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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/815

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THE most profound and intellectual works of the great masters in the symphony and other forms of "instrumental" music—as they are classified in musical nomenclature—are interpreted through the orchestra, and through forms partly dramatic and vocal, such as opera and oratorio, in which the orchestra and various combinations of orchestral instruments play an important and inseparable part. Orchestral music is also an indispensable auxiliary to the proper representation of melodrama and in other departments of dramatic art.

Within the past forty years, especially since the close of the civil war, the progress of music in America has been most remarkable. This is manifest to-day in the large number of fine orchestras, musical societies and bodies throughout the country, and in the intelligent and generous support given to representations of the best class of music. A great demand has in consequence grown up for instruments for orchestral and band purposes. Many of these—for instance, the harp, violin, flute, violon-cello, and cornet—being also largely used for private amusement at home and in small musical circles, their production gives employment to a large number of skilled workmen, and maintains a comparatively new and expanding American industry.

Though bands do not serve the high artistic purposes of orchestras—some full military bands, such as Gilmore's, Cappa's, and Sousa's, may be excepted—they fill an acknowledged place in the domain of the art. Bands have been associated with popular demonstrations since the earliest times, though originally in crude forms. In the illustrations of ancient Assyrian and Egyptian sculptures, given in the February issue in relation to the article on the piano-forte in this series, may be seen the precursors of modern band musicians marching in procession with lyres, dulcimers, harps, double flutes, and pulsatile instruments to commemorate some notable event, which indicates the fact that the human instinct which finds its expression in the maintenance of bands at this date is as old as the most remote chapter in the history of civilization. As compared with our instruments of music, however, these products of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and other nations of the far-away past were little more than toys. This remark applies equally to the instruments in use among the Greeks and Romans of a more recent period.

I fancy that Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers of those