MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

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

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.                      57
become obsolete, was nearly akin to the Welsh. Indeed, names of musical instruments derived from the Moors in Spain occur in almost every European language.
Not a few fanciful stories are traditionally preserved among the Arabs testifying to the wonderful effects they ascribed to the power of their instrumental performances. One example will suffice. Al-Farabi had acquired his proficiency in Spain, in one of the schools at Cordova which flourished as early as towards the end of the ninth century : and his reputation became so great that ultimately it extended to Asia. The mighty caliph of Bagdad himself desired to hear the celebrated musician, and sent messen­gers to Spain with instructions to offer rich presents to him and to convey him to the court. But Al-Farabi feared that if he went he should be retained in Asia, and should never again see the home to which he felt deeply attached. At last he resolved to disguise himself, and ventured to undertake the journey which promised him a rich harvest. Dressed in a mean costume, he made his appearance at the court just at the time when the caliph was being entertained with his daily concert. Al-Farabi, un­known to everyone, was permitted to exhibit his skill on the lute. Scarcely had he commenced his performance in a certain musical mode when he set all his audience laughing aloud, notwithstand­ing the efforts of the courtiers to suppress so unbecoming an exhibition of mirth in the royal presence. In truth, even the caliph himself was compelled to burst out into a fit of laughter. Presently the performer changed to another mode, and the effect was that immediately all his hearers began to sigh, and soon tears of sadness replaced the previous tears of mirth. Again he played in another mode, which excited his audience to such a rage that they would have fought each other if he, seeing the danger, had not directly gone over to an appeasing mode. After this wonder­ful exhibition of his skill Al-Farabi concluded in a mode which had the effect of making his listeners fall into a profound sleep, during which he took his departure.
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