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Author had treated it at more length, as he seems well qualified for prosecuting such enquiries with success.
In the four remaining discourses, he considers the uses that mankind make of those advantages which they possess above the rest of the animal creation, and which are principally derived from reason, the social principle, taste, and religion. He then proceeds to consider the effects which a superior understanding has in promoting the happiness of the individual, and to point out some of the inconveniencies that attend it. The bulk of mankind, he observes, look upon a person of diftinguished genius with that awe and distant regard that is inconsistent with confidence and friendship. They never unbosom themselves to one they are afraid of, nor lay open their weaknesses to one they think has none of his own. For this reason we commonly find men of genius have the greatest real affection and friendship for such as are very much their inferiors in point of understanding; goodnatured, unobserving people, with whom they can indulge all their peculiarities and weaknesses without reserve. Men of great abilities therefore, our Author says, who prefer the sweets of social life and private friendlhip to the vanity of being admired, muft carefully conceal their superiority, and bring themselves down to the level of those they converse with. Neither must this seem to be the effect of a designed condescension ; for this is still more mortifying to human pride than the other.
In regard to the social principle, he observes, that it does not appear to have any natural connexion with the understanding ; that persons of the best understanding possess it frequently in a very inferior degree to the rest of mankind; and that the idle, the diffipated, and the debauched, draw moft pleasure from it. Not only their pleasures but their vices are often of the social kind. This makes the social principle warm and vigorous, and hence perhaps there is more friendship among them than among men of any other class, though considering the flightness of its foundation, such friendship cannot be supposed to be very lasting. Even drinking, our Author observes, is found favourable to friendship, especially in northern climates, where the affections are naturally cold; as it produces an artificial warmth of temper, opens and enlarges the heart, and dispels the reserve natural perhaps to wise men, but inconfiftent with friendship, which is entirely a connexion of the heart.
The advantages derived to mankind from taste, by which, says our Author, is meant the improvement of the powers of the ima gination, are confined, he observes, to a very small number. The fervile condition of the bulk of mankind requires constant labour for their daily subsistence. This of neceffity deprives them of the means of improving the powers either of imagination or of reason, except in fo far as their particular employments make
such an improvement necessary. Yet there is great reason to think men of this class the happiest, at least such of them aga are raised above want. If they do not enjoy the pleasures arising from the proper culture of the higher powers of their nature, they are free from the misery confequent upon the abuse of these powers. They are likewise in full possession of one great source of human happiness, which is good health and good spirits." Their spirits never languish for want of exercise, and therefore the tædium vite, the insupportable listlessness arising from the want of an object, something to wish, or something to fear, is unknown among them.
Our Author goes on to observe, that the only powers of the mind, that have been much cultivated in this Inand, are those of the understanding. One unhappy consequence of this, he says, has been to diffolve the natural union between philosophy and He fine arts: an union extremely necessary to their improvement, The in Auence of music over the mind, he observes, is perhaps greater than that of any of the fine arts; and yet the effects produced by it are inconsiderable. This, we are told, is entirely owing to its being in the hands of practical Musicians, and not under the direction of taste and philosophy; for in order to give mufic any extensive influence over the mind, the composer and performer must be well acquainted with the human heart, the various associations of the passions, and the natural transitions: from one to another, so as to enable him to command them in consequence of his skill in musical expreffion. • As our ingenious Author treats this fubject with more precifion than any other which hath fallen under his confideration, we need make no apology for inserting part of what he has advanced on this head.
• Music, says he is the science of sounds, in so far as they affect the mind.-Nature independent of custom has connected certain sounds or tones with certain feelings of the mind.Measure or proportion in sounds has likewise its foundation in nature. Thus certain tones are naturally adapted to folemn, plaintive, and mournful subjects, and the movement is slow; others are expressive of the joyous and elevating, and the movement is quick.- Sounds likewise affect the mind, as they are loud or soft, rough or smooth, distinct from the consideration of their gravity or acuteness. Thus in the Æolian harp the tones are pleasant and foothing, though they do not vary in acuteness, but only in loudness. The effect of the common drum in roufing and elevating the mind is very strong; yet it has no variety of notes; though the effect indeed here depends on the proportion and measure of the notes.
Melody consists in the agreeable succession of single founds. -The melody that pleases in one country does not equally
pleafe in another, though there are certain general principles which universally regulate it, the scale of music being the same in all countries.—Harmony consists in the agreeable effect of sounds differing in acuteness produced together; the general principles of it are likewise fixed.
One end of music is to communicate pleasure, but the far nobler and more important is to command the passions and move the heart. In the first view it is an innocent amusement, well fitted to give an agreeable relaxation to the mind from the fatigue of study or business.- In the other it is one of the most useful arts in life. The effect of eloquence depends in a great measure on it. We take music here in the large and proper sense of the word, the art of variously affe&ting the inind by the power of founds. In this sense, all mankind are more or less judges of it, without regard to exactness of ear.-Every man feels the difference between a sweet melodious voice, and a harsh dissonant one.
