A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Singing

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SING. SINGING. 'To sing' is to use the voice in accordance with musical laws. 'Singing' is a musical expression of thought and feeling through the medium of the voice and the organs of speech generally, by means of two technical operations—Vocalisation (the work of the vowels), and Articulation (that of the consonants).

A passing word on the meaning and nature of music will hardly be out of place, as from common English parlance it might be often inferred that singing is distinct from music, and that 'music' means instrumental music only.

'Music' may be accepted to signify sounds in succession or combination[1] regulated by certain natural and artificial laws, the result of which has been the establishment of a series of these sounds (called a Scale) having certain proportions to, and relations with, each other, and being susceptible of combinations capable of affording deep emotion.

The effect of abstract music–that is, music without words–upon the soul, though vague, weird, and undefinable, is so incontestable and all-powerful, that its immediate origin in nature itself can hardly for a moment be doubted. Musical combinations and progressions seem at times to recall something that does not belong to the present order of things, and to inspire almost a conviction that in another existence only, will the full scope and significance of abstract music be understood.

From the time of man's first awakening to the influence of that which was not purely animal, or at least from the date of the earlier forms of organisation and civilisation, it is probable that singing in some form has had its place, as an individual solace, or as a convenient means of expressing a common sentiment, either in war-cries (afterwards war-songs) or in addresses to the deities or idols (afterwards chants and hymns).

Much has been said of the 'language of music.' This is but a rhetorical figure. Language is definite and states facts, the significance of which will depend upon the greater or less sensitiveness of the hearer. Music does precisely what words do not do. It represents a state of thought and feeling, more or less continuous, awakened by the statement of facts a brooding over what has been said after the words are supposed to have ceased. Hence the propriety of prolonging syllables and repeating words, which the cynically disposed are often inclined to ridicule as opposed to reason and common sense. This inclination to ignore the high office of music (that of expounding what passes in the mind and soul) is one great cause of the frequent tameness of English singing; and this same tameness it is that in reality makes singing at times ridiculous and opposed to reason and common sense. And if this higher view of music in singing is not to be taken—if all that is to be looked for is a rhythmical tune—then by all means let it be played upon an instrument, as the intonation will be safe, provided the instrument be in tune; and the head may nod, and the feet may tap, the ear will be tickled and the soul unruffled. Besides, the power of using the voice for the purpose of communicating ideas, thoughts and feelings, and of recording facts and events (to be set down in characters, and thus transmitted from generation to generation), being a special gift to the human race, and the attribute which most thoroughly separates man from the lower animal tribe, the inane warbling of a tune is an anomaly.

It scarcely matters which of the many theories may be the right one of the origin of musical sound, that is to say, of the manner in which it first presents itself to the ear. Any continuous sound in nature may call our appreciation into activity. It is certain that it appeals to something in our inmost nature which responds as directly to it, and that its effect is a reality; otherwise it could not take its active part in the expression of thought and feeling, or rather be, as it is, the real manifestation or representation of a state of thought and feeling only suggested by words. Its appreciation by the mind and soul through the medium of the ear cannot well be a matter of development, but is rather a revelation, from the simple fact that it is distinguished from noise by the isochronism of vibration; and the difference between the two could not but be marked the moment it presented itself, as a brilliant colour, distinguished from surrounding neutral tints, at once attracts the eye. The manner in which a musical sound arrests the attention of a child too young to understand, or of an animal that is supposed not to reason, is a strong proof of its being a special sense of which we shall perhaps know more in another state of existence. Some sort of language, we may conclude, came first, and syllables will have been prolonged for the sake of emphasis. The continuous note having presented itself through some sound in nature, the power of imitation by the voice would be recognised. Rhythm, the innate sense of accent—the spirit of metre, as time is the letter—will also have been awakened by some natural sound, such as the slow dropping of water, or the galloping of an animal. The ideal pendulum once set going within us, words would adapt themselves to it, and poetry, or at least verse, would come into being. The substitution of a musical note for the simple prolongation of the spoken sound would not fail to take place in due time. With the awakening of a purer religious feeling, the continuous note would be found a suitable means of keeping together large numbers in singing chants and hymns, the splendour of many voices in unison would be felt, and ecclesiastical music would assume something of a definite form.

The stages in the rise of music may have been, therefore, as follows: first, nature's instruments—the cleft in the rock, the hole in the cabin, the distant trickling water, or the wind blowing into a reed; then the imitation of these sounds by the voice, followed by the imitation of these and the voice by artificial instruments. Again, the increased accuracy of artificial instruments imitated by the voice; and finally the power of expression of the voice imitated by instruments, vocal and instrumental music aiding each other.

An idea of what remote nations may have done in the way of music can only be gathered from representations of instruments and obscure records of the various periods, and these indications are naturally too vague for any precise estimate to be formed, but there is no reason to imagine that it reached a high point of development with them. A painting on plaster in the British Museum, taken from a tomb at Thebes, and reproduced in Mr. William Chappell's valuable History of Ancient Music, represents a party of comely Egyptian ladies, about the time of Moses, enjoying some concerted music. Three are playing upon instruments of the guitar or lute kind, a fourth upon a double tibia, while a fifth appears to be beating time by clapping her hands. If domestic music was customary so far back, why was the wonderful development of modern times so long in being brought about? Even the Greeks, with all their boundless love for, and appreciation of, the beautiful, and their power of its reproduction, cannot be supposed to have gone far in the cultivation of music. Most of their 'modes' are unsatisfactory to modern ears, aud are not in harmony with cultivated nature. Their use of music seems to have been to form an accompaniment to oratory and to furnish rhythmical tunes for dancing. With their voices they seem to have been inclined at times to indulge in mass of sound rather than music properly so called, if we consider Plutarch's warning to his disciples against indulging in too violent vociferation for fear of such calamitous consequences as ruptures and convulsions.[2] The student then, as at the present day, apparently took upon himself to make all the noise he could against the advice of his instructors. But this is not important to the present purpose. It is enough that we know with tolerable certainty that we are indebted to a long line of pious and learned men for the gradual development of the material with which we have to work. The spread of Christianity required that church music should be purified and put into something like form. This was commenced by St. Ambrose in the latter part of the 4th century, his work being continued and amplified two centuries later by St. Gregory. For the gradual development of music see the articles on Plain-Song and Schools of Composition.

Down to Palestrina's time melody had been held of too little account by theorists. This great reformer knew, beyond all others, how to re-vivify dry contrapuntal forms with music in its great and ultimate capacity as a manifestation of thought and feeling, and thus brought to its gorgeous perfection the Polyphonic school, soon to be thrust aside, never, perhaps, to re-appear in its integrity, but to assert its great master's mighty spirit, later on, in the works of those of his successors who were capable of receiving it.

In early times very great things had been, done in England, and this almost independently of external help, from early in the 15th century. But there is an English part-song, a canon, or round, which has been placed by all the foremost critics early in the 13th century. [See Schools of Composition, Sect. XVI.] Very early mention of English part-singing in the north of England is made by Gerald Barry or Giraldus Cambrensis (see Chappell's 'Music of the Olden Time'). This is borne out by the fact of the fineness of the natural voices in the northern and midland counties at the present time, and the aptitude of the inhabitants for choral singing. Down to the end of the 16th century, singing as an independent art, solo singing, had been held of little account, and had been the vocation almost exclusively of troubadours and other unscientific (though often sympathetic) composers of popular music. Its great impulse was given by the creation of the opera out of an attempt towards the close of the 16th century, on the part of a little knot of disciples of the Renaissance, to revive the musical declamation of the Greek Drama. The result was not what they intended, but of vastly wider scope than they could have anticipated. In connection with this movement was the name of Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the great astronomer. These initiatory efforts and their great and speedy outcome are exhaustively set forth in the very comprehensive article on Opera in this Dictionary. From these small beginnings, a few cantatas accompanied by a single instrument, we have the magnificent combination of music, poetry, and scenery of the present day.

Though in the music of Palestrina the doctrine is exemplified and carried to its conclusion, that to be truly beautiful Polyphonic music must be melodious in all its parts, still this form was impracticable for the purpose immediately in hand. In all times of reaction the vibration of the chain of events throws it far out of its centre. Hence the almost immediate abandonment of the Polyphonic in favour of the Monodic form, instead of a healthy combination of the two.

The first true Italian opera was the 'Euridice' of Giacopo Peri, given in 1600 on the occasion of the marriage festivities of Henry IV. of France with Maria de' Medici. The first result of the movement was the recitative, in something very like its present form; and in no other form can the various phases of the changing passions and affections be adequately expressed. But the outcry against the so-called interruption of dramatic action by the introduction of the aria, set concerted piece, and formal chorus, is only reasonable when directed against the abuse of these means of expression so legitimate in their proper place and at their proper time. In every-day life (the principles of which, in an exalted and artistic form, must be the basis of all dramatic action), events, though they succeed each other quickly, have their moments, if not of repose, at least of the working out of their immediate consequences, and these give the opportunity for the expression of the (for the time) dominant state of thought and feeling. Even musical decoration (of which later), wisely chosen and put together, adds immensely to the general significance. What then, besides the creation of opera, were the causes of the great development of the art of singing in Italy, its stage of perfection for a time, and its deterioration—let us trust for a time also? Italy, inheriting the proud position, from Greece, of foster-mother to the arts, could not neglect music as one of her foster-children. But while other countries vied with her, and at times surpassed her, in musical science, the tide of vocal sound, the power of using the voice, could not but flow into the channel prepared for it by nature and art. The gradual evolution of the Italian out of the Latin language, the elimination of every hard sound, where practically consistent with the exigencies of articulation, and its refinement to a state of almost perfect vocal purity, brought about a facility in producing vocal sound possessed by other nations only in so far as their respective tongues contain the elements of the Italian. The Italian language is almost entirely phonetic, and is pre-eminent in the two respects of vocal purity and amount of vocal sound. Its vowels are not only Italian; they are the pure elements of language in general, resembling in idea the painter's palette of pure colours, and offering therefore the material by which to gauge the greater or less purity of other languages.

