19. What is the great problem of the art-creator?
20. Define the conditions that confirm the principle of unity in music.
21. Define the evidences of variety in music.
CHAPTER II. FUNDAMENTAL DETAILS.
TIME. - Time is the same thing in music that it is everywhere else in
nature. It is what passes while a piece of music is being played,
sung, or read. It is like the area of the surface upon which the
musical structure is to be erected, and which is measured or divided
into so many units for this, so many for that, so many for the other
portion of the musical Form. Time is that quantity which admits of the
necessary reduction to units (like the feet and inches of a yardstick),
whereby a System of Measurement is established that shall determine the
various lengths of the tones, define their rhythmic conditions, and
govern the co-operation of several melodies sung or played together.
Time is the canvas upon which the musical images are drawn - in melodic
TEMPO. - This refers to the degree of motion. The musical picture is
not constant, but panoramic; we never hear a piece of music all at
once, but as a panorama of successive sounds. Tempo refers to the rate
of speed with which the scroll passes before our minds. Thus we speak
of rapid tempo (_allegro_, and the like), or slow tempo (_adagio_), and
BEATS. - The beats are the units in our System of Measurement, - as it
were, the inches upon our yardstick of time; they are the particles of
time that we mark when we "count," or that the conductor marks with the
"beats" of his baton. Broadly speaking, the ordinary beat (in moderate
tempo) is about equivalent to a second of time; to less or more than
this, of course, in rapid or slow tempo. Most commonly, the beat is
represented in written music by the quarter-note, as in 2-4, 3-4, 4-4,
6-4 measure. But the composer is at liberty to adopt any value he
pleases (8th, 16th, half-note) as beat. In the first study in
Clementi's "Gradus ad Parnassum," the time-signature is 3-1, the whole
note as beat; in the 8th Sung Without Words it is 6-16, the sixteenth
note as beat; in the last pianoforte sonata of Beethoven (op. 111),
last movement, the time-signatures are 9-16, 6-16, and 12-32, the
latter being, probably, the smallest beat ever chosen.
MEASURES. - A measure is a group of beats. The beats are added
together, in measures, to obtain a larger unit of time, because larger
divisions are more convenient for longer periods; just as we prefer to
indicate the dimensions of a house, or farm, in feet or rods, rather
than in inches.
Measures differ considerably in extent in various compositions,
inasmuch as the number of beats enclosed between the vertical bars may
be, and is, determined quite arbitrarily. What is known as a Simple
measure contains either the two beats (heavy-light) of the fundamental
duple group, or the three beats (heavy-light-light) of the triple
group, shown in the preceding chapter. Compound measures are such as
contain more than two or three beats, and they must always be
multiplications, or groups, of a Simple measure; for whether so small
as to comprise only the fundamental groups of two or three beats (as in
2-4, 3-8, 3-4 measure), or so large as to embrace as many as twelve
beats or more (as in 4-4, 6-4, 6-8, 9-8, 12-8 measure), the measure
represents, practically, either the duple or triple species, Simple or
Compound. Thus, a measure of four beats, sometimes called (needlessly)
quadruple rhythm, is merely twice two beats; the species is actually
_duple_; the alternation of heavy and light pulses is regular; and
therefore the third beat is again an accent, as well as the first,
though _less heavy_. A measure of 6-8 is triple species, with accents
at beats one and four, precisely as if an additional vertical bar were
inserted after the third beat. In a word, then, the size of the
adopted measure is of no consequence, as long as it is retained
uniformly through the section to which it belongs; and there is no
_real_ difference between 2-4 and 4-4 measure, excepting in the number
of bars used.
A curious and rare exception to this rule of the compound measure
occurs when five or seven beats are grouped together. This involves a
mingling of the duple and triple species, and, consequently, an
irregular disposition of the accents; for instance, 5-4 measure is
either 3+2 or 2+3 beats, with corresponding accentuation:
[Illustration: Beat accentuation]
RHYTHM. - This word signifies arrangement, - a principle applied, in
music, to the distribution or arrangement of the tones according to
their various _time-values_. The system of measurement (or metric
system) furnishes tone material with all the details of division,
proportion and comparison; but this, alone, is not rhythm. The metric
system affords the basis for rational and definable rhythm, but
"rhythm" itself does not enter into the proposition until
differentiated factors are associated and opposed to each other.
