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manner ill adapted to all the passions. If every one of four voices is expressing a different sentiment and a different musical passage at the same time, the hearer cannot possibly attend to, and be affected with them all. This is a stile of composition in which a person, without the least taste or genius, may arrive at great perfection, by the mere force of study : But without a very great Thare of these to give spirit and meaning to the leading airs or subjects, such compositions will always be dry and unaffecting. Belides the objections that lie against all complex music conlidered as to its composition, there are others arising from the great difficulty of its execution. It is not eafy to preserve a number of instruments playing together in tune. Stringed instruments are faling, while wind instruments naturally rise in their tone during the performance. But it is not sufficient that all the performers play in the most exact tune and time. They must all underliand the stile and design of the composition, and be able to make the refponses in the fugue with proper fpirit. Every one must know how to carry on the subject with the proper exprcílion when it is his turn to lead ; and when he falls into an auxiliary part, he must know how to conduct his accompanyment in such a manner as to give an additional force to the leading subject. But musical taste and judgment are most remarkably displayed in the proper accompanying of vocal music, especially with the thorough bass. If this is not conducted with the stricicf attention to heighten the intended expression of the fong, it destroys it altogether, as frequently happens from the throwing in the full chords, when a single nore should only have been struck, or when perhaps the accompanyment should have cealed altogether.
? These are difficulties few performers have an idea of, and fewer are able to conquer. Most performers think they do all that is incumbent on them, if they play in tune and in time, and vanity often leads them to make their voice or instrument to be heard above the rest, without troubling their heads about the composer's defign.
It bas been much the fashion for some years past, to regard air entirely in musical compositions; and the learned works of harmony have fallen into neglect, being considered as cold and fpiritlers. This change has been introduced by composers who unfortunately happened to be great performers themselves. These people had no opportunities in the old compositions of Chewing the dexterity of their execution; the wild and extrava-, gant Aighes, which they indulged in order to display this, being absolutely destructive of the harmony. They introduced therefore folo's of their own composition, or concerto's, which from the thinness and meagreness of the parts, cannot be considered in any other light than solos.- It is not easy to characterise the
tile of most of these pieces. In truth they have no character or meaning at all. The authors of them are little concerned what subject they choose, their single view being to excite the surprise and admiration of their hearers. This they do by the most unnatural and wild excursions, that have not the remotest tendency to charm the ear or affect the heart. In many passages they are grating to the ear when performed by the best hands, but in others they are perfectly intolerable.
"A new stile' of composition has lately been cultivated in Italy, and greatly promoted in Britain, particularly by one per· son of rank. The present falhion is to admire this, and to despise
Corelli as wanting spirit and variety. The truth is, Corelli's excellence consists in the chastity of his compofition, in the richness and sweetness of his harmonies; the other pleases by its fpirit and a wild luxuriancy, which makes an agreeable variety in a concert, but poilelles too little of the elegance and pathetic expression of music, to remain long the public taste.
i Though mulc, considered in its useful application, to delight the ear and touch the passions of the bulk of mankind, requires the utmost simplicity, yet confidered as an art capable of giving a lasting and varied enjoyment to the few, who from a stronger natural taste devote part of their time and a tention to its cultivation, it both admits, and requires variety, and even some degree of complication. Not only the ear becomes more delicate by cultivation, but the musical taste.
. When the ear becomes acquainted with a varie:y of melodies, it begins by degrees to relish others, besides those which are national. A national melody may have expressions for only a few affections. A cultivated and enlarged talte easily adopts a greater variety of expressions for these and other affections, and learns from the deepest recesses of harmony, to express some, unknown to every national music.
• When one practises music much, the simplicity of melody tires the ear. When he begins to hear an air he was formerly acquainted with, he immediately recollects the whole, and this. anticipation prevents his enjoying it. He requires therefore the assistance of harmony, which, without hurting the melody, gives a variety to the music, and sometimes renders the melody more exprefsive. Practice enables one to trace the subject of a complex concerto, as it is carried through the several parts, which to a common ear is an unmeaning jumble of sounds. Distinct from the pleasure which the ear receives here from the music, there is another which arises from the perception of the contrivance and ingenuity of the composer. The enjoyment, it must be owned, is not of that heart-felt kind which simple mufic can only give, but of a more sober and sedate kind, which proves more lasting: and it must be considered that whatever touches the heart or the passions very sensibly, must be applied with a very judicious and very sparing hand. The sweetest and fullest chords must be seldom repeated, otherwise the certain effect is satiety and disgust. They who are best acquainted with the human heart, need not be told that this observation is not confined to music.
• On the whole we may observe, that musical genius consists in the invention of melody suited to produce a desired effect on the mind. Musical taste consists in conducting the melody with spirit and elegance, in such a manner as to produce this fingle effect in its full force.