A short enquiry into the difference between speaking and singing in the five languages to which the largest amount of vocal music has been composed, namely Italian, Latin, French, German, and English, will not be out of place. Of all languages, the Italian is most alike in singing and speaking—English the least. The four essential points of difference between speaking and singing are, first and foremost, that in speaking (as in the warbling of almost all birds) the isochronism of vibration is never present for a period long enough to make an appreciable musical note. A sympathetic speaking voice is one whose production of tone most nearly approaches that of the singing voice, but whose inflexions are so varied as to remove it entirely from actual music. The word 'Cant' not improbably has its origin in puritanical sing-song speaking, and the word has been transferred from the manner to the matter, and applied to hypocritical expression of sanctity or sentiment. In sing-song speaking the exact opposite of the above combination is generally found—namely, an approximation to musical notes, and an abominable tone-production. The second distinguishing point is the fact that in ordinary speaking little more than one third (the lower third) of the vocal compass comes into play, while in singing the middle and upper parts are chiefly used. A tenor with a vocal compass of

{ \clef tenor { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \cadenzaOn c1 c4 a b'1 } }

will speak principally upon the part of the voice indicated by the crotchets, and most voices will end their phrases (when not interrogative) with a drop to the lowest sound that the vocal organ will produce, a sound lower in most cases than would be attempted as a note, basses and contraltos sometimes excepted. If the tenor were to speak as high as middle C he would be speaking in a decidedly loud voice, if he spoke naturally. The third point of difference, and that which most especially distinguishes singing from speaking, in English, is that short syllables (that is to say with the accent falling on the concluding consonant) cannot exist, as such, since the accent in singing is upon the vocal portion of the syllable. (See double vowels, later.) This, indeed, is the case in reading Italian, and even in carefully speaking it. Lastly, singing tends to preserve intact the relative purity of a language; speaking, to split it up into dialects and peculiarities.

Italian, then, takes the first position as having the purest vocal sounds and the largest amount of vowel. Latin, as sung, comes next. Its vowels are the same, but it has more consonants. The classification of French and German requires qualification. In amount of vocal sound French takes the third place, the custom of pronouncing, in singing, the (otherwise) mute syllables preventing consonants from coming together, and words from ending with hard consonants, but the quality of some of the vowels requires very great care to prevent its marring the pure emission of the voice. The proper management of the final n and m must be also closely studied. A great quality in the French language, as sung, is the fact that the amount of vocal sound is always at the same average. No sudden irruption of a mass of consonants, as in German or English, is to be feared. In vocal purity, though not in amount of vocal sound, German takes precedence of French, as containing more Italian vowel, but it is at times so encumbered with consonants that there is barely time to make the vowel heard. The modified vowels ü, ö and ä are a little troublesome. The most serious interruption to vocal sound is the articulation of ch followed by s, or worse still, of s by sch. But if the words are well chosen they flow very musically. The first line of Schubert's 'Ständchen Leise fliehen meine Lieder' is a good example; all the consonants being soft except the f. In contrast to this we have 'Flüsternd schlanke Wipfel rauschen' with thirty-one letters and only nine vowels. But perhaps the very worst phrase to be found set to music in any language, and set most unfortunately, occurs in the opera of 'Euryanthe.' In the aria for tenor, 'Wehen mir Lüfte Ruh,' the beautiful subject from the overture is introduced thus:

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
  \relative e' { \key aes \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro" \autoBeamOff \partial 4 ees4 | c'4. g8 \acciaccatura bes aes g aes f' | ees2 }
\addlyrics { O Se -- lig -- keit dich fass' ich kaum } }

As this subject is to be executed rapidly the g and k are not easy to get in in time. Then come td; then ch and f together; then ss. A jump of a major 6th on the monosyllable ich with its close vowel and the transition from ch to k on the E♭ are a piling of Pelion on Ossa in the creation of difficulty, which could have been avoided by arranging the syllables so that the moving group of notes might be vocalised. And this passage is the more remarkable as coming from one who has written so much and so well for the voice; namely, Weber.

Polyglot English requires more careful analysis than any other language before it can be sung, on account of the nature of its vowel-sounds and the irregularity of its orthography, consequent upon its many derivations. Its alphabet is almost useless. There are fourteen different ways (perhaps more) of representing on paper the sound of the alphabetical vowel I. There are nine different ways of pronouncing the combination of letters ough. The sound of the English language is by no means as bad as it is made to appear. No nation in the civilised world speaks its language so abominably as the English. The Scotch, Irish and Welsh, in the matter of articulation, speak much better than we do. Familiar conversation is carried on in inarticulate smudges of sound which are allowed to pass current for something, as worn-out shillings are accepted as representatives of twelve pence. Not only are we, as a rule, inarticulate, but our tone-production is wretched, and when English people begin to study singing, they are astonished to find that they have never learned to speak. In singing, there is scarcely a letter of our language that has not its special defect or defects amongst nearly all amateurs, and, sad to say, amongst some artists. An Italian has but to open his mouth, and if he have a voice its passage from the larynx to the outer air is prepared by his language. We, on the contrary, have to study hard before we can arrive at the Italian's starting-point. Besides, we are as much troubled as Germans with masses of consonants. For example, 'She watched through the night,' 'The fresh streams ran by her.' Two passages from Shakespeare are examples of hard and soft words. The one is from King Lear, 'The crows and choughs that wing the midway air.' In these last five words the voice ceases but once, and that upon the hard consonant t. The other sounds are all vocal and liquid, and represent remarkably the floating and skimming of a bird through the air. The other is from Julius Cæsar, 'I'm glad that my weak words have struck but thus much fire from Brutus.' The four hard short monosyllables, all spelt with the same vowel, are very suggestive.

All these difficulties in the way of pronunciation can be greatly overcome by carefully analysing vowels and consonants; and voice production, that difficult and troublesome problem, will be in a great measure solved thereby, for it should be ever borne in mind by students of singing, as one of two golden precepts, that a pure vowel always brings with it a pure note—for the simple reason that the pure vowel only brings into play those parts of the organs of speech that are necessary for its formation, and the impure vowel is rendered so by a convulsive action of throat, tongue, lips, nose or palate.

In studying voice-production let three experiments be tried, (1) Take an ordinary tumbler and partially cover its mouth with a thin book. Set a tuning-fork in vibration and apply the flat side to the opening left by the book, altering the opening until the note of the fork is heard to increase considerably in volume. When the right-sized opening is found, the sound of the fork will be largely reinforced. In like manner, in singing, the small initial sound produced by the vibrating element of the voice-organs is reinforced by vibrations communicated to the air contained in the resonance chambers. (2) Next take an ordinary porcelain flower-vase. Sing a sonorous A (Italian) in the open, on the middle of the voice, then repeat the A with the mouth and nose inserted in the flower-vase, and the vowel-sound will be neutralised, and the vibration to a great extent suffocated. In like manner the sound which has been reinforced by the good position of some of the resonance chambers may be suffocated and spoiled by a bad position of any one of the remaining ones. These two experiments, simple as they are, are conclusive. (3) The third, less simple, consists in whispering the vowels. The five elementary sounds of language (the Italian vowels) will be found in the following order, I, E, A, O, U, or vice versa, each vowel giving a musical note dependent entirely upon the resonance of the chambers, the larynx giving no musical sound, but only a rush of air through the glottis. I gives the highest sound and U the lowest, the pitch of the notes being fixed by Helmholtz.[3] The importance of these three experiments consists in their clearly showing how the smallest deviation from a certain position produces a marked change of, resonance in the note, and an alteration in the colour of the vowel-sound.

The subject of Analysis of Language, so exhaustively treated by Professor Max Müller in connexion with ethnological research, and very critically entered into by Mr. Ellis in 'Speech in Song,' for the purpose of aiding the singer, is a very large one, and the following diagram of vowel-sounds, and table of consonants, are designed only to bring immediately under notice in a concentrated form the connexion between pure vowel-formation and articulation, and pure voice-production, and treat only of the principal sounds of the five languages already enumerated, as they must be sung.

The Italian vowels will be the starting-point, because they are the pure elementary sounds of language in general. On the line of the Phonic circle will be found all the vowel-sounds in the formation of which there is no initial contraction of the edge of the lips and no action of the point of the tongue. These sounds are placed in the order of vocal colour, and the numbers represent their importance for singing. The order of vowel-formation, in accordance with whispered vowel-sound, is as follows.

Page 512 (A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3).jpg
In forming the German modified vowels 10, 12 and 19, there is more or less contraction of the inner edge of the lips. In the French u there is great contraction of the outer edge of the lips, and the end of the tongue presses slightly against the inside of the under lip, making the exit for the voice as small as is compatible with the emission of a vowel-sound. The three primary vowels A, I, U (Italian sound), give three definite, ultimate positions of the resonance chambers. A gives the most perfect tube, and therefore the largest, roundest sound. It is a mid-position with the best proportion of parts, and produces the normal singing vowel, the most gratifying of all the vowels as a question of sound. I has the mouth filled with tongue, its root and the larynx being raised, affording a very small flat exit for the voice, and requiring more lung-pressure in its emission. U gives the largest space in the resonance chambers, the tongue being retracted upon itself, with its root and the larynx drawn down. With the contraction and protrusion of the lips necessary to its formation it cannot be a sonorous vowel. If these sounds are purely pronounced, without that baneful stiffening of the root of the tongue so very general in this country, the secondary sounds 4 and 5 can be found by passing from one primary sound to another, and the other gradations in the same way. The sounds within the circle require the action of the lips and tongue. The three sounds 8, 14, and 9, above the circle, require care. The short flat English a in 'bat,' as spoken, begets a position of
Page 513 (A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3).jpg

the mouth incompatible with good voice-production, and it has to be slightly modified, without however destroying its individuality, by making that large pharynx so dear to those who have to do with the voice. The French normal a is in the same direction, but not quite so flat, while the English a in 'past,' etc. brings us on the road home to the normal vowel. With an assiduous cultivation of the ear while studying positions, and a careful avoidance of convulsion, and a keen sense of how small a deviation from a good position may entirely ruin a sound, there is no reason why a good pronunciation of a foreign language should be an insurmountable difficulty. No. 6 is a vowel that must be well observed in English singing; also the fact that the difference of position between short u, and A, is not very great, while the difference of sound as a question of a real difficulty is the management of our double vowels. They must be treated and sung as given in the Table of Vowel-sounds. The most troublesome case is that of the combination ire. With two notes to the second syllable of 'desire' it is very common to hear

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \override Score.Clef #'stencil = ##f \relative a' { \partial 8*5 a8 g([ e]) d( f) | f4-" 6 7" e }
\addlyrics { thy heart's de -- sA -- iyers } }

This syllable must be rendered

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \override Score.Clef #'stencil = ##f \relative d' { \partial 4 d8( f) | f4( e) \hideNotes e-"67" }
\addlyrics { de -- sA -- iers } }

i.e. one inflected syllable, the inflection being got over as quickly and smoothly as possible after the two notes have been vocalised on the first component part of the i. The r having produced the above inflexion, and having, in other cases changed the sound of the vowel, we consider it has done enough, and do not pronounce it at all as a final. The mechanical formation of consonants might be considered for the most part the same in civilised languages if all nations spoke equally well. But we are sadly careless, and in singing English perhaps the most serious fault of all is the neglect of finals. We have so many words, monosyllables especially, pronounced precisely alike in all respects except the last consonant sound; e.g.

