A Popular History of the Art of Music - From the Earliest Times Until the Present
by W. S. B. Mathews
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From the Earliest Times Until the Present.

With Accounts of the Chief Musical Instruments and Scales; the Principles and Artistic Value of Their Music; together with Biographical Notices of the Greater Composers, Chronological Charts, Specimens of Music, and Many Engravings.



Editor of "Music" Magazine,

Author of "How to Understand Music," "Studies in Phrasing," "Twenty Lessons to a Beginner," "Primer of Musical Forms," Associate Editor of Mason's "Pianoforte Technics," etc., etc.

Chicago: The "Music" Magazine Publishing Co. 1402-5 The Auditorium. Copyright by W. S. B. Mathews, 1891.



President of the Chicago Musical College




I have here endeavored to provide a readable account of the entire history of the art of music, within the compass of a single small volume, and to treat the luxuriant and many-sided later development with the particularity proportionate to its importance, and the greater interest appertaining to it from its proximity to the times of the reader.

The range of the work can be most easily estimated from the Table of Contents (pages 5-10). It will be seen that I have attempted to cover the same extent of history, in treating of which the standard musical histories of Naumann, Ambros, Fetis and others have employed from three times to ten times as much space. In the nature of the case there will be differences of opinion among competent judges concerning my success in this difficult undertaking. Upon this point I can only plead absolute sincerity of purpose, and a certain familiarity with the ground to be covered, due to having treated it in my lectures in the Chicago Musical College for five years, to the extent of about thirty-five lectures yearly. I have made free use of all the standard histories—those of Fetis, Ambros, Naumann, Brendel, Gevaert, Hawkins, Burney, the writings of Dr. Hugo Riemann, Dr. Ritter, Prof. Fillmore, and the dictionaries of Grove and Mendel, as well as many monographs in all the leading modern languages.

I have divided the entire history into books, placing at the beginning of each book a general chapter defining the central idea and salient features of the step in development therein recounted. The student who will attentively peruse these chapters in succession will have in them a fairly complete account of the entire progress.


Chicago, May 5, 1891.



Chart of Greatest Composers 11

Chart of Italian Composers 12

Chart of German Composers 13

Pianists and Composers for Piano 14

King David Playing the Three-stringed Crwth 24

Egyptian Representations, 4th Dynasty 28

Bruce's Harpers 30

Harp and Musicians of 20th Dynasty 32

Lyres Found in Tombs 33

Women, Street Musicians 34

Shoulder Harps 35

Kinnor 42

Larger Jewish Harp 43

Assyrian Harps 45

Assyrian Banjo 46

Assyrian Psaltery 47

Greek Lyres 64

Music to Ode of Pindar 69

Hindoo Vina 71

Ravanastron 72

Chinese Ke 74

Japanese Ko-Ko 76

Old Breton Song 88

Old Welsh Song 92

Welsh Song in Praise of Love 94

Harp of Sir Brian Boirohen 97

Facsimile "Sumer is Icumen In" 101

The Same Written out 102

Saxon Harp 104

Saxon Harp 105

Crwth 107

Scotch Pentatonic Melody 108

Arab Rebec 112

Arab Eoud 113

Arab Santir 114

Song by Thibaut, 13th Century 122

Reinmar, the Minnesinger 124

Frauenlob 125

Minstrel Harps 126

Gregorian and Ambrosian Scales 132

Hucbald's Staff 141

Diaphony 141

Diaphony in Fourths 142

Guido of Arezzo 144

Table of the Schools of the Netherlands 162

Orlando di Lassus 167

Music by Palestrina 173 to 175

Roman Letter Notation of Guido 181

Neumae of 10th Century 181

Neumae of 11th Century 182

Neumae with Lines 183

Lament for Charlemagne 184

Early Staff of Five Lines 185

Lute 191

Tuning of the Lute 192

Early Forms of Rebec 195

Angel Playing Rebec, 13th Century 196

Viol da Gamba 197

Barytone 198

Stradivarius Violin 200

Old Organ 202

Portable Organ 204

Bellows Bags at Halberstadt 206

Concert of 7th Century 208

Extract, Peri's "Eurydice" 225

Aria, Monteverde's "Arianna" 230

Aria, Cavalli's "Erismena" 231

Aria, Scarlatti's Cantata 232

Aria, Lulli's "Roland" 240

Heinrich Schuetz 246

Jean Pieters Swelinck 251

Samuel Scheidt 252

Johann Adam Reinken 254

John Sebastian Bach 266

Geo. Friedrich Haendel 274

Joseph Haydn 286

The Mozart Family 293

Mozart (Miss Stock) 300

Mozart 302

Beethoven 311

Beethoven as He Appeared on the Street 314

Beethoven Autograph 315

Facsimile Title Page Mss. Beethoven 318

Gluck 329

Gretry 340

Boieldieu 343

Purcell 350

J.L. Dussek 358

Hummel 362

Moscheles 363

Schubert 390

Spinet, 1590 393

Ornamentation of Same 394

Another View of the Same 395

Mozart's Grand Piano 396

Cristofori's Design of Action 397

His Action as Made in 1726 398

Erard Grand Action 399

Steinway Iron Frame and Over-stringing 400

Carl Maria von Weber 407

Meyerbeer 412

Richard Wagner 417

Mme. Schroeder-Devrient 420

Paganini 430

Paganini in Concert (Landseer) 431

Chopin 442

Liszt 452, 453

Hauptmann 460

Mendelssohn 462

Schumann 476

Rossini 480

Verdi 484

Auber 489

Gade 498

Sterndale-Bennett 502

Rubinstein 506









Music defined—general idea of musical progress—conditions of fine art—qualities of satisfactory art-forms—periods in musical history—difference between ancient and modern music.



Sources of information—antiquity of their development—instruments—uses of music—their ideas about music and education—"Song of the Harper"—kindergarten.


Music among the Hebrews—Jubal—kinnor—ugabh—musicians in the temple service—psaltery—flute—larger harp—Miriam—liturgy of the temple—musical ideal in Hebrew mind—music among the Assyrians—types of instruments.


Importance of this development—extent of the time—date of Homeric poems—epoch of AEschylus—extracts from Homer—Hesiod—patriotic applications of music—choral song—festivals—lyric drama—debut of AEschylus, Sophocles and Euripides—nature of the classic drama—orchestic—Socrates—Aristoxenus—problems of Aristotle—Greek theory of music—Pythagoras and ratios of simple consonances—devotional use of music—Greek scales—Claudius Ptolemy—Didymus—the lyre and cithara—magadis—flute—aesthetic importance—Plato on the noble harmonies—loyalty to the true—Greek musical alphabet—notation—Ode from Pindar.


Early beginning—use of the bow—national instruments—the vina—theory—ravanastron—music exclusively melodic—saying of the Emperor Tschun—the ke—Japanese ko-ko.



General view of the transformation to modern music—causes co-operating—difference between ancient and modern music—harmony and tonality—consonance and dissonance—three steps in the development of harmonic perceptions—when were these steps taken?—tonality defined—growth of tonal perception—unconscious perception of implied or associated tones.


Importance of Celtic development of minstrelsy—origin of the Celts—the minstrel—old Breton song—the druids—classification of bards—degrees—Fetis on the Welsh minstrel—"Triads of the Isle of Britain"—old harp music—"The Two Lovers"—Gerald Barry on the Welsh—old Welsh song—the Irish—Sir Brian Boirohen's harp—English and Saxon music—King Arthur as minstrel—organ at Winchester—Scandinavian scalds—Eddas—"Sumer is Icumen in"—Anglo-Saxon harp—source of the harp in Britain—the crwth—melody in pentatonic scale.


The Arab apparition in history—their taste for poetry—competitive contests of poetry and song—encouragement of literature—rebec—eoud; santir.


Period of the Chansons de Geste—social conditions of France as given by M. Leon Gautier—"Cantilena of St. Eulalie"—subjects of the Chansons de Geste.


The troubadours—Count Wilhelm—varieties of their songs—melody from Thibaut—Adam de la Halle—"Story of Antioch"—"Song of Roland"—minnesinger Reinmar—Heinrich Frauenlob—minstrel harps—Hans Sachs—influence of these minstrel guilds.


Church not influential in the development of music as such—nature of the early Christian hymns—St. Ambrose—the Ambrosian scales; corruptions elsewhere—St. Gregory and his reforms—the Gregorian tones—many later reforms—limitations of these reforms—incidental influence of the Church through her great cathedrals.


Macrobus—Martinus Capella—Boethius—Cassiodorus—Bishop Isidore; Venerable Bede—Aurelian—Remi of Auxerre—Hucbald—examples—instruments of music during the seventh and eighth centuries—Odon of Cluny—Guido of Arezzo—staff—Franco of Cologne—Franco of Paris.


