A Complete History of Music
Category: History
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A Complete History of Music is a 1905 book by Winton James Baltzell, that can be used as a study material for classes.

A Complete History of Music

Winton James Baltzell

A Complete History of Music


The plan of arrangement used in this book has in view a combination of the recitation and lecture systems, and affords an opportunity for teachers to apply the best principles of both. The paragraph headings should be thoroughly fixed in mind and close attention should be given to the words in heavy type and Italics that occur in the body of a paragraph; together they form a convenient outline for the lesson. The questions at the end of each lesson are to be used to test the pupils’ mastery of the lesson material; all available works of reference should be consulted for fuller information than the limited space of one book will admit of, each member of the class preparing one or more abstracts to be read before the class. The review outlines and suggestions are to be used in the same way, special attention being given to written answers such as would be required in an examination.

With a view of furnishing the reader a considerable amount of material on the growth of music as an art, biographical sketches have been made short, especially since so many excellent works of that description are available at a small price. Emphasis has been laid on the work of the men who developed music, on the influences which shaped their careers and the permanent value of their contributions to music. A clear knowledge of how music reached its present state is not to be had by studying books, biographical and critical; the works of the composers must be examined, played and sung, compared, analyzed as to methods of construction (Form) and expression (Melody, Harmony and Rhythm), so that the student may appreciate the change from simple, elementary processes to the free, polyphonic style found in the complex modern piano and orchestral scores. Reference is made to representative compositions by classical and modern composers, which are part of the average teaching repertoire. The works of the earlier composers are not, however, readily accessible, although good examples of the style of the 16th and 17th centuries are in the cheap editions of Peters, Litolff, Augener, Breitkopf and Härtel, and Ricordi.

The plan of this book provides for two lessons a week for thirty weeks. This will occupy a school year and allow time for quizzes, reviews and examinations. If more time is available, the work may be divided into four, five or six terms and stress laid on the study of representative compositions, the preparation of short papers on the suggested topics, adding, as a feature to interest friends and music lovers generally, public programs including music.

Musical clubs will find in this book material for several years’ programs, special attention having been given to the lessons on modern composers and their music, the suggestions as to class-work applying with equal force to the study classes of clubs. The individual reader should follow out the suggested historical and biographical parallels which help so strongly to fix in the mind the periods in which composers lived.

Lessons III to VI were prepared by Dr. H. A. Clarke, of the University of Pennsylvania; Lessons VIII to XIV by Mr. Arthur L. Judson, of Denison University; Lessons XV and XVI by Mr. Preston Ware Orem, Mus. Bac., of Philadelphia; Lessons XVII to XIX, XXI to XXIII, XXXVII to XL by Mr. Frederic S. Law, of Philadelphia; Lessons XXV to XXXIII by Mr. Clarence G. Hamilton, A. M., of Wellesley College; Lessons XLI to XLVIII by Mr. Edward Burlingame Hill, A. B., of Boston; Lessons L to LVI by Mr. Arthur Elson, of Boston.

W. J. B.

November 1, 1905.

September 1, 1906.


Purpose of the Study of the History of Music. — The purpose of the study of the history of music is to trace the development of the many phases which make up modern music which we cannot but regard as a great social force, an intellectual, an uplifting force. If we consider it from the material side, it is one of magnitude; we need but think of the money invested in buildings, opera houses, schools, concert halls, publishing plants, factories, the sums spent on musical instruments, instruction, concerts, opera, etc., to recognize the commercial side. When we think of the great army of persons whose livelihood is conditioned upon musical work, upon the great audiences that support musical enterprises, we recognize the magnitude of music in a social sense, and that it offers a large field for study. These conditions, interesting as they are, represent only phases of musical work, not Music itself, and serve to show the place which Music occupies in the life of today. Our investigation is, then, a consideration of the origin and development of Music, and the means by which it took shape.

