W. J. (Winton James) Baltzell.

A complete history of music, for schools, clubs, and private readings online

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or scales, much as some modern musicians, Berlioz, for example, do
to the different keys. But all seem to have agreed as to the Dorian.
This was considered the true Greek mode, and was called severe,
firm and manly, suitable for martial songs. The Lydian mode was
esteemed to be effeminate, suited to love songs, possibly because
the Lydian Octave corresponds with the scale of A major, and a major
scale was not relished by the Greeks, any more than it was by the
early ecclesiastical musicians. A more probable explanation of this
attribution of different characters to the different scales is, that it
was customary to use certain modes for songs on certain subjects, and
the character of the poetry was transferred to the music.

=The Greek Chromatic Scale= differed altogether from what _we_ call a
chromatic scale. It was made by _lowering_ the pitch of the _fourth_
and _seventh_ strings above the _keynote_ a halftone. Supposing the
octave lyre to be tuned to the Hypo-Dorian Mode or Scale, it would
begin and end on the Keynote (_Mese_), thus:


Now, by lowering D and G we get the following scale:


This is the scale that was called Chromatic. It is said to have been at
one time the most popular of all the scales, a statement we can easily
credit, since it contains in itself the two world-wide five-note or
_Pentatonic_ Scales, commonly known as the Scotch or Irish Scales, the
most widely distributed of all scales in Europe, Asia and America.

[Music: Major pentatonic scale Minor pentatonic scale]

=The Greek Enharmonic Scale=.—The scale called Enharmonic was made
thus: The fourth and seventh strings were lowered a whole tone; that
is, to the pitch of the second and sixth, the second and sixth were
lowered a _quartertone_, thus:


C-flat is supposed to be halfway between B and C; F-flat halfway
between E and F. Our modern system does not provide for the notation of


=Greek Instruments=.—The standard instrument of the Greeks was the
=Lyre=. It bore many names, as Lyre, Tetrachordon, Chelys, Phorminx,
Cithara, etc. There may have been slight _differences_ in the _size
and the number of the strings_, but great uncertainty prevails on this
point. Under the name of =Flute= (_Aulos_) they seem to have included
both _Flutes_ proper and instruments of the _hautboy_ or _clarinet_
family. These instruments bore a bewildering number of names, the exact
meaning of which is lost. Judging from the pictorial representations
that remain, the Greek instruments were inferior both in variety and
extent to those of the Egyptians. They seem to have made little use
of the Harp, of which instrument the Egyptians had a great variety.
The Greeks seem to have used instruments chiefly, if not solely, to
accompany the voice; and they appear never to have combined large
numbers of instruments for any purpose. Even in their tragedies, which
were performed in immense theatres open to the sky, the Chorus was
limited to fifteen men, accompanied by two flutes. When accompanying
the voice with the lyre they may have occasionally struck the fourth,
fifth or octave of the vocal melody; but, in general, they played the
voice part. Their most highly developed instrument was a variety of
lyre, the strings of which passed over a bridge placed one-third of the
strings’ length from the lower end of the lyre, thus causing the lower
part of the string to sound the octave of the upper part. The shorter
part of the string was played with a plectrum in the right hand, the
longer part by the fingers of the left hand. This instrument was called
=Magadis=—from _Magas_, a bridge. The term _Magadize_ was eventually
used to signify playing or singing in octaves, and was _synonymous_
with _Antiphony_.


=Greek Musical Notation=.—Our knowledge of Greek musical notation is
very defective, being derived from only four or five specimens of
ancient music, and a few small fragments. They appear to have used a
_separate notation for each mode_, and these four hymns are apparently
all in the same mode, but authorities differ as to the mode. They
used the letters of their alphabet, both capital and small, written
in various positions, sometimes upright, sometimes lying on one side.
The notation for the lyre differed from that used for the voice. The
letters representing the _vocal_ part were written _above the words_,
those representing the _instrumental_ part, _below_ the _words_. These
_letters represented_ the _pitch_ of the sounds, but _not_ their
_duration_. The duration was regulated by the _meter_ of the poetry.
Instead of a portion of one of these hymns, the first three lines of
our National Hymn are given as a sample of this notation:

R R Φ Γ R Φ σ σ Ρ σ Φ R Φ R Γ R
My country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing.

