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

By John Erskine | Go to book overview

ENGLISH SONG

CHAPTER I
JOHN DOWLAND AND THE ELIZABETHANS

IT HAS ALREADY BEEN pointed out that a cause of the sudden decline of polyphonic music in Italy was the search for a more dramatic mode of expression, which was discovered in the declamatory style of Monteverdi, and we have traced the gradual crystallization of diatonic harmony, which gave to Monteverdi's declamation its distinctive character, in spite of lingering traces of the modes. Yet another influence towards the change that occurred at the beginning of the seventeenth century was the improvement of musical instruments. Although it is quite clear that both sacred and secular music had for a long time been accompanied by instruments of various kinds, these accompaniments were in no way independent. They merely supported the voices and may be described, in modern terminology, as being ad libitum. Towards the end of the sixteenth century we find an increasing tendency to use viols to support the voices in madrigal-singing, and it is quite clear that madrigals were sometimes sung by a solo voice accompanied by viols, which played the remaining parts. Byrd's third set of madrigals, published in 1611, is described on the title-page as being "fit for voyces or viols," from which one may infer that they could be treated as instrumental pieces.

It is not surprising, therefore, to find developing concurrently with the madrigal in England what we must call, in default of a better name, the art-song. Solo songs--folk-songs, ballads, and so on--had, of course, been in existence all along, and had, as we have had occasion to observe, supplied composers with material for Masses as well as for madrigals. Indeed, if the latest researches of Mr. Arnold Dolmetsch are to be credited, we must antedate the conscious com-

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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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