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ture. He is to marry the poetical to the natural in sound, neither dividing the substance nor confounding the persons; a delicate task, and one which exalts the original musician into a poet. He is a bard who expresses himself in musical instead of articulate sounds; and, to read his compositions, we must learn to sing or play, or else have them read to us by those who can.
It is this poetical imitation of the natural tones of passion, which is the origin and essence of musical expression. Other imitations have indeed been introduced into modern composition ; but they do not deserve the name of expression, and are of a nature totally dissimilar. They, in fact, depend, for the most part, upon the peculiar tone of the instrument employed, and not upon abstract resemblance, as the poetical imitation of the rises and falls of passion must do.Thus we have storm-pieces for the piano-forte, in which the lower keys are rumbled into a sort of thunder, and the higher “tipped” to resemble drops of rain or hail. We have shrill fac-similes of the whistling of birds, and battles, in which the great-drum is thumped for cannon, and the kettle-drum rattled in the manner of the galloping of horses; but to what do all these peculiarities amount? Why, to a proof that a piano-forte can rumble something like distant thunder, and “drip, drip,” as Mr. Coleridge would say, like “waterdrops :” that an octave-fute is not very unlike the whistle of a bird, and the percussion of a double-drum nearly as bad as the “report of a culverin.” They delineate no passion, nor can they excite any, excepting indirectly, and by chance. The curiosity they gratify is trifling, and it can only be once gratified. One reason certainly, why compositions of this sort must please a certain class of hearers, is their artful and complicated mechanism,—but more of this by and by.
Harmony is, or ought to be, the handmaid of melody. It cannot be denied, however, that it includes in itself the power of pleasurable excitement. For proof of the existence of this excitement, we may appeal to facts. The sound of an Æolian harp, for instance, is pleasing merely from the chords. The order in which they are produced is the work of chance. The excitement would seem to be direct, and to act strongly upon the nerves as a stimulus. Indeed, sounds produced simultaneously, for the most part, act strongly upon the nerves. The excitement caused by discords, however, is disagreeable, and with some persons so violently efficient as to induce that nervous affection, called “ teeth on edge." In Mozart, when a child, it produced convulsions. That chord and discord are only varieties of nervous vibration, seems pretty evident in the fact, that those who are incapable of pleasure from the one, are also nearly, in a like degree, insen-' sible of pain from the other. The excitation from harmony, has likewise, in some instances, been known to have brought on fainting and stupor, with persons of an irritable temperament. From all this, it appears to follow then, that the pleasure arising from harmony, be it as intense as it will, is a bodily rather than a mental pleasure. It is a dram taken by the ear, only the exhilaration is transient like that of the nitrous oxide. It does not act through the intellect, but goes directly to the nervous system. We must be allowed, therefore, to conclude, that the pleasure of harmony is inferior in its nature to that of melody; and that melody ought not to be sacrificed to it, nor put beneath it, as has long been the case. The invention of counterpoint
be feebler than when produced in atmospheric air in similar circumstances. Mr. Leslie, however, has found the difference to be actually much greater. Having placed within the receiver of an air-pump a small piece of clock-work by which a bell was struck every half minute the air was rarified, and after the reaction had been carried the length of 100 times, hydrogen gas was introduced. The sound, however, so far from being augmented, was at least as feeble as in atmospheric air of that extreme rarity, and decidedly much feebler thanwhen formed in air of its own density, or rarified ten times. Mr. Leslie likewise observed the very curious fact that the mixture of hydrogen gas with atmospheric air, has a predominant influence in blunting or stifling sound. When one half of the volume of atmospheric air is extracted, and hydrogen gas admitted to fill up the vacant space, the sound will now become scarcely audible; an effect which he ascribes to a want of intimate combination between the two gases, which causes the pulsatory impressions to be dissipated before the sound is originally formed. [Mem. Cambridge Phil. Soc., vol. i.
p. Supposed Volcanoes in the Moon.—The luminous appearance in the moon, which Captain Kater and Mr. Dunlop observed on the 5th Feb. 1821, and which Captain Kater considered as a lunar volcano, was observed by Dr. Olbers, who thinks that there are no volcanoes in the moon, and that this phenomenon is capable of another explanation. It was situated, he observes, either in or near the spot marked Aristarchus, which is always enlightened by the earth, or the dark portion of the moon when three or four days old, and is distinguishable from all the other spots in the moon by its brightness. The luminous appearance, however, on the 5th of February was entirely different from the usual appearance of Aristarchus, and appeared with a five feet achromatic telescope like a star of the sixth magnitude.
