« AnteriorContinuar »
singer would seem to be accompanied by a flute, now by a clarinet or bassoon obligato. The general effect, however, is that of a small concert of all these wind instruments.
Of its construction I may say, the mechanism is ingenious and simple. It certainly affords the long wished for perfection of an instrument capable of standing in perfect tune and unalterable by climate, while the facility and precision with which its notes may
bę elevated or depressed in the minutest degree, render it susceptible of any temperament, and of any combination of tones, or semitones, or eren quarter-tones, in any order or succession required. At present the invention is in its infancy, and those powers which alone can ren. der it extensively useful, are not developed by the specimen exhibited in Catharine Street. It is too small for any better purpose than a model, and it remains to be proved, whether an instrument upon a larger scale would not be materially different in tone as well as in power. I hope however that the curiosity which has drawn a great many visitors to it, will stimulate the inventor, and at the same time enable him to prosecute bis discovery farther.
I am, Sir, Your's,
A Lovee of MUSIC AND MECHANICS,
TO THE EDITOR.
SIR, MAY I call upon you or some of your correspondents for a defnition of the two words which I have affixed at the head of my let ter? I know scarcely any circumstance in music that more requires to be fixed, for if we go on to pursue this air-formed phantom at the rate we have done within the few last years, I know not where we shall stop, since at every remove we are said to attain a higher region, and a more brilliant position in the language and opinion of those who can fly, whilst I myself (of whom by the way it will be
thought very bad taste to be talking) and some others born of earth and confined to it,
$ Toil after them in vain." To descend to plain prose. Instrument-makers and instrumental performers have discovered, that to raise the pitch bestows a brilliancy and splendour of tone upon their instruments and their airs which contribute very much to the effect of concerted pieces. The fact is not to be denied, but the consequence bas been that the concert-pitch is now got up in England at least half a tone. That this is an innovation of our own I can experimentally assert, and I can prove that we are so much above the concert-pitch of the continent. I have in my possession a tuning fork, which I carried with me witbin the last 12 months through all the principal cities of Italy, and I can aver that in Naples, Rome, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Turin, Bologna, &c. &c. the pitch was uniformly half a note at least below that adopted in the concerts of England ; I beg leave also to mention that a clarinet player who some time since arrived here from Germany, and brought with him the instrument he had used for
years, found himself unable to play upon it in concert in England. 1, Sir, am a singer, and I complain of this novelty as one of many upon whom it is particularly hard, and whose bread and reputation may be affected by it. The fashion of the present day is not to write songs of contracted compass, but rather to extend the display of vocal power quite up to the ordinary height and depth of the voice, if not somewhat beyond the notes of easy attainment. I am mistaken if we do not in truth owe to the exaltation of which I complain, the substitution of barytones for basses. There has not been, to my knowledge, a true bass voice since Mr. Bartleman (who is a genuine barytone) first appeared in public.* Haydn's bags songs and after him Callcott's, and indeed whatever has been written for a bass during the last twenty or thirty years are so high as to render the elevation of the pitch dreadfully distressing to this class of singers more especially. But in point of fact it hurts the performance, and injures the voice of every singer. For although the voice has a latent power of yielding to effort in extent, and particu
* We beg to acquaint our Correspondent that Mr. Lacy is a legitimate bass singer, and his voice is as full, round and extensive as any we have ever heard. Its lower tones are particularly powerful. Mr. Tinney also has a good and genuine bass voice.
larly under an increased flow of spirits, and under the circumstance of singing in a room of large dimensions, where the resonance is considerable, there can be nothing more unfavorable to yocal excellence than altering and disturbing the general habits of a singer as established in practice. The minute mechanism of the throat accommodates itself almost miraculously to the impulse of the will. But it must be sufficiently obvious that in practice (if it be efficient) we are coustantly aiming at uniformity of action in the muscles en. gaged—and we bring them at length by such practice to obey with the utmost precision. They obtain a certain conformation, which conformation only can give the exact, the entire effect that is the desired result of incessant labour. We have therefore two things to contend against in the fluctuation of concert-pitch. First its variation, and next its gradual ascension. While such is the case the singer practices to a diminished purpose and sings with doubtful effect; for be it known to all whom it may concern, the effect is rendered very doubtful indeed both by the real and imaginary terrors of a note which we are always liable, according to existing cireumstances, i. e. the caprice of the conductor or instrument tuner, to find raised above our usual and definite powers.