Origin and meaning of polyphony—monodic and homophonic—canonic imitation—chords as incidents—variety and unity—early French school—Coussemaker's researches—Leonin—descant—Perotin—names of pieces—Robert of Sabillon—Pierre de la Croix—Jean of Garland—Franco of Paris—Jean de Muris—fleurettes—John Cotton—Machaut—Gallo-Belgic school—Dufay—Hans de Zeelandia—Antoine de Busnois.


Wealth of the Low Countries—freedom of the communes—strength of the burgher class—period of these schools—table of periods and masters—Okeghem—Tinctor—Josquin—his popularity—Arkadelt; Gombert—Willaert—Goudimel—Cypriano de Rore—Orlando de Lassus—his Munich school—his genius.


Prosperity of Italy in fifteenth century—great cathedrals and public works—conservatories founded at Naples—Willaert at St. Mark's, Venice—Zarlino—his reforms in theory—Cypriano de Rore—Goudimel; Palestrina—the council of Trent—Palestrina's music—Martin Luther.


General direction of musical progress toward classification and the establishment of unities of various kinds—early letter notation of the Greeks and Romans—Roman notation as used by Guido of Arezzo—neumae—with lines—additional lines—"Lament for Charlemagne"—notation employed by the French Trouveres—clefs—new staff proposed by an American reformer.


Progress in tonal perceptions—influence of harp and lute—description of the latter—system of stringing—locating the frets—the violin—bow discovered in India—early forms of bowed instruments—rebec; barytone—viol da Gamba—Amati—Stradivari—peculiarities of his instruments—Maggini—Stainer—antiquity of the organ—early forms—organ sent Charlemagne—organs at Munich—Malmesbury Abbey—measure of organ pipes—portable organ—clumsiness of the old keyboards—the organ in 1500 A.D.



Justification of the name "apprentice period"—office of domestic musicians in England in the reign of Elizabeth—great fondness for music everywhere—casual influence of counterpoint in educating harmonic sense—madrigal—multiplicity of collections of this kind—absurd use of madrigals for dramatic monody—the work of the seventeenth century, free melodic expression—the new problem of the musical drama—the representative principle in music—music last of the arts—Florence and Venice the centers—statistics of books published from 1470 to 1500.


Circle of the Literati in Florence—Galilei and his monody—Peri's "Dafne"—Schuetz's setting of the same—Peri's "Eurydice"—rare editions—Il stilo rappresentativo—Cavaliere's oratorio "The Soul and the Body"—second period of opera—Monteverde's "Arianna"—orchestra of the same—new orchestral effects—scene from "Eurydice"—director of St. Mark's—Legrenzi—Cesti—public theaters—Alessandro Scarlatti—recitativo stromentato—Corelli—sonatas for the violin—influence of the violin upon the art of singing—origin of Italian school of singing—artificial sopranos—Porpora; Selections from Monteverde, Cavalli and Scarlatti.


Slow progress of opera to other parts of Europe—origin of French opera—ballets of Boesset—Perrin—Cambert—their first opera—their patent from the king—Lulli—his success and productivity—attention to verbal delivery and the vernacular of the audience—foundations of the French Academie de Musique—opera in Germany—Schuetz—Hamburg and Keiser—selection from Lulli—"Roland"—Mattheson.


Oratorio invented simultaneously with opera—Cavaliere—mystery plays—Carissimi—two types of oratorio—cantata—Haendel's appropriation from Carissimi—sacred oratorio—Schuetz's Passions—"Last Seven Words."


Beginnings of instrumental music in seventeenth century—tentative character of instrumental music of sixteenth century—Gabrieli and organ pieces—imitations of vocal works—melodies not fully carried out—Swelinck—Scheidt—Schein—Frescobaldi—Reinken—Pachelbel; Muffat—Corelli—orchestra of the period—its defects.



The flowering time of modern music—complexity of developments now taking place—principal actors—two main channels of improvement; fugue—sonata—Bach and Haendel as writers of fugue—people's song makes its way into cultivated instrumental music—reference to Mozart's sonatas—thematic and lyric as elements of contrast.


Bach as a composer—sketch—his clavier—attainments as virtuoso upon the clavier and the organ—choral works—Passion oratorios—his pre-eminence as writer of fugues—general sketch of the form of a fugue—prelude—mutually complementary—Bach's concertos—his rhythm.


The companion figure of Bach—early life—violinist at Hamburg—conductor; composer—first opera—Italy—successes there—England—Italian operas—oratorio "Messiah"—other oratorios—list of his works—Bach and Haendel compared—Haendel's place in art—personalities.


The sons of Bach—Emanuel Bach as composer—difficulty of founding a new form—Haydn—early years—conductor for Prince Esterhazy, compositions—the visit to London—the money he made—"The Creation"; second visit to London—Haydn and the sonata form—"The Last Seven Words"—his rank as tone-poet.


Charming personality—childhood—early talent—concerts—Mozart at Bologna and the test of his powers—Haydn's opinion—early operas—"Marriage of Figaro"—success—accompaniments added to Haendel's "Messiah" and other works—call to Berlin—mysterious order for the "Requiem"—death—general quality of Mozart's music.


A worthy successor to Haydn and Mozart—early years—orchestral leader—piano playing—his friends—Count Waldstein—his first visit to Vienna—settled in Vienna—compositions—life—appearance—place in art.


Their relation to symphony—refinement of Mozart—early age of Mozart—Beethoven's independence—relation to sonata—Beethoven more free—climax of classical art—Beethoven adagios—summing up—tendency of progress.


Three great names—Graun—Gluck—his reforms—his ideal—early works—"Orpheus"—"Iphigenie"—Mozart's place in opera—Rameau—theoretical writings—Rousseau—Phillidor—Monsigny—Gretry—Gossec—Mehul—Lesueur; Boieldieu—French opera in general—Italian opera—Pergolesi—Jomelli; Sacchini—Paisiello—Piccini—Zingarelli—opera in England—Purcell; Dr. Arne.


Pianoforte established as domestic instrument—Scarlatti—Mattheson—Dr. Blow—John Bull—Clementi—Dussek—Cramer—Berger—Hummel—Moscheles; Tartini—Spohr.



Classic and romantic defined—art in general—applied to music—illustrated by Schubert—Schumann—development of virtuosity—Berlioz—"music of the future"—how originating—the outlook.


Early life of Schubert—compositions—first songs—"Erl King"—rapidity of composition—unfinished symphony—industry—spontaneity—personal characteristics.


Origin of pianoforte—spinet—clavicembalo—Mozart's grand piano; Cristofori's design of action—Erard action—iron frame—Chickering; Steinway improvements.


Tendency of German opera—Weber—"Der Freischuetz"—romanticism—innovations in piano playing—Meyerbeer—early life—master works—place in art; Wagner—early life—early operas—"Lohengrin"—Zurich—Schroeder-Devrient, "Nibelung's Ring"—peculiarities.


Continuity of these appearances with those already recounted—Paganini—his playing—inspiring effect—Berlioz—works—place in art—progress of piano playing—virtuosi co-operating—Thalberg and his style—Parish Alvars—Pollini—Chopin—place in art—Liszt—early appearances—rivalry with Thalberg—style—Weimar—Bonn Beethoven monument—as teacher—as composer.


Mendelssohn—personality—talent—early works—maturity—as player Leipsic Conservatory—Hauptmann—"Elijah"—"St. Paul"—Schumann; early education and habits—works—strength of the romantic tendency—his "New Journal of Music"—music in Leipsic—Clara Wieck—larger works for piano—technical traits—songs—general characteristics.




Auber—Herold—Adam—Gounod—Masse—Massenet—Saint-Saens—Delibes, Bizet—Ambroise Thomas.


Gade—Brahms—Tschaikowsky—Svensden—Grieg—Bruch—Bennett—Macfarren; Mackenzie—Nicode—Moszkowsky—Dvorak—Henselt—Litolff—Wilmers—Heller; Hiller—Rubinstein—Buelow—Reinecke.



EXPLANATION.—The heavy vertical lines are century lines. Light vertical, twenty-year lines. Horizontal lines, the life of the composer.



From Palestrina to Present Time. (See explanation, page 11.)



From Orlando Lassus to the Present Time. (See page 11.)



From 1660 to the Present Time (1891).



The name "music" contains two ideas, both of them important in our modern use of the term: The general meaning is that of "a pleasing modulation of sounds." In this sense the term is used constantly by poets, novelists and even in conversation—as when we speak of the "music of the forest," the "music of the brook" or the "music of nature." There is also a reminiscence of the etymological derivation of the term, as something derived from the "Muses," the fabled retinue of the Greek god Apollo, who presided over all the higher operations of the mind and imagination. Thus the name "music," when applied to an art, contains a suggestion of an inspiration, a something derived from a special inner light, or from a higher source outside the composer, as all true imagination seems to be to those who exercise it.

