Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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

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skeletons only of the tunes are taken—the mere chords, grounds, or bases upon which the tunes were formed. This was for the purpose of making division more easy, and in such cases it is often impossible to extract the melody with any certainty. It becomes necessary to read through the entire composition, and perhaps even then, the tune may not be obtained as it was usually sung. For that reason, I have always preferred fiddle copies (where they were to be had), if the words and tunes were not to be found in union.
The old musicians used to think of their harmonies while they were making their tunes, as all real musicians do now. Common fiddlers and pipers perhaps thought more of their bases than of their tunes, trusting to their facility in making division or variation for the latter.
The second class of national airs may be called the amateur music ; for, like most of the amateurs of the present day, the authors made tunes only, and trusted to others to find out fitting harmonies.
Among these are the " wild and irregular melodies," with which so many musicians have been puzzled. Great musical knowledge is often required to harmonize! them; hut, when properly fitted, Bomo will repay, by their excellence, all the trouble that they may have occasioned. Others are quite unsusceptible of good harmony. I should say that if, after having been placed in the hands of a thorough musician—one who knows the character of the tunes, as well as all the resources of harmony—if these tunes still resist all attempts at making good bases for them, it is because they are thoroughly worthless, and ought to be thrown aside. The great test of whether a tune is good or bad is, will it admit of a good base ?
And now to conclude. The reader has found in the preceding pages most ample proofs of the love the English bore to music. They not only loved it themselves, but believed that even animals took equal pleasure in it. " As sheepe loveth pyping," says a writer of the fourteenth century, " therefore shepherdes usyth pipes whan they walk wyth their sheepe." " I am verily persuaded," says Dr. John Case, " that the ploughman and carter do not so much please themselves with their whistling, as they
are delighful to their oxen and horses.....Every troublesome and laborious
occupation nseth musick for a solace and recreation, and hence it is that wayfaring men solace themselves with songs, and ease the wearisomness of their journey; considering that musicke, as a pleasant companion, is unto them insteed of a waggon on the way. And hence it is that manual labourers, and mechanical artificers of all sorts keepe such a chaunting and singing in their shoppes—the tailor on his bulk— the shoemaker at his last—the mason at his wall—the ship-boy at his oar—the tinker at his pan—and the tiler on the house-top." With such a description of England as the above, and the multitude of passages of similar purport already quoted, the reader will not doubt the justice of the title given to our land—Merrie England.

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