The Interpretation of Early Music


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There are 1 items available. Please enter a number less than or equal to 1. Select a valid country. Please enter 5 or 9 numbers for the ZIP Code. Handling time. Will usually ship within 1 business day of receiving cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. But it does set a. Every piece of music carries implications with regard to performance which can be differently interpreted: but not beyond certain limits, because so soon as those limits are overstepped we feel a contradiction between the style of the music and the style of the interpretation. We may not, it is true, feel this contradiction explicitly; we may feel vaguely uneasy without knowing quite what is wrong or what todo about it; or we may notice nothing wrong, and merely fail to be moved by the music asin a more understanding performance it could be moving us.


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But whether we are directly aware of it or not, there will still be something missing which need not be missing, Aperformer contemporary with the music had opportunities for becoming familiar with the style which we are denied at this distance of time. The best we can do is to start from such contemporary evidence as does survive.

This does not imply idealising the contemporary performers, who so far as we can make out must have been much worse than ourselves in some branches of the art, much better in other branches, and perhaps as an overall average very much the same. It is simply that whatever else may or may not have been wrong with a contemporary perform-. It is only fair to that extraordinary circumstances, in which some add specialised knowledge has been successfully brought to bear, are becoming so much more frequent nowadays that we may in a few years time be able to regard this favourable situation as no longer the exception but the rule.

I wrote these words in There were in , and to some extent always will be, limits to the authenticity we can hope to achieve. Anyone specialising in the inter- pretation of early music needs not only a sufficiently scholarly grasp but sufficient competence and experience as a practising musician.

He must be able to get inside the problems as they actually come up in rehearsal; he must be able to envisage solutions which can come off in performance. His scholarship can only be helpful if it is used music-. He must be in a position to weigh one piece of evidence against another.

An isolated statement, out of context and perhaps untypical, can lead to devastatingly unmusical results; and that after all is the last thing we want our scholarship to end in. We are trying to be authentic not because there anything sacrosanct in historical reproduction, but is.

We are trying to be better scholars in order to make better music. It seems unlikely that we shall ever make so close a match that it would deceive any visiting seventeenth-century or eighteenth-century ghost into thinking that he was listening to a performance of his own day; but at least we may hope enjoy the music. We that he would recognise the general style and. As a corollary to being as authentic as we reasonably can, I think we should accept the fact that under modem conditions of performance some aspects of authenticity are more important than others, and that worth letting the less important aspects go by the board provided it is.

On the other hand, performers who are not willing to co-operate to the best of their ability with regard to the essential points of style are unsuitable for the purpose. Some modern musicians, again, seem to have a greater natural affinity with the stylistic requirements of early music than others. The same considerations apply to performers brought together only for a particular performance or series of performances, except that the necessity to concentrate on essentials is then still more obviously pressing.

The question as to what are the essentials can only be answered in concrete detail, as this book proceeds. But it is perhaps worth asking here whether there can in principle be any such thing as might be described as an 'early' style of interpretation. If we press that question too hard, it is plain that the answer must be 'no' ; but in very loose terms, it be possible to give a more positive reply. The contem- may porary quotations of which this book so largely consists have the effect of building up cumulatively a picture of our predecessors in their music-rooms and auditoriums, not as stiff historical figures but as very human beings with all our own human diversity of tastes and abilities.

Behind all this diversity, however, we see also what is still more illumi- nating: a certain common denominator of tacit assumptions and habitual attitudes which may give us our first and most general indications of such an 'early' style of interpretation. I have fallen back on this non-committal word 'early' whenever I have. There is diversity enough here on any showing; but we find throughout a general disposition to join the composer and the performer in a more equal partnership than our present custom is.

Even when the two were not, as they so frequently were, one and the same person, the performer was expected to make the music his own with much less respect for the written text reliance on spontaneous expression and and much more improvisation than we should normally expect now except in dance music. They valued spontaneity. To recapture this sense of spontaneity is the most important single factor in our search for an adequately authentic rendering.

Trills and. The whole is greater than the parts. The style most widely appropriate to baroque music is less massive but more incisive than that in which my generation grew up. It is vivid yet relaxed; glowing yet transparent. It sparkles and it dances, alive with natural ease and unforced conviction.

It charms like a smile, and itcuts like a knife. The less we inflate it the stronger it sounds. Even the best baroque music can be made ponderous by overweighting it, but its true nature is as volatile as its performers can possibly conceive of it most impulsive moods. Contrary some modern opinion, there is nothing unimpulsive, and to. That such an opinion should have arisen was understandable and valuable earlier in the twentieth century when the most pressing necessity was to escape from the incongruous influence of post-Wagnerian weight, sonority and smoothness.

But this escape has now virtually been accomplished, and our present danger is not too little austerity but too much. We are in some danger of depriving early music of the sheer animal vitality which carries all genuine musical performance along as nature always needs to carry along and underwrite the achievements of culture. There is a magnificence of storm and stress which is part of Wagner's musical language.

But there is also a poise and a crispness and a crystalline translucency shared by composers as unlike in other respects as Monteverdi and Vivaldi, as Purcell and Couperin, as Bach and Handel. This baroque brand of eloquence is not less impassioned than the romantic variety. To match intentions in our up to the baroque interpretation does not, as is sometimes mistakenly suggested, mean renouncing all our warmest feelings and our richest colourings of all tone. It does mean applying them appropriately to the matter in hand, keeping the style sharply etched and the mood unaffected and direct.

It does mean reconciling the complementary requirements of passion and of serenity. Ignoring the passion in early music is a mere escape into fantasies of unbroken serenity in some past golden age: fantasies just as com- fortable and illusory as our by now untenable and discarded Victorian fantasies of unbroken progress. And the art of music, like the plastic and literary arts, very largely consists in showing how they can be reconciled.

It is this reconciliation of opposites achieved by the composer in Ms music which it is so necessary for our interpretation to carry faithfully into effect. All great music achieves it, but not all in the same way. The differences do not lie simply along chronological divisions. It is personality rather than period which separates the other-worldliness of Palestrina from the earthy immediacy of Monteverdi, the rich homeli- ness of Haydn from the profound lucidity of Mozart, the lyricism of Schubert from the indomitability of Beethoven.

There are extraverts like Vivaldi or Handel and introverts like Purcell or J. Bach in any. Brahms and Wagner and Debussy are all of the nineteenth century; Stravinsky and Schoenberg and Vaughan- Williams and Bartok are all of the twentieth. Their solutions to the equation are various in the extreme; but not the elements in the equation. Pain and joy, suffering and delight, adversity and triumph, and more particularly the bitter- sweet triumph of accepting adversity as part of our human lot: these are the ingredients, and we all mix them differently according to our manner of experience.

Nevertheless there are some styles which seem able to balance them up better than others. What we call the baroque period of music had such a style, and the remarkable hold which this period has now gained on our affections is certainly not due to its having run away from one end of our human paradox by divorcing passion from serenity or keeping music unemotional. Not even Stravinsky least of all. Stravinsky does this, although he seems to think he does. The hold which baroque music has gained over our affections is due precisely to typical composers, from the supreme case the fact that its most of J.

Bach downwards, had each in their degree the secret of not only balancing the passion and serenity, but balancing them at a high level of intensity. Bach's music is very passionate and very serene, not in crude alternation, but as an integrated whole. If ever there was a case of transcending the opposites in a reconciliation which is more than the sum of its parts, that case is Bach's music. This is the measure of our problem in doing justice to him with our interpretation.

Because the question of how emotional our interpretation of early music ought to be is a primary question which takes precedence even over the more complex question of how to apply the right kind of emotion in the right kind of way, I have collected a variety of evidence bearing on it. Thisfollowed by a few further quotations to remind is.

I believe the reader may find a comparison of these passages helpful in establishing the underlying mood which is our best starting-point. For fuller bibliographical detail see Bibliography. Those Voices did pierce mine ears, and thy truth distilled into mine heart; and thereby was inflamed in me a love of Piety: the tears trickled down, and with them I was in. XX, citing the twelfth-century Bishop Ethelred:. To what purpose, I pray you, is that terrible blowing of Belloes, expressing rather the crakes of Thunder, than die sweetnesse of a voyce?

To what purpose serves that contraction and inflection of the voyce? This man sings a base, that a small meane, another a treble, a fourth divides and cuts asunder, as it were, certaine middle notes. One while the voyce is strained, anon it is remitted, now it is dashed, and then againe it is inlarged with a lowder sound. Sometimes, which is a shame to speake, it is enforced into a horse's neighings; sometimes, die masculine vigour being laid aside, it is sharpened into the shrilnesse of a woman's voyce; now and then it is writhed, and retorted with a certaine artificiall circumvolution.

Sir Thomas Hoby, London, , Everyman ed. Galliard, , ed.

Songs by two Scarlatti's - Vox Luminis led by Lionel Meunier - Early Music Festival 2019 - Live HD

Strunk, Mus. Bach at the clavichord] grew not only played, but looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his distilled from his countenance. Exalted above himself, he traces, without knowing it, the beauties which he scarcely understands like a second Pythian, he falls into a frenzy, :. Mainwaring] Memoirs of. Handel, London, , p. For there is a musick where ever there is a harmony, order or proportion.

For my self, not only from my obedience, but my particular Genius, I do embrace it: for even that vulgar and Tavern- Musick, which makes one man merry, another mad, strikes in me a deep fit of devotion, and a profound contemplation of the First Composer. There is something in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers: it is an Hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole World, and creatures of God; such a melody to the ear, as the whole World, well understood, would afford the understanding.

In brief, it is a sensible fit of that harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of God. In the which I was so transported, and wrapt up into High Contemplations, that there was no room left in my whole Man, viz. Musick speaks so transcendently, and Communicates Its. The Interplay of Styles 1. In a Monteverdi opera, the basic problem is to mould a single expressive monody to each fluctuation of feeling, words and drama, with the support of simple but extraordinarily intense and significant harmony.

In the main baroque period, the basic problem is not quite either of these; it is something between the two. We have to build up a tremendously strong, balanced tension between a melody less fluid than Monteverdi's, and a bass less static. The middle is usually the least important, or at any rate the least well defined. Even the favourite trio-sonata form, with its twin melodies and strongly melodic bass-line figured for the accompanist's impro- its.

The fugal form itself is no longer equal-voiced polyphony in quite the old skteenth-century meaning; it, too, consists of progressions on a harmonic bass, however skilfully embodied in a contrapuntal texture. And in spite of the opposition of solo and ripieno in concertos, in spite of the fashionable echo-effects inherited from the brilliant Gabrieli tradition, the contrasts of baroque music are not characteristically within the movement.

They are between movements. That is the principle of the suite. Most baroque 'sonatas' are really suites, with movements which are either monothematic or thematically. Even opera lost much of its dramatic flexibility as the direct influence of Monteverdi waned; a typical baroque opera has something of the quality of a protracted vocal suite. In music con- structed, in this characteristic baroque fashion, on the suite principle, we have to build up a further tension, by every variety of expressive resource, between the contrasting movements.

This is, of course, the merest starting-point. As such, these two broad rules experience, very well worth bearing in mind; are, in my but they are obviously subject especially the second of them to numerous and important exceptions; and there are many other factors to be taken into account, among which the date, the national style and the immediate purpose of the music are among the most conspicuously relevant.

Bell and Fuller-Maitland, :. Thus J. Quantz, who was also in sympathy with French music, was something of a conservative; Burney op. Though this Essay was not actually published in J. Bach's lifetime, whole tendency suggests that its its contents are broadly. Bach's music. I have used freely the French edition.

Bach's most famous son, C. Bach, published the first part of his still more distinguished Essay in , only a year later. He too, like his father, was a modernist, but there is a great difference. The foundation of S. Bach's art was traditional in a degree in which J. Bach's was not. Looking beneath the surface, and with two centuries of historical perspective to help us, we might say that both men were beyond their time, but the father in a different direction from that in which their time was then moving, and the son in the same direction.

Bach's own time, it merely appeared that the father was old-fashioned, and the son a leader of fashion. Bach's music, are somewhat less generally so. Somewhat more caution is needed in arguing from C. Bach to J. Bach than in arguing from Quantz to J. This Is a characteristic situation. We cannot always count on finding evidence as close in time or place as we should wish, and slightly distant evidence may be better than a purely modern guess.

The evidence leaves few major uncertainties about the substance of the surprisingly conventions for baroque music, but it is often extraordinarily hard to. On the other hand, their interest in national differences was unbounded, and here we have at. The reader is recommended to Paul Henry Lang's definitive survey. The foreign influences returning to that country were comparatively slight.

Her exports included the new Italian monody of the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as the operatic forms which partly evolved from and partly succeeded to that highly novel species of musical declamation; these spread at different rates in different directions,but were paramount all over Europe by the eighteenth.

The baroque period was not unacquainted with the word baroque. In our day, the O. The line of thought was that if this architecture is florid, so is much of the music. St, Paul's Cathedral can be caUed florid, Le. To those who do, it can still seem as essentially secular as Voltaire, whereas Bach is as spiritual in some sense hard to define as Winchester or Salisbury. Luckily hardly anyone now remem- bers the line of thought. We shall all go on using the label, but we add to our confusion and not to our understanding if we think of it as meaning anything.

The only things it could mean are things untrue, uncouth, bizzarre and in a word, baroque. The same in a lesser degree is true of the bold contrasts of. The great Italian organ-school of Frescobaldi, with his powerful structure yet brilliant fluency, had most effect in Germany, where it was joined by the equally valuable influence of the early seventeenth-century English. The Italian violinist-. The highest extent of the Italian leadership lasted a full three-quarters of a century, from about to about , and it was not much lower in the decades before and after.

In other fields,. Even before Lully, the stimulus to French opera came as much from some brief visits by Italian companies as from the indigenous ballets de com. But Lully, in the mid-seventeenth century, acclimatised himself with uncanny skill, studying every subtlety of the French language to become one of the greatest masters in setting it to music. The rhythms and the cadences of spoken French entered not only into Lully's vocal tech- nique, but into his entire melody. Once acclimatised, Lully made no concessions to the Italian taste.

It was French-born composers, among them Couperin the Great himself early in the eighteenth century, who added to their output of French-style suites a number of sonatas on the Italian model to which, therefore, Italian and not French conventions of interpretation should largely be applied. For the rest, the Italian trio-sonata was accepted, but with an interesting and markedly trans-. There were a number of English. Bach himself, though very open to the Italian influence above all of Vivaldi was also a profound admirer of the French idioms, however much he modified both influences in adapting them to his Germanic background and his own unique personality.

His keyboard music other than for organ is mainly, though not entirely, founded on French models and in need of a French style of interpretation. His organ music is basically. She had already imported the Italian madrigal, and some elements of the Italian string fantasia, out of both of which she proceeded to manu- facture highly indigenous products.

Their structure was by then ex-. None of this, however, was exported in turn, although the very expressive and brilliant keyboard music of the beginning of the century had, as we have seen, passed into the conti- nental tradition which led eventually to Bach and with it some advanced elements of fingering technique.

By the middle of the seventeenth century, the Stuart viol fantasies, one of the great schools of early chamber music, had reached their height, and were nearing their end, with no trace of foreign influence since the initial cross-fertilisation from Italy they had English roots as well. Afew attempts to introduce Italian monody had to compete with another form of monody, indigenous, quite as expressive in its different way, and in a certain sense more maturely perfected, by Dowland and the other lutenist song-composers of solo ayres.

There was some mutual interchange with France, mainly in lute music, airs de cour, and light dance forms: English lute ornamentation is thought to have inspired the French lutenists and through them the French keyboard school; but none of this was on a very substantial scale. At the Restoration, however, this relative isolation ended. The French influence was now cultivated in and England both deliberately extensively. The result was English enough, since in the later seven- teenth century English musicians still had the genius, as they no longer had on Handel's arrival in the early eighteenth, to assimilate a foreign influence and make it their own.

But the need to introduce some of the French conventions of interpretation is plain. This is very markedly the case with Purcell, whose sacred and operatic music alike is con- spicuous for its French idioms or rather for what would be French idioms if they were not so astonishingly transmuted by that most individual of English composers. Their performance needs French elements, at any rate, particularly with regard to rhythm.

In his youthful string fantasies, Purcell is wholly English; in his trio-sonatas, he is deliberately using Italian models and half-unconsciously including French models, so that conventions from both of those national traditions are needed in the interpretation. Their mood and harmony are very English and very original: no such searching harmony as this was appearing on the continent in PurcelTs lifetime. His music had a on Handel. Apart from that, certain limited but unmistakable influence the English tradition then ran very thin and weak till Elgar's genius restored it to greatness.

He points out that we have usually a clue to the national style in question, if we notice what language is used for any title or expression mark given to the piece. Thus suite, ordre, allemande, courante, gigue, sarabande, vivement, vite, lentement, etc. Partita, sonata, allemanda,. In the case of the courante, the name is a less reliable guide than usual, partly because different spellings confuse the issue of language this does occur with other titles also and partly because the Italian.

But here the form itself is readily distinguishable: the French in a characteristic alterna-. Couperin sometimes pairs the two kinds by way of contrast. The dance itself was lengths of embellishment by J. It must be remembered,. It is their nationality as music, not as dances, which affects their interpretation in the developed state. Galliard, London, , ed. The Italians venture at everything that is harsh and out of the way, but then they do it like people that have a right to venture and are sure of success If a storm or rage is to be described in a symphony, their notes give us so natural an idea of it that our souls can hardly receive a stronger impression from the reality than they do from the description; everything is so brisk and piercing, so impetuous and affecting, that the imagination, the senses, the soul and the body itself are all betrayed into a general transport; 'tis impossible not to rapidity of these movements.

Jessopp, London, , sect. At length the time came off. After the pupil has gained also a general idea of the difference of taste in Music, he must recognise distinctive pieces of different nations and provinces, and learn to play them each according to its kind. The diversity of distinctive pieces is commoner in French and German music, than in the Italian and in that of the other nations.

Italian music is less restrained than any other; but the French is almost too much so, whence it comes about perhaps that in French Music the new always seems Hke the old. Nevertheless the French method of playing is not at all to be. It is mainly a question of bow-strokes and the use of ornaments, of which last the Italian instrumentalists make too many, and the French in general too few [he is presumably speaking here of impro- vised free embellishments, not of specific ornaments, of which the French often wrote, and performed, a maximum].

Other nations are ruled in their taste by these two. Italian singing is supreme]. In a word: Italian music is arbitrary and French is limited: so that if the effect is to be good, the French depends more on the composition than on the performance, the Italian almost as much, and in some pieces almost more, on the performance than on the composition.

Cazotte, Observations sur la lettre del. Rousseau [? Paris], , p. Freron, Lettre sur la Musique Frangoise [Paris, ] :. But we [French] who are used to serious, tender and sustained passions It is genius, and genius alone which gives birth to whatever music has that is most pleasant and moving. Its tender sweetness, its light vivacities, its sad and sombre langors, its harshnesses, its furies, its swiftnesses, its confusions, are the fruit, not of.

Every nation where genius can light. To recognise the main varieties of national style, even when found elsewhere than in their countries of origin, is not, perhaps, so difficult as it sounds. Once, for example, the salient characteristics of the French overture style are grasped at all, with its notated dots all meant to be double-dotted and its typical up-beat scales all delayed, quickened and taken at the rush, these characteristics are very recognisable whether they are found in the German-born Handel, the English Purcell, or even on occasion the Italian Vivaldi; and it soon becomes second nature to interpret them in the pointed French style for which see Ch.

XLIV below. Similarly with the four-square Italian opening allegro style; once it is known, there is no risk of confusing it with the jerkier French movement. There are, indeed, other national character- istics much less clearly distinguished than these but then they are also less important to distinguish. The second Use is for the Solace of Men, which as it is gift it agreeable unto nature, so is it allowed by God as a Temporal blessing to recreate and Chear men after long study and weary labour in their vocations.

Airs were sung. Theatre, the Stile was lively and various; for the Chamber, delicate and finished; and for the Church, moving and grave. This Difference, to very. With Church music the. That is the true reason for the decided superiority of the Italians in instrumental music of a grand character. The same principle applied to vocal music gives a different result. It is unsuitable then to charge the image too much with passion, because it is necessary to have regard to the relative congruiti.

It is therefore generally known the galant style, and a number of elegant licenses and various as. This took the form of what became known, loosely enough, as the 'galant style'. The word 'galant' here really means 'polite', in the sense of 'polite conversation', and for much of the music this descrip- tion could not be bettered. In polite conversation, the deeper emotions, when they are mentioned at all, are brought in with a light touch.

Sensibility is feeling rendered. Yet it is still feeling, and potentially capable of burning through its polite conventions. The easy-going Telemann, who made both Luliy and the Italian stand very well for the shallower operatic melody his models, may forms of galant music. Domenico Scarlatti, born though he was like J. Bach and Handel in , was an altogether galant composer.

Bach himself shows far more of the galant influence than is generally realised, and the quotation from Heinichen at 40 below could easily. This and the following quotation from Quantz at For all its facile aspects, it was galant music which achieved the crucial transition between baroque music and classical music. At the end of that road stood Beethoven. Heinichen, General-Bass, Dresden, , Introd.

A suite-form movement is essentially a monad; but a sonata-form movement is a duad. They are first expounded often in relation to each other, through a posing keys; next developed, whole drama of modulations; then recapitulated with their keys and their reconciled. It is a perfect microcosm of common opposition human resolution are elements of life experience. Tension, relationship, no innovations of the post-baroque itself, and as such, of course,. It is the way in which sonata form deploys these elements which was in some genuine degree a novelty.

Essentially this novelty consists in a greater acceptance of conflict within the movement, and not the movements. In terms made famous merely, suite-fashion, between in another context by Hans Keller, to the 'unity of contrasting move- ments' there was added a greatly increased 'unity of contrasting themes'. In sonata form, and indeed in post-baroque music generally, the to a greater extent by dramatic contrasts expression is conditioned within the movement; in suite form, and baroque music generally, it is conditioned to a extent by dramatic contrasts between the greater movements.

This one of the practical differences which the interpreter is.

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There are, of course, dynamic and other contrasts which can properly be made, and should be made thoroughly, within the normal baroque movement; any unnatural restraint in this. This is a situation which can occur in music of any period, but which is much more frequent in baroque than in post-baroque music. It should be noticed, however, that the operative principle is the same in either case. Whether the main contrasts in the structure of the music fall within or between the movements, it is still the structure which conditions the expression.

In working out the expression for a baroque composition, where the composer will have left a far greater share in the responsibility for it to the performer than is nowadays the case, particularly important to refrain from building up big effects it is. It is particularly important to listen quietly for the.

But this is, of course, only a more extreme case of what any good interpreter will do even in music where the main lines of the expression have been laid down beforehand, as they are not laid down in baroque music,. Matching the expression to the music is an axiom of interpretation under whatever circumstances. II, Everyman ed.

An admirable faculty which music hath to express and represent to the mind, more inwardly than any other sensible mean, the very standing, rising, and falling, the very steps and inflections every way, the turns and varieties of all passions whereunto the mind is subject; yea so to imitate. In harmony the very. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony; than some nothing more strong and potent unto good.

And that there is such a differ- ence of one kind from another we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more inclined unto sorrow and heaviness, of some, more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and setde us, another to move and stir our affections; there is that draweth to a marvellous and sober mediocrity, there is also that carrieth as it were into ecstasies, the mind with an heavenly joy and for the filling time in a manner severing it from the body.


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It followeth to shewyou how to dispose your musicke according to the nature of the words which you are therein to expresse, as whatsoever matter it be which you have in hand, such a kind of musicke must you frame to it. You must therefore if you have a grave matter, applie a grave kinde of musicke to it, if a merrie subject you must make your musicke also merrie. For it will be a great absurdirie to use a sad harmonic to a merrie matter, or a merrie harmonie to a sad lamentable or tragical dittie.

You must then when you would expresse any word signifying hardnesse, crueltie, bitternesse, and other such like, make the harmonie like unto it, that is somewhat harsh and hard but yet so it offend not. Likewise, when any of your words shall expresse complaint, dolor, repentance, sighs, teares, and such like, let your harmonie be sad and doleful, so that if you would have your musicke signifie hardness, cruelty or other such affects, you must cause the partes proceede in their motions without the halfe note but when you woulde expresse a lamentable.

There a certain hidden power, as I learnt by experience, in the is. A an philosopher when expounding or demonstrating will try to enlighten our understanding, to bring it lucidity and order. The orator, the poet, the musician attempt rather to inflame than to enlighten. The philosopher deals in combustible matter capable of glowing or yielding a temperate and moderate warmth. But in music there is only the distilled essence of this matter, the most refined part of it, which throws out thousands of the most beautiful flames, always with rapidity, sometimes with violence.

The musician has therefore a thousand parts to play, a thousand characters to assume at the composer's bidding. To what extraordinary under-. He who has the good fortune at all to. Where the passage is languishing and sad, the performer must languish and grow sad. When it is lively and joyful, the performer must likewise put himself into the mood in question. He must perform this especially duty in music of which the nature is highly expressive, whether it is by him or another composer. In the latter event he must be sure to take on the feeling which the composer intended in writing it.

He must sum his audience carefully, their response to the up feelings expressed in his programme, the actual place and other added considerations. Nature has wisely endowed music with all manner of attractions so that everyone may share in enjoying Hence it falls to it. Not only does it agitate the sea, animate the flame of con- flagration, make the streams to flow, the rain to fall and the torrents to swell; but paints the horror of a terrible desert, darkens the walls of a it.

It is not enough for the emotion to be. Mozart, Letter to his father, 26 Sept. But as passions, whether violent or not, must never be expressed in such a way as to excite disgust, so music, even in the most terrible situations, must never offend the ear, but must please the hearer, or in other words must never cease to be music. That appears but the reverse of true in others. Our singers are sadly departments, taxed by the virtuoso baroque parts. We have considerable trouble with early trumpet and horn parts, or again with J.

Bach's unaccom- panied violin music and he was not the man, nor was that the age, to have composed so much of It without adequate prospects of perform- ance. We have very few masters of the difficult baroque techniques of improvising continuo accompaniments or ornamental figuration.

No doubt we read severe criticisms of contemporary performances in the early authorities; but so we do in the Times or the Telegraph today, the inference being not that our standards of performance are low but that our standards of criticism are high. Here, at any rate, are two. At how many courts, and in how many towns did it not flourish in the past, in a manner which brought up a good number of.

Otherwise the best Song that ever was made will seeme harsh and either by Voyces, or unpleasant, for that the well expressing of them, Instruments, is the life of our labours, which is seldom or never well per- formed at the first singing or playing. Besides a song that is well and artifically made cannot be well perceived nor understood at the first hearing, but the oftener you shall heare it, the better cause of liking you will discover: and commonly that Song is best esteemed with which our eares are most acquainted.

I would not have. I speak here only of those who wish to make a profession of Music, and who count on excelling in it with time. Playford, Introduction, London, ; ed. Yet on a less archetypal plane we. It is these divergencies which give our individual. Whoever does not want to trust mine, which I have endeavoured to purify by a long experience and by plenty of reflec- tions that I have made thereon, will be at liberty to try the contrary, and to choose then that which appears to him the best.

This confirms that it is unrealistic to ask: 'how exactly did J. Bach mean such-and-such a passage to be interpreted? There are only individual interpretations within the flexible though not indefinitely elastic boundaries of style. It is more realistic to ask: 'how approximately might the passage have been. Some like what is majestic and lively, others what is sad and. The diversity of taste depends on the diversity of temperaments. MODE AND KEY We have a problem over the accidentals in early music inherited from the more fundamental and historic problem of adapting the originally melodic modes first to harmony a medieval achievement and then to modulation the great late-renaissance contribution.

Western music since antiquity has virtually confined itself to the twelve semitones of the chromatic scale crudely, the notes of the piano. The modes further confined themselves to the five tones and two semitones of the diatonic scale crudely, the white notes of the piano. Each mode distributes its two semitones in a different relationship to its centre of tonality 'final' : an absolute difference irrespective of context. Any chromatic modification of this distribution weakens the mode. The keys take their choice of diatonic scale.

But each key distributes its two semitones in the same relationship to its centre of tonality. The power of modu- difference is established. This fluidity is carried so far in twelve-tone music that key in its. Here all twelve semitones of the chromatic scale are drawn upon equally and simultaneously. Like a temporary mode, a serial tone-row establishes the distribution of intervals, any departure from which reduces its distinctive character.

Established centres of tonality are avoided; but the field of force is still the familiar tonal pull which is the fundamental acoustic reality of music. Mixed systems are both possible and desirable. Our key system. Yet the historic transition from mode to key during the late renaissance was crucial: it marked the advent of modulation. This was the alternative of B natural B durum, hard, from from the use of the its supposed musical effect, or quadratum, square, square form of the letter B to indicate it and B flat B molle, soft, or rotundum, round.

The exception was unavoidable because of the acoustic realities. A diatonic scale includes the augmented fourth or tritonus as F to B and its enharmonic equivalent, the diminished fifth or quinta falsa as B. Indeed, the medieval ear was more tolerant of plain discord than of the ambiguous augmented fourth and diminished fifth.

This note was not then regarded as chromatic; it was regarded as a slightly irregular extension of the diatonic material. But another method was to leave the B natural while taking the F sharp. This further exten- sion was evidently harder for the theorists to accept; and others followed. Their valid chromatic nature was still not fully recognised; but neither were they adopted, as B flat was adopted, into the material regarded as basically diatonic musica verd. They were treated as a kind of falsification musica falsa or fiction musica ficta.

Once this concept of 'false music' or 'feigned music' was established, B flat also tended to be included within it. The theory of 5 'false' or Teigned music encouraged what would in any case have been. The terms musica. They refer to chromatic alteration whether written in the text or introduced in performance.

Performance of Early Music

THE HEXACHORD The means by which the diatonic material was explained by medieval, renaissance and early baroque theorists was not a seven-note scale recurring at the octave, but a six-note scale of three overlapping hexachords. Table I p. The point of the hexachordal system is that each hexachord contains. In the 'hard' hexachord starting on G, mi is B and fa is C.

No diffi- culty here: they are a semitone apart anyhow in the 'white note' diatonic scale. No B occurs in this hexachord. In the hexachord starting on F, mi is A and fa is what? Not 'soft'. B, which would make it a tone instead of a semitone above mi; but B flat, regarded not as a chromatic alteration but as a different kind of diatonic B. The signifying these two forms of B were written approxi- letters. Originally notes in themselves, these symbols soon came into convenient use as signs for altering notes: at first only 5s, but later, as genuine chromatic alteration grew, other notes as well.

A further symbol approximating to our ft was never a note, but began as a sign cancelling a and was subsequently extended to raising flat,. The became partly disused for some time in Iq. It will be noticed that the lowest hexachord starts on G under the. Greek style of Gamma P , regarded as the theoretical bottom of the system; and that it ascends to e", regarded as the theoretical top. The system as a whole was called the gamut a compression of gamma ut. Its limits were exceeded in practice. To learn your gamut meant training yourself in singing or thinking of the hexachordal names so that you always knew where to expect the semitone from mi to fa.

I Hexacho Hexachor Hexachor. The full name Is thus Cfaut; and if. D sol re. The standard mutation from a natural into a soft hexachord is G sol re ut. The return journey is similarly made. Reference to Table I will show that for a semitone between B and C you need to think In terms of a hard hexachord; for a semitone between E and F, in terms of a natural hexachord for a semitone between A and B flat, in terms of a soft ;.

Similarly in words: 'B sharp' is the normal seventeenth-century English term for what we call B natural. A meant a minor key; a 'sharp key' meant a major 'flat key' of notation and key. The importance of remembering these differences terminology is obvious. In the early baroque period we find k at times used to cancel a flat. XV: 'In the case of the aforesaid letter [the note B] one should, it is true, in place off set fc , which is its proper sign.

Semitone from the Sound of the Note before which it is set, to make it more grave ex flat: This doth add a semitone to the Note to make it more acute or sharp [except in the key signature] it serves only for. Leclair actually uses t to restore a sharp present in the key-signa- ture: e. He sometimes restores a B flat, present in the signature, with tj! In none of this is he in the least. Not until the eighteenth century do we find our modern use of as k. Beware of confusion with x used for by Penna, Leclair and some others, against figures of a also with x figured bass; used not as an accidental at all but as a frequent sign of ornamentation.

The use of, e. During the middle of the eighteenth century our modern chromatic signs became increasingly standardised in all respects, the transition being virtually completed by the end of that century. But the different parts of a polyphonic composition may be genuinely in different modes, and correctly bear different signatures no flats. It will be appreciated that if the mode is not to be altered but merely. This is a relicof modal notation, where what looks to us like a key signature was in fact a modal signature i. Thus D minor, which we notate with a signature of one flat, grew out of the Dorian mode when its leading note, C, became habitually sharpened by the workings of musica ficta.

The distinctively minor form of the scale has a flat sixth as well as a flat seventh; and it is this flat sixth which we notate as the B flat in our signature for minor, D adding the sharp leading-note C and its concomitant the sharp. Once-transposed Dorian likewise led to G minor with a signature of one flat B flat , the second E flat being after the tonal facts had accidentally supplied; etc. The habit lingered changed; and other signatures, by analogy, also appeared a sharp or a flattoo few. We find, for example, Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith, which is in E major, with a.

Another discrepancy affecting only the eye is the not uncommon habit of duplicating the sharps or flats of a key signature at the octave, where that octave lies within the stave. This may give the appearance,. And where this duplication in the signature is not employed, a similar precaution may appear in the use of acci- dental sharps or flats against notes already shown thus sharpened or flattened in the signature, but at a different octave.

None of this should be more than momentarily confusing. Though the two aspects are intimately connected, they can be considered most conveniently in separate chapters. Interpretating Written Accidentals 1. IV, 4, above: each accidental affects only that note against which it is placed. Exceptions were extremely numerous, however, and were partly guided by subsidiary conventions. The reason for this will readily be appreciated. Bar-lines are found as occasional conveniences at very early periods, but first became frequent in organ scores and tablatures of the late sixteenth century, to make it easier to keep the place i.

They serve the same practical purpose of place-keeping in keyboard solos, where the notes themselves may often be written considerably out of vertical alignment; and the lutenists also employed them. But few of these early bar-lines occur at. Except in dance or dance-influenced music, there were no regular intervals of time.

There was no unit in the structure corresponding to our modern word 1 "measure in its sense of bar. In baroque music of the main period there was such a unit; but not until late in the eighteenth century did advantage begin to be taken of this change to build up our modern convention governing accidentals by the bar. We have to watch for cases such as Ex. Accidental maintained across the bar-line:. In Ex. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the force of an accidental was sometimes extended indefinitely until cancellation, the bar-line, however, not being given a cancelling effect.

The date at which the modern convention became fully established cannot be accurately stated; but there is no baroque music for which it was more than an incipient tendency, and perhaps no eighteenth- it is to be relied on unreservedly. For early century music for which music generally, a sound basis to ignore the bar-line when con- it is. IV, 3, above. This is virtually admitted by- Peri in this very work, since he several times, when repeating the note in the bass, writes in a cancelling accidental which should not be necessary according to his own rule.

We may infer that the mle might very easily be ignored by the performer in the absence of this precaution. When a note shown with an accidental is repeated, but the accidental is not repeated, we can according to the sense of the music either regard that accidental as cancelled or regard it as influencing the repetition or repetitions of the note including repetitions which are not quite immediate, i. Where either a rest or the start of a new phrase intervenes, it is a virtual certainty that the accidental should be regarded as cancelled, except possibly in the case of flats where the compass of the hexachord has not been exceeded.

When neither rest nor new phrase intervenes, the choice depends on our judgment of the musical situation but the tendency for the influence ;. Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, Concert! The C sharp shown a third above and slightly to the left of the bass note A the accompanist to play an A major triad against the tells. Hence have to be taken sharp as well as the second, though the accidental is only marked before the second. That accidental, in other words, exerts.

The probability is that most if not all cases of ornamental resolution written in this way, with an accidental marked against the main note of resolution but not against the previous orna- interpreted on the lines of mental notes of resolution, are to be the ornamental note or notes of example above: Le. Here the b marked before the first D of the cantus is a precautionary accidental, of a rather remarkable character. It warns us to take this. D natural, and not, as the composer evidently expected that we should otherwise do, sharp.

Robert Donington

But take it sharp? The only reason why should we can be a retrospective influence exerted by the sharp marked against the second D. The firstof the two entries shown here, at Ex. It is impossible to be sure how far this most tiresome irregularity extended in actual practice. Not very probably, in the particular far, form shown in this example from Palestrina; for even in an age when the performer was used to taking much of the responsibility for acci- dentals, the risk of misunderstanding would have been too great.

He was evidently inclined, however, when he saw a written sharp, to come sharps were in the air. He would not prolong to the conclusion that a hexachord. XXVII ff. But a warning may be given here that one of the most baroque editions is setting an acci- frequent misprints in early dental which should be above or below the bass note, i.

Adding Unwritten Accidentals 1. I myself, who always was, and am, in favour of those who like to make their wishes clear. By this they not only offend the ear but also commit innumerable errors. I it if thought anie man like the other waic better, let him use his discretion. Theoretical recognition of musica ficta introduced more or less impromptu by performers was never as extensive as the practice of it; indeed it was at all times a controversial matter; but we find musical evidence for it well into the early seventeenth century, and its influence lingered indirectly in the general baroque attitude towards accidentals for some considerable period after it had become obsolete as a convention.

B mi against Bfa gives a diminished or augmented octave. I of adds, after Ch. For as the Tritonus [augmented fourth] either by flatting die sharp, or sharping the Flat, is made a true Diatessaron [fourth]; so the Semidiapente [diminished fifth], by the same means, is. But there are also a great many passages from which, at any rate as melody, they need to be eliminated. The standard corrections are as follows:. But there is one form of diminished octave which involves the simultaneous use of different hexachords in different parts, and which became a favoured idiom, particularly in England from Byrd to Purcell.

In its milder, and presumably original shape, this idiom is a striking case of false relation, but produces no actually discordant harmony. In its more advanced and harsher shape, it is a clash of harmony, but produced by so natural a movement of its component melodies that its Tightness and logic are really unassailable. Our English taste for it. It is, indeed, extremely beautiful. Not only is it wrong to eliminate form of mi contra fa by a misuse this of musica ficta; it will normally be proper to introduce it even where not written, by taking the lower C owing to its function as leading note sharp even in the absence of a written accidental.

Similarly in transposed positions: e. B flat in the upper part against B natural in the lower part. See 6 below. A somewhat comparable use of the augmented octave, quite typical although not amounting to so definite an idiom, may be seen in the following passage. The C sharp is marked, but even if not marked could have been introduced by musica ficta. The bass is correctly shown as C natural. Moreover, any single note includes a major third fairly prominently among its upper harmonics, so that if a minor third is sounded on voices or instruments, it is always in faint but disturbing conflict with a major third on the same bass sounding of Its own accord among the overtones.

The medievalear was just as sensitive to this inherently restless and inconclusive character of the minor third as it was to the ambivalent character of the augmented fourth and the diminished fifth. The minor third was therefore not felt to be a tolerable element in any important close, least of all a baroque period. The final close, until well into the.

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During the sixteenth century, however, thirds were increasingly used in final closes; but with the understanding that if the prevailing modality or tonality would have made them minor, they must be altered to major whether so written by means of an accidental or not the so-called Tierce de Picardie or Picardy Third. This understanding persisted in some degree, though it is hard to be certain in what degree, throughout the seventeenth century.

Ill, Ch. V, Second Rule: fi. Penna's example to this rule shows that he has in mind a close which would otherwise be minor. Penna, Picardy Third:. VIII, Rule Niedt's evidence is the first written statement of which I am aware casting doubt on the universality of the convention of the Picardy Third. As regards the French composers, Niedt's statement may well be too sweeping. As regards the general European practice, in spite of the categorical repetitions of the rule quoted above, it is hard to believe that the convention was so invariable as we are told.

There are some French minor movements of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries which have every appearance of being as well suited by a. Picardy Third on their final closes as those of other nations. But on the other hand, there are very many minor movements of all nationalities at the same period which seem by no means well suited by a Picardy. Third, but which are far more convincing musically when ending, as they have proceeded, in the minor mode. In practice I have very little doubt that they should be allowed to do so, and that whatever the nationality of the music, the Picardy Third should only be applied as late as this where the musical advantages of doing so are very evident.

It may be mentioned that with the sole exception of Morley all the. It is one matter to introduce a Picardy Third into the accompaniment of a close in which the composer has brought all the written melodic parts to a unison, as baroque composers so often do; it is another matter to introduce it into the last chord, for example, of a harpsichord solo, where minor.

Closes showing the Picardy Third by this is written a written accidental are common in seventeenth century music of all kinds, and not scarce in eighteenth century music. But Picardy Thirds as a performer's option may well have become almost confined to. As the word implies, we are led across this interval, and led more easily than across a larger interval This fact is. The rule means that where the melody particularly at the summit of a phrase rises from a note to one note i. Reference to Table I Ch.

Thus E rising to F and at once falling again to E makes no problem: so it is written,and so performed. A to B and back to A requires the B to be taken flat whether so written or not. D to E and back to D requires the E to be taken flat whether so written or not. There will be exceptions in practice; and both in theory and in practice none of this applies in the Phrygian and Aeolian modes and their transpositions the final notes B, E or A 9 or with a transposing flat in the signature, E, A or D, or with two transposing flats in the.

Una nota super la Semper est canendum fa:. It is a fundamental element in tonality but not a prominent one in modality. Some modes have this semitone naturally, others can be given by musica ficta. But the greater the insistence on a true it. The historical. This historical revolution began late in the middle ages but was mainly the work of the renaissance. The convention which came to govern the sharpening of notes not so written, in order to make them into true leading-notes, depends on one of the most important structural. The primary cadence, or tenor cadence, was a fall of a tone from the note above the final or tonic to that final or tonic cadence means fall 'that strain.

The secondary cadences were the progressions of the other parts joined with the tenor cadence. A close was established when a tenor cadence and a descant cadence. Four-part 'close' with its 'cadences' :. The normal procedure Is then to sharpen the lower note of the descant cadence so as to form a true leading-note, If as in the Dorian, Mixolydian and Aeolian modes it is not already such i.

Where the necessary accidental is not marked, it should be supplied if the close is an important or final one, but not if the close is only taken in passing. This is the so-called Phrygian cadence because it arises. In true Cadences, the Binding half-note must ever be sharp. Something corresponding to the medieval and renaissance descant cadence is found in a majority of baroque closes. The following from Monteverdi's own madrigal transcription of his monody, "Ariadne's Lament', is.

Monteverdi, leading-notes not marked but requiring to be sharp Malipiero's ed. In the the F's are meant sharp not only is this musically first place, all. In the second place, bar two shows in effect a descant cadence top line with a tenor cadence bottom line , and the leading-note must E be taken sharp although not written so again musically obvious, but also proved, by the monodic version, Malipiero ed.

We could have no clearer confirmation that accidentals have still to be supplied at need by the performer in the early seventeenth century. Later in the baroque period, as with other varieties of musicaficta, the need to supply sharps on leading-notes where they are not already. The last statement is particularly to be noticed for its almost un- restricted scope. But we must also be prepared for passages in which the sharpening of the apparent leading-note by musicaficta is not intended, although the baroque criterion of a bass rising a fourth or falling a fifth is duly satisfied.

Banchieri: apparent cadences not treated as such until the last :. It would be a gross misuse of musicaficta to make the first F sharp; though if the first note of the second bar had been G or B natural in place of B flat, it would have been an equally gross negligence not to do so. Werckmeister, formal cadences:. In a further example, Werckmeister shows the upper three cadences in different inversions, but retains the bass cadences in the bass part: the descant cadence and it is hard to see why, since examples of both the tenor cadence in the bass part are familiar enough in baroque music.

A below. But by the second half of the fifteenth century, the parallel perfect fourths which give this formula its special flavouring went out of fashion, and the penultimate note of the middle part was taken flat, as at Ex. It is then no longer in double harness with the.

The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music
The Interpretation of Early Music The Interpretation of Early Music

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