are handsome and gorgeous. However, the best theatrical
performances take place in a building. On these occasions,
there are two musical bands, one being placed on each side
of the scene. The principal musical instruments of such
an orchestra are of the percussion kind, containing a series
of sonorous slabs of wood, or plates of metal, and some-
what resembling the Javanese instruments, but being
attuned according to a diatonic order of intervals, instead
of the pentatonic order. Also a curious contrivance, con-
sisting of a set of drums suspended in a frame, each drum
having a fixed tone, is used on these occasions. More-
over, the Burmese orchestra generally contains several
wind instruments of the oboe and trumpet kind, as well
as cymbals, large castanets of split bamboo, and other
instruments of percussion, which serve to heighten the
rhythmical effect of the music. The story of the drama is
usually taken from ancient Burmese history. Captain
Henry Yule, who has given a more detailed account of the
Burmese plays than any. previous .traveller, remarks that
when he was at Amarapoora he procured copies of some of
the pjays which he saw acted, from which it was evident to
him that, while the general plan of the drama, comprising the
more dignified and solemn part of the dialogue, was written
down at considerable length, the humorous portions were
left to the extempore wit of the actors. The following
scenes are from a drama commemorating an episode from
the life of Odeinna, King of Kauthambi, a country in India.
This drama, which was obtained by Captain Henry Yule,
is a translation from the Pali, and the whole is in Burmese
verse of four syllables.
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. 159
(The scene opens in the Capital of Kauthambi. The
king is seated on his throne, with his courtiers around him.)
King. (Addresses them) " Great nobles and chiefs ! "
Nobles." Phra, ( Lord ) ! "
King. "Are my subjects happy and prosperous?"
Nobles. " Since Your Majesty's happy reign began,
religion has shone forth with splendour ; the seasons have
been propitious; the earth has been bountiful ; the rich and
the poor, men and women, have enjoyed peace and prospe-
rity, and the happy years have been to them as water to the
Himalaya Mountains. Enter a Nat*
Nat. " Now I am a Nat ! When, and in what body was
I before ? Ah ! looking with a Nat's eyes and understanding,
I perceive I was a hermit in these wilds. 'My companion,
Alakappa, is still here. I will seek my friend."
(Approaches a cave.)
Hermit. " Who art thou that comest suddenly to my
cell in the garb and appearance of a Nat, with the nine
jewels in thy crown ?"
Nat. " O holy Hermit, of a good lineage, who ever
livest in the forest, tell me all thou desirest, so that nought
may remain unsaid ! "
Hermit. " O Nat, who by stupendous merit has reached
the exalted abode ! I have nothing particular to ask ; but
numerous elephants come around my cell and do great
damage. Be pleased to forbid this for the future."
Nat. " O holy Hermit ! I will give thee a golden harp,
and by the virtue of its sounds, arrd thy songs accompanying,
elephants will come or go as thou commandest."
From this passage it is evident that the Burmese ascribe
to music a great power, and the same is also indicated in
several other remarks occurring in the drama. It is,
however, unnecessary here to give the entire drama, which
* Nats are sprites corresponding to the Hindu Dewas whose place
they take in the Burman Buddhist system. They are supposed to have
been the objects of Burman worship in pre-Buddhistic times.
l6o DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES.
the reader will find in the interesting book above alluded
to.* Suffice it to notice the following passages from a
(The young Prince Oodeinna enters. The Hermit presents
him with the golden harp and teaches him a tune and song. The
Prince retires to a tree, ascends it, and plays. The wild elephants
of the forest come around him, and are obedient to his voice and
harp, etc. )
Captain Yule remarks that " the comic stage-effects of
the characters addressing the orchestra is very frequent,"
and there are several indications of the kind in the present
drama. Take, for instance, the following :
(Scene in the solitary wilds of Himalaya').
Enter an immense Bird.