2. Music has to do with tones, sounds selected on account of their musical quality and relations. These tones, again, before becoming music in the artistic sense, must be so joined together, set in order, controlled by the human imagination, that they express sentiment. Every manifestation of musical art has in it these two elements: The fit selection of tones; and, second, the use of them for expressing sentiment and feeling. Hence the practical art of music, like every other fine art, has in it two elements, an outer, or technical, where trained intelligence rules, and teaching and study are the principal means of progress; and an inner, the imagination and musical feeling, which can indeed be strengthened by judicious experience in hearing, but which when wanting cannot be supplied by the teacher, or the laws of their action reduced to satisfactory statement.

3. There is no fine art which reflects the activity of spirit more perfectly than that of music. There is something in the nature of this form of art which renders it particularly acceptable to quick and sensitive minds. If evidence of this statement were needed beyond the intuitive assent which every musical reader will immediately give, it could easily be furnished in the correspondence between the activity of mind in general and in the art of music in particular, every great period of mental strength having been accompanied by a corresponding term of activity in music. Furthermore, the development of the art of music has kept pace with the deepening of mental activity in general, so that in these later times when the general movement of mind is so much greater than in ancient times, and the operations of intellect so much more diffused throughout all classes, the art of music has come to a period of unprecedented richness and strength.


4. The earlier forms of music were very simple; the range of tones employed was narrow, and the habits of mind in the people employing them apparently calm and almost inactive. As time passed on more and more tones were added to the musical scales, and more and more complicated relations recognized between them, and the music thereby became more diversified in its tonal effects, and therein better adapted for the expression of a more energetic or more sensitive action of mind and feeling. This has been the general course of the progress, from the earliest times in which there was an art of music until now.

The two-fold progress of an education in tone perception, and an increasing ability to employ elaborate combinations for the expression of feelings too high-strung for the older forms of expression, is observable in almost all stages of musical history, and in our own days has received a striking illustration in the progress made in appreciating the works of the latest of the great musical geniuses, Richard Wagner, whose music twenty-five years ago was regarded by the public generally as unmusical and atrocious; whereas now it is heard with pleasure, and takes hold of the more advanced musical minds with a firmness beyond that of any other musical production. The explanation is to be found in the development of finer tone perceptions—the ability to co-ordinate tonal combinations so distantly related that to the musical ears of a generation ago their relation was not recognized, therefore to those ears they were not music. Wagner felt these strange combinations as music. The deeper relations between tones and chords apparently remote, he felt, and employed them for the expression of his imagination. Other ears now feel them as he did. An education has taken place.

5. It is altogether likely that the education will still go on until many new combinations which to our ears would be meaningless will become a part of the ordinary vernacular of the art. Indeed, a writer quite recently (Julius Klauser, in "The Septonnate") points out a vast amount of musical material already contained within our tonal systems which as yet is entirely unused. The new chords and relations thus suggested are quite in line with the additions made by Wagner to the vocabulary of his day.


6. There are certain conditions which must be met before a fine art will be developed. These it is worth while to consider briefly:

The state of art, in any community or nation, at any period of its history, depends upon a fortunate correspondence between two elements which we might call the internal and the external. By the former is meant the inner movement of mind or spirit, which must be of such depth and force as to leave a surplusage after the material needs of existence have been met. In every community where there is a certain degree of wealth, leisure and a vigorous movement of mind, this surplus force, remaining over after the necessary wheels of common life have been set in motion, will expend itself in some form of art or literature. The nature of the form selected as the expression of this surplus force will depend upon the fashion, the prevalent activity of the life of the day, or, in other words, the environment. Illustrating this principle, reference might be made to the condition of Greek art in the flowering time of its history, when the wealth of Athens was so great as to leave resources unemployed in the material uses of life, and when the intellectual movement was so splendid as to leave it until now a brilliant tradition of history. Only one form of art was pre-eminently successful here; it was sculpture, which at that time reached its fullest development—to such a degree that modern sculpture is only a weak repetition of ancient works in this line. So also the brilliant period of Italian painting, when the mental movement represented by Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Lorenzo de Medici, and the pleasure-loving existence, the brilliant fetes, in which noble men and beautifully appareled women performed all sorts of allegorical representations, and the colors, groupings, etc., afforded the painter an endless variety of material and suggestion. When Rubens flourished in the Netherlands, a century later, similar conditions accompanied his appearance and the prolific manifestations of his genius. In the same way, music depends upon peculiar conditions of its own. They are three: The vigor of the mental movement in general, its strength upon the imaginative and sentimental side, and the suggestion from the environment in the way of musical instruments of adequate tonal powers. Such instruments never existed in the history of the art until about the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The organ, the violin and the predecessor of the pianoforte, the spinet, came to practical form at nearly the same time. At the same time the instruments of plucked strings—the guitars, lutes and other instruments which until then had occupied the exclusive attention of musicians—began to go out. Moreover, musical science had been worked out, and the arts of counterpoint, canonic imitation, fugue, harmony, etc., had all reached a high degree of perfection when Bach and Haendel appeared.

7. The entire history of music is merely an illustration of these principles. Wherever there has been vigorous movement of mind and material prosperity (and they have always been associated) there has been an art of music, the richness of which, however, has always been limited by the state of the musical ears of the people or generation, and the perfection of their musical instruments. The instruments are an indispensable ingredient in musical progress, since it is only by means of instruments that tonal combinations can be exactly repeated, the voice mastering the more difficult relations of tones only when the ear has become quick to perceive tonal relations, and tenacious to retain them—in other words, educated. Hence in the pages following, the instruments peculiar to each epoch will receive the attention their importance deserves, which is considerably more than that usually allotted them in concise accounts of the history of this art.

8. The conditions of a satisfactory Art Form are three: Unity, the expression of a single ruling idea; variety, the relief of the monotony due to the over-ascendency of unity (or contrast, an exact and definite form of variety); and symmetry, or the due proportion of the different parts of the work as a whole. These principles, universally recognized as governing in the other fine arts, are equally valid in music. As will be seen later, all musical progress has been toward their more complete attainment and their due co-ordination into a single satisfactory whole. Every musical form that has ever been created is an effort to solve this problem; and analysis shows which one of the leading principles has been most considered, and the manner in which it has been carried out. Ancient music was very weak in all respects, and never fully attained the first of these qualities. Modern music has mastered all three to a very respectable degree.

9. The art of music appears to have been earliest of all the fine arts in the order of time; but it has been longer than any of the others in reaching its maturity, most of the master works now current having been created within the last two centuries, and the greater proportion of them within the last century. Sculpture came to its perfection in Greece about 500 B.C.; architecture about 1200 to 1300 A.D., when the great European cathedrals were built; painting about 1500 to 1600 A.D. Poetry, like music, representing the continual life of soul, has never been completed, new works of highest quality remaining possible as long as hearts can feel and minds can conceive; but the productions of Shakespeare, about 1650, are believed to represent a point of perfection not likely to be surpassed. Music, on the other hand, has been continually progressive, at least until the appearance of Beethoven, about the beginning of the present century, and the romantic composers between 1830 and the present time.


10. The history of music may be divided into two great periods—Ancient and Modern—the Christian era forming a dividing line between them. Each of these periods, again, may be subdivided into two other periods, one long, the other quite short—an Apprentice Period, when types of instruments were being found out, melodic or harmonic forms mastered; in other words, the tonal sense undergoing its primary education. The other, a Master Period, when an art of music suddenly blossoms out, complete and satisfactory according to the principles recognized by the musicians of the time. In the natural course of things such an art, having once found its heart, ought to go on to perfection; but this has not generally been the case. After a period of vigorous growth and the production of master works suitable to the time, a decline has ensued, and at length musical productivity has entirely ceased. Occasionally a cessation in art progress of this kind may have been dependent upon the failure of one or other of the primary conditions of successful art mentioned above, especially the failure of material prosperity. This had something to do with the cessation of progress in ancient Egypt, very likely; but more often the stoppage of progress has been due to the exhaustion of the suggestive powers of the musical instruments in use. The composers of the music of ancient Greece had for instruments only lyres of six or eight strings, with little vibrative power. After ten centuries of use every suggestion in the compass of these instruments to furnish, had been carried out. If other and richer instruments could have been introduced, no doubt Greek music would have taken a new lease of life, i.e., supposing that the material prosperity had remained constant.

The apprentice periods of ancient history extend back to the earliest traces of music which we have, beginning perhaps with the early Aryans in central Asia, whom Max Mueller represents as circling around the family altar at sunrise and sunset, and with clasped hands repeating in musical tones a hymn, perhaps one of the earliest of those in the Vedas, or a still older one. From this early association of music with religious worship we derive something of our heredity of reverence for the art, a sentiment which in all ages has associated music with religious ritual and worship, and out of which has come much of the tender regard we have for it as the expression of home and love in the higher aspects.

All the leading types of instruments were discovered in the early periods of human history, but the full powers of the best have been reached only in recent times.

11. The art of music was highly esteemed in antiquity, and every great nation had a form of its own. But it was only in three or four countries that an art was developed of such beauty and depth of principle as to have interest for us. The countries where this was done were Egypt, Greece and India.

