Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/138

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122

��TIME.

��posers have produced particularly happy effects I by the simultaneous employment of two or more different kinds of Time. A very simple instance will be found in Handel's so-called Har- monious Blacksmith,' where one hand plays in Four-Crotchet Time ( C ) an( i the other in 2 . A more ingenious combination is found in the celebrated Movement in the Finale of the First Act of 'II Don Giovanni,' in which three dis- tinct Orchestras play simultaneously a Minuet in 3 Time, a Gavotte in ?, and a Waltz in ^, as in Ex. i on previous page ; the complexity of the ar- rangement being increased by the fact that each three bars of the Waltz form, in their relation to each single bar of the Minuet, one bar of Compound Triple Time (8) ; while in relation to each single bar of the Gavotte, each two bars of the Waltz form one bar of Compound Common Time (^).

A still more complicated instance is found in the Slow Movement of Spohr's Symphony, ' Die Weihe der Tone ' (Ex. a on previous page) ; and here again the difficulty is increased by the con- tinuance of the slow Tempo Andantino in the part marked $. , while the part marked Allegro starts in Doppio movimento, each Quaver being equal to a Semiquaver in the Bass.

Yet these complications are simple indeed when compared with those to be found in Pales- trina's Mass 'L'hommearmd,' and in innumerable Compositions by Josquin des Pres, and other writers of the 15th and i6th centuries ; triumphs of ingenuity so abstruse that it is doubtful whether any Choristers of the present day could master their difficulties, yet all capable of being expressed with absolute certainty by the various forms of Mode, Time, and Prolation, invented in the Middle Ages, and based upon the same firm principles as our own Time-Table. For, all the mediaeval Composers had to do, for the purpose of producing what we call Compound Common Time, was to combine Imperfect Mode with Perfect Time, or Imperfect Time with the Greater Prolation; and, for Compound Triple Time, Perfect Mode with Perfect Time, or Perfect Time with the Greater Prolation. [W.S.R.]

TIME, BEATING. Apart from what we know of the manners and customs of Greek Musicians, the practice of beating Time, as we beat it at the present day, is proved, by the traditions of the Sistine Choir, to be at least as old as the I5th century, if not very much older. In fact, the continual variations of Tempo which form so im- portant an element in the interpretation of the works of Palestrina and other mediaeval Masters, must have rendered the ' Solfa ' or, as we now call it, the Baton of a Conductor indispens- able ; and in the Pontifical Chapel it has been considered so from time immemorial. When the Music of the Polyphonic School gave place to Choruses accompanied by a full Orchestra, or, at least, a Thoroughbass, a more uniform Tempo became not only a desideratum, but al- most a necessity. And because good Musicians found no difficulty in keeping together, in Move-

��TIME, BEATING.

ments played or sung at an uniform pace from beginning to end, the custom of beating time became less general ; the Conductor usually ex changing his desk for a seat at the Harpsichord, whence he directed the general style of the performance, while the principal First Violin afterwards called the Leader regulated the length of necessary pauses, or the pace of ritar- dandi t etc., with his Violin-bow. Notwithstand- ing the evidence as to exceptional cases, afforded by Handel's Harpsichord, now in the South Kensington Museum, 1 we know that this custom was almost universal in the i8th century, and the earlier years of the iQth certainly as late as the year 1829, when Mendelssohn conducted his Symphony in C Minor from the Pianoforte, at the Philharmonic Concert, then held at the Argyle Rooms. 2 But the increasing demand for effect and expression in Music rendered by the full Orchestra, soon afterwards led to a per- manent revival of the good old plan, with which it would now be impossible to dispense.

Our present method of beating time is directly derived from that practised by the Greeks; though with one very important difference. The Greeks used an upward motion of the hand, which they called the dpcris (arsis}, and a downward one, called Oecris (thesis'). We use the same. The difference is, that with us the Thesis, or down- beat, indicates the accented part of the Measure, and the Arsis, or up-beat, its unaccented portion, while with the Greeks the custom was exactly the reverse. In the Middle Ages, as now, the Semi breve was considered as the norm from which the proportionate duration of all other notes was derived. This norm comprised two beats, a downward one and an upward one, each of which, of course, represented a Minim. The union of the Thesis and Arsis indicated by these two beats was held to constitute a Measure called by Morley and other old English writers a 'Stroake.' This arrangement, however, was necessarily confined to Imperfect, or, as we now call it, Common Time. In Perfect, or Triple Time, the up-beats were omitted, and three down-beats only were used in each Measure ; the same action being employed whether it con- tained three Semibreves or three Mimims. When two beats only are needed in the bar, ^ we beat them, now, as FIG. 1. i they were beaten in the time of Morley; the down-beat representing the Thesis, or accented part of the Measure, and the up-beat, the Arsis, or unaccented portion, as at (A) in the annexed diagram. 3 But it some- times happens that Pres- tissimo Movements are taken at a pace too rapid to admit the delivery

1 See vol. ii. p. 564, note. 2 See vol. II. p. 263.

8 The diagrams indicate a downward motion towards 1. for the beginning of the bar. The hand then passes through the other beats, in the order in which they are numbered, and, on reaching the last, is supposed to descend thence perpendicularly, to 1. for the be- ginning of the next bar.

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