[Illustration: Example 3. Rhythm.]
The first measure of this hymn is, by itself, merely an exponent of the
metric principle, for it consists of three uniform quarter-notes. The
second measure, however, is a rhythmic one, because, by dotting the
first of the three beats, three different time-values are obtained
(dotted quarter, eighth, and quarter). Further, by association and
comparison with each other, both measures assume a collective rhythmic
The rhythmic disposition of the tones is to a certain extent optional
with the composer, but by no means wholly so; the rules of rhythm are
probably the most definite and obvious of all the rules of music
writing. They do not concern the analytical student intimately, but at
least the general distinction between regular and irregular rhythm
should be understood: - We have seen that the natural accent (the
"heavy" pulse) is invariably represented by the first beat of a
rhythmic group; and that one or two lighter pulses intervene before the
next accent appears. Further, it is self-evident that the rhythmic
weight of a tone is proportionate to its length, or time-value; longer
tones produce heavier, and shorter tones lighter, impressions. The
deduction from these two facts is, then, that the rhythmic arrangement
is _regular_ when the comparatively longer tones occupy the accented
beats, or the accented fractions of the beats; and _irregular_ when
shorter tones occupy the accents, or when longer tones are shifted to
any comparatively lighter pulse of the measure or group.
The rhythm of the second measure in Ex. 3 is regular, because the
longest tone stands at the beginning of the measure, thus confirming
(and, in fact, creating) the accent. The rhythm in Ex. 1 is also
regular, throughout, the light eighth-notes occupying the light third
beat, and the heavy dotted-quarter the heavy pulse (in the third
measure). Ex. 2 is strikingly definite in rhythm, because the
time-values are so greatly diversified; and the arrangement is regular.
On the other hand, the following is an example of irregular rhythm:
[Illustration: Example 4. Fragment of Beethoven.]
The longer (heavier) tones are placed in the middle of the measure,
between the beats; the tie at the end of measure 3 places the heavy
note at the end, instead of the beginning, of the measure, and cancels
the accent of the fourth measure. These irregular forms of rhythm are
called syncopation. See also Ex. 6, second Phrase.
MELODY. - Any succession of _single_ tones is a melody. If we strike
the keys of the piano with two or more fingers of each hand
simultaneously, we produce a body of tones, which - if they are so
chosen that they blend harmoniously - is called a Chord; and a series of
such chords is an illustration of what is known as Harmony. If,
however, we play with one finger only, we produce a melody. The human
voice, the flute, horn, - all instruments capable of emitting but one
tone at a time, - produce melody.
Melody constitutes, then, a _line of tones_. If, as we have said, Time
is the canvas upon which the musical images are thrown, Melodies are
the lines which trace the design or form of these images. This
indicates the extreme importance of the melodic idea in music form.
Without such "tone-lines" the effect would be similar to that of daubs
or masses of color without a drawing, without the evidence of contour
A _good_ melody, that is, a melody that appeals to the intelligent
music lover as tuneful, pleasing, and intelligible, is one in which,
first of all, each successive tone and each successive group of tones
stands in a rational harmonic relation to the one before it, and even,
usually, to several preceding tones or groups. In other words, the
tones are not arranged haphazard, but with reference to their
harmonious agreement with each other. For a model of good melody,
examine the very first sentence in the book of Beethoven's pianoforte
[Illustration: Example 5. Fragment of Beethoven.]