All resulting in
bay without
Resulting in a
senseless sound
without final.
Resulting in
lie without

The last column brings to mind what is not tinfrequently heard in the oratorio of the Messiah—'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great lie.'

It is not at all unusual to hear the English T and D pronounced with the under side of the tongue. This gives something of a Somersetshire burr, and is adopted by the Italian actors when they imitate the English. These consonants, in English, must be pronounced with the upper side of the point of the tongue, just under the ridge terminating the vault of the hard palate in front. The Italian T and D have the point of the tongue lower down, fitting into the angle formed by the teeth and gums. The importance of properly pronouncing the nasals cannot be overestimated. The necessary management of the soft palate, and the general absence thereof, rightly emphasised by Herr Behnke in his 'Mechanism of the Human Voice,' was probably the foundation of M. Wartel's system (pushed to extremes) of vocalisation with the closed mouth. The freedom required in opening the nasal passages for these sounds is equally required to close them when singing vowels. These sounds when defective are often called nasal, when in fact they are not nasal enough, and sometimes not at all. It borders on the ridiculous to hear 'O for the wigs of a dove.'

The mechanism of the Italian double consonants will be facilitated by taking a Latin word, pectus, for example, from which an Italian word, petto, is derived. The double t will occupy exactly the same space of time as the ct. This mechanism has to be introduced into English where the final of one word is the initial of another, e.g. 'when near,' 'with thee,' 'all lost,' 'if fear.' These details, though savouring of the instruction-book, serve to point out how dependent voice-production and pronunciation are upon each other, and also how great an advantage the Italians have over other nations in the matter of language, and how their school of singing must have been influenced thereby. Mr. Ellis's book, 'Speech in Song,' should be read carefully by students of singing.

Though foreign singers are often indistinct, radical faults of pronunciation are rare with them when singing their own language, and this on account of the less complex character of their respective tongues, and the greater simplicity of their orthography. The difficulties of English, as will be seen from the tables given, are considerable, but this does not excuse the irritating indifference of many English amateurs and would-be artists, in the matter of languages generally. It is not at all unusual for a student when training for a singer's career, to study a large amount of foreign music, extending over a considerable time, the words being always carefully translated to him, the roots explained, and the analogies between the foreign language and his own pointed out, in the hope that at least a little might be 'picked up' in the time, and yet, in the end, the student shall exhibit total ignorance even of the definite article. In some cases the pronunciation has been more than fairly acquired, which makes the other failure the more unpardonable. Nor is the common utterance of blind prejudice particularly edifying. It is frequently said, 'Oh French is a horrible language to sing; it is all nasal!' or 'German is a wretched language to sing; it is all guttural!' A language is in a
Page 515 (A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3).jpg
great measure what a singer makes it. If our language, as it is too often spoken or sung, contained no more objectionable sound than a Hanoverian lady's guttural, we should be very fortunate.

Enough has been said to show that all the purer and more sonorous parts of language in general are Italian. We thus arrive at a first reason why singing should have naturally flourished in Italy. The unsatisfactory treatment of our own language is a first reason why it does not flourish as it ought with us. In using foreign languages we dread affectation, and are glad to comfort ourselves with the reflection that the world at large will not recognise our defects. Whom ought we really to consider—the many who may not recognise the defects, or the one or two natives who may be present? Dread of affectation must be got over by careful study and habit.

From the foregoing tables it will be seen that, for singing purposes, the elements of language are reducible to a small compass. It is very important that a standard of pronunciation should be established, and individual peculiarities eliminated from language that is to be sung. In our daily intercourse we tolerate and involuntarily approve peculiarities (provided they are not too glaring) in those with whom we are in sympathy, the peculiarities themselves bringing the individuality home to us. But the ear is not then seeking the gratification of a special sense possessed by almost every human being in his different degree, and by many animals,—susceptibility to the charm of musical sound. The moment we come to music, its catholicity requires that its rendering should be unalloyed by anything that can interrupt its flow into the soul. Individualities of timbre must of course exist, but there is that within us which accepts and morally assimilates these characteristics; provided, again, they are not so marked as to counterbalance other and fitting qualifications. Peculiarity and indistinctness of pronunciation are two great and well-known barriers to the adequate enjoyment of vocal music; the first because it is constantly drawing the attention from what ought to be almost ethereal, and the second because it sets the hearer thinking what it is all about, and the moment he begins to think he ceases to feel.

Another cause for the developement of singing in Italy was the necessity for finding the best singers for the Papal service, in which females were not permitted to take part. Boys were employed as in our own cathedrals, and counter-tenors, or falsetto-singers, chiefly Spaniards. But as solo-singing increased in importance, the counter-tenors no doubt began to realise the fact that by cultivating the falsetto they were ruining their more robust registers, and the fact became more and more patent that as soon as a boy was beginning to acquire some cultivation of taste his voice left him. This led to the custom of preventing the voice from breaking, by artificial means. In the case of these singers there was hardly any cessation in the course of study from early to more mature years. There was not the total stoppage of work, the enforced interval of two or three years for the voice to settle, and the recommencement under totally different conditions. The long course of uninterrupted study would bring the art of vocalisation to perfection, and these perfect singers, who were afterwards introduced upon the stage, became, as the art progressed, models of style and execution (according, be it understood, to the taste of the period), and furnished many of the best singing-masters. The first victim of the brutal custom alluded to was the Padre Rossini, admitted into the Pontifical Chapel in 1601, and nearly the last was Crescentini, who died in 1846. The last Papal falsetto singer was Giovanni de Sanctos, who died at Rome in 1625. In addition to the influences already named, ecclesiastical authority would have its effect, at any rate in the early stages of study, in exacting the necessary application on the part of students.

Subordination to teachers existed in times gone by, and the gradual developement of volume of voice and the power of exact execution, without the sacrifice of quality, and the cultivation of taste (the abstract of judgment, a sense of proportion and fitness) were the results. The observance of the second golden precept in studying singing, 'Work for quality, and power will take care of itself,' has not been sufficiently carried out in later times.

At a not very remote time no females were permitted to appear on the stage at Rome in any entertainment, operatic, dramatic, or chorographic, the singing parts being filled by the best-looking artificial soprani and contralti that could be found. It is an injustice to ascribe to individuals of this class a deficiency, necessarily, of intellectual power or of personal courage. History sets this question quite at rest. Nor are defects in the powers of articulation peculiar to them. Not one in a hundred, scarcely, of ordinary mortals is free from some failure in this respect.

Very little seems to be known about solo singers before the beginning of the 17th century, the period in fact at which they were really required. Caccini, the composer, and his daughter are said to have been both fine singers. The monodic form growing with Caccini and his immediate successors brought with it, of necessity, a corresponding growth of the vocal art. The great stride made by Monteverde and Cavalli towards the modern opera, their amplification of the orchestra, and the improvement of the recitative by Carissimi and others, gave so great an impulse to the study of using the voice, that in a comparatively short time there was without doubt some very fine singing, if music of the middle of the 17th century had adequate interpretation; and if not its continued production would speedily have come to an end. Amongst the cantatas of Luigi Rossi in the British Museum, is one in particular, 'Gelosia' (composed about 1640) requiring all the qualifications of a fine singer—voice (tenore robusto, high baritone, or mezzo-soprano), declamatory power, pathos, and agility. Another, by Carissimi, 'Vittoria,' demands vigorous singing. The latter is well-known, and both are published amongst 'Les Gloires de l'Italie.' The dramatic force exacted by a just rendering of the kind of music named, and which had been naturally brought about by the creation of the recitative, by degrees gave place to a more mechanical style of singing. The constant recitative became monotonous, and rhythmical airs, more and more formal, came into vogue, their formality being afterwards relieved by set passages or divisions. The singers above referred to brought their vocalisation to such a grade of perfection and exactness that they must have sung really with the precision of an instrument. This wonderful power of exact execution culminated in Porpora's famous pupils, Farinelli and Caffarelli. [See those names.] It is said that Porpora kept Caffarelli for five or six years to one page of exercises and nothing else, and at the end of the time told him he was the greatest singer in Europe. This is of course an exaggeration, since such taste and style as those of Caffarelli cannot be formed by a page of exercises; but it embodies the principle of slow patient work, and of gradual development, instead of the forcing of all the powers. Few are blest with naturally perfect voices, and it is even probable that Porpora did prescribe to Caffarelli a certain set of exercises to be used daily. It is the constant practice of certain passages that overcomes defects. The passages (some examples of which are here given) in much of the music of that date, especially that of Porpora, are really instrumental passages, strongly resembling the vocalizzi of the period [see Solfeggio], and possessing but little interest beyond the surprise that their exact performance would create.



