Materials for Dancing, specifies masques, castanets, and a ladder of ten rounds. I apprehend the ladder-dance originated from the ancient pastime of walking or dancing upon very high stilts. A specimen of such an exhibition is here given from a MS. roll in the Royal Library, written and illuminated in the reign of Henry III. The actor is exercising a double function, that is, of a musician, and of a dancer.
Here we perceive a girl dancing upon the shoulders of the joculator, who at the same time is playing upon the bagpipes, and appears to be in the action of walking forwards.
Here, we find a young man dancing singly to the music of two flutes and a lyre; and the action attempted to be expressed by the artist is rather that of ease and elegancy of motion, than of leaping, or contorting of the body in a violent manner.
One part of the gleeman's profession, as early as the tenth century, was, teaching animals to dance, to tumble, and to put themselves into variety of attitudes, at the command of their masters.
This engraving is the copy of a curious though rude delineation, being little more than an outline, which exhibits a specimen of this pastime. The principal joculator appears in the front, holding a knotted switch in one hand, and a line attached to a bear in the other; the animal is lying down in obedience to his command; and behind them are two more figures, the one playing upon two flutes or flageolets, and elevating his left leg while he stands upon his right, supported by a staff that passes under his armpit; the other dancing, in an attitude exceedingly ludicrous. This performance takes place upon an eminence resembling a stage made with earth; and in the original a vast concourse are standing round it in a semicircle as spectators of the sport, but they are so exceedingly ill drawn, and withal so indistinct, that I did not think it worth the pains to copy them. The dancing, if I may so call it, of the flute player, is repeated twice in the same manuscript.
This engraving represents two persons dancing to the music of the horn and the trumpet, and it does not appear to be a common dance in which they are engaged; on the contrary, their attitudes are such as must have rendered it very difficult to perform
This representation of a girl turning over upon her hands, is from a MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
It is not by any means my intention to insinuate, from what has been said, that there were no dances performed by the Saxon gleemen and their assistants, but such as consisted of vaulting and tumbling: on the contrary, I trust it may be proved, that their dances were varied and accommodated to the taste of those for whom the performance was appropriated; being calculated, as occasion required, to excite the admiration and procure the applause of the wealthy or the vulgar.
The Hindus love amusements. They are fond of music and have many curious instruments. Dancing girls dance for the amusement of guests at feasts given in the homes of the wealthy. They usually take their own musicians with them; one of these plays upon a little drum, the other on a kind of guitar. Street exhibitions are frequent.
The most important thing in Tibet is religion. Their religion, which is called Lamaism, is a sort of Buddhism peculiar to Tibet. Tibet might be called a theocracy, or a land where a god rules. For the ruler of Tibet, called the Dalai-lama, is considered no common man, but a real god on earth. Many centuries ago, in India, there lived a man named Gautama or Sakyi-muni. He was wise and good, and the new religion which he taught was a great improvement upon the Brahmanism of India. On account of his wisdom and goodness, he was called Buddha, but he never claimed to be himself a god. Since his death, however, many millions of people in many lands have worshipped him as a god.
Egyptian Crotola or Castanets
Assyrian Harpist , beating time with his foot
The next natural step for the use of music would be that of victory and triumph. The first notice of this kind is the song of Miriam. And here we may rightly conjecture the introduction of an Egyptian, and therefore cultured element. " Miriam took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances " (Exod. xv. 2o).