12. Modern music differs from ancient in two radical points: Tonality, or the dependence of all tones in the series upon a single leading tone called the Key; and Harmony, or the satisfactory use of combined sounds. This part of music was not possible to the ancients, for want of correctly tuned scales, and the selection of the proper tone as key. The only form of combined sounds which they used was the octave, and rarely the fifth or fourth. The idea of using other combined sounds than the octave seems to have been suggested by Aristotle, about 300 B.C. The period from the Christian era until about 1400 A.D. was devoted to apprentice work in this department of art, the central concept wanted being a principle of unity. After the beginning of the schools of the Netherlands, about 1400, progress was very rapid. The blossoming time of the modern art of music, however, cannot be considered to have begun before about 1600, when opera was commenced; or 1700, when instrumental music began to receive its full development. Upon the whole, the former of these dates is regarded as the more just, and it will be so used in the present work.

Book First.


Music of the Ancient World.




By a curious fortune we are able to form an approximately accurate idea of the musical instruments in use in Egypt as long ago as about 4000 B.C. The earliest advanced civilization of which any coherent traces have come down to us was developed along the Nile, where the equable climate and the periodic inundations of the river raised the pursuit of the husbandman above the uncertainties incident to less favorable climates, while at the same time the mild climate reduced to a minimum the demands upon his productive powers for the supply of the necessaries of life. This interesting people had the curious custom of depositing the mummies of their dead in tombs elaborately hewn out of the rock, or excavated in more yielding ground, in the hills which border the narrow valley of the Nile. Many of these excavations are of very considerable extent, reaching sometimes to the number of twenty rooms, and a linear distance of 600 feet from the entrance. The walls of these underground apartments are generally decorated in outline intaglio if the rock be hard; or in color if the walls be plaster, as is often the case. The subjects of the decorations embrace the entire range of the domestic and public life of the people, among them being many of a musical character. One of the first discoveries of this kind was made toward the close of the preceding century, when Bruce, an English traveler, found in a tomb at Biban-El-Moulouk representations of two magnificently decorated harps played by priests. These have since generally been called "Bruce's Harpers." The instruments have been represented in many ways by different writers, the most curious perversion of the facts being found in Burney's "History of Music," where they have the form of the modern harp.

on the harp." (2) Singer, seated; above him, hes t (b) "singer." (3, 4) Similar harper and singer, and same inscriptions (c, d). (5, 6) Singer and player on the direct flute or pipe; before the former, hes (h) "singer"; before the latter, mem t (g) "pipe." (7, 8) Singer and player on the oblique flute, seba (e); before the former, hes (f) "singer."]

Several large works have been devoted to plates of the pictorial discoveries in these ancient tombs, but not until the colossal work of Lepsius, issued under the auspices of the German government, were we in possession of data for the study of this civilization from the standpoint of a progressive development.

The oldest of the musical representations are found in tombs near Thebes, and already we find the art in an advanced state. The preceding cut shows one of these pictures. A musical group is represented, consisting of eight figures. Their occupations are designated by the hieroglyphics above them. The harper is designated as "harp scraper."

It is not possible to make out in the present state of these drawings the exact number of strings upon the harps, but explorers agree that it must have been either five or seven. From the length of the strings and the structure of the instrument without a "pillar" in front for resisting the pull of the strings, the tones must have been within the register of the male voice. The long flute played by the figure bearing the number 8 must also have produced low tones. It is not plain whether these players are supposed to be all playing at the same time, or whether their ministrations may have taken place separately. Most likely, however, they all played and sang together.

The most advanced harps found in Egypt were the elegantly colored and ornamented priestly instruments which Bruce found in what was afterward discovered to be the tomb of Rameses III, at Biban-El-Moulouk. The black and white cuts give but a poor idea of the elaborate structure and rich ornamentation of these fine instruments (Fig. 2). The instruments are not playing together; each harper plays before his own particular divinity. They occupy opposite sides in the same hall. The players, by their white robes and positions, evidently belonged to the highest order of the priesthood. The harp upon the right is represented by some writers as having had twenty-one strings; whereas the one upon the left has only eleven. This would be an interesting fact if it were well founded. But, unfortunately, the truth is that the painting was somewhat defaced after Bruce saw it, and it was only within later years that a clever explorer discovered that by passing a wet sponge over it the original lines could be made out. According to Lepsius it has thirteen strings.

In the XXth dynasty, about 1300 B.C., there were harps having twenty-one strings, of which a good example is shown in Fig. 3. This instrument, also, is elaborately colored and ornamented in gold and carving. The strings are shorter than those of Bruce's harpers, and the pitch was most likely within the treble register. The second figure clapping hands is marking time. The one upon the right is playing upon a sort of banjo, of which mention will be made presently.

Some time before the period of the Hyksos, the "Shepherd Kings" of the Exodus, there is a scene of a procession of foreigners presenting tribute to one of the sovereigns of Egypt. Among the figures is one playing upon a sort of lyre. Later this instrument became the established instrument of the higher classes, as it was afterward in Greece and Rome. Several complete instruments have been found, which, although dating most likely from a period near the Christian era, are nevertheless sufficiently like the representations of ten centuries earlier to make them instructive as well as interesting. Figs. 4 and 5 are from Fetis. One of these lyres had originally six strings, as is shown by the notches in the cross-piece at the top. They were tuned approximately by making the cord tense and then sliding the loop over its notch. From the clever construction of the resonance cases these instruments should have had a very good quality of tone. In some of the later representations there are lyres of twenty strings.

It will be observed that up to this point all the musicians represented are men. In later representations women are more common. Fig. 6 represents the entire musical culture of the later empire, this particular representation belonging apparently to an epoch not more than a few centuries before the Christian era. The harp in this case is of a different construction, and lighter than those in the former examples. It would seem to have been played while the player walked, for we find it in what seems to be moving processions. The lyre occupies here the post of honor next the harp. The banjo and double flute come next, and then a curious instrument of three or four strings, played while carried upon the shoulder. Several of these instruments have been found in a very respectable state of preservation. Their construction is better shown in the illustrations following:

The tonal relation of these instruments to the larger harps is difficult to conceive. Wilkinson gives the dimensions of the most perfect one in the British Museum as forty-one inches long, the neck occupying twenty-two inches, and the body being four inches wide.

The instrument with the long neck and the short body, seen in Figs. 3 and 6, belongs to the banjo family. Its resonance body consisted of a sort of hoop, or a hollowed out piece of sycamore, the sounding board being a piece of parchment or rawhide. Some of these have two strings, others one; three are occasionally met with. The name of this instrument was te-bouni, and it was of Assyrian origin. It was afterward known as the "monochord," and by its means all the ancients demonstrated the ratios of the octave, fourth and fifth, as we will later see.

We have no knowledge whatever of the tonal sound of the music which so interested these ancient players and singers. There is, however, an ancient poem, called "The Song of the Harper" found in a papyrus dating from about 1500 B.C., which gives an idea of the sentiments the music was intended to convey. Here it is, from Rawlinson's "History of Ancient Egypt," p. 48:


(From a papyrus of the XVIIIth Dynasty.)

The great one has gone to his rest Ended his task and his race; Thus men are aye passing away, And youths are aye taking their place. As Ra rises up every morn, And Tum every evening doth set. So women conceive and bring forth, And men without ceasing beget. Each soul in its turn draweth breath, Each man born of woman sees death.

Take thy pleasure to-day, Father! Holy one! See, Spices and fragrant oils, Father, we bring to thee. On thy sister's bosom and arms Wreaths of lotus we place; On thy sister, dear to thy heart, Aye sitting before thy face. Sing the song, let music be played, And let cares behind thee be laid.

Take thy pleasure to-day; Mind thee of joy and delight! Soon life's pilgrimage ends, And we pass to silence and night. Patriarch, perfect and pure, Neferhotep, blessed one! Thou Didst finish thy course upon earth, And art with the blessed ones now. Men pass to the silent shore, And their place shall know them no more.

They are as they never had been Since the sun went forth upon high; They sit on the banks of the stream That floweth in stillness by. Thy soul is among them; thou Dost drink of the sacred tide, Having the wish of thy heart, At peace ever since thou hast died. Give bread to the man who is poor, And thy name shall be blest evermore.

All princely households appear to have had their regular staff of musicians, at the head being the "Overest of Musicians," whose tombs still furnish some of the most instructive information upon this part of the ancient life. People of lower social grade had to be content with the temporary services of the street musicians, such as those represented in Fig. 6. They played and sang and danced for weddings and festivities, and undertook the entire contract of mourning for the dead, the measure being the production of a small vial full of tears, under the immediate inspection of the relative of the deceased whose grief might happen to need this official assistance.

For warlike purposes the Egyptians had a short trumpet of bronze, and a long trumpet, not unlike a straight trombone. They had drums of many kinds, but as none of these instruments have reference to the development of the higher art of music, we do not delay to describe them.