{ \relative d'' { \override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #f #f) \key g \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro assai." r2 r8 d d\noBeam d |
 e16[ e, fis g a b c d] e2\trill |
 d16[ d, e fis g a b c] d2\trill | %end line 1
 c16[ c, d e fis g a b] c2\trill |
 b4 g' fis2\trill | e\trill d\trill | c\trill b\trill | %end line 2
 a\trill g16 a b c d4 |
 g,16 a b c d4 a16 b c d e4 ~ | e d16 c b a %end line 3
 \repeat unfold 4 { b32 c d16 d d d d d d } %first half line 5
 e[ fis g fis e d c b] | c[ d e d c b a b] c8 c4 c8 ~ | %end line 5
 c c4 c c c8 ~ c c4 c8 c2\trill\fermata }
\addlyrics { in al -- to mar __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ } }



{ \relative e'' { \override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #f #f) \key a \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro." \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical
  e8 e4 e,8 fis16 fis gis fis fis fis gis fis |
  fis8 gis16 a b a gis fis gis gis a gis gis gis a gis | %end line 1
  gis8 a16 b cis b a gis a a b a a a b a |
  a8 b16 cis d cis b ais b b cis b b b cis b | %end line 2
  b8 cis16 d e d cis b cis8 cis16 bis cis d e fis |
  b,8 b16 ais b cis d e a,8 a4 a8 ~ | %end line 3
  a a ~ a16 b cis dis e8 e, e8*2/1 ~ |
  e8 e4 fis16 gis a b cis d e e e e | %end line 4
  gis, a b cis d d d d a b cis d e e e e |
  gis, a b cis d d d d cis a fis' d e cis d b | %end line 5
  cis a fis' d e cis d b cis a fis' d e cis d b |
  a4 b\trill a r \bar "||" }
\addlyrics { qual -- che sper -- an -- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ za an -- cor. } }



{ \relative e'' { \override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #f #f) \key d \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro." 
  r8 e e\noBeam e fis16 d cis d a d cis d |
  fis d cis d a d cis d e cis b cis a cis b cis | %end line 1
  e cis d cis a cis b cis d b a b gis b a b |
  d b a b gis b a b cis a e' d cis b a g | %end line 2
  fis d d' cis b a g fis e cis cis' b a gis fis e |
  d b b' a gis fis e d cis e d fis e gis fis a | %end line 3
  gis b a cis b d cis e d, fis e gis fis a gis b |
  a cis b d cis e d fis e, fis gis a b cis d e | %end line 4
  fis, gis a b cis d e fis gis, a b cis d e fis gis |
  a,4 a, r2 }
\addlyrics { a la -- ce -- rar -- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ mi. } }



{ \relative d'' { \override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #f #f) \key g \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro." \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical
  r2 r4 r8 d |
  g16 fis e8 d16 cis b8 cis16 a b a a4\trill |
  d16 a b a a4\trill e'16 a, b a a4\trill | %end line 1
  fis'8 e4 d8 cis16 a b a a4\trill |
  d16 a b a a4\trill e'16 a, b a a4\trill |
  fis'8 e4 d8 cis16 a b a a4\trill | %end line 2
  a'16[ g fis e d cis b a] b g a g g4\trill |
  g'16[ fis e d cis b a g] a fis g fis fis4\trill | %end line 3
  fis'16[ e d cis b a g fis] g e fis e e4\trill |
  e'16 d cis b a8 g fis16 g a a a4\trill | %end line 4
  e'16 d cis b a8 g fis16 g a a a4\trill |
  e'16 d cis b a8 g fis16 d e fis g a b cis | %end line 5
%following three lines of score brought back from next page for ease of transclusion
  d d e d d d e d d[ d, e fis g a b c] |
  d d e d d d e d g4 fis | %end line 6
  e d cis e | r8 cis16 d e cis b a g4 e' |
  r8 cis16 d e cis b a g2 | %end line 7
  g'2 fis16 e d cis d4 |
  fis16 e d cis d4 d8 cis16 b a8 g |
  fis32 e d8. e4\trill d \bar "|" }
\addlyrics { A nau -- _ _ fra -- _ _ gar -- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ a nau -- _ _ fra -- gar. } }

It would be impossible to sing this kind of music accompanied by any great dramatic action, since action would throw the voice off its balance and do away with the exact execution which was the main attraction of the music; thus by degrees a great deal of the singing will have become unimpassioned, the singer will have stood to sing his songs without troubling himself to act, and the wonderful execution and the peculiarity of the voices—many of which are said to have been very fine, with a tone like that of a highly developed boy's voice—will have exercised a certain fascination over the hearer, and have become for a time the fashion. One of the finest of these singers was Pacchierotti, who with a defective voice, possessed high intelligence, and made himself a consummate artist; the last heard in England being Velluti (born 1781, died 1861; in London with Mendelssohn in 1829), also a highly finished artist, famous for his phrasing and for the grace of his singing generally.

The music of Handel, Scarlatti and Hasse, while mechanically difficult enough, called forth broader artistic powers, possessed by these great singers in an equal degree with mere agility, when occasion required them; and the names of Farinelli, Caffarelli, Gizziello, Bernacchi, Carestini, Senesino, etc., and others, formed a bright array of vocalists. About the same time the celebrated Faustina (Mme. Hasse) and Cuzzoni were most brilliant singers. Faustina is said to have had such extraordinary powers of respiration that it was supposed she could sing both inspiring and expiring. Her agility was marvellous. Basses were now recognised, amongst whom Boschi and Montagnana, with voices of large compass, were very fine singers. The following extract from a song sung by the latter requires exact intonation.



{ \relative g { \clef bass \key d \major \time 6/8
  r8 g! fis eis cis' e, |
  dis b' d, cis a' cis, |
  b gis' b, a cis fis | %end line 1
  d fis b eis, gis cis |
  a fis d' ~ d bes cis |
  b gis a g eis fis\noBeam |
  b, cis 4 d4.\fermata }
\addlyrics { che son stan -- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ chi di soff -- rir. } }

In the latter half of the 18th century voices of exceptional, in two cases almost phenomenal, compass appeared. That of Agujari, upon the testimony of Mozart, extended upwards to C in altissimo. Another account gives her two fair octaves, from A below the stave to A in alt (which would be only the compass of a good mezzo-soprano), but says that she had in early youth another octave. Mozart, however, may be trusted; and as she was 27 when he heard her in 1770, and her early youth over, it is clear that she had a remarkable compass. The very high part of the voice may possibly have left her before she was far advanced in years. In early life a very large compass is not a great rarity. A male voice in the writer's experience, soon after breaking, could sound notes from A, 1st space bass, to treble C in alt, the upper octave and a half being, it is true, falsetto (using the word in its ordinary acceptation, and not as applied to the middle register). In about a year, as the lower registers increased in firmness, nearly the whole of the upper octave disappeared. Voices that can sound three octaves are not very unusual, and such a voice has been met with in a boy; but a compass of two good octaves is a great gift. A mezzo-soprano voice has been heard that could touch G on the bottom line of the bass clef; not a usable note, but sufficiently defined to be clearly recognised; while a voice, undeniably tenor in quality, had a compass from the same note, to D above the bass stave, and no more. These are freaks of nature. Young contraltos frequently have a spurious upper octave which disappears as the voice strengthens. Fischer, the great German bass, had a compass of from D below the bass stave to A above, an extraordinary range for a male voice without falsetto. His organ must have been singularly powerful and flexible. In Russia, bass voices reaching to A or G below the bass stave are not uncommon, but they have not generally a large compass. A family of Russian Jews, of three generations, sang together in London about the year 1843. The grandfather, with a long patriarchal beard, sang down to A below the bass stave, but he had not many notes, and was in fact a contrabasso. He only vocalised, and that in part-music. Taking this low A as a starting-point, and Agujari's high C as the other extreme, the human voice has the astounding compass of nearly five octaves and a half. Germany's first great female singer, Mara, with a very beautiful voice of 2¾ octaves, from low G to high E, must have been one of the finest of these great singers. The compass is that of a magnificent soprano drammatico, and as she is said to have possessed solid talent, and to have been a good musician, she must have been splendid. Banti had most probably about three octaves. She reached high G, the voice being beautiful and her execution perfect. Mrs. Billington, with German blood on the father's side, was another example of large compass from A to A, 3 octaves. Catalani, again, had a beautiful voice up to high G, and marvellous execution. In the present day, Carlotta Patti and Miss Robertson are examples of high range.

In considering the large compass of some of the voices just mentioned, it might seem marvellous how so small an instrument can produce not only so great a range of notes, but notes of so much power. The investigations of Manuel Garcia,[4] Czermak, Dr. Mandl,[5] Madame Seiler,[6] Dr. Luschka,[7] Dr. Morell Mackenzie,[8] Mr. Gordon Holmes,[9] and Herr Emil Behnke,[10] have done a vast deal to elucidate much that concerns the cognate subjects of voice-production and of registers, and to scatter to the winds untenable theories—such for instance as that the varying pitch of notes is the result of harmonics formed in the resonance-chambers; that the falsetto is produced by the laryngeal sacculi acting like a hazel-nut made into a whistle, etc.; but the difficulties of adequate laryngoscopic observation prevent the clearing up of many perplexing details. In consulting the above-mentioned works some confusion arises from a difference of nomenclature, not only in the matter of registers, but of those all-important anatomical items, the voice membranes, variously called vocal cords, bands, ligaments, lips, and reeds. In the latter case this is not of so much importance, as it is easy to recognise that they all refer to the same part; but in naming the registers, it makes all the difference whether the term 'falsetto' is used under the old acceptation, or under that of Garcia, who applies it to the middle register. The old terms, 'chest' (open and closed), 'head,' 'mixed,' and 'falsetto'—though objected to as unscientific and based upon sensations and fancies certainly give as good an idea of the respective registers as the newly-proposed terms, 'lower and upper thick,' 'lower and upper thin,' and 'small.' The terms Voce di petto, or di testa, Falsetto, Voce mista, or Mezza voce; aprire and chiudere—to denote the passing from what is called here the open to the close chest register (to which Randegger's terms 'lower and upper series of chest register' correspond)—have been used by the Italians through the whole time when the art of singing was in a more prosperous condition than it is now; and until undeniably better terms can be found it is inexpedient, on the score of intelligibility, to quit the old ones. The term 'chest register' applied to the series of tones produced with the larynx drawn down towards the chest by the sterno-thyroid muscles, and causing larynx and chest to vibrate in one, is quite to the point. 'Open' and 'close' are applied to vowel-sounds, and since the open and close chest-registers give the same quality of tone as open and close vowels—having, there is little doubt, the larynx in the same condition in both cases—the terms are quite legitimate. Again, 'falsetto,' when applied to a register so different in tone from the chest voice as to seem, in many cases, to belong to another individual, or even another sex, is not at all an inappropriate term. But though the falsetto differs so entirely from chest-voice, it may be used, if reached through the head-voice, in diminishing a note to a point; but only when, by practice, the different registers are perfectly blended. In some cases the falsetto is so strong as to be undistinguishable from head-voice, as in some cases also a strong head-voice may in the higher notes be mistaken for chest. Wachtel's high notes were produced by a mixed chest and head voice. How all these gradations are brought about is not quite clear, but there seems no doubt that attenuation of the vibrating element is effected in each successive higher register, as in a thinner string upon the violin; and also that in the case of falsetto, part of the voice-membranes (or vocal cords) is shut off or 'stopped,' either by a node, or by constriction of the complex thyro-arytenoid muscles. If it should hereafter be found that any part of these muscles is quite of the nature of the tongue, with fibres running in many different directions, and thus capable of being brought to bear upon any point of the voice membranes, a good deal would be accounted for.

