Style in Musical Art

By C. Hubert H. Bart Parry | Go to book overview
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XIX
REALISTIC SUGGESTION

THERE is hardly any feature in music about which people are less unanimous than they are about realistic suggestion. At one time people arrived at the habit of mind which regarded any musical imitation of externals as a decisive proof of inferiority. Other people have been moved to enthusiasm by mere skill in imitation of sounds or the suggestion of motions of things which apart from music would not arouse in them the very smallest interest. Even the moderate and reasonable people, those of average culture, are divided between a shrug and a smile when bird-noises and bells and the sound of many waters become too frankly conspicuous. The inexperienced and unbiassed mind might well think it childish to represent a thing or a person going upwards by a rising scale, or a man running by lively passages of semiquavers. Yet both devices have been used by serious-minded composers of the very highest order in devotional works and at moments when anything in the nature of a joke, or even mere playfulness, would be most unseasonable. No doubt the most serious-minded composers might be individually capable of making mistakes; but the matter would need to be considered more deliberately if there were a general consensus of

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