The tones bracketed _a_, if struck all together, unite and blend in one
harmonious body, so complete is the harmonic agreement of each
succeeding tone with its fellows; the same is true of the group marked
_c_. The tones bracketed _b_ and _d_ do not admit of being struck
simultaneously, it is true, but they are all parts of the same key (F
minor), and are closely and smoothly connected; hence their
concurrence, though not one of harmony (chord), is one of intimate tone
relation and proximity. Further, the whole group marked 2 corresponds
in its linear formation, its rising, poising and curling, exactly to
the preceding group, marked 1. This, then, is a _good_
melody, - tuneful, interesting, intelligible, striking and absolutely
In the second place, the tones and groups in a good melody are measured
with reference to harmony of time-values; that is, their metric
condition, and their rhythmic arrangement, corroborate the natural laws
already defined: - uniformity of fundamental pulse, uniform recurrence
of accent, and sufficient regularity of rhythmic figure to insure a
distinct and comprehensible total impression. This also may be
verified in the time-values of Ex. 5. Scrutinize also, the melodic and
rhythmic conditions of Exs. 1 and 2, - and the examples on later
pages, - and endeavor to vindicate their classification as "good"
melodies. Ex. 4, though an exposition of irregular rhythm, is none the
less excellent on that account; on the contrary, this irregularity,
because wisely balanced by sufficient evidence of harmonious and
logical agreement, only heightens the beauty and effectiveness of the
* * * * * *
Whenever whole bodies of tone are played successively, a number of
melody lines are being described, - as many, in fact, as there are tones
in each body. For example, in playing a hymn-tune we describe (on the
keyboard) the four separate melodies known as the soprano, alto, tenor
and bass voices. In a duet, unaccompanied, there are two melodic
lines; if accompanied, other melodic lines are added to these. Thus we
recognize the same system of associated lines in music as in
architecture or drawing. Very rarely indeed does one single unbroken
line portray a complete image.
But in music, as in drawing, the lines differ in their degrees of
importance and prominence; and, very commonly, one line over-shadows
all, or nearly all the rest. This strongest tone-line is therefore apt
to be designated, somewhat unfairly, _the_ melody (the "tune" or "air"
is more just). But, at all events, _this predominating melodic line is
the most important factor of the form, the one upon which the
definition and recognition of the "form" depend_; and it is therefore
necessary that the student learn to distinguish it, to acquire the
habit of centring his attention upon it, - in reading, listening to, or
analyzing music; and, in playing, to give it the emphasis it requires.
The importance of a tone-line depends solely upon its conspicuousness.
The principal melody - _the_ Melody - is the one which is most salient,
which most attracts the hearer's attention. For this reason the
composer is induced to place his chief melody _above the rest of the
tone-lines, because the uppermost tone strikes the ear more acutely
than the lower ones_, and therefore the succession of highest tones
constitutes a conspicuous line that attracts and impresses the sense
Here then, at the top of the harmonic tone-complex, we look for the
chief melody; and here it will be found, - excepting when arbitrary
emphasis (by accentuation) is imparted to some lower tone-line, so that
it, for the time being, assumes a prominence equal, or superior, to
that of the uppermost line. (This divided prominence is seen in the
18th Song Without Words - the _duet_.)
LESSON 2. - Write careful and complete answers to the following
1. What is Time, as applied to music?
2. What is _tempo_?
3. Give a full definition of the beat.
4. By what time-value is it most commonly indicated?
5. Give a full definition of the measure.
6. Why do measures differ in size?
7. What is a simple measure?
8. What is a compound measure?
9. Define duple and triple rhythms. (See also Chap. I.)
10. What does the term rhythm signify?
11. How is it applied in music?
12. When is the rhythm regular?
13. When is the rhythm irregular?
14. Define the difference between melody and harmony.
15. Give a full definition of melody.
16. What are the conditions of a good melody?
17. In what respect does music resemble architecture or drawing?
18. Are the tone-lines in a composition of equal importance?
19. What significance is to be attached to the principal tone-line?
20. Upon what does the importance of a tone-line depend?
21. Where is the chief melody usually placed?
CHAPTER III. FIGURE AND MOTIVE.
THE MELODIC FIGURE. - The smallest unit in musical composition is the
single tone. The smallest cluster of successive tones (from two to
four or five in number) that will convey a definite musical impression,
as miniature musical idea, is called a Figure. Assuming the single
tone to represent the same unit of expression as a letter of the
alphabet, the melodic figure would be defined as the equivalent of a
complete (small) word; - pursuing the comparison further, a series of
figures constitutes the melodic Motive, equivalent to the smallest
group of words (a subject with its article and adjective, for example);
and two or three motives make a Phrase, equivalent to the complete,
though comparatively brief, sentence (subject, predicate, and object).