Canal Steam Navigation. With a view to the introduction of steam vessels on canals, a very interesting experiment was made in the Union Canal at Edinburgh, on June 22, at two o'clock, with a large boat 28 feet long, constructed with an internal movement upon the principle of a model invented by Mr. Wright, and exhibited to a general meeting of the Highland Society of Scotland, in the month of January last. A committee appointed for the purpose by the directors of the Highland Society, attended to witness the experiment, and the chairman and most of the members of the Union Canal Company were also present. The boat had twenty-six persons on board ; and although drawing fifteen inches of water, she was propelled by only four men at the rate of between four and five miles an hour, while the agitation of the water, being confined entirely to the centre of the canal, was observed to subside long before it reached the banks, and consequently obviating its hitherto destructive tendency in washing them into the canal.
[Star. On the Existence of Mercury in Sea-Water.-M. Proust has remarked, as M. Hilaire Rouelle did before him, that marine salt contains mercury. M. Proust has found mercury in every kind of muriatic acid that he has tried, and also in rock-salt. He suggests to navigators a method of ascertaining the existence of mercury in sea
water, by attaching a plate of gold, of two or three inches surface, to some part of the ship, so as to be constantly plunged in the water. Half an ounce of gold laminated, he conceives would be sufficient for the purpose of ascertaining if it is amalgamated after a long voyage.
Great Fall of the Barometer on the 25th of December, 1821.-As there is reason to believe, that the extraordinary fall of the barometer on the 25th of December, 1821, was connected with the volcanic eruption of Eyafjeld Jokkul, Iceland, it becomes interesting to collect the height of the barometer on that day in different parts of Europe:
In, lines. Naes in Iceland, near Reikvig, 28.49 Eng.
Dec. 26. Cambridge,
Dec. 25. Hanover,
28.34 do. Dec. 25. 1 P. M. Altona,
Dec. 25. 224 Udino,
25.5.1 French. Dec. 25. Morning. Bremen,
Dec. 25. 6h Stormy. St. Bernard,
Dec. 24. after Midn. · Fougeres,
Dec. 24. 9h Brest,
Dec. 24. Lyons,
Dec. 24. Oh Jena,
Dec. 24, 25. Treves,
Dec. 25. 5h A. M. Augsburgh,
Dec. 25. 32 A. M. Leipsic,
Dec. 24, 25.
Toad found alive in the Centre of a Stone.—A specimen of a toad, which was taken alive from the centre of a mass of solid stone, has been sent to the College Museum of Edinburgh by Lord Duncan.
Oil for Watch and Clock Work.-Good oil has long been a desideratum among watchmakers. Colonel Beaufoy remarks, that .if olive oil be exposed to the rays of the sun for a considerable length of time, it becomes colourless, limpid, free from mucilage, and not easily congealable. He exposed two eight-ounce phials, nearly filled with this oil, to the solar beams for one or two years, and found this effect produced. The bottles should be opened occasionally to allow the gas to escape, or the cork may be taken out.-The following process by Chevreul has been recommended for freeing oil for watch-work from all acid and mucilage. Put into a matrass or glass-flask, a portion of any fine oil, with seven or eight times its weight of alcohol, and heat the mixture almost to boiling, decant the clear upper stratum of fluid, and suffer it to cool; a solid portion of fatty matter separates, which is to be removed, and then the alcoholic solution evaporated in a retort or basin, until reduced to one-fifth its bulk. The elaine or fluid part of the oil will be deposited. It should be colourless and tasteless, almost free from smell, without action on infusion of litmus, having the consistence of white olive oil, and not easily congealable.
Size and Shape of the Globules of Blood in different Animals.--A number of very interesting results have recently been obtained by J. L. Prevost, M. D. and J. A. Dumas, respecting the form of the glo
has so far been the bane of melody. The mathematical bas overrun the poetical. The mechanical has overlaid the intellectual. Nor is this to be wondered at. The thing is capable both of explanation and
It is asserted somewhere by Rousseau, no mean judge of such matters, that the musical world may be divided into three classes: Those who are capable of feeling the intellectual part of music, who are generally men with something of a poetical temperament, and no very correct ear for harmony-Those who have an ear for harmony, and a taste for harmonious arrangement, but whose feelings are not excited by expressive melody, and who are, for the most part, men deficient in imagination; and, lastly, those who unite these two qualifications -a class, says Rousseau, rather rare. In this judgment of the celebrated citizen of Geneva, I must own that my limited observation, as far as it goes, strongly inclines me to concur. Now, if this idea be founded in truth, the consequent changes in the world of music are of natural occurrence: nor is it easy to conceive how they could have been materially different.
