Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

This last melody is of particular significance, because Tchaikowsky has used it so prominently in the Finale of his Fourth Symphony.

The growing interest in folk-music in America is a tendency concerning which the progressive student should inform himself. For a national basis of creative work, our country has always been at a disadvantage in comparison with nations which, as their birthright, have much music in their blood. Moreover, with the exception of the tunes of the aboriginal Indians and the plantation melodies of the Negroes, it has been asserted that America could boast no folk-songs. Recent investigations have shown, however, that this is not entirely true. Cecil Sharp, Henry Gilbert, Arthur Farwell and other musical scholars have proved that there are several regions of our country, settled by colonists from England, Ireland and Scotland, where folk-songs exist practically in the condition in which they were first brought over. One of the best collections of such material is the set of so-called Lonesome Tunes from the Kentucky Mountains, taken down by Miss Lorraine Wyman and Mr. Howard Brockway directly from the mountaineers and other dwellers in that region. These melodies have great individuality, directness and no little poetic charm. It is certainly encouraging to feel that, in this industrial age, there are still places where people express their emotions and ideals in song; for a nation that has not learned to sing -- or has forgotten how -- can never create music that endures.


CHAPTER III
POLYPHONIC MUSIC; SEBASTIAN BACH

WE have traced, in the preceding chapter, some of the fundamental principles of design in musical expression, as they were manifested in the Folk-music of the different nations. All music of this type was homophonic, i. e., a single melodic line, either entirely unaccompanied or with a slight amount of instrumental support. Hence however perfect in itself, it was necessarily limited in scope

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