This definition, amply illustrated in the following examples, serves
also to point out the significant resemblance between the structure of
language and of music. The principal melody is, as it were, the voice
of the speaker, whose message is framed wholly out of the primary
tones, or letters of the musical alphabet. The association of primary
tone-units, in successive order, results first in the figure, then in
the motive, then the phrase, period, and so forth, in the manner of
natural growth, till the narrative is ended. The following example,
though extending beyond our present point of observation, is given as
an illustration of this accumulative process (up to the so-called
[Illustration: Example 6. Fragment of Beethoven.]
[Illustration: Example 6 continued.]
The tones bracketed _a_ are the Figures; two (in the last measures,
three) of these are seen to form Motives; two of these motives make the
Phrase; and the whole sentence, of two phrases, is a Period. See also
Ex. 1 and Ex. 2, in which the formation of figures is very distinct.
The pregnancy and significance of each of these tiny musical "words"
(or figures, as we are to call them), - small and apparently imperfect
as they are, - can best be tested by concentrating the attention upon
each as if it stood alone upon the page; it is such vitality of the
separate particles that invests a musical masterwork with its power and
permanency of interest.
* * * * * *
DEFINING THE FIGURES. - It is not always easy to distinguish the figures
in a melodic sentence. While they are unquestionably analogous to the
words in speech, they are by no means as concrete, nor are they
separated as distinctly, as the words upon a written or printed sheet.
This is in keeping with the intangible quality of music, and the
peculiar vagueness of its medium of expression; the quality which veils
its intrinsic purport from the mass of music admirers, and lends it
such exquisite and inexplicable charm to all hearers alike.
In a word, it is not the common practice for a composer to cut up his
melodic sentences into separately recognizable small particles, by
distinctly marking each component _figure_. Here and there it is done,
by way of contrast, or emphasis, or for a definite rhythmic effect, - as
shown in Ex. 2 and Ex. 6. But more generally the figures are so
closely interlinked that the whole sentence may impress the hearer as
one coherent strain, with an occasional interruption. The very minute
"breaks" between figures are often nearly or quite imperceptible; and
in many cases it is possible to define the figures of a motive in
various, equally plausible ways, simply because the "breaks" (which are
of course surely present, and become more and more apparent between the
larger members of a composition) are likely to be too inconsiderable
among these, smallest factors of the melodic form.
The following three guides may serve to indicate the extremities of the
melodic figures: -
(1) A brief rest, or a longer tone, usually marks the end of a figure.
This is fully illustrated in Ex. 6. See also Ex. 10, Ex. 12.
(2) Similarity of formation (rhythm and melodic direction) almost
invariably defines the mutually opposed, and therefore separable,
divisions of the melody, - both small and large. For example (the
figures are bracketed _a_): -
[Illustration: Example 7. Fragments of Czerny, Mendelssohn, and
See also Ex. 1. The operation of this exceedingly important rule of
"corresponding formation" (about which more will be said later on) is
seen - on a larger scale - in Ex. 2, Ex. 5, and Ex. 6, where it defines
the whole _motive_.
(3) In default of more definite signs, the figures may be found to
correspond to the metric groups (that is, in lengths of whole or half
measures). Thus: -
[Illustration: Example 8. Fragments of Beethoven.]
This example illustrates the interlinking of the figures, and suggests
the difficulty that may be encountered in the effort to define melodic
figures. The difficulty is probably greatest in melodies of a lyric
character, where it is necessary to sustain the coherency of the
sentence; for instance, in many of the Songs Without Words, - see No.
40, No. 22, and others, in which an entirely definite separation of the
figures is well-nigh a hopeless task.
For this reason, - that is, because the melodic divisions are so minute
and vague between these smaller particles of the musical sentence, - it
is advisable _to give no heed to any factor smaller than the "motive,"_
and to undertake the analysis of nothing less than the latter; for even
the most scrupulous "phrasing," in the playing of a composition, must
avoid the risk of incoherency almost certain to result from distinctly
separating all the figures. The melodies in Ex. 8 should not betray
the secret of their formation.
