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The Piano and Piano Players

December 31, 2006

When Pythagoras, Father of Musical Science, some six centuries before our era, marked and sounded musical intervals by mathematical division on a string stretched across a board, he was unconsciously laying the foundation for our modern pianoforte. How soon keys were added to the monochord, as this measuring instrument was named, cannot positively be ascertained. We may safely assume it was not slow in adopting the rude
keyboard ascribed by tradition to Pan pipes, and applied to the portable organ of early Christian communities.

After the tenth century the development of the monochord seems to have begun in earnest. Two or more strings of equal length are now divided and set in motion by flat metal wedges, attached to the key levers, and called tangents, because they touched the strings. In response to the demand for increased range, as many as twenty keys were brought to act on a few strings, commanding often three octaves. Guido d’Arezzo, the
famous sight-reading music teacher of the eleventh century, advised his pupils to “exercise the hand in the use of the monochord,” showing his knowledge of the keyboard. The keyed monochord gained the name clavichord. Its box-like case was first placed on a table, later on its own stand, and increased in elegance. Not until the eighteenth century
was each key provided with a separate string.

No unimped triumphal progress can be claimed for the various claviers or keyboard instruments that came into use. Dance music found in them a congenial field, thus causing many serious-minded people to regard them as dangerous tempters to vanity and folly. In the year 1529, Pietro Bembo, a grave theoretician, wrote to his daughter Helena, at her
convent school: “As to your request to be allowed to learn the clavier, I answer that you cannot yet, owing to your youth, understand that playing is only suited for volatile, frivolous women; whereas I desire you to be the most lovable maiden in the world. Also, it would bring you but little pleasure or renown if you should play badly; while to play
well you would be obliged to devote ten or twelve years to practice, without being able to think of anything else. Consider a moment whether this would become you. If your friends wish you to play in order to give them pleasure, tell them you do not desire to make yourself ridiculous in their eyes, and be content with your books and your domestic
occupations.”

A different view was entertained in England during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, where claviers were in vogue styled virginals, because, as an ancient chronicle explained, “virgins do most commonly play on them.” The virginal was usually of oblong shape, often resembling a lady’s workbox. With the Virgin Queen it was a prime favorite, although not
named expressly for her as the flattering fashion of the time led many to assume. If she actually did justice to some of the airs with variations in the “Queen Elizabeth Virginal Book,” she must indeed have been proficient on the instrument. Quaint Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814) declares, in his “History of Music,” that no performer of his day could
play them without at least a month’s practice.

The clavier gave promise of its destined career in the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare immortalized it, and William Byrd (1546-1623) became the first clavier master. He and Dr. John Bull (1563-1628), says Oscar Bie, in his great work on “The Clavier and Its Masters,” “represent the two types which run through the entire history of the clavier. Byrd was the more intimate, delicate, spiritual intellect; Bull the untamed genius,
the brilliant executant, the less exquisitely refined artist. It is significant that these two types stand together on the threshold of  clavier art.” Bull had gained his degree at Oxford, the founding of whose chair of music is popularly attributed to Alfred the Great.

As early as the year 1400 claviers had appeared whose strings were plucked by quills attached to jacks at the end of the key levers. To this group belonged the virginal, or virginals, the clavicembalo, the harpsichord, or clavecin, and the spinet. Stops were added, as in the organ, that varied effects might be produced, and a second keyboard was
often placed above the first. The case was either rectangular, or followed the outlines of the harp, a progenitor of this clavier type. It was often highly ornamented, and handsomely mounted. Each string from the first had its due length and was tuned to its proper note.

The secular music principle of the sixteenth century that called into active being the orchestra led also to a desire for richer musical expression in home and social life than the fashionable lute afforded, and the clavier advanced in favor. In France, by 1530, the dance, that promoter of pure instrumental music, was freely transcribed for the clavier. Little more than a century later, Jean Baptiste Lully (1633-1687) extensively employed the instrument in the orchestration of his operas, and wrote solo dances for it.

François Couperin (1668-1733), now well-nigh forgotten, although once
mentioned in the same breath with Moličre, wrote the pioneer clavier
instruction book. In it he directs scholars how to avoid a harsh tone,
and how to form a legato style. He advises parents to select teachers on
whom implicit reliance may be placed, and teachers to keep the claviers
of beginners under lock and key that there may be no practicing without
supervision. His suggestions deserve consideration to-day.

He was the first to encourage professional clavier-playing among women.
His daughter Marguerite was the first woman appointed official court
clavier player. He composed for the clavier little picture tunes,
designed to depict sentiments, moods, phases of character and scenes
from life. He fashioned many charming turns of expression, introduced
an occasional tempo rubato, foreshadowed the intellectual element in
music and laid the corner-stone of modern piano-playing. Jean Philippe
Rameau (1683-1764) continued Couperin’s work.

What is generally recognized as the first period of clavier-virtuosity
begins with the Neapolitan Domenico Scarlatti (1683-1757), and Johann
Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the German of Germans. The style of
Scarlatti is peculiarly the product of Italian love of beautiful tone,
and what he wrote, though without depth of motive, kept well in view the
technical possibilities of the harpsichord. His “Cat’s Fugue,” and his
one movement sonatas still appear on concert programmes. In a collection
of thirty sonatas he explained his purpose in these words: “Amateur, or
professor, whoever thou art, seek not in these compositions for any
profound feeling. They are only a frolic of art, meant to increase thy
confidence in the clavier.”

In Germany, with grand old Father Bach, the keyboard instrument was
found capable of mirroring a mighty soul. The germ of all modern musical
design lies in his clavier writings. It has been aptly said of this
master of masters that he constructed a great university of music, from
which all must graduate who would accomplish anything of value in music.
Men of genius, from Mozart to the present time, have extolled him for
the beauty of his melodies and harmonies, the expressiveness of his
modulations, the wealth, spontaneity and logical clearness of his ideas,
and the superb architecture of his productions. Students miss the soul
of Bach because of the soulless, mechanical way in which they deface his
legacy to them.

His “Twelve Little Preludes” alone contain the materials for an entire
system of music. The “Inventions,” too often treated as dry-as-dust
studies, are laden with beautiful figures and devices that furnish
inspiration for all time. As indicated by their title, which signifies a
compound of appropriate expression and just disposition of the members,
they were designed to cultivate the elements of musical taste, as well
as freedom and equality of the fingers. His “Well Tempered Clavichord”
has been called the pianist’s Sacred Book. Its Preludes and Fugues
illustrate every shade of human feeling, and were especially designed to
exemplify the mode of tuning known as equal temperament, introduced into
general use by Bach, and still employed by your piano tuner and mine.

Forkel, his biographer, has finely said that Bach considered the voices
of his fugues a select company of persons conversing together. Each was
allowed to speak only when there was something to say bearing on the
subject in hand. A highly characteristic motive, or theme, as
significant as the noblest “typical phrase,” developing into equally
characteristic progressions and cadences, is a striking feature of the
Bach fugue. His “Suites” exalted forever the familiar dance tunes of the
German people. His wonderful “Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue” ushered the
recitative into purely instrumental music.

As a teacher he was genial, kind, encouraging and in every respect a
model. He obliged his pupils to write and understand as well as sound
the notes. In his noble modesty he never held himself aloof as superior
to others. When pupils were discouraged he reminded them how hard he had
always been compelled to work, and assured them that equal industry
would lead them to success. He gave the thumb its proper place on the
keyboard, and materially improved fingering. Tranquillity and poetic
beauty being prime essentials of his playing, he preferred to the more
brilliant harpsichord, or spinet, the clavichord, whose thrilling,
tremulous tone, owing to its construction, was exceedingly sensitive to
the player’s touch. The early hammer-clavier, or pianoforte, invented in
1711, by the Italian Cristofori, who derived the hammer idea from the
dulcimer, did not attract him because of its extreme crudeness.
Nevertheless, it was destined to develop into the musical instrument
essential to the perfect interpretation of his clavier music.

His son and pupil, Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), proceeding on the
principles established by his illustrious father, prepared the way for
the modern pianist. His important theoretical work, “The True Art of
Clavier Playing,” was pronounced by Haydn the school of schools for all
time. It was highly extolled by Mozart, and to it Clementi ascribed his
knowledge and skill. In his compositions he was an active agent in the
crystallization of the sonata form. From him Haydn gained much that he
later transferred to the orchestra.

Impulse to the second period of clavier virtuosity was given by Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). Mozart, who
led the Viennese school, developed the singing style of playing and the
smooth flowing legato. Leaving behind him the triumphs of his
wonder-boyhood with spinet and harpsichord, he boldly entered the public
concert-hall with the pianoforte, now greatly advanced by the
improvements of Silbermann. Mozart brought into use its special
features, showed its capacity for tone-shading and for the reflection
of sentiment, and may well be said to have launched it on its career.
Tradition declares that his hand was fashioned for clavier keys, and
that its graceful movements afforded the eye no less pleasure than the
ear. His noble technique, based on his profound study of the Bachs, was
spiritualized by his own glowing fancy. In his playing, as in his
compositions, every note was a pearl of great price. With his piano
concertos he showed how clavier and orchestra may converse earnestly
together without either having its individuality marred. The same
equilibrium is maintained in his piano and violin sonatas and his other
concerted chamber music, amid all their persuasive and eloquent
discourse. His charming four-hand and double piano pieces, written for
himself and his gifted sister Marianne, and his solo clavier sonatas
would prove his wealth of musical invention had he not written another
note.

