Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/623

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DANCE RHYTHM.
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ples of the influence is almost superfluous, as they are so full of dances and gesticulation that the sum total of his operas is more terpsichorean than dramatic, and this does not only apply to the actual dances so called, but also to vocal pieces. Handel, Rameau, and Gluck used their dance effects with more discretion and refinement, and in the later development of Opera the traces of dance and rhythm fade away in the dramatic portions of the work; though it cannot be said that the influence has ceased even in modern times, and positive independent dance movements persist in making their appearance, with complete irrelevance in many cases, as much to the annoyance of people of sense as to the delight of the fashionable triflers to whom opera-houses are dear because it has been the fashion for a century or so for similar triflers to frequent them.

In Oratorio the dance influence maintained its place, though of course not so prominently as in Opera. Next after Cavaliere, Carissimi submitted to its influence. He was, in fact, one of the first Italians who frequently showed the power of a definite rhythmic figure, derived from the dance, in giving go and incisiveness to both choruses and solos. As instances may be quoted the song of Jephthah's daughter when she comes out to meet him—'Cum tympanis et Choris'—after his victory, and the solo and chorus describing the king's feast at the beginning of 'Balthazar'—'Inter epulas canori, exultantes sonent chori.' In Handel's oratorios the introduction of artistic dance music was common, and the influence of it is to be traced elsewhere as well. But in modern times the traditional connection of dance and religion has ceased, except in the Easter dances in the Cathedral of Seville, and oratorios no longer afford examples of minuets and jigs. But the influence is still apparent. In the first Baal Chorus in 'Elijah' Mendelssohn allowed a rhythm of a solemn dance order to appear, and the same quality is to be discerned in the Pagan Chorus in 'St. Paul,' 'O be gracious, ye immortals'; while he permitted himself to drift into a dancing mood, with less obvious reason, in the middle movement of the symphony to the 'Lobgesang,' and in the chorus 'How lovely are the messengers' in 'St. Paul.'

The obligations of instrumental music to dance rhythm are far greater than that of any respectable form of choral music. Almost all modern instrumental music till the present time may be divided into that in which the cantabile or singing element predominates, and that in which the rhythmic dance principle is paramount. In fact, dance rhythm may be securely asserted to have been the immediate origin of all instrumental music. The earliest definite instrumental pieces to be found are naturally short dances. A step in the direction of artistic effect was made when two or more dances, such as a Pavan and a Galliard, were played one after another for the sake of the contrast and balance which was thereby obtained. The result of such experiments was the Suite-form, and in the article on that subject the question of the direct connection of the form of art with the Dance is discussed at length.

When the more mature form of the Sonata began to develop, other forms of art were maturing also, and had been imitated in instrumental music. Madrigals having been 'apt for voices or viols' were imitated for instruments alone. Movements for solo voices with accompaniment were also being imitated in the shape of movements for instruments, and were rapidly developing into a distinct art form; and again the movement, consisting of a succession of chords interspersed with fioriture, such as singers used, had been developed by organists such as Claudio Merulo, partly by instinct and partly by imitation. Most of these forms were combined with dance forms in the early stages of the Sonata; and in the articles on that subject, and on Form and Symphony, the question is discussed in detail. Here it is not necessary to discuss more than the general aspect of the matter. Composers early came to the point of trying to balance movements of a singing order with dance movements. In the early Violin Sonatas, such as those of Biber and Corelli, dance principles predominated, as was natural, since the type of the movements which were sung was not as yet sufficiently developed. But the special fitness of the violin for singing speedily complicated this order of things, and the later representatives of the great Italian violin school modified the types of dance forms with cantabile and highly expressive passages.

The Clavier Sonata, on the other hand, inclined for a time towards a rhythmic style. The harpsichord was not fitted for cantabile, and the best composers for the instrument fell back upon a clear rhythmic principle as their surest means of effect. When the harpsichord was displaced by the pianoforte a change naturally followed. The first movement came to occupy a midway position, sometimes tending towards dance rhythms, and sometimes to cantabile, and sometimes combining the two. The central slow movement was developed on the principle of the slow operatic aria, and adopted its form and style. The last movement continued for a long time to be a dance movement, often actually a gigue, or a movement based on similarly definite rhythms; and when there were four movements the third was always decisively a dance movement. In the old style of Operatic Overture, also known as a Symphony, there was at least one distinct dance movement. This kind of work developed into the modern Orchestral Symphony, in which at least one decided dance movement has maintained its position till the present day, first as the familiar minuet and trio, and then in the scherzo, which is its offspring, and always implies a dance rhythm. But the fitness of a dance movement to end with is palpable, and composers have constantly recognised the fact. Haydn has given a strong example in the last movement of the fine Symphony in D minor, No. 7 of the Salomon set; and many others of his Rondos are