Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/535

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SISTINE CHOIR.

increased in the one case, and diminished in the other. The marvellous effects produced by the ' Miserere ' have already been described, at PP- 335-338 of vol. ii. ; l and those associated with the ' Improperia,' at pp. 1-2. Such effects would no doubt be condemned by English Choir- Masters as 'tricks' but they are not tricks. No means can be so condemned, with justice, pro- vided the effect they produce be artistic and legitimate. If a Pianoforte passage can be better played by crossing the hands than by holding them in the usual position, the performer who refuses to cross his hands, because he finds no directions to that effect in the book, is a tasteless pedant. There is no pedantry connected with the effects produced by the Sistine Choir. When its mem- bers conceive a really artistic effect, they pro- duce it, in the best way they can ; and we have no right to speak evil of expedients used for so legitimate a purpose. No doubt the Frescoes on the roof and walls of the Chapel, the Vest- ments of the Pope and Cardinals, and the general magnificence of the Ceremonial all tend to im- press the listener : but, the great secret of the effect produced by the Music is, that it is always in agreement with the Ceremonial always the right thing in the right place.

At the present moment, the Pontifical Choir is under a cloud. It sang, for the last time, in its official capacity, at the Church of S. Maria del Popolo, on Sept. 8, 1870. On the 2Oth of the same month the Sardinian troops entered Rome, and all things came to an end. The Pope con- tinued the customary honorarium to his Cappel- lani, but, as a Choir, they were disbanded ; and Signer Mustafa now lives at his bii-thplace, Spoleto, only coming to Rome on the few rare days when the Choir still sing together, namely (i) when the Pope holds a Consistory, with all the old Ceremonies, which are still carefully ob- served, as of old, in the Sistine Chapel, though in such strict privacy that the Rite is witnessed only by those who take part in it ; and (2), at a public Service held, annually, on the Anniversary of the Pope's Consecration, at the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli. One of the most able and ex- perienced Directors of Choral Music in Europe, 3 who was fortunate enough to be present at this last-named Service, in 1878, concludes a letter, in which he has kindly furnished us with a de- scription of it, with the following words 'The effects produced by the Sistine Choir in S. Pietro in Vincoli were beyond anything I had ever before heard, or conceived. But a repetition of them is only possible under the same circumstances.' Let us trust that the time is not far distant, when the same circumstances may occur more frequently. |W.S.R.]

��i We mentioned In onr article MISERERE [vol. 11. p. 3366), that a copy of that celebrated work was published, at Lugano, in 1840, by a certain 'NobilUomo, Sig. Alessandro Geminiani, Kilarmonico. e Mathema- tico.' with whose name we were, otherwise, unacquainted. We did not know, at that time, that the work was really edited, and the preface written, by Alfleri, who. however, did not wish his name to be publicly associated with it. This circumstance, of the correctness ol which we are assured, on the highest possible authority, adds, of course, immeasurably, to the value of this now very scarce edition.

a Dr. Uullah.

��SKENE MANUSCRIPT.

��525

��SIXTH. The interval which embraces six degrees of the scale. There are three forms the major, the minor, and the augmented. ( I .) The major sixth, as CA, contains 9 mean semitones, and the ratio of its limiting sounds in the true scale is 5:3. It is a concord, and in harmony is regarded as the first inversion of the minor com- mon chord. (2.) The minor sixth, as CAb or EC, contains 8 semitones, and the ratio of its limiting sounds is 8:5. It is also a concord, and in har- mony regarded as the first inversion of the major common chord. (3.) The augmented sixth, which is arrived at by flattening the lower or sharpening the upper extreme sound of a major sixth, as Db B, or Ab Fj, contains 10 semitones, and the ratio of the limiting sounds is 125 : 72. The augmented sixth is a discord, and is usually resolved by mov- ing each note a semi tone outwards to the octave,, the sharpening or flattening of one of the extreme sounds already implying a straining in that direction. [See HARMONY.] [C.H.H.P.]

SKENE MANUSCRIPT. A collection of airs, chiefly Scotish, though with a considerable admixture of foreign dance tunes and English vocal melodies, supposed to have been written at various dates between 1615 and 1635. In 1818 the MS. came into the possession ot the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, along with a charter chest of documents, by bequest from Miss Eliza- beth Skene of Curriehill and Hallyards in Mid- lothian. She was the last representative in line of the family, and great-great-granddaughter of John Skene of Hallyards, who died in 1644, and was the original possessor and probably also the writer of some parts of the MS. It consisted originally of seven distinct parts, but these have since been bound together, and now form one tiny oblong volume 6 inches by 4^. It is writ- ten in tablature for a lute with fire strings, a mode of writing very convenient 'for the player, as it points out exactly the string to be struck, and the fret to be pressed. As amateur scribes however were rarely correct either in their barring, or in marking the lengths of the notes, a translator into modern notation requires much patience, as well as knowledge and ingenuity, to decipher and correct the uncertainties of these MSS. In the present instance the work of trans- lation was undertaken by George Farquhar Graham, whose fitness for the task is sufficiently shown by the article 'Music' which he wrote for the 7th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britan- nica. In 1 838 Mr. William Dauney, F.S. A.Scot., urged by his friends and encouraged by the mem- bers of the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs, pub- lished the translation in 4to with a very learned preliminary dissertation on the music of Scot- land, and an appendix by Finlay Dun containing an analysis of the structure of Scotish music. [See DAUNEY, vol. i. p. 431 &.]

The MS. contains 115 airs ; of these 85 were published, n were found to be duplicates, and the rest were rejected as being either unintel- ligible or uninteresting. The airs of Scotish origin appear to be about 45, of which 25 were pre- viously unknown. Many of the latter are no-

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