Page images
PDF
EPUB

noticing, are left to be considered as doubtedly very ancient. « They were anomalous or capricious. Though of. originally four in number, and were ten terminating on the key-note, like first reduced to fixed laws by St Amthe music of modern times, the melo- brose, Archbishop of Milan, in the dies of Scotland have almost all possi. fourth century, and about 200 years ble sort of cadences; namely, on the afterwards they were increased in num. second, tbird, fifth, sixth, and seventh ber to eight by Pope Gregory the First.” degrees of the scale; and unless we They are probably the relics of a still get some clue to these singularities, higher antiquity than the remotest of we remain still in the dark as to an im- these periods. portant part of the question.

We shall not enter into detail on We think that a new and most valu. this subject, but shall content ourselves able light has been thrown upon this with saying that the examples given by question by Mr Finlay Dun's “ Analysis Mr Dun, from ancient chants, ap. of the Scottish Music," to which we pear to us strongly to confirm his prohave already adverted. Mr Dun ob- position, that “in the character of the serves with truth, that “we cannot say, melody, and in the peculiar cadences with our present scanty information upon various sounds of the modesupon the subject, what the Scottish cadences initial, medial, and finalscales originally were. But we know strong points of resemblance may be to a certainty what the tunes are that traced between the ancient Canto have been handed down to us." He Fermo of the Romish Church, and a has, therefore, commenced his essay by number of the Scottish airs, particuan analysis of ancient Scottish airs, Jarly those of a graver cast." with the view of tracing their peculiar It is obvious how comprehensive an features, before attempting to explain explanation is thus afforded of the pethem. Mr Dun's examples are taken culiar structure of Scotch melodies. chiefly from the airs in the Skene MS., It not only reconciles to a general although he informs us that these tend principle the cadences which othermerely to corroborate the ideas which wise appear anomalous, but it shows he had previously adopted from a mi. the origin, also, of those omissions in nute analysis of those common melo. the scale which the other theory is indies which have been transmitted by tended to account for. Although in tradition.

the ancient music the various major On an examination of their prevail- and minor keys of modern times wero ing modulations and cadences, Mr Dun not properly established, yet as the has been led to the conclusion that sensibilities of the human ear are, in our characteristic melodies are of an all ages, substantially the same, there cient date, and are, for the most part, must have been from the earliest peregular compositions, according to the riod a tendency to run into the same laws of melody which were then in series of sounds with which we are de. force. Those laws are illustrated by a lighted at the present day. In the difreference to the chants of the Church, ferent ancient modes, accordingly, im. composed according to what are known pressions would come in a great degree, as the ecclesiastical modes, which to be produced, corresponding to those may be thus explained in Mr Dun's of the major and minor keys, which are words :-" The arrangement or dis. now founded upon the several initial position of the sounds composing the notes from which the modes proceeded. scales upon which these chants were Thus there would be a disposition in constructed, was made according to the mode of D to run into the sounds the natural or diatonic order of pro, which we now use in D minor, and in gression, without any accidental alter the mode of F into those which belong ations of flats or sharps, that is, to the modern key of F major. The from D (the first mode) upwards to circumstance, however, that the anits octave above: from E, F, G, A, cient modes were all framed upon the and B in like manner; employing, in notes which occur in the diatonic short, in all these scales the same scale of C major, made it necessary sounds as the moderns do in the scale often to avoid those intervals that of C major (which was also among were inconsistent with the general im. the number), but beginning the series pression of the several modes. Thus, from D, E, F, G, A or B, according in the mode of F, the natural B, or to the mode." These modes are un fourth of the mode, would frequently

be a disagreeable note, and there being, minor keys, the ascending sixth and no flat B in the scale, that interval seventh are generally made sharp-a would come to be often omitted. feature which does not radically affect Again, in the mode of G, the natural the structure of the melody, and which F, or seventh of the scale, would be we know, from historical evidence, to omitted for the same reason, except in have been a modern innovation. those cases where it could be made if it were necessary to account for subservient to a pleasing and peculiar the influence of the ecclesiastical modulation. In this way the frequent modes upon Scottish music, it might omission of the fourth and seventh in not be difficult to do so. The power of Scotch music is accounted for, and the the Church, built as it was upon truth occurrence of the flat seventh is, at the and knowledge, and extended by posame time, explained, as well as many licy and superstition, was not less conother peculiarities of structure. siderable in Scotland than in other