These letters have been interpreted as indicating the following sounds,
the transposed Hypo-Lydian Scale in its old form; that is, the Lesser
Perfect System with G sharp as its keynote.


=Greek View of Harmony=.—The question has been much debated as to
whether or not the Greeks practiced harmony. It seems hardly possible
with such a defective notation; but the best argument against it
is, that there is not a word in any of the extant treatises as
to combinations and successions of these combinations, and it is
impossible that any art of harmony should have existed unless some
rules for its employment should have been evolved.

=Greek Terms in Music=.—The modern terminology of music is largely
indebted to the Greek system, although many of the words have entirely
changed their significance. The word Music itself, to the Greek, meant
the whole circle of the sciences, especially Astronomy and Mathematics.
Melody meant the rising and falling of the voice in either speaking or
singing. Harmonia meant rather what we call Melody than our Harmony.
This latter, namely, the sounding together of different sounds, was
called Symphony. Antiphony originally meant singing in octaves, that
is, men with women or boys. Chromatic and Enharmonic have already been
explained. Diapason, now applied chiefly to organ stops, originally
meant the octave; that is, “through all.” Diatonic has nearly retained
its original meaning. Tone, Semitone and Tetrachord have retained their
meaning, with the exception that in the modern tetrachord the halftone
is at the other end.


Monro.—The Modes of Ancient Greek Music.

Rowbotham.—History of Music.

Oxford History of Music, Vol. I.


What was the Greek use of the term Octave; “Dorian Octave,” for example?

What change did Claudius Ptolemy suggest? What confusion resulted?

What is the meaning of the prefix “Hyper”?

Explain the Greek Chromatic Scale.

Explain the Greek Enharmonic Scale.

What was the standard Greek musical instrument? What names were given
to modifications of it?

What instruments were comprehended under the term _Aulos_?

How were the instruments used in accompanying the voice?

What is meant by “magadizing”?

Give an account of Greek musical notation.

Did the Greeks use “Harmony” as we understand that term?

Name some musical terms that come from the Greek. Berlioz gives the
characters of different keys in his book on Instrumentation. “Auld
Lang Syne” is a pentatonic melody, scale of F, with fourth and seventh
omitted. Any series of five notes on the black keys of the piano will
make a pentatonic scale, major character. The language of music was
determined by scholars, hence the use of so many terms with Greek and
Latin roots.



=Rome the New Centre=.—The Power that rules in the affairs of men
seems to have made provision for the elevation of the whole race by
diffusing at intervals of centuries, the treasures of art, science and
thought accumulated by a nation of unusual power and energy. Egypt
dominated the northern part of Africa, the shores of the Mediterranean
and the western slopes of Asia Minor, and in course of time yielded
to the advance of the Greeks, but leaving behind, as a legacy, much
that has had enduring value. What had once been centred in one nation,
under the control of one caste, the priests, was spread through much
of the known world. Greece, in turn, shaped the destinies of expanding
civilization. In the Greek social life free art played a great part;
wherever the Greeks went as merchants and colonists, they carried with
them the principles of Greek art, including music. Greek musicians were
accounted stars of the first magnitude in Egypt, in the Greek colonies
of Italy, and later in Rome, which, after the fall of Greece as a
political factor, became the political, social and artistic centre of
the world; through her conquests and subsequent colonizing diffusing
throughout a larger world than Egypt and Greece knew, an increased
wealth of thought and action which greatly influenced later generations.

=Rome Dependent Upon Greece=.—The Romans did not show a native instinct
for art. Their national qualities were essentially warlike, and were
developed by years of struggle for existence. A people whose organized
life was political and martial, and for so long found expression first
in defence, later in conquest, would not develop a true art life. As
they grew stronger they built up their collections by pillage and by
purchase; they were taught music, oratory, architecture, sculpture
by Greeks who sought the capital of the world. Roman nobles imitated
Greek customs, learned the Greek language and literature, cultivated
music according to Greek methods, used Greek instruments, such as the
cithara, lyre and flute, sang Greek songs and formed companies of
singers and players to furnish entertainment at their feasts and at the
public spectacles. The Roman drama was modified by Greek principles,
and Greek actors replaced Roman artists; the pantomime was borrowed
from Egypt. Music was a favorite distraction in the high ranks of
Roman society, and men known to history were skilful players or
singers—Sylla, Flaccus, Calpurnius Piso, Titus, Caligula, Hadrian, and,
best known of all, Nero.