Clementi, born in Rome, passed most of his life in London, where he
attracted many pupils. Without great creative genius, he occupied
himself chiefly with the technical problems of the pianoforte. He opened
the way for the sonority of tone and imposing diction of the modern
style. His music abounded in bold, brilliant passages of single and
double notes. He is even credited with having trilled in octaves with
one hand. Taking upon himself the management of an English piano
factory, he extended the keyboard, in 1793, to five and a half octaves.
Seven octaves were not reached until 1851. His “Gradus ad Parnassum”
became the parent of Etude literature. Carl Tausig said: “There is but
one god in technique, Bach, and Clementi is his prophet.”

Losing the spirituality of a Mozart the Viennese school was destined to
degenerate into empty bravura playing. Before its downfall it produced a
Hummel, a Moscheles and a Czerny, each of whom left in their piano
studies a valuable bequest to technique. Karl Czerny (1791-1857), called
king of piano teachers, numbered among his pupils, Liszt, Doehler,
Thalberg and Jaell. The Clementi school was continued in that familiar
writer of Etudes, Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858), and began to show
respect for the damper pedal. Its most eminent virtuoso was John Field
(1782-1837) of Dublin.

Between these two schools stood Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827), a
giant on lofty heights. Every accent of his dramatic music was embodied
in his piano compositions. Tones furnished him unmistakably a language
that needed no commentary. “In him,” says Oscar Bie, “there were no
tricks of technique to be admired, no mere virtuosity to praise; but he
stirred his hearers to the depths of their hearts. Amid his storm and
stress, whispering and listening, his awakening of the soul, an original
naturalism of piano-playing was recognized, side by side with the
naturalism of his creative art. Rhythm was the life of his playing.” A
union of conception and technique was a high aim of Beethoven, and he
prized the latter only as it fulfilled the requirements of his idealism.
“The high development of the mechanical in pianoforte playing,” he wrote
to a friend, “will end in banishing all genuine emotion from music.”
His prophetic words might serve as a warning to-day.

The past century has given us the golden age of the pianoforte. Advanced
knowledge of acoustics and improved methods of construction have made it
the magnificent instrument we know in concert hall and home, and to
which we now apply the more intimate name, piano. Oscar Bie calls it the
music teacher of all mankind that has become great with the growth of
modern music. As a photograph may convey to the home an excellent
conception of a master painting in some distant art gallery, so the
piano, in addition to the musical creations it has inspired, may present
to the domestic circle intelligent reproductions of mighty choral,
operatic and instrumental works. Through its medium the broad field of
musical history and literature may be surveyed in private with profit
and pleasure.

Piano composers and virtuosos rapidly increase. Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826) stood on the threshold of the fairyland of romance. His
scheme of a dialogue, in the opening adagio of his “Invitation to the
Dance,” followed by an entrancing waltz and a grave concluding dialogue,
betokens what he might have accomplished for the piano had he lived
longer. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and Robert Schumann (1810-1856) were
the evangelists par excellence of the new romantic school. Schubert,
closely allied in spirit to the master-builder, Beethoven, was
unsurpassed in the refinement of his musical sentiment. The melody
flooding his soul beautified his piano compositions, to which only a
delicate touch may do justice. His Impromptus and Moments Musical, small
impressionist pieces, in which isolated musical ideas are clothed in
brief artistic forms adapted to the timbre of the instrument, may well
be thought to have placed piano literature on a new basis.

The romantic temperament of Robert Schumann was nurtured on German
romantic literature and music. His impressions of nature, life and
literature he imprisoned in tones. He was a profound student of Bach, to
whom he traced “the power of combination, poetry and humor in the new
music.” Infusing his own vital emotions into polyphonic forms he gave
the piano far grander tone-pictures than those of Couperin. The dreamy
fervor and the glowing fire of an impassioned nature may be felt in his
works, but also many times the lack of balance that belongs with the
malady by which he was assailed.

His love of music became early interwoven with love for Clara, the
gifted daughter and pupil of his teacher, Friedrich Wieck. To her he
dedicated his creative power. An attempt to gain flexibility by means of
a mechanical contrivance having lamed his fingers, he turned from a
pianist’s career to composition and musical criticism. In becoming his
wife Clara gave him both hands in more senses than one, and they shone
together as a double star in the art firmament. Madame Schumann had
acquired a splendid foundation for her career through the wise guidance
of her father, whose pedagogic ideas every piano student might consider
with profit. Her playing was distinguished by its musicianly
intelligence and fine artistic feeling. Earnest simplicity surrounded
her public and her private life, and the element of personal display was
wholly foreign to her. She was the ideal woman, artist and teacher who
remained in active service until a short time before her death, in 1896.

Those were charmed days in Leipsic when the Schumanns and Mendelssohn
formed the centre of an enthusiastic circle of musicians, and created a
far-reaching musical atmosphere. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), in his
work for the piano, adapted to drawing-room use technical devices of his
day, and in his “Songs without Words” gave a decisive short-story form
to piano literature. His playing is described as possessing an organ
firmness of touch without organ ponderosity, and having an expression
that moved deeply without intoxicating. Living in genial surroundings,
he was never forced to struggle, and although he climbed through flowery
paths, he never reached the goal he longed for until his heart broke.

Delicate, sensitive, fastidious, Frédéric Chopin (1809-1849) delivered
his musical message with persuasive eloquence through the medium of the
piano. It was his chosen comrade. With it he exchanged the most subtle
confidences. Gaining a profound knowledge of its resources he raised it
to an independent power. Polish patriotism steeped in Parisian elegance
shaped his genius, and his compositions portray the emotions of his
people in exquisitely polished tonal language. Spontaneous as was his
creative power he was most painstaking in regard to the setting of his
musical ideas and would often devote weeks to re-writing a single page
that every detail might be perfect. The best that was in him he gave to
music and to the piano. He enlarged the musical vocabulary, he
re-created and enriched technique and diction, and to him the musician
of to-day owes a debt that should never be forgotten. “He is of the race
of eagles,” said his teacher, Elsner. “Let all who aspire follow him in
his flights toward regions sublime.”

The man who, by his demands on the piano, induced improvements in its
manufacture that materially increased its sonority and made it
available for the modern idea, was Franz Liszt (1811-1886). He will
always be remembered as the creator of orchestral piano-playing and of
the symphonic poem. The impetuous rhythms and unfathomable mysteries of
Magyar and gipsy life surrounding him in Hungary, the land of his birth,
strongly influenced the shaping of his genius. Like the wandering
children of nature who had filled the dreams of his childhood, he became
a wanderer and marched a conqueror, radiant with triumphs, through the
musical world. Chopin, who shrank from concert-playing, once said to
him: “You are destined for it. You have the force to overwhelm, control,
compel the public.”

The bewitching tones of the gipsy violinist, Bihary, had fallen on his
boyish ears “like drops of some fiery, volatile essence,” stimulating
him to effort. On the threshold of manhood he was inspired to apply the
methods of Paganini to the piano. All his early realistic and
revolutionary ideas found vent in his pianistic achievements. He gained
marvelous fulness of chord power, great dynamic variety, and numerous
unexpected solutions of the tone problem. Many technical means of
expression were invented by him, and a wholly new fingering was required
for his purposes. He taught the use of a loose wrist, absolute
independence of the fingers and a new manipulation of the pedals. To
carry out his designs the third or sustaining pedal became necessary.
His highest ambition, in his own words, was “to leave to piano players
the foot-prints of attained advance.” In 1839 he ventured on the first
pure piano recital ever given in the concert hall. His series of
performances in this line, covering the entire range of piano
literature, in addition to his own compositions, given entirely without
notes, led the public to expect playing by heart from all other artists.

As a great pianist, a composer of original conceptions, a magnetic
conductor, an influential teacher, an intelligent writer on musical
subjects and a devoted promoter of the interests of art, he stands out
in bold relief, one of the grand figures in the history of music. His
piano paraphrases and transcriptions are poetic re-settings of
tone-creations he had thoroughly assimilated and made his own. In his
original works, which Saint-Saëns was perhaps the first to appreciate,
students are now beginning to discover the ripe fruits of his genius.
Faithful ones among the pupils who flocked about him in classic Weimar
spread wide his influence, but also much harm was done in his name by
charlatans who, calling themselves Liszt pupils, cast broadcast the
fallacy that piano pounding was genuine pianistic power.

Large hearted, liberal minded, whole souled in his devotion to his art
and its true interests, Franz Liszt seemed wholly without personal
jealousies, and befriended and brought into public notice a large number
of artists. Hector Berlioz declared that to him belonged “the sincere
admiration of earnest minds, as well as the involuntary homage of the
envious.” At the opening of the Baireuth Temple of German Art, in 1876,
Richard Wagner paid him this tribute in the midst of a joyful company:
“Here is one who first gave me faith in my work when no one knew
anything of me. But for him, my dear friend, Franz Liszt, you might not
have had a note from me to-day.”

A rival of Liszt in the concert field, especially before a Parisian
public, was Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871), who visited this country in
1855 and literally popularized the piano in America. Alfred Jaell and
Henri Herz, who had preceded him, doubtless prepared the way for his
triumphs. He and the “Creole Chopin,” Louis Moreau Gottschalk, attracted
much attention by several joint appearances in our musical centres of
the time. Thalberg was a pupil of Hummel, and felt the influence of his
teacher’s cold, severely classic style. He possessed a well-trained,
fascinating mechanism, with scales, chords, arpeggios and octaves that
were marvels of neatness and accuracy, and a tone that was mellow and
liquid, though lacking in warmth. His operatic transcriptions, in which
a central melody is enfolded in arabesques, chords and running passages,
have long since become antiquated, but his art of singing on the piano
and many of his original studies still remain valuable to the pianist.