Notwithstanding difference of nomenclature, Herr Behnke's work is a most welcome addition to the practical literature on the subject. Apropos of nomenclature generally, would not a standing committee be advisable to settle points of this kind from time to time? If a writer advances an opinion, and there is reason to differ from it, it is a long time before a counter-suggestion is available. Whereas a friendly personal interchange of ideas might speedily bring about a satisfactory conclusion. This question might be taken up by the Musical Association or the Royal College of Music. But to resume.

After Catalani, the operatic style advanced in the direction of dramatic force, and entered on the golden era of united singing and acting, much to the displeasure of the older critics, who delighted in singing unaccompanied by much gesticulation. Pasta may be said to have shown the way to unite fine singing with classic acting, so that the two should aid each other. Endowed by nature with a harsh veiled voice, she worked with prodigious determination to reduce it to obedience, and at the same time made a special study from antique sculpture of the most effective gestures, and the classical mode of arranging drapery. When nearly sixty she had still preserved a wonderful power of mezza voce when singing in private. One, who, like many Germans, had great dramatic genius, but whose vocal powers were chiefly of the declamatory kind, created an immense sensation about 50 years ago, wherever she appeared. This was Schröder-Devrient, who created the part of Fidelio, and sang it in the presence of the illustrious composer of that opera to his entire satisfaction. A singer who held for some years the post of reigning favourite was Malibran, a woman of great genius, marred by a good deal of caprice. Giulia Grisi, with less genius than Pasta and Malibran, but with a lovely voice, great beauty, and much natural talent, was as persistently recognised as queen of song, through a long series of years, as any public favourite, with the exception, perhaps, of Adelina Patti. She formed one of the famous quartet with Rubini, Tamburini, and Lablache, Rubini on his retirement being replaced by Mario. This quartet sang together for many years, and were united by such strong ties of friendship, and such absence of anything in the shape of artistic jealousy, that the perfection of the ensemble was at once their own delight and that of their admirers. A very fine contralto, Marietta Brambilla, sang about the same time. Grisi had considerable versatility, singing Norma, Lucrezia Borgia, Ninetta (in La Gazza ladra), Norina (in Don Pasquale), Elvira (in I Puritani), all well. Contemporary with Grisi was Persiani, a very charming singer and actress, in spite of a not very pleasing voice and a somewhat plain exterior. She could not take such parts as Norma or Anna Bolena with effect, but she sang with unaffected pathos, and executed florid music very perfectly. After Grisi and Persiani, Bosio and Piccolomini held a high place in the artistic world, and Sontag, a graceful and captivating singer, reappeared after some years' retirement. Another great example of the victory of Art over Nature was Malibran's sister Pauline (Viardot), a woman of great genius with a defective voice, who became a worthy representative of the great Garcia family. At the time of the foundation of the second Opera House, Covent Garden, to which Grisi and Mario, and Costa as conductor, transferred their services, there appeared a star of great magnitude, of whom so much had been heard as might have endangered a first appearance. Perhaps, however, no success was ever more complete than that of Jenny Lind (Madame Goldschmidt). Her special characters during her career in London were Alice (Roberto il Diavolo), Maria (La Figlia del reggimento), Amina, Lucia, Susanna, and similar parts, in which the softer attributes of the female character predominate. And even in those parts which were not her greatest successes she always did something better than it had been done before. In Norma the cavatina 'Casta Diva' was sung by her with infinite pathos and grace. There was a slight veil upon the middle and lower part of the voice, but it was only sufficient to give it substance. Her Alice was an impersonation of the highest order. Seen from a proscenium box at a distance of only a couple of yards in the old Her Majesty's Theatre, every look and gesture was reality. The scene by the cross was one not to be easily forgotten. The Bertram was the famous German bass, Staudigl, who with very little help in the way of stage paint, etc., contrived to give his usually good-natured face an expression of stony fiendishness that was actually appalling. With little gesticulation he seemed really to have the power of magnetising with his glance. Jenny Lind had a great faculty of working up to a climax with a minimum of apparent effort, and a maximum of effect. Her execution was most perfect, and her high notes rich and clear. In the Figlia del Reggimento she gave a sudden display of brilliant florid singing that was truly marvellous. In the scene in which the aunt is giving Maria a singing-lesson on an antiquated tune, bored to death, and with her mind wandering to the scenes of her former life, she broke forth into a veritable flood of vocalisation; roulades, quickly reiterated notes, trills, etc., in such rapid succession and for such a length of time, that it was difficult to imagine where the strength came from. It was quite a stroke of genius, the more unexpected as occurring in one of Donizetti's inferior operas. Jenny Lind was also a great oratorio singer. [For her other great operatic successes see vol. ii. p. 141.] Some cadences of Mlle. Lind's own, given here, are examples of her powers of vocalisation. They were not sung as mere passages of agility, but to their absolute perfection of execution was added an expressive significance which this wonderful artist knew so well how to throw into everything she sang. Two more examples will be found in the article above mentioned.

(1) Lucia di Lammermoor.

{ \relative d'' { \key g \major \cadenzaOn \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
 d4\trill\fermata \grace{ cis16^( d } fis4-.) r4
  \grace { cis16 d e } d4\trill\fermata
  \grace { cis16^( d } a'4-.) r4 cis,8[->^\( d16 e] %end line 1
 d2\)\trill\cresc \grace { cis16 d } eis8[->^\( fis16 g] fis2\)\trill
  \grace { eis16 fis } gis8[->\( a16 b] a2\trill\)\( \bar "" %end line 2
 \grace { gis16\f a } c2\)\fermata\< ~ c8[\! r16 b(\( d)\> cis-. c-. b-. bes-. a-. gis-. g-.\)] %end line 3
 fis16^\([ c'-> a fis d dis^\markup \teeny \italic "accelerando." fis e b c e d! c a32 fis d cis d fis a c! d\)]
  \appoggiatura { d32 f } e2(^\markup \teeny \italic "espressivo." d4) \bar "||" <d, b g>4 } }

(2) Beatrice di Tenda.

{ \relative a' { \key ees \major \clef bass \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \cadenzaOn
  <aes d, f, ces ees,>2 \clef treble f'8[^\(_"ah!" g f e f fis g aes a bes ces aes(] d2)\)\fermata %end line 1
  r16\p b([ aes f)] e[( g bes des)] c([ a ges ees!])
    d([ f aes ces)] bes([ g e des]) %end line 2
  c\<([ ees ges a)] \bar "" aes8.[(\f->^\markup \small \italic "ten."
    f32-. d-. b-.]) g'8.\f->([ e32-. des-. bes-.])
    ges'16\fermata[(\> ees-. c-. a-. aes-.\!_\markup \italic "acclerando." ces-. d-. f-.)] %end line 3
  e->([ des-. bes-. g-.] ges[-. a-. c-. ees]-.) \bar ""
    d8.->[\( b32^\markup \small \italic "rall." aes f]
    d'8.[\p b32 aes g] ces8-.\)[ aes-. f-. d]( c'4) bes2(\fermata \bar "|" ees,) } }

(3) Beatrice di Tenda

{ \relative a'' { \key aes \major \cadenzaOn \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \override BreathingSign.text = \markup { \musicglyph "scripts.caesura.curved" }
  \afterGrace aes2\trill\f( { g16 aes) } g4( bes)
  \afterGrace f2\trill\f( { ees16 f) } ees4( bes') %end line 1
  \afterGrace d,2\f\trill { c16 d }
  c8(_\markup \small \italic "rall." bes'8) r\fermata \breathe
  \afterGrace bes,2\trill\pp( { a16 bes) }
  \afterGrace a2\trill( { a!16_\markup \small \italic "sempre" bes) }
  \afterGrace aes2\trill\p( { g16 aes) } \bar "" %end line 2
  f'8[\fermata ees32( d c bes aes g f ees d])_(
  aes''8)[\pp\fermata g32( f ees d c bes aes g f)] %end line 3
  \repeat unfold 4 { c''16-.[ c-. c-. c-.] } \bar "" %end line 4
  c2\fermata bes16([ aes g f ees d c bes a])^\markup \small \italic "rall."
  aes2\fermata\pp( g8) r \bar "||"
  g4^\markup \small \italic "Tempo" aes \bar "|"
  \afterGrace bes4.\trill { a16 bes } g'4 ees } }

Musical decoration, in the form of cadences or passages of agility, adds much meaning to the music in which it is judiciously introduced, and is as reasonable and as consonant with the canons of art as architectural decoration. Whatever the origin or precise meaning of a trill may be, its effect, in the right place and well executed, is prodigiously fine. Indeed the result of ornament is often greatly out of proportion to its appearance. When the two sisters Marchisio appeared at Milan about the year 1856 in 'Semiramide,' the soprano introduced a little passage at the end of the air 'Bel raggio' thus,—

{ \relative a' { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \key a \major \partial 32*25
  a4 b8 cis[ cis32 e b' a dis,,( e cis') cis]\fermata \stemUp b32 | a4 }
\addlyrics { qui a me -- _ _ _ _ _ _ ver -- rà } }

and later, in the duet 'Ebben, a te, ferisci'—

{ \relative f'' { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \key e \major \tempo \markup \italic "Allegro."
  fis2. e4 | dis8 b' cis b a cis, d cis |
  b gis' a gis fis a, b a | gis2 }
\addlyrics { ciel, lo sal -- _ _ _ vi _ _ il tuo _ _ _ fa -- _ _ _ vor. } }

These passages do not look very much on paper, but their effect, executed without the smallest apparent premeditation, and with a spontaneous élan de voix, was simply electric. In the final air in 'Lucrezia Borgia,' in which Lucrezia reproaches the Duke with causing the death of her son, the long descending scales and rising passages give immense vehemence to her agony of grief, and form a striking contrast to the measured sequential passages which Farinelli probably sang without changing his position.