[Illustration: ROMAN HORN. SYRINX.]

=Growth of Christianity=.—While the Roman Empire, in its turn, had
served the purpose of the Ruling Power in the affairs of men, in secret
a new force was gaining strength, one that was soon to drive pagan
arts and pleasures from open cultivation. In the Catacombs, in remote
sections of the great city, pursued, hunted like beasts, martyrized,
the Christians clung to their faith with its simple rites of worship,
in which the singing of songs was a marked feature. Whence these songs
came is by no means certain, the prevailing opinion being that they
were of Greek origin, modified by Hebrew influence.[7] In the course
of years songs were introduced in the Christian service with no other
warrant than that of tradition. During the years of persecution no
systematic cultivation of music was possible. Later, when Constantine
accepted the Cross, 325 A. D., and Christianity had triumphed over
Paganism, the abuses became such that the ecclesiastical authorities
set themselves to the task of reform and of establishing a system of
song for the use of the Church.

[Music: Tonus Peregrinus as a chant]

=Origin of the Church Scales=.—It is absolutely unknown when or by whom
the system of scales, known as the Church Scales, was invented. The
latest writer on the Greek System was =Claudius Ptolemy= (about 130 A.
D.). In 330, =Pope Sylvester= established a school for training church
singers, but we have no information as to the system he employed. The
name of =Ambrose=, Bishop of Milan (333-397), has for centuries been
associated with what are called the _Authentic_ Scales, but there is no
valid evidence whatever that he had anything to do with their adoption.
The name of =Pope Gregory= (540-604) has also been associated with
another set of scales called _Plagal_, with as little authority as in
the previous case. There does not appear to have existed any system
of notation in the time of Ambrose or Gregory. The Greek notation by
letters was forgotten, and the very insufficient system of notation by
Neumes had not been invented. The only writer of any authority after
Ptolemy was Boethius, and he did more to confuse the subject of music
than to explain it.

=Foundation of the Church Scales=.—But if we know nothing of the
inventor of the Church Scales, or of the way in which they grew into
their final form, we are, nevertheless, perfectly well informed of
the fully-developed system which, it must be remarked, grew out of a
misunderstanding of the Greek Scales. The Church Scales were founded
on the Greater Perfect System of the Greeks, with this restriction,
namely, that it was _not transposable_; whereas, we have seen that the
various Greek modes were transpositions of either the Lesser or Greater


This is the series of sounds from which the Church Scales were made.
None of them might be _altered_ by sharp or flat, _except_ the _B_ in
the second octave (and this was a later addition which was probably
owing to a remembrance of the Lesser Perfect System in which the B was
flat.) The Greek names were retained for the Church Scales, but as not
one of the notes was inflected, it follows that the _halftones_ occur
in _different_ places in every scale. The scales to which these names
were given were called Authentic, those with the prefix _Hypo_ were
called Plagal. In the table on the next page, the Greek and Church
Scales, also the Greek _octaves_ are given side by side.

=Confusion Between the Systems=.—We may gather from this table how
the confusion between Dorian and Phrygian has arisen. The Phrygian
Octave is identical with the Church Dorian, and the Dorian Octave with
the Church Phrygian. A proof that the Church Scales originated in
the way indicated may be found in the fact that the Church and Greek
Hypo-Dorian Scales are identical, this being the only Greek Scale
without a sharp or flat. The Church Hypo-Lydian was also called the
Ionian Scale; its arrangement of tones and semitones is the _same_ as
that of the _modern major scale_. It was not considered appropriate for
church music, being looked upon as soft, effeminate and lascivious, by
both Greeks and mediæval churchmen.



