A General History of Music by Charles Burney

By Charles Burney

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22 DISSERTATION ON THE MUSIC OF THE ANCIENTS Section I Of Notation or Tdblature of Ancient Music, including its Scales, Intervals, Systems and Diagrams the music of the ancients, according to Euclid, Alypius,* and Martianus Capella,** was divided into seven constituent parts these were Sounds, Intervals , Systems^, Genera, Modes, Mutations, and Melop&ia, or the composition of melody. To these divisions, which comprehended only what was denominated Harmonics, or the Science of Music, strictly so called, were added five other requisites, no less essential for a musician to know, than the preceding seven: and these were, Rhythm, or the regulation of cadences in all kinds of movement; Metre, or the measure of verses ; Organic, or the instrumental art ; Hypocritic, or gesture ; THE : and Poetic, or the composition of verses.

Let us, after this, consider the difference of intonation occasioned by temperament, between the keys of C natural and C sharp with seven sharps; of D natural with two sharps, and of D flat with five flats; differences which are certainly distinctions and difficulties in our notation, as C # and D|? are not only different sounds upon perfect instruments, but expressed by different characters in our tablature. Let us likewise consider the different situation of the sounds in all our twenty-four keys taking into the account, at the same time, the great numbers of our different characters for the duration of these sounds; and the simplicity of modern notation will not appear so much superior to the ancient as has been imagined.

Mus. Edit. Meibom. p. 2. (ft) Sijfxeta TO fiw aw, rrj? ' We are told, not only by Alypius, but by Gaudentius, p. 23, that of the two rows of letters used for musical characters, the upper is for the words, that is, to be sung, and the under to be played. (Z) It is somewhat strange that the notes for the voice in ancient music, should be placed above those for the lyre, and consequently further from the words. " * Marcus Meibom (Meibomius) of Upsala and Utrecht, published tracts and translations of many Greek and Roman books on music.

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