Expression alone being sufficient to give us every thing that can be desired from harmony. The use of the Acciaccatura f , or sweeping of the chords, and the dropping or sprinkling notes, are indeed some of the peculiar beauties of this instrument. I will now endeavour to shew, that the compositions themselves, are not quite so blameable as this musical Drawcansir would make them. I have just hinted this unaccountable conduct of the Italian composers, by way of contrast to a conduct as remark ably ridiculous in our own; I mean, our manner of setting one single trifling air, repeated to many verses, and all of them, perhaps, expressive of very different sen timents or affections; than which, a greater absurdity cannot possibly be ima gined, in the construction of any musical composition whatsoever. In the last psalm, which is the fifty-first in our version, he seems to have collected all the powers of his vast genius, that he might surpass the won ders he had done before. Thus the old Music was often con trived to discover the composer’s art, as the modern is generally calculated to dis play the performer’s dexterity.

However, as these, and many other liberties, are frequently taken by the greatest composers, I shall produce only one, from that deservedly ad mired song, Ombra cara, in Mr. As therefore a continued succession of single musical sounds produces melody, so does a continued combination of these produce harmony. In some things, says he, we can do it very well, as when we use the lyre with the left hand, and the stick with the right. Suppose the strings of an harpsichord are too low exactly by a whole tone. Citing articles via Google Scholar. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

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Essay on Musical Expression

Mjsical supplies as well cuarles prefaces to Avison’s concertos and sonatas, in which the composer strove to enlighten his purchasers in matters of performance practice, aesthetics, and musical style.

His allegation is this. What I have said upon this subject, is, I hope, intelligible, at least. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus.

Num bers of these indeed have fallen, and de servedly, into oblivion; such, I mean, who had only the cold assistance of art, and were destitute of genius. It is frequent, with the best composers of church-music, to introduce a new sub ject at every change of the words.


To this silly vanity we may attribute that strange attachment to certain un meaning compositions, which many of our fluent performers have professed; their chief ambition being to discover a swift, rather than a judicious or graceful hand.

This expredsion and sensible writer, expredsion madverting on the severe institutions of the Ancients in regard to manners, having referred to edpression authorities among the Greeks on this head, particularly to the relation of POLYBIUS above quoted, pro ceeds thus.

As to the errors of two perfect chords of the same kind, I will confess to him, that I am so hardened a sinner, on certain occasions, against his John Trott laws, that I have more than once intentionally offended; and if he cannot perceive the reason, it will scarce be worth while to inform him.

charles avison essay on musical expression

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Essay on Musical Expression | work by Avison |

Die Leiblichkeit der Musik: Sign in via your Institution Sign in. My expec tation has, indeed, been fully answered: Hitherto we seem to have mistaken the property of this instrument, by not considering what it can, or cannot express.

But I would offer it to the consideration of the public, whether this is not a general and fundamental error. But, as in the case of Music so much depends upon the taste and accuracy of the per former, it is particularly necessary, that a strict regard be had to the piano and forte; for these, in the hands of a skillful composer, are generally so disposed as to afford a most pleasing relief; and, when justly executed, give great beauty and spirit to a composition.

charles avison essay on musical expression

From this definition it will plainly appear, that air and harmony are never to be deserted for the sake of expression: Adde quod eorum Musica simplicior, uni usque vocis, non ita prolata verba obscura bat, ut nostra magis composita: The first hath strength, the second hath softness; and sweetness belongs to them both. But if they happened to receive a taste for Music, we should quickly perceive a sensible difference in their customs and manners.

charles avison essay on musical expression

Though I must take the liberty to say, that besides their too little regard to the principles of true harmony, they are often defective in one sense, even with regard to air; I mean, by an endless re petition of their subject, by wearing it to rags, and tiring the hearer’s pa tience.


His question is,— “Pray in what part is the discord? THESE observations being premi sed, mussical the sake of those who muscal not particularly conversant in the theory of Music; let us now proceed to consider this art with regard to its composition. Most users should sign in with their email address.

Suppose the strings of an harpsichord are too low exactly by a whole tone. It may be collected from this, that the fingers of the left hand were oc cupied in some manner upon the strings; else, barely to hold a lyre, shewed no very free use of the left hand: The hind set up her large broad ears, and seemed extremely attentive. As to instrumental Music, the fashion seems to be to precipitate in all lively and brisk movements.

But for thir partial determination of Scaliger, when he went to the Elysian fields, ” The Lyrics all against him rose.

It may be thought, perhaps, by thus depriving our organist of this public op portunity of shewing his dexterity, both in his voluntary and psalm tune, that all performers indiscriminately might be ca pable of doing the duty here required: But, in the fury of his charge, he hath disarmed himself; for, he either does not know, or, at least, is unwilling to acknowledge, that there are many liberties allowable in musi cal composition, as well as in other arts: 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 yet there are oftentimes other subjects very different from the principal, and which being sel dom or never repeated, are therefore still more necessary to be marked; for having always some peculiar relation to the other parts, it is absolutely necessary that they should be justly expressed; and this can only be done by a simple, plain, yet ener getic execution:

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