But, in the fury of his charge, he hath disarmed himself; for, he either does not know, or, at least, is unwilling to acknowledge, that there are many liberties allowable in musi cal composition, as well as in other arts: Science Logic and Mathematics. Avison’s Reply to the author of Remarks on the Essay on musical expression. I dare say the reader will anticipate the similar case I am about to mention in re gard to reading; as it will naturally occur to him, on this head, how commanding the power of expression may be found, from a different manner of reading the same author; especially in poetry, where a just and spirited emphasis is so highly essential to point out those interesting strokes, which are more peculiarly de signed to delight the imagination and af fect the heart. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE. Hence that deluge of unbounded extra vaganzi, which the unskillful call inven tion, and which are merely calculated to shew an execution, without either pro priety or grace.

Sign in to use this feature. Don’t already have an Oxford Academic account? With both these instru ments, the running into extreme keys, the use of the staccato, or distinct separation of notes; and all irregular leaps, or broken and uneven intervals, must be avoided; for which reason alone, these instruments ought never to be employed in the repieno parts of concertos for violins, but in such pieces only as are composed for them; and these, perhaps, would be most agree ably introduced as principal instruments in some intervening movements in the concerto, which might not only give a pleasing variety, but shew their different expression to the greatest advantage. Still less can the hor rid dissonance of cat-calls deserve this appellation, though the expression or imitation be ever so strong and natural. Again, the chords that must be therein used, do not depend upon our choice f.

The only omission is the ‘Letter to the author, concerning the Music of the Ancients’, originally included in the second edition of the Essay on which Dubois has primarily relied. BY the word Key, is meant, a regular succession of any eight natural notes: Lucretius, who lived about an hun dred years after him, or somewhat more, seems to mention the organ as an in strument of modern invention: Now these are alto gether of the benevolent species; inas much as we know that the contrary af fections, such as anger, revenge, jea lousy, and hatred, are always attended with anxiety and pain: They seem therefore to be as near of kin, as a major and a minor tone can be.

When the attention of every performer is thus employed by listening to the other parts, without which he cannot do justice to his own, it is then we may expect to hear the proper effect of the whole.


I shall here mention some of the ad vantages which the modern diatonic system seems to have above the Ancient. But, instead of this, the generality of our masters, following each their own method, have preferred a chxrles loose and florid manner of gracing, by which the finest harmo nies are too often destroyed; and in their explanation of these graces, by so many different marks, and exrpession of little notes, impossible to be expressed, have rather perplexed the learner, who, find ing the same art so variously taught, hath, therefore, been often discouraged in the progress of his study.

But Mr Pope has said in another place, “Let such teach others who themselves excel, “And censure freely who have written well.

charles avison essay on musical expression

These facts are notoriously known. It is, because of all sensible pleasures there is none that less corrupts the soul c.

An Essay on Musical Expression

By this means, the burthen of the tune, be it ever so edpression, must incessantly jingle in the ear, and produce nothing but some wretched alternations between the instrument and voice. There are no impertinent digressions, no tiresome, unnecessary re petitions; but, from the beginning to the close of his movement, all is natural and pleasing.

Again, the chords that must be therein used, do not depend upon our choice f. I could wish to know whence this unnatural conjunction comes, and what Mr. Or, if you proceed by fourths, go to epression fourth of C, and enter into F, and you must add one flat. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Charles Avison, An Essay on Musical Expression – PhilPapers

Besides, I must here acquaint him, that the reso lution of the ninth into the third, and third minor especially, is by no means against the rule, because it is agreeable to the ear: But I fancy I shall be easily excused from taking the same pains with his coarse and wordy comment on the Essay chales, in which, like a true polemic, he has laid down but one rule or prin ciple of writing, namely, to oppose, at all events, whatever I had advanced, and to pervert every plain passage, which, even so perverted, he had not talents to confute.

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But, in fact, it charlees not appear that the Ancients had this kind of composition, or rather it ap pears that they had it not; and it is cer tain that a man shall overlook discoveries, which stand at his elbow, and in a man ner obtrude themselves upon him. Intended, indeed, as a critical, but yet as a liberal, examen of this pleasing art; according to rules, not drawn from the formal schools of systematical pro fessors, but from the school of nature and good sense.


charles avison essay on musical expression

On the contrary, if the subject of the song was relieved by different passages in the instrumental part, but of a similar air with the vocal; this kind of variety might support the repetition of the whole, with somewhat more spirit. I know not what tables of affinity or consan guinity can prove you even his cousin german.

An Essay on Musical Expression (Avison, Charles)

By this means, not only a genteel and consistent per formance might be produced, but also fewer good masters would lavish their musical thoughts on subjects so far be neath them: Thus, as the rough handling is proper for battles, sieges, and whatever is great or terrible; and, on the contrary, the softer handling, and more finished touches, are expressive of love, tender ness, or beauty: Another consequence has been, that, for want of some such character as the mostra above-mentioned, the very best contrivances in a good composition have often passed undistinguished and neglected.

Nor let any lover of Music be concerned if there is but little for him to execute, since he will thence have some leisure for the pleasure of hearing: Experience, Meaning, and Work. But when the mode is changed, the sounds are altered, lower or higher, acuter or graver. The same method, perhaps, may be equally proper in concertos for the organ: And why must a professor, though even of the bighest rank, not be admitted?

An essay on musical expression. / By Charles Avison – Details – Trove

We need only compare the present with past ages, and we shall see a like catastrophe in the art of painting. The dog muscal him down upon his bum, like a monkey, fixing his eyes stedfastly on the musician, and conti nued a long time in the same posture, with the air and attitude of a connoisseur. Singulorum illic latent voces, omnium apparent.

Though ARISTOTLE may justly be styled the fa ther of criticism, and true judgement in poetry, yet he certainly did not excel in greatness or beauty of imagination, and had but a small share of the poetical spirit. Born with genius capable of soaring the boldest flights; they have sometimes, to suit the vitiated taste of the age they lived in, descended to the lowest.