BIRD (speaks). " From the beginning of the world
there have been numerous sorts of birds : cranes, ducks,
crows, peacocks, and others. I am not of their sort. My
power would extinguish them all. My home is amidst vast
mountains and pathless forests, and ever and anon I descend
from them. I will now go to the country of Kauthambi to
seek for food. So now (to the band), as I am about to fly,
strike up a victorious melody, O leader of the orchestra ! "
The bird commences his flight, and, soaring aloft, says :
" This is a beautiful country, and full of golden palaces,
and lovely gardens with gorgeous-coloured flowers and
shrubs. Nevertheless, I must look out for something to
eat. Thus, turning north and turning south, looking up
and looking down, I spy outside the King's palace a piece
of flesh, red, red as blood. It is mine, sure as the food in a
monk's begging-dish ; it cannot escape. I will stoop at it,
seize it, and fly away ; and now that I may easily reach the
large tree in my own mountain from this country of Kauth-
ambi, play a soft and simple air, O leader of the orchestra ! "
* 'A Narrative of a Mission, sent by the Governor-General of India
to the Court of Ava, in 1855,' by Captain Henry Yule. London, 1858 ;
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. l6l
(The bird seizes the Queen, mistaking her red mantle for
flesh, flies away with her to the mountains, and deposits
her in a tree. The bird comes as if to devour her,
when the Queen claps her hands at him, which frightens
the bird, and he flies away) .
This scene shows that the Burmese employ in their
dramas loud and soft music, according to the events repre-
sented ; and that the orchestra is conducted by a leader or
music-director. The following example, from another scene,
indicates the employment of the full orchestra fortissimo in
conformity with the action.
Forest. A Hunter.
HUNTER. " I and my dog will now go and kill what-
ever enemy appears. With my bow and my dog I care not
what I encounter, elephants, deer, or what not ; so come
along (to his dog) brave Tiger. (To the band.) Now as I
go on a grand expedition, burst forth like thunder ! "
A detailed description of a kind of opera which was per-
formed at Singapore is given by Charles Wilkes;* but, as the
actors were transient visitors to. Singapore, who came from
the neighbourhood of Madras, their play must have been
a specimen of the popular Hindu dramas. Its title was 'The
Results of Misplaced Friendship ; ' the words were recited
in a " monotonous recitative," accompanied by a band
of instrumental performers. As regards the plot of the
piece, suffice it to say that it had a moral aim, and that
a Brahmin and a clown were the most amusing charac-
ters of the Dramatis Personse. The clown displayed
much cleverness in mimicking a European in his dress and
manners. The ' Select Specimens of the Theatre of the
Hindus,' translated from the original Sanskrit, by R. H.
Wilson, London, 1835, contain but few allusions to music;
but these are ancient dramas, and the Hindus possess, as
R. H. Wilson in his interesting Introduction points out,
different kinds of theatrical entertainments. There was in
* ' Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, during the
years 1838-42,' by Charles Wilkes ; London, 1845 ; Vol. V. ; p. 389.
1(52 DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES.
former time no building appropriated to the public per-
formance of dramas. The Kings had in their palaces a
kind of music hall, called Sangita Said, in which were
given entertainments consisting principally of music and
dancing, and occasionally of dramatic representations.
Turning to Thibet, we meet with actors who are also
singers, dancers, and acrobats. They perform in the streets,
courtyards, and other open places of the towns, and their
entertainments are enlivened by a musical band, and by
the witticisms of their clowns. The actors generally wear
In China, dramatic performances, enacted by itinerant
players^ take place not unfrequently in the Joss-houses, or
houses of religious ceremonies. The plays generally have
reference to some remarkable event in the lives of the
earliest Chinese Emperors, and almost always combine the
comic with the, tragic. The musical band occupies the
back part of the stage behind the actors. The expenses of
the entertainment are sometimes defrayed by private persons.
Thus, oh a certain occasion three performances were given in a
town daily, for three days in succession, in honour of " The
Mother of Heaven," a goddess who presides over the welfare
of sailors, the defrayers of the entertainment being three
merchants who had just received the returns of a lucky
venture.t Female characters are represented by boys and
eunuchs. The plot of a Chinese drama, which was per-
formed at Tien-sing before the English Ambassador, in a
temporary theatre erected opposite to his yacht, is described
by Sir G. Staunton, as follows :
" An Emperor of China and his Empress are living in
supreme felicity, when on a sudden his subjects revolt. A
civil war ensues, battles are fought; and, at last, the arch-
rebel, who is a General of cavalry, overcomes his sovereign,
kills him with his own hand, and routes the imperial army.
