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between the Chinese music and the former. Some Chinese airs (given by Irwin and Barrow*) show this resemblance startlin^lv. Although the Chinese understand the division of the chromatic scale perfectly well, yet they never use it; five tones are all they ordinarily employ; these are
omitting even the semitone of our diatonic scale. Some of their most eminent theorists have main­tained that the notes pienkoung (si) and pienche (mi) are as useless to music as a sixth finger would be to the hand.
It will be observed that the semitone progression is not used in China, and though known, is universally proscribed and avoided; it is this which occasions the peculiarities of Chinese music. On this subject we cannot refrain from re-quoting an article on Chinese music, which appealed in the " China Mail," a Hong-Kong newspaper, in 1845.t
" One possessed of a musical ear, and at all conversant with the musical art, cannot fail, on his arrival in this country, to be struck with the peculiarities of what is esteemed music here-He notices at once, that the characteristics o* western melody, are almost wholly wanting. Nearly every note seems out of place, and there is neither beginning, middle nor end, to the airs he listens to. Instead of a theme which is developed and embellished by the whole perfor­mance, he hears a hurry-skurry of no*;es, appar-
* Copied by Ambros, in Gesch d mu». t. 1, p. 84-6 t Quoted by Fetis, Uist. Gen. de la Mus. t. 1, p. 62

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