The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XXXI
MELODY AND APPRECIATION

THE average non-musical auditor is generally ready enough to enjoy a tune; but when classical music is given, he does not enter into the spirit of the occasion. A taste for good music comes largely from listening to it; so that even the non-musician should be patient with the classics, and not condemn them all at once. Time will teach him that Mark Twain's remark about Wagner is of general scope, and that classical music, as well as Wagner's, is not as bad as it sounds.

The elements entering into musical appreciation are first of all a perception of pitch. This would seem to be something common to every one; yet it is not necessarily so. Even among great intellects there is sometimes a lack of the simplest musical comprehension; and such men as Tennyson and Charles Lamb were tone-deaf.

Granting an appreciation of tone, the three chief elements found in music are rhythm, melody, and harmony.

The first of these, rhythm, is present in a marked degree in the so-called popular music. The prevalence of rag-time, with its varying accent and emphasis, testifies to a widespread appreciation of rhythm.

One of the chief defects of popular music, in comparison with classical, is its extreme simplicity. It appeals to the cultivated musician much as a problem in arithmetic would appeal to the student of quaternions. The rhythm of almost all popular music is absurdly simple. It does not follow that good music must necessarily have a complex rhythm; but the simplicity of the popular song, even allowing for the rag-time variations, is the simplicity of weakness and ignorance, not that of true art. If a composer uses straightforward effects, he does so because they suit his theme; as, for example, in Dvořák "Humoreske." But the popular composer (?) plods ahead in total ignorance of anything better, and produces works like the college-song atrocity known as "Mrs. Cragin's Daughter."

One of the chief points that the student must note, and try to

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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