* 'Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China, during the years, 1844-46,'
by M. Hue ; Vol. II.; p. 238.
t ' Twelve Years in China,' by a British Resident, (John Scarth),
Edinburgh, 1860 ; p. 56.
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. 163
The captive Empress then appears upon the stage in all the
agonies of despair naturally resulting from the loss of her
husband and her dignity, as well as the apprehension of that
of her honour."
How interesting would it be to the student of National
Music to possess an exact notation of the music belonging
to this scene, and to ascertain in what manner the intense
emotions and vehement passions represented are expressed
in the Chinese musical compositions !
" Whilst she is tearing her hair, and rending the skies
with her complaints, the conqueror enters, approaches her
with respect, addresses her in a gentle tone, soothes her
sorrows with his compassion, talks of love and adoration,
and like Richard the Third with Lady Anne, in Shakespeare,
prevails in less than half-an-hour on the Chinese Princess to
dry up her tears, to forget her deceased consort, and to yield
to a consoling wooer. The piece concludes with a wedding
and a grand procession."*
The Japanese -are fond of dramatic representations, and
have special buildings for their performances. Captain
Golownin describes the theatre in Matsmai, the capital
city of the island of Yesso, as " a large and pretty high
building. At the .back is the stage, which, as with us,
has a raised floor. ^From the stage to the front wall, where
the entrance is situated, two rows of seats are placed for the
spectators. In the middle, where we have the pit, there is
a vacant space in which straw mats are laid down for the
spectators. As this space is much lower than the stage,
those in front do not intercept the view from those behind.
There is no orchestra, either because the Japanese perform
no music in their theatres, or because the musicians are
reckoned among the actors."
The place for the orchestra was probably at the back of
the stage, as in the Chinese theatre. Captain Golownin
* ' An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great
Britain to the Emperor of China, etc., taken chiefly from the papers of
His Excellency the Earl of Macartney,' by Sir George Staunton ;
London, 1797. Vol. II. ; p. 31.
164 DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES.
visited the building only in the day-time, and when the house
was empty, the permission to see a piece performed having
been refused to him by the government of the capital.
" Opposite the stage, where in our theatres are the
Emperor's box and the galleries, there are only a bare wall
and the door for the entrance. There were no ornaments in
the interior; the walls were not even painted. The dresses and
decorations are kept in a separate building. The subjects of
their plays are chiefly memorable events in Japanese history ;
but they have also other representations which are of a comic
nature, and which serve to amuse the public."* Moreover,
the Japanese have annual religious festivals in which scenic
representations take place, and which are very popular. The
dramas usually commemorate the deeds of ancient heroes or
a myth ; some have for their subject a fanciful love-story ;
and some are especially designed to enforce a certain moral
precept. According to Siebold and Fisher, many of the
Japanese plays are very instructive and moral. They are
often so constructed that not more than two actors appear on
the stage during a scene. There are no actresses, the female
characters being represented by boys. It is not unusual for
the actors to pass through the pit on their way to the stage,
in order to give the audience an opportunity to admire their
appearance and costume as closely as possible.
Such dramatic music of extra-European countries as has
been derived from Europe does not come within the scope of
our present inquiry. It happens, however, not unfrequently
that the European music is to some extent modified, by
being interspersed with national tunes of the extra-European
country into which it has been introduced, or by being
performed in a peculiar manner. Whenever this is the case,
it deserves the special attention of the student of national
The Tagals, or the aborigines of the Philippine Islands,
have theatrical performances in bamboo buildings. The
characters consist principally of fairies, demons, and other
* 'Japan and the Japanese,' by Captain Golownin (of the Russian
Navy); London, 1853. Vol. II.; p. 149.
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. 165
supernatural creatures ; but, the musical part of these enter-
tainments is said to contain much which has been borrowed
from the Spaniards. Probably this is especially the case in
Manilla. Besides the principal theatre, in which the actors
are Spaniards, Manilla has two theatres of the natives.
In South America we find, as might be expected, Spanish
and Italian operas. In Lima the orchestra is deficient ;
Spanish dances, as the Bolero, Fandango, Don Mateo, are
often performed instead of our ballets. At the theatre in
Mexico, Spanish dances are frequently introduced between
the plays. The Teatro de Tacon in Havana, said to be
one of the finest edifices of the kind in the world, has singers
who perform Italian operas, as in Europe. The female
spectators sit in places separate from those of the men.
