The History of Music to the Death of Schubert

The History of Music to the Death of Schubert

by John K. Paine
     
 

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An excerpt from
CHAPTER I: THE MUSIC OF THE GREEKS AND ROMANS

THE history of music presents to the student peculiar difficulties in the way of tracing the gradual development of the art from its obscure beginnings in remote antiquity to its culmination in our own time. The monuments of ancient architecture and sculpture and the books of early poetry, which

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An excerpt from
CHAPTER I: THE MUSIC OF THE GREEKS AND ROMANS

THE history of music presents to the student peculiar difficulties in the way of tracing the gradual development of the art from its obscure beginnings in remote antiquity to its culmination in our own time. The monuments of ancient architecture and sculpture and the books of early poetry, which have so long outlived the nations that produced them, are fit memorials of the rise and progress of these arts; but we are unable to reproduce ancient music from the few reputed specimens at hand, or the theoretical treatises of ancient authors. It is easy to account for this want of knowledge concerning the music of primitive times.

Music, as compared with poetry, requires a far more complex system of written signs in order to note faithfully every phase of thought and emotion as expressed through the manifold combinations of musical tone. Ages must have passed away before even the rudest notation could be invented. This tardy development of the art also corresponds, historically, with the growth of our moral and spiritual nature, and as music is the most emotional and mystical of the fine arts, so it stands out prominently in history as identified with Christianity. Yet music, apparently, is as old as the world, and must have been bom with speech itself. If we turn to wholly uncivilized men, we observe a natural love of music, as exhibited in their rude songs and dances.

Earliest The earliest music was undoubtedly vocal, and long preceded invention of musical instruments. There is reason to believe that the rhythmical element in music soon aroused the attention of primitive men, and led to the invention of the lowest class of instruments, Uke the drum, tambour, and castanets, which served merely to intensify the rhythmical effect in dancing and singing. This may be considered as the first decided step in musical progress ; for the invention of such instruments was the result of reflection ; whereas the first rude unaccompanied singing was as spontaneous as speech.

The next step would naturally lead to the invention of certain wind instruments, suggested possibly by the singing of the birds, the sound of falling water, or the whistling wind, or by experiments in blowing on the crooked horn of an animal. This may have been the origin of the flute. Pan's pipe, and the horn. The imitation of sounds in nature may Ukewise have given rise to stringed instruments like the harp, lyre, and cithara. A Greek myth relates that while Mercury was walking for pleasure on the banks of the Nile, his foot accidentally struck against a tortoise shell, across which some dried tendons were stretched. This blow produced a musical sound which suggested to him the idea of the lyre.

It would far exceed the limits set for these lectures to attempt to give an account of the music of uncivilized races of men ; neither have we the time to examine the musical record of old nations like the Chinese, Indians, Arabians, and Persians. We find these more or less civilized people in the possession of a variety of musical instruments, of a tonal system of scales and keys, and of a kind of notation. These characteristics are likewise true of the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and other people of pre-Hellenic culture. Classical Greece was the first land where music was cultivated for its own sake. Hitherto it had held a subordinate rank, and was used chiefly to regulate the steps of the dance, to heighten the joys of the festival, and to aid the rites of religion ; it was also practised for its supposed medicinal qualities. But the Greeks, with their wonderful love and appreciation of the beautiful, honored music as one of the highest arts....

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781500533656
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
07/15/2014
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)

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