« AnteriorContinuar »
STUDY OF NATIONAL MUSIC.
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON NATIONAL MUSIC.
HE term National Music implies that music, which,
appertaining to a nation or tribe, whose individual emotions and passions it expresses, exhibits certain peculiarities more or less characteristic, which distinguish it from the music of any other nation or tribe.*
Although no people has been found without music of its own, yet the degree of susceptibility and fondness for music, as well as the form and spirit of popular musical compositions, vary greatly in different nations. The characteristics are innate, and, so to say, of indigenous growth. In some instances, however, the popular music of a nation has been considerably modified by foreign influence. Thus, the Moors have exercised perceptible influence upon the Spanish music. Even in the synagogical hymns of the Sephardic Jews, who were expelled from the Spanish Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century, distinct traces of the characteristics of Moorish music are still preserved. The original music of the Magyars has undoubtedly been to some extent affected by the Gipsies, by whom it is, even at the present day, chiefly cultivated in Hungary.
* The Germans call it Volksmusik, a designation which is very appropriate, and which I should have rendered folk-music, had this word been admissible.
Again, instances occur where single foreign melodies have been adopted by a nation, and have become, so to say, naturalized. The well-known German Dessauer Marsch,' of Italian origin, is an example. After Prince Leopold of Dessau had stormed Turin (Anno 1706), the conquered Italians met him with this march to do him homage. The taking melody pleased the German soldiers, and soon their trumpeters began to blow it upon their instruments. When it had been transmitted by them to Germany, the people soon germanized its Italian flourishes.
It remains a disputed question whether even the English National Anthem is not an acquisition from abroad.* A melody thus transplanted undergoes generally a gradual change, in conformity with the music of the nation by which it has been adopted. A curious instance of this occurred in Courland. Of a number of German songs, translated into the Lettish language, and introduced into Courland by some gentlemen, a few became popular among the peasantry.t After the lapse of a certain number of years these songs exhibited a remarkable change :-originally in major, they were now sung partly in minor, and a rude kind of accompaniment was added, as shown in the following example :
THE AIR BLUHE LIEBES VEILCHEN.'
As originally introduced from Germany into Courland.
As it was heard afterwards sung by country lasses in Courland.
* Anthem is musically an inappropriate title for this tune. It has, however, now been so generally adopted that it would be pedantic not to use it.
+ Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Leipzig, 1800.
Such adoptions are, however, on the whole, rare. They occur oftenest in a nation whose music has a less marked national character ;-and between nations whose music is not widely different in its characteristic features. Thus, the English will more easily adopt a foreign tune than the Germans; and they will more easily adopt a German tune than a Wallachian, while a genuine Javanese tune is not likely to take root among them, however favourably it may be introduced.
In civilized countries where the art of music is scienti. fically cultivated, and where it has attained a high degree of development, we find, as might be expected, the characteristic peculiarities of the National music most strictly preserved among the less educated classes, much as we find the peculiar manners, customs, and prejudices of a nation more strictly adhered to by the common people than by the higher classes, whose education is more in accordance with that of the educated classes of other civilized nations.
In most European countries it is therefore among the working classes, the artisans, the field labourers, and the country people in general, that we must look out for genuine specimens of National music. Such a distinction is obviously unnecessary in semi-civilized or barbarous nations, where music is still in a state of infancy, or where, at all events, it cannot be considered to exist as an art æsthetically cultivated