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throws its shade as it passes, and makes even mirth interesting," we have not been yet able to discover the features, that undoubtedly give the whole collection the genuine likeness of one people, except in the strong resemblance which the closes all bear to each other. The receipt to make such music probably is to be found in feeling and association, (for science has little to do in it) though we have been told that Scotch tunes are to be composed by avoiding the wbite keys of the pianoforte as much as possible, and such a method does actually infuse a considerable similitude into melodies so constructed, with a regard to the way in which Scots airs are commonly divided in point of time and accentuation. The Irish melodies have, however, their own distinctions, and it is sufficient for us to say, that those excellencies which have secured them a favourable reception from the public hitherto, will not, we think, be found wanting to the seventh number, if intrinsic merit be considered.
TO THE EDITOR.
The objection raised by your correspondent, Mr. Taylor, p. 141, that if the minor sixth and seventh are to be used in ascending as well descending, in the minor mode, it will necessarily preclude the possibility of forming a perfect cadence,” is so far from being, as he conceives it, decisive and conclusive, that it will be found, on ex., amination, to have no weight whatever in the question. Does Mr. T. need to be informed, that, taking the system just as it is now understood, there are some notes, on which a perfect cadence cannot be formed, without departing from the key? If he does, he has something yet to learn, before he communicates his intended observations with which he has promised to furnish you. BROSSARD, in his Dictionnaire de Musique, 3d Edit. Amst. asserts, p. 66, as an acknowldged fact, that “no perfect cadence can be made on the mediant, (the third note above the final or key note) of the major modes without going out of the key, and that there are many persons, who say the same thing as to the mediant of the minor modes.” He mentions this as a really existing fact, but he does not state it as any objection to the idea of a key.
Whether I am or not “thoroughly acquainted with the nature of harmony,” is a question, the discussion of which I shall postpone, till I am called upon to commence it by one more conversant, than your correspondent, in enquiries of that sort. It is plain that my. adversary knows little of the rules of logic, or that mode of investigation by which alone truth can be with certainty established, and which, as being such, has been universally adopted and pursued by the ablest, best educated, and most enlightened men of all times, periods, and countries. Nor does he seem in the least degree aware, that, for the purpose of judging correctly, it is absolutely requisite to lay aside former ideas and prejudices, and to examine step by step the propositions and conclusions on which any proposed emendation, or variation, most evidently depends.
It is acknowledged, and has been repeatedly asserted, that “there are in fact no more than two chords in music, the common chord and the chord of the seventh” and that “from these two all the rest
spring.” The truth of these assertions is unquestionable; and it is further certain and evident, that in point of relation, connexion, and proportion, (and harmony, in its correct and original sense, means nothing but proportion of parts to each other) it is exactly the same thing, whether one note be above or below another. For instance, a third below the key is still a third distant from the key, as well as the third above it. And, as that is the case, what I have said as to the Overture in Samson is correct.
My opponent has said, “it is evident no arrangement of figures can ever form a chord of the seventh of the notes G DA E." Now I ask, as those notes are related to the key note in the prescribed proportions, of which that chord consists, on what reason or ground he founds that assertion ? If, as is apparently the case, it is on his present idea what the chord of the seventh is, I reply, tbis is no answer; because I mean to object, as I have done to that of computation, wbich is confined solely to reckoning forwards. And that proposition, which has itself been questioned, and consequently requires the assistance of evidence to support itself, can never bo produced as the means of substantiating or sustaining another.
It cannot be a correct assertion, that the accidentals G*F and Bb, cause no change of the key. Every introduction of an accidental sharp, as being a deviation from the rule of the original key, is uvquestionably a departure from the original key, and a migration into another. This is so evident to common sense and reason, that it needs no proof, but, should it be disputed on the present occasion, I am able to produce adequate authorities, which I only now withhold, as thinking them as yet unnecessary.
CORELLI's 8th Sonata of his Opera 4 cannot be in the key of D minor, as Mr. T. asserts it is, because the note B in thecomposition is natural, whereas in that key it is required to be flat. The key of A is universally acknowledged as the natural ininor key, and consequently as the model for all the rest of the minor keys. Sharps proceed by 5ths, and flats by 4ths. Therefore, in the major keys, G is the first key, which has a sharp, but it has only one, & that is F. In like manner as to flats in the minor keys, D in the first, which has a flat, but it has only one, and that is B, thus
D-E-F-G-A-BbC-D and I again assert, as I before said, that it is in A minor, becanse it has neither flats nor sbarps, the movement ends with tbe key note A,
and the kcy of A is the natural minor key, and consequently can have neither flats nor sharps.
What I have here said I conceive to be sufficient for the present purpose. But if my adversary is not yet satisfied, I will here insert from authors of the highest respectability, two passages, which, in the strongest manner possible, tend to support the idea I have mentioned, as to the nature of the minor key. The first comes from Malcolm's Treatise on Music, the second, from Grassineau's Musical Dictionary. Malcolm was, as everyone knows, who is acquainted with bis book, a very able musician and mathenatician; and Grassineau's Dictionary was, before its publication, revised and corrected by Dr. Pepusch one of the most profound and eminent theoretical musicians of his time. The passage from Malcolm is as follows:-“We have one thing more to observe as to the seventh, which is natutal to every mode. In the greater modes, or sharp keys, it is always the seventh greater; but flat keys use both the seventh greater and seventh less, in different circumstances. The seventh less most naturally accompanies the third less and si.cth less, which constitute a flat key; and always belongs to it necessarily, when we consider the concinnous division of the octave and the most agreeable succession of degrecs ; and it is used in every place, except it is sometimes towards a close, especially when we ascend to the key, for the seventh greater being within a semitone of the key, makes a smooth and easy passage into it, and will sometimes also occasion the sixth greater to be brought in. Again it is by means of this seventh greater, that the transition from one key to another is chiefly performed; for when the melody is to be transferred to a new key, the setenth greater of it, whether in a sharp or flat key, is commonly introduced.” -Malcolm, p. 279. Edit. Edinburg, 1721.
Grassineau's words are these: “Tis evident, therefore, that there are but two different species of keys, which arise according as we join the greater or lesser third ; these being always accompanied with the sixth and seventh of the same species. The third greater for instance, with the sixth and seventh greater, and the third lesser with the sixth and seventh of the same species, that is lesser."-Grassincau's Dict. London, 1740. p. 116.
Your's, 26/h Jan. 1819.
J. S. H.