One thing which might surprise us in casting an eye over the foregoing representations as a whole is the small progress made considering the immensely long period covered by the glimpses we have of the music of this far-away race. From the days of the harpers in our earliest illustrations to those of the last is more than 2,000 years, in fact considerably longer than from the beginning of the Christian era until now. The explanation is easy to find. In the first place, the incitations upon the side of sense perception were comparatively meager. Neither in sonority nor in delicacy of tonal resource were the Egyptian instruments a tenth part as stimulating as those of to-day. Moreover, we have here to deal with childlike intelligences, slow perceptions, and limited opportunities of comparison. Hence if these were all the discouraging elements there would be but little cause for wonder at the slow progress. But there was another element deeper and more powerful. The Egyptian mind was conservative to reaction. Plato in his "Laws," says: "Long ago the Egyptians appear to have recognized the very principle of which we are now speaking—that their young citizens must be habituated to the forms and strains of virtue. These they fixed, and exhibited the patterns of them in their temples, and no painter or artist is allowed to innovate upon them, or to leave the traditional forms or invent new ones. To this day no alteration is allowed in these arts nor in music at all. And you will find that their works of art are painted or modeled in the same forms that they were 10,000 years ago. This is literally true, and no exaggeration—their ancient paintings and sculptures are not a whit better or worse than those of to-day, but are with just the same skill." This, which Dr. Draper calls the "protective idea," was undoubtedly the cause of their little progress.

In another place Plato gives a very interesting glimpse of the Egyptian method of education, and describes something having in it much the spirit of the modern kindergarten. He says ("Laws," Jowett's translation, p. 815): "In that country systems of calculation have been actually invented for the use of children, which they learn as a pleasure and amusement. They have to distribute apples and garlands, adapting the same number to either a larger or less number of persons; and they distribute to pugilists and wrestlers, or they follow one another, or pair together by lot. Another mode of amusing them is by taking vessels of gold, and brass, and silver, and the like, and mingling them, or distributing them without mingling. As I was saying, they adapt to their amusement the numbers in common use, and in this way make more intelligible to their pupils the arrangements and movements of armies and expeditions, and in the management of a household they make people more useful to themselves, and wide-awake." This, together with the well known expectation of the Egyptians to be judged after death according to the "deeds done in the body," as our sacred writings have it, affords a high idea of their serious and lofty turn of mind, as well as of the great advance they had made toward a true notion of the means of education.



Second in point of antiquity, but first in modern association, comes the music of the Hebrews, and of the other allied nations of Assyria and Babylon, from whom they learned a part of their art of music. The place of music in the cult of the Hebrews was very large and important, yet in spite of this fact they never elevated their music into an art, strictly so called. There are no evidences of a progressive development of instruments and a tonal sense among this people. As they were when first we meet them, so they continued until they pass out of the view of history as a nation, when the sacrificial fires went out in the great temple at Jerusalem on the 11th of July, A.D. 70, and the heathen Roman defiled the altars of God. In the beginning Genesis tells us of one Jubal, who was the father of such as handle the harp and the organ (kinnor and ugabh—the little triangular harp of Assyria, and the shepherd's pipe, which here stands for all sorts of wind instruments). In the course of the centuries the harp changed its form somewhat, and perhaps had an increased number of strings; the flute was multiplied into several sub-varieties, and the horn was added. From Egypt they had the timbrel, a tambourine, to which Miriam, the sister of Moses, intoned the sublime canticle, "The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea." There were also the sistra, those metallic instruments serving in the temple service the same purpose that the bells serve in the mass at the present day—that, namely, of letting the distant worshipers know when the solemn moment has arrived.

Vast numbers of musicians were employed in the greater temple service, 4,000 being mentioned in I Chronicles xxiii, 5, as praising God with the kinds of instruments appointed by David. According to Josephus, this great number was vastly increased in still later times, the numbers given being 200,000 trumpeters and 40,000 harpers and players upon stringed instruments. Even if we take the figures as greatly exaggerated, they show nevertheless that the art of music had a great place among this people.

The instruments known were few in number, and their type underwent little change from the earliest days. The principal instrument of the older time was the Kinnor, or little triangular harp, which we find in the record of the primeval Jubal, and which more than 1,000 years later was played before Saul to defend him from the evil spirit. This also was the instrument most prominent in the temple service, and this again was hung upon the willows of Babylon. The name kinnor is said to have been Phoenician, a fact which points to this as the source of its derivation. It is not easy to see how this could well be, unless we regard the name as having been applied to the invention of Jubal at a later time, for Jubal lived many years anterior to the founding of the great metropolis of the Mediterranean. The kinnor was a small harp having from ten to twenty strings. The usual forms are shown in the accompanying illustration. The strings were fastened upon a metal rod lying along the face of the sounding board. The type of construction is totally unlike that of the Egyptian harps, and its musical powers were apparently considerably inferior. Its form was the following:

Another instrument often mentioned in the English version of the Bible is the psaltery, of which the form is somewhat uncertain, but is thought to have been four-sided. Various ancient representations have been supposed to be this instrument, but none of them satisfactorily, at least not authoritatively. It was probably a variety of harp. The nebel is also said to have been a psaltery, but its etymology points to the Phoenician nabel, a triangular harp like a Greek delta. The forms of the psaltery were four-sided or triangular. It was probably the predecessor of the Arab canon, which again is much the same as the santir. (See Fig. 25.)

There were two kinds of flute, both of them reed pipes, the smaller being merely a shepherd's pipe. They were used for lamentations and for certain festivals, as in Isaiah xxx, 29: "Ye shall have a song as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel."

Many of the different names of musical instruments in the common version of the Scriptures are merely blunders of the Septuagint translators, who rendered the word kinnor by about six different terms, where no distinction had been originally intended by the sacred writers.

Among the Hebrews we find the same progression from men alone as musicians to women almost exclusively, and it is likely that the Hebrews gained the idea from Egypt. Jubal was the discoverer of the harp, according to the tradition in Genesis, and David manifested no loss of manliness while playing before the Lord. Nevertheless when he sang and danced before the ark his wife despised him in her heart. Miriam, the sister of Moses, may well have been a professional musician, one of the singing and dancing women, such as are represented over and over again in the monuments. In the time of Moses, and for some time later, women had no status in the public service; but in the later days of the second temple the women singers are an important element of the display. Ezra and Nehemiah speak of them, and the son of Sirach, in the Apocrypha, recommends the reader to "beware of female singers, that they entice thee not with their charms."

According to the views of many writers, the Hebrews had a larger harp than the small one represented in Fig. 8. It may have been something like one which was found in Egypt, but the form is clearly Assyrian, belonging to the same type as the small harps already given. It certainly is not Egyptian. (See Fig. 9.)

The liturgy of the temple must have been singularly noble and imposing. Never had a church so grand a body of poetry as this of the Hebrews, which they heard in the very sonorous words of David, Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel, with all the subtle suggestion of a vernacular as employed by minds of the first poetic order. The Hebrew parallelism afforded exactly the kind of formula in which one congregation could most effectively respond to another.

"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; The world and they that dwell therein; For He hath founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place?"

When the priests had intoned one line, we may suppose that the whole choir of Levites made answer in the second line, completing the parallelism.

There are other psalms in which the people have a refrain which comes in periodically, as, for instance, in the one: "O give thanks unto the Lord; [refrain] for His mercy endureth forever." (Ps. cxxxvi.)

The voice of these masses stood to the Hebrews' mind as the feeble type of the great song which should go up from the entire Israel of God when the scattered members of the cult were gathered in their time of fullness and glory. For us also the same image stands. And while the art of this venerable and singularly gifted people did not attain a place of commanding influence upon the tonal side of music, it nevertheless has borne no small part in affording a vantage ground for later art in the line of noble conceptions, inspiring motives and brilliant suggestions. It has been, and still is, one of the most potent influences in the art-music of the world. Nor is it without interest that the scattered representatives of this race have been and continue to be ministers of art in all the lands into which they have come. The race of Israel has made a proud record in modern music, no less than that of the ancient temple.


The Assyrians held music in honor, and employed it for liturgical purposes, as well as those of social and private life. Among the discoveries at Nineveh and Babylon are many of a musical character. Strong bearded men are playing upon harps which are of a triangular form, but of a different structure to any which we have thus far given. (See Fig. 10.)

The one upon the left is a eunuch. In the following figure we have the banjo-like instrument so constantly seen in the Egyptian representations.

There are several instances of some sort of an instrument, apparently consisting of metallic plates or rods, played by means of a hammer. Many have considered these to have been the original type of the modern instruments of percussion, where metal plates are vibrated by means of hammers or mallets. The following is one of this kind.

The general appearance of these processions indicates that the Assyrians were in the habit of massing a large number of players upon important occasions. We have no idea what the effect of this music can have been, but upon the tonal side it cannot have had any great resonance or power. Enough if it satisfied the ears of the dignified players and those who employed their services as a part of the pageant of their great festivals.