The theory which we first noticed has countries. Our ecclesiastical architecbeen familiarly illustrated by saying, ture shows the tendency of our churchthat the Scottish scale is to be found in men and their patrons to cherish the the black notes of the piano-forte, which arts of refinement; and, if music was exhibit the key of F sharp deficient in cultivated by them in any proportional the fourth and seventh, which, in that degree, the influence oftheirstyle would key, are found in the notes of B na. extend through all ranks of society. tural and F natural. The theory Even the perversions of the system now submitted to consideration, sup- might tend to a similar result. If we poses the Scottish scale to be comprised suppose the reality and frequency of within the white notes of the instru. such scenes as are described in the ment, which afford one perfect scale in “ Freiris of Berwick," where the hosthe key of C, while the other keys or pitality and example of Symon Lawscales are, according to modern ideas, der draw forth the convivial talents of deficient or peculiar in certain re his clerical guestspects, according to their several po. “They sportit thame and makis mirry cheir sitions in the general scale. Thus, With sangis lowd, baith Symone and tho the key of D is a minor key, but has Freir"a sharp sixth and flat seventh. The we can easily conceive the foundation key of F major has only a sharp fourth, of a school of parody, where the eccle. a note rarely admissible in vocal siastical Cantus would soon be conmusic. The key of G has only a flat verted into excellent drinking songs. seventh, and the key of A minor has But, in truth, we do not know that both the sixth and seventh flat. the Scottish music is derived from the

It is important to observe that the ecclesiasticai: we only see that it reairs in the Skene MS. confirm the sembles it. For ought we can tell, views above submitted. They con our own system may be, not the tain numerous instances of semitonic daughter, but the sister or cousin of intervals, inconsistent with the idea the other. of their being systematically con- Neither must it be thought that a corstructed according to a rude scale in respondence in the scales of the Scotwhich those intervals were wanting. tish music and the ecclesiastical modes, They are generally, however, reducible while it proves the antiquity of our to the more comprehensive principles national melodies, deprives them of which we have endeavoured to illus- their title to originality. What is thus trate.

accounted for is only the scale itself We have also, with reference to these and its general laws. These, as Mr views, gone over the original volume Dun observes, supply merely the co. of Thomson's Orpheus, and the result lours with which the artist is to work. of our examination is that out of All that gives expression or beauty to fifty airs which it contains, only about the composition must come from the half-a-dozen are defective, both in the individual composer. “ The Scottish fourth and seventh. Ten of them music has measure, rhythm, accent, contain a flat seventh in the major key, besides a very peculiar manner or style and the whole of them, abating here of performance. The Canto Fermo and there a stray appoggiatura of the had none of these." editor's, are referable to the system of It remains to advert to a question modes, with this exception, that, in which we formerly proposed on this subject, how far, namely, the absence, have submitted, we think it may be in any air, of the striking peculiarities curious and interesting to go over the of structure above noticed, is demon- different scales, as they occur within strative of its recent origin. This the peculiar range we have described question is attended with difficulty. that is, on the notes of the diatonic of But we would say that so long as an C, or white notes of the piano-forte air could be reduced to the diatonic and to point out one or two airs, key of C, without any modulation re- which may be adapted to each of quiring notes extraneous to that key, them. In the key of C, “ The Lass we have no right to infer that it is not of Patie's Mill,” • The Yellow-haired ancient, if it has been handed down to Laddie," " Saw ye my Father," us by immemorial tradition. We have “ Jenny's Bawbee," or any other many regular airs for whose antiquity of our airs, that are composed on we have the same, or nearly the same, what a modern ear would consider evidence as for others of a more pecu. a more regular plan. In the key of liar character. Thus the air of “ Alace D minor, « Ca' the Ewes to the that I came o'er the Moor,”as given in Knowes,” “My boy Tammie," “ Brose the Skene MS., has much of the polish and Butter," “ Peggie is over the of a modern composition. "The Lass Sea," (from the Skene MS.), all of of Patie's Mill," “ The Bush aboon which illustrate, in different ways, the Traquair,” “ The Bonny Boatman," peculiarities of this singular and beau. “ An thou wert mine ain thing,” which tiful mode. In the key of E minor, have all a character of much regularity, " The Mucking of Geordie's Byre," a are given in the first edition of the pleasing and peculiar air, which wants Orpheus as the compositions of Rizzio, the second of the key. In the key of F and this may at least be received as major, any air, defective merely in the evidence that they were then repu. fourth of the scale, such as “ Fye let ted to be ancient. Goldsmith, in one us a' to the Bridal," as given in the of his essays, tells us that Geminiani os Orpheus Caledonius," and " Alace was of opinion that the Scotch mu- that I came o'er the Moor," as in the sic was of Italian origin ; and although Skene MS., or even its modern reprethis evidence does not go far back, and sentative, with the omission of a sinwe are not bound to adopt Geminiani's gle grace note. In the key of G major, conjecture, it tends to show that a large any air deficient merely in the seventh, proportion of regular airs were consi- such as " An thou were my ain things dered to be mixed up in the general body“ Auld Rob Morris," or, on the other of our national melody. We have no hand, any air exhibiting a flat seventh, grounds for concluding that they were such as i The Fowers of the Forest," derived from Italian models, as we either the old or new set, where that know little of the early history and dif- peculiarity has a plaintive effect ; or fusion even of national Italian music. the tune of “ Pease Strae," where its But we have no precise right to limit occurrence is extremely quaint and the powers of ancient melody except, at comic. On G minor we may arrange least, to the boundaries of its own estab- the air of " Adew Dundee,” as given lished scale. Compositions might be in the Skene MS. ; which, although made at a very early period, on the the signature o