The history of the Harp may be traced with much the same clearness. The twanging of the bow probably suggested the original idea; and the variation of sound was obtained by lengthening and shortening a multiplicity of strings. These were made, at first, of some fibrous material, or the long hair of animals. Perhaps even the tresses of wives and daughters were turned to such musical use, as we read in the Greek and Roman historians that the bows of the Carthaginians were thus supplied with strings in their last war with the Romans. Harps, too, like the bow, were portable, about four feet long; and all Oriental harps, so far as we can judge from surviving sculptures, unlike ours, had no front pillar. Their bow-like shape and characteristics long remained. Without entering at greater length on their further and later development, we can easily imagine how soon the need of pegs for tightening and loosening the strings was felt; how a sounding-board was found to add to the body of sound; how Strings of fibre or hair were supplanted by those of catgut, of steel, and even of silver. Whether the fingers or whether the quill and plectrum were the first manipulators of the strings, is a matter of debate. Certainly fingers were made long before either quills or plectra! Be it as it may, after these latter had been introduced, hammers wielded by the hand in due time followed. And thus we see how the "stringed instruments" of primaeval and ancient days became the parent of the dulcimer, the spinet, the harpsichord, and the piano.
".. put two such pipes into the mouth, and you get the double Egyptian and Assyrian pipe, such as may be still seen sculptured on their monuments. In the holes or apertures of some of these pipes, which have
been discovered in the tombs and other places, small straws have been found, plainly intended to act the part of reeds in our modern oboes and clarionets. "
The first and primaeval musical instruments must have been of the simplest kind.
A hollow reed, uttering, when blown with the mouth, one monotonous sound would be the first successful attempt at such an invention. The next step was to vary the sound by perforating it with holes, like to our " Penny Whistle."
That there was, in the time of Shakespeare, a musical instrument called recorder is undoubtedly known to most readers from the stage direction in Hamlet: Re-enter players with recorders. But not many are likely to have ever seen a recorder, as it has now become very scarce: we therefore give an illustration of this old instrument, which is copied from “The Genteel Companion; Being exact Directions for the Recorder: etc.” London, 1683.
The bagpipe is of high antiquity in Ireland, and is alluded to in Irish poetry and prose said to date from the tenth century. A pig gravely engaged in playing the bagpipe is represented in an illuminated Irish manuscript, of the year 1300: and we give a copy of a woodcut from “The Image of Ireland,” a book printed in London in 1581.
The player on the viola da gamba, shown in the engraving, is a reduced copy of an illustration in “The Division Violist,” London, 1659. It shows exactly how the frets were regulated, and how the bow was held. The most popular instruments played with a bow, at that time, were the treble-viol, the tenor-viol, and the bass-viol. It was usual for viol players to have “a chest of viols,” a case containing four or more viols, of different sizes. Thus, Thomas Mace in his directions for the use of the viol, “Musick’s Monument” 1676, remarks, “Your best provision, and most complete, will be a good chest of viols, six in number, viz., two basses, two tenors, and two trebles, all truly and proportionably suited.” The violist, to be properly furnished with his requirements, had therefore 119to supply himself with a larger stock of instruments than the violinist of the present day.
Copy of an illumination from a manuscript in the Bibliothèque royale at Paris of the eleventh century. The player wears a crown on his head; and in the original some musicians placed at his side are performing on the psalterium and other instruments. These last are figured with uncovered heads; whence M. de Coussemaker concludes that the crout was considered 95by the artist who drew the figures as the noblest instrument. It was probably identical with the rotta of the same century on the continent.
A very interesting representation of the Psalmist [King David] with a kind of rotta occurs in a manuscript of the tenth century, in the British museum (Vitellius F. XI.). The manuscript has been much injured by a fire in the year 1731, but Professor Westwood has succeeded, with great care, and with the aid of a magnifying glass, in making out the lines of the figure. As it has been ascertained that the psalter is written in the Irish semi-uncial character it is highly probable that the kind of rotta represents the Irish cionar cruit, which was played by twanging the strings and also by the application of a bow.
A representation of David playing on the rotta, from a psalter of the seventh century in the British museum (Cott. Vesp. A. I). According to tradition, this psalter is one of the manuscripts which were sent by pope Gregory to St. Augustine.
In the rotta the ancient Asiatic lyre is easily to be recognized.
One of the most interesting stringed instruments of the middle ages is the rotta (German, rotte; English, rote). It was sounded by twanging the strings, and also by the application of the bow. The first method was, of course, the elder one. There can hardly be a doubt that when the bow came into use it was applied to certain popular instruments which previously had been treated like the cithara or the psalterium.
