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JANUARY, 1820.

ÁRT. I. A General History of Music, from the earliest times to the present, comprising the Lives of Eminent Composers and Musical Writers. The whole accompanied with Notes and Observations, Critical and Illustrative. By THOMAS BUSBY, MUS. Doc. Author of a Musical Dictionary, Musical Grammar, Translation of Lucretius, &c. &c. In Two Volumes. 8vo. Pp. 1075. Whittakers. London.

WE did not peruse the histories of music by Dr. Burney and Sir John Hawkins without wishing, that the learning and science of the first, and the more popular but not less satisfactory intelligence of the second, had been compressed into a somewhat smaller compass than that of four and five thick quarto volumes; but we knew it too seldom happened that musical knowledge and literary qualifications meet in the same individual, to expect that a new history of the science, or even a judicious abbreviation of either of these works would speedily appear. As early, we believe, as 1802, we were pleased at seeing in Dr. Busby's Dictionary his announcement of a publication upon the scale and plan of the present; and, knowing, that both among professors and amateurs, the want of such a work has been long felt, we cannot dissemble our gratification at the redemption of his pledge. How he has executed the task imposed on himself, it is our intention now to determine, by a full and candid analysis, illustrated by appropriate quotations.

A history of music, like a history of poetry, or of painting, is partially a history of taste and genius; and the estimation made of those attributes, as exhibited in particular individuals, will be extremely apt to depend on the tone and temper of him

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by whom they are considered and described. Against this source of injustice or prejudiced judgment, Dr. Busby, notwithstanding the haste with which his work has confessedly been produced, appears to have been anxious to guard himself. Indeed, it is evident from his own preface, that he was well aware of the difficulties which he had to encounter throughout, and still more peculiarly as to what may be generally conceived the most interesting part of his work, that which relates to the comparative estimates of the individuals of whom he has occasion to treat. "Every admitted master," says he, "could not be a diamond of the first lustre ; but, in a work, from its compass, needfully choice in its subjects, it would be expected that each should contribute to the general lustre of the casket ;" and, it must be allowed, that from the numerous minor authors, to select those most worthy of appearing in company with examples of superior knowledge and genius; to reject and to adopt, by the rules of taste and science; " in one instance, to resist the influence of an over-estimated name; to subdue in another the prejudice existing against obsolete excellence; to decide by the desert, not the reputation of an author;" also to give connection and order to prominent incidents, and judiciously omit whatever would rather surcharge than adorn a concise though comprehensive course of narrative, required not only a spirit of perseverance, but some little ability. Now, that to effect these objects, a great degree of patience was no less necessary than a cultivated judgment, and more than a common degree of talent, we readily confess; but we do not perceive how the avowal of the unremitted exercise of such qualification consists with Dr. Busby's assertion in the penultimate paragraph of his preface, that the work was produced in haste, written throughout currente calamo, and the matter sent to press as fast as it was committed to paper! To indulge in direct contradiction, neither suits critical candour nor becomes our ideas of politeness; but, while we protest against the propriety of obtruding upon the public an uncorrected work, as well as against the policy of confessing the little time devoted to its production, we can scarcely refrain from suspecting, that the history under review is something more than a hasty publication; and that, not contented with the praise which might be due to its intrinsic merit, the unreasonable appetite of the author craved the additional honour of having produced it in a space of time inversely as the magnitude of the excellence exhibited. "They who think too well of their own performances," says Dryden, with pointed good sense," are apt to boast in their prefaces how little time their works have cost them, and what other business of more importance interfered: But the reader will

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be apt to ask the question, Why they allowed not a longer time to make their works more perfect? And why they had so despicable an opinion of their judges, as to thrust their indigested stuff upon them, as if they deserved no better?" But topics of more importance than the space of time occupied in the production of this work, demand our attention.