the signature of that key is two flats, mode of C major, which would be little will, when thus set, exhibit no flat distinguishable from modern airs. Mr note whatever, the B never occurring Dun has, in the plates accompany- at all in the melody, and the E occur. ing his Essay, given us a specimen of ring only in its natural state. TO A the Ambrosian chant of the year 400; minor we may adapt a great number which presents us with an exquisite of Scotch airs, such as “ Up in the strain of melody, that has no peculiar cha- morning early," “ Katherine Ogie," racter of antiquity except its simplicity. and “ Logan Water." All the arWe cannot infer that Scottish com- rangements, it will be observed, have posers might not, in like manner, at a the character or impression of the difvery early period, have composed melo- ferent modern keys we have mentiondies such as those we have above re ed, and yet require no notes that are ferred to, and which, it will be observ. not to be found in the key of C major. ed, are all confined within the limits of On the mode of B it would be diffi. one diatonic key.

cult to compose any effective air, and To illustrate the views which we no example of it occurs to us.

It must, at the same time, be ob of the legitimate scale, so far as we served, that all dogmatism on this can discover it. Where we are doubtsubject is unbecoming our state of ful of our ground, the more sparing knowledge, and that we cannot expect we are of our embellishments the betto reduce everything to strict regu. ter. larity. The principles of the eccle In arranging accompaniments for siastical modes themselves are but par- our Scotch melodies, the composer has tially understood by those who have considerable difficulties to contend with, studied them most, and many ancient as the prevailing system of harmony ecclesiastical compositions are found is chiefly founded on the varieties of which it is difficult to assign to any modern tonality. Nevertheless we mode. The same thing may, and in are of opinion that here also the andeed does, occur as to several Scotch cient modes should be, as much as airs. It would not, we think, be an possible, preserved, even at a sacrifice argument for the correctness of any in point of fulness of accompaniment: view, if, in a matter so obscure and and, at least, that all extraneous interperplexed, it left nothing for doubt or vals should be kept in the background, investigation. It is a great matter to and not brought in collision, as we trace a connexion between the modes often see them, with those parts of the and the Scottish music, though we melody which are regulated by different should be unable to follow out all its laws. We believe that in this departbearings.

ment there is great room for the exerThe ideas above adverted to, however cise of ingenuity and taste, when guidimperfectly here developed, may, we ed by knowledge, and that the comthink, be of use to performers and poser who can imbibe the spirit of the harmonists in the execution and ar- old Scottish melodists will overcome rangement of Scotch music. There or elude the difficulties of his position, has long been a tendency to alter the and will even elicit new beauties out character of our melodies, by the in- of those difficulties, and produce effects troduction of ornaments and intervals, in harmony which will at once sustain foreign to their structure, and at va the original airs, and add to their riance with their essential features. peculiar and affecting character. We The result is a mongrel breed of mu. tind, in what we have above said, that sical monsters, which could never pos. we have been expressing the ideas, sibly have sprung from any genuine and almost using the very words of and pure stock. The original part of Mr Dun, in luis analysis, where these the melody has been composed upon views are strongly enforced, upon bet.. a certain system of tones, which is ter authority than ours. We hope disregarded by the modern artists who that the whole discussions which we are dealing with it, and who load it with

have been noticing, will meet with embellishments framed upon a totally the attention they deserve, and hasten different system. Consistency is thus the attainment of the ends in view. destroyed ; the ear is perplexed be