The Place of Intellect in Music. — When we think of Music we have in mind an organization of musical sounds into something definite, something by design, not by chance, the product of the working of the human mind with musical sounds and their effects upon the human sensibilities. So long as man accepted the various phenomena of musical sounds as isolated facts, there could be no art. But when he began to use them to minister to his pleasure and to study them and their effects, he began to form an art of music. The story of music is the record of a series of attempts on the part of man to make artistic use of the material which the ear accepts as capable of affording pleasure and as useful in expressing the innermost feelings. The raw material of music consists of the sounds considered musical, the human voice, various musical instruments and the use of this material in such ways as to affect the human sensibilities; that is, to make an impression upon the hearer which shall coincide with that of the original maker of the music who gives to his feelings expression in music. We find in music, as in other branches, that man tries to reduce phenomena to order and to definite form. The mass of musical material is vague, incoherent, disorganized. Man seeks to devise ways to use it intelligibly, and to promote esthetic pleasure. If musical sounds are to be combined simultaneously or successively, this combination should be in accordance with design, not haphazard, just as the builder of the house or the temple puts together his material according to a regular plan. Those who have been leaders in the Art of Music have labored in two ways: to extend the limits of expression in music, and to find the means to contain that expression. At one period stress is laid on making music expressive, at another on the medium for conveying expression to others, the latter being comprehended in the term Form. In connection with this statement, the student will do well to remember that every period of great intellectual activity, social or political, reacted upon music and the other arts; to illustrate, we need but refer to the formal, even artificial character of the music of the period preceding the French Revolution and the freedom and vigor imparted by the spirit of Romanticism which followed in the wake of that great political movement, a difference strikingly illustrated in the music of Haydn and Beethoven, Clementi and Schumann. There is also a constant action and reaction of the various racial streams of power such as the Aryan on the Semitic, East upon the West, Latin upon the Teuton, Folk-music upon the Scholastic.

The Principles in Music. — The leading principles in music are: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Color or Tone Quality, and in the execution of works of music, Dynamic Contrast, an essential factor in Expression. For ages after the birth of Music, Rhythm and Melody were the only real elements, Rhythm being first recognized. The potency of Rhythm, strong and irresistible in the early days of the race and with primitive man, is still acknowledged. Music that lacks a clearly-defined rhythm does not move the masses. Witness martial music, the dance airs and the “popular song.” All primitive languages were characterized by concise, figurative and picturesque qualities; they easily changed from the ordinary into the lofty and the impassioned. Intonation and changing inflection had much to do with meaning, as is the case with the Chinese language of today. Historians ascribe the origin of Melody to this principle of vocal expression. For years prior to the Christian Era, and long after, Rhythm and Melody were the only accepted elements of Music, and the art remained in a low grade of development. It was not until Harmony appeared, clear and unmistakable, that Music was able to claim a position equal to that accorded to the sister-arts, Poetry, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. These principles, Rhythm, Melody and Harmony, became, when couched in the forms of expression adopted by the great masters, what we call Modern Music, and the story is one of a development from extreme simplicity to the complexity illustrated in modern orchestral scores.

Means of Expression. — One more phase must be mentioned here, the means used to present to others the thoughts or feelings of the composer, that is, the human voice and its artistic use, instruments of various kinds, their primitive forms and gradual development, their use singly and in combination with other instruments. This phase is peculiarly associated with modern music; for it was not until the art had freed itself from the fetters imposed by vocal music, that absolute music, availing itself of perfected instruments, came into its own. From that time development was unprecedentedly rapid.

What is to be Brought Forward. — The history of Music is, then, a recital of facts bearing upon the development of modern music and we shall lay stress on such facts as show a permanent impress and a solid contribution to progress in one or more of the lines marked out: Form, Expression, Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Instrumental Color. In the study of a composer, the facts essential to the history of music are critical rather than biographical; not a life chronicle so much as a clear statement of what he specially contributed to forward the art. To gain an educational value, the facts of the history of music are to be studied so as to glean from them their significance, and an understanding of the causes and conditions which made them possible; then we go on to discern the consequences to which they in turn gave rise. No man works for himself and out of himself. He builds upon what others have done, and he builds for others. The student should discern the lesson in the past, and receive guidance for the future.

