Curiosities of Music - online book

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90                      CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
about 250 B. c. They did not appear extensively in Rome however, until nearly 300 years later. This organ has given rise to much fruitless dis­cussion. In the field of musical history especially, "a little knowledge" has proved "a dangerous thing," for where slight descriptions exist of instruments or music, latitude is left for every writer to form his own theory, to fight for it, and denunciate those who differ from it.
We have seen what a battle was fought over the three little manuscripts of Greek music, what a host of differing opinions were held about the Scriptural word " Selah," and now about this hydraulic organ, each writer mounts his hobby horse, and careers over the field of conjecture. Vitruvius, has given a full description of the instrument from personal inspection, but as his technical terms have lost all significance to modern readers, and have been translated in various ways, and as his work contained no dia­grams, or illustrations of the various parts, it is useless.
Some writers* imagine the organ to have had seven or eight stops, that is, so many different kinds of tones, which would place them nearly on a par with our own. Otherst think that they pos­sessed seven or eight keys, that is so many tones only. It has been a point of dispute as to what function the water performed in working it. Vitruvius is rather hazy on this point, saying only that it ia
•Ohappell, in his History of Music, is the most lucid of then. tSe« FetU' Ilist. Gen. de la Musique

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