Musical Composition: A Short Treatise for Students

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Macmillan and Company, Limited, 1911 - Composition (Music) - 193 pages

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I really like this book. It comes from the early 20th century, when some of the best musical ideas of the future were being formed. I have not found a book yet that teaches composition from this approach. Most books just give you short, meaningless examples of the subject at hand that make things even more vague. This book's examples are very effective and make things very clear.The approach to melodies is the most practical I've seen. I like the breakdown of the Beethoven sonata. This is a step-by-step instructional text. It is rooted in traditional tonal music, but the techniques are still valid for other styles. Stanford talks about other approaches such as balance, etc, in much more detail and from a more practical manner than other texts. I have several books about composition. Only 2 student-level books use a practical, hands-on method such as Stanford. I'm glad I stumbled across this gem.  

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Page 156 - Poetry is like shot-silk with many glancing colours. Every reader must find his own interpretation according to his ability, and according to his sympathy with the poet.
Page 94 - Wer nie sein Brod mit Thranen ass, Wer nie die kummervollen Nachte Auf seinem Bette weinend sass, Der kennt euch nicht, ihr himmlischen Machte.
Page 158 - Amour,' in his • Romeo and Juliet,' is meant by him to reproduce in musical phrases the lines about the lark and the nightingale in Shakespeare's balcony scene, but it does nothing of the sort ; it is not intelligible as music.
Page 17 - The student of some interesting modern developments will also speedily discover that the adoption of the so-called whole-tone scale as a basis of music is, except upon a keyed instrument tuned to the compromise of equal temperament, unnatural and impossible. No player upon a stringed instrument can play the scale of whole tones and arrive at an octave which is in tune with the starting note, unless he deliberately changes one of the notes on the road, and alters it while playing it.
Page 126 - The two greatest examples of eternal freshness and youth in musical history," observes Stanford to the same purpose, "are Haydn and Verdi. They were never too proud to learn from their contemporaries, or even from those far junior to themselves, and they are a standing and ever-living proof that the absorption of all that is best in other men's work only means to a man of genuine invention the accentuation of his own individuality.
Page 159 - When occasion offered I could venture to depict strange, and even terrible things in music, because the action rendered such things comprehensