Traditional Hopi Songs - online book

Native American Songs With Sheet Music, Notation & Commentary

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28                                           HOPI SONGS
made at least in the most important respects and for the most important purposes indistinguishable among themselves and from their original.
In testing this assumption, the main question to settle is that of the degree of accuracy with which the phonograph repeats a sequence of intervals. For accuracy in the reproduction of intervals means that the instrument gives back air waves in time rela­tions which are closely like those incorporated in the vibrations consti­tuting the original performance, and this involves a due reproduction also of the larger time structure of the music. These two formal ele-ments, relations of pitch and relations of time, are the fundamental ones in a musical product; the material element, the quality of the sounds, being of subordinate importance. Music is an art of interval and measure primarily, and one of timbre secondarily. As at present constructed, the phonograph is noticeably deficient in the reproduction of delicate shades of timbre; and this shortcoming may easily lead to an underestimate of its possible value as an aid in musical investigation. Purity and variety of tone quality being important sources of pleasure from music, the phonograph may seem at first hearing to reproduce structures of tone with essential elements lacking; or it may be that we argue from this conspicuous imperfection of material to a corre­sponding distortion of form.
What little acquaintance I had with the phonograph before learning of Dr. Fewkes's collection of records sufficed to make their study seem to me well worth while. These records had, it is true, been taken on a phonograph run by a treadle, but the experiments detailed in the " Zuiii Melodies " went to show that such records when reproduced by the electric motor and storage battery would only very seldom be notice­ably at fault. For the latter motor used both in record and reproduc­tion, the experiments indicated that the error would never be as great as the eighth of a tone. Later, in studying by the phonograph the Chinese performances before mentioned, I made another effort to deter­mine by ear the amount of the distortion to which a sequence of inter­vals might be expected to be subjected by the phonograph used with a
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