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were rising with corresponding rapidity. The offices of the church gave at once an employment and a retreat to men of taste. Music as well as learning found her asylum in the sanctuary. There is no more striking epoch in her annals than the reformation by Gregory the Great. Thousands of youth were educated for the choir, in the public Orphanotrophia. In one of the schools near the Lateran were to be seen, as late as the ninth century, the couch upon which Gregory used to lie when he gave instructions to the singers
, and the rods with which he castigated the boys, together with the original of the Antiphonarium. Under his auspices, modern harmony made its first advances. But the antiphonal singing and canto fermo did not admit of being conveyed, even in fragments, from the church to the populace. For this it was too ponderous as well as too sacred; and it was only by the general culture which it afforded to the popular taste, that it tended to produce characteristic national melody.
The middle age was the era of popular music. From the eleventh until the fourteenth century, the Troubadours were actively engaged in the cultivation of a style which was eminently suited to the multitude. From them proceeded the Minnesingers, who ruled the taste of Germany in the thirteenth century. Among them were numbered margraves, princes, and even kings and emperors. After the art became debased, minstrels wandered over Europe under the names of Jongleurs, Musars, Violars, and other titles. The Provençal singers gave origin to the Italian romancers, and even England, now long destitute of national music, was then the paradise of a privileged minstrelsy. Chaucer's Clerke is no doubt the sample of an extensive tribe:
“ In twentie maner coud he trippe and daunce,
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
There any gay tapstere was."
ago. Nations differ strikingly in the amount and marked character of their national music; and there is something in the predominant traits of the Swiss which renders them susceptible of
these deep impressions. While some tribes of mankind are prone to let every great national feeling express itself in song, others pass through the most remarkable vicissitudes without any such enduring memorials. A more striking instance can scarcely be found, than in the two great nations of Britain. Here we find a marked contrast. Of national melodies England has very few, and these are doubtful, and if genuine, have no characteristic traits. Her soil once gave birth to noble bards, and her Alfred was a harper, but no relics of their melodies are now current. There is said to be no dance tune older than the
1400. The specimens of old English music exhibited by Dr. Crotch to the London Institution, such as “ The Carman's Whistle," the “Light of Love," &c., are now entirely obsolete. The national airs are borrowed, and the national taste is formed by mere cultivation from without. England has no national instrument since the Cambrian harp. The march of improvement has trampled down and trodden out those sparks of national enthusiasm which glowed in the age of the bards. Of her mighty wars and convulsive revolutions, she has no musical records embalmed in the memory of the peasant, or consecrating the traditions of the fireside. And from our English descent, we seem as Americans to labour under the same national phlegm.
But how different is the case when we turn to Scotland. Here there is melody unlike all other. There surely never was a wilder vagary of genius, than the supposition that David Rizzio imported the Scots music from Italy. Not to mention the technical peculiarity, arising from the incomplete minor scale of old Scots airs, the characteristics are too prominent to be mistaken. Indeed, modern professors acknowledge, that these melodies are, for variety and expression, superior to those of most nations. A family likeness pervades all these airs. A pensive sweetness is discernible even in the merriest dances, arising from that peculiar key, which has been likened to that of the Greek nomic melodies, and which is probably to be traced to the scale of the ancient bagpipe. They are the patrimony of the Scottish peasant. They are heard in every cottage and on every moor. They gave inspiration to the muse of Burns; for it is well known, that as he traced his furrow, he was accustomed to sing his compositions to familiar airs; and to this we may attribute the remarkable adaptation of his songs to musical delivery, a quality often wanting in lyrical productions, which are highly admirable as poetry, but which have been composed without reference to any musical accompaniment.
The works of which we have placed the titles at the beginning of this article, are collections of those celebrated melodies called the Ranz-des-Vaches, or Swiss cowherds' songs. It is a common error to suppose, that there is a single air current throughout Switzerland under this name. These books contain more than
fifty, and there are many still unrecorded. The words are in the various patois of the French and German cantons, which probably have the same Doric charm to the inhabitants which belongs to the lowland Scotch. We find airs of Emmenthal, of Ormond, of Guggisberg, of Frybourg; indeed, almost every nook of the Alps seems to have its appropriate Ranz-des-Vaches. M. Wyss has furnished the songs with a number of explanatory notes and a very useful glossary. The examination of these songs will perhaps mortify some zealous antiquaries, who, in every thing which so deeply affects the popular mind, expect to discover the very inspiration of poetry. In all cases they are very simple, being expressions of deep attachment to native scenes, lays of the seasons, rude pastorals, and ditties of humblest love. But in many cases these effusions are not only trivial but ridiculous, and the refrain is often a jargon of unmeaning syllables. This indeed is not always
the case, for there are some fraught with tender sentiment, and one or two highly humorous. The fifty-third in number is a favourite
in Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, and we have seen it also in Dutch; the basis of it being no doubt an ancient ballad.* The most celebrated Ranz-des-Vaches, and one to which the name has been sometimes restricted, is familiar to American musicians, and is eminently plaintive and pastoral. We give it according to the text of Laborde.