What We Learn from Archæology. — The history of an art such as Music must give the historical data in connection with the development of art and artists, free of all questionable and false features, and give as trustworthy, as accurate a picture of the various stages as possible. If we go backward in our research we reach a point at which ordinary records fail. If we make an inquiry into the beginnings of music we must have recourse to the findings and interpretations of Archæology. The results are by no means satisfactory. In all the digging in the ruins of the once great cities of Egypt, and Western Asia, and of Greece and Etruria as well, with perhaps one exception, no music has been brought to light, and but a few instruments, and these can scarcely be considered perfect. However, the pictorial representations on tombs, monuments, temples and houses give valuable aid, enabling scholars to reconstruct the story of music among the older civilizations. We must not forget, however, that conjecture plays a more or less prominent part in all the translations of the old hieroglyphic and cuneiform writings. We have no direct knowledge of the scales used or how the instruments were played together, what was the nature of the science and system in use. What we have is mere inference from the nature of the instruments and the representations of musicians playing their instruments, together with fragments from contemporary or later writings.

What We Learn from Ethnology. — Another source open to students of the beginnings of music is the material gathered by Ethnology. Those who place stress on this means of research lay down the proposition that the primitive people of the world of today occupy a mental and social stage similar to that of the primitive races from which the civilized folk of today have sprung. Therefore, they study the music, the rude chants, the dances, the instruments, etc., of various primitive tribes, and then by comparison try to indicate the various stages through which music came to have the art germ, from which the great product we know has developed.

Some Theories. — We can give in this lesson only a few of the theories offered by those who have discussed the matter of the origin of music: The Dance, Poetry and Music form a group which cannot readily be separated; they are not independent of each other, but most intimately connected. This view fails to take account of the fact that Music which is, externally, so closely connected with the Dance and with Poetry, is, in its essence, absolutely distinct. Schopenhauer, the philosopher from whom Richard Wagner drew inspiration, holds this view very strongly. He says: “Music is quite independent of the visible world, is absolutely ignorant of it, and could exist in a certain way if there were no world; which cannot be said of the other arts.” The other arts are essentially imitative and representative; they are based upon Nature. Some writers, the Frenchman Dubos and the English philosopher Herbert Spencer among them, claim that Music does represent Nature. They say that as the painter imitates the forms and colors he sees in nature, so the musician follows the various modulations of the voice, finding there the basic conceptions of Rhythm, Melody and Color. Singing, which Spencer considers the original music, is the emphasizing and intensifying of the properties of speech. Gurney says, per contra, that “Music creates audible forms, successions and combinations of tones which have no prototype in Nature and do not exist outside of Music.” Those who believe that Music is a separate entity therefore seek to trace it to a completely independent beginning. Darwin offered another theory as to the way in which man arrived at Music. His idea is that the faculty of producing musical tones and rhythm was first acquired by our animal ancestors as a means of attracting the opposite sex, the faculty being developed and improved by the process of selection.

The Conception of Fixed Scales. — The question is sometimes raised: How did man reach the conception of fixed scales? Here again opinions differ. Some consider that the extreme notes were fixed by the average compass of the human voice in impassioned speech, the interval being variously divided. Others claim that along with the vocal phase of music there was an instrumental side, and that the mechanical conditions in connection with instruments had bearing in the matter of organizing sounds into a scale; the rude, primitive trumpet of wood or bark, still found among forest tribes in South America and Africa, gives a series of harmonic notes. Whistles or flutes made in prehistoric times with a series of several tones, examples of combinations of little pipes, such as those known by the name of “Pan’s Pipes,” also bear on this question. Yet the facts are few and we are compelled to satisfy ourselves with mere conjecture.

Tylor. — Anthropology.
Rowbotham. — History of Music.
Smith. — The World’s Earliest Music.
Grosse. — The Beginnings of Art.
Raymond. — The Genesis of Art.
Helmholtz. — The Sensations of Tone.
Parry. — Evolution of the Art of Music.
Bosanquet. — History of Aesthetic.
Knight. — Philosophy of the Beautiful, Part II, Chap. IX.

Questions and Suggestions.

Why do we consider music a force in civilization?

What do we mean by Expression in music?

The teacher will cite periods when “Expression” was the chief aim, when Form was.

Cite periods when intense political and intellectual upheaval reacted on music.

Give examples of the leading principles of Music.

What kind of facts are of importance to the history of Music?

What is the value of Archæology to the history of music?

Why is Ethnology valuable to the history of music?

Give several theories as to the origin of music.

Is the scale used by us the scale of all nations?

