Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/686
of this in his works, but one which occurs in a madrigal, 'Cruda Amarilli,' is specially remarkable, as it is preceded by a ninth used evidently as a grace-note in a manner which for his time must have been very daring. It is as follows:—
This independent manner of using the Dominant seventh shows an appreciation of the principle of the relation of chords through a common tonic: that is to say, the connection and relative importance of chords founded on different root notes of a scale according to the modern and not the old ecclesiastical principle. It is true that the very idea of roots of chords did not suggest itself as a realisable conception till nearly a century later; but as is usual in these cases, artistic instinct was feeling its way slowly and surely, and scientific demonstration had nothing to do with the discovery till it came in to explain the results when it was all accomplished. The development of this principle is the most important fact to trace in this period of the history of music. Under the ecclesiastical system one chord was not more important than another, and the very existence of a Dominant seventh according to the modern acceptation of the term was precluded in most scales by the absence of a leading note which would give the indispensable major third. The note immediately below the Tonic was almost invariably sharpened by an accidental in the cadence in spite of the prohibition of Pope John XXII, and musicians were thereby gradually realizing the sense of the dominant harmony; but apart from the cadence this note was extremely variable, and many chords occur, as in the example already quoted from Byrd, which could not occur in that manner in the modern scales, where the Dominant has always a major third. Even considerably later than the period at present under consideration—as in Carissimi and his contemporaries, who represent very distinctly the first definite harmonic period—the habits of the old ecclesiastical style reappear in the use of notes and chords which would not occur in the same tonal relations in modern music; and the effect of confusion which results is all the more remarkable because they had lost the nobility and richness which characterised the last and greatest period of the polyphonic style. The deeply ingrained habits of taking the chords wherever they lay, according to the old teaching of Descant, retarded considerably the recognition of the Dominant and Tonic as the two poles of the harmonic circle of the key; but Monteverde's use of the seventh, above quoted, shows a decided approach to it. Moreover in works of this time the universality of the harmonic Cadence as distinguished from the cadences of the ecclesiastical modes becomes apparent. The ecclesiastical cadences were nominally defined by the progressions of the individual voices, and the fact of their collectively giving the ordinary Dominant Cadence in a large proportion of instances was not the result of principle, but in point of fact an accident. The modern Dominant Harmonic Cadence is the passage of the mass of the harmony of the Dominant into the mass of the Tonic, and defines the key absolutely by giving successively the harmonies which represent the compound tone of the two most important roots in the scale, the most important of all coming last.
The following examples will serve to illustrate the character of the transition. The conclusion of Palestrina's Motet, 'O bone Jesu,' is as follows:—
In this a modern, regarding it in the light of masses of harmony with a fundamental bass, would find difficulty in recognising any particular key which would be essential to a modern Cadence; but the melodic progressions of the voices according with the laws of Cadence in Descant are from that point of view sufficient.
On the other hand, the following conclusion of a Canzona by Frescobaldi, which must have been written within fifty years after the death of Palestrina, fully illustrates the modern idea, marking first the Dominant with great clearness, and passing thence firmly to the chord of the Tonic F:—
It is clear that the recognition of this relation between the Dominant and Tonic harmony was indispensable to the perfect establishment of the modern system. Composers might wake to the appreciation of the effects of various chords and of successions of full chords (as in the first chorus of Carissimi's 'Jonah'), but inasmuch as the Dominant is indispensable for the definition of a key (hence called 'der herrschende Ton'), the principle of modulation, which is the most important secondary feature of modern music, could not be systematically and clearly carried out till that