Before the discovery of counterpoint and of the present accurate system of musical notation, the science (if science it could be called) of music was limited to the composition and repetition of a few simple airs. The harmonies, when harinony was attempted, were mean and monotonous, and the composer or performer possessed little means and less inclination to improve this branch of his art. Indeed, if the date of many of the finest old airs be as modern as some contend, the indifference of the bards who composed them, to harmonious accompaniment, is almost incredible. They must of necessity have been aware of the improved arrangement of harmonies, and of the passion for that arrangement, which had then been spread, chiefly by the ministers of religion, over all Europe. Yet so little have the minds of the poets, who conceived those melodies, condescended to invest themselves in the trammels of science, that of those exquisite remains, there are few which do not violate some of the rules of composition, and scarcely any which, without injury to the melody, admit of a moderately full or scientific accompaniinent. Be this, however, as it may, it is clear enough that the number of the individuals who lived either by the composition or performance of those airs, could not have been great, and in all likelihood was small. The whole of the known music about that period would, perhaps, pot equal in bulk the thousandth part of the composition of the last ten years; and probably not one of the composers was the author of as many of those imperishable melodies as would fill a modern folio second page. The religious music of the ages prior to the invention of counterpoint, would seem to have been very deficient. It was necessarily simple; and where all passions save that of devotion were forbidden, melody naturally became either monotonous or unimpassioned ; at last, probably buth.
In this state of things, counterpoint and the phrenzy for complete harmony, which to this hour is only subsiding, effected a radical and total change. A new order of men, that is to say, Rousseau's second class, became, from their numbers, and from the endless variety of which the description of music they cultivated is susceptible, the Lords of the Ascendant. The power of employing a multiplicity of
voices and of instruments in chapels and cathedrals, was immediately turned to account. The church was omnipotent; and the “Maestro di Capella” was only another name for the best musician in the place. The expressive but simple airs of the obscure bards, who in all countries have composed what is called “national melody,” were at once buried under an avalanche of motets, canons, masses, requiems, anthems, hymns, psalms, and choruses. To these were quickly added fugues, symphonies, sonatas, duetts, quartetts, quintetts, and all the varieties of what has been called “ Chamber-music.” It is a mistake to imagine that the complication of harmony has been a taste gradually acquired. It was a phrenzy sudden and irresistible, both from it's novelty and from the real effects it is capable of producing. Those with the truest feeling of musical expression were naturally more or less captivated, like others, by the excitement of harmonious accompaniment. Those whose feelings were in the ear alone, rushed forward to claim pre-eminence for the elaborate and injurious additions which excited with such effect their grosser sensations. Science too was formally enlisted in the service; and mathematicians, with neither ear nor feeling, eagerly caught at consequence in a department where they had never dreamed of shining. The elegantly-turned sentiment of Heinsius, “ Harmoniæ pater est numerus, was carried to its full extent. Some of the wonderfully elaborate movements of the early harmonists show the extremes to which this mania carried them. Doubtless these harmonies were crude and harsh, and often barbarous, and later science has done much in sweetening their discordant chords, and refining their awkward modulations. Still as the knowledge of harmonies has extended, it is undeniable that harmonious composition has, upon the whole, been simplified. Hasse, Vinci, and Sebastian Bach, and then Handel, began to improve and polish the melody so neglected by their predecessors; and, as Dr. Burney expresses it, to “thin the accompaniments” that, like untrimmed underwood, choked up and smothered what they were meant to adorn.
We have heard many complaints of the modern rage for inusical accomplishment. Men of more refined taste have joined Mr. Cobbett in vituperating that indiscriminating thirst for sound, which would send honest farmers' daughters “to make a villainous noise on the piano." But this is comparatively nothing to the extent to which musical education was carried during the reigns of Elizabeth and James. The class through which it was possible to extend it was of course, at that period, much smaller than at present. But where it did form any part of education, and it did'so of that of every gentleman, it seems to have been pushed to a great extreme. Few persons of a certain rank were then to be found who could not play, and with superior execution, on at least one instrument; and, where nature permitted, take a part in vocal compositions; the awkward and forced complexities of which, certainly did not tend to diminish their difficulty, however they might detract from their real merit. This fever of harmonies had subsided in England, until the establishment of the Italian opera, and the celebrity of Handel, in some sort revived it. The rels of the furious partisans of Faustina and Cuzzoni, and the homage paid to Nicolini, and afterwards to Farinelli, are strong symptoms of what is called the revival of music in England. A great step, however, was gained. Throughout the musical world, melody, forgotten Vol. I. No. 2.-Museum.