“Quand reverrai-je un jour
Tous les objets de mon amour ?" But there are a number of the songs which are not thus sentimental; and it is, after all, more the music with its associations
* “1. Mit dem Pfeil, dem Bogen,
Durch Gebirg und Thai,
Früh am Morgenstrahl.
König ist der Weih,-
Was sein Pfeil erreicht,
than the embodied thought, which moves the soul of the Swiss pâtre. It is oftener so in other cases than is readily admitted. Melodies are not so restricted in their expression as to be capable of adaptation only to one fixed modification of sentiment. Some of Burns's most pensive songs are set to old airs, of which the very titles provoke laughter. It was, if we remember, Biron, the great French vocalist, who once gained a wager, by moving his audience to tears when he sang some of the most frivolous songs to sad music. There is no small amount of assumption in many pretences to musical expression, and we need not wonder to find the Swiss penetrated by tunes which are allied to paltry words. The principle is conceded even by professors. Sir John Hawkins gives some remarkable instances. In Dr. Brown's Ode, entitled The Cure of Saul, there is a solo air, which is a saraband from the eighth sonata of Corelli's second opera; and Purcell's great movement in O give thanks, is turned into a chorus. The music to the song in Samson, Return, O Lord of Hosts, is an Italian cantata of Handel's younger days. The chorus in Alexander's feast was originally an Italian trio. And a great part of the music to Dryden's lesser Ode for St. Cecilia's day was composed for the opera of Alceste, written by Smollet, but never performed.
The same thing, we may digress, to add, was remarkably exemplified at the time of the Reformation, when the hymnology of the Protestants became somewhat lyrical. Most of the hymns in the vernacular tongue were set to popular songs, much to the scandal of many good people. The French version of the Psalter was begun by the darling poet of the age, Clement Marot, who gave origin to le style Marotique, of which Voltaire so bitterly complains. Marot was the inventor of the rondeau, and the restorer of the madrigal and the sonnet. He undertook the Psalter at the instance of Vatablus, and dedicated the version of thirty psalms to Francis I. The Parisian faculty of theology censured the version, but the king connived at it, being an admirer of the bard. They were sung to ballad tunes, and such was their popularity, that they could not be printed fast enough to meet the demand. Every one adapted to them such airs as he chose, and each of the princes and courtiers selected his psalm. Henry II. was fond of the 42d,
" Ainsi qu'on oit le cerf bruire
Pour-chassant les frais des eaux;" and made it his great hunting song. The queen selected the 6th,
“ Ne veuille pas, o Sire
Me reprendre en ton ire;" and sang it to a lively tune. And Antony of Navarre chose the 26th,
Seigneur, garde mon droit.”
The version was completed by Beza, and the tunes which were set to it by Godimel and Bourgeois, and which are extant in the old French bibles, became the national music of the Hugonots. Even Roman Catholics joined in singing them. Florimond reproaches the Protestants with their singing sacred hymns to ballad tunes
, and shows that the 38th psalm is set to the tune « Mon bel ami;" to which a Latin writer of Geneva retorted, that he had heard the Magnificat sung to the tune,
« Que ne vous requinquez-vous vielle ?
Que ne vous requinquez-vous donc ?" So much for the adaptation of music. We must now go on to say, that several editions of the work under review have been sold, with surprising rapidity, both in Switzerland and abroad. The lithography is well executed, and the vignettes, which serve as illuminations to the pieces, are appropriate and well conceived. The music has been revised by several of the most celebrated Swiss professors, under the supervision of the editor, M. Ferdinand Huber. He has furnished the airs throughout with accompaniments for the piano forte and the guitar. These are necessarily simple, for any indulgence in scientific refinements would be altogether incompatible with the musical dialect of Switzerland. Huber has endeavoured to avoid every thing incongruous with the national genius, and he has been the better able to accomplish this, because, by frequent excursions among the mountains where they are indigenous, he has caught the inspiration of the scene, and imbibed the enthusiasm which originated and has preserved these singular productions.
Whether we regard the touching simplicity of these airs as they affect strangers, or the wonderful impression which they make upon the Alpine herdsmen and hunters, the Ranz-des-Vaches must be considered as the most remarkable national melodies of Europe. Yet, after all the care of the artist, there is no notation which can serve to convey a genuine impression of the Kuhreihen. The organs
of the native mountaineers are necessary for this, and no one of our readers who has travelled in Switzerland or the Tyrol can fail to understand us when we say, that there are tones and modulations which can be produced by none but a Swiss throat, and which are unlike any other sounds on earth. The transitions, divisions, and rapid embellishments, effected in the open throat, cannot be indicated by notes; and when the attempt is made to replace these anomalous executions by the refinements of Italian music, the whole charm of the airs, as Swiss, has evaporated. This peculiarity of organic action, by which the throat is in reality transformed into an instrument of another timbre, is called by the Swiss yodlèn. To be comprehended it must be heard, and such as have heard it will readily acknowledge, that to this rather than to any
consecution of notes or harmonies, are the Ranz-des-Vaches VOL. XVII.--NO. 34.