Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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632
ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
Before 1690, engraving may be said to have- been employed only for instru­mental music. There were a few exceptions, such as Dr. Child's Psalms for three voices, printed in 1639, and reprinted by Playford in 1650, from the same plates ; but types were greatly preferred for vocal music, on account of the greater distinctness of the words. After 1690, the town began to teem with single songs, printed on one side of the paper, from engraved plates. Every one who had any knowledge of music, however slight, seemed ready to rush into print, and many wrote song3 and published them to old tunes,—a class that old John Playford would have deemed unworthy of his press.
Among the encomiastic verses prefixed to Dr. Blow's Amphion Anglkus, in 1700, are the following allusions to these publications:—
" The mightiest of them cry, ' Let's please the town' (If that be done, they value not the gown);" And then, to let you see 'tis good and taking, 'Tis soon in ballad howl'd, ere mob are waking. O happy men, who thus their fames can raise, And lose not e'en one inch of Kent Street praise ! But yet the greatest scandal's still behind,— A baser dunce among the crew we find; A wretch bewitched to see his name in print, Will own a song, and not one line his in't! • I mean of the foundation—sad's the case, He treble writes, no matter who the bass; Just like some over-crafty architect, Would first the garret, then the house erect. Such trash, we know, has pester'd long the town, But thou appear, and they as soon are gone."
Although Dr. Blow did appear, these would-be composers did not expire quite so soon as the writer expected. Perhaps there remain some a little like them even at the present day.
Another of Dr. Blow's encomiasts says,—
" Long have we been with balladry oppress'd; Good sense lampoon'd, and harmony burlesqu'd : Music of many parts hath now no force, Whole reams of Single Songs become our curse, With bases wondrous lewd, and trebles worse. But still the luscious lore goes gliby down, And still the double entendre takes the town. They print the names of those who set and wrote 'em, With Lords at top and blockheads at the bottom: While at the shops we daily dangling view False concords by Tom Cross engraven true."
The following are specimens of the popular music of this period.







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