Traditional Hopi Songs - online book

Native American Songs With Sheet Music, Notation & Commentary

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THE PHONOGRAPHIC METHOD                         53
Like the records of Zuni music, these which follow are the result of an attempt to judge the tones delivered by the phonograph by means of the sense for difference of pitch alone, without aid from the sense of interval. My aim has been to make a separate estimate of the pitch of each individual note of each performance, through its comparison with one or more of the series of tones at intervals of a tempered semitone, or 100 cents, given in the notes of an ordinary harmonium. This comparison was made, as before, by silencing the phonograph the moment the note to be judged had been reached, and immediately thereafter sounding a harmonium note. During the work of writing down the Zuni melodies, this comparison always had one or other of two results: either there was one harmonium note which at once impressed me as the nearest, or what struck me was the divergence of the note of the song from any harmonium note, even the one which finally appeared nearer than others. The lines and spaces of the common musical staff used with one accidental afforded in all cases a sign for the nearest harmonium semitone, a stroke being written above this when the heard note was markedly sharper, and below it when markedly flatter.
The present notations were begun with much more confidence in the phonograph, and after much more practice in the delicate comparisons of pitch involved in their method. Neverthless, the voice of the singer of the snake chants being somewhat harsh and obscure, and the phono­graph not having yet shown its great constancy through long periods, it did not occur to me in the first eight songs of the collection to attempt anything more than the dichotomy of the comparisons made also in writing the Zuni melodies. But in beginning Coyohim-katcina, which was sung in a bold and clear voice, I decided to attempt another distinction, by dividing the notes noticeably nearest to some one har­monium semitone into those immediately recognizable as different there­from and those which might be identified therewith. Later I found myself in practice dividing the latter class into those in satisfactory and those in unsatisfactory unison with semitones of the harmonium. The symbolism used in expressing these distinctions was a modification
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