When Liszt and Thalberg were in possession of the concert platform, they
occupied the attention of cartoonists as fully as Paderewski at a later
date. Liszt, his hair floating wildly, was represented as darting
through the air on wide-stretched pinions with keyboards attached–a
play on Flügel, the German for grand piano. Thalberg, owing to his
dignified repose, was caricatured as posing in a stiff, rigid manner
before a box of keys.

Rubinstein and Von Bülow offer two more contrasting personalities. Anton
Rubinstein (1830-1894) was the impressionist, the subjective artist, who
re-created every composition he played. The Russian tone-colorist he has
been called, and the warmth and glow with which he invested every nuance
can never be forgotten by those who were privileged to hear his Titanic
interpretations, over whose very blemishes was cast the glamor of the
impassioned temperament that caused them. “May Heaven forgive me for
every wrong note I have struck!” he exclaimed to a youthful admirer
after one of his concerts in this country during the season of 1872-3.
Certainly the listener under the spell of his magnetism could forgive,
almost forget. Hans von Bülow (1830-1894) was the objective artist,
whose scholarly attainments and musicianly discernment unraveled the
most tangled web of phrasing and interpretation. His Beethoven recitals,
when he was in America in 1875-6, were of especial value to piano
students. As a piano virtuoso, a teacher, a conductor and an editor of
musical works, he was a marked educational factor in music.

In his youth Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), the great apostle of modern
intellectual music, made his début before the musical world as a
brilliant and versatile pianist. Once, when about to play in public
Beethoven’s magnificent Kreutzer Sonata, with Remenyi, who was the first
to recognize his genius, he discovered that the piano was half a tone
below concert pitch, and rather than spoil the effect by having the
violin tuned down, the boy of nineteen unhesitatingly transposed the
piano part which he was playing from memory into a higher key. The fire,
energy and breadth of his rendering, together with the splendid
musicianship displayed by this feat, deeply impressed the great
violinist Joachim, who was present, and who became enthusiastic in his
praise. Schumann, on making his acquaintance, proclaimed the advent of a
genius who wrote music in which the spirit of the age found its
consummation, and who, at the piano, unveiled wonders. By others he has
been called the greatest contrapuntist after Bach, the greatest
architectonist after Beethoven, the man of creative power who
assimilated the older forms and invested them with a new life entirely
his own. His piano works are a rich addition to the pianist’s store, but
whoever would unveil their beautiful proportions, all aglow as they are
with sacred fire, must have taken a master’s degree.

Two pupils of Liszt stand out prominently–Carl Tausig (1841-1871) and
Eugene D’Albert (1864- —-). The first was distinguished by his
extraordinary sense for style, and was thought to surpass his master in
absolute flawlessness of technique. To the second Oscar Bie attributes
the crown of piano playing in our time. Peter Iljitch Tschaikowsky
(1840-1893), the distinguished representative of the modern Russian
school, was an original, dramatic and fertile composer and wrote for the
piano some of his highly colored and very characteristic music. Edward
Grieg (1843- —-), the national tone-poet of Norway, has given the
piano some of his most delightful efforts, fresh with the breezes of the
North.

The veteran French composer, Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835- —-),
has won great renown as a pianist, and was one of the most precocious
children on record, having begun the study of the piano when under three
years of age. He was the teacher that knew how to develop the
individuality of the young Russian, Leopold Godowsky, who has done such
remarkable work on two continents, as a teacher and piano virtuoso.

Perhaps the most famous piano teacher of recent times is Theodore
Leschetitzky, of Vienna. His method is that of common sense, based on
keen analytical faculties, and he never trains the hand apart from the
musical sense. His most renowned pupil is Ignace Jan Paderewski, the
magnetic Pole, whose exquisite touch and tone long made him the idol of
the concert room, and who, with time, has gained in robustness, but also
in recklessness of style. Another gifted pupil of the Viennese master is
Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, of Chicago, an artiste of rare temperament,
musical feeling and nervous power, of whom Dr. Hanslick said that her
virtuosity was stupendous, her delicacy in the finest florid work as
marvelous as her fascinating energy in the forte passages.

The great tidal wave set in motion by the piano has swept over the
civilized world, carrying with it hosts of accomplished pianists. Of
some of those who are familiar figures in our musical centres it has
been said that Teresa Carreńo learned from Rubinstein the art of piano
necromancy; that Rosenthal is an amazing technician whose
interpretations lack tenderness; that De Pachmann is on terms of
intimacy with Chopin, and that Rafael Joseffy, the disciple of Tausig,
combines all that is best in the others with striking methods of his
own.

Great is the piano, splendid its literature, many its earnest students,
numerous its worthy exponents. That it is so often made a means of empty
show is not the fault of the piano, it is due to a tendency of the day
that calls for superficial glamor. Herbert Spencer was not so wrong as
some of the critics seem to think when, in his last volume, he said that
teachers of music and music performers were often corrupters of music.
Those certainly are corrupters of music who use the piano solely for
meaningless technical feats.

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How to Listen to Music

October 27, 2006

Listening is an art. It requires close and accurate attention, sympathy, imagination and genuine culture. Listening to music is an art of high degree. Many derive exquisite enjoyment from it, for music is potent and universal in its appeal. To listen intelligently to music is an accomplishment few have acquired.

A great painting presents itself as a completed whole before the observer’s eye. It holds on the canvas the fixed place given it by the master from whose genius it proceeded. No intermediary force is needed to come between it and the impression it makes on the beholder. Music, on the contrary, must be aroused from the written, or printed page to living tone by the hand or voice of the interpreter, and but a fragment at a time can be made perceptible to the listener’s ear. Like a panorama, it comes and goes before the imagination, its kaleidoscopic tints and forms now sharply contrasted, now almost imperceptibly graduated one into the other, but all shaping themselves into a logical union, stamped with the design of a creative mind. Properly to inspect the successive musical images, and grasp their significance, in parts and as a whole, demands keen mental alertness.

Many are content to listen to music for the mere sensuous impression it creates as it wraps itself about the inner being, lulling a perturbed spirit to rest, or awakening longing and aspiration, joy and sadness, according to the nature of the music and the hearer’s mood. Some even take pleasure in formulating into words the sensations evoked by the ebb and flow of the tonal waves, and fancy they are thus deriving intellectual profit from music.

From both ways of listening helpful results may accrue, but by no means the greatest. Music is far beyond words, and in attempting to translate it into these we miss its musical meaning, the best that is in it. As listeners we derive our highest ćsthetic and intellectual satisfaction from the ability to follow, even anticipate, the composer’s intention, now finding our expectations fulfilled, now being agreeably disappointed. Failure to catch the opening phrase and preliminary rhythms of the composition makes it impossible to appreciate the tonal forms into which they develop. Nor may the mind linger over any one
part, if we would grasp the work as an unbroken whole. That musical creation alone can afford the noblest delights that prompts and rewards the act of thus closely following the composer’s thought.

An instance of absolute knowledge of music appears in an anecdote told of Johann Sebastian Bach. When he was present at the performance of a fugue and one of his two most musical sons was with him, he would, as soon as the theme was heard, whisper what devices and developments he thought should be introduced. If the composer had conformed to his idea of construction he would jog his son to call attention to the fact. Otherwise, his exceeding modesty and reverent comprehension of the difficulties of the art made him the most lenient of critics.

Few have reached the luminous heights this master of masters trod. Even a well-cultivated ear and taste may often be baffled by the intricacies of a fugue, symphony or other great work of musical art heard for the first time. The best listener beyond the pale of genius will at times feel as one astray in a labyrinth of beauty to which for the moment no clue appears. A single representation will rarely suffice to reveal the full worth of a masterpiece of music. By hearing it often, by  admitting it, or some reproduction of it, to our own fireside, we will become familiar with its contents and learn truly to know it.

Those who are fortunate enough to have been surrounded from childhood up by the choicest gems of the tonal language, and whose minds are of the deceptive order, will insensibly attain a refinement of taste and delicacy of perception no learned dissertation on music could afford. At the same time, an acquaintance with the materials and elements of which the art is composed and with the laws that govern them, is essential to enable even one who has heard much to gain the complete enjoyment that comes from understanding. Confident as we are that Prometheus captured his fire from Heaven, we ought to learn something of its attributes before we accept it at his hands, that we may be able to distinguish a true spark of the divine flame from a phosphorescent will-o’-the-wisp.

The idea so largely accepted that music is an unfathomable mystery, like all half truths has wrought much mischief, and has greatly retarded musical progress in social life. Behind the Divine Art, as behind Religion, lies the inscrutable mystery of Life, and in both there is a Holy of Holies only the consecrated may enter. Before the portals of this are reached there is a broad, fertile field for intellectual activity that all may work to advantage, preparing the way to the inner sanctuary.

The musician is continually confronted with fresh evidence of the  popular ignorance, even among students of music, in regard to the outward form and inner grace of what is conceded to be the most popular of all arts. In a roomful of professed music lovers a definition of counterpoint was recently called for, and no one present could give an
intelligent answer. This led to a discussion of musical questions which resulted in the disclosure that not one of the company could define melody, harmony or rhythm, or had the slightest conception of the meaning of the simplest component parts of the art in whose service they were making plentiful sacrifices. Some knowledge of these things is
absolutely imperative, not alone to the student, but to one as well who would listen intelligently to music.

Sound and motion constitute the essence of music. Its raw materials are an infinitely rich mass of musical sounds that bear within themselves the possibility of being molded into form. By the musical builders of the past they have been carefully considered, mathematically calculated, and have finally resolved themselves into a recognized
scale, composed of tones and half tones. These are the composer’s plastic resources. He shapes them precisely as the sculptor fashions the apliable clay with which he strives to bring his ideal to realization.