Perhaps the addition [of the front pillar] was also non-existent in the earliest specimens appertaining to European nations; and a sculptured figure of a small harp constructed like the ancient eastern harp has been discovered in the old church of Ullard in the county of Kilkenny. Of this curious relic, which is said to date from a period anterior to the year 800, a fac-simile taken from Bunting’s “Ancient Music of Ireland” is given. As Bunting 90was the first who drew attention to this sculpture his account of it may interest the reader. “The drawing” he says “is taken from one of the ornamental compartments of a sculptured cross, at the old church of Ullard. From the style of the workmanship, as well as from the worn condition of the cross, it seems older than the similar monument at Monasterboice which is known to have been set up before the year 830.
The Anglo-saxons frequently accompanied their vocal effusions with a harp, more or less triangular in shape,—an instrument which may be considered rather as constituting the transition of the lyre into the harp. The representation of king David playing the harp is from an Anglo-saxon manuscript of the beginning of the eleventh century, in the British museum. The harp was especially popular in central and northern Europe, and was the favourite instrument of the German and Celtic bards and of the Scandinavian skalds.
The engraving, taken from a Persian painting at Teheran, represents an old Persian santir, the prototype of our dulcimer, mounted with wire strings and played upon with two slightly curved sticks.
An interesting representation of a Turkish woman playing the harp sketched from life by Melchior Lorich in the seventeenth century, probably exhibits an old Persian chang; for the Turks derived their music principally from Persia. Here we have an introduction into Europe of the oriental frame without a front pillar.
The vina is undoubtedly of high antiquity. It has seven wire strings, and movable frets which are generally fastened with wax. Two hollowed gourds, often tastefully ornamented, are affixed to it for the purpose of increasing the sonorousness. There are several kinds of the vina in different districts; but that represented in the illustration is regarded as the oldest. The performer shown is Jeewan Shah, a celebrated virtuoso on the vina, who lived about a hundred years ago. The Hindus divided their musical scale into several intervals smaller than our modern semitones. They adopted twenty-two intervals called sruti in the compass of an octave, which may therefore be compared to our chromatic intervals. As the frets of the vina are movable the performer can easily regulate them according to the scale, or mode, which he requires for his music.
To the Etruscans is also attributed by some the invention of the hydraulic organ. The Greeks possessed a somewhat similar contrivance which they called hydraulos, i.e. water-flute, and which probably was identical with the organum hydraulicum of the Romans. The instrument ought more properly to be regarded as a pneumatic organ, for the sound was produced by the current of air through the pipes; the water applied serving merely to give the necessary pressure to the bellows and to regulate their action. The pipes were probably caused to sound by means of stops, perhaps resembling those on our organ, which were drawn out or pushed in. The construction was evidently but a primitive contrivance, contained in a case which could be carried by one or two persons and which was placed on a table. The highest degree of perfection which the hydraulic organ obtained with the ancients is perhaps shown in a representation on a coin of the emperor Nero, in the British museum. Only ten pipes are given to it and there is no indication of any key board, which would probably have been shown had it existed. The man standing at the side and holding a laurel leaf in his hand is surmised to represent a victor in the exhibitions of the circus or the amphitheatre. The hydraulic organ probably was played on such occasions; and the medal containing an impression of it may have been bestowed upon the victor.
The flute, aulos, of which there were many varieties, was a highly popular instrument, and differed in construction from the flutes and pipes of the ancient Egyptians. Instead of being blown through a hole at the side near the top it was held like a flageolet, and a vibrating reed was inserted into the mouth-piece, so that it might be more properly described as a kind of oboe or clarionet. The Greeks were accustomed to designate by the name of aulos all wind instruments of the flute and oboe kind, some of which were constructed like the flageolet or like our antiquated flûte à bec.
