Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/241

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MUSICAL SENSATIONS.

The effect produced upon our ear by music of a system different from oars is generally painful; but we have no right to say that the Indians and the Arabs sing false. We have to learn a language to understand it; and a quite short accustoming is generally sufficient for a music that appeared savage and harsh, at the first hearing, to become supportable, if not agreeable.

Music nearly always commands the attention of animals; and every one knows what curious results have been obtained from experiments on different species, from the elephant to the spider. This language of feeling is really more within their reach than speech; and we may generally remark that when we address ourselves to our domestic animals it is by the intonation alone, of greater or less force, that we make them understand—that is, feel. Articulate words have no meaning for them, except on condition of a previous education based on the association of sensations. A dog is never mistaken as to the intention of a person calling him, and the tone alone tells him whether a caress or correction is in waiting for him. So music is never heard by animals with indifference.

After what has been said it would be idle to consider the rank which music holds among the other arts; its origin, its nature, and its effects give it a separate place. It is a language which everybody understands, which nearly all speak to some extent, and in which some rise to a sublime eloquence.

Poetry, with its measure and rhythm, is the first intermediary between speech and music; but it lacks vastly the power of the latter, because of the degree of intellectual culture it exacts. Mimicry comes nearer to music in its effects, for it leaves the idea vague, and speaks more directly to the feelings; and it is a great aid to the orator. But the most powerful orator is he who has a musical intonation.

An interesting investigation might be made of the various musical accents which answer to different conditions of feeling. To ascertain this correctly would require a long and minute course of experiments. It is curious to observe, however, that Gluck, Mozart, Berlioz, Meyerbeer, and Wagner, when they have the same situations to depict, whether in recitative or melody, use the same musical intonations. It thus appears that the major third is generally employed in interrogations and appeals, and that the appellative character of that interval becomes more marked and impressive in the fourth descending, while the fourth ascending denotes affirmation, decision, command. The minor and major fifths express the feelings from prayer to violent desire and menace. The sixth is the interval of passion; it is the symbol of a very accentuated emotion, and is inevitably met where love is declared. A semitone higher conveys the idea of something painful, which is resolved into a real expression of grief in the cry of the seventh, the symbol of an excess of suffering. There are, in