Curiosities of Music - online book

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JO                    CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
chcrus were. In the earliest days, the whole chorus simply sang refrains after the solo of some cultivated singer; gradually whole composi­tions were entrusted to their charge. Pantomimic action probably always existed in connection with their songs, as with almost all ancient singing. Stesichorus first gave them different historical or mythological subjects to act, in a dramatic man­ner. At a later epoch the chorus entered in a peculiar manner into the action of the drama. They stood upon the stage as interested spectators of the various events; they advised the Protago­nist or only individual character* as to his course of action, and when some startling incident, a murder for example, had taken place, they would strongly express their feelings, horror, dismay or fear, and thereby intensify the effect upon the audience.
An imitation of the Greek chorus may be found in Schiller's "Bride of Messina."
Stesichorus was deservedly honored as the founder of Greek chorus music, and a statue was erected to his memory. Among those next follow­ing his era we find Ibycus, a poet-musician attached to the court of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos. This mighty sea king and despot had a considerable liking for music; for we learn also that he kept a choir of beautiful boys, whose duty it was to sing sweet Lydian melodies during his •meals. About 580-70 b. c. Alcseus and Sappho
•Later there were more characters added, but at first, the whole action consisted of dialogues between a solitary actor and the chorus.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III