All sounds are the result of atmospheric vibrations affecting the ear. Musical sound, or tone, is produced by regular vibrations, and differs from mere noise whose vibrations are irregular and confused. The pitch of a musical tone rises in proportion with the rapidity of the vibrations that produce it. Tones may be perceived by the human ear ranging from about sixteen vibrations in a second to nearly forty thousand, more than eleven octaves. Only about seven octaves are used in music. The science of acoustics is full of interesting facts of this kind, and is of profound value to any one who would gain an insight into
the structure of music. It is unfortunately much neglected.

The prime elements of music are Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. They are perhaps as little realized as its raw materials. Melody is a well ordered succession of musical sounds, heard one at a time, and selected from a defined, accepted series, not taken at random from a heterogeneous store. Harmony is a combination of well-ordered sounds heard simultaneously, and with suitable concord, or agreement. Rhythm is measured movement, or the periodical recurrence of accent; and signifies symmetry and proportion.

Melody, unexhausted and inexhaustible, is the initial force, or, as Dr. Marx has called it, the life-blood of music. Within itself it bears the germ of harmony and rhythm. A succession of tones without harmonious and rhythmic regulation would be felt to lack something. Melody has been designated the golden thread running through the maze of tone, by which the ear is guided and the heart reached. Helmholtz styled it the essential basis of music. In a special sense, it is artistically constructed song. The creation of an expressive melody is a sure mark of genius.

Harmony arranges musical sounds with reference to their union, and is regulated by artistic and ćsthetic rules and requirements. It has endless modes of transforming, inverting and intensifying its materials, thus continually affording new means of development. All the intervals and chords used in music had to be discovered, one by one. It often took more than a century to bring into a general use a chord effect
introduced by some adventuresome spirit. Our scale intervals are the slowly gained triumphs of the human mind. Modern music did not emerge from the darkness of the past until harmony, as we know it, came into active being.

Both melody and harmony are controlled by rhythm. It is the master force of the musical organism. Before man was the ebb and flow of nature had its rhythm. On this elementary rhythm, the one model music finds in nature, the inventive mind of man has builded the wonderfully impressive art rhythms existing in the masterpieces of music.

Melodies are made up of smaller fragments, known as motives, phrases and periods, or sentences, all of which are judiciously repeated and  varied, and derive their individuality from the characteristics of their intervals and rhythms.

A motive is the text of a musical composition, the theme of its discourse. The most simple motive, with proper handling, may grow into a majestic structure. In Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony three G flats in eighth notes, followed by an E flat in a half note, form a text, as of Fate knocking at the door, which, when developed, leads to tremendous conflict ending in victory. Those notes that repeat and modify the motive and are combined under one slur constitute the phrase, which is similar to a clause in a sentence of words. A period, or sentence, in music, comprises a musical idea, complete in itself, though of a nature
to produce, when united with other harmonious ideas, a perfect whole.

A simple melody is usually composed of eight measures, or some number divisible by four. There are exceptions, as in “God Save the King,” our “America,” of which the first part contains six measures, the second part eight.

Habit and instinct show us that no melody can end satisfactorily without some cadence leading to a note belonging to the tonic or key chord. Very often the first part of a melody will end on a note of the dominant chord, from which a progression will arise in the second part that leads satisfactorily to a concluding note in the tonic chord.

Counterpoint, literally point against point, is the art of so composing music in parts that several parts move simultaneously, making harmony by their combination. During the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the masters of counterpoint shaped the musical materials in use to-day. So anxious were they to attain perfection of
form they often lost sight of the spirit which alone can give vitality to musical utterances. The great Bach infused this into his fugues, the highest manifestation of the contrapuntal, or polyphonic music of old.

Meanwhile the growth of the individual led to the growth of monophony in music, in which one voice stands out prominently, with an accompaniment of other voices. Its instrumental flower was reached in the symphony. Melody reigns supreme in monophonic music. Both the canon and the fugue form a commonwealth, in which all voices are rated alike. Viewed rightly, this suits the modern democratic instinct, and there is to-day a tendency to return to polyphonic writing. It is individuality in union. In the hands of genius it affords the most refined kind of harmony.

A thorough knowledge of counterpoint shows the mistake of regarding it merely as a dull relic of a dead past. It is a living reality that, if correctly studied, leads to a solid, dignified, flowing style, rich in design, and independent in its individuality. Counterpoint, said a
critic in the London Musical News, shows the student how to make a harmonic phrase like a well-shaped tree, of which every bough, twig and leaf secures for itself the greatest independence, the fullest measure of light and air. Composer, interpreter and listener may all profit by a comprehension of counterpoint.

From its infancy modern music has been affected by two perpetually warring factors, the Classical and the Romantic. The first demands reverence for established ideals of formal beauty; the second, striking a note of revolt, compels recognition of new ideals. As in all other departments of art and life, progress in music comes through the continual conflict between the conservative and the radical forces. A position viewed as hazardous and unsuitable in one age, becomes the accepted position of the next, and those who have been denounced as musical heretics come to be regarded as musical heroes. Very often the untutored public, trusting to natural instincts, will be in advance of the learned critic in accepting some startling innovation. Old laws may pass away, new laws may come, but the eternal verities on which all manifestations of Truth and Beauty are based can never cease to be.

“The scientific laws of music are transitory, because they have been tentatively constructed during the gradual development of the musical faculty,” says W. H. Hadow, in his valuable “Studies in Modern Music.” “No power in man is born at full growth; it begins in germ, and progresses according to the particular laws that condition its nature. Hence it requires one kind of treatment at one stage, another at another, both being perfectly right and true in relation to their proper period. But there are behind these special rules certain psychological laws which seem, so far as we can understand them, to be coeval with humanity itself; and these form the permanent code by which music is to be judged. The reason why, in past ages, the critics have been so often and so disastrously at fault is that they have mistaken the transitory for the permanent, the rules of musical science for the laws of musical philosophy.”

An acquaintance with form as the manifestation of law is essential to an intelligent hearing of music. The listener should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of musical construction from the simplest ballad to the most complex symphony. Having this knowledge it will be possible to receive undisturbed the impressions music has to give, and to distinguish the trivial and commonplace from the noble and beautiful.

The oftener good music is heard the more completely it will be appreciated. Therefore, they listen best to music who hear the best continually. The assertion is often heard that a person must be educated up to an enjoyment of high class music. Certainly, one who has heard nothing else must be educated down to an enjoyment of ragtime, with its crude rhythms.

“We know a true poem to the extent to which our spirits respond to the spiritual appeal it makes,” says Dr. Hiram Corson. It is the same with a true musical composition. We must take something to it, in order to receive something from it. Beyond knowledge comes the intuitive feeling which is enriched by knowledge. Through it we may feel the breath of life, the spiritual appeal, which belongs to every great work of art and which must forever remain inexplicable.

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How to Interpret Music

October 13, 2006

Certain learned college professors were once heard discussing methods of literary criticism and interpretation. They spoke of external and technical forms, and how magnificently these were illustrated in the world’s acknowledged masterpieces of literature. Every work read or studied, they decided, should be carefully weighed, measured and analyzed, and should be judged solely by the maxims and laws deduced
from classical standards. The critical faculty must never be permitted to slumber or to sleep. Above all, the literary student should beware of trusting to impressions.

Not a word was uttered in regard to the contents of the masterpieces in question, the special emotions, the overwhelming passions they revealed, the mighty experiences of which they were the result. Nothing was said about the source of a great book in the life of its author, or its value as a record of what many minds and hearts of an entire epoch have
thought, felt and desired. The learned professors were so deeply concerned with what they considered the demands of strict scholarship that they lost sight of the spirit which animates every true work of art. To them literature consisted of words, phrases, sentences, figures of speech, classical allusions, and well-constructed forms. They
regarded it apparently as an artificial product, compounded according to traditional and cautiously prescribed recipes.

An aged man of letters present, one who was characterized by his ripe scholarship, his richly cultured personality, sat listening in silence to the conversation. Suddenly he rose up, and, in vibrant tones, exclaimed: “Where hath the soul of literature fled, its vital part? If we are to trample upon our impressions the best that is within us will be chilled. Of what avail is education if it does not lead to the unfolding of our God-given intuitions? Friends, if the trend of modern criticism be to divorce literature from life, the throb and thrill of great art will soon cease to be felt.”

The lesson conveyed by these words may with equal propriety be applied to the field of music. Viewing certain current tendencies the cultured musician is often moved to wonder where the soul of music has fled. The critical faculty is keenly alive to-day, but musical criticism, shorn of its better part, musical appreciation, can never lead to the insight
requisite for true musical interpretation. Observation and perception, intellectual discernment and spiritual penetration are essential to gain insight into a great musical composition until its musical ideas, the very grade and texture of its style, are absolutely appropriated.
In his “Death in the Desert,” Robert Browning tells of the three souls that make up the soul of man: the soul which Does; the soul which Knows, feels, thinks and wills, and the soul which Is and which constitutes man’s real self. Appreciation of music requires the utmost activity of all three souls. The more we are, the broader our culture, the more we
think, feel and know, the more we will find in music. Dr. Hiram Corson, commenting on Browning’s words, says the rectification, or adjustment of what Is, that which constitutes our true being, should transcend all other aims of education. If this fact were more generally accepted and enforced it could soon no longer be said that few persons reach maturity without the petrifaction of some faculty of mind and heart.

Every faculty we possess needs to be keenly alive for the interpretation of the best in music. One who is accustomed to earnest thinking, quick observation and sympathetic penetration will see, hear and feel much that utterly escapes those whose best faculties have been permitted to lie dormant, or become petrified. The interpreter of music must have vital knowledge of the inner, spiritual element of every work of art he attempts to reproduce. His imagination must be kindled by it, and musical imagination is infinitely more precious than musical mechanism.

