choral service. He has delivered lectures on music at the London Institution (1850 to 1854), the Philosophical Institution, Edinburgh, and the Royal Institution, Manchester. He was appointed a professor in the National Training School for Music, 1876, and in Bedford College, London, 1878. He was musical editor of 'The Parish Choir' after the tenth number, and one of the musical editors of 'Hymns Ancient and Modern.' He has edited many other works of a similar character, including some for the Church of Scotland, and has made various contributions to many of the modern Hymnals.
[ W. H. H. ]
MONOCHORD (μόνοσ single, and χορδή a string), an instrument consisting of a long box of thin wood with a bridge fixed at each end, over which is stretched a wire or catgut string. A moveable bridge is placed on the box and serves to stop off different lengths of string, in order to compare the relative pitch of the sounds they produce.
The monochord is said to have been invented by Pythagoras, in the 6th century b.c., but he more probably learnt the use of it in Egypt. The principle of dividing a string to obtain different sounds was applied in the Egyptian lute earlier than 3000 b.c. according to Lepsius. Euclid, writing in the 4th century b.c., and Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century a.d., make use of the monochord to define the intervals of the ancient Greek scale; and the later musical system of the Persians and Arabs is described by Abdul Kadir in the 14th century by means of a similar instrument. The Helikon was like the monochord, but had several strings. It was much used in the middle ages for teaching just intonation in singing.
For measuring relative or actual pitch to any high degree of accuracy the monochord is now superseded by Scheibler's tuning-fork Tonometer, and by the Siren as improved by M. Cavaillé-Coll. Those who wish to construct a monochord will find the best directions in Perronet Thompson's 'Just Intonation,' p. 71.
MONODIA. (From the Gr. μόνος, single, and ὀδή, a Song.) A term applied, by modern critics, to music written in what is sometimes called the Homophonic Style: that is to say, music, in which the Melody is confined to a single part, instead of being equally distributed between all the Voices employed, as in the Polyphonic Schools.
The rise of the Homophonic School was extraordinarily rapid. Soon after the death of Palestrina, in the year 1594, it sprang suddenly into notice; and, without having previously passed through any of the usual stages of gradual development, at once began to exercise an irresistible influence upon the progress of Art.
Giov. Battista Doni tells us, that, at the celebrated réunions which took place in Florence, about the close of the Sixteenth Century, at the house of Sig. Giov. Bardi de' Conti di Vernio, 'Vincenzo Galilei was the first who composed songs for a single voice': and, that Giulio Caccini, (detto Romano), 'in imitation of Galilei, but in a more beautiful and pleasing style, set many canzonets and sonnets written by excellent poets'; and sang them 'to a single instrument, which was generally the theorbo, or large lute, played by Bardilla.' [See Caccini, Giulio.] The success of these early efforts was so encouraging, that the inventors of the Opera and the Oratorio were content to write the whole of their Recitatives, and even the rudimentary Arias with which they were interspersed, with no richer accompaniment than that of an exceedingly simple figured bass, in which we soon find indications of the unprepared discords first introduced by Monteverde. The use of these discords inevitably led to the repudiation of the Antient Ecclesiastical Modes, in favour of the modern Major and Minor Scales; and, these scales once established, the new system was complete. No doubt, unisonous vocal music, with little or no accompaniment, had been heard, in the Canzonetta, Villanella, and other forms of national melody, ages and ages before the birth of Galilei; and that the recognition of what we now call the 'Leading Note' as an essential element of Melody was no new thing, may be gathered from the words of Zarlino, who, writing in 1558, says 'even Nature herself has provided for these things; for, not only those skilled in music, but also the Contadini, who sing without any Art at all, proceed by the interval of the semitone'—i.e. in forming their closes. Nevertheless, whatever may have been the popular practice, it is certain that the Polyphonic Style alone had hitherto been taught in the Schools. We must understand, therefore, that those who met at the house of Bardi, though undoubtedly the first to introduce this simple music to real lovers of Art, were not its actual inventors. The latent germs of the Monodic Style must have been present wherever National Melody existed.
The following example, from Caccini's 'Nuove Musiche' (Venezia, 1602), will shew the kind of effect contemplated by the Count of Vernio's enthusiastic disciples. We need scarcely say, that the figure 14, under the last D, in the last bar but one, indicates a Dominant Seventh: but, before this Canzonetta was published, Monteverde had already printed his Fifth Book of Madrigals; he would not, therefore, be robbed of any portion of the credit universally accorded to him, even if it could be proved—which it cannot—that the Discord, in this instance, was not intended to appear as a Passing-note. The Seventh on the E, in the third bar, is, of course, a Suspension, written in strict accordance with the laws of antient counterpoint. [See Monteverde, Claudio.]
- See Helmholtz, 'Sensations of Tone.' pp. 430–7.
- Giov. Batt. Doni. Op. Omn. Firenze, 1763. Tom. ii.