The representation of Polyhymnia with a harp, depicted on a splendid Greek vase now in the Munich museum, may be noted as an exceptional instance. This valuable relic dates from the time of Alexander the great. The instrument resembles in construction as well as in shape the Assyrian harp, and has thirteen strings. Polyhymnia is touching them with both hands, using the right hand for the treble and the left for the bass. She is seated, holding the instrument in her lap. Even the little tuning-pegs, which in number are not in accordance with the strings, are placed on the sound-board at the upper part of the frame, exactly as on the Assyrian harp. If then we have here the Greek harp, it was more likely an importation from Asia than from Egypt. In short, as far as can be ascertained, the most complete of the Greek instruments appear to be of Asiatic origin.
A flute-concert is painted on one of the tombs in the pyramids of Gizeh and dates, according to Lepsius, from an age earlier than B.C. 2000. Eight musicians are performing on flutes. Three of them, one behind the other, are kneeling and holding their flutes in exactly the same manner. Facing these are three others, in a precisely similar position. A seventh is sitting on the ground to the left of the six, 13with his back turned towards them, but also in the act of blowing his flute, like the others. An eighth is standing at the right side of the group with his face turned towards them, holding his flute before him with both hands, as if he were going to put it to his mouth, or had just left off playing. He is clothed, while the others have only a narrow girdle round their loins. Perhaps he is the director of this singular band, or the solo performer who is waiting for the termination of the tutti before renewing his part of the performance. The division of the players into two sets, facing each other, suggests the possibility that the instruments were classed somewhat like the first and second violins, or the flauto primo and flauto secondo of our orchestras. The occasional employment of the interval of the third, or the fifth, as accompaniment to the melody, is not unusual even with nations less advanced in music than were the ancient Egyptians.
A Niam-niam minstrel
As the darkness came on. our camp was enlivened by the appearance of the grotesque figure of a singer, who came with a huge bunch of feathers in his hat, and these, as he wagged his head to the time of his music, became all entangled with the braids of his hair. Altogether the head was like the head of Medusa. These "minne-singers" among the Niam-niam as known as "nzangah." They are as sparing of their voices as a worn-out prima donna; except for those close by, it is impossible to hear what they are singing. Their instrument is the local guitar, the thin jingling of which accords perfectly well with the nasal humming of the minstrel's recitative.
The occupation of these nzangah, however, notwithstanding the general love of the people for music, would not appear to be held in very high esteem, as the same designation is applied to those unfortunate women, friendless and fallen, who are never absent from any community.
Young girl listens to her brother practising on his tuba, even though he is not very good.
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) left his home in Fusignano, near Bologna, a young violinist, for an extended concert tour. His gentle, sensitive disposition proving unfitted to cope with the jealousy of Lully, chief violinist in France, and with sundry annoyances in other lands, he returned to Italy and entered the service of Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome. In the private apartments of the prelate there gathered a choice company of music lovers every Monday afternoon to hear his latest compositions. Besides his solos these comprised groups of idealized dance tunes with harmony of mood for their bond of union, and played by two violins, a viola, violoncello and harpsichord. They were the parents of modern Chamber Music, the place of assemblage furnishing the name.
The Girl Whose Violin Spread Afar The Message of Music
The sweet strains of one of Mozart’s violin sonatas filled the room. One of the players was a bright-eyed little girl. The other, it was easy to guess from the proud and tender look that she gave her little companion, was the child’s mother. Both mother and daughter loved these hours together with their violins.
Music meant much to this mother. She enjoyed composing as well as playing. She was very happy to know that music gave pleasure to her little daughter also. The hope was in this mother’s heart that some day little Maud would be a great musician. It was a hope that was realized, for, in later years, Maud Powell became known as the foremost American violinist.
At the age of four Amy was finally allowed to play on the piano. Often when her aunt was seated at the instrument, little Amy would stand on a hassock and play with her, making up an accompaniment as she went along.
