Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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CHARACTER OF TUNES OFTEN DERIVED FROM INSTRUMENTS.              21
Ant his feren deuyse With ons other seruise ; Horn-Child, thou vnderstond Tech him of harpe and of song.'"
And devise for his fellows With us other service; Horn-Child, thou understand Teach him of harp and of song."
In another part of the poem he is introduced playing on his harp.
Horn sette him abenche, Is harpe he gan clenche He made Rymenildalay Ant hue seide weylaway, &c*
Horn seated himself on a bench, His harp he began to clench; He made Rymenild a lay And he said wellaway ! &c.
In searching into the early history of the music of any country, the first subject of inquiry should be the nature and character, as •well as the peculiarities x>f scale, of the musical instruments they possessed. If the musical instruments in general use had an imperfect scale, the national music would generally, if not universally, have retained the peculiarities of that scale. Hence the characteristics of Scottish music, and of some of the tunes of the North of England, which re­semble it. In the following collection many can be pointed out as bagpipe tunes, such as " Who liveth so merry in all this land, as doth the poor widow that selleth the sand," and " By the border's side as I did pass," both of which seem to require the accompaniment of the drone, while others, like "•Mall (or Moll) Sims," strictly retain the character of harp music. "Where, however, the harp was in general use, the scale would be more perfect than if some other instru­ments were employed, and hence the melodies would exhibit fewer peculiarities, unless, indeed, the harp was tuned to some-particular scale, which, judging by the passage above quoted from Bede, does not seem to have been the case in England.
About 1250 we have the song, Sumer is icumen in, the earliest secidar com­position, in parts, known to exist in any country. Sir John Hawkins supposed that it could not be earlier than the fifteenth century, because John of Dunstable, to twhom the invention of figurative music has been attributed, died in 1455. But •Dr. Burney remarks that Dunstable could not have been the inventor of that art, concerning which several treatises were written before John was born, and shows that mistake to have originated in a passage from Proportionales Musices, by John Tinctor, a native of Flanders, and the " most ancient composer and theorist of that country, whose name is upon record." It is as follows : " Of which new art, as I may call it (counterpoint), the fountain and source is said to have been among the English, of whom Dunstable was the chief." b "Caput," literally meaning " head," had been understood in its secondary sense of " originator or beginner."
Dr. Burney's opinion with respect to the age of this canon seems to have been very unsettled (if indeed he can be said to have formed one at all). He first presents it as a specimen of the harmony in our country, " about the fourteenth
* Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i., p. 38, 8vo., 1840.
b " Cujus, ut ita dicam, nova; artis (Contrapunctis), foils et origo aputl Anglos, quorum caput Dunstaple extitit,
fuisse perhibetur." From Proportionate Musices, dedi­cated to Ferdinand, king of Sicily, Jerusalem, and Hungary (who reigned from 1458 to 1494), by John Tinctor, Chaplain and Maestro di Capella to that Prince.