While Jenny Lind was achieving the success we have described in the Haymarket, there appeared at the rival house in Covent Garden the famous Alboni, a superb contralto, or rather mezzo soprano, of considerable compass and great flexibility. But during the very reign of the great singers enumerated above there set in a deterioration in the art of singing. Its very perfection at that time was, in a way, the first cause of its decadence. The singer had become all paramount, and opera had again drifted into conventionality. Numbers of operas were brought out that were weak imitations, first of good works, and then of one another, written chiefly to afford the singer the opportunity for display in arias of stereotyped form encumbered by a great deal of flimsy padding, and the higher forms of composition were less and less to be found, until at last, as Wagner says, the capacities of the orchestra were almost entirely ignored, and it sank to the level of a huge guitar. It rose afterwards, in the hands of those who did not know how to use it, to the height of a huge brass band. The reaction was brought about with too much pride and too little temper. The voice, from having been almost exclusively considered, began to be almost as exclusively ignored. As the new style of music required more force than delicacy in its execution, a much shorter and more superficial artistic preparation was needed to give something of a rendering. The possessor of a strong voice, after a few months', instead of a few years' work, entered upon the operatic career with powers not half developed or brought under control, and therefore unprepared to support the greater strain brought to bear upon them. The voice itself necessitated increased forcing to make the required noise, and speedy deterioration was the frequent result. Mara sang the 'Creation' at the Norwich Festival, and was asked how she liked it. She answered that it was the first time she had ever accompanied an orchestra. What would she have said to some modern operas?

A vocal vice next sprang into existence: namely, a departure from the steadily sustained note. It took two forms, the Vibrato and the Tremolo. The first had been introduced by Rubini, and its abuse was the one thing in his singing which could have been spared. Both are legitimate means of expression in dramatic music, when used sparingly in the proper time and place; but when constantly heard are intolerable. They (the Tremolo especially) cause at first a painful sensation by suggesting a state of nervous excitement that must infallibly be rapidly fatal; but this soon subsides, and they are felt to be mere abominable mannerisms, expressing nothing at all but a direful want of control over the feelings. And there is no greater nuisance in life than cheap tears. Ferri, a baritone who sang at the Scala about 1853, made use of the tremolo upon every note, to such an extent that his whole singing was a bad wobbling trill. Almost all the singers of that time indulged in it. It is said to be the result of overstraining the voice in singing against the heavy instrumentation. But this is clearly not the case, since many who use it are as fresh at the end of an opera as at the beginning. It is probably sometimes used with the view of making the voice carry; but if it does this, it does it at the expense of intonation. With others it is simply an exaggeration, supposed to be 'intense.' It is happily beginning to disappear, thanks to the few who have resisted the fascination of easy popularity, and preserved the traditions of the good school, amongst whom our own best concert and oratorio singers have done their full share of good work. Apropos to this substitute for true expression, what are we to understand by that much-abused word? A generally accepted meaning is a series of aimless ill-proportioned crescendos and diminuendos, rallentandos and accellerandos with a constant apparent disposition to cry. Taste and expression are often confounded with each other. 'Expression,' if only from its etymology, means a manifestation of the thought and feeling that is passing within. Can people, then, be taught to sing with true expression? Certainly not through the bare outward means to the end. But they may be taught to seek for some meaning in their words and music that shall rouse their feelings, and then they may be guided in their use of the mechanical means at their disposal, in order to avoid exaggeration: when once they feel, we have the signs of it in the mere sound of the voice; and it is this subtle expression springing from within that finds its way from one soul to another; and as a glass reflects only what is placed before it, so, only so far as the singing is or has been felt by the singer, will it be felt by the hearer.

Before the death of Titiens we were so fortunate as to have here five prime donne at one time—Titiens herself, Adelina Patti, Nilsson, Albani, and Trebelli—four of whom we may hope to have for some time to come. Titiens was a fine example of the soprano drammatico. The voice was of unusual magnitude, and grand quality, with just an idea of veil upon it.

The veil, in a small degree, is by no means of necessity a defect. Indeed it adds substance to the voice where it is otherwise pure and strong. One of the most remarkable instances of the voce velata was Dorus-Gras, who sang in England in 1839 and 40. The veil had possibly come over the voice after first youth, but it was then very marked. With a fine voice sounding through it, a most brilliant style, and excellent execution, it quite gave the idea of the bright sun and blue sky shining through and dispelling a white morning mist.

To return to Titiens. Such parts as Medea, Norma, Semiramide, Fidelio, were her forte. Besides her occasional heavy breathing, she had a defect in the pronunciation of the vowel e (Italian), which so far marred her voice-production; but she was a conscientious artist, and a fine singer both in oratorio and opera.

Adelina Patti, blest with a clear, pure, facile, high soprano voice, which apparently never gave her any trouble, of considerable compass, produced in a faultless manner, is one of the greatest mistresses of vocalisation of our times. Nilsson, with a fine, extensive voice, and much dramatic talent, has a peculiar earnestness, in parts that she feels to belong to her, that is most attractive. During her early great successes in Paris, one of her greatest was the part of Elvira in 'Don Giovanni,' a part almost unappreciated in London. Her prison scene in Boito's 'Mefistofele' is a very perfect performance. The beauty of Albani's voice, the grace of her style, and her thorough conscientiousness, have justly made her a great favourite. Trebelli, with her grand mezzo-soprano voice and style, is another of the great artists of the present day, and Pauline Lucca yet another With six such singers at one time, it might be asked, Where is the decadence in the art of singing of which you complain? 'We must remember that in England we get the very best of everything (except climate), and that it is to these very artists, and those in the same path, that we owe the preservation of the good school.

Lady singers have been and are, for the most part, well-favoured; many very beautiful; those of the stronger sex are also generally well-looking. But there have been instances of the reverse, and of the triumph of art over this drawback. Tacchinardi (Persiani's father), was so plain as to raise a coarse laugh when he first appeared in Italy, upon which he came to the footlights and said, 'I am here to be listened to, not to be looked at.' He was listened to, and admired. Pisaroni, the great contralto, was so ill-favoured that she usually sent her portrait to the managers of theatres before making an engagement. She was nevertheless very famous. In about the year 1855 Barbieri-Nini, a well-known soprano in many parts, was the prima donna assoluta at the Scala. The opening opera was Verdi's 'Vespri Siciliani,' under the title of 'Giovanna di Guzman.' The heroine was a young girl. Barbieri-Nini, who impersonated her, was very short and thickset, without the semblance of a waist, very ugly, marked with small-pox, and with the looks of about fifty-five. When she appeared, there was the general coarse 'Oh, oh!' and laugh of the Milanese public. As she proceeded, however, attention became fixed upon the singing; a certain duet with the tenor made her an established favourite, and she remained so to the end of the Carnival. The Milanese, though unsparing in their censure, are immediately ready to recognize what is good; they will hiss a singer through nearly a whole evening, and yet a little bit, of a few notes only, well executed, will provoke a storm of applause.

About the time when the tremolo was becoming intolerable (1854), Clara Novello was the prima donna assoluta, and the great beauty of her voice and her freedom from the prevailing vice, caused her to be greatly admired. Singers do not always know their own powers. Clara Novello was requested to sing the part of Gilda in 'Rigoletto.' This she at first declined to do, on the plea that it was totally unfitted for her. Being persuaded, however, it proved an enormous success. She sang the music beautifully, and acted the part with much grace. The baritone was Corsi, one of the best Kigolettos; and the performance was a very fine one. Corsi was a little man, rather stout, and with not very dramatic features, being somewhat like the busts of Socrates, but his dignified gestures had the power of apparently increasing his stature. His sympathetic, but not over strong voice, would not bear the strain of large theatres; it left him, and he became a teacher of singing.

