Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

Preface

ALTHOUGH "of the making of books there is no end," this book, on so human a subject as music, should, we believe justify itself. A twenty-years' experience in teaching the Appreciation of Music at Harvard University and Radcliffe College has convinced the author that a knowledge of musical grammar and structure does enable us, as the saying is, to get more out of music. This conviction is further strengthened by the statement of numerous students who testify that after analyzing certain standard compositions their attitude towards music has changed and their love for it greatly increased.

In the illustrations (published in a Supplementary Volume) no concessions have been made to so-called "popular taste"; people have an instinctive liking for the best when it is fairly put before them. We are not providing a musical digest, since music requires active coöperation by the hearer, nor are we trying to interpret music in terms of the other arts. Music is itself. For those who may be interested in speculating as to the connection between music and art, numerous books are available -- some of them excellent from their point of view.

This book concerns itself with music as music. It is assumed that, if anyone really loves this art, he is willing and glad to do serious work to quicken his sense of hearing, to broaden his imagination, and to strengthen his memory so that he may become intelligent in appreciation rather than merely absorbed in honeyed sounds. Music is of such power and glory that we should be ready to devote to its study as much time as to a foreign language. In the creed of the music-lover the first and last article is familiarity. When we thoroughly know a composition so that its themes sing in our memory and we feel at home in the structure, the music will speak to us directly, and all books and analytical comments will be of secondary importance -- 4those of the present writer not excepted. Special effort has been made to select illustrations of musical worth, and upon these the real emphasis in study should be laid.

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