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60                                          HOPI SONGS
tern of signs been devised for this larger purpose, but for the registra­tion in the one case of certain special articulate elements, and in the other of certain musical forms.
The present modification of the common notation reduces this limit of error for individual notes from a quarter to the twenty-eighth part of a tone. In this symbolism the record of any interval of a sequence may then always be true to its original to within the fourteenth of a tone. This limiting error is about the interval of difference between the tempered thirds of our pianos and harmoniums and the pure inter­vals as they can be given on wind and stringed instruments. It might be, therefore, that characteristics of musical performance as delicate as the choice of pure in preference to tempered intervals should have their reflection in records of the present form.
The attempt to follow the musical practice of non-European peoples with such minuteness must justify itself, either on the ground that accuracy of observation is a thing worthy to be aimed at for its own sake, or on the ground that in this branch of research such a degree of it has veritable value for purposes of theory. On the first point it may be remarked that if exact obser­vation be itself part of science and not alone prerequisite thereto, intrin­sic value is no more to be denied it in studies of melody than in reports of the changing configuration of an embryo or a sunspot. On the other hand, while the seeing little points, the making delicate distinctions, is indeed a differentia of excellent from inferior work in any department, these are little points with great bearings, distinctions important though delicate, else fineness would be littleness of mind, Scharfe Spitzfindig-keit. We must not simply be on the watch, Spitzen zufinden, but to discover hitherto overlooked edges of cleavage; to be sure these will in general be inconspicuous, else they would not have been neglected. In regard to non-European music, there are questions both interesting and reasonable, which are demonstrably unanswerable unless by the aid of more delicate observations than the common notation is adequate to record. Such observation has therefore theoretical warrant. One such
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III