Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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470                                  CHANGES IN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC.
and the music of the most inartificial description. The treble part contained the whole of the melody, the base and interior part being mere accompaniment, with­out variety, and inferior in counterpoint. France had then produced fewer good musicians than any country in Europe; and when, about 1660, Lully (a Floren­tine by birth, but brought up in France from ten years of age) was placed at the head of a band of violins, created for him by Louis XIV., and called Les petits Violons, to distinguish them from the twenty-four, " not half the musicians in France were able to play at sight." Even the famous band of twenty-four were incompetent, says La Borde, to play anything they had not specially studied and gotten by heart. They were, therefore, in this respect, inferior to English gentlemen in their own art. Nor did Lully effect any great reform in this respect, for when the Regent, Duke of Orleans, wished to hear Corelli's Sonatas, which were newly brought from Rome, no three persons in Paris could be found to play them. He was obliged to have them sung by three voices. This is related by Michael Corette (a strong partizan of French music), in the Preface to his Metkode d' Accompagnement, and quoted from him by M. Choron. Corette was organist of the Jesuits' College in Paris in 1738. Louis XIV. died in 1715. ..
I conjecture the reason of Charles the Second's preference for French music to have been, in a great measure, because, as dance-music, it was not so generally composed upon old scales as were the "Fancies," which were then the principal chamber-music of England. Some of those scales sound very harshly to un-r initiated ears. There was also a rhythm in dance-music, which would bear the King's test of beating time, and it was the only style admired at the French Court, the gaieties and laxities of which, during exile, had formed so agree­able a contrast to the austere presbyterianism of his Scottish subjects, as to have inspired him with a predilection for everything French.
To those who are curious to know what fancies, or fantasies, were, I recommend the perusal of the Fantasies of three parts [for viols] composed by Orlando Gibbons, printed in the early part of the reign of James I. Having been re­printed by the Musical Antiquarian Society, they are more accessible than any other. To those who are satisfied with the judgment of another, I submit the. following analysis by one who is thoroughly versed in the music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Mr. G. A. Macfarren :—
" The fantasies of Orlando Gibbons are most admirable specimens of pure part-writing in the strict contrapuntal style ; the announcement of the several points, and the successive answers and close elaboration of these, the freedom of the melody of each part, and the independence of each other, are the manifest result of great scho­lastic acquirement, and consequent technical facility. Their form, like that of the madrigals and other vocal compositions of the period, consists of the successive intro­duction of several points or subjects, each of which is fully developed before the entry of that which succeeds it. The earlier fantasies in the set are more closely and ex­tensively elaborated, and written in stricter accordance with the Gregorian modes, than those towards the close of the collection, which, from their comparatively rhythmical character, and greater freedom of modulation, may even be supposed to have been aimed at popular effect. They would, it is true, be little congenial to modern ears,

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III