It is by no means intended to underrate technical proficiency. No one can be a satisfactory exponent of music whose technique is deficient, however profound may be his musicianly understanding and feeling. At the same time, with every tone, every measure, mechanically correct, a performance may fail to move the listener, because it lacks warmth and glow. Only they can make others feel who feel themselves, but sentiment
is apt to be confounded with sentimentality unless it is guided by a scholarly mind. The more feeling is spiritualized with thought the nobler it will be. Heart and head need to operate in company with well-controlled physical forces, in order that a fine interpretation of music may be attained. Faultless technique, in the service of a lofty ideal, indeed ceases to be mechanical and becomes artistic.

A musical work of art originates in the deep well of the fertile imagination of genius, and can only be drawn forth when the composer is in that highly exalted frame of mind we call inspiration. The theme, or musical subject, is a vital spark of the divine fire, and has flashed unbidden into his consciousness, demanding undivided attention for its
logical development. With infinite care he molds and groups the musical factors which are his working forces, and of which he has both an intuitive and a practical knowledge. The manifold forms he fashions all combine for one purpose, and lead persistently to one grand climax, from which they may return to the repose whence they came. Unity in diversity
is the goal he sets before himself. All aglow though he is with the joy of artistic production, he dare not permit his mind to waver from the task in hand.

Music is not to be played with, and the labor of composition is no trifling matter. It demands the keenest mental activity, the most profound mental concentration. It demands consecration. The composer thinks and works in tones, in an ideal realm, far removed from the realities of the external world. His business is to bring his theme to
its most magnificent unfolding, treating it with absolute definiteness, that his intention may be perfectly clear.

It is the business of the interpreter of music to be so thoroughly acquainted with the elements of which music is composed that he can promptly recognize the color, complexion and individual character of every interval, chord and chord-combination, every consonance and dissonance, every timbre and nuance, and every degree of phrasing and rhythm. He must have so complete a mastery of his materials and working
forces that his imagination may be influenced unimpeded by the emanations from the composer’s imagination which animate the moving forms he commands.

It is his business to respond with his whole being to the appeal of the musical masterpiece he attempts to interpret, and so express the emotions aroused by it from their slumbers in his own bosom that a responsive echo may be found in the bosoms of the listeners. A most ingeniously constructed music-box, with the presentation of a complicated piece of music, may fail to move a heart that will be stirred to its depths by a simple song, into which the singer’s whole soul has been thrown.

Though the mind of the inventive genius be a mystery that may not fully be explained, its product is within the grasp of the intelligent seeker. The ćsthetic principles of musical construction rest on certain elementary laws governing both the human organism and the phenomena of sound, and may become familiar to any one who is capable of study. In
the same way the established canons of musical expression, observed by the skilful artist, consciously or unconsciously, are traceable to natural causes. Without realizing the inherent properties of music, as well as its technical possibilities and limitations, we cannot know the art.

The tonal language is one that is not translatable into words. It is composed of an infinite variety of tone-forms, now sharply contrasted, now gradually blending into one another, all logically connected, all tending to form a perfect whole. The profusion of harmonic, melodic, dynamic and rhythmic changes it brings forth invests it with a meaning far beyond that of words, a musical meaning. Every masterpiece of music clothes in tonal form some idea which originated in the composer’s mind. To the interpreter it is given to invest it with living sound.

Chords and chord combinations all have their individual characteristics. Some cause satisfaction, for instance, others unrest. When a chord of the dominant seventh is heard, the educated musician knows that a solution is demanded. The unspoiled ear and taste instinctively feel something unfinished, and are disturbed if it be not followed by a
return to the key chord. Where the faculties are dormant or petrified, its significance will be unobserved.

The story is told of a young lady whose musical education had been utterly hollow and false, but who, having been overwhelmed with flattery for her voice and her singing, was deluded into a belief that she was destined to shine as a star on the operatic stage. She consulted the famous basso, Karl Formes, who good-naturedly had her sing for him. He
perceived at once that she possessed neither striking talent nor adequate training.

As a supreme test he struck on the piano a chord of the dominant seventh, and asked the young aspirant for dramatic glory what she thought it meant. Presuming it to be incumbent upon a prospective prima donna to have uppermost in her mind the grand passion, she replied, in a sentimental tone, “Love!” Promptly Karl Formes sounded the solution to the chord. “There is your answer,” quoth he. “I ask a question, and it is thought I speak of love. Go home, my good girl, and seek some other avocation. You have a fair voice, but you are tone-deaf. You can never make a musician.”

A favorite motto of the piano teacher Leschetitzky is, “Think ten times before you play once.” If this rule were more generally observed we should have better interpreters of music. A great composition should completely occupy mind and heart before it is attacked by fingers or voice. In that case it would be analyzed as to its form, its tonal structure, its harmonic relations, its phrasing and rhythms, and its musical intention would become luminous. The interpreter would understand where accents and other indications of expression should occur and why they should so occur, and would be able, in however feeble a way, to find and reveal the true heart music that lies hidden in the notes.

It is never too early in a course of music study to consider the requirements of musical expression. Persistent observance of them will inevitably quicken the artistic sense. The rules to which they have given rise are for the most part simple and easily explained. For
obvious reasons, all musical interpretation is expected to imitate song as closely as possible. The human voice, the primitive musical instrument, in moments of excitement, ascends to a higher pitch, increasing in intensity of tone as it sweeps upward. Consequently every progression from lower to higher tones, whether played or sung, demands a crescendo unless some plainly denoted characteristic of the music calls for different treatment. A descending passage, as a return to tranquillity, requires a decrescendo.

“The outpouring of a feeling toward its object, whether to the endless heavens, or forth into the boundless world, or toward a definite, limited goal, resembles the surging, the pressing onward of a flood,” said the great teacher, Dr. Adolph Kullak. “Reversely, that feeling which draws its object into itself has a more tranquillizing movement, that especially when the possession of the object is assured, appeases itself in equable onward flow toward the goal of a normal state of satisfaction. The emotional life is an undulating play of up-surging and subsidence, of pressing forward beyond temporal limitations and of
resigned yielding to temporal necessities. The crescendo and decrescendo are the means employed in music for the portrayal of this manifestation of emotional life.”

Another important matter which may to a great extent be reduced to rule is that of accentuation. Through it a tone-picture is invested with animation, and a clue is given to the disposition of tonal forms. Accents are always required to mark the entrance of a theme, a phrase or a melody. Where there are several voices, or parts, as in a fugue, each
voice denotes its appearance with an accent. Every daring assertion hazarded in music, as in speech, demands special emphasis. Dissonances need to be brought out in such prominence that they may not appear to be accidental misconceptions, and that confident expectation may be aroused of their ultimate resolution. Accentuation must be regulated by the claims of musical delivery. At all times too gentle an accent is without effect, too glaring an accent is to be condemned.

Hans von Bülow strenuously advised young musicians to cultivate their ears and strive to attain musical beauty in what is termed phrasing, which he regarded as the real beginning of greatness in a performer. Phrasing and time keeping are two of the prime essentials in musical delivery, and cannot be neglected with impunity.

Time may well be called the pulse of music. Upon some occasions the pulse beats more rapidly than others. It is incumbent on the interpreter of music to ascertain the harmonic and other causes which determine the tempo of a musical composition, as well as those which make slight variations from it admissible. Among other points to be noted is the
fact that sudden transition from repose to restless activity calls for an accelerando, while the reverse requires a rallentando.

It is absolutely imperative for one who would interpret music to cultivate the memory. The musician who cannot play or sing without notes is compelled to expend a large amount of mental activity on reading these, and will find it difficult to heed the manifold requirements of musical expression and delivery, of which a few hints have here been
given. A musical composition is never thoroughly understood until it has been intelligently memorized. One who can play or sing without notes is as free as a bird to soar aloft in the blue ether of musical imagination.

Every interpreter of music longs for appreciative listeners, and young musicians, in especial, often lament the lack of these. It is well to remember that the genuine musical artist is able to create an atmosphere whose influences may compel an average audience to sympathetic listening. A good plan for the artist is to be surrounded in fancy with an audience having sensitively attuned ears, intellectual minds, and warm, throbbing hearts. Music played in private before such an imaginary audience will gain in quality, and when repeated before an actual public will hold that public captive.

We have it from Ruskin that all fatal faults in art that might otherwise be good arise from one or other of three things: either from the pretence to feel what we do not; the indolence in exercise necessary to obtain the power of expressing the Truth; or the presumptuous insistence upon, or indulgence in, our own powers and delights, with no care or wish that they should be useful to other people, so only they should be admired by them.

These three fatal faults must be avoided, or conquered, by the person who would interpret music.

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The Musical Education That Educates

October 8, 2006

There is a musical education that educates, a musical education that refines, strengthens, broadens the character and the views, that ripens every God-given instinct and force. It arouses noble thoughts and lofty ideals; it quickens the  perceptions, opening up a world of beauty that is closed to the unobservant; it bears its fortunate possessor into a
charmed atmosphere, where inspiring, elevating influences prevail. Its aim is nothing short of the absolutely symmetrical development of the spiritual, intellectual and physical being, in view of making the well-rounded musician, the well-balanced individual.

The profits derived from a musical education are proportionate to the investment. Careless work, an utter disregard of principles, in other words, a mere dabbling with music, will afford but superficial results. It is precisely the same with a haphazard pursuit of any branch of art, science, or literature. Through music the soul of mankind may be
elevated, the secret recesses of thought and feeling stirred, and every emotion of which the individual is capable made active. In order to attain its full benefits it is imperative to use it as a profound living force, not as a mere surface decoration.