Just as other little girls plan how to arrange their playhouses or how to make new dresses for their dolls, this little girl used to think out tunes. Once, when she was visiting at a house where there was no piano, she composed a little piece of music. She remembered it and three months later was able to play it correctly on the piano at home. She had composed three other little pieces before she was seven years old.
On several occasions after this the organist came to the chapel on purpose to listen to Handel as the latter played, and he was so struck by the boy's genius that he determined to surprise the Duke by letting Handel play His Highness out of chapel. Accordingly, on the following Sunday, when the service was concluded, the organist lifted Handel on to the organ-stool, and desired him to play.
The Duke and his friends had risen to their feet as Handel began to play, but the Duke instantly detected a difference in the playing, and, glancing towards the organ-loft, he was astonished to behold the figure of a child bending over the keys. But as he listened his astonishment became greater, for it was no longer the child's figure that arrested his attention, but the melody which was pouring forth from the instrument. Instead of walking out of the chapel, the Duke remained standing where he had risen, with his gaze riveted upon the child player, and of course the members of the household likewise kept their places. At length, when Handel ceased to play, the Duke turned to those about him with the inquiry: 'Who is that child? Does anybody know his name?' As no one present seemed to know, the organist was sent for to explain matters. After a few words from this official the Duke commanded that Handel should be brought before him. When the boy appeared he patted him on the head, and praised his performance, telling him that he was sure that he would make a good musician.
One day, when Handel was seven years old, his father announced his intention of paying a visit to the castle of the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. Handel was most anxious to be allowed to accompany his father, because he had heard that the Duke kept a great company of musicians to perform in his chapel. But the father refused his consent, and the boy turned away with a look of fixed determination in his eyes. 'I will go, even if I have to run every inch of the way!'
Handel did not know then that forty miles lay between his home and the castle, but having formed his bold resolution he awaited the moment when his father set forth on his journey, and then, running behind the closed carriage, he did his best to keep pace with it. The roads were long and muddy, and although he panted on bravely for a long distance, the child's strength began at last to fail, and, fearing that he would be left behind, he called to the coachman to stop. At the sound of the boy's voice his father thrust his head out of the window, and was about to give vent to his anger at George's disobedience; but a glance at the poor little bedraggled figure in the road, with its pleading face, melted the surgeon's heart. They were at too great a distance from home to turn back, and so Handel was lifted into the carriage and carried to Weissenfels, where he arrived tired and footsore, but supremely happy at having won his point.
For some time this secret practising continued without arousing suspicion on the part of the other inmates of the house. One night, however, when the child had resorted to his favourite spot, he was suddenly missed by those below, and, as it was known that he had been sent to bed, some fears were felt as to what could have become of him. The servants were summoned, but could give no account of him; the father was fetched from his study, whither he had retired, and a search began. The alarm increased when it was ascertained that the child was in none of the living-rooms of the house, and it was decided that the garrets and lofts must be searched. Calling for a lantern, the surgeon ascended the stairs leading to the lumber-room; it was possible that the boy might have found his way thither on some childish expedition, and there fallen asleep. Great was the father's surprise, on reaching the top-most landing, to hear faint musical sounds proceeding from behind the closed door. Noiselessly retracing his steps, he summoned the rest of the household, and then, ascending the stairs in a body, they paused outside to listen. Sure enough the old garret was full of melodic sounds! Now near, now far off, they seemed to the listeners to be wafted from another world; there was something uncanny about it, and the maids gazed into each other's faces with a scared expression, as the master softly lifted the latch, and, having peeped into the room, beckoned silently to the rest to follow him.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The King next requested him to play a six-part fugue, and Bach extemporised one on a theme selected by himself. The King, who stood behind the composer's chair, clapped his hands with delight, and exclaimed repeatedly, 'Only one Bach! Only one Bach!' It was a visit replete with honours for the old master, and when he returned home he expressed his gratitude by writing down and elaborating the piece which he had composed on the King's theme, dedicating it to His Majesty under the title of 'Musikalisches Opfer' (Musical Offering), and sending it to Potsdam with a letter begging its acceptance.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Lüneburg possessed two schools, attached respectively to the Churches of St. Michael and St. John, and the rivalry between the two was so keen that when, as was the custom during the winter months, the scholars were sent out to sing in the streets in order to collect money for their support, the respective routes to be traversed had to be carefully marked out so as to prevent a collision.