Upon several accounts the development of the art of music among the ancient Greeks is both important and interesting. Our word "music" is theirs; it carries within its etymology the derivation from the Muses, the nine agreeable divinities who presided over the more becoming and nobler activities of the Greek mind. By music the Greeks meant much more than merely the tonal art itself. Under this term they included pretty much all that they had of a liberal education; grammar, history, rhetoric, mathematics, poetry and song—all were included in this one elastic and comprehensive term. Music itself, the art of tone-sequence, they called harmony.

Our information concerning the general course of the development of music among this people is pretty accurate through a period of about 1300 years. The entire course of the Greek history of music may be divided into four great divisions, each of which was principally devoted to a certain part of the art. These divisions begin at a date which we might take approximately at about 1000 B.C., when the Homeric poems began to be chanted or sung by traveling minstrels called Rhapsodists. The schools of rhapsodies lasted for about 250 years, when choral and patriotic song began to be developed. In connection with this part of the history, there was in the later portion of it a more ornamental and fanciful development of the smaller and social uses of song, represented by Sappho, Anacreon and others. This period endured for about two centuries and a half, and by insensible degrees passed into the Attic drama, which came to its maturity at the hands of AEschylus, Sophocles and Euripides about 450 B.C.

Here was the culmination of Greek musical art upon the purely artistic and aesthetic side. Then followed a period of philosophizing, theory and mathematical deduction, which extended to the end of the Alexandrian schools, about 300 A.D. The limits of the present work do not permit tracing this course of progress with the amplitude which its relation to liberal education would otherwise warrant, or even to the extent which its bearing upon the present ideals of the tonal art would justify, were not the range of subjects indispensable to even a summarized treatment of musical history so wide as it has now become. But the general features of the different steps in the Greek music are the following:

As already noticed, the earliest traces of music are those in the Homeric poems, which are thought to have been composed about 1000 B.C. In these we find the minstrel everywhere a central figure, an honored guest, ready at call to entertain the company with some ballad of the ancient times, or to improvise a new one appropriate to the case in hand. The heroes themselves were not loth to take part in these exercises. Ulysses, the Odyssey tells us, occasionally took the lyre in his own hand and sang a rhapsody of his own adventures. Several centuries later, Solon, one of the famed seven wise men of Greece, composed the rhapsody of "Salamis, or the Lost Island," and sang it in a public assembly of the Athenians with so much effect that an expedition was organized, with Solon at its head, for its recovery, which presently followed triumphantly.

Many passages in the Odyssey will occur to the classical reader in illustration of the position of the minstrel in Argos in the earlier times. For example (Odyssey I, 400, Bryant's translation):

"Silent all They sat and listened to the illustrious bard Who sang of the calamitous return Of the Greek host from Troy, at the command Of Pallas. From her chamber o'er the hall The daughter of Icarius, the sage queen Penelope, had heard the heavenly strain, And knew its theme. Down by the lofty stairs She came, but not alone; there followed her Two maidens. When the glorious lady reached The threshold of the strong-built hall, where sat The suitors, holding up a delicate veil Before her face, and with a gush of tears, The queen bespake the sacred minstrel thus: 'Phemius, thou knowest many a pleasing theme— The deeds of gods and heroes, such as bards Are wont to celebrate. Take, then, thy place, And sing of one of these, and let the guests In silence drink the wine; but cease this strain; It is too sad. It cuts me to the heart, And wakes a sorrow without bounds—such grief I bear for him, my lord, of whom I think Continually; whose glory is abroad Through Hellas and through Argos, everywhere.'

"And then Telemachus, the prudent, spake— Why, O my mother! canst thou not endure That thus the well graced poet should delight His hearers with a theme to which his mind Is inly moved? The bards deserve no blame; Jove is the cause, for he at will inspires The lay that each must sing.'"

Later than the Homeric rhapsodists, the Hesiodic poems were composed and sung similarly by wandering minstrels, who, although wandering, were not on that account lowly esteemed. There were regular schools, or more properly guilds, of rhapsodists, into which only those were admitted as masters who were able to treat the current topics with the light and inspiring touch of real poetry, and only those taken as apprentices who evinced proper talent and promise. The training of these schools was long, partly spent in acquiring technique of treating subjects and the mastery of the lyre, and partly in memorizing the Homeric and Hesiodic hymns. It is supposed that these poems were transmitted for more than three centuries orally in this way, before having been reduced to writing.

In Hesiod's poem of "The Shield of Hercules" (Bank's translation, 365), the general idea of the Greek festive processions is illustrated:

"There men in dances and in festive joys Held revelry. Some on the smooth-wheeled car A virgin bride conducted; then burst forth Aloud the marriage song; and far and wide Long splendors flash'd from many a quivering torch Borne in the hands of slaves. Gay blooming girls Preceded, and the dancers followed blithe: These, with shrill pipe indenting the soft lip, Breath'd melody, while broken echoes thrill'd Around them; to the lyre with flying touch Those led the love-enkindled dance. A group Of youths was elsewhere imaged, to the flute Disporting; some in dances, and in song; In laughter others. To the minstrel's flute So pass'd they on; and the whole city seem'd As fill'd with pomps, with dances, and with feasts."

So again in the same poem (274) there is a scene of a minstrel contest among the immortal gods themselves, described by the poet from one of the scenes upon the shield of Hercules.

"And the tuneful choir appear'd Of heaven's immortals; in the midst, the son Of Jove and of Latona sweetly rang Upon his golden harp; th' Olympian mount, Dwelling of gods, thrill'd back the broken sound. And there were seen th' assembly of the gods Listening; encircled with beatitude; And in sweet contest with Apollo there The virgins of Pieria raised the strain Preluding; and they seemed as though they sang With clear, sonorous voices."

As early as 750 B.C. we find the famous rhapsodist, Terpander, summoned to Sparta to sing patriotic songs, in the hope of preventing a secession of this rather unruly state. He accomplished his mission, a circumstance creditable alike to the talent of the poet-minstrel and the high estimation in which the class was held.

The application of music to patriotic purposes was no novelty. Plutarch, in his "Life of Lycurgus," says that "Thales was famed for his wisdom and his political abilities; he was withal a lyric poet who, under cover of exercising his art, performed as great things as the most excellent lawgivers. For his odes were so many persuasions to obedience and unanimity, and as by means of numbers they had great grace and power, they softened insensibly the manners of the audience, drew them off from the animosities which then prevailed, and united them in zeal for excellence and virtue." Again, of the subject matter of the Spartan songs, he says: "Their songs had a spirit which could arouse the soul and impel to an enthusiastic action. The language was plain and manly; the subject serious and moral. For they consisted chiefly of praises of heroes who had died for Sparta, or else of expressions of detestation for such wretches as had declined the glorious privilege."

About this time the art of choral song began to be much cultivated in Greece, particularly in connection with the cult of certain divinities, especially Dionysos and Apollo. By the term choral song we are not to understand anything resembling our singing of a chorus in parts. There was no part-singing in Greece, but merely a singing, or rather chanting, of national and patriotic songs in unison, accompanied by the cithara, the national instrument.

Plato speaks of the imitative and semi-dramatic character of the choral dance ("Laws," II, 655): "Choric movements are imitations of manners occurring in various actions, chances, characters—each particular is imitated, and those to whom the words, the song or the dances are suited, either by nature or habit, or both, cannot help feeling pleasure in them and calling them beautiful."

About 500 B.C. a room was rented upon the market place for the practice of the chorus. Every town had its body of singers, who sang and performed the evolutions of the representative dance appropriate to the service of the particular divinity to whom they were devoted. Presently competitive singing came into vogue, in connection with the famous games, and the art of the poet was taxed, as well as the musical and more purely vocal arts of the singers themselves, striving in honorable competition for the glory of their native towns.

In some of the festival occasions the proceedings of the choral songs were varied by the leader, who improvised rhapsodies upon topics connected with the life of the divinity or upon national stories. At proper points the chorus came in with the refrain, which remained a fixed quantity, being put in, apparently, at whatever points the inspiration or breath of the leader needed a point of repose. None of these compositions have come down to us, but the allusions to them in ancient writings give, perhaps, a sufficiently accurate idea of their nature.

The added interest incident to the fresh improvisations of the leader in this form of choral song presently opened toward a lyric drama. Thespis is credited with having been the first to place the leader upon a centrally located stage where he could be plainly seen and heard by all concerned. Now the recitations became more dramatic, the choruses more varied. The speaker illustrated by gestures the acts which he described; he varied his style of delivery according to the feeling appropriate to the incidents represented. The chorus meanwhile was not upon the stage, but in a central location below, and during their strophes they circled around the platform of the leader in a sort of mystic dance, each man accompanying himself upon his cithara. From this to adding a second speaker to the one already upon the stage was but a short step. It was taken, and the result was a drama with a chorus in connection. In the earlier plays the speakers represented as many characters as necessary for carrying out the action. Later they changed costume to some extent, the chorus meanwhile occupying the time with their own songs, which generally had the character of a comment upon the action as developed at the moment. The changes of costume were extremely slight, merely a different head dress, a mantle or some slight modification of appearance more or less symbolical in character. All the dialogue was delivered in a musical voice, and, it is thought, all accompanied by the cithara, which every player carried in his hand. The instrument was sometimes played all the time, in the same notes as those of the song or chant; at other, times the speaker employed it for ritournelles, for affording breathing time or points of emphasis. Once in a great while, it is thought, the instrument had a note different from that of the song in connection with it. Upon this point great uncertainty prevails.

