Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/162
146 TONIC SOL-FA.
To make the beginner feel these effects for him- self is the teacher's first object. As a help to such perception a set of descriptive names are used in the earliest lessons. The pupil is told he may think of the do as the ' strong' tone, of the me as the ' steady' or 'calm' tone, of the lah as the ' sad ' tone, and so on ; these epithets giving, in a rough way of course, some indication of the mental effect.' When in this way the pupil has learnt to associate the names with the several sounds, he refers the letters on the printed page to a mental picture of the modulator, and though the music does not ' move up and down,' as in the Staff notation, the syllable-initials suggest to him the names ; he sees these names, mentally, in their places on the scale, and with the remem- brance of the name comes the remembrance of the sound.
This constant insistance on the scale and
nothing but the scale carries the singer with ease over the critical difficulties of modulation. He has been taught to follow with his voice the teacher's pointer as it moves up and down the modulator. When it touches soh (see the modu- lator above) he sings soh. It moves to the doh on the same level to the right, and he sings the same sound to this new name. As he follows the pointer up and down the new scale he is soon taught to understand that a new sound is wanted to be the te of the new doh, and thus learns, by the 'feeling' of the sounds, not by any mere ma- chinery of symbols, what modulation is. When he has been made familiar with the change from scale to scale on the modulator, he finds in the printed music a sign to indicate every change of key. Thus the changes between tonic and dominant in the following chant are shown as follows (taking the soprano part only) :
��the m l meaning that the singer is to sing the sound which is the me of the scale in which he began, but to call it lah while singing it, and sing onwards accordingly. When the key changes again to the original tonic he is in- formed of it by the d s, which means that he is to sing again the sound he has just sung as doh, but to think of it and sing it as soh. These indications of change of key give the singer direct notice of what, in the Staff notation, he is left to find out inferentially from the occurrence of a sharp or flat in one of the parts, or by comparing his own part with the others. To make these inferences with any certainty requires a consider- able knowledge of music, and if they are not made with certainty the 'reading' must be mere guess-work. Remembering that in music of ordinary difficulty say in Handel's choruses the key changes at an average every eight or ten bars, one can easily see what an advan- tage the Tonic Sol-faist has in thus being made at every moment sure of the key he is sing- ing in. The method thus sweeps out of the beginner's way various complications which would puzzle him in the Staff notation ' signa- tures,' 'sharps and flats,' varieties of clef. To transpose, for instance, the above chant into the key of F, all that is needed is to write ' Key F ' in place of ' Key E b.' Thus the singer finds all keys equally easy. 'Accidentals' are wholly unknown to him, except in the comparatively rare case of the accidental properly so called, that is, a 'chromatic' sound, one not signifying change of key. 1
These advantages can, it is true, be in part secured by a discreet use of the ' tonic ' principle, a ' moveable cfo' with the staff notation. But the advocates of the letter notation urge that the
i In the Soprano part, for Instance, of the Messiah choruses there are but three real 'accidentals.'
��f. Key Eb.
< | f : m | 1 : 1| T\ r : m | r :r j d : 1|
old notation hampers both teacher .and learner with difficulties which keep the principle out of view : that the notes of the staff give only a fictitious view of interval. To the eye, for in- stance, a major third (a) looks the same as a minor third (&) ; which of the two is meant can (a) (6)
��only be determined by a process of reasoning on the 'signature.' A like process is needed before the reader can settle which sound of the scale any note represents. In the above ohant, for example, before the singer can sing the opening phrase he must know that the first sound is the soli of the key. The staff notation shows him a mark on a particular line, but it is only after he has made certain inferences from the three ' flats ' on the left that he can tell where the sound is in the scale. How much better, the Sol-faists say, to let him know this at once, by simply printing the sound as soh. Why impede the singer by troubling him with a set of signs which add nothing to his knowledge of the facts of music, and which are only wanted when it is desired to indicate absolute pitch, a thing which the sight- reader is not directly concerned with ?
The question of the utility of a new notation is thus narrowed to a practical issue : one which may be well left to be determined by teachers themselves. It is of course chimerical to suppose that the ancient written language of music could be now ' disestablished,' but musicians need not object to, they will rather welcome, any means of removing difficulties out of the learner's way. The universal language of music and we are apt to forget how much -we owe to the fact that it is universal may well be said to be almost a miracle of adaptation to its varied uses ; but it is