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As an instance of graceful harmony, we may quote the first part of Haydn's 'God preserve the Emperor,' accompanied by chords belonging to the key.
And, afterwards, the same melody accompanied by a set of chords belonging to the relative key of E minor.
The laws by which we pass from one accord to another, form the rules of counterpoint, or the art of setting note against note ;-the principle of which is, that when music is written in parts, no two parts are to move in the same direction at the distance of a fifth, producing consecutive fifths, the effect of which is intolerable to the ear. This may be tried upon the piano-forte, by striking them in succession. An offence of less magnitude are consecutive octaves, which, if introduced without the design of strengthening a part, are quite un pardonable.
Picini compares modulation to the turning off from a road on which we are travelling. The ear is willing to follow us, it even wishes to find a guide in us, but it expects that when we have brought it to a halt, it should find something to repose upon as a recompense for the journey. If you disregard this reasonable demand, and yet expect that the ear should continue with you, ere long you will find yourself disappointed; it will leave you running on by yourself, and all your efforts to call it back again will be in vain. To devise a melody according to a natural order and unaffected plan of modulation, never to deviate but for a purpose, and to return to it with ease, are difficulties in the art.* To abandon, on the other hand, a key which has scarcely been propounded, to wander at random, without reason or object, from one key to another, to skip to and fro, merely to leave a place in which you are incapable of maintaining a footing, in short to modulate for the sake of modulation, betrays an ignorance of the art, and a poverty of invention.
The nature of musical composition is undergoing a continual change; and so innumerable are the combinations which may be wrought, that its style is without limits, and its effects unbounded. In the early composers, we find little more than simple mutations of harmony, and scarcely an attempt to rise into the more graceful region of melody. As to design or imitation of natural effects, no such traces appear. Our ancestors imagined that they
• Kelway has written a service in B minor, but presently gets into the key of D, and cannot get out of it, though he makes many attempts to do it.
could unravel the musical mysteries, by making sounds follow each other agreeable to certain laws, thereby uniting the principles of harmony and melody at once. Every device was tried; such as placing what was uppermost in the composition occasionally at the bottom, called inversion ; which, with contrary motion, imitation, augmentation, answers, and the like, was thought to achieve all the varieties attainable in the system of sounds. But 'the moulds of the contrapuntist are broken,' and musicians are taught this great truth, that the art knows no bounds but what nature prescribes. Purcel, the first genius that appeared in this country, broke through the trammels of these schools, and at once cultivated an alliance between sense and sound, and gave pathos and feeling to the language which he sung. His predecessors were too much enveloped in the mazy windings of harmony, to attend to accent and expression; but this sublime genius struck out a melody that charms and delights even at the present day. It has been well observed by M. Fétis,* that composition has advanced by
slow degrees, and every age has had its favorite "authors and favorite style. At each revolution, it 'was imagined that the limits of the art had been
reached, and that nothing remained beyond. Mu'sic exists upon emotions which are more lively as 'they are more varied. They are also quickly effaced, and therefore in this art the necessity of
novelty is felt more than in any other. Hence the 'interest that is taken in revolutions, and the enthusiasm which they excite. Hence, too, the regrets of those who are wedded to music of olden date, and their exclamations, that music is gone! music is totally ruined! which signifies nothing more, 'than that the style of music has been changed.' The utter dislike to all improvement was carried to such excess, that on the first introduction of Haydn's music, it was considered so wild and out of keeping with what English ears had been accustomed to, that an elegant writer and composer, Mr. Jackson of Exeter, compared it to the ravings of a bedlamite. Before this great revolutionist appeared, there was a race of authors* whose works are now forgotten. They may be compared to the Venetian painters, of whom Sir Joshua Reynolds speaks, who filled their pictures with bustle and tumult, without the least attempt to interest the passions :
- - A tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. "A musical composition is a discourse expressed hy sounds instead of words ;' and if we examine into its constituent parts, we shall find they may be classed under the following heads, Harmony, Rhythmical Phrases, Tones of Passion, and Melody. * Italians.
Germans. Lampugnani. Maldere.
Eichner. Martini. Pugnani. Stamitz. Abel. Campioni. Borghi.