There can hardly be a doubt that many operatic enter-
tainments, which are now secular, had originally a sacred
character. The ancient nations performed religious dances
with pantomimic representations. Also the Chinese at the
time of Confucius thus enhanced their sacred ceremonies.
The Burmese, at the present day, sing and dance by the
coffin of a deceased priest. They are Buddhists. Funeral
dances are common with several uncivilized races. Our
Christian ancestors, during the earlier centuries of the
Middle Ages, performed sacred dances in the church. The
Christian priests of the Abyssinians still dance at certain
religious' ceremonies. In the Cathedral of Seville, boys,
from the age of twelve to seventeen, dressed in an old
Spanish costume, annually execute a ballet every evening
during the Ottaye del Corpus. Again, sacred dances with
recitations, dialogues, and hymns are performed in several
European countries during Christmastide. The Mysteries,
Miracle Plays, or musical-dramatic entertainments on
biblical subjects, so popular during the Middle Ages, have
not entirely fallen into disuse. Passion-Plays are still
occasionally performed by the peasantry in Bavaria, in the
Tyrol, and in Moravia. The "Mayings," or popular
rejoicings with music, dancing, and processions, remains of
which are still to be found in England as well as on the
Continent, had probably in pagan time also a religious
l66 DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES.
character, as they were intended to welcome the approach
of the sunny season. Turning to America, we meet in
Peru with musical entertainments which were introduced
among the Indians by the Spanish monks, who accompanied
Pizarro's army, and who dramatized scenes in the life of
Christ, and had them represented to facilitate by this
attractive means the conversion of the heathen aborigines.
These plays are no longer performed in the larger towns of
Peru, but are still kept up by the villagers of the Sierra.
Good Friday especially is celebrated by them in this manner;
and on Palm Sunday an image of the Saviour seated on an
ass is paraded through the principal streets of the town or
village.* In Brazil we find on Hallelujah Saturday (between
Good Friday and Ea.ster Sunday) the popular ceremony of
burning effigies of Judas Iscariot, the traitor, in company
with dragons, serpents and demons ; and there are besides
several other religious celebrations in which music is
employed in combination with fire-works and dramatic
Comic scenes were not excluded from the old Mysteries of
mediaeval time. On the contrary, they appear to have been
highly relished by the worshippers, and contributed much
to the popularity of the entertainments. In Paris a building
was erected, in the year 1313, principally for dramatic
performances relating to the Passion of Christ and the
Resurrection, enacted with music and dancing. 1 Soon,
attempts were made to vary these entertainments by the
occasional introduction of some play founded on a myth, or
on a wonderful event recorded in secular history, or also by
the admission of profane comedies and farces. Although
music, instrumental as well as vocal, did not constitute the
chiefest point of attraction in these plays, it certainly con-
tributed much to the impressiveness of the whole, t During
the second half of the thirteenth century, Adam de la
Hale wrote dramatic plays with songs, founded on secular
* ' Travels in Peru, by J. J. von Tschudi.' London, 1847 ; p. 377.
f ' Wesen und Geschichte der Oper, von G. W. Fink.' Leipzig,
1838 ; p. 53-
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. 167
subjects. These plays, called Gieux (jeux), might perhaps be
called operettas, since they contained dialogues interspersed
with songs. In fact, although our opera may be said to
date from about the year 1600, secular plays in which music
and poetry were intimately associated were known long
before that time. The ancient Greeks used in their dramas
the vocal music of choruses and the instrumental accom-
paniment of flutes and other instruments, in close connection
with the poetry. The latter art was, however, the principal
one, while in our present opera tmi$ic is the principal art.