At the pitch as transposed by Ptolemy

Phrygian Octave Dorian Dorian

Dorian Octave Phrygian Phrygian

Hypo-Lydian Octave Lydian Lydian

Hypo-Phrygian Octave Mixo-Lydian Mixo-Lydian

Hypo-Dorian Octave Hypo-Dorian Hypo-Dorian

Mixo-Lydian Octave Hypo-Phrygian Hypo-Phrygian

Lydian Octave Hypo-Lydian Hypo-Lydian

Phrygian Octave Hypo-Mixo-Lydian]

=Eight Modes in Use=.—The Church Scales were numbered from one to
eight; the Authentic Scales were given the odd, and the Plagal Scales
the even numbers, thus:

1. Dorian 2. Hypo-Dorian
related scales.
3. Phrygian 4. Hypo-Phrygian
related scales.
5. Lydian 6. Hypo-Lydian
related scales.
7. Mixo-Lydian 8. Hypo-Mixo-Lydian
related scales.

A melody in an Authentic Scale had to end on its Keynote, but a melody
in a Plagal Scale ended on the Keynote of its _related_ Authentic
Scale. Observe that the Dorian and Hypo-Mixo-Lydian Scales are
identical; but while the former had to end on the Keynote, D, the
latter ended on G, which is the fourth of its scale, and Keynote of its
_related_ Authentic Scale.

Traces of these Authentic and Plagal Scales may be found in many old
folk-songs. Thus, the melody of the “Last Rose of Summer” begins on the
Keynote, rises in the course of the melody to the octave, but ends by
falling to the Keynote; it is therefore Authentic. On the other hand,
the melody of “Robin Adair” begins on the fourth _below_ the Keynote,
rises to its octave, but ends on the fourth _above_ its initial note
and is Plagal; thus:

Range Range

Initial Final Initial Final


The term _Hyper_ (above) was sometimes applied to the Authentic Scales.
In the Greek System the _Hyper_ Scales were the same distance _above_
the standard scales that the _Hypo_ Scales were _below_. Although
twelve modes were theoretically admitted in church music, it was for
the most part confined to the eight modes given above.

=The Dominant=.—In addition to the keynote there was another note
in every scale of almost equal importance, called the _Dominant_.
This name has been retained in the modern system, but with a total
_change_ of meaning. In the Church Scales it meant the _Reciting
Note_, that is, the note on which the principal part of the words was
chanted. In all the _Authentic_ Scales but the Phrygian, the _fifth_
of the scale is the _Dominant_; in the _Phrygian_ the _sixth_ is the
_Dominant_, because the B was a changeable note, that is, might be
natural or flat. The _Dominants_ of the _Plagal_ Scales are a _third
below_ the Dominants of the related Authentic Scales, except in the
Hypo-Mixo-Lydian, in which the Dominant is a second below that of its
related Authentic Scale. Therefore the _Dominant_ is the _sixth_ of all
the _Hypo_ Scales, but the _Hypo-Phrygian_ and _Hypo-Mixo-Lydian_, in
which it is the _seventh_.

=Hucbald’s Scale=.—Two attempts were made in the 10th century to
construct new scales, first by =Hucbald=, who founded his series of
sounds on a tetrachord, in which the halftone was between the second
and third, thus: A B C D. His object seems to have been to obtain a
series in which a succession of perfect fourths and fifths might be
secured, for which purpose he made use of the following series of


In the first tetrachord B was flat, in the third natural; in the
fourth, F was sharp. As to the use made of this scale, little or
nothing is known.

=Guido’s Scale=.—The other attempt, usually attributed to _Guido_, a
contemporary of Hucbald, resulted in the _Hexachord_ Scale (six-note
scale). This scale was formed by adding a whole tone above and below
the Hucbald tetrachord, thus: G, A, B, C, D, E. To complete the series
of Hexachord Scales, another sound was added, namely: the G below
the A on which the Greek scales and their derivatives, the Church
scales, began. The first seven letters of the Roman alphabet were
used to name the sounds already in use, hence to indicate this sound
the Greek letter, Gamma, was adopted. At the same time the syllables
_ut_—_re_—_mi_—_fa_—_sol_—_la_ were used to name the sounds of every
hexachord (precisely as the movable Do is used now); hence this lowest
sound was called _Gamma-ut_, corrupted into Gamut. The sounds in the
series were indicated by placing after the letter the syllables that
indicated its position in all the hexachords in which it was found,


1. _Gamma—ut_. 2. _A—re_. 3. _B—mi_. 4. _C—Fa—ut_, because C is _fa_
in the first, and _ut_ in the second hexachord. Consequently, to a
mediæval musician, _C—fa—ut_ meant what we would call C, second space
bass clef.