We have often wondered, that since it is far from being satisfactorily determined, whether even the ancient Greeks possessed the knowledge of counter-point, or the art of harmoniously combining various melodies, several writers, not awed by that unsubdued difficulty, have had the temerity to rush into still more remote times, in search of the origin of music. Wisely avoiding this error, Dr. Busby restricts his curiosity to that attainable intelligence which is sufficient for every useful or advantageous purpose. We entirely agree with him, that the musical historian, who, because he will be original, proposes to pass the limits of present knowledge," finds himself upon the margin of a boundless ocean, where he has for his guide, neither compass, chart, nor polar star;" that "venturing on the wild waste of conjecture, he cannot hope that fortune will throw into his way a new continent or unvisited island;" that," he is on a voyage of discovery in the regions of imagination, where visionary shores may delude and delight; but that he is out of the very tract of truth and reality." Without referring, then, to Apollo, as the inventor of the monaulos or flute; or to the Trismegistus, or thrice-illustrious Egyptian Mercury, as the projector of the first lyric instrument; waving too the accounts submitted to our credulity by the confidence of Apollodorus, Apuleius, Athenaeus, or Plutarch,-we may rationally conclude, that the flute, in its primitive simplicity of construction, was but a slight improvement upon the reedy tube of the field; and that whoever suggested the first idea of the figure and effect of a lyre, derived that idea, most probably, from the accidental vibrations of a distended string. That vocal music, (if music any series of sounds can be called, which is destitute of a graduated scale, or stated and settled intervals,) preceded instrumental, cannot rationally be doubted, since the power of vocal utterance is natural to man, and his ear could not but be instructed by the trillings of every grove: but a wild and rude succession of sounds, however it might please the totally untutored sense, could not be sentimentally felt, nor, till regulated and reduced to some settled rule, could the irrational notes of the voice be intelligible, or become the vehicle of any assignable sensation. But to give regularity and fixity to the vocal intervals, the mechanical aid of instruments was indispensible; and these instruments, for the reasons already advanced, we may pretty safely conclude, consisted of the reed, and the string, the flute, and the lyre.

The formation of these instruments, once accomplished, then, supposes the adoption of certain sounds, however few or inconsiderable, and indicates a system; but the melody deduced from those sounds must have been vague and evanescent, till the art of notation was established. Now, as it does not appear that musical characters were

employed till their introduction by the ingenuity of the ancient Greeks, it follows, that a considerable period elapsed between the invention of musical instruments and the attainment of permanent melody. So dependent, again, would be the extent of this notation upon that of the scale of the instruments, that we may safely say its enlargement could only keep pace with the augmentation of their compass, that is, the signs of appreciable sounds would be the collective indices of the number of strings contained in the lyre, or the quantity of reeds compressed together in the syrinx. From a frame distending three strings, the lyre of Mercury gradually improved, till Terpander furnished it with a seventh, and modelled its scale into two conjunct tetrachords or fourths; from which state it continued to advance till the time of Philolaus, when the genius of Pythagoras not only regulated and gave a new order to the octave, but investigated the ratios of the consonances, and demonstrated the various relations of sounds. His discoveries laid a basis for the genera soon afterwards established, and now music could boast of three distinct scales; the diatonic, the chromatic, and the enharmonic; the advantage of which was farther enhanced by the accession of different modes corresponding with our modern variety of keys.

These, and other elementary particulars, we find connected by and clearly stated in the present history; and after their elucidation, we are agreeably led forward to the developement of the ancient MELOPŒIA, and its mutations and rhythm or measure. On the subject of the latter of these adjuncts to melody, or musical recitation, Dr. Busby is luminous and emphatic.

"So strict was the ancient union between poetry and music, that a violation of the rhythm was an unpardonable offence. Rhythm, either in vocal or instrumental music, is indispensable; but, if possible, less to be spared in the vocal. Consequently, with the Greeks, almost the whole of whose music was but a musical recital of poetry, rhythm was the first object of attention. Their verses, all composed of long and short syllables, depended for their just and emphatic delivery, wholly upon this branch of the melopaia, which includes both accent and quantity. The ancient rule was, to give the short syllable half the time of the long; by consequence, the sound applied to the latter was equal in duration to two such sounds as were sung to the short syllables. It must be remembered, that the verses thus sung consisted of a certain number of feet, formed by these long and short syllables differently combined: and that the rhythm of the melody was regulated by these feet; as, whatever was their length, they were always divided into two parts, equal or unequal, the first of which was called arsis, elevation, and the second thesis, depression In like manner, the rhythm of the melody corresponded with these feet, was divided into two parts, equal or unequal, corresponding with our ascending and descending parts of a bar, expressed by raising and sinking the hand er foot."


