Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Music is also suited to please all the varieties of the human mind. The illiterate and the learned, the thoughtless and the giddy, the phlegmatic and the sanguine, all confess themselves to be its votaries. It is a source of the purest mental enjoyment, and may be obtained by all. A cultivated taste in this instance, as in all others, increases both our pleasures and our pain. The strains which gratify what is called the vulgar ear, are sources of painful disgust to him who has acquired a practical acquaintance with the noblest efforts of genius. But it is the best evidence of the universal character of music, that it is suited to all classes, and never ceases to please. These remarks will probably call to the reader's remembrance Shakspeare's celebrated lines.

Nought is so stockish, hard, and full of rage,

But music for the time doth change his nature :
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 as dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted.

The power of music over the feelings of mankind is universally acknowledged. Wearied with the oppression of the noonday sun, and exhausted with labour, the husbandman sits beneath the shade of his native oak, and sings the songs he heard in infancy; amid the rugged heights of the Alps, the peasant girl chants the spirit-stirring songs of her ancestors; the man of business, the man of letters, and the statesman, wearied with exertion of mind and burden of care, seek relief round the family hearth, and forget awhile ambi

MUSICAL COMPOSERS.

5

tion and fears, under the influence of music; and the brokenhearted wanderer sings the songs he heard at home

Whilst recollections sad but sweet,

Arise and disappear.

And

If such be the enjoyments derived from music, it must be a subject in every respect worthy our regard; but although appreciated by all, it is known to few; and its practice, in the higher branches, is confined to a very small number. That man's powers of mind deserve our highest regard, who can place sounds in such an order, and so unite harmonies, as to excite at will the souls of his hearers. yet how inefficient is man at best, for how few of those who can rouse into action the varied powers of mind, can control their own! What poor expedients have been tried to bring into action that excitement, the result of which so much delights the hearer! It is a painful thing to watch the imbecility of genius. Haydn, the solemn and majestic Haydn, never felt the inspiration if he did not wear the ring presented to him by Frederick the Second. Cherubini was generally roused by the mirth of his friends; and if this should fail, by drawing caricatures on a pack of cards. Gluck wrote his " Iphigenias" and "Orpheus" in a meadow with a bottle of champagne by his side. Zingarelli read the classics previous to dictation. Sacchini sought the society of his cats; and Sarti shut himself in a large room dimly lighted by one solitary lamp hanging from the ceiling.

Musical composition may be divided into two classes, scientific and imaginative. In making this distinction, it is not intended to assert, that any composition can be entirely either one or the other. Many imitations are almost strictly

scientific, but they cannot perhaps have been penned without the aid of imagination, though evidently of so low an order as to be unworthy of the name. It is perhaps difficult in many instances to say, whether a composition belongs to one class or the other, the science and the imagination are so well balanced, and are both so far below praise. The music of Moscheles and Pixis is strictly scientific, almost mathematical. Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Weber, were imaginative writers, yet possessed of so much scientific knowledge, that had they evinced less genius they must have taken rank with the inferior class.

The high estimation we have formed of what is required from a professor of music, and what ought to be sought after by a student, may, perhaps, lead us to place before our readers, in the estimation of some, too high a standard of excellence. There is, however, an advantage in this, for although it is quite possible for him who aims low, to shoot his arrow beneath the mark; the chances are, that he who aims higher will be nearer the prize. The highest honours should be the objects of ambition, and if they should not be obtained, the energy which prompted and directed the effort will find a satisfactory reward.

DEFINITION OF THE WORD SOUND.

7

CHAPTER I.

THE PRODUCTION OF SOUND.

THE word sound may be used to signify either that sensation which, under certain circumstances, is experienced by organised creatures, or the means by which such sensation is caused. Thus, we speak of the velocity with which sound travels, and the distance at which it may be heard, evidently having reference to that particular physical condition affecting the organ of hearing. At other times the word is used in another sense; thus we say it is a pleasant sound, meaning to express the sensation produced. It is scarcely possible to avoid, in such a work as this, the use of the term in both its applica tions; but there can be no doubt at any time in the mind of a reader as to the meaning to be attached to it, for that may always be determined from the connexion in which it is used. It will, however, be better, where it can be done without sacrificing the perspicuity of style, so necessary in works intended to teach the elements of philosophy, to distinguish, by the use of a phrase, the difference between sound and the sensation produced by it, as we have done in the title of this chapter.

Without entering into any metaphysical inquiries as to the nature of a sensation, and admitting it to be an impression produced upon the mind through the agency of one or more

of the organs of sense, we shall at once proceed to illustrate the manner in which a sensation of sound may be produced. For this effect three things are required; a sounding body, a conducting medium, and an organ of hearing; and of these we shall speak separately.

I.-SOUNDING BODIES.

If we examine any substance at a time when it is said to be sounding, we shall find it to be in a state of vibration. The vibrations of a sounding-string may be seen; and in those instances where the vibrations of a body cannot be seen, they may be felt. A bell or a glass vessel, when struck, is put into a state of vibration, and if during the period that this continues it be touched with the finger, the vibration will be felt, and the sound will be deadened or stifled.

If a wire or cord be stretched between two fixed points, as in the harp or violin, and be then pulled with the finger or touched with a bow, it will be drawn from its position, and for a certain number of times will vibrate backwards and forwards. During the time of vibration some one sound will be given out, and it may be made continuous by keeping up the motion. The pitch of the sound will be regulated by the number of vibrations, as will be proved in a subsequent chapAll that is necessary for us to state at present is, that, every condition remaining unchanged, the same sound will always be produced. A bell will give out the same tone so long as its temperature remains without any considerable alteration. A stretched cord also will give the same note for any length of time, if the weights upon it be continued,

ter.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »