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and see what a different sense and expression it derives from a mere difference of harmony;
The above are but a few variations in the expression of the same melody to be obtained from a difference of harmony; we might add many more, might further increase the number by inverting the chords, and finally render the variations infinite by breaking the chords into diversified accompaniment.
What an engine of powerful and varied expression is the aggregate labour of a whole orchestra! How admirably is the character of every instrument made to contribute to the general effect ! Koch justly refers to the finale of the first act of " Il Don Giovanni,” as a convincing proof of the power and effect of harmony. Another curious instance of the powers of harmony might be quoted from the same opera. It is the warning voice of the statue addressed to the libertine. As the words of the spectre are all set to the self-same note for several successive bars, there is of course no'melody whatever ; harmony does all, and how awfully mysterious, how heart-thrilling, are those sepulchral sounds!
The above musical phrase of the same melody with varied harmony, clearly shows how readily and positively harmony establishes the import of a melody, otherwise frequently equivocal. In the first example, the chord in the bass at once proclaims the melody to be in D major. In the second, the same melody is, by similar means, assigned to the key of G major. The chord of G 7, in the third example, betrays the tonic C. In No. 4 the chord of E 7 conducts to A major ; in No. 5 it is D minor, and the extreme sixth upon B flat in No. 6 leads to A major.
It is on these grounds that harmony presents the most effective means for modulating from one tonic to another, which melody alone
accomplishes in a much more dubious and inefficient manner. To resort once more to our comparison with the sister art, it is in a manner somewhat analogous that mere outline proves inadequate in expressing foreshortening or perspective, without the aid of colouring, the proper employment of which removes all ambiguity attendant on mere linear indication.
Hitherto we have considered the effect and advantages of harmony, when applied in its most simple form—that of mere plain chords. In this manner it was almost exclusively employed for a length of time, and nearly until the beginning of the last century. For such a confined use of harmony it was sufficient to indicate what chord the composer intended for the support of his melody; and for such a purpose Viadana’s Notation of Thorough bass, still in use, (however awkward and complex,) was adequate enough. To resort again to our comparison with colouring,-harmony was then something like painting in its early stages, or like some of the paintings of the Chinese. When the outline was drawn, the face received one coating of flesh-colour' all over; if the garment was to be red, a brush dipped in cinnabar accomplished the intention; the foliage of a tree was dispatched by an even coating of some green pigment; and for a rock, a goodly patch of brown ochre was deemed sufficient. There was no light or shade, no variation of tints. Such was harmony in its more primitive forms. But in process of time great changes were effected in the mode of harmonizing melodies ; and it is only from the beginning of the last century that these changes assume a decisive character, and present themselves as additional and powerful means of the Beautiful in the Art. We certainly owe them to the previous study and cultivation of the canon and fugue. Pieces constructed with such artful contrivance, that several parts could, in succession, take up the same subject, and proceed in harmony with parts which had previously begun with that subject, could not do otherwise than advance greatly the science of accompaniment, and lead to the state of perfection in which we find it at this time. The fugue may be considered as the scaffolding employed in the edifice of this branch of the art, which, on the completion of the structure, has been laid aside ; and, although almost entirely dispensed with at this day, its study ought, on the same grounds, to be made to form an essential part of the tuition of an incipient composer.
It would greatly exceed the limits and object of our paper, if we were to give a sketch of the gradual improvements in the science of accompaniment, or attempt a systematic enumeration of the many means from which modern accompaniment derives its charms. A cursory glance at some of these is all we can permit ourselves to take.
One of the first steps in the advancement of accompaniment was probably that of breaking the chords into their elements, i.e. the exhibiting the sounds of accompaniment in succession, instead of striking them at once,
When the voice has to sustain a long note, the former method is eligible, for obvious reasons ; whereas, when the voice is more active, the accompaniment should be more tranquil.
The modes of breaking chords are very numerous, and thus a pleasing and great variety in the accompaniment is produced. But this variety is farther augmented by distributing the elements of the chord among different instruments, and diversifying the figure under which the instruments, especially the high-toned, such as the violins, flutes, hautboys, &c. are to exhibit their portion of these elements. The Italian composers are inexhaustible in their variety of these kinds of resources, of which the works of Paesiello, Cimarosa, and Rossini, offer endless instances.
The employment of inverted instead of fundamental chords, or a mere change of position in either, presents, on many occasions, farther important advantages to the composer. In the first place, it is productive of great variety; moreover, as any inversion carries less repose to the ear than its fundamental, the sense of the melody may, by this means, be rendered more suspended, or less decisive-a circumstance which greatly influences the doctrine of cadences; and lastly, by a judicious employment of inverted chords, the accompaniment is rendered more soft, flowing, and connected.
Another means of producing the last-mentioned effect is, the employment of what is commonly called a “Pedal Bass,” which consists in a continuation, on the part of the bass, of the tonic note of the air along with other chords properly belonging to the melody, instead of using those chords in their direct and natural form. Thus, instead of
Here, the continual sounding of the C in the bass throws an uncommon charm of softness over the melody, which it blends with, and melts as it were into the harmony. The Italians, again, who probably first resorted to this practice, use it with great success for the accompaniment of pastoral and other tender motiros ; and for those, in fact,
it is only eligible. These mellow combinations would little suit marches, airs of forcible expression, strong chorusses, or dance-tunes; and, like every thing else in Music, they must not, by frequent use, be rendered too common, even in cases where they might be deemed applicable.
In vocal pieces, we sometimes observe considerable portions in which the singer acts as it were a subordinate part, the principal melody is consigned to the orchestra, and the voice performs a secondary sort of melody, or sometimes no absolute melody, but rather a part of what might properly be deemed mere accompaniment; nay, sometimes but a continued repetition of the same sound, while the orchestra fills up the musical picture. The effect of all this, when in its proper place, is excellent. Of this kind are the airs of the military hero of the piece, who sings a half sort of melody, while the orchestra plays a regular march, or the chorus performs a similar independent duty. This practice, invented by Paesiello, met with such decided approbation, that airs of this description are to be found in most Italian operas. A fine duett in Rossini's “ Mosè nell' Egitto” is of that class, also a song of Douglas in “ La Donna del Lago." An instance where the orchestra has the principal, and the singer a secondary melody, occurs in the picture song of Braham's “Devil's Bridge;" and examples where the voice repeats for some time the same note, while the orchestra goes its train, are to be found in most of the Italian comic songs. The vocal accompaniments of chorusses by means of subdued staccato-notes, so interesting and effective, may also be mentioned under this head.
Episodic purely instrumental phrases betwixt vocal portions, afford another great resource to the composer, and a relief to the singer. As they occur more or less extensively in almost every song of any pretension, we forbear quotation. In the recitativo, these instrumental intercalations are of admirable effect, and almost indispensable. It is here that the composer displays the fertility and luxuriance of his imagination by a constant succession of short instrumental phrases, novel in conception, suitable to the expression of the text, and of the most unfettered freedom of thought. A magnificent specimen of this kind presents itself in Donna Anna's sublime recitatito, " Ma qual mai s'offre spettacolo funesto," in Il Don Giovanni. Without referring to any other example, the above recitativo affords the strongest possible instance of the power of accompaniment in assisting and heightening the impression which the text and its melody are intended to excite. Without its masterly instrumental support, that recitativo would lose its greatest charm, would almost appear insipid. This power is still more evident in a species of composition introduced upon the German stage, about forty or fifty years ago, under the appellation of Melodrama, but which is widely different from the dramatic trash under the same name that has of late taken possession of the English boards. The German melodrama consisted of a scenic representation, consigned to few performers, simple in its plot and action, and highly poetical as to diction. The whole of the text was spoken, not sung, but frequently interrupted by instrumental periods of longer or shorter duration analogous with the import of the text. Benda, the German composer, excelled in these ; his “ Ariadne in Naxos" and " Medea,” scarcely known in England, are masterpieces of composition, replete with the finest thoughts and deepest feeling.
In the present state of the science, indeed, the effect of every melody depends, in a great degree, upon its accompaniment. The latter not only heightens the interest of the former, by fixing more strongly its meaning, and imparting to it the charms of variety, but it operates in a direct manner in aiding and strengthening the melodic expression. The mental agitation produced by fear or despair, the ebullitions of anger, the peaceful sensations of a serene innocent mind, the impas. sioned accents of love, in short, almost every condition of the human frame, may, independently of melodic means, receive an adequate and forcible colouring from mere accompaniment. Of all this it would, we are sure, be a waste of time to adduce examples. Almost every classic vocal composition may serve as a voucher.
Such, then, are the effects, the advantages, of harmony and accompaniment. Without harmony, Music, as has already been said, would never, probably, have attained the high state of cultivation, the elevated rank among the fine arts, of which she justly boasts at the present day, but which she was far from enjoying even under the fostering care of the tasteful and ingenious Greeks. Notwithstanding the marvellous accounts they have handed us of the excellence of their Music, we should not, were the experiment possible, hesitate to risk a comparison between the best Greek melodic concert, and the melharmonic strains and combinations of a modern performance. The former, we are convinced from their own accounts, must have been simple, monotonous, and meagre in effect, while the combined exertions of a modern band are calculated to excite admiration, even in a philosophical point of view. What a grand, what a wonderful spectacle is the orchestra at the King's Theatre in the finale of “ Il Don Giovanni!" In a narrow space we behold some fifty skilful players upon numerous different instruments, collected from every part of Europe. In Greece, these fifty would have all played the same melody; here, more than a dozen parts or melodies are distributed among them, to be played at once, all essentially distinct and different, yet blending into one beautiful whole. Were it not from custom, we should never cease wondering by what spell such a number of individuals can be brought to observe the strictest time: every one knows precisely when to fall in, when to be silent: at one time, all join in one combined effort; at
her, one instrument takes the lead, and rivets our attention by the most delicate and fascinating solo: now a singer interposes the soft and heavenly sounds of the human voice, and again a full chorus, with its powerful strains, sets the whole of our frame in vibration. This, this is the work of Harmony—this the triumph of modern Art!
G. L. E.
AN ATTIC STORY.
In a close garret, six feet square
The World-of-Wit's antipodes-