Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/349

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VOICE.

able to keep in tune. If both muscles and membrane are strong, the chest will feel the fatigue, even the ribs getting tired, and head- ache will set in. If these local signs of distress are absent, general fatigue of the whole physique will come on. Every organism has its alloted amount of energy, and no more. If the abrasion of the white membrane is frequently renewed, cicatrisation will be the consequence, and then good-bye to all sweetness. We may get loudness, much more than we want that is, if extinction of the voice has not taken place but no manage- ment, no control ; and we shall have a tone that nobody wishes to hear a second time. This statement is not in the least degree overdrawn.

The difficult question of the mode of forming the different registers is occupying investigators, and will continue to occupy them for some time to come. For the essential differences between the speaking and singing voice, as also for details of registers and other important matters, see SINGING, ALTO, MEZZO-SOPRANO, SOPRANO, COUNTER-TENOR, TENOR, BARYTONE, BASS VOICE, and VOCE DI PETTO. [H.C.D.]

VOICES. Though the human voice, in so far as its tone and capabilities are concerned, is naturally independent of changes like those through which every Orchestral Instrument must necessarily pass before it arrives at its per- fect condition, it has none the less witnessed changes of treatment at least as noticeable as those of the Instrumental Orchestra itself.

The Madrigalists and Ecclesiastical Composers of the 1 6th century wrote for a far greater variety of voices than those now generally recog- nised j 1 and distributed them on principles which experience has proved to be incompatible with the essential characteristics of modern Music. Their system was based upon the division of all Voices into two great classes the Acute, and the Grave. The Acute class comprised the Voices of Boys, in their unbroken condition that is to say, before the change of timbre and compass which has already been described in the article MUTATION ; the rare high natural Voices of adult male singers, which are still occasionally heard in Italy and Spain ; and the almost innumerable varieties of Soprano and Contralto Voices pro- ducible by artificial means. The Grave class re- presented the adult male Voice, in all its natural varieties : Tenors, of every species, Basses, and even Contra-Bassi, of immense profundity, like those still cultivated in Russia, and some other European countries. Female Voices were not admitted into the Church Choir, and therefore found no place in the system adopted by Eccle- siastical Composers.

For Voices of the Acute class, five Clefs were used ; the G Clef, on the first and second lines ; and the C Clef, on the first, second, and third. For Grave Voices, the C Clef on the third, fourth, and fifth lines, and F Clef, in the same three positions; the F Clef on the fifth line

1 For a description of the peculiarities of each Individual Voice, the reader will consult the articles SOPRANO, ALTO, CONTRALTO, TENOR, BARYTON, and BASS.

��VOICES.

��333

��being appropriated to the Contra-Basso, and the C Clef on the fifth line, to the Contra-Tenore a very low Tenor Voice bearing no resem- blance whatever to the ' Counter-Tenor ' of our English Composers.

This formidable array of Clefs was, however, accompanied by a very simple form of nomen- clature; the terms Cantus, Altus, Tenor, and Bassus, being used to designate Voices of every possible variety. When Acute Voices only were employed, they were described as Cantus I and II, and Altus I and II ; and the Composition was then said to be written for Acute Equal Voices. In this case, the lowest Voice permis- sible was an Alto, sung by a Boy, or by an adult singer, or an artificial Voice. In Composi- tions for Grave Equal Voices, the highest part was sung by the natural Voice of an adult Alto an organ now very rarely heard or by a high Tenor ; the lower parts by ordinary Tenors and Basses. When Acute and Grave Voices were employed together, the Composition was said to be for Mixed Voices. In Compositions of this kind, the lowest part was described as the Bassus, even when written in the Tenor Clef. In like manner, a middle part was frequently labelled Tenor, though written in the Alto, or even in the Mezzo-Soprano Clef; while Baritone parts, written with the F Clef on the third line, were invariably labelled Bassus. Parts written with the C Clef on the first line were labelled Cantus, or Altus, according to their position with regard to the other Voices ; the term Cantus being usually applied to them when they occupied the highest position in the harmony, and Altus, when the G Clef was used for a still higher part, written above them. Parts written with the C Clef on the second line the Mezzo- Soprano of modern Music were almost always labelled Altus.

The selection of Clefs was governed, partly by the compass of the Voices, and partly by the nature of the Mode in which the Composition was written. The number of Clefs employed arose from the repugnance of Composers to ledger-lines, with which they were not altogether unacquainted, though they avoided them, as much as possible, by selecting Clefs which enabled them to write the whole of a vocal part within the limits of the Stave an easy matter, with Polyphonic Composers of the best period, who frequently confined whole parts within the range of an Octave, as in the ' Missa Papae Marcelli,' in which, by writing the Cantus part in the Treble (G) Clef, the Altus in the Mezzo-Soprano, the two Tenors in the Alto, and the two Basses in the Tenor, Palestrina has avoided the use of a single ledger-line, from beginning to end.

The connection of the Clefs with the Mode was a more complicated matter. Certain com- binations were used for the Modes, at their natural pitch (the Chiavi natural?) ; and certain others for the transposed Modes (Chiavi tras- portate, or Chiavette). 2 These however were

2 Examples of some of these combinations may be seen in vol. ill. p. 429 a.

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