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composers, musicians, poets, actors, singers, and choristers, assisted in carrying him to the grave, in the presence of twenty thousand spectators, the invocation of these terrific instruments was heard responding to the voices in the following dark train of harmony, from a composition of that sublime genius.
Chapter XXX LOUD AND SOFT, OR FORTE AND PIANO.
These terms are commonly expressed by a simple letter, as f and p; and for an increased loudness, called fortissimo, the letters are doubled, as ff, or trebled, fff. The different degrees of softness are denoted in the same way, p, pp, ppp.
Mr. Alison observes, that loud sounds are connected with ideas of power and danger; and that many objects in nature, which have such qualities, are distinguished by such sounds. In the human voice, all violent and impetuous passions are expressed by loud sounds. On the contrary, soft sounds are connected with ideas of gentleness and delicacy. The contrasts produced by the different degrees of force with which sounds are uttered, form the most prominent effects of musical expression. The rushing of the fortissimo brings with it dread and alarm; but in the pianissimo, the chiaroscuro of the art, we feel the opposite sensation. The indistinctness of sounds apparently remove them to a distance, like the faint touches in painting, they seem to retire from us. Upon this principle the ventriloquist* deceives the ear, by directing the attention to a point, from which the voice may be supposed to proceed; and effects the deception by reducing it to that exact degree of softness, as it would seem to possess, had it really proceeded from the spot.
We are not always rigidly to abide by these marks : in some instances they express too vaguely the intentions of the author. An f is often used to contradict the previous effect of a p, implying only that the piano is not to be continued, yet the passage is not intended to be played with the strength of a forte; for such purposes, it is a better mode to use the character mf, signifying mezzo forte, or half forte.
See page 32.
As performers seldom or ever sufficiently restrain themselves in pianos, Beethoven has so marked the bowing, which, if strictly attended to, renders it completely out of the power of the performer to transgress in this particular. We may refer to the cadenza in the first quartet dedicated to Prince Rasoumoffsky, where nearly two hundred notes are directed to be played in one bou. And in the cele brated symphony of C minor, the viola has a holding note through forty-three bars in one bow, which requires no inconsiderable skill to sustain; but when properly executed, produces the "hush of the orchestra,' what the author intended.
The sound of the trumpet is bold and inspiring. Its splendid tone is heard at a greater distance than that of any other instrument; hence it is pressed into the service of arms. No one has felt its powerful clang like the soldier. Amidst the thunder of the war, its lancet tone cuts through the air, and drives the cohorts into battle. Sounds like these violently agitate the soul : some are appalled, while others are roused to a state of fury:
And the king seized a flambeau,
With zeal to destroy. Mozart's exquisite organization for music was such, that a false or rough note was a torture to him. When a child he had an insurmountable horror for the trumpet; the sight of this instrument produced upon him much the same impression as that of a loaded pistol does upon other children, when pointed at them in sport. His father thought he could cure him of this fear, by causing the trumpet to be blown in his presence, notwithstanding his son's entreaties to be spared that torment; but at the first blast he turned pale, fell upon the floor, and would probably have been in convulsions, if they had not immediately ceased.
In the time of Purcell, its milder tones were cultivated, being then principally used as a solo* instrument. Handel, upon his arrival in this country, found a performer of extraordinary powers, and followed the taste of the times in writing for this particular instrument. In many instances he called upon it to perform impossibilities. In the celebrated song of the Messiah,
The trumpet shall sound,
And the dead shall be raised, this great composer has failed in producing that sublimity, which the grandeur of the subject de
* No person was allowed to blow this instrument in public, who did not take out a license from the Master of the Revels-an officer instituted in the time of Henry VIII., and to whom all ballad-singers paid a tribute.