Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/704

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692

��STAVE.

��Staff). A series of horizontal lines, so arranged that the signs used for the representation of musical notes may be written upon, or between them.

Though the etymology of the term cannot be proved, its derivation from the familiar Saxon root is too obvious to admit of doubt. Its use, as applied to the verses of a Psalm, Canticle, or Ditty of any kind, is very antient, and, as we shall presently show, the music sung to such verses was originally noted down in such close connection with the verbal text that it may fairly be said to form part of it. When a system of lines and spaces was engrafted on the primitive form of Notation, the old term was still re- tained ; and we now apply it to this, even more familiarly than to the verse itself. The best proof that this is the true derivation of the term lies in the fact that Morley calls the Stave a Verse, and describes the Verse as consisting of Rules l and Spaces. Dr. Callcott, and some few other writers, call it a Staff: but, Stave and Staff are both derived from the same primitive root, and are similarly written though not similarly pro- nounced in the plural form.

These signs first called Neumse, then Points, and now Notes were originally written above the verbal text with which they were connected, in positions which vaguely indicated the com- parative gravity or acuteness of the sounds they represented, but not with sufficient clearness to teach the Melody to Singers who had not pre- viously learned it by ear. 3 Attempts were made, from time to time, to distinguish the actual, as well as the comparative pitch of the sounds indi- cated ; or, at least, to demonstrate the comparative pitch with greater certainty. But, no radical im- provement was introduced, until about the year 900, when a single horizontal line was drawn across the parchment, to serve as a guide to the position of the Neumae written upon, above, or below it. 3 This line, the germ of our present Stave, has exercised more direct influence upon the Art of Notation t"han any other invention, either of early or modern date. It was originally drawn in red. All Neumse placed upon it were understood to represent the note F. A Neuma written immediately above it represented G ; one immediately below it, E. The places of three signs were, therefore, definitely fixed ; while those written at greater distances above or below the line, though less certain in their signification, were at least more intelligible than they had been under the previous system.

A yellow line was soon afterwards added, at a little distance above the red one. Neumse written on this line represented the note C ; and the posi- tion of a whole septenary of signs was thus fixed, with tolerable clearness : for, signs placed exactly half way between the two lines would naturally represent A ; while the positions of D, and B, above and below the yellow line, and G and F, above and below the red one, were open to very

1 ' Rules,' f. . line*. Printers still employ the same terra.

2 See the upper example on p. 468, vol. ii.

a See the lower example on the same page.

��STAVE.

little doubt, in carefully-written MSS. When black lines were used, instead of coloured ones, the letters F, and C, were written at the beginning of their respective 'rules'; and because these afforded a key to the Notation, they were called Claves, or, as we now say, Clefs.*

Early in the nth century, two more black lines were added to the Stave : one, above the yellow line ; and the other, between the yellow and red ones. The upper black line then repre- sented E, and the lower one, A; and the combined effect of the whole was, to produce a four-lined Stave, exactly like that now used in the Gregorian system of Notation. In fact, when convenience suggested as it very soon did the practice of changing the position of the Clefs from one line to another, there re- mained but little to distinguish the Notation of the 1 2th and I3th century from that now in- variably used for Plain Chaunt.

The invention of the two additional lines has been ascribed to Guido d'Arezzo; but it seems more probable that he was the first to mention the improvements known in his day, than that he himself first introduced them. We do not possess sufficient evidence to set this question at rest. A MS. Troparium, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, dating from the reign of King Ethelred II (978-1016), contains examples of mediaeval Notation, in which the position of the Neumse is expressed both with, and without, the assistance of the rudimentary Stave. 5 In the earlier pages of this MS. extending as far as fol. 131 the Neumae are not even accom- panied by the single line : but, in the middle of fol. 131 b, a four-lined Stave is introduced, with Neumse written both on the lines, and in the spaces between them. 6 The date of the pages written in simple Neumae is proved, beyond all dispute, by a Litany containing the words ' Ut ^Ethebredum regem et exercitum Anglorum con- servare digneris.' 7 This point has never been disputed; and if we could assume the remainder of the document to be of equal antiquity, as was- once thought, we should have evidence enough to prove that the system based upon the combined employment of lines and spaces was used, in England, some considerable time before Guido described it in Italy. But the four-lined Stave in question proves on examination by the micro- scope, 8 to be a mere modern substitution for the original notation of the MS., which is in some places still to be seen through the imperfect erasures. The opinion expressed in the article NOTATION (on the authority of the late Librarian of the Bodleian) is therefore no longer tenable. [See vol. ii. p. 470.]

The difficulty, however, is one of dates only. Whenever or wherever it was first employed, the four-lined Stave can only be regarded as the natural development of the system, which, in its

< See the first example on p. 469 a, vol. ii.

8 Bodley MSS. 775.

9 A facsimile of the middle portion of fol. 1315 of the Ethelred MS- Will be found in vol. ii. p. 470.

1 Fol. 186.

8 The Editor is indebted for this to Professor Moseley, F.B.S., wha kindly made the examination at bis request.

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