Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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212                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
the Buffetz) are numerous and much encouraged by the people, probably on account of their infir­mity. Women and girls form the bulk of the secular players and singers. Most of these have been brought up to this from childhood, and (as with the ancient Greeks,) the possession of a musical and literary education often goes hand in hand with considerable laxity of morals.
The practice of music is, therefore, not held in any great esteem among men, as the few males who devote themselves to it are chiefly itinerants. The secular songs are often plaintive in character, but at times also quite stirring and fiery.
In Japan, as in some other Eastern countries, it is not unusual to find persons among the upper classes, who, while disdaining to study the art themselves, yet are very fond of listening to the performances of hired musicians. The taste seems to run entirely m the direction of melody, and not at all towards harmony; although they have a knowledge of a rude kind of harmony, consisting of melodies played upon two or more instruments tuned a fifth apart, thus forming an endless succession of consecutive fifths. This harmony, or a plain melody played in unison, they prefer to the finest (or, in fact, any) European music. Our readers will recollect the answer made by the Chinese manaarin to Pere Amiot, relative to his opinion on the respective worth of Chinese and European music. A similar reply was given by a Japanese nobleman to Dr. M tiller, when asked to give an opinion on our music,—






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