There has been a long list of tenors, beginning curiously with a Nicolino and [App. p.793 "omit Nicolino and. (Nicolini was a sopranist.)] a Mario in the 17th century, leading down to our own Mario and Nicolini, and comprising the names of Borosini, Bianchi, Davide, Ansani, Donzelli (with a voice that sent out large globes of sound), Tacchinardi, Tramezzani, Garcia, Malibran's father, who had a voice capable of singing either tenor or baritone, and for whom it has been said that Rossini wrote 'Otello'—(it was certainly written for an exceptional voice, since part of the opening aria extends from the bass A to the high tenor A)—Rubini, Haitzinger, Duprez, Ivanoff, (whose reputation was made by singing an Italian version of Schubert's serenade at concerts), Moriani, Guasco, Fraschini, Roger, Gardoni, Tamberlik, Wachtel, Mongini, Giuglini, Campanini, Gayarrè, etc. The greater number of the earlier tenors seem to have been highly finished singers, Ansani especially so. Many of us remember Rubini, with his power of drawing tears by the simple force of pathetic expression. Moriani—a great favourite with Mendelssohn—was to have been Rubini's successor in the world's estimation, but neither he nor Guasco—another beautiful voice and talent—fulfilled their early promise. Of all the tenors that we have heard on the stage, Mario was perhaps the most favoured by nature, and even if his natural talent was not exerted to the full, he has left a gap not easily to be filled. A voice rich as Devonshire cream, and a fine manly delivery, with an unusual freedom from the tremolo, were qualifications indeed. Duprez, Tamberlik, and Wachtel were tenori di forza with great qualities, but not without defects. Mongini, whose début at La Scala in 'Guillaume Tell' was a triumphant success, but whose appearance a few nights after in 'La Sonnambula' was an entire failure, was another of the tenori robusti, and rather a vocal athlete than a refined singer. Giuglini was a very graceful and charming artist, to be listened to for a time, but he lacked vigour, and the extreme sweetness of the voice and a somewhat throaty production soon made one wish for something more. Campanini, with a good voice, and total freedom from tremolo, was at first enthusiastically welcomed on the latter account, but his production was very throaty. He improved in this respect, and was earnest in what he did. Nicolini and Gayarrè are both powerful singers, but both troubled with the tremolo. One of the best tenors of modern times was Gardoni. With not a large voice, his production and style were perfect. On the stage his singing was as distinctly heard as in a room, and in a room it was most graceful and sympathetic. This is one of the charms of the good school. Grisi and the rest of her well-known party had perfect control over their voices in private.—Basses and baritones have also been numerous, from the time of Boschi and Fischer, already mentioned. Ambrogetti, though a buffo, was prodigiously fine in a part that was anything but comic, the mad father of Agnese in Paer's opera of that name. Galli, whose voice was at first tenor, but after an illness changed to bass, was a very fine singer. It was said that his voice could be heard at the Caffè Martini, which in those days stood opposite the Scala opera-house. It had to traverse the row of boxes, two corridors, the portico of the theatre, and a moderately wide street. Perhaps with a box door, the entrance to the theatre, and the door of the Caffè, all open by chance at the same moment, a note may have been heard. At any rate it must have been a great voice. Tamburini, with a most defective vocalisation—singing a florid passage with great agility, but detaching all the notes, and going through all the vowels in the process—was nevertheless a very great artist. His qualifications were a fine voice, a fine manly style when not singing florid music, a noble stage presence, refined manner and action, and a handsome person. His facility in executing passages in his own manner, naturally made him take florid parts, and he was otherwise so good that his obvious defects were pardoned. He was the best Don Giovanni, and the best Fernando in 'La Gazza ladra' that his been seen. He was as good a Duca in 'Lucrezia Borgia,' and Henry VIII. in 'Anna Bolena,' as Lablache, but in his own way. His Dandini in 'La Cenerentola' was quite as good. He was therefore a great talent. Amongst basses Lablache was perhaps the most thoroughly satisfactory artist, even of those great days. Magnificent voice, perfect production, a noble countenance and person, in spite of his size, and a total freedom from trick or affectation. This was the chief secret of his powers as an actor—his faculty of identifying himself with his part. Fornasari was a clever singer and actor, but, even at that date, he was afflicted to some extent with the tremolo mania, which interfered with his execution. Coletti was excellent, but not to be accepted in the place of Tamburini, whose exorbitant demands had provoked the famous 'Tamburini row.' Giorgio Ronconi was a striking instance of deficiency in physical means, in quality and power of voice, and in personal appearance, more than counter-balanced by tragic force of the highest order. His powers were equally great in comedy. His Figaro in the 'Barbiere' was the best on the operatic stage. Ronconi was very witty, and a very good anecdote is told of him, which may be considered authentic. Under the Austrian government the police authorities were very strict about the words of the libretti. When singing the 'Puritani' at the Scala the phrase 'gridando libertà' made such a sensation that Ronconi was sent for and told to substitute 'lealtà' for 'libertà.' He quietly obeyed, and a few nights after, when Dulcamara in the 'Elisire d'Amore' has to say, speaking of Nemorino, 'vendè la liberta, si fè soldato' ('he sold his liberty and became a soldier'), Ronconi again substituted 'lealtà' for 'libertà,' making the passage run, 'he sold his loyalty and became a soldier.' This was of course a furious hit at an alien government. Belletti, with a voice not large but well-produced and telling, was a highly-finished singer, with great power of distinct vocalisation. Formes, with an immense voice, was a clever but somewhat erratic singer, and wanted study. Graziani is too well known to the reader to require more than mention. So too are Cotogni, Faure, and Lassalle. Henschel has been a great addition to our concert singers. Several Americans have been and are on the operatic stage with excellent effect. They have many very fine voices amongst them, particularly of the large mezzo-soprano type, of which Miss Cary, who sang as Mlle. Cari at both opera-houses, was a good example. Miss Kellogg and Foli are both well known. Minnie Hauck, Mrs. Osgood, Madame Antoinette Sterling, and Madame Fassett are great public favourites. The Americans have a good deal of dramatic fire and power of execution, and it seems strange therefore that (according to their own statement) they have no efficient teachers.

The fitful and precarious condition of English opera has militated against the cultivation of dramatic singing by English vocalists. The language, though not as favourable as it might be, is capable of being made much more of than it generally is, by a proper choice of words, and a pure and articulate enunciation. Many of our singers have had very good, in many cases great, success on the Italian stage—Clara Novello, Catherine Hayes, Sims Reeves, Santley. But, for lack of a permanent Opera, we have studied chiefly for the concert-room and oratorio. Going back 80 or 90 years we find the names of Mrs. Crouch, an excellent singer and actress; Mrs. Bates, wife of the founder of the Antient Concerts; and Miss Jackson (Mrs. Bianchi Lacy), clever concert and oratorio singers; Miss Stephens; Miss Paton, a very fine opera and concert singer; Mrs. Knyvett; Miss Birch, for many years our most favourite concert singer, with a beautiful voice; Mrs. Alfred Shaw and Miss Fanny Wyndham, both fine contraltos. These three sang a little in opera. Miss Homer was a really fine dramatic singer, and a good actress, certainly one of our best. Her three greatest successes were Barnett's 'Mountain Sylph,' the 'Sonnambula,' and the 'Favorita,' which was sung in English at Drury Lane, in 1843, by her, Templeton, and Leffler. Parepa was a very clever singer and actress, dying in her prime; and Miss Louisa Pyne is fresh in the recollection of many. Miss Rose Hersee has done excellent service in opera. Adelaide Kemble (Mrs. Sartoris) studied chiefly for the stage. The tenors during the time here spoken of were Michael Kelly, Sinclair, Incledon, and one whose name will always shine in musical history, Braham, the possessor of a marvellous voice and great powers as a singer, whether of Italian and English opera or of oratorio. At 70 he still sang in private, giving out notes from his big chest with immense power. Wilson and Templeton were English opera singers. Both had good voices, but the latter was very throaty. Harrison was a clever singer and actor, and did much to advance the interests of English opera. Our basses and baritones have been Bartleman, a very fine singer, great in Purcell and Handel; Bellamy; Henry Phillips, very clever and versatile, and a good actor. Weiss, with a very fine voice, was awkward on the stage, but good in oratorio; Lewis Thomas, a true bass, has done excellent service. Many have appeared with considerable promise, but have not done all that was expected. We have been fortunate in the possession of an English quartet, which has upheld, or rather created, a modern English school of singing, in which many objectionable peculiarities have been done away with, to a great extent through the study of Italian music and pronunciation—Madame Lemmens-Sherrington, Madame Sainton-Dolby, Sims Reeves, and Santley. The varied talent of these true artists is not more remarkable than their earnestness in furthering the interests of their art. Madame Sainton, a true contralto, certainly founded a school of contralto singing. Her powers extended from the simplest ballad to works of the largest classical style—English, French, German, or Italian. Reeves received the traditions of Braham, and refined upon them; and Santley has done more than any other one baritone or bass. His range of style is unlimited.

We owe a large debt of gratitude to the singers of widely various nationalities, some few of whom have been enumerated, as well as to our own faithful English band, who have piloted the vocal art through the shoals of conventionality and the aberrations of popular taste. There have been two great waves of progress and retrogression; the first, from the creation of opera up to the culmination of the mechanical branch of the Farinelli school; and the second, from the conventionality of that school up to the union of dramatic force with perfect singing in that inaugurated by Pasta. From the reaction that set in afterwards there are signs that we are beginning to mount a third wave. There is recently a marked general improvement in the singing of many of those who have visited this country, while among our own singers several have already made high reputations, and others are giving great promise. Madame Patey has been long the acknowledged successor of Madame Sainton, to whom she bears much resemblance both in voice and in breadth of style. Mrs. Keppell (Madame Enriquez) is also an excellent contralto, while Miss Damian and Miss Orridge are making good way, and others promising well. Among our soprani Miss Robertson and Madame Edith Wynne have long held a high position. Miss Anna Williams, Miss Mary Davies, and Miss Elliot are very talented singers; Miss Marriott, and Miss Samuell, are steadily advancing. Mrs. Hutchinson, with a sweet voice and much taste, is beginning to make her mark. Edward Lloyd, an artist of the first order, won his artistic spurs at the Gloucester Festival in 1871. Vernon Rigby and W. H. Cummings (a musician and archæologist of distinction) also stand high in the public estimation. Shakespeare, besides being an excellent singer, is a valued instructor, and a thorough musician. Maas and McGuckin have already had much success; Herbert Reeves, with a small voice but good style, and several others, among them Harper Kearton and Frank Boyle, are coming on well; so that there is really no lack of tenors if they all fulfil their mission. Of baritones and basses we may name King, Thorndike, Barrington Foote, Pyat, Thurley Beale, and others. We have more singers now than we ever had.

The question of a National Opera has again come to the front, and there could hardly be a better moment in which to consider it than the present, in connection with the Royal College of Music. The founding of a National Opera House—that is to say, a theatre liberally subsidised by government or endowed by private subscription—for the exclusive performance of English opera and opera in English, is a necessity. If made part of the College, under the control of the directors, it could be conducted upon the strictest rules of order, propriety, and morality; but it should be to all intents and purposes a public theatre. Though not necessarily as large as either of the existing opera-houses, it should be of sufficient size to have a full orchestra. English opera has been often condemned to a theatre in which the orchestra has been mutilated, or there has been the full complement of wind with a totally inadequate supply of strings. Either of these shifts must be avoided, and to avoid them the theatre would have to be of reasonable dimensions. A good model is not far to seek. Both the existing theatres are acoustically good. The new one should not be a mere practising ground for the students of the College, except to give them experience in subordinate parts. They should only be admitted when thoroughly proficient singers. Until then, artists would have to be procured from outside; but after that the College itself would furnish them. So with the orchestra; it would be necessary at first to engage artists to ensure thorough efficiency, but it should ultimately be formed, as far as possible, of students competent to take their place in it. Thus by degrees the whole artistic staff might be formed of the pupils of the College. In this way an esprit de corps would be created which would tend to advance the artistic excellence of the whole establishment, while the fact of its being distinctly a public theatre would make students feel that there was no child's play. If a composer were commissioned to write an opera for this theatre, the libretto should be first submitted to the directors, in order that good original words and good translations might be as far as possible secured. Any profit realised from the theatre might go to found scholarships or a superannuation fund. If some permanent establishment of the kind were founded, then both singers and composers would find it worth their while to work for it. Mr. Carl Rosa has shown to a great extent what may be done.