In preparing for recitation, students should get an outline of each lesson by the use of the paragraph headings and then work out the lesson by the use of the questions that follow. If the reference books suggested are available, additional reading should be done. A good plan is for the teacher to assign one or two paragraphs to a pupil and have the latter bring in such other information of interest as can be secured. Some questions may be grouped and pupils directed to prepare a short essay to be read before the class. In regard to dates, the suggestion is that pupils take turns, lesson by lesson, in presenting a plan by which to memorize them. When the period is one that can be related to some well-known event in general history, as the life of Charlemagne, the Norman Conquest of England, the Crusades, the Wars of the Roses, discovery of America, invention of printing, etc., it is well to do so; or make a well-known musician a contemporary of some artist, statesman, king, scientist, man of letters, etc. The teacher should be prepared in this manner for each lesson. Events before the Christian Era may be related to some event or character in Biblical history.

Lesson I.
Music of the Chinese, Japanese and Hindoos

Sources of Our Knowledge. — When we study the music of the early period of the human race, we find no records such as we are storing today in our libraries. We must depend upon the discoveries of archæologists in the buried cities of early civilizations. Of contemporaneous books, properly speaking, tablets of music explaining the construction and methods of playing the musical instruments then in use we have few; if they exist they are in dead languages to which scholars are but slowly finding the key. It is true that some instruments have been found, but we can have no certainty that they are in perfect condition. The principal sources of the information we possess have been the paintings, decorations and sculptures on monuments and on the walls of buildings and tombs that have been unearthed. Early languages were largely pictorial, and records kept in this manner furnish us representations of the religious, martial, and social life of the early races.

Countries with a Musical Past. — The lands that offer the greatest field for the study of the music of the past are Chaldea or Babylonia and Egypt. Some of the old Greek cities, as well as cities in the western part of Asia Minor and Palestine, have been the subject of explorations. Still another country abounding in interest to the student of the music of the past is China, living, yet dead! What a contrast to Chaldea and Egypt! The civilization of the latter is dead; China, the older, is still living. These races had a common home, yet the former, having developed a high civilization and fulfilled its mission, disappeared from the face of the earth, while China, having also reached a high state of culture, has remained stagnant, all energies toward a higher level being arrested.

The Common Home of the Race. — Scientists place the cradle of the human race in the high plateau of Asia, extending from Persia eastward through Thibet and including part of Manchuria. The yellow race, according to some ethnologists, is the more akin to the primitive race; the other two, the white and the black, being derived from it by emigration, change of climate and mode of living. Van Aalst, the leading writer on Chinese Music, says that “the first invaders of China were a band of immigrants fighting their way among the aborigines and supposed to have come from the country south of the Caspian Sea.” It is outside the province of this work to detail the arguments that serve to show the connection of the Chinese with the other races mentioned. Berosus, the old Babylonian historian, writes: “There was originally in the land of Babylon a multitude of men of foreign race who had settled in Chaldea.” These men are known in history by the name of Akkads or Akkadians, “from the northern mountains,” Sumerians, from the “southern mountains”; that is, the highland ranges lying to the north and east of the Euphrates Valley. There were two main types among these tribes: a yellow, black-haired people, and a red type. The records show that migrations from this central home came about by reason of famines, plagues or floods. When did the black-haired, yellow people swarm off? When did the “red” people, from which Egyptian tradition claimed ancestry, go away? Probably the Chinese were the first to leave the central home, taking with them the elements of a considerable civilization, which also formed the basis of the later Chaldean, Babylonian, Assyrian and Egyptian cultures, and through various channels, of the Etrurian and Greek.

High Place of Music Among the Chinese. — The science of music had a high place in Chinese philosophy; the sages alone comprehend the canons, and the mandarins in music are considered superior to those in mathematics. Some most interesting dates are given, showing how early the Chinese had developed a science of music. We are told that in 2277 B. C., there were twenty-two writers on the dance and music, twenty-three on ancient music, twenty-four on playing the Kin and the Che, and twenty-five on construction of scales. These facts imply many years of previous development before the time when works treating of the science of music would be prepared. Confucius, the chief Chinese philosopher, wrote about ancient music in 551 B. C. Unfortunately, ancient records and books were almost entirely destroyed, 246 B. C., by order of the Emperor then on the throne; he excepted from this destruction only works on medicine, agriculture and divination. A comparison of recorded dates shows that the Chinese were writing learned works on the science of music when the Pharaohs were building the pyramids.