The members of the Philharmonic are a society of eminent musicians, men equally capable of appretiating the value of my remarks and of establishing a just principle between the Bulls and the Bears upon our Musical Exchange-between the aspiring instrumentalists and the more humble minded train of songsters. I should seriously propose it to their consideration to fix a maximum, and to circulate on their authority a standard fork, of which minor leaders and conductors might possess themselves, and to which we might all resort.
If, however, Sir, you think here is too much of the fork, pray apply the knife to the petition of
ROYAL PATRONAGE OF MUSIC. No circumstance has been more favorable to the support of the principles of a sound taste and to the propagation of a general love of the science, than the early, constant, and long-enduring patronage which our venerable Monarch 'extended to music, the zeal with which he entered into all its purposes, the personal delight he experienced from its performance, and the accurate judgment he displayed in the great variety of musical arrangements which originated with or were submitted to him. “ The debt immense of endless gratitude" which the subjects of Great Britain owe for the religious, moral, and political benefits they enjoy, to the personal character of their King, has been amongst the happiest themes of eloquent eulogy, and is now universally adınitted. Our obligations, as lovers of music, are amongst those derived to the nation “from the peaceable, pure, and home delights” of the Sovereign, and as our public acknowledgments may tend to increase the knowledge of the source of these benefits, and to augment them by a still wider diffusion, we presume on this account, as well as on the score of amusement, to believe that a narrative somewhat in detail of the manner which music has been cultivated and enjoyed, and is still pursued by the Royal Family, will be acceptable to our readers who may and who may not have been present at the private concerts of Windsor, Buckingham House, Carlton House, or other Royal residences, and who may not be apprized of the establishments for music subsisting under such patronage.
The Band which has constantly cnjoyed the honor of performing to their Majesties and the Royal Family in private, began to be assembled as early as the year 1777, and was at first composed of only eight persons.
It was designated: “The Queen's Band." The original intention was to have made it wholly military, but the King understanding that several of the persons selected played well on stringed besides wind instruments, and perceiving considerable indications of talent among them, his Majesty placed them under masters of eminence at his own expence, and the result was such as to gratify his expectations. The family of Griesbach formed the greater number of this small party. George, the eldest, was put under the senior Cramer for the violin, and Abel for the study of composition. He made a rapid proficiency, and was appointed
the leader; HENRY, the second, became, mwder CrosdiLL, a sound and excellent player on the violoncello. Mr. H. G. has not the hand of Lindley, nor does he play in the ornate style of that super-eminent master, but in tone, and steadiness in the orchestra, he is not supassed. FREDERICK GRIESBACH and KELLNER were for three years under Fischer, the celebrated Oboe player, and the former is now witliout a rival. Moller and E. Kellner were consigned to the tuition of Ponto, the famous horn blower. From such a beginning the Band was gradually increased to twenty performers, who were in attendance every evening at Windsor. A striking alteration in manners appears upon contrasting the present lours of relaxation, with those punctiliously observed by his Majesty. The Queen's Band began to play at 7 o'clock, and the Concert ended at 10. It now never happens that the inusic in the private parties of the metropolis commences before the hour when the Royal Concert concluded. Not less regularity was observed in the selections which were divided into three acts. His Majesty made the bills. Our Teaders will be gratified with the annexed fac simile of one of the bills, in the hand-writing of our venerable Sovereign.
Such was the invariable tenor of the King's domestic musical amusements, except that on Sundays a whole oratorio was performed, the melody of the songs being taken by the instrument within whose compass it best lay. On court days it was their Majesties' custom to have two concerts weekly at Buckingham House, when CRAMER, FISCHER, ABEL, NICHOLAI, PAPENDIC, &c. &c. Harrison, Knyvett, and his sons were summoned. Madame Le Brun once sung, and MADAME MARA frequently; SALOMON occasionally attended, and once Mrs. Bullington, who received as a present from the Queen a most beautiful pair of amethyst bracelets. The PRINCESS AUGUSTA, who is a capital musician, would sometimes play on the harpsichord, and the Prince Rbgert, then Prince of Wales, frequently joined his violoncello to the Dukes of CAMBRIDGE and CUMBERLAND on the violin and flute at the Windsor parties.
CROSDULL, who was the Prince Regent's musical instructor, resided at Windsor and used almost always to play.
The uniform of the band was a scarlet frock, white waistcoat and breeches, a cocked hat and sword. On Sundays they wore full dress coats very much ornamented with gold lace.