Imágenes de páginas

he will then find ready to his hand a mass of lyrical and dramatic themes with which to construct a distinctively American music.

I have said nothing of Gottschalk, since his music, so far as my limited acquaintance with it extends, seems to be rather that of the Cubans than that of the negroes.

In conclusion, I give two tunes, one of them almost purely African, the other evidently composed in the transition period between the old and new schools.

"I would not live always."

I will arise and go to Jesus."




There is probably no more timely subject than the present, none so intimately connected with the various departments of music and music life, none of such fundamental importance for the progressive teacher and performer, yes, even for the music-business man.

Wonderful has been the growth of musical art, great is the perfection and variety gained in musical instruments, and remarkable is the magnitude of the science of music in which the relationship of tones has been perfectly mathematically ascertained. Yet, in spite of all this, strange as it may seem, the exact pitch of all tones or any single tone has never been universally settled. Every country, yes, every city, every village and sometimes even every orchestra, if there were several, in any town had its own pitch. Everyone had it according to his own taste, because an absolute pitch was never adopted and accepted by all. Insignificant as this may seem at first thought, it means a great deal after some careful consideration. The adoption of an absolute pitch throughout the musical world will not be so startling as the discovery of America, that is true, nevertheless it will be a historical act, and undoubtedly of great beneficent effect. It will be a highly valuable achievement in every department of music.


The practical value would show itself in that you could put together any two vocal or instrumental performers from any part of the globe, and the pitch of their notes would harmonize at once, without any previous agreement. short, you could take any musician of the world into any orchestra, and without any previous agreement he would pitch the notes, from the very first, the same as his new partners. Any band, or any member of it, could play with any other band. Singers would know of, and perform ac

cording to, only one pitch. They would never be accustomed to a low pitch at home, and then be frightened to death in the concert hall, because they discover the pitch of the accompanying instrument to be higher than the one with which they practiced. It is annoying already to a sensitive instrumentalist if the pitch is altered, but it is still more the case with a singer, who is accustomed to perform his notes with his organs in just such and such a position, consequently as soon as the pitch of the notes is altered the singer will naturally begin to feel uncertain, which may even become the cause of marring the performance. This alone ought to be sufficient to adopt only one pitch for a certain note, which means the musical world should decide upon how many vibrations in a second it is to have. Then soprano singers could not demand to have the pitch below the normal in order that they might pretend to sing an extra imaginary high note, nor could the bass singer demand a higher pitch, in order to sing extra low tones, existing, not in their throats, but only in their imagination. Every tone possessing an individual name, ought to have its exactly established pitch. At present tones are only approximately pitched. Sometimes a little higher or lower, averaging in difference a whole tone step or more, just as the different persons prefer. Imagine our weights and measures depending upon personal taste! We can have an exact pitch only when we have universally decided upon the exact vibration-number of one certain tone, from which all others can be determined.

We might speak of a commercial value of the international pitch. With string instruments this is not so important, since they can be tuned differently, but with wind instruments which have a more or less fixed pitch (organs, flutes, and brass instruments, etc.,) this is very important. Nearly every brass instrument manufacturer has his own pitch. Very often some member of a band would buy an instrument from a different manufacturer, if he could use the instrument in the band in which he plays. The manufacturer's trade itself is therefore limited to those districts in which the pitch of his instruments is employed. As is evident, competition is altogether excluded. A manufacturer cannot af

ford to make as many different sets of instruments as there are numberless pitches in use, on account of the great capital and risk it would involve. There is another side to this variable pitch. Poor instruments are often pitched high in order to sound more brilliant. The ordinary people, not knowing that this brilliancy is due to the high pitch, attribute it to the "extra good" quality of tone, and of course are deceived. Let these instruments be lowered to the normal pitch, and thhy will have no musical tone at all. Every piano ought to be tuned to the same pitch, so that any piano could be picked up any where, be placed near another, and two players could perform duets at once. The pianos would then always display their true properties, their superiority or inferiority. The piano manufacturers could compete honestly. It must be said in honor to the best piano manufacturers of this country, that, in a meeting of the Piano Manufacturer's Association of New York and vicinity, they were the ones that made a motion in the direction of adopting a standard pitch in the United States, choosing that of the old world 4-435. We do earnestly wish for the good of music, that their influence will greatly assist in securing its general adoption. Every musician, every teacher, every student, every amateur, every tuner ought to have the tuning fork A-435, and have his instrument tuned to that pitch.

There is also an aesthetic side to the question of the international pitch. A composer imagines his piece in a certain key. Now then, suppose the pitch is different from what he imagined it, the piece will certainly make a different impression than intended. If higher, of course, more brilliant. Brilliancy, in its proper place, is a good quality, but not in all places; if the pitch is lower, then the piece will not have the energy the composer wanted it to have. Piano teachers can give many instances, where pianos were far below the normal pitch, just because some soprano in the house wanted it to suit her voice, and that she could sing those high notes, which she in reality never possessed. Sometimes a lazy piano tuner lets the pitch of a piano drop far below the normal, because he shuns the work of raising the pitch

of all the strings of the instrument. Persons accustomed to a piano tuned to the proper pitch, will then be greatly annoyed by the difference in pitch. This variety of tuning pianos perhaps also accounts for it, that hardly any piano player has aa ear for absolute pitch, that means, can name any tone he hears. He gets to hear the same-named tone in so many number of pitches that he really never knows which is the correct one.

Here the educational value of an absolute pitch shows itself. If the piano player hcard the same tone always in the same pitch, he would involuntarily learn to recognize it, provided he had any musical ear at all. Unfortunately there are so many that can only play but not hear. Music proper is what sounds, not the signs on paper, neither only the keys of a piano. Therefore every progressive teacher should teach his pupil to hear. He should insist on having his pupil's pianos tuned to the proper pitch. And further, every teacher ought to teach music' dictation, for which the piano is the most appropriate instrument. Only by means of music dictation can the ear of the average student be systematically trained. There are a sufficient number of books out containing all the necessary information. Frederick Louis Ritter published two books, "Musical Dictation” (Novello, Ewer & Co., 1887.) In the French language there is a great book "Ccurs complet de dictee musicale" by A. Lavignac (1882). In the German language there are several publications; H. Geotze "Musikalische Schreibuebungen” (1882) and Dr. Hugo Riemann "Das Musik-dictat" (1889). The latter author brings it in connection with phrasing, the science of musical expression and correct interpretation. Music dictation can most appropriately be taught in classes. It ought to be an obligatory course in every music school. Private teachers ought to form classes with their pupils. Many people have the faculty of discerning relative pitch, that means they can say what interval they have heard, but can not exactly say the names of the tones themselves. Others can discern the absolute pitch of any note they hear. Yes, some possess this faculty in such a remarkable degree, that they can remember the pitch of an orchestra for several

« AnteriorContinuar »