A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chevé

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CHEVÉ or Galin-Paris-Chevé System. A method of teaching part-singing and sight-reading, much used in France, is thus called, from the names of its founder and chief promoters. Its essential features are two: first, the use of the principle of 'tonic relationship,' the learner being taught to refer every sound to the tonic, and secondly, the use of a numeral notation, the figures 1, 2, 3, etc. serving as the written symbols for the several sounds of the scale. Do (ut) = 1, Re = 2, etc. The following is an example of a tune, 'God save the Queen,' thus written in two parts,

A dot under a figure shows that it is in a lower octave, a dot above a figure in a higher. The zéro shows a 'rest' or silence; a thick dot, as in the second measure, continues the preceding sound. The varying lengths of sound are shown by a bar or bars above the figures, as in the second and fourth measures. The numerals are treated only as visual signs; the names sung are the old sol-fa syllables. The use of the numerals is to keep the positions of the sounds in the scale impressed on the learner's mind, and thus help him to recognise and sing the sounds. This figure notation is used only as introductory to the ordinary musical notation. The system has been the subject of much controversy in France, but it has made considerable way and is now allowed to be used in the Paris Communal Schools. It has been adapted for English use by M. Andrade and Mr. G. W. Bullen. The English class-books and exercises are published by Messrs. Moffatt and Paige, 28 Warwick Lane. The 'École Galin-Paris-Chevé' has its head-quarters at 36 Rue Vivienne, Paris, and has for many years been under the direction of M. Amand Chevé. He edits the monthly paper, 'L'Avenir Musical' (10 centimes), which gives full accounts of the progress of the method. An experiment was begun some years back, under the authority of the Paris Municipality, to test the relative effectiveness of the method, by putting certain specified Communal Schools under the direction of its professors, and this is still in progress.

The idea of using numerals in the way above shown is best known to the general world through the advocacy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Pierre Galin (1786–1821), who first developed the plan practically, was a teacher of mathematics at Bordeaux. Aimé Paris (1798–1866), one of his most energetic disciples, was educated to be an avocat, but devoted his life to the musical propaganda. He added to this system a special nomenclature, since adopted into the Tonic-Sol-fa system, for teaching 'time.' Emile Chevé (1804–1864) was a doctor, and married a sister of Paris. His 'Methode Elementaire de la Musique Vocale,' a complete exposition of the system, has a curious title-page. The title is followed by the words 'ouvrage repoussé' [in large capitals] à l'unanimité 9 Avril, 1850, par la Commission du Chant de la ville de Paris, M. M. Auber, Adam, etc., etc.' and below this is a picture of a medal 'Decernée Juin 1853 à la Société Chorale Galin-Paris-Chevé' for 'lecture à première vue' and other things, by a jury composed of M. Berlioz and other musicians (6th ed. 1856).

[ R. B. L. ]