At length, about 470 B.C., AEschylus, the great tragedian, made his debut as actor and author, and placed three speakers upon the stage. Besides the three principals, each man had a suite, if his station demanded such an appendage according to the ideas or customs of the times. These, however, had the rank of supernumeraries, merely following the speaker around, but never taking part in the dialogue. The principals each represented more than one character, effecting some slight change of costume for indicating the transformation. The stage was simply an open platform, with three doors in the rear. The actor entering by one door represented a prince at home; from another a prince abroad; by another door he represented a common person. The chorus occupied the central place in front of the stage, much in the same location as the parquet is now. In the center of this space was an altar, originally dedicated to Dionysos, and an offering was probably placed upon it. Later the Choreagos, or leader of the chorus, sat upon it and directed the movements of the singers, much as the operatic director does now. The theaters were very large, being vast amphitheaters, open to the sky, but with an awning available over the more expensive seats. The seats were of stone, arranged exactly like those in a modern circus. The theater in Athens is said to have held 25,000 persons. At first admission was free, the theater being conducted by the state. The plays were mounted very expensively at times, although with the absence of scenery or properties of an elaborate character it is not easy to imagine what was the use made of the vast sums reported to have been expended in different productions. There was a rivalry of leading citizens, each taking upon himself the expense of mounting a new play, and striving to outdo the last before him upon the list.

There were three great dramatic authors whose names have come down to us as the Shakespeares of the Athenian drama. They were AEschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. All were great poets, the first perhaps the greatest. Sophocles was a fine musician and an elegant poet, and for many years he remained the popular idol. All these men wrote not only the words of the plays, but the music as well, every phrase of every character having been noted for musical utterance, and all the choral effects carefully planned. Besides this he composed what was then called the "Orchestic," whence we have our word orchestra. By orchestic they meant an apparatus of mystical dancing or posturing and marching and certain gestures. We do not know precisely what this famous orchestic was, for no example of it has come down to us in intelligible form. But from the descriptions of it by contemporary writers, it seems to have formed the pantomimic complement of the acting, with a certain added grace of art in grouping and posturing, suited to attract and satisfy the eye of a public accustomed to national games, and the beautiful conceptions of Phidias upon the Parthenon frieze. Thus, as will be readily seen, this drama was essentially opera. For reasons to be hereafter detailed, the music is thought to have been of slight tonal value. This is inferred from the compass of the instruments and the general deficiency of the Greeks upon this side, although popular report assigns them a place entirely different. This mystical drama, leaving so much to the imagination, and supplementing its actual representation by the help of chorus and a sort of sanctity derived from music, lasted but a few years. Other causes were at work destined to bring it to a close.

Almost immediately after Euripides, appeared the great comedy writer, Aristophanes, about 420 B.C. This great artist was not simply a dramatist, but also a patriot and a philosopher. In several of his plays he satirizes the classical dramas effectively, parodies their effects, and in general pokes fun at them. He was, however, a well accomplished musician, who might, if he had chosen, have gone on in the steps of his predecessors. But the times were not favorable to this. Previous to the time of Socrates, orators in addressing popular assemblies, lawyers in pleading cases, and all public speakers, appear to have made use of the cithara as a sort of accompaniment, if for no other purpose than to assure themselves of securing a proper pitch of the voice. But Socrates drew attention to verbal distinctions, made words the image of exact concepts, and in general set in operation an era of scientific classification and purely intellectual development, into which music could not enter, especially in a form so poor upon the tonal side as Greek art then was, and always remained. Then came the great orators, of whom Demosthenes was the greatest, who seems to have been the first to speak without musical aids; and Plato, with his philosophy; and after him the great Aristotle, the father of scientific classification and orderly knowledge.

To a disciple of Aristotle, Aristoxenus, we are indebted for the first really musical work which has come down to us. It is true that the so-called Problems of Aristotle contain many of a musical character, showing that this great master observed tonal effects in a purely musical spirit, but he did not make a scientific treatise upon the art. In his Politics he has much admirable matter relating to music, and its influence upon the feelings and its office in life has hardly been better explained than by him. But music upon the practical side remained a sealed book.

Among the lucid musical questions of Aristotle's Problems (which, if not by Aristotle himself, are at least the product of his time or the succeeding century) he refers to the phenomena of sympathetic resonance; he asks further, why it is that when mese (the keynote of the lyre) is out of tune everything is out of tune; yet when any other string is out of tune it affects only the particular string which is not correctly adjusted. One of his most instructive, but also, as it turned out, most misleading questions was why they did not magadize (sing in) fourths and fifths as well as in octaves, since the consonances of the fourth and the fifth are almost as well sounding as those of the octave. This question appears to have led to the practice of what Hucbald called "diaphony." This question, it may be remarked incidentally, is conclusive that they did not use the third as a consonance in Aristotle's time, nor sing together in fourths, fifths, or any other intervals than the octave.

In spite of the talk about music by the Greek writers, musical theory, in an exact form, occupies but a small place in the volume of their works. The earliest theorist of whom we have any account was Pythagoras, who lived about 580 B.C. He was one of the first of the Greek wise men to avail himself of the opening of Egypt to foreigners, which took place by Psammeticus I in the year 600 B.C. Pythagoras lived there twenty years in connection with one of the temples, where he seems to have gained the confidence of the priesthood and learned much of his philosophy and so-called musical science. He defined the mathematical relation of the octave as produced by half of a given string, the fifth produced by two-thirds and the fourth by three-fourths. He also found the ratio of the major step by subtracting the fourth from the fifth. This was the ratio 9:8. With this as a measure he attempted to place the tones of the tetrachord, or Greek scale of four tones, which was the unit of their tonal system. This gave him two major steps, and a half step somewhat too small, being equal to the ratio of 256:243.

The most important part of Pythagoras' influence upon the art of music was of a sentimental character. From Egypt he acquired many ideas of a musical nature, such as that certain tones represented the planets, and that time was the essence of all things. It was one of the laws of his religion that before retiring at night his disciples should sing a hymn in order to compose their spirits and prepare them for rest. The verses selected for this use were probably of a devotional character, like what are now known as the Orphic hymns, of which the lines upon the next page may be taken as a specimen. Ambros well remarks that such hymns could only have been sung appropriately to melodies of a choral-like character.

"Thou ruler of the sea, the sky, and vast abyss, Thou who shatterest the heavens with Thy thunder peals; Thou before whom spirits fall in awe, and gods do tremble; Thou to whom fates belong, so wise, so unrelenting Thou; Draw near and shine in us."

Various musicians and theorists later are credited with having made additions to the musical resources of the Greeks, and it was a proverb, said of any smart man, that he "added a new string to the lyre." This was said of Terpander especially; but it is pretty certain that the lyre had six or seven strings some time before Terpander, and that the form of expression was purely symbolical, as if they had said of him "he set the river on fire." The first real contributions to musical science after the Problems of Aristotle, already cited, are the two works of his pupil Aristoxenus—one on harmony, the other on rhythm. These give a full account of the Greek musical systems, and are the source of the greater part of our information upon the subject. From them it appears that the basis of their scale was the tetrachord of four tones, placed at an interval of two steps and a half step. The outside tones of the tetrachord remained fixed upon the lyre, but the two middle ones were varied for the purpose of modulation. The Dorian tetrachord corresponded to our succession mi, fa, sol, la; the Phrygian re, mi, fa, sol; the Lydian from do. Besides these modes, the Greeks had what they called genera, of which there were three—the diatonic, to which the examples already given belong; the chromatic, in which the tetrachord had the form of mi, fa, fi, la, the interval between the two upper tones being equal to a step and a half; and the enharmonic, in which the first two intervals were one-quarter of a step and the upper one a major third. We are entirely ignorant of the practical use made of these different forms of scale. Whether the quarter tones were used habitually, or were glided like appoggiaturas, or passing tones, has been vigorously maintained on both sides by different writers. The evidence seems to point to the enharmonic as having been the most ancient, and the chromatic and diatonic gradually superseding it. In Plato, Aristotle and many of the Greek writers, especially in Athenaeus, much is said about the characteristic expression of the different modes, but as they are mutually contradictory, one saying of a given mode that it is bold and manly, while another calls it feeble and enervating, we may leave this for the antiquarians to settle for themselves.