“The musician ever shrouded in himself must cultivate his inmost being that he may turn it outward,” said Goethe. A true musical education provides culture for the inmost being. It tends to enlarge the sympathies, enrich social relations and invest daily life with gracious dignity. Those who gain it beautify their own lives and thus become able to make the world seem more beautiful to others. Those who are never able to give utterance to the wealth of thought and feeling it has aroused in their hearts and imaginations are still happy in possessing the store. After all, our main business in art, as in life, is to strive. Honest effort meets with its own reward, even where it does not lead to what the world calls success.

It has been said that he who sows thoughts will reap deeds, habits, character. The force of these words is exemplified in the proper study of music, which results in a rich harvest of self-restraint, self-reliance, industry, patience, perseverance, powers of observation, retentive memory, painstaking effort, strength of mind and character. To possess these qualities at their best abundant thought must be sown. Merely to ring changes on the emotions will not elevate to the heights. The musical education that educates makes of the reasoning powers a lever that keeps the emotions in their rightful channel.

Aristotle, who dominated the world’s thought for upwards of two thousand years, attributed his acquirements to the command he had gained over his mind. Fixedness of purpose, steady, undivided attention, mental concentration, accuracy, alertness, keen perception and wise discrimination are essential to achievement. This is true of giant minds; it is equally true of average intellects. The right musical education will conduce to these habits. Musical education without them must inevitably be a failure.

Music study is many-sided. To make it truly educative it must be pursued from both theoretical and practical standpoints. It should include technical training which affords facility to express whatever a person may have for expression; intellectual training which enables a person to grasp the constructive laws of the art, its scope, history and ćsthetics, with all that calls into play the analytic and imaginative faculties; and spiritual development which imparts warmth and glow to everything. Even those who do not advance far in music study would do well, as they proceed, to touch the art on as many  sides as possible, in view of enlarging the musical sense, sharpening the musical perception, concentrating and multiplying the agencies by virtue of which musical knowledge and proficiency are attained.

“Truth,” said Madox-Brown, the Pre-Raphaelite, “is the means of art, its end the quickening of the soul.” Music does more than quicken the soul; it reveals the soul, makes it conscious of itself. Springing from the deepest and best that is implanted in man, it fertilizes the soil from which it uprises. Both beauty and truth are essential to its welfare. As Hamilton W. Mabie has said: “We need beauty just as truly as we need truth, for it is as much a part of our lives. We have learned in part the lesson of morality, but we have yet to learn the lesson of beauty.” This must be learned through the culture of the esthetic taste, a matter of slow growth, which should begin with the rudiments, and is best fostered in an atmosphere saturated with good music.

Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of hearing good music. When it falls on listening ears it removes all desire for anything coarse or unrefined. Constant companionship with it prepares the ear to hear, the inner being to receive, and cannot fail to bring forth fruit. The creations of noble minds form practical working-forces in shaping character, purifying taste and elevating standards. A literary scholar cannot be made of one who has not been brought into close touch with the productions of the great masters in literature, nor an artistic painter, or sculptor, of one who has never known a great painting or piece of statuary. Neither can a thorough musician be made of any one who is ignorant of the master-works of music. It is well to realize, with Goethe, that the effect of good music is not caused by its novelty, but strikes more deeply the more we are familiar with it.

The human voice being practically the foundation of music and the first music teacher, every well-educated musician should be able to use it, and should have a clear understanding of its possibilities and limitations, no matter what his specialty may be. Composers and performers alike will derive benefit from some dealing with the vocal element. Vocal culture is conducive to health, and aids in gaining command of the nerves and muscles. They who profit by it will best understand the varied nuances of intonation, expression and coloring of which music is capable, and will learn how to make a musical instrument sing. Likewise vocalists should familiarize themselves with other domains of their art, and should be able to handle some instrument, more especially the piano or organ, that they may be brought into intimate relations with the harmonic structure of music.

To make music study most effective the scientific methods of other departments of learning must be applied to it. For the supreme good of both art and science need to be brought into close fellowship. Art is the child of feeling and imagination; science the child of reason. Art requires the illumination of science; science the insight of art. Music combines within itself the qualities of art and science. As a science it is a well-ordered system of laws, and cannot be comprehended without knowledge of these. As an art, it is its business to awaken a mood, to express a sentiment; it is knowledge made efficient by skill–thought, effect, taste and feeling brought into active exercise.

No art, no science, affords opportunity for more magnificent mental discipline than music. Moreover, a careful, earnest study of the art furnishes a stimulus to activity in other fruitful fields. Although subordinate to life and character it contributes freely to these, and its best results come from life that is exceeding rich, and character that is strong, true and enlightened through broad, general culture. The musical education that educates develops something more than mere players and singers; it develops thinking, feeling musicians, in whom large personalities may be recognized.

Stephen A. Emory of Boston, whose studies in harmony are widely used, and who left behind him an influence as a teacher that is far-reaching, divined the true secret of musical education, from the rudiments upward, and expressed his views freely and clearly. He thought it indispensable for the musician to make music the central point of his efforts and equally indispensable for him to have, as supports to this, knowledge and theories from countless sources. “It must be as a noble river,” he said of the pursuit of music; “though small and unobserved in its source, winding at first alone its tortuous way through opposing obstacles, yet ever broadening and deepening, fed by countless streams on either hand till it rolls onward in a mighty sweep, at once a glory and a blessing to the earth.”

To conquer music a musician must have conquered self. As music can no more be absolutely conquered than self, the effort to gain the mastery over both necessitates a continual healthy, earnest striving, which makes the individual grow in strength, grace and happiness. That musician has been rightly trained whose every thought, mood and feeling, every muscle and fibre, have been brought under the subjection of his will. Professor Huxley uttered the following words that may well be applied to a musical education:

“That man, I think, has had a liberal education, who has been so trained in his youth that his body is the ready servant of his will and does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order; ready, like the steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with knowledge of the great and fundamental truths of nature and of the laws of her operations, one, who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to feel, by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature, or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself.”

The correctness of applying the last clause to the musician will be questioned by those who delight in enlarging on the petty jealousies of musicians. It will be learned in time that these foibles belong only to petty musicians, and that no one knows better how to respect others as himself than one who has enjoyed the privilege of the musical education that educates.

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Blunders in Music Study

October 7, 2006

Like a voice from the Unseen, the Eternal, music speaks to the soul of man. Its informing word being delivered in the language of the emotional nature finds some response to its appeal in every normal human breast. Shakespeare indicated this truth when he had his Lorenzo, in the Merchant of Venice, say:

_”The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus;
Let no such man be trusted.”_

It is not the normal soul, fresh from its Creator’s hands, that is fit for such dire evils, but the soul perverted by false conditions and surroundings. Where vice has become congenial and the impure reigns supreme, that which rouses and expresses noble aspirations and pure emotions can find no room. Normal instincts may also be dulled, the inner being made, as it were, musically deaf and dumb, by a false education which stifles and dwarfs the finer feelings, or by circumstances which permit these to remain dormant.

The emotional natures of human beings differ as widely in kind and degree as the intellectual and physical natures. In some people sensibility predominates, and the irresistible activity of fancy and feeling compels the expression in rhythmic tone combinations of ideals grasped intuitively. Thus musical genius manifests itself. No amount of education can bring it into being, but true culture and wise guidance are needed to equip it for its bold flight. “Neither diligence without genius, nor genius without education will produce anything thorough,” as we read in Horace. Other people with marked aptitude for musical expression have reproductive rather than creative endowments. To them belongs talent in a greater or less degree, and they are adapted to promulgate the message which genius formulated for mankind. Talent may be ripened and brightened by suitable environments and fostering care.

There are besides persons led by genius or talent into other avenues than those of the tone-world, and the great public with its diverse grades of emotional and intellectual gifts. The cultivation of the ćsthetic tastes is profitable to all, and no agency contributes so
freely to it as music. Too many people engaged in purely scientific or practical pursuits have failed to realize this. In those nations known as musical, and that have become so through generations occupied with the art, music study is placed on an equal footing with any other worthy pursuit and no life interest is permitted to exclude musical enthusiasm.

Unless disabled by physical defects, every one displays some sense of musical sound and rhythmic motion. It is a constant occurrence for children, without a word of direction, to mark the time of a stirring tune with hands, feet and swaying motions of the body. A lullaby will almost invariably soothe a restless infant, and most children old enou gh
to distinguish and articulate groups of tones will make some attempt at singing the melodies they have often heard. The average child begins music lessons with evident pleasure.

It should be no more difficult to strengthen the musical instincts than any other faculties. On the contrary, it too often chances that a child whose early song efforts have been in excellent time and tune, and not without expression, who has marched in time and beat time accurately, will, after a period of instruction, utterly disregard sense of rhythm,
sing out of tune, play wrong notes, or fail to notice when the musical instrument used is ever so cruelly out of tune. Uneducated people, trusting to intuitive perceptions, promptly decide that such or such a child, or person, has been spoiled by cultivation. This is merely a
failure to trace a result to its rightful cause, which lies not in cultivation, but in certain blunders in music study.

These blunders begin with the preliminary course on the piano or violin, for instance, when a child, having no previous training in the rudiments of music, starts with one weekly lesson, and is required to practice a prescribed period daily without supervision. To the difficulties of an introduction to a musical instrument are added those of learning to read
notes, to locate them, to appreciate time values and much else. The teacher, it may be, knows little of the inner life of music, still less of child nature. Manifold perplexities arise, and faltering through these the pupil acquires a halting use of the musical vocabulary, with
other bad habits equally hard to correct. A constant repetition of false notes, wrong phrasing, irregular accents, faulty rhythms and a meaningless jumble of notes dulls the outer ear and deadens the inner tone-sense. Where there is genius, or decided talent, no obstacle can wholly bar the way to music. Otherwise, it retreats before the
blundering approach.

