MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

The History And Development Of Musical Instruments From The Earliest Times.

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4
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
Besides these various kinds of sound-producing means employed in musical performances, a few others less widely diffused could be pointed out, which are of a construction not represented in any of our well-known European specimens. For instance, some nations have peculiar instruments of friction, which can hardly be classed with our instruments of percussion. Again, there are con­trivances in which a number of strings are caused to vibrate by a current of air, much as is the case with the Aeolian harp; which might with equal propriety be considered either as stringed instru­ments or as wind instruments. In short, our usual classification of all the various species into three distinct divisions, viz. Stringed Instruments, Wind Instruments, and Instruments of Percussion, is not tenable if we extend our researches over the whole globe.
The collection at South Kensington contains several foreign instruments which cannot fail to prove interesting to the musician. Recent investigations have more and more elicited the fact that the music of every nation exhibits some distinctive characteristics which may afford valuable hints to a composer or penormer. A familiarity with the popular songs of different countries is advisable on account of the remarkable originality of the airs : these mostly spring from the heart. Hence the natural and true expression, the delightful health and vigour by which they are generally distin­guished. Our more artificial compositions are, on the other hand, not unfrequently deficient in these charms, because they often emanate from the fingers or the pen rather than from the heart. Howbeit, the predominance of expressive melody and effective rhythm over harmonious combinations, so usual in the popular compositions of various nations, would alone suffice to recommend them to the careful attention of our modern musicians. The same may be said with regard to the surprising variety in construction and in manner of expression prevailing in the popular songs and dance-tunes of different countries. Indeed, every nation's musical effusions exhibit a character peculiarly their own, with which the musician would find it advantageous to familiarize himself.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III