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CHARACTERISTICS OF ENGLISH NATIONAL AIRS,
AND SUMMARY.
There are two principal causes which affect the national music of countries,—the Rrst, the character of the musical instruments in common use, and the second, the spirit of the songs of the people. The first is most easily discernible where the em­ployment of one instrument has predominated greatly over others,—as in Spain, the guitar, and in Switzerland, the mountain-horn. The Spaniards have scarcely an air of sustained notes, and Swiss airs are nearly all composed of the open sounds of the horn.
In England, we had three instruments in general use from very early times,—the harp, the fiddle (with its variety, the crowd), and the pipe, both with and without the hag.
The impress of the harp is left upon many of our airs in a bold stateliness of cha­racter, such as is found, from the same cause, in Welsh music. No one can hear a tune like Mall Sims, p. 178, without being at once reminded of the harp. If this cha­racter is not equally traceable in Irish music, it is in all probability because the Irish continued to use the small harp, strung with wire, and played upon by the nails,' when it had fallen into disuse in England and Wales. The wire strings would vibrate longer than the gut, but their chords would lack force and decision. The prevalence of the fiddle in England is shewn in the large proportion of smooth and flowing airs, and in many spirited dances, like Roger de Coverley * The pipe and bagpipe are represented in numerous hornpipes, jigs, rounds, and North-country frisks. There
■ Camden, in 1566, and Stanihurst, in 1584, both say tiiat Irish harps were strung with wire, and the latter (an Irishman who had been educated in England), that wire strings were not then used elsewhere. The sense of a long passage about harpers and viol-players, in Stanihurst's 2>e Rebus in Hibtrnia gestis (4to., Antverpiee, 1584, p. 38), was misunderstood by Walker, who, in his His­torical Memoirs of the Irish Bards (4to., 1/86, p. 145), translates "lyra" harp, instead of viol, Cithara is the T-ord use by Stanihurst for harps of both kinds, wire aid gut. Lyra was the conventional Latin for Instru­ments played upon with a bow, from the ninth century. See the drawing of a "lyra" in Gerbert's De Cantu, vol. ii., tab. 32. In a note upon " crowde, instrument of niusyke," in the Promplorium Parvulorum, Albert Way quotes Vocab. Roy. MS. 17, c. xvii., "a crowde, corns, lira." The English name of lyra viol for a large instru­ment of the viol kind, also shews the application of the word. Galilei, who was Stanihurst's contemporary, says, " La viola da braccio, detta da non molti anni indietro lira, a<l imitatione dell' antica quanto al nome." I notice Walker's mistake because it is not the only passage in which his translations are affected (see, for instance,
p. 133), and he has already been copied by Edward Jones, in his Welsh Bards, i. 98; by Bunting, in his Ancient Music of Ireland, fol., p. 19; and by others. As the testimony of an adverse witness is always the best that can be produced, I recommend to the notice of writers on Irish music a passage of twenty lines in The Image of Irelande, &c, made and devised by John Derricke in 1578, Ito,, London, 1581, which I have not seen quoted. It is accompanied hy the following marginal comments:—" A Barde and a Rimer is all one"—" The Barde hyhis rimes hath as great force among woodkarne to persuade, as the elloquent oration of a learned oratour emongest the civill people"—"The policie of the Barde to encense the rebelles to doe mischefe hy repeating their forfathers* acts." These three points are the themes of his song. Whilst on the subject of the harp, I may remark another mistake in Bunting's Ancient Music. In the last line of the note at p. 14, he says that Venantius Fortunatus "gives the harp to the Germans," instead of to the "barbarians," and in the text writes-of the " Teutonic harp," which is not there mentioned.                   s
»> By an oversight, the first four bars of Roger de Coverley are printed, at p. 535, an oetave too high.







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