Reference has been made to the natural aptitude for choral singing in the Northern and Midland counties of England. This branch received a vast impulse in England generally through the efforts of Dr. Hullah; and both Mr. Henry Leslie and Mr. Barnby have contributed largely to its advancement. Many refined renderings of difficult music have given proof of the high grade of excellence to which Mr. Otto Goldschmidt has brought the Bach Society. But all this choral activity has not been an unmixed benefit. The indiscriminate manner in which amateurs join the various public and private choral societies leads to the yearly deterioration and even destruction of many young voices. Undeveloped voices that can barely sing for ten minutes without fatigue, draft themselves into a chorus, and indulge in frequent practices of from an hour and a half to two hours of high music, with the idea that though they cannot make much effect alone, they are good enough for a chorus, forgetting or ignoring that the very want of practice and development that renders them inefficient solo-singers makes the chorus doubly dangerous to them. They say 'We are helped forwards by the practised voices.' But a feeble runner bound to a powerful one will be helped forward for a very short time only; he will then be forced onward, and finally, when exhausted, will be dragged along the ground and trampled under foot. But it is not only on account of the music being so often beyond the compass of ordinary voices that mischief is done. It is well known that a voice in unison with several others becomes almost entirely neutralised, as far as the possessor's consciousness is concerned. The singer's voice goes to swell the volume of sound, but cannot be heard by its owner, and the result is an amount of perhaps unintentional forcing that leaves her vocally exhausted at the end of a chorus. Besides, notes are taken by hook or by crook, and voice-production is forgotten. The conductor of a chorus has nothing whatever to do with individual voices. He must get the maximum of effect out of his little army of singers. Professional chorus-singers learn to make only the necessary effort, and a singer without the required vocal means sufficiently developed would not be admitted into a professional chorus. Again, those whose existence depends upon their voice will not allow enthusiasm to carry them beyond their powers, as those do who join a chorus for the love of the thing. The evil is so great as to require serious consideration, and the whole question of choral singing should be systematised. Elementary classes should be formed. Introductory elementary classes should exist in which two voices only should practice in unison, each voice singing first alone, passage by passage: thus the production and right amount of tone would be cared for. Numbers of voices might be benefitted, if not saved from destruction, by learning to sing in chorus. This is a subject that might well attract the attention of the Royal College of Music. As it is, the mischief will become more and more apparent, members of choral societies will fall away rather than lose their voices, and it may be found difficult to keep a sufficient body together. But with proper care a most instructive and enjoyable branch of musical art could be indulged in with benefit as well as pleasure, and the choral bodies would be in fitter condition to observe the nuances required by a critical conductor.

The style of operatic writing immediately before us at this moment cannot continue, with any hope of the advancement of singing, but the influence of the great living master's mind will not be the less felt for good, when tempered with the calmer judgment of less fiery and less defiant, though not less zealous and conscientious geniuses, who will no doubt succeed him and modify his theories.

It must be repeated that the features of different schools of singing are greatly traceable to the influence of language. How is a school to be defined? Is it not the spirit of a code of art-canons which has grown up, or, so to say, compiled itself from the salient characteristics of the most prominent votaries of an art? In proportion as these characteristics are unsullied by peculiarities or tricks the school will be pure. The influence of a talent will unfortunately impose its defects and abberations by the very force of its higher qualities, and the defects are more easily imitated than the higher qualities. Hence the necessity, on the part of each individual votary of an art, for the most rigorous self-discipline. A great difficulty in the way of study is to hear oneself as one really is, and not as one intends to be. We are so much under the dominion of our minds that it is often very hard to avoid accepting our intentions for performance. Those who are blest with voice and talent must realise the fact that they are high priests and priestesses of their art; that to them is assigned the mission of helping to form a school, and that their example, for good or ill, does more than a hundred books. And it is precisely to those who have exercised this earnest self-discipline that we owe the preservation of the valuable traditions of a good school. Even in language—which has just been said to influence a school of singing—it is the province of the singer to purify its sounds to the utmost. We cannot help tracing, for example, the chief defect of French singing, the so-called gorge deployé style, to the normal flat French a, which led to exaggeration, more apparent perhaps than real. The tremolo (observable even in that great artist Mons. Faure), which had its development in France, has of course no origin in language, but is possibly due to the vibrato of Rubini. It is one of the tricks glanced at above which has been allowed to creep in, and has proved itself a truly noxious vocal weed. How much these defects have been tempered of late amongst French artists is felt in the fine singing of Mons. Lasalle. The Germans do not pay sufficient attention to special characters of voice, and are given to forcing them beyond their natural limits. There is also a great waste of power, a great wear and tear of the general physical strength, consequent upon their singing being too convulsive, resulting often in a laboured suppression of voice. They have a mode of producing the vowel e, and their double sound ei, which greatly damages the quality of the voice on those sounds, so that a German frequently seems to possess a voice that is at once good and bad. But these are not really characteristics of the language, and should be abandoned by singers. Vilda, the German soprano, who appeared some years ago at Covent Garden, had a perfect production and style, and Stockhausen, who was here about ten years ago, a singer of great talent, had none of the defects above mentioned, and was a master of declamation. So is Zur Mühlen, a young Esthonian singer, who deserves to be better known. It is remarkable that, with their power as composers and musicians, and their general high intelligence, the Germans are not better singers. They make a grievous mistake if they think the vocal art beneath their notice. The two singers lately heard in 'Der Ring des Niebelungen,' Herr and Madame Vogel, with their magnificent voices, their earnestness, and their power as actors, could not help every now and then marring their otherwise admirable performance by the defects belonging to their school. Herr Gura, in 'Die Meistersinger,' showed powers of purer vocalisation.

The English characteristic has been till lately rather a lack of any characteristic whatever, except defective pronunciation; and a general apathy and want of interest which has caused many good voices to be wasted. We are fast waking up from this state of things. The defects above enumerated have been those mostly observable amongst the general amateur class and artists of a mediocre stamp—peculiarities of the respective countries in fact. And in proportion as individuals have steered clear of these defects and have carried self-discipline rigidly into effect, so far have they taken an artistic position. In this country (as in others) there are some first-rate amateurs, many of whom are doing excellent service in endeavouring to foster a love of music in all classes, by founding societies for giving concerts, either free or at nominal prices of admission. Some of our amateurs would do credit to the profession of music anywhere in Europe. We owe to them some of our best English songs. True, some of these are over-elaborate, but this is a welcome counterpoise to the too great simplicity and uniformity of many of our native songs. Not that simplicity, per se, is a fault. On the contrary, if we look amongst the immense numbers of songs by the greatest song-writers of the age, the Germans, and especially amongst the greatest of these, Franz Schubert, we frequently find a marvellous amount of music, or, at least, significance, with but little material. The great quality in the best German songs is their independence and unconventionality. Each song is a poem—some, long poems—in which the composer seems not to have cared whether others existed or not, but to have drawn his inspiration immediately from what was before his mind. Thus there is scarcely a single stereotyped form amongst them. Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms (many of whose songs are of great power), Rubinstein, Jensen, Franz, Grieg, Kjerulf, have given us a collection of precious jewels. The lighter writers, Kücken, Eckert, etc., have also produced a number of charming Lieder. French songs are many of them very graceful, original, and attractive. Those of Gounod are often charming; and in his songs Berlioz is for once natural, simple, and exquisitely beautiful. The chamber-songs of the Italians are, like our own, too uniform, but they are always thoroughly singable, and those of Gordigiani, Mariani, De Giosa, etc., are original to boot. It is to the old writers that we look for the best Italian chamber-songs. Amongst our modern English song- writers, Sterndale Bennett, Hullah, Salaman, Macfarren, Sullivan, Cowen, Seymour Egerton, Hubert Parry, F. Clay, Michael Lawson, Villiers Stanford, Maude White, etc., and of foreign composers Benedict, Agnes Zimmermann (both almost English), Gounod, Blumeuthal, Henschel, Pinsuti, have supplied us with works that ought to keep the public taste at a proper level. But there has been an insidious influence at work which has had more to do with vitiated taste and bad voice-production amongst amateurs than is perhaps generally supposed—the Music Hall. Young men lounge into music halls, and hear imbecile songs sung in a tone of voice that is simply sickening. They sing these songs at home in the same tone; the songs themselves, with illustrated title-pages, are found, perhaps, lying between two sonatas of Beethoven, or two songs of Mozart; and have infinitely more effect, in many cases, upon the tone of voice in singing or even speaking than any precepts of an instructor. It is with reference to such influences that the nature of abstract music was dwelt upon at the beginning of this article—that is to say, its power of expression, apart from mere tune; and if this and the influence of pure pronunciation were more felt than they are, our general style of singing would be very much above what it is.

It is greatly to be regretted that there is not a career of pure chamber-singing in this country. That is to say, that those (and there are many such) with sympathetic voices and refined style, but without sufficient power for large spaces, should have so few chances of making a position for themselves. They are forced to pass through the ordeal of trying their powers in vast public places where they are heard to disadvantage, and are often unjustly condemned; whereas if judged upon their merits in their legitimate sphere, they would be fully appreciated. Perhaps this will come with a general elevation of public taste.

It is much to be desired that students of singing should at the same time become good musicians. The publisher of the 'Solféges du Conservatoire, par Cherubim',' etc., in his preface, properly lays great stress on this point, and on the necessity, to this end, of the study of vocalizzi by the best composers, so that the taste may be formed with the formation of the voice. A strong proof of the low ebb at which the art of singing now lies in this country is the very small musical knowledge that the bulk of singers find sufficient for their purpose. It is customary to cite the names of one or two specially gifted individuals who made great names without musical knowledge. These are but the exceptions that prove the rule. The fact would be more obvious were it not the custom in this country to 'hammer away' at the same pieces until they are worn out. The great singers of former times who originated and perfected the good school were, the greater part of them, good musicians; indeed the older teachers—Caccini, Pistocchi, Scarlatti, Porpora, etc.—themselves great contrapuntists, would not have it otherwise. The music of Sebastian Bach and his school absolutely requires the singer to be a musician in order to do it justice. To sing a few ballads does not. Later masters—Crescentini, Garcia, Mazzucato, Randegger, etc.—have been good musicians, and it is a matter of the first and last importance that a proper study of the theory of music should be considered an indispensable branch of the singer's education that is to say, if the art is to rise to the level at which it should be.

[ H. C. D. ]

  1. G. A. Macfarren, Rudiments of Harmony.
  2. Gordon Holmes, Vocal Physiology and Hygiene, p. 23.
  3. See Ellis's translation.
  4. Royal Society's Proceedings, vol. vii; Nov. 13. 1855.
  5. Hygiéne de la Voix; Paris and London. Baillière & Fils.
  6. Voice in Singing; Philadelphia.
  7. Der Kehlkopf des Menschen.
  8. Diseases of the Throat; Churchill.
  9. Vocal Physiology and Hygiene.
  10. Mechanism of the Human Voice; Curwen & Sons.