Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

in what is known as the "rhythmical sense," Americans -- as a people, in comparison with foreign nations -- are still woefully deficient. As rhythm is the basic element in all music, there is nothing in which the listener should more definitely train his faculties than in intelligent coöperation with the freedom of the composer.


CHAPTER V
THE TWO-PART AND THREE-PART FORMS

NOW that a clear insight has been gained into the formation of the normal sentence, we are in a position to understand how sentences may be combined to make complete compositions. The simplest and most primitive structure is that which contains two complete sentences; dividing itself naturally into two parts and hence known as the Two-Part Form. This form by reason of its simplicity and directness is often found in the short pianoforte pieces of Schumann, Tchaikowsky, Brahms, Grieg and Debussy. For a long period there was no attempt at differentiation between vocal and instrumental style; music, in fact, during the 15th and 16th centuries was often entitled "buon da cantare ou suonare," i. e., equally well suited for voices or instruments. When instrumental players were in search of pieces, they simply transferred to their instruments the voice-parts of the Madrigals and Canzonas which were then so fashionable.1 With the development of instruments -- especially of the Violin family -- and with the desire for an instrumental style which should be independent of words, principles of coherent design had to be evolved; and they were suggested by the definite metre in the stanzas of the Folk-song and, above all, by the symmetrical phrases of the Folk-dance, used to accompany the rhythmical motions of the body. By a utilization of these principles of balanced phrases, of contrasted keys and of periodic themes, instrumental music gradually worked out

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1
For a complete account of this process see Parry Evolution of the Art of Music, p. 115seq.

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