Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/616

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��title of 'Orpheus Britannicus' ; and ' Full fathom five,' 'Come unto these yellow sands,' 'From rosy bowers,' ' I attempt from Love's sickness to fly,' and others, were universal favourites down to our own times. He contributed several pieces to Playford's publication, ' Choice Ayres, Songs and Dialogues,' but for his finest songs the reader must turn to his operas, and to the tragedies and plays for which he composed the incidental music. A song which Purcell wrote at the age of 17, 'When I am laid in earth' or 'Dido's lament ' (from Nahum Tate's ' Dido and ^Eneas') should be noted for the skill with which the whole song is constructed on a ' ground bass' of five bars. 1 This is repeated without intermis- sion in the lowest part, but so unconstrained are the upper parts, so free and developed is the rhythm, so pathetic and varied is the melody, that the device would certainly escape the ob- servation of a hearer, and even the performer might be unconscious of it.

��Dido'* Lament. (Ground Bass). HENRY PURCELL.

��When I am laid, am laid ... In Earth, may my String Quartet.

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���1 See Hullah's preface to English Songs of the 17th and 18th centuries.'

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� ��Between 1683 and 1690 Purcell devoted him- self to the study of the great Italian masters, and the results are manifest in his music. He did not indeed lose any of his individuality ; but the melo- dies of his songs were henceforth smoother and more flowing, and there was more variety of ac- companiment. A common fault of the music of Purcell's time was a too servile adherence on the part of the composer to the meaning of the text. True, the notes should always reflect the force of the words they illustrate ; but here the changing sense of the words was too often blindly fol- lowed to the sacrifice of everything like musical construction. Purcell shook himself clear of these defects ; for with his fine genius for melody, his native taste in harmony, and his thoroughly scientific education, no strong or permanent hold could be laid on him by the extravagances of any school. To complete this rapid survey of the 1 7th century, it remains only to mention John Eccles and Richard Leveridge, who were popular composers at its close. To Leveridge we owe the famous songs 'Black-eyed Susan' and 'The Koast Beef of Old England/ which were sung every- where throughout the 1 8th century, and are still familiar as household words.'

In the first quarter of the iSth century the popularity of ballads was not as great, but it rose again under George II. with the introduction of Ballad-operas, of which the 'Beggars' Opera' (1727) was the first. These operas formed the first reaction of the popular taste against the Italian music. They were spoken dramas with songs interspersed; and the songs were set to old ballad tunes, or imitations of them. [See ENGLISH OPEBA, vol. i. p. 489 6.] Between 1 702 and 1745 a multitude of ballads and popular songs appeared, of which, among many others, the following became celebrated, 'Old King Cole,' ' Down among the dead men, ' The Vicar of Bray,' ' Cease your funning,' 'Drink to me only,' etc.

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