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?6
FRANKLIN-SQUARE
SONG COLLECTION.
A SUFFICIENTLY accurate definition of music for our purpose is that it is " an agreeable succession of pleasing and harmonious sounds." Three essential elements <mter into its composition—rhythm or accent, power, and tone; or measure, quantity, and quality. The first two seem t^ satisfy the untutored savage, whose tom­tom and Indian drum possess no other musical quality than a harsh sonorousness, whose monotony is only va­ried by the stronger or feebler beat given by the perform­er. As we rise in the scale of being from New Zealander to the man of culture and refinement, a Beethoven becomes not only a possibility, but a necessity; it is no greater stride from the barbaric death chant to the Seventh Symphony than from the infant stumbling
over the alphabet to a Demosthenes or a Shakespeare The influence of music in past ages and among by-gone peoples it is difficult now to estimate; but it has gone hand in hand with intellectual and aesthetic culture, and has ever been reckoned a divine art, an acknowl­edged force in moulding character and governing men. Radan relates a curious Hindoo legend celebrating the power of music: Men and animals move in harmony with the musician's wand, while all inanimate nature obeys the influence of music composed by the god Mahedo and his wife Parlutea. In the reign of Akbar a famous singer sang a " raga," consecrated to the night, in open day. Immediately the sun was eclipsed, and darkness spread as far as the voice was heard. There
ONCE AGAIN, O BLESSED TIME.
Wm. Bright. Arthur Sullivan.
was another raga which burned him who dared to sing it. Akbar, desiring to make trial of it, ordered a mu­sician to sing this song while plunged up to the neck in the sacred river of Jumna. In vain : the unfortunate dinger became a prey to the flames. If these ancient legends convey nootherlessonjthey indicate a profound and wide-spread conviction of the power of music. Leaving an atmosphere that savors of fable, it is a matter of record that Alexander the Great was roused to fury by the Phrygian and calmed by the Lydian melodies of Timotheus. It is also related that an in­surrection in Sparta was quelled by Terpander, who sang skillfully to the accompaniment of his harp. Our amusing Radan questions the wisdom, however, of
arming the police of to-day with flutes and guitars as means of preserving the peace. We know what mir­acles of daring have been wrought by the proscribed volcanic " Marseillaise." Nor was the French general far wrong when he reported : " I have won the victory. The ' Marseillaise' commanded with me." Who shall say that Arndt's song, " What is the German Father­land?" had not as much to do with the unification of his country as Bismarck's blood and iron? In our own land, in this day and generations Roman Catholic priest, who had been asked to explain the reason of the rapid and extraordinary spread of his religion, an­swered, with more frankness than reverence for dogma, "It is the blessing of God on good music."—Gray.







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