Many a mother when advised to direct her child’s practicing, or at least to encourage it by her presence, has excused herself on the plea that it would bore her to listen. If the work bores the mother it is not surprising that the child attacks it with mind fixed on metal more attractive and eyes seeking the clock. Occupations which are repellent in early life leave behind them a memory calculated to render them forever distasteful. It is therefore a grave mistake not to make music study from the outset throb with vital interest. An appeal to the intellect will quicken the ćsthetic instincts, be they never so slender,
and almost any one will love work that engages all the faculties. Those pupils are fortunate who come under the influence of a teacher with strong, well-balanced personality and ripe knowledge, and are treated as rational beings, capable of feeling, thinking and acting. Too
many music teachers learn their business by experimenting on beginners. It has been suggested as a safeguard against their blunders, and all ignorance, carelessness and imposture, that music might be placed under the same legal protection accorded other important factors in social life, and that no one be permitted to teach it without a license granted by a competent board of judges after the applicant had passed a successful examination, theoretical and practical. This would be well if there was any certainty of choosing suitable persons to select the judges.

A practical Vienna musician, H. Geisler, has recently created no little sensation by asserting that the pianoforte, although indispensable for the advanced artist, is worthless, even harmful, in primary training, and that the methods used in teaching it are based on a total misapprehension of the musical development prescribed by nature. Sensual and intellectual perceptions must actively exist, he feels, before they can be expressed by means of an instrument. It is a mistake to presume that manual practice can call them into being, or to disregard the supremacy of the tone-sense. He considers the human voice the primitive educational instrument of music and believes the reasonable order of musical education to be: hearing, singing, performing.

This order is to be commended, and might readily be followed if primary instruction was given in classes, which being less expensive than private tuition, would admit of more frequent lessons and the services of a competent teacher. Classes afford the best opportunity for training the ear to accuracy in pitch, the eye to steadiness in reading notes,
the mind to comprehension of key relationships, form and rhythmic movement, and the heart to a realization of the beauty and purport of music. In classes the stimulating effect of healthy competition may be felt, an impulse given to writing notes, transposing phrases and melodies, strengthening musical sentiment and refining the taste.

Both the French Solfčge method and the English Tonic Sol-fa system prove the advantage of rudimentary training in classes. Mrs. John Spencer Curwen, wife of the president of the London Tonic Sol-fa College, and daughter-in-law of the late Rev. John Curwen, founder of the movement it represents, has applied to pianoforte teaching the logical principles
underlying the system, which are those accepted by modern educators as the psychological basis of all education. From her point of view the music lesson may be made attractive from the moment the pupil is placed at the instrument.

Time is taught by her as a mental science, with the pulse as the central fact. She proceeds rhythmically rather than arithmetically, making constant appeals to that within the child which is associated with music. As the ear is expected to verify every fact, whether of time or pitch, she deems essential to profitable practicing the daily supervision of some person who understands the teacher’s requirements.

Many times a child who can readily explain the relative value of every note and dot will stumble in the time movement when confronted with a mixture of the same notes and dots. This is because no mental connection has been established between the mechanical time sign and its sound, which is the outgrowth of instinctive impulses. Time confusion
may also be caused by confiding too implicitly in loud and persistent counting, instead of trusting to the intelligently guided rhythmic pulse.

The keenness of musical perception in the blind is a subject of frequent comment. It is due to the fact that neither outer nor inner ear is distracted by the organ of sight, and the mind is compelled to concentrate itself with peculiar intensity on the tone-images aroused
for its contemplation. When one of the senses is weakened or lost, the others become strong through the requirements made on them. This shows how much may be gained in music study by throwing responsibility on those faculties it is desirable to develop.

There are numerous promising schemes for class work in operation in our own country, some of them offering excellent advantages to the student. From the music study in our public schools valuable results ought to come in time. Thus far, unfortunately, it is too often conducted by teachers who are themselves without trained musical ability and who
permit their pupils to shout rather than sing music of an inferior order to the accompaniment of a piano wretchedly out of tune.

The much beloved Phillips Brooks once said: “A school song in the heart of a child will do as much for his character as a fact in his memory, or a principle in his intellect.” Unquestionably a love for good music, inspired during the formative period, is calculated to open unlimited possibilities, and ours could readily be molded into a musical nation if
a firm foundation for musical knowledge and appreciation were laid in our schools. After the rudiments were mastered, it could easily be decided which pupils had a natural bent demanding special training.

Where music study becomes compulsory the blunder of permitting the compulsion to be felt must be avoided. Socrates of old, in Plato’s Republic, advised making early education a sort of amusement. Those who heed his counsel should not forget that in turning music study altogether into play work there is danger of weakening the will. The tottering footsteps should be guided wisely, as well as tenderly, in the first approach to the Temple of Art, that the pupil may learn to walk, as well as to observe and think independently. We most prize beauty that we are able to discern for ourselves. We gain strength by  intelligently conquering our own problems and perplexities. “Nothing is impossible,” as Mirabeau has said, “for one who can will.”

The aim of music study is to know music, to gain a correct conception of how it should sound, and so, as far as possible, to make it sound. This aim can never be reached by the mere cultivation of technical adroitness. Untold sacrifices are made to-day to what becomes the unrighteous mammon of technique when the mechanical side of practice is
exalted above its interpretative aspects. Schumann deemed brilliancy of execution only valuable when it served a higher purpose. That higher  purpose is to reach and express the soul of music. Unless enriched by it, all mechanism is dead. It is not desirable that every one should perform acrobatic feats on some musical instrument, or indulge in vocal
pyrotechnics, but it is desirable to extract music out of whatever technique may be attained. Instead of racing onward with feverish haste to ever increased technical skill at the expense of other development, it were well for the student to pause until each composition attacked, be it but an exercise, could be interpreted with accuracy, intelligence, and feeling. We should then have more musicianly players and singers. We
should more often be brought under the magic spell of exquisitely shaded tone that may make a simple little melody alive with beauty.

A grave blunder of our present music study is the neglect of ensemble playing and singing. Some of the noblest music written is for part-singing and for two or more instruments. Much profit and delight will be the result of making its acquaintance. Four and eight hand piano arrangements of the great overtures and symphonies, too, are valuable
and enjoyable. They prepare the way for an appreciation of an orchestral performance of these masterpieces, and broaden the musical horizon. Where there are several music students in a family it is a pity for them to confine their efforts exclusively to the piano, although every musician should have some knowledge of this household instrument.
That is a happy home whose members are united by the playing or singing of noble concerted music.

It is an absurd error to suppose that fine soloists cannot succeed in ensemble work, or as accompanists. Those who fail have been poorly grounded in their art. They may give dazzling performances of works bristling with technical difficulties, yet make a sad failure of some slow, tender movement that calls for musicianly understanding and delicate treatment. The truth is, the requirements for an artistic accompanist, or for artistic concerted work, are the same as for an artistic soloist: well directed musical aptitude, love of art, an ear attuned to listening and large experience in sight-reading.

The music pupils’ public recital contributes no little to the blunders of the day in music study. Especially with piano pupils, the work of the year is likely to be shaped with reference to the supreme occasion when results attained may be exhibited in the presence of assembled parents and friends. The popular demand being for the mastery of technique,
showy pieces are prepared whose mechanism so claims the attention that the principles underlying both technics and interpretation are neglected. Well-controlled hands, fingers, wrists and arms, with excellent manipulation of the keyboard, may be admired at the recital, but little of that effective playing is heard which finds its way to the hearer’s heart. A dead monotony will too often recall the letter that killeth because devoid of the spirit that giveth life.

Sounding notes, even sounding them smoothly, clearly, and rapidly, is not necessarily making music, and a succession of them without warmth and coloring is truly as inartistic as painting without shading. If it were more commonly realized that it is an essential part of the music teacher’s vocation to train the mind and the emotions and through them
the will and the character, there would be a higher standard for the music pupils’ recital. No one would be permitted to play, or sing in  public who could not give an artistic, as well as a technically correct performance.

Music students should lose no opportunity to hear the best music, both vocal and instrumental. Heard with understanding ears one good concert is often worth a dozen lessons, yet many students know nothing in music beyond what they have practiced themselves, or heard their fellow-students give at rehearsals or recitals. If they attend concerts at all, it is rather to observe some schoolmaster method in their own particular branch than actually to enjoy music. Trying to gain a musical education without a wide acquaintance with the literature of music is like attempting to form literary taste without knowing the world’s great books. To bathe in the glow of the mighty masterpieces of genius
neutralizes much that is evil. In music they are the only authoritative illustrations between notes and the ideals they represent; they form the models and maxims by means of which we approach a knowledge of music.

In view of hearing good music, breathing a musical atmosphere and being glorified into artists, vast numbers of American girls seek foreign musical centres. They are apt to go without suitable equipment, mental or musical, and with inadequate pecuniary provisions. They expect to attain in a few months what they are doomed to discover would take years
to accomplish, and cannot fail to suffer for the blunder. Many of them return home disappointed in their aims, and ruined in health. Many of them are stranded in strange lands. A crusade should be started against indiscriminate going abroad for music study, without thorough preparation in every respect.

The fact is, a free, true, fearless hero, such as Wagner found in his Siegfried, is needed to slay, with his invincible sword, the dragon of sordid materialism, and awaken the slumbering bride of genuine art. A storm-god is wanted to swing his hammer and finally dissipate the clouds that obscure the popular vision. Some one has called for a plumed
knight at the literary tournament, with visor down, lance in hand, booted and spurred for the fight with prevalent errors. One is equally needed at the musical tournament.