Sonorous Bodies. — The Chinese have always shown a fondness for instituting likenesses between things in heaven and earth, and things intellectual and material. According to their theory, there are eight sound-giving bodies: Stone, Metal, Silk, Bamboo, Wood, Skin, Gourd and Clay.

The Sheng. — One of the most important musical instruments in use among the Chinese, one that is indispensable to their temple ritual, is the Sheng. This instrument is the representative of the gourd principle; originally the bowl was formed from a portion of a gourd or a calabash, the top being covered by a circular piece of wood with holes around the margin in which the pipes, seventeen in number, are fixed; in the side of the gourd is placed a mouthpiece or tube covered with ivory, through which the player draws his breath. Each pipe is fitted with a small free reed of copper. A small hole is made in each pipe just above the bowl, which prevents a pipe from speaking when the air is drawn in by the player, unless the hole is closed by a finger. The instrument is placed to the mouth with the pipes slanting toward the right shoulder. The notes sounded by the pipes of the Sheng as they are arranged are:

giving the following scale or series of sounds:

A Complete History of Music
A Complete History of Music

four of the seventeen pipes are mutes, placed there doubtless for purposes of symmetry.

Kin. Se or Che. Sheng.Kin.
Se or Che.

The Kin. — The principle of the sound of silk is exemplified in the Kin or Ch’in, the strings, “made of twisted silk, being stretched over a wooden frame.” This instrument was the favorite of Confucius, the great law-giver, and in his time was of great antiquity. The number of strings was five, to agree with the five elements; the upper part was rounded, to represent the heavens; the bottom was flat, to represent the ground. The number of strings was later increased to seven, which is the favored form, tuned to G, A, C, D, E, G, A, a pentatonic scale.

The Se. — Another stringed instrument is the , (also written Che), which had originally fifty strings. As now used, it has only twenty-five strings. Four kinds are in use, differing in size and in number of strings; it is customary that they should give the sound of two notes simultaneously, generally octaves. Some of these, used by the most skilful performers, have only thirteen or fourteen strings. The strings are plucked by two small ivory picks.

Flutes. — The sound of bamboo is exemplified in certain instruments of the flute family. The bamboo plant is used by the Chinese in very many ways; it is natural that they should use it for making musical instruments. There are two types of pipes or flutes: those blown at the end, as a whistle, and those blown across a hole near one end, as is our modern flute; the Chinese flutes are of the latter class. They varied in size and in the number of holes, from three to six, the little finger of each hand not being used. A popular flute, called the Ti-Tzu, has, in addition to the six finger holes, one for blowing and one covered with a thin membrane, to vary the sound. Another kind, very ancient, and much in use, according to Chinese writers during the period 2205-1122 B. C., may be called, shortly, the Tche. It has six finger holes, three near each end, and is pierced with another hole at the middle, across which the player blows. The scale is said to consist of six semitones, beginning with F, fifth line treble clef. The peculiar construction of this flute presents some acoustical problems.


Other sonorous bodies are, metal from which the Chinese make gongs, bells and trumpets — they seem to have known the principle of the slide, as in the trombone, but never developed it; stone, certain varieties, in the shape of the letter L, pierced with a hole at the angle, suspended in a frame and struck by a hammer; skin, from which drums were made; clay, from which instruments were made in shape resembling the ocarina, familiar to us.

Chinese Scales. — The vocal and the instrumental music have different scales, the former diatonic — with two notes of the seven omitted, forming a pentatonic (five-tone scale), the letters of which, since F is a favorite tonic, may be represented by F, G, A, C, D. The instrumental scales are chromatic in character. When the voice is accompanied by instruments, the vocal scale is used. Singing is in unison, modified by fourths, occasionally. The singing tone is a sort of nasal sing-song, the favorite method a nasal falsetto, the mouth being nearly closed.

A Complete History of Music

This represents the concluding strophes of the Hymn to Confucius. The time is very slow; each measure represents a line of four syllables; between the lines one of the instruments gives a sort of interlude.

So much space has been taken with Chinese music because the conservatism of that race has preserved instruments and music that date back to the early history of our race.


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