Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/416

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SONG

according to the requirements of the ground. The system consists of some 370 m. of canals and 1200 m. of distributaries, irrigating 555,000 acres. The Sone canals were begun in 1869, and came into operation in 1874; they form a valuable protection to the rice crop of Behar.


SONG, either an actual “singing” performance, or in a literary sense a short metrical composition adapted for singing or actually set to music. In the second sense of the word it must strictly be lyrical in its nature; but musicians and others frequently use the word in the wider sense of any short poem set to music. A “song,” as a form of poem, usually turns on some single thought or emotion, expressed subjectively in a number of stanzas or strophes. Almost every nation is in possession of an immense store of old simple ballads (q.v.), which are the spontaneous outcome of the inspiration of the people (“folk-songs”), and represent in a remarkable degree their tastes, feelings and aspirations; but in addition to these, there are, of course, the more finished and regular compositions born of the conscious art of the civilized poet.

In a purely literary sense the song may exist, and does largely exist, without any necessary accompaniment of music. With the accession of Elizabeth the attention of the English poets was immediately drawn to the importance of this branch of lyrical literature. The miscellanies, one of which Master Slender would have paid more than forty shillings to have in his pocket on a celebrated occasion, were garlands of songs, most of them a little rude in form, only mere “packets of bald rhymes.” But about 1590 the popularity of the song having greatly increased, more skilful writers were attracted to its use, and the famous England’s Helicon of 1600 marked the hey-day of Elizabethan song-writing. In this Shakespeare, Sidney, Lodge, Barnfield and Greene, to name no others, were laid under contribution. Lyly, with such exquisite numbers as “Cupid and my Campaspe” (1584), had preceded the best anthologies, and is really the earliest of the artist-songsters of England. Among superb song-writers who followed were Marlowe (“Come live with me and be my love”), Campion (“My sweetest Lesbia”) Ben Jonson (“Drink to me only with thine eyes”) and Fletcher (“Here ye Ladies, that depise”),most of these being dramatists, who illuminated their plays, and added a delicate ornament to them, by means of those exquisite lyrical interpolations. Side by side with such poets, and a little later, began to flourish the school of cavalier song-writers, for whose purpose the lyric was self-sufficient. They added to our literature jewels of perennial lustre—Wither, with his “Shall I wasting in despair,” Herrick with “Bid me to live”and “Gather ye Rosebuds,” Carew with “Ask me no more where June bestows,” Waller with “Go, lovely Rose,” Suckling with “Why so pale and wan, fond Lover?” and Lovelace with “Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind.” This was the classic age of the true British song, which survived all other forms of poetry after the decay of taste, and continued to flourish in the hands of Dryden, Sedley, Aphra Behn and Rochester down to the last decade of the 18th century. That outburst of song was followed by nearly a hundred years during which the simplest and more direct forms of lyrical utterance found comparatively little encouragement. Just before the romantic revival the song reasserted its position in literature, and achieved the most splendid successes in the hands of Burns, who adapted to his purpose all kinds of fragmentary material which had survived up to his time in the memories of rustic persons. In Scotland, indeed, the song was rather revived and adorned than resuscitated; in England it may be said to have been recreated by Blake. At the opening of the 19th century it became the vehicle of some of the loveliest fancies and the purest art of Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron and Landor; while in a later day songs of rare perfection were composed by Tennyson and by Christina Rossetti.  (E. G.) 

Song in Music.

The history of song as a musical form falls into two main divisions, the one belonging to the folk-song, the other to the art-song. Though the line of demarcation between the two cannot be definitely drawn, for they have acted and reacted upon each other ever since music existed as a cultivated art, yet it may reasonably be maintained that the folk-song, which lies at the base of all music, preserves, and has in all ages preserved, characteristics such as must always distinguish the rude and unconscious products of the human mind, working more by instinct than by method, from the polished and conscious products of the schools. For the purposes then of this article, art-song may be distinguished from folk-song by the fact that it is the work of trained musicians and is designed, at any rate after the close of the 16th century, for voice with instrumental accompaniment, whereas we shall restrict the term folk-song to such melodies as appear to have been the work of untutored minds, and to have arisen independently of any felt necessity for harmonic support.

The early history of song on its musical side may be regarded as the history of the evolution of melody: and since what is known of melody before the end of the 16th century, apart from the folk-song, is extremely slight, it is in the folk-song itself that this evolution is primarily to be studied. Previously to the period named the instrumental accompaniment to vocal melody, both in the folk-song and in the art-song, played an entirely insignificant part. Afterwards the new conception of harmony which came in with the 17th century not only shifted the basis of melody itself but made the instrumental accompaniment an essential feature of artistic song. Though it lies beyond the province of this article to discuss fully the complex questions involved in the evolution of vocal melody, some slight sketch is a necessary preliminary to a proper understanding of the subject under consideration.

It may be assumed that in the course of ages the uncouth vocal utterances of primitive man developed, under the influence of an instinct for expressing his inner nature through a more expressive medium than language alone, into sounds of more or less definite pitch, bearing intelligible relationships Origins. one to another; and that from these emerged short phrases, in which rhythm probably played the principal part, reiterated with that interminable persistency, which many travellers have noted as characteristic of savage nations in the present day. A further stage is reached when some such primitive phrase is repeated at a different level by way of contrast and variety, but melody in any true sense of the word does not begin till two different phrases come to be combined in some sort of scheme or pattern. When the power to produce such combinations become common in a nation, its musical history may be said to have begun.[1] Racial characteristics are displayed in the choice of notes out of which such phrases are formed. But in all races it may be surmised that the main determining cause in the first instance is that natural rise and fall of the voice which gives expressiveness and meaning to speech, even though contributory causes arising from the imitative faculty common to man may perhaps be admitted—such as the sound of the wind, the waves of the sea, the cries of animals, the notes of birds, the striking of one object against another, and finally the sounds made by primitive instruments. The tendency of the speaking voice to fall a fourth and to rise a fifth has often been noted. It is probable that these intervals were among the first to be defined, and that the many modes or scales, underlying the popular melodies of the various nations of the world, were the result of different methods

  1. If the one phrase is represented by A, and the other by B, the commonest melodic schemes presented by the folk-songs of the world may be viewed thus—AB, AAB, ABB, ABA, ABAB, AABB, AABA, ABBA. Of these, those in which the opening phrase A is repeated at the conclusion are the most satisfactory, for both instinct and reason are gratified by a connexion between the beginning and the end.
    As exact conformity to pattern becomes wearisome and is alien to the progressive instinct, the element of surprise is introduced into the above schemes by various modifications of the repeated phrase on its second appearance, or by the entrance of an entirely new phrase C. In some fine melodies there is no repetition of phrase, a number of different phrases being knit, by principles, which defy analysis, into one structure. Such melodies imply a melodic sense of an exceptional order. Many melodies involve more than four phrases; of these the rondo form should be mentioned—ABACADA.