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The Origin and Function of Music – Part III

October 6, 2006

Music is often mentioned in literature as a means of discipline, inspiration and refreshment. We read in Homer that Achilles was instructed in the art that he might learn to moderate his passions; Pythagoras, father of Musical Science, counseled his disciples to
refresh themselves at the fount of music before retiring to their couches at night in order to restore the inner harmony of their souls, and to seek strength in the morning from the same source. Plato taught that music is as essential to the mind as air is to the body, and that children should be familiarized with harmonies and rhythms that they might be more gentle, harmonious and rhythmical, consequently better fitted for speech and action.

“Song brings of itself a cheerfulness that wakes the heart to joy,” exclaimed Euripides, and certain it is a large measure of joy surrounds those who live in an atmosphere of music. It has a magic wand that lifts man beyond the petty worries of his existence. “Music is a shower-bath of the soul,” said Schopenhauer, “washing away all that is impure.” Or as Auerbach put it: “Music washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Realizing the influence of music, Martin Luther sang the Reformation into the hearts of the people with his noble chorals in which every one might join. He called music a mistress of order and good manners, and introduced it into the schools as a means of refinement and discipline, in whose presence anger and all evil would depart. “A schoolmaster,” said he, “ought to have skill in music, otherwise I would not regard him; neither should we ordain young men to the office of preaching unless they have been well exercised in the art, for it maketh a fine people.” It were well if teachers and ministers to-day more generally
appreciated the value of music to them and their work.

Music is an essential factor in great national movements. Every commander knows how inspiring and comforting it is to his men. Napoleon Bonaparte, who was not readily lifted out of himself and who complained that music jarred his nerves, was shrewd enough to observe its effect on marching troops, and to order the bands of different regiments to play
daily in front of hospitals to soothe and cheer the wounded. The one tune he prized, Malbrook, he hummed as he started for his last campaign. In the solitude of St. Helena he said: “Of all liberal arts music has the greatest influence over the passions, and it is that to which the legislator ought to give the most encouragement.”

An art that in some form is found in the varied activities of all people, at all times, must be the common heritage of humanity. “It does not speak to one class but to mankind,” said Robert Franz, the German song writer. Alexander Bain called it the most available, universal and influential of the fine arts, and Dr. Marx, the musical theorist, thought music beneficial to the moral and spiritual estate of the masses.

Truly indeed has it been said that its universality gives music its high worth. Mirroring neither your inner life alone nor mine, but the world’s essence, the transfiguration of what seems real, the divine Ideal, some spark of which glows in every bosom, each individual may feel in it whatever he is capable of feeling. The soul’s language, it takes up the thread dropped by words and gives utterance to those refined sentiments and holy aspirations words are inadequate to awaken or express. Its message is borne from heart to heart, revealing to each things unseen, according as it is prepared to receive them.

In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare made Lorenzo speak to Jessica of the harmony that is in immortal souls and say that “whilst this muddy vesture of decay doth grossly close it in we cannot hear it.” To refine this muddy vesture, to render the spirit attentive, to bring light, sweetness, strength, harmony and beauty into daily life is the central
function of music which, from the cradle to the grave, is man’s most intimate companion.

Richard Wagner devoutly believed it would prepare the way for an unspoiled, unfettered humanity, illumined by a perception of Truth and Beauty and united by a bond of sympathy and love. This ideal union is the goal at which Tolstoi aims in his “What is Art?” He defines art as a human activity to be enjoyed by all, whose purpose is the transmission
of the most exalted feelings to which men have arisen; but the union he proposes would have to be consummated by a leveling process. All art  that cannot without preparation reach the uncultured classes is denounced by him. He is most bitter in his denunciation of Wagner, who fought for a democratic art, but who wished to attain it by raising the
lowliest of his fellow-creatures to an ever loftier plane of high thinking and feeling.

According to Tolstoi, art began to degenerate when it separated itself from religion. There must have been dense mist before the Russian sage’s mental vision when he fancied this separation possible. Art, especially musical art, is a vital part of religion, and cannot be put asunder from it. Like thought, music, since the bonds of church and state have been
broken, has spread wide its pinions and soared to hitherto unsuspected heights. All noble music is sacred. Amid the marvelous material progress of to-day music is more needed than ever. Unburdened by the responsibility of fact, it brings relief to the soul from the grinding pressure of constant grappling with knowledge. The benefits of knowledge are great, but it is also beneficial to be uplifted, as we may be by music, from out the perplexing labyrinth of the work-a-day world toward the realm of the Divine Ideal.

As a means of culture music is a potent factor in human civilization. It is destined to wield even greater influence than has yet been known. It has become the household art of to-day. As it enters more and more fully into the heart of the home and social life it will more and more enrich human existence and aid in ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

If music can do so much for mankind, why are not all musicians great and ood? Ah, my friend, that is a hard question to answer, and can only be airly treated by asking another equally difficult question: Why are not ll people who have enjoyed the advantages of religion wise and noble? Consider the gigantic machinery that has been put in motion to
promulgate Christianity, and note how slow men have been to appropriate the teachings of its founder. Slow progress furnishes no argument against the mission either of religion or its comrade music.

In common with religion music kindles our finer sensibilities and brings us into an atmosphere superior to that which ordinarily surrounds us. It requires wisdom to beautify commonplace conditions with what has been enjoyed in aërial regions. Rightly applied, music can lend itself to this illumination. As it is better known, its advantages will be more
completely realized.

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The Origin and Function of Music – Part II

October 5, 2006

Of the music of primeval man we can form an estimate from the music of still existing uncivilized races. As the vocabulary of their speech is limited, so the notes of their music are few, but expressive gestures and modulations of the voice supplement both. With advancing civilization the emotions of which the human heart are capable become more complex and demand larger means of expression. Some belief in the healing, helpful, uplifting power of music has always prevailed. It remains for independent, practical, modern man to present the art to the world as a thing of law and order, whose ineffable beauty and beneficence may reach the lives of the average man and woman.

Without the growth of the individual, music cannot grow; without freedom of thought, neither the language of tones nor that of words can gain full, free utterance. Freedom is essential to the life of the indwelling spirit. Wherever the flow of thought and fancy is impeded, or the energies of the individual held in check, there music is cramped. In China, where conditions have crushed spiritual and intellectual liberty, the art remains to this day in a crude rhythmical or percussion state, although it was early honored as the gift of superior beings. The Chinese philosopher detected a grand world music in the harmonious order of the heavens and the earth, and wrote voluminous works on musical theory. When it came to putting this into practice tones were combined in a pedantic fashion.

In all ages and climes music has ministered to religion and education. The sacred Vedas bear testimony to the high place it held in Hindu worship and life. Proud records of stone reveal its dignified rôle in the civilization of Egypt, where Plato stated there had existed ten thousand years before his day music that could only have emanated from gods or godlike men. The art was taught by the temple priests, and the education of no young person was complete without a knowledge of it.

Egyptian musical culture impressed itself on the Greeks, and also on the Israelites, whose tone-language gained warmth and coloring from various Oriental sources. Hebrew scriptures abound in tributes to the worth of music which was intimately related to the political life, mental consciousness and national sentiment of the Children of Israel. Through music they approached the unseen King of kings with the plaintive outpourings of their grief-laden hearts and with their joyful hymns of raise and thanksgiving.

From the polished Greeks we gained a basis for the scientific laws governing our musical art. The splendid music of which we read in ancient writings has for the most part vanished with the lives it enriched. Relegated to the guardianship of  exclusive classes its most sacred secrets were kept from the people, and it could not possibly have attained the expansion we know.

Music has been called the handmaiden of Christianity, but may more appropriately be designated its loyal helpmeet. Whatever synagogue or other melodies may have first served to voice the sentiments kindled by the Gospel of Glad Tidings it was inevitable that the new religious thought should seek and find new musical expression. In shaping a ritual for general use, an accompaniment of suitable music had to be considered. The fathers of the church constituted themselves also the guides of music. Those forms which give symmetry and proportion to the outward structure of the tonal art were pruned and polished under ecclesiastical surveillance until spontaneity was endangered. Happily in the
spirit of Christianity is that which ever proves a remedy for the mistakes of law-givers. The religion that inculcates respect for the individual has furthered the advance of music and of spirituality.

Beyond the confines of the church was another musical growth, springing up by the wayside and in remote places. Folk-music it is called, and it gives untrammeled utterance to human longings, human grief and despair, and human wondering over the mysteries of life, death and the great Beyond. Untutored people had always found vent in this kind of music for pent-up feelings, and the folk-music of the Christian world, during the Crusades, gained a new element in the fragments of Oriental melody transplanted into its midst. In time, through the combined wisdom of gifted composers and large-minded ecclesiastical
rulers, the music of the church and the music of the people became united, and modern music was born.

Architecture, painting, sculpture and poetry possess practical proofs of their past achievements and on these their present endeavors are builded. Modern music has been compelled to be the architect of its own fortunes. It is the one new art of our era, and, as the youngest in the family of arts, it has but recently reached a high state of development.

During those eleven Christian centuries, from the latter part of the fourth century, when the corner-stone for our musical system was laid, until the wonderful exploration period of the fifteenth was well advanced, the masters of music were absorbed in controlling the elements of their art. Since then event has crowded upon event with rapidly increasing ratio. During the past two centuries the progress of the art has been like a tale in fairyland. We now possess a magnificent musical vocabulary, a splendid musical literature, yet so accustomed are we to grand treasure-troves we perhaps prize them no more than the meagre stores of the past were prized.