• As the proper application of the voice to the purposes of eloquence has been little attended to, it has been thought an art unattainable by any rules, and depending entirely on natural taste and genius. In some measure it certainly is so, yet it is much more reducible to rules, and more capable of being taught, than is commonly imagined. Indeed before philosophy ascertains and methodizes the ideas and principles on which an art depends, it is no wonder it be difficult of acquisition. The very language in which it is to be communicated is to be formed, and it is a considerable time before this language comes to be under. stood and adopted.—We have a remarkable instance of this in the subject of musical expression, or performing a piece of music with taste and propriety. People were sensible, that the same music performed by different artists had very different effects. Yet they all played the same notes, played equally well in tune and in time. But still there was an unknown somewhat that gave it meaning and expression from one hand, while from another it was lifeless and insipid.--. People were satisfied in resolving this into performing with or without taste, which was thought the entire gift of nature.-Geminiani, who was both a composer and performer of the highest class, first thought of reducing the art of playing on the violin with taste to rules, for which purpose he was obliged to make a great addition to the musical language and characters. The scheme was executed with great ingenuity, yet it has scarcely been attended to by any. practical musicians except Mr. Avison.
Music, like eloquence, must propose, as its end, a certain effect to be produced on the hearers. If it produces this effect, it is good music; if it fails, it is bad. -No music can be pronounced good of bad in isfelf; it can only be relatively so.
Every country has a melody peculiar to itself, expressive of the feveral pamions. A composer must have a particular regard to this, if he proposes to affect them.-Thus in Scotland there is a species of music perfectly well fitted to inspire that joyous mirth suited to dancing, and a plaintive music peculiarly expreffive of that tenderness and pleasing melancholy attendant on distress in love; both original in their kind, and different from every other in Europe. - It is of no consequence whence this music derives its origin whether it be simple or complex, according to the rules of regular composition, or against them; whilst it produces its intended effect in a superior degree to any other, it is the preferable music; and while a person feels this effect, it is a reflection on his taste and common sense, if not on his candor, to despise it.
They who apply much of their time to music, acquire new tastes, besides their national one, and in the infinite variety which melody and harmony are capable of, discover new sources of pleasure formerly unknown to them. But the finest natural taste never adopts a new one, till the ear has been long accustomed to it, and after all feldom enters into it with that warmth and feeling, which those do, to whom it is national. 1. The general admiration pretended to be given to foreign music in Britain, is a despicable piece of affectation. In Italy we see the natives transported at the opera with all that variety of delight and passion which the composer intended to produce.
The same opera in England is seen with the most remarkable listlessness and inattention. It can raise no pasfion in the audience, because they do not understand the language in which it is written.-To them it has as little meaning as a piece of inftrumental music. The ear may be transiently pleased with the air of a song, but that is the most trilling effect of music.Among the very few who understand the language and epter with pleasure and taste into the Italian music, the conduct of the dramatic part appears so ridiculous, that they can feel nothing of that transport of passion, the united effect of mufic and poetry, which may be gradually raised by the artful texture and unfolding of a dramatic ftory*.--Yet vanity prevails so much over the very sense of pleasure, that the Italian opera is in England more frequented by people of rank, than any other public diverfion; and they, to avoid the imputation of want of taste, condemn themselves to some hours painful a tendance on it every week, and to talk of it in raptures which their hearts never felt. · Simplicity in melody is very neceffaty in all music intended to reach the heart, or even greatly to delign:: he ear.---The
effect here must be produced instantaneously, or not at all. The subject must therefore be simple and easily traced, and not a single note or grace should be admitted, but what has a view to the propofed end. If fimplicity of melody be so necessary where the view is to move the passions, fimplicity of harmony must be still more necessary. Some of the most delicate touches of pathetic music will not allow any accompanyment. ..The ancient music certainly produced much greater and more general effects than the modern, though the accounts of it be supposed greatly exaggerated. Yet the science of music was in a very low state among the ancients. They were strangers to harmony, all the voices and instruments being unisons in concert: and the instruments they made use of, appear to have been much inferior in respect of compass, expression, and variety, to those which we are poffesfed of. Yet these very deficiencies might render their music more expressive and powerful. The only view of composers was to touch the heart and the passions. Proper melody was sufficient for this purpose, which might easily be comprehended and felt by the whole people. There were not two different species of music among them, as with us, one for the learned in the science, and another for the vulgar.
The introduction of harmony opened a new world in music. It .promised to give that variety which melody alone could never afford, and likewise to give melody an additional charm and energy. Unfortunately the first composers were so immerst in the study of harmony, which foon appeared to be a science of great extent and intricacy, that these principal ends of it were forgot. They valued themselves on the laboured construction of parts which were multiplied in a surprising manner. In fact, this art of counterpoint and complicated harmony was in a very few years brought to the highest degree of perfection, after its introduction by Palæstine, who lived in the time of Leo X.But this species of music could only be understood by the few who had made it their particular study. To every one else ic appeared a confused jargon of sounds without design or meaning. To the very few who understood it there appeared an evident deficiency in air or melody, especially when the parts were made to run in strict fugues or canons, with which air is in a great measure incompatible.-Besides the real deficiency of air in these compositions, is required the attention to be constantly exerted to trace the subject of the music, as it was alternately carried on through the several parts; an attention inconsistent with what deligh:s the ear, much more with what touches the para fions; where that is intended, the mind must be disengaged, must see no contrivance, admire no execution ; but be open and passive to the impression. • The artifice of fugues in vocal music, feems in a peculiar Rey. Nov. 1765.