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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/256

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lar mental mood; or at least presenting some recognizable sequential psychologic progression. Yet nevertheless, they have compositions intended to describe scenes, as if music to them conveyed definite intelligible ideas. Thus, one composition (although to us almost ludicrous from its awkwardness, shortness, and want of coherence) appears to have simulated for them the progress of a battle, being marked at various points, "The proclamation of the general," "His warriors preparing their fighting-men," "The general gives his orders," etc., ending with "Repose after victory."

The absence of harmony not only makes all these specimens unattractive, but the fact that they were conceived entirely free from the influence of harmonic design renders them foreign to our thoughts. We may whistle or hum a Strauss waltz or little Verdi tune with satisfaction, because these melodies were produced under the bias or dominion of harmonies, which are generally so simple and natural that we commonly say that they are implied in the melodic shape. For this reason an accompaniment may be extemporized or imagined. And the modern system of chords tending to create a desire for a constant return to the key-note, whenever a satisfactory termination is required, the absence of this acknowledged sound in Chinese melodies seems to make a cadence, in our sense of the word, impossible to them.

The Chinese language being monosyllabic, it lends itself readily to the Canto-Fermo style of song that is employed in ancestral worship, and which greatly resembles the style of the old Lutheran chorals, except that the melody of the former makes more skips upward and downward.

The lines of the poetry being four syllables in length in every strophe (as "See hoang sien tsow" of the "Ancestral Hymn"), and the notes being long and of equal length, a rhythmic uniformity is secured. But this is merely accidental, for in the secular melodies no evidence of a symmetrical rhythmic order or plan is observable, which also makes a definite rhythmic termination on a strong and anticipated accent as impossible as the definite tonal termination already noticed. The Chinese do not even appear to understand stress or accent, for in the orchestral score of the above hymn the instruments of percussion mark off groups of notes, not by greater stress, but by an increased number of instruments.

Turning to their neighbors, the Hindoos, on the contrary, we find extremely elaborate rhythmic designs (musical feet), and also phrases so symmetrical and compact that they are at once acceptable, and so coherent and consistent in their succession as to suggest words indicative of well-known moods. In this respect they present no difficulties, and are more easily supplied with accompaniments than those of the Chinese.

Our immediate acceptance of Indian music attests our Aryan fellowship.