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the corno de bassetto,* which casts a mournful shade over that sublime composition. The bassoon has a range of three octaves, the lowest note of which descends to double B flat, and is the finest note in the orchestra for volume and the rich curtle of its sound. Haydn has used it in the Creation with admirable expression, to represent the footstep of the elephant, in the passage, ‘By heavy beasts the ground is trod. Our countryman, Dr. Boyce, was strongly impressed with the mild and balmy effect of the upper tones; and has applied these 'notes that breathe,' to express the following words with peculiar richness and felicity :-
Softly rise, O southern breeze,
Rossini, with great ingenuity, often blends the sound of two instruments together, with a novelty so striking, that at first it is impossible to tell from what source they are derived. He will join the highest notes of the bassoon, with the lowest of the oboe, forming a compound altogether new. These agreeable conjunctions are continually occurring, and perhaps there is none more delightful, than when he mingles the notes of the bassoon with the horns. This instrument, after having been a drudge in the orchestra for fifty years, is now raised from
* An instrument not yet introduced into our orchestra,
a menial station, to become a principal; and by the moderns, is now made one of the most eloquent and interesting instruments in the band.
The timpano, or kettle-drum, does not appear to have been introduced into our orchestras, till after the battle of Dettingen, 1743. Amongst the spoils of war, was a pair of brass drums taken at that battle, which Handel employed in his grand Te Deum, composed and performed in honor of the victory. This splendid composition opens with a symphony of considerable length, written purposely to show the warlike tones of these instruments. The strain consists of only two notes, D and A, which are simultaneously struck by the whole band, and have an imposing effect. Probably these instruments were never used in this country before the performance at Leicester, in 1774, when they not only attracted public attention by their great novelty, but also from the circumstance of their being beaten by the Earl of Sandwich. This nobleman, in conjunction with Mr. Cradock, of Gumley, convened at Leicester, in this year, the first grand assemblage of musicians that ever took place in
England. At this meeting, the oratorio of Jephtha was entirely performed, under the direction of Mr. Commissioner Bates, for the benefit of the Leicester Infirmary, and who opened the organ built by Snetzler for the occasion. Captain Cook, who had just returned from his voyage round the world, brought with him Omai, the son of the King of the Sandwich isles. Lord Sandwich, being at the head of the Admiralty, brought the black prince down to Leicester, to be present at this grand display of musical sounds.* The writer well recollects his tall commanding figure, and the astonishment he expressed, as well as that of the company, in viewing a person so extraordinary. Lord Sandwich who had regular oratorios performed at Hinchinbrook, was so enamored with the thunder of the drums, that he had one side of his music-room strained with parchment, which, upon being suddenly struck, so alarmed the company, as to throw many into fits, which his lordship maintained was a certain proof of the boldness of the effect.
Drums can only be used in large and powerful bands, and none are effective but those of the largest size. When introduced to represent the roll of thunder, they are peculiarly grand. As an
* On the return of Lord Sandwich, he waited on his Majesty at Kew, and after more weighty business, mentioned the music meeting at Leicester, at which his Majesty was pleased to say, he could have wished to have been present. From this conversation, and subsequent conferences, the great Abbey meeting originated, which Mr. Bates was afterwards solicited to conduct.-Cradock's Memoirs, vol. i.
instance of their power, we may mention the chorus in Judah, which describes the destruction of the Midianites, “The rolling thunder He cast on all.
Their introduction, in this place, is truly dramatic and sublime!
Some of the finest effects of the drum are produced by its pianissimo, which apparently removes the sounds to an immeasurable distance, and thus supplies the mind with an idea of their vastness.
In one of Paganini's wonderful exhibitions, the piece opens with a tremulous sound from the double drum, so faint as scarcely to be heard, but sufficient to rouse the attention of the musician. In a few seconds the sound returns, upon which the violinist starts, and looks behind him, as if he apprehended the approach of something terrible. On the repetition of this tremulous, but less distant, sound, he seizes his violin, and with three or four miraculous and furious strokes of the bow, throws his audience into a frenzy of astonishment and delight.
Who has not felt the charms of a winter's evening, the cheerful fire and warm hearth-rug, with curtains
falling in ample draperies upon the floor, when the storm has been raging without ? The whistling trees, the cries of the blast through the crannies of the hall, as if benighted wretches were imploring shelter? These are the sounds that touch the musician's ear. Sounds, still more awful, are the hollow murmurs of earthquakes, the thunder of volcanos, and the roar of hurricanes. Happily we are not visited with these tremendous convulsions; yet we have them upon a smaller scale, sufficient to raise the sublimest sensations. Lying, as we do, in the midst of waters, the grandest exhibition with us is the sea in a storm. When at rest, like a monster asleep, it strikes us with awe by its vastness; but when roused into tempestuous fury, and swelling waves threaten to overwhelm the land, we may truly say, that in Britain, Neptune has fixed his throne. Winstanley, in his description of the Eddystone Lighthouse, has represented the sea as dashing a hundred feet above the top of that perilous structure. But the furious commotion of the northern sea far surpasses this in grandeur. A friend of the writer, who was employed upon the trigonometrical survey in the Orkney Isles, describes the waves in that region during a storm, to be of the most frightful vastness, striking the granite face of the perpendicular rocks with a force so tremendous, as to carry the spray over the island for thirty miles, destroying the crops in the whole of the distance. It is this scenery in Nature's theatre, ac