It is evident, that both the com mon and proper tunes were originally in tended to be sung in the alla-breve time, or the regular pointing of two, three, or four minims in a bar: These are melody, harmony, and expression. I forgot to say a word or two con cerning the origin and generation of the diatonic system. It had nothing to do with the the oretic principles, and the mere mechanism of the science. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus.

But, as if it were un natural to leave the mind in this tranquil state, the performer, or actor, must re lapse into all that tempest and fury with which he began, and leave his hearers in the midst of it. In either case, a pompous display of art will destroy its own intentions: If to his Doctorship only, I am entirely unconcerned about it. With magic numbers, and persuasive sound. The first of these critics went so far as to affirm, that he was in no respect inferior to Pindar.

Lord ABERCORN, in his Treatise on Harmony, after several judicious remarks on the use of solmisation, in assisting the young composer how to ascertain the pro per msical to any regular fugue, hath the following reflections on the species of composition, which is called imitation.

Pope, in his Dunciad, makes it this leaden age. I will now endeavour to shew, that the compositions themselves, are not quite so blameable as this musical Drawcansir would make them.

charles avison essay on musical expression

The nominal keys, and the intervals will remain; the musical powers and sounds will be changed. But it is the indelible stamp of mean and trifling spirits, to envy and depreciate the talents of those whom they vainly strive to rival.

We may add for the sake of those who are in any degree acquainted with the theory of Music that the preparations and re solutions of discords, resemble the soft gradations from light to shade, or from shade to light, in Painting. This our sage remarker looked upon as an universal axiom, that would serve his purpose excellently, and accordingly planted it in his title-page, supposing that the poet thought none had a right to criticise, but such as were acknowledged to be good writers; whereas, he meant by it only, that criticism, from an allowed artist, came with additional force and lustre; and so undoubtedly it does.

Avison was partial not only to Rameau but also to Italian music; in that connection, he assembled volumes of sacred music by Benedetto Marcello and Carlo Clari, with the texts in English translation. Our church music is equally capable of improvements from the same sources of taste and knowledge.


Hav ing thus attempted a province of writing which was new to me, I thought I could not engage in it with too much caution; and, therefore, had recourse to my learned friends, by whose advice I was induced to separate that part which related to the per formance of full Music, and to publish the whole together afterwards, under the title of An Essay on Musical Expression; and am proud to embrace this opportunity of acknowledging the generous coun tenance which those gentlemen of integrity and genius shewed it.

The first of these critics went so far as to affirm, that he was in no respect inferior to Pindar. Donald Callen – – Grazer Philosophische Studien What offers next, is the wonderful stress he has laid on some trifling disallowances: Super alta vectus Atys celeri rate maria:.

charles avison essay on musical expression

In compositions for the German flute, is required the same method of proceeding by conjoint degrees, or such other natural intervals, as, with the nature of its tone, will best express the languishing, or me lancholy style. Arms and the man I sing, who urg’d by stub born fate.

It is a common practice with those luke-warm performers, who imagine that diminishing the num ber of instruments will answer the same end as softening the whole, to quit their part when they should rather be all at tention how to manage it with the utmost delicacy; transporting, as it were, like the swell-organ, the lessening sounds to a vast distance, and thence returning with redoubled strength and fullness to the forte: The frequent Delicacy of vharles airs, is so striking, that we almost forget the defect of har mony, under which they often labour.

In these lines, which I do not remem ber to have seen well explained, septem discrimina vocum are the seven notes of Music, or musical sounds, in general. It is, therefore, to this imperfection in the scale of Music, you must impute the C chrales in the tenor, and the omission of not figuring that sharp in the bass.

An Essay on Musical Expression (Avison, Charles)

As therefore a continued succession mksical single musical sounds produces melody, so does a continued combination of these produce harmony.

Andreas Dorschel – – In Jane Fulcher ed.

charles avison essay on musical expression

It is a kind of me dium between the bodily exercises that render men fierce and hardy, and spe culative sciences that render them un sociable and sour. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

The same is to be done in the minor tone. Yet, so long musicla our composers prose cute their studies without the least know ledge of any works but such as are on a level with their own, they must never ex pect to advance in the esteem of their ewsay.


Essay on Musical Expression | work by Avison |

Or, perhaps, he formed his judgement of this passage, from his own manual execution of it; and then, indeed, I will not dispute with him, but it might whine and whimper, just in the manner he describes it. And, best of fruit, spontaneous Guineas grow. Yet one considerable advantage which arose even from the simplicity of the an cient tunes, and which greatly set off their concert of vocal and instrumental music, was that the singer could be understood, and that the words had their effect as well as the music; and then the charms of ele gant and pathetic poesy, aided and set off by the voice, person, manner, and accent of the singer, and by the sound of instru ments, might affect the hearer very strongly.

The false resolution, which he has deigned to correct, is this: But then, be it observed, that the com poser ought always to be more cautious and reserved when he applies this faculty of Music to motion, than when he applies it to sound: Whereas, had truth, in reality, been his aim, he might have naturally supposed, that the engraver had only omitted a sharp, the placing of which, would have removed all his mighty cause of clamour against the falseness of that relation i.

Charles Avison, An Essay on Musical Expression – PhilPapers

A musical composition, in this light, may not unaptly be compared to the elevation of a building, where it is easy to discern what are the proportions and ornaments suitable to each degree, or ascent, in the elevation: Thus the gradual rising or fall ing of the notes in a long succession, is often used to denote ascent or descent; broken intervals, to denote an interrupted motion; a number of quick experssion, to describe swiftness or flying; sounds re sembling laughter, to describe laughter; with a number of other contrivances of a parallel kind, which it is needless here to mention.

Many things we must expect to meet with, which it would be hard to bear, if a compensation were not to be found in ho nest endeavours to do well, in virtuous af fections, and connections, and in harmless and reasonable amusements. But saucy to whom?