This," says Dr. Busby," was the rhythm of the ancient vocal music. We will now consider that of the instrumental. In this, since the notes were constantly written over the syllables of the verses that were to be sung, while the quantity of each syllable was perfectly understood by musicians, and the duration of each sound regulated by the syllables, it did not seem necessary that the time should be marked by any particular sign or character. However, for the ease and convenience of the performer, a canon or rule was given of the rhythm at the beginning of a lyric poem. This canon consisted of nothing but the numbers 1 and 2; that is, the alpha and beta of the Greek alphabet, disposed according to the order of the breves and longs which composed and divided each verse according to the numbers of the feet. The alpha, or unit, marked a breve, because it contained only one portion of time; and the beta, or bi

nary, marked a long, being equal to two portions. Rhythm, in Latin, was called numerus; and this term in process of time was extended to the melody itself, subjected to certain numbers of rhythms, as appears from this line of Virgil."

Numeros memini si verba tenerem." Vol. i. pp. 26-28.

These remarks of a musician, a scholar, and a man of talent, are perfectly correct, and would seem to exalt the ancient melopeia to the regularity and cadence, if not the beauty and force of modern air; but, after all that can be said in its favour, after even the marvellous tales to which its powers, whatever they really were, have given birth, we are prepared to join our historian in the conclusion, that the Greek recitative or chanting, was, in every species of excellence, vastly inferior to our florid cong. What, we would ask, are the characteristics of the music of the three hymns accompanying the Greek edition of the astronomical Poems of Aratus, published at Oxford in 1672, compared with the freedom, variety, and expression of modern melody, which, limited in its range and motion only by the sentiment, accent, and cadence of the poetry it adorns and illustrates, offers the amplest scope for the imagination of the composer, and opens new and endless resources for the gratification of taste? Our instrumental composition, be it remarked too, is a science in itself! Inspired by the genius of a Haydn, a Mozart, or a Beethoven, it speaks-speaks to the heart and the passions, and can excite the tenderest or the noblest interest.

To the consideration of the disputed counterpoint of the ancients, our author devotes an entire chapter; and very fairly, as we think, comes to the conclusion, that the science of harmony, properly so termed, is of modern invention. We say very fairly, because no observations, no authorities on either side of the question are omitted, that could throw light upon the subject; nor are any inferences made that are not fully supported by the texts from which they are drawn. Dr. Busby thinks, and we adopt his opinion, that it has been rather unfortunate for those whose curiosity seeks satisfaction upon a question so important to the musical world, and indeed to every class of the ingenious and inquisitive, that, for the most part, its discussion has been prosecuted by writers not qualified for the inquiry, by that acquaintance with the science necessary to the arriving at a just decision. "Some of these writers," says he, "have failed to distinguish between simultaneous concordance, and the connexion of successive impressions, as they have confounded the accident of tone with the permanency of gravity and acuteness, and the term key, as implying an independent sound, and as the representative of the foundation of a scale to each degree of which it bears a certain relation, and the intervals of which it prescribes and governs." Therefore, disregarding the arguments of those who, whatever might be their other pretensions, were ignorant of the prin ciples of music, and consequently little qualified to solve the problem, the Doctor on one side weighs the reasoning of Gaffurio, Zarlino, Gio. Battista Doni, Isaac Vossius, Zaccharia Tevo, the Abbé Fraquièr, and Stillingfleet; on the other, examines the opinions of Glareanus, Salinas, Bottrigari, Artusi, Cerone, Kepler, Mersennus,

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