THE MELODIC MOTIVE OR PHRASE-MEMBER. - This, as has already been stated,
is a somewhat longer section, compounded of two or more figures. Being
thus longer, the "breaks" or spaces between motives are generally more
emphatic and recognizable than those between the figures, and therefore
it is easier, as a rule, to define the extremities of motives.
Melodic motives differ in length from one to four measures; by far the
most common extent, however, is two measures, and the student will do
wisely to accept this dimension and analyze accordingly, unless there
is unmistakable evidence to the contrary. The indications are
precisely the same as those illustrated in the preceding two examples
as guides for the definition of figures.
For example: -
[Illustration: Example 9. Fragments of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and
In the first of these examples the extent of the motives is proven by
each of the three given guides: the rest, which marks the end of the
first member; the similarity of melodic and rhythmic formation, which
proclaims the beginning of the second member, parallel with that of the
first; and the regular (two-measure) dimension. In Nos. 2 and 3 there
are no rests between the motives, and the melodic formation differs;
here it is the standard of two measures that defines the members.
Ex. 3 is a two-measure motive. In Exs. 2, 5, and 6, the motives are
all two measures in length.
In the following: -
[Illustration: Example 10. Fragment of Beethoven.]
one is tempted to call each _single_ measure a motive, because of the
number of tones it contains, and the weight (length) of the final tone,
which makes a much more emphatic interruption than commonly occurs
And in the following, on the other hand: -
[Illustration: Example 11. Fragment of Beethoven.]
the entire four-measure sentence is evidently one motive, for there is
no recognizable indication of an interruption at any point. The same
is true of the two melodies given in Ex. 8.
The following illustrates an irregular (uneven) association of
[Illustration: Example 12. Fragment of Mozart.]
Here again, there may be a disposition to adopt the upper line of
brackets, assigning a single measure to each motive. But both here,
_and in Ex. 10_, the student is advised to adhere to the two-measure
standard; he will avoid much needless confusion by so doing, - at least
until he shall have so developed and sharpened his sense of melodic
syntax that he can apprehend the finer shades of distinction in the
"motion and repose" of a melody. Adopting the lower line of brackets,
we discover successive members of unequal length, the first one
containing two, the next one three measures.
PRELIMINARY TONES. - It is a singularly effective and pregnant quality
of the element of musical rhythm, that its operations are not bounded
by the vertical bars which mark off the measures. That is to say, a
rhythmic figure (and, in consequence, a melodic figure or motive) does
not necessarily extend from bar to bar, but may run from the middle (or
any other point) of one measure, to the middle (or corresponding point)
of the next; precisely as prosodic rhythm comprises poetic feet which
begin either with an accented or with an unaccented syllable. See Ex.
10. Hence the significant rule, _that a melodic member may begin at
any part of a measure_, upon an accented or an unaccented beat, or upon
any fraction of a beat. For example: -
[Illustration: Example 13. Fragments of Mendelssohn.]
[Illustration: Example 13 continued. Fragments of Mendelssohn and
In No. 1, the motive begins squarely with the measure, upon the
accented beat. In No. 2, the same motive is enlarged by two tones at
the outset, which locates its beginning upon the fourth 8th - the second
half of the second beat. In No. 3 the motive begins upon an accented
beat, but it is the lighter (secondary) accent of the 3d beat. The
various conditions of unaccented beginnings in Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are
easily recognizable. In No. 7 quite a large fraction of a measure
precedes the first accent (at the beginning of the full measure).
Examine, also, all the preceding examples, and note the different
accented or unaccented locations of the first tone, in each figure and
When a figure or motive starts at the accented beat, it begins, so to
speak, in the right place; _any tone or tones which precede the accent
are merely preliminary or introductory tones_. While they are very
desirable and necessary, in the fulfilment of certain purposes, they
are not an _essential_ part of the motive; they appear to represent the
ornamental rather than the stable element of the melodic sentence, and
their employment is therefore a matter of option and taste rather than
of absolute necessity. The accent indicates the point where the body
of the motive begins; the accent is the point where the stake is
driven; all that goes before is simply preparatory, - the changeable