After Aristotle, there were several Greek theorists who devoted themselves to mathematical computations, the favorite problem seeming to be to find as many ways as possible of dividing the major fourth, or the ratio 4:3, into what they called super-particular ratios—that is to say, a series of fractions in which each numerator differed from the denominator by unity. They had observed that all the ratios discovered by Pythagoras had this character, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 8/9, and they attributed magical properties to the fact, and sought to demonstrate the entire theory of music by the production of similar combinations. The latest writer of the Greek school was Claudius Ptolemy, who lived at Alexandria about 150 A.D. In his work upon harmony he gives a very large number of tables of fractions of this kind—his own and those of all previous Greek theorists, and it is to his book that we principally owe all the exact knowledge of Greek musical theory which we possess. Among other computations, Ptolemy gives the precise formula of the first four notes of the scale as we now have it, but as this occurred only as one among many of a similar character, and is in no way distinguished from any of the others by any adjective implying greater confidence in it, we can only count it as a lucky accident. The eminence that has been awarded to Ptolemy as the original discoverer of the correct ratio of the major scale, therefore, does not properly belong to him.

This will more clearly appear from the entire table of the various determinations of the diatonic mode made by Ptolemy, taken from his work. (Edition by John Wallis, Oxford, 1682, pp. 88 and 172.) He gives no less than five of his own forms of diatonic genus, as follows: (The fractions give vibration ratios.)

Soft diatonic, 8/7 x 10/9 x 21/20 = 4/3. Medium diatonic, 9/8 x 8/7 x 28/27 = 4/3. Intense diatonic, 10/9 x 9/8 x 16/15 = 4/3. Equable diatonic, 10/9 x 11/10 x 12/11 = 4/3. Diatonic diatonic, 9/8 x 9/8 x 256/243 = 4/3.

Among these there is no one that is correct or rational. The proper ratios are given in the diatonic intense, but the large and small steps stand in the wrong order. It is in Ptolemy's record of the determinations of Didymus (born at Alexandria, 63 B.C.) that the true tuning of the first four tones of the scale occurs. This is it:

Diatonic (Didymus), 9/8 x 10/9 x 16/15 = 4/3.

Thus it appears that it was Didymus, and not Ptolemy, who proposed the tuning of the tetrachord which is now accepted as correct. It is very evident from the entire course of the discussion as conducted by Ptolemy that his calculations were purely abstract. He is to be reckoned among the Pythagoreans, who held that in time and number all things consist. It was not until some centuries later that the happy thought of Didymus came to recognition as the true statement of the mathematical relation of the first four tones of the scale, and then only through the ears of a race of musicians following the great thesis of Aristoxenos, that in music it is always the ear which must be the arbiter, and not abstract reasoning or calculation. The ratios of the major and minor third also occur among the calculations of Didymus; but here, again, they count for nothing in the history of art, because these intervals derive their value and expressive quality from their harmonic relation, while Didymus and all the Greeks employed them as melodic skips only, and reckoned them in with a multitude of other skips and progressions, without distinguishing them in any way.

The one characteristic instrument of Greek music from the earliest to the latest days was the lyre. In the oldest times, those of Homer and Hesiod, it was called phorminx, which is believed to have been the form so often represented on Greek vases of a turtle shell with side pieces like horns, an instrument having but little effective resonance. The later form was the so-called cithara, the most common shape of which is that made familiar to all by the pedal piece of the square pianoforte. This instrument rarely had more than six strings, and as it had no finger board it could have had no more notes than strings. Chappell, the English historian, attempts to demonstrate that certain ones of these instruments had a bridge dividing the string into two parts, thus largely increasing the compass, but the evidence supporting this hypothesis is not satisfactory. Plato speaks of instruments of many strings imported from Asia, which seem to have been the fashion or fad in his day. He disapproved of them very heartily, but the terms in which he speaks of them show that he cannot have been very familiar with their appearance, for it is impossible to make out what he is driving at.

There is considerable doubt as to the extent to which the larger instruments of Asiatic origin penetrated the general musical practice of Greece. Athenaeus, in his "Banquets of the Learned" (B. xvi, C), quotes Anakreon as saying:

"I hold my magadis, and sing, Striking loud the twentieth string, Leucaspis at the rapid hour Leads you to youth and beauty's bower."

Most certainly the lyre of Terpander had no twenty strings.

The so-called Greek flute was a very reedy oboe or clarinet, a pipe played with a reed, the pitch determined by holes stopped by the fingers. These instruments were so hard to blow that the players wore bands over their cheeks because there were cases on record where, in the contests, they broke their cheeks by the wind pressure. The flute or aulos does not seem to have been used in connection with the cithara at all, and the Greeks had nothing corresponding to what we call an orchestra. The aulos was appropriate to certain religious services and to certain festivals, and it had a moderate status in the various contests of the national games, but the great instrument of Greek music, the universal dependence for all occasions, public and private, was the lyre.

In spite of the meager resources of Greek music upon its tonal side, this development of art has had a very important bearing upon the progress of music, even down to our own times. Opera was re-discovered about 1600 in the effort to re-create the Greek musical drama, and the ideal proposed to himself by Richard Wagner was nothing else than that of a new music drama in which the severe and lofty conceptions of the old Greek poets should be embodied in musical forms the most advanced that the modern mind has been able to conceive. Upon the aesthetic side musical theory is entirely indebted to the Greek. Nothing more suitable or appropriate can be said concerning musical taste and cultivation than what was said by Aristotle 300 years before Christ. For example, he has the following (Politics, viii, C. Jowett's translation, p. 245): "The customary branches of education are in number four. They are: (1) reading and writing, (2) gymnastic exercises, (3) music, to which is somewhat added (4) drawing. Of these, reading, writing and drawing are regarded as useful to the purposes of life in a variety of ways." He recommends the study of music as part of the preparation of the fit occupation of leisure. "There remains, then, the use of music for the intellectual enjoyment of leisure; which appears to have been the reason of its introduction, this being one of the ways in which it is thought that a freeman should pass his leisure; as Homer says:

'How good it is to invite men to the pleasant feast,'

and afterward he speaks of others whom he describes as inviting

'The bard who would delight them all' (Od. xvii, 385);

and in another place he says that there is no better way of passing life than when

'Men's hearts are merry, and the banqueters in the hall Sitting in order hear the voice of the minstrel.'"

Plato is particular that only the noble harmonies shall be permitted in his state. He says, "Of the harmonies I want to have one warlike, which will sound the word or note which a brave man utters in the hour of danger or stern resolve, or when his cause is failing and he is going to wounds or death, or is overtaken by some other evil, and in every such crisis meets fortune with calmness and endurance; and another which may be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity—expressive of entreaty or persuasion or prayer to God, or of instruction to man, or again willingness to listen to persuasion or entreaty or advice. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of courage and the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave." These he explains will be only the Dorian and the Phrygian harmonies. In another place Plato shows himself a disciple of the Egyptian ideas of conservatism, already mentioned. "And therefore when one of these clever and multiform gentlemen who can imitate anything comes to our state, and proposes to exhibit himself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as a sweet and holy and wonderful being; but we must also inform him that there is no place for such as he is in our state—the law will not allow him. And so when we have anointed him with myrrh and set a garland of wool upon his head, we shall send him away to another city." (Republic, Jowett, iii, 398.)

In fact, upon the subject of music, Plato is one of the least satisfactory of writers. He has many noble sentiments which might well be printed in letters of gold and hung upon the walls of educational institutions to-day, as ("Laws," Jowett's translation, 668): "Those who seek for the best kind of song and music, ought not to seek for that which is pleasant, but for that which is true." In another place, however, he speaks of music as a kind of imitation. He says that music without words is very difficult to understand. ("Laws," ibid., 668.) All these inconsistencies disappear, however, as soon as we recognize the limitations of the music which Plato knew, upon its tonal side. All the richness of sense incitation, and all the definiteness of expression which come into our modern music through the magic of "tones in key," were wholly outside the range of Plato's knowledge.

The musical notation of the Greeks consisted of letters of the alphabet placed over the syllables to which the tones indicated were to be sung. The letters represented absolute pitch, and as, owing to the variety of genera, modes and chroa, the total number of tones was very large, parts of older forms of the alphabet were also employed, the whole number of characters thus demanded being upwards of seventy. There was little or no classification of tones, and the entire twenty-four letters were applied in regular order to the diatonic series of the Dorian mode. Tones in the chromatic or enharmonic modes were named by other letters, and the system was extremely complicated. The notes of the instrumental accompaniment were still different from those of the vocal part. No genuine example of this music has come down to us in reliable form, and curiously enough, no classical writer gives any idea of the notation of music. All that we know of this notation we derive from Alypius, who lived about 150 A.D. Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit of a monastery in Sicily, published in the last century the text of what purported to be a fragment of the first Pythic Ode of Pindar. (See page 69.) In the original the musical characters stood in immediate proximity to the words of the text. At the middle of the third line begins the chorus of Citharodists. As all the musical characters of the Greeks indicated absolute pitch, the student will discover the difference between the vocal and instrumental notation by comparing the notes in the early part of the ode with those of the same pitches noted for instruments later.

Three other pieces of similar apocryphal character have come down to us. It is likely that these melodies, if not really genuine, as related to the composition of Pindar, nevertheless belong to a period a little anterior to the Christian era.

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