MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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MUSICAL MEMORY.                                                  3
5.   Musical memory is that particular power by which we retain and can recall at pleasure, a series of musical sounds when presented to us elther singly as in a melody, or in combination as in a progression of harmonies. As was stated in the previous chapter, the degree to which this power is possessed by any individual, depends upon the sensibility of the ear, First, with regard to the susceptibility of the ear to general sound-sensations, the excitement so caused producing a concentration of mental and nervous force; and Secondly, with regard to its special power of discriminating the differences of musical pitch, so that it may readily perceive the difference between various melodies or various harmonies that are presented to it. Considering the marked differences which individuals display in their power of general retentiveness, it is not surprising to find such differences more marked when we come to consider their special memories, and the memory for musical sounds exhibited by different individuals forms no exception to this rule.
6.  Employment of Musical Memory by the Listener.—The extent to which the large majority of people employ this power, and the vital part it plays in making the enjoyment of music possible, is perhaps not always fully appreciated. Unlike Painting and Architecture, which reveal their beauties instantaneously if one has sufficient visual power to perceive them, Music unfolds itself over a space of time, and in its simplest form—a short melody—the various notes are understood only in relation to what has gone before and to what follows. Thus, a fundamental condition of our enjoying music in any degree is the possession of the power of retaining musical sounds, though not necessarily in a high order. The necessity for the exercise of this power is, however, more obvious if we consider the structure or design of a piece of music. The design of a building is exposed to our view in a state of completeness, and if we possess an eye for proportion, a general idea of satisfaction, or the reverse, may be gainedi nstantaneously. With music the case is quite different. The design or form of a piece of music is only intelligible to us if we can retain in our mind some idea of the various portions as they are presented to us, and can compare them with regard to tonality, rhythm, material, and relative importance with what has preceded, and later, with what follows. This is equally true of the simplest satisfactory form one can conceive, such as :—
1st Theme | Contrasted Theme | 1st Theme repeated. || 1 as of the most elaborate movement by Beethoven. All music demands
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