A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music

By John Erskine | Go to book overview

MUSICAL NOTATION

CHAPTER I
THE EARLIEST BEGINNINGS

IT is pretty clear that man's progress in the art of sound was, first howling, or making vocal his desires and feelings in simple cries, then speaking, and finally singing. But how long it took him to produce even rhythmic pulsations, we do not know. We can observe present-day savage music, and wonder how far it has developed, or whether we are listening to much the same kind of sounds as were heard in the forest primeval. But we know next to nothing of music even among the highly cultured ancient Greeks.

Rhythm comes naturally, since all creation moves to it--the stars, the seasons, all growth; man's heart throbs rhythmically, his feet march to a lilt. It is not difficult to think that his lips soon began to murmur liltingly likewise. Most savage music is strongest in the rhythmic element. There may have been a good deal of simple invention of snatches of tune, mere fragments, but nobody, probably, could put them together, or thought of trying. Perhaps there was a certain amount of copying, friendly mocking, and some rivalry in the attempted imitation of natural sounds. It does not seem unreasonable that there may have been mimics, not unskilful, of the birds and beasts--moments of relaxation in the dangerous, fierce, devil-take-the-hindmost life of primitive man. But he could have had little time for musical art, even had he conceived it. Artistry needs leisure to burgeon, and music is the most complex of the arts. Most important consideration of all: it only lives by moving, and we have to catch it as it flies.

It was a great advance when man learned how to control and direct his breath so as to shape a variety of sounds, each standing

-3-

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A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Music *
  • Title Page i
  • Acknowledgment iii
  • Introductory Note v
  • Contents ix
  • Book I - The ABC of Music 1
  • Musical Notation 3
  • The Fundamentals of Music 19
  • Form 27
  • The Orchestra and Other Instruments 39
  • Book II - The Orchestra and Orchestral Music 53
  • The Rise of the Orchestra 55
  • The Expansion of the Orchestra 78
  • The Orchestra as Instrument 93
  • Orchestral Music; "Absolute" Music and the Symphonists 130
  • Orchestral Music of Mantkinds 174
  • Book III - Opera 189
  • How Opera Arose 191
  • The Eighteenth Century 207
  • From Mozart to Wagner 223
  • From Verdi to the Present Day 241
  • Book IV - The Human Voice 259
  • By Way of Introduction 261
  • The Polyphonic Period 268
  • English Song 284
  • Folk-Song 294
  • Oratorio and Other Choral Music 301
  • European Song in the Nineteenth Century 314
  • Vocal Music in the Twentieth Century 330
  • Book V - Chamber Music 341
  • Before Beethoven 343
  • From Beethoven to Brahms 364
  • National Schools 382
  • Britain 405
  • Modernism 421
  • Book VI - The Solo Instrument 431
  • Keyboard Instruments 433
  • Pianoforte and Violin Sonatas and Duets 468
  • The Violin in Solo and Concerto 477
  • The Violoncello and the Viola 490
  • Glossary and Index 501
  • A Short Glossary of Musical Terms 503
  • Index 517
  • A Note on the Type In Which This Book is Set 552
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