From Song to Symphony: A Manual of Music Appreciation

By Daniel Gregory Mason | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE ART SONG

THE IDEAL OF CHARACTERIZATION

WHEN we made the statement that while communal art necessarily remains primitive, individual art may become, for better or worse, highly complex, we defined the essential difference between folksongs and art-songs. Folksongs, constantly deindividualized in expression by passing from mouth to mouth, and at the same time limited in scope of organization by the narrow spans of unlettered memories, are everywhere naïve, artless and child-like -- owing indeed much of their charm to this very artlessness. When, on the other hand, songs are composed by individual artists, and put down on paper, all sorts of accuracies, felicities, and subtleties of expression become at once possible, together with a far wider, bolder, and more varied scheme of organization. As happens in all processes of evolution, the differentiation of details and the multiplication of the types of organization into which these details may be cast go on side by side. So many technical means of expressing emotion accumulate, and so many ways of building them into beauty be-

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