Curiosities of Music - online book

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eunuch, very whimsically dressed, played his antic tricks like a scaramouch, or buffoon in a Harlequin entertainment."
"The dialogue in this part, differed entirely from the querulous and nearly monotonous recitation of the Chinese, being light and comic, and occasionally interrupted by cheerful airs, which generally concluded with a chorus. These aire rude and unpolished as they were, appeared to be regular compositions, and were sung in exactly measured time. One in particular attracted our attention, whose slow, melancholy movement breathed the kind of plaintiveness so peculiar to the native airs of the Scotch, to which indeed it bore a close resemblance." [We have before spoken of this resemblance, which proceeds from both scales, Chinese and Scotch, being pentatonic, or five toned.] "The voices of the women are shrill and warbling, but some of their cadences were not without melody. The instruments at each pause gave a few short flourishes, till the music gradually increased in loudness by the swelling and deafen­ing gong. Knowing nothing of the language we were of course as ignorant of the subject as the majority of an English audience is at an Italian opera." Thus speaks Barrow of his first impress­ions of a Chinese theatre, but he probably fell into two errors; the women, whom he mentions were in all likelihood, eunuchs; and the theatre itself, being public, was of inferior style to those private establishments which are the pride of the rich mandarin class.

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