Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/360

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appears to slip from one tonality to another more than six times in as many bars, and to slide back into his original key as if he had never been away. In some of his vocal works he presents broader expanses of distinct tonality, but of the power of the effect of modulation on an extended scale he can have had but the very slightest possible idea. About his time and a little later in Italy, among such musicians as Carissimi and Cesti, the outlines of the modern art were growing stronger. They appreciated the sense of pure harmonic combinations, though they lost much of the force and dignity of the polyphonic school; and they began to use simple modulations, and to define them much as a modern would do, but with the simplest devices possible. Throughout the seventeenth century the system of keys was being gradually matured, but their range was extraordinarily limited, and the interchange of keys was still occasionally irregular. Corelli, in the latter part of it, clearly felt the relative importance of different notes in a key and the harmonies which they represent, and balanced many instrumental movements on principles analogous to our own, though simpler; and the same may be said of Couperin, who was his junior by a few years; but it is apparent that they moved among accidentals with caution, and regarded what we call extreme keys as dangerous and almost inexplorable territory.

In the works of the many sterling and solid composers of the early part of the 18th century, the most noticeable feature is the extraordinary expanse of the main keys. Music had arrived at the opposite extreme from its state of a hundred years before; and composers, having realised the effect of pure tonality, were content to remain in one key for periods which to us, with our different ways of expressing ourselves, would be almost impossible. This is in fact the average period of least modulation. Handel is a fairer representative of the time than Bach, for reasons which will be touched upon presently, and his style is much more in conformity with most of his contemporaries who are best known in the musical art. We may take him therefore as a type; and in his works it will be noticed that the extent and number of modulations is extremely limited. In a large proportion of his finest choruses he passes into his dominant key near the beginning—partly to express the balance of keys and partly driven thereto by fugal habits; and then returns to his original key, from which in many cases he hardly stirs again. Thus the whole modulatory range of the 'Hallelujah' Chorus is not more than frequent transitions from the Tonic key to the key of its Dominant and back, and one excursion as far as the relative minor in the middle of the chorus, and that is all. There are choruses with a larger range, and choruses with even less, but the Hallelujah is a fair example to take, and if it is carefully compared with any average modern example, such as Mendelssohn's 'The night is departing,' in the Hymn of Praise, or 'O great is the depth,' in St. Paul, or the first chorus in Brahms's Requiem, a very strong impression of the progressive tendency of modern music in the matter of modulation will be obtained. In choruses and movements in the minor mode, modulations are on an average more frequent and various, but still infinitely less free than in modern examples. Even in such a fine example as 'The people shall hear,' in Israel, the apparent latitude of modulation is deceptive, for many of the changes of key in the early part are mere repetitions; since the tonalities range up and down between E minor, B and F♯ only, each key returning irregularly. In the latter part it is true the modulations are finely conceived, and represent a degree of appreciation in the matter of relations of various keys, such as Handel does not often manifest.

Allusion has been made above to the practice of going out to a foreign key and returning to the original again in a short space of time. This happens to be a very valuable gauge to test the degrees of appreciation of a composer in the matter of modulation. In modern music keys are felt so strongly as an element of form, that when any one has been brought prominently forward, succeeding modulations for some time after must, except in a few special cases, take another direction. The tonic key, for instance, must inevitably come forward clearly in the early part of a movement, and when its importance has been made sufficiently clear by insistance, and modulations have begun in other directions, if it were to be quickly resumed and insisted on afresh, the impression would be that there was unnecessary tautology; and this must appear obvious on the merest external grounds of logic. The old masters however must, on this point, be judged to have had but little sense of the actual force of different keys as a matter of form; for in a large proportion of examples they were content to waver up and down between nearly-related keys, and constantly to resume one and another without order or design. In the 'Te gloriosus' in Graun's Te Deum, for instance, he goes out to a nearly-related key, and returns to his tonic key no less than five several times, and in the matter of modulation does practically nothing else. Even Bach occasionally presents similar examples, and Mozart's distribution of the modulations in 'Splendente te Deus' (in which he probably followed the standing classical models of vocal music) are on a similar plan, for he digresses and returns again to his principal key at least twelve times in the course of the work.

Bach was in some respects like his contemporaries, and in some so far in advance of them that he cannot fairly be taken as a representative of the average standard of the day. In fact, his more wonderful modulatory devices must have fallen upon utterly deaf ears, not only in his time but for generations after; and, unlike most great men, he appears to have made less impression upon the productive musicians who immediately succeeded him than upon those of a hundred years and more later. In many cases he cast