Korean Lion represents a game that children in Japan are very fond of playing. They are probably trying to act as well as the maskers did whom they saw on New Year's Day, just as our children try and imitate things they see in a pantomime. The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
frequently the different members of the same band of minstrels present differences of costume, as in the instance here given, from the title-page of the fourteenth century MS. Add., 10,293; proving that the minstrels did not affect any uniformity of costume whatever.
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels; e.g., in the early fourteenth-century MS. Royal 2 B. vii., in a representation of the creation, with the morning stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy, an angelic choir are making melody on the trumpet, violin, cittern, shalm (or psaltery), and harp.
Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson’s “Beverlac”. When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St. Mary’s, Beverley, was built.
Besides the pipe and horn, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument. The picture is a shepherd playing upon one.
It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the time of Queen Mary, the shepherds still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings in their villages, so as to excite the jealousy of the professors of the joyous science.
The accompanying wood-cut, from a MS. in the French National library, may represent such a rustic merry-making.
The picture is of a royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., “taken from an illumination of the romance of the Compte d’Artois, in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris
Regals or Organ (Royal, 14 E iii).
Regals and Double Pipe (Royal 2 B vii).
The picture is a curious illumination from the Royal MS. 2 B vii., representing a friar and a nun themselves making minstrelsy.
In the illustration, of early fourteenth-century date, the scene of the dance is not indicated; the minstrels themselves appear to be joining in the saltitation which they inspire.
The picture is an exceedingly interesting representation of a grand imperial banquet, from one of the plates of Hans Burgmair, in the volume dedicated to the exploits of the Emperor Maximilian, contemporary with our Henry VIII. It represents the entrance of a masque, one of those strange entertainments, of which our ancestors, in the time of Henry and Elizabeth, were so fond. The band of minstrels who have been performing during the banquet, are seen in the left corner of the picture.
The custom of having instrumental music as an accompaniment of dinner is still retained by her Majesty and by some of the greater nobility, by military messes, and at great public dinners. But the musical accompaniment of a mediæval dinner was not confined to instrumental performances. We frequently find a harper introduced, who is doubtless reciting some romance or history, or singing chansons of a lighter character. He is often represented as sitting upon the floor.
The shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early fourteenth-century date.
There were also female minstrels throughout the Middle Ages; but, as might be anticipated from their irregular wandering life, they bore an indifferent reputation.
Cymbals and Trumpets
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels
In a MS. volume of romances of the early part of the fourteenth century in the British Museum, the title-page of the romance of the “Quête du St. Graal” is adorned with an illumination of a royal banquet; a squire on his knee (as in the illustration given on opposite page) is carving, and a minstrel stands beside the table playing the violin
In the illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright’s “Domestic Manners of the English,” we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most fifteenth-century houses; it is from a MS. of fifteenth-century date.
In all these instances the minstrels are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle Ages they were probably—especially on festal occasions—placed in the music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.
The Nautch girl in the picture was considered one of the most celebrated singers in Bengal. Her voice was extremely sweet, but sung in so low a tone, that it would have been impossible to hear a note unless within a few yards of her; but a powerful voice is not esteemed an excellence in an Indian singer.
Each Nautch Girl is attended by her own musicians, who form themselves in a circle behind her, accompanying her voice with their instruments.
Beggar playing the Fiddle, and his Wife accompanying him with the Bones.--From an old Engraving of the Seventeenth Century.
The Street Vocalists are almost as large a body as the street musicians. It will be seen that there are 50 Ethiopian serenaders, and above 250 who live by ballad-singing alone.