Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/234

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218

��VARIATIONS.

��as 'The Carman's Whistle' and Bull's set called ' Les Buffons.' These two represent respectively two of the most important principles upon which variations are made, since the first series is almost entirely melodic, and the second structural ; that is, each variation in the first series is connected with the theme mainly through the melody, whereas in the second the succession of the har- monies is the chief bond of connection; both themes are well adapted to illustrate these prin- ciples, the tune of the first having plenty of definite character, and the harmonies of the second being planned on such broad and simple lines as are most likely to remain in the memory. Byrd's series consists of eight variations, in all of which, except the last, the melody is brought very prominently forward ; a different character being given to each variation by the figures introduced to accompany it. The way in which the various styles succeed one another is very happy. The first is smooth and full, and the second rugged and forcible ; the third quiet and plaintive, and the fourth lively and rhythmic ; and so on in similar alternation to the last, which is appropriately made massive and full, and is the only one which is based exclusively on the harmonies, and ignores the tune. The two fol- lowing examples give the opening bars of the fourth and sixth variations, and illustrate the style and way of applying the characteristic figures very happily. The upper part is the tune of the theme.

Ex. 1. Var. 4.

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��Ex. 2. Var. 6.

���Byrd's variations are remarkable not only for their intrinsic qualities, but also as rare exam- ples of melodic treatment in those early days, when composers were more inclined to notice the

��VARIATIONS.

bass than the tune. Bull was by no means so great a genius as Byrd, but he had a vein of melody, a good deal of vivacity, and a con- siderable sense of effect. In ' Les Buffons ' the former gift is scarcely brought into play, but the two latter are very serviceable. The theme is the simplest possible succession of chords, as follows :

Ex. 3.

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��J.

���Upon this fourteen variations are constructed, which are varied and contrasted with one an- other throughout, upon the same general princi- ples of succession as in Byrd's series. Many of them are merely made of scale passages, or rather commonplace figures ; but some are well de- vised, and the two following are interesting as examples of the freedom with which composers had learnt to treat structural variations even in such early days. Ex. 4 is the beginning of the second variation, and Ex. 5 is the thirteenth, which flows out of the one preceding it.

Ex.4.

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