The following table gives all the Hexachord Scales with the names of
the sounds. It is of interest because this system of nomenclature
persisted long after the one which gave rise to it was obsolete.

{ E la
{ D la sol
Super { C sol fa
Acute { B♮ mi
{ B♭ fa
{ A la mi re

{ G sol re ut
{ F fa ut
{ E la mi
Acute { D la sol re
Octave { C sol fa ut
{ B♮ mi
{ B♭ fa
{ A la mi re

{ G sol re ut
{ F fa ut
{ E la mi
Grave { D sol re
Octave { C fa ut
{ B mi
{ A re
{ Γ ut

The Hexachords in which the B was flat were called Soft (_Mollis_);
those in which B was natural, Hard (_Dura_); the term _mollis_ has been
retained in the French word _Bemol_, a flat, and in the German name for
a minor key, _Moll_. The word _dura_ (hard) is also retained in the
German as a name for the major key _Dur_. When the letters were used
as a means of notation, the sound B-flat was indicated by the old form
of the letter b, which has been retained as the sign for a flat. This
was called B _rotundum_ (round B); when B natural was wanted, a stroke
was put on the right side of the ♭, called B _quadratum_ (squared B),
the sign to this day for a natural.


Oxford History of Music, Vol. I.


What city became the centre of life after Athens and Greece fell?

What new influence was shaping in the Roman Empire?

When did music receive official attention and reform?

What names are associated with the early history of Church Music?

On which Greek system were the Church Scales founded?

What difference exists between the Greek and the Church Scales as to
the positions of the halftones?

What is meant by Authentic and Plagal?

What were the rules in regard to a melody in the Authentic forms? What
Plagal? Give an example of each.

What is meant by Dominant? Was the position of the Dominant the same in
each scale? Name some variations.

What attempts were made to construct new scales?

What is meant by “Gamut”?

What is meant by C—fa—ut?

What names were given to the different forms of the Hexachord? What are
the modern meanings of the terms?

What is the origin of the flat and natural signs?

Note the points of similarity and difference in the three scale forms
on page 65 in this lesson. As an exercise take well-known airs to see
if they are Authentic or Plagal. In the “Taming of the Shrew,” by
Shakespeare, is a passage in which reference is made to the names of
the notes as found in this lesson. Read this passage in class.



=System of Notation by Letters=.—The earliest system of Notation,
attributed to =Boethius=, the Roman philosopher, seems to have been the
placing of letters over the syllables, thus:

My country ’tis of thee.

[Music: Boethius’ Notation]

During the period of history dominated by Pope Gregory the Great, a
change was made in this system by which capital letters, small letters
and double letters were used, an improvement, since only the first
seven letters of the alphabet were employed, thus:


This system seems to have been used chiefly for theoretic
demonstration. These two methods indicated the _pitch_ sufficiently,
but _not_ the _duration_ of the sounds.

=Neumes=.—The next attempt was somewhat of a retrogression instead
of an improvement. Signs called _Neumes_ were placed over the words.
These signs consisted of points, lines, accents, hooks, curves, angles
and a number of other characters placed more or less exactly over the
syllables to which they were intended to be sung, in such manner as to
show, relatively, by the distance above the text, how much the voice
was to rise or fall. They did _not_ indicate _absolute pitch_ or
_duration_. The number of characters in use, according to manuscripts
still preserved, varied from seven to forty. In later forms they appear
in the notation used for the old Plain Song melodies (Gregorian) which
were recalled into general use by Pope Pius X, in 1904.




fh f gd fff efgfd d g g hg hi h kk hg ef

Online LibraryW. J. (Winton James) BaltzellA complete history of music, for schools, clubs, and private readings → online text (page 4 of 41)