Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/253

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241
LITERARY NOTICES.

ble review of it that has just appeared in the London Lancet. The writer says: "This work is an attempt to popularize the theory of music, and so to combine the theoretical with the practical study of this art that instrumentalists may obtain some knowledge of those fundamental laws of sound on which music is based. With this object in view Prof. Blaserna commences his treatise by explaining the laws of vibrations of strings and pipes, and shows how such vibrations may be measured; he then explains the theory of music in reference to the consonant and dissonant intervals, pointing out how the various ratios in the octave have been introduced, together with the nature of the perfect major and minor chords, the inversion of which, he observes, constituted the principal resource of Palestrina and of the composers of his school. This leads him to speak of dissonances, and of the nature of the musical scales. An exceedingly interesting résumé is then given of the history of music from the earliest period to the present day. In the music of all nations, Prof. Blaserna remarks, two unfailing characters are found—rhythmic movement and procedure by determinate intervals. The former appertains to many of the actions of man, but the second belongs exclusively to music. The instrument of Orpheus, however powerful its effects may have been in rendering inanimate objects 'sequacious of the lyre,' was but a poor instrument, consisting only of the following four notes: C, F, G, and the octave C. It is remarkable that this scale contains the most important musical intervals of declamation, the voice rising a fourth in making an interrogation, another a fifth higher in emphasizing a word, while in ending a story it falls a fifth. In speaking of Greek music he explains the difference between the Pythagorean and the modern scale. The ancient Scotch and Chinese scale, in which an enormous number of popular songs are written, consists of a succession of fifths, Bf, F, C, G, D.

"The inventor of the modern system of musical notation was Guido d'Arezzo, and by him and Josquino and Orlando Tasso polyphonic music underwent great development. Then came the Reformation, and church music was greatly simplified to enable the whole congregation to join in it. An elaborate discussion of the characters of the major and minor scales succeeds, with an account of the effects of transposition. The temperate scale in common use is then explained, and its imperfections are declared to be so manifest that the author expresses a hope it will eventually be abolished. It is, in fact, only maintained by the piano-forte, which is essentially the instrument of the temperate scale, and the defects of which have greatly tended to obscure pure melody. The quality or timbre of musical sounds, both vocal and instrumental, is then referred to, and the methods of investigating the vibrations are given, as well as the laws of harmonics and chords. Finally, Italian and German music are compared. The influence of Paris on music, though the French have never been creators, is defined as insisting on the creation of a type of music which should contain the good points of the German and Italian schools without their exaggeration. It has maintained the Italian melody and song, but has also adopted the grand choral and orchestral movements of Germany."

The Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution. By Oscar Peschel. Translated from the revised German edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 528. Price, $2.25.

The students of ethnology are to be congratulated on the appearance in English of this admirable manual of ethnological and ethnographical science, which has for some years and in its successive editions been a standard in Germany. While the work is full and systematic, it is at the same time compact and convenient for reading, being a happy medium between the bulky and formidable treatise, and the deficient and unsatisfying compend. Dr. Peschel's work has the great merit of being up to date in the presentation of an extensive and rapidly-developing branch of science, and of dealing fully with those recent and highly-important questions concerning the science of man which have come forward into such prominence in our own generation. The book is exactly what readers of general cultivation require to inform themselves upon a subject of great moment, and which is occupying the close attention of thinkers