As regards the secular dances of the ancient Greeks,
it may be observed that some of them were similar to the
pantomimic exhibitions which are still relished by several
nations. The Pyrrhic dance, which was executed according
to fixed rules, to the sound of the flute, depicted a combat of
warriors. Lord Broughton, during his stay in Albania, was
struck with the resemblance between some of the dances of
the Albanians and those of the ancient Greeks. He notices
especially the Pyrrhic dance.* The war-dance of the Jajis,
a wild and hostile tribe in the mountainous districts of
Afghanistan, is probably quite as picturesque and exciting
as was the Pyrrhic dance. A European eye-witness of the
war-dance of the Jajis states that it is performed by about
twelve or fifteen men placed in a ring before a number of
spectators who are arranged in a semi-circle. " The per-
formers commenced chanting a song, flourishing their
knives overhead, and stamping on the ground to its tones ;
and then each gradually revolving, the whole body moving
round together and maintaining the circle in which they
first stood up. Whilst this was going on, two of the party
stepped into the centre of the ring and went through a
mimic fight, or a series of jumps, pirouettes, and other
movements of a like nature, which appeared to be regulated
in their rapidity by the measure of the music ; for, towards
the close of the performance the singing ceased, and the
whole party appeared twirling and twisting about in a con-
fused mass amidst the flashing of their drawn knives, their
* 'Travels in Albania, etc., by the Right Hon. Lord Broughton.'
London, 1855 ; Vol. I., p. 145.
l68 DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES.
movements being timed by the rapid roll of their drums. It
was wonderful that they did not wound each other in these
intricate and rapid evolutions with unsheathed knives. On
the conclusion of the dance the whole party set up a shrill
and prolonged yell, which reverberated over the hills, and
was caught up by those in the neighbouring heights and
thus prolonged for some minutes. Whilst all this was going
on upon the heights around our camp, several parties of
armed Jajis ranged in columns, three or four abreast, and
eight or nine deep, followed each other in succession round
and round the skirt of our camp, all the time chanting
an impressive and passionate war-song in a very peculiar
sonorous tone that seemed to be affected by the acoustic
influences of the locality, which was a deep basin enclosed
for the most part by bare and rocky eminences and hills." *
Not less characteristic, and equally descriptive, are the
sword-dances of the Anazehs, in Syria, and of the warriors
in Little Thibet, which are not unfrequently acted with too
much reality, since the performers, having worked them-
selves up to a state of frenzy, are apt to forget that they
ought only to feign fighting.
Some of the sword-dances still in use in European
countries represent scenes with poetry and music. There
is, for instance, or, at any rate, there was still in the
eighteenth century, an ancient sword-dance occasionally
performed in some villages of North Germany, in 'which
the principal dancer, or " The King," addresses the people
in a speech.t Here may also be noticed the "Fool Play"
still popular in some villages of Northern England, which
is described as " a pageant that consists of a number
of sword-dancers dragging a plough, with music, and
with one, sometimes two, in very strange attire ; the
Bessey, in the grotesque habit of an old woman ; and
the Fool, almost covered with skins, a hairy cap on, and
the tail of some animal hanging from his back." And the
* ' Journal of a Political Mission to Afghanistan, by H. W. Bellew.'
London, 1862 ; p. 143.
f ' Das deutsche Volk, geschildert von Eduard Duller.' Leipzig,
1847 5 P- l8 3-
DRAMATIC MUSIC OF UNCIVILIZED RACES. 169
sword-dance performed in the North Riding of Yorkshire,
from St. Stephen's Day till New Year's Day. "The
dancers usually consist of six youths dressed in white
ribands, attended by a fiddler, a youth with the name of
Bessey, and also by one who personates a Doctor. They
travel from village to village. One of the six youths acts
the part of the King in a kind of farce which consists chiefly
of singing and dancing, and the Bessey interferes while
they are making a hexagon with their swords, and is killed."*
The Cavalcade, or procession on horse-back, is supposed
to have been originally connected with the Mysteries of the
Middle Ages. It is still occasionally performed in Belgium,
and its Flemish name is * Ommegang.' A number of
persons dressed in historical and fanciful costumes ride on
horse-back and drive in carriages through the principal
streets of the town in which the Cavalcade takes place, with
the object of representing scenes from sacred or profane his-
tory, or allegorical subjects. The procession is made imposing
by the splendid dresses of the principal characters, by the
gorgeous gildings of their carriages, and the display of
baldachins and flags. This show is supposed to have been
introduced into the Netherlands by the Spaniards during
their former, possession of the country. At a certain
religious festival, held in Malines in the year 1838, the entire
Litany to the Virgin Mary was represented, each Invocation
being written on a beautiful flag, carried by a beautiful and