* Judgment in music is thewn by adapting such harmonious accompanyments to the melody as niay give it a variety without destroying its simplicity ; in the preparation and resolution of discords, and the artful transitions froin one key to another. -Taste in a performer consists in a knowledge of the composer's design, and expressing it in af spirited and pathetic manner, without any view of Thewing the dexterity of his own execution. But though all these circumstances of composition and performance should concur in a piece of music, yet it must always fail in affecting the passions, unless its meaning and direction be ascertained by adapting it to sentiment and pathetic composition. It cxerts its greatest powers when used as an as. sistant to poetry: hence the great superiority of vocal to inItrumental music: the human voice is capable of more justness, and a more delicate musical expression, than any instrument whatever; the perfection of an instrument depending on its nearest approach to it. - Vocal music is much confined by the language it is performed in. The harmony and sweetness of the Greek and Italian languages gives them great advantages over the English and French, which are haríh, unmusical, and full of consonants; and this among other inconveniences occasions perpetual sacrifices of the quantity to the modulation. This is one great cause of the Nightness and want of variety of the French music, which they in vain endeavour to cover and fupply by laboured and complex accompanyments.-As vocal mulic is ihe first and most natural music of every country, it is reasonable to expect some analogy between it and the poetry of the country, to which it is always adapted. - The great fuperiority of the Scotch fongs to the English may in a great measure be accounted for from this principle. The Scotch fongs are fimple and tender, full of strokes of nature and passion : So is their music.-Most of the Englikh songs abound in quaint and childish conceirs.' They all aim at wit, and sometimes attain it; but mufic has no expreffion for wit, and the music of their songs is therefore flat and infipid, and so little esteemed by the English themselves, that it is in a perpetual fluctuation, and
has never had any characteristic stile. On the other hand, England has produced many admirable composers of church music. Their great attachment to counterpoint has often led them into a wrong track; in other respects, they have shewn both genius and taste. Religion indeed opens the amplest field for musical, as well as poetical genius, it produces almost all the variety of subjects, which music can express, the sublime, the joyous, the chearful, the serene, the devout, the plaintive, the sorrowful. It likewise warms the heart with that enthusiasm fo peculiarly necessary in all works of genius. Accordingly the finest compositions in music we have, are in the church stile. Handel far advanced in life, when his constitution and spirits feemed nearly exhausted, was so roured by this subject, that he · exhibiqd proofs of extent and fublimity of genius in his Messiah, superior to any he had shewed in his most vigorous and happy period of life. We have another instance of the same kind in Marcello, a noble Venetian, who set the first fifty psalms to music. In this work he has united the fimplicity and pathos of the ancient music with the grace and variety of the modern. In compliance with the taste of the times he was sometimes forced to leave chat simplicity of stile which he loved and admired, but by doing so he has enriched the art with a variety of the most expressive and unusual harmonies. The great object in vocal music is to make the music expressive of the sentiment. How little this is usually regarded appears by the practice of singing all the parts of a long to the fame music, though the sentiments and passions to be expressed be ever so different. If the music has any character at all, this is a manifest violation of taste and common sense, as it is obvious every different sentiment and paffion should be expressed in a stile peculiarly suited to itself. But the most common blunder in composers, who aim at expression, is their mistaking imitation for it.--'
Our Author's design in what he has advanced on this subject is to shew, that the principles of taste in music, like thofe of the other fine arts, have their foundation in nature and common sense ; that these principles have been grossly violated by those unworthy hands to whose direction alone this delightful art is entrusted ; and that men of sense and genius should not imagine, they want an ear or a musical taste, because they do not relish much of the modern music, as in many cases this is rather a proof of the goodness both of the one and the other.
Having made some observations on the real objects produced by a cultivated taste in some of the fine arts, he proceeds to consider its influence on the pleasure arising from such works of genius as are in a particular manner addressed to the imagination and the heart. After this he goes on to consider that principlc of human nature which seems in a particular manner the cha
racteristic of the species, viz. the sense of religion. And here he does not enquire into the evidence of religion, as founded in truth; he only examines it as a principle founded in human nature, and the influence it has, or may have, on the happiness er mankind.----His observations on this subject appear to be very periinent and instructive; and it is with difficulty we can resist the temptation to enrich our collection with fome of them: but we have already extended the article to a length proportionate to so small a volume, though, perhaps, not to the importance of the matter which it contains. With regard to the language of this performance, though it comes from a northern pen, we perceive in it few Scotticisins ; presently poffeft,' p. 4, for pofS led at present, being the most material defect of this kind that hath occurred to our notice.
Dialogues of the Dead' * The Fourth Edition, corrected. To
which are added, Four new Dialogues. 8vo. 5s. Sandby.
T E have had occasion, in our account of former Dia
V logues t, to take notice of the difficulty of excelling in the colloquial way of writing, which, for reasons there fpecified, has been so little cultivated in our language ; and we expressed our doubt whether the method of dialogue is well adapted to such subjects as require deep investigation, and a connective chain of realoning.
The addicional dialogues now before us do not remove our doubts in this respect but rather tend to convince us that this mode of composition is not suited to the discussion of grave and weighty points of argument; for, the frequent interruptions necessary to keep up ihe spirit of dialogue, too often withdraw, our thoughis, and do not produce conviction so readily, in minds endued with a habit of attention, as a more close and connecied method of writing. In short, the way of colloquy scems better calculated to ridicule error, than to illustrate truth.
With respect to the four additional dialogues under present consideration, they are in no degree inferior to those which precede them. The first contains many just and entertaining ref.ections. Cælar being hard pressed by Scipio, who concludes from Cæsar's own relation, that the aim of all his actions was. tyranny, makes the following answer:
• Let us not deceive ourselves with sounds and namese That great minds should aspire to fovereign power is a fixed law of
* The author, Lord LYTTELTON.