the player, presents a sweep, into which are inserted cylindrical bars of the same metal, varying in length from six inches and a half to half an inch, and something more than a quarter of an inch in diameter. Upon each of these bars is a moveable ring of the same metal, closely fitted, which is fixed by a screw through the top, and by changing the position of this ring (a very simple operation, and similar in effect to the apportioning of the water in musical glasses) the instrument is tuned. To the end of the bar not inserted in the block, a spring is affixed at a right angle by a screw, and each of these springs is connected with the corresponding key by a simple mechanical contrivance, so as to be pulled forward when the keys are pressed down by the player. Part of the surface of the spring is corered with some kind of felt or plusb. Parallel to these springs lies a roll of a conical shape and of a peculiar
composition, but differing from the block and the bars, the former being of a colour between brass and copper, and the roll resembling pewter. This roll revolving upon its axis, is put into motion by the foot, like the wood in a turning lathe. The pressure of the finger upon the key brings the spring into contact with the roll while it is in a state of revolution, and thus the bar inserted in the block is made to vibrate, and the tone produced. The sound ceases when the spring is relaxed from contact with the roll, which happens when the pressure on the key is removed. A swell is produced by a diference in the touch, and a perfect crescendo and diminuendo can be obtained at pleasure.
The compass of the instrument is five octaves and a half, and it is singular that the several parts produce sounds essentially different.The upper tones are precisely those of an octave flute—the next notes in succession those of an oboe, below these of the clarinet, and still lower of the bassoon. The resemblance is exceedingly close, so much so indeed as to induce me to consider that the best application of the invention will be found to be in substituting of the Edophone for wind instruments at concerts where good players are not to be had. The lowest tones are rough and in my mind rather injure than improve the general effect whenever they are employed.
The inventor describes this combination to be the result of sixteen years of labour and experiment, and he further says, tliat increasing the size of the block and bars extends the quantity of tone in a degree far beyond a geometrical ratio. In the present shape and proportion its tone is scarcely louder than a common square pianoforte.
You will of course have conjectured that its priucipal limitation resides in the slow production of tone, which friction and vibration communicated by such a means necessarily imply. To what exact extent this limitation goes, perhaps remains yet to be discovered, for the several degrees of rapidity demand a corresponding gradation of velocity in turning the roll, and on the motion becoming quicker, it seemed to me that greater skill and nicety in the player were required. The Edophone however is competent to the performance of an allegro, but I conceive, (for I was not permitted to make an experiment) that any degree beyond allegro is absolutely unattainable. Of its use as an accompanying instrument to the voice, every one may judge from my description of its several tones. They clearly give a constant variation as the composition rises or falls; and now the