We cannot conclude this article tween conflicting effects, and the heart

ts, and the heart without a humble but earnest exhor. refuses to yield to affectation and effort tation to our musical artists and amathat tribute of emotion which is only due teurs to cultivate the study of those to nature and simplicity. It is plain delightful melodies of which Scotland that the performer of a Scotch melody may so proudly boast. Enough has ought to place himself, as much as been said to show that our music is possible, in the situation of the origi. not harsh or crabbed, rude or caprici. nal composer, so as best to give etrict ous: but regular, according to laws of to the true intention of the composis high origin, and animated by a spirit of tion ; and, at least, not to thwart any true feeling and poetry. Without deof its principles. For this purpose it preciating the Italian school, we would is necessary that something should be say, that its tendency, at least in its understood of the ancient tonalities, more modern shape, is to refine away within the limits of which the melody the language of melody till it loses its must be confined. Not that we would strength and freedom, and becomes exclude all ornament from such airs, soft and voluptuous. The reign of but only those graces are admissible very chromatic music cannot be lastwhich an enlightened taste may sug. ing or extensive. The broad and grand gest, and which lie within the range effects produced by the greatest come posers are calculated to be more ge. affords a better scope for musical tanerally delightful and impressive, as lent than this field. A genuine Scottish they excite feelings in themselves more melody, performed with all the recom. noble, animating, and powerful than mendations of regulated intonation, any that can be touched by the lan- simple embellishment, lucid articulaguishing refinements of minute divi. tion, and appropriate feeling, is calcusions. Those great effects, it is ob- lated, not only to please ordinary ears, vious, are referable to a musical sys. but to give more delight to the most tem which, in many respects, has scientific than they could derive from an affinity to the laws of Scottish any composition of a more ambitious melody. But it is needless, for our style attempted by the same performer. argument, to assimilate these various It is only those, indeed, who are in the styles to each other. There is room debateable land between simplicity and enough for them all in every com. science that will seem indifferent to its prehensive and vigorous heart. In attractions, and affect to scoff at what music, as in every thing else, a taste they are afraid to admire. We do not which is not catholic in its objects, know if we are heretical in saying cannot be pure or high. Let Scottish that one obstacle to the cultivation melody occupy only its rightful share of Scottish vocal melody arises from of attention, and nothing further needs the inferior and unsuitable character be asked. But surely its claims are the of the poetry with which many of our more strongly recommended by the airs are united. In spite of what consideration, first, that it is the music Burns has done, and he, too, has been of our native land which, for ages past, often unsuccessful, there are many exhas been the language of all who have quisite airs which have no words that gone before us, whether high or low, can be sung to them without impro. who could give utterance in song to the priety or absurdity. Much may yet emotions of joy, or pity, or affection; be done in this department by a fine and next, that in this school success is genius and taste, combined with a most easily attainable by our native thorough understanding of the cha. vocalists. Not that in our opinion it racter of our music, and of the anis an easy matter to sing Scottish cient form of our dialect, to which it music. On the contrary, it is a task may be best adapted. But even as it both hard and honourable to achieve. is, we have many beautiful melodies, The attainment of true simplicity of with words sufficient to give a directaste is itself arduous, and requires tion to the music without disturbing diligent study. But we think that its effect; and some of our lyrics, if this difficulty be overcome, and united to the very finest of our airs, it lies, in truth, at the threshold of all possess a beauty and simplicity alto. musical education, it is more likely gether unrivalled. The tinest judgthat a pupil with a voice of ordinary ment may here be shown by a percompass and flexibility will be able to former in the choice of the songs to sing a Scottish melody well, than any be sung, while the successful execuItalian composition equally well that tion of our best music is at once at. is at all worth hearing. It is, of course, tainable, by moderate abilities, so as necessary that the airs to be perform to convey considerable pleasure, and ed shall be carefully chosen ; and for is, at the same time, a fit occasion for this purpose we must draw out of that displaying some of the highest quali. well of undefiled simplicity which can ties of musical style, the very same, alone give nourishment or delight to we think, that are needed to do justice the affections. But if the best airs are to the tender simplicity of some of the selected, we know of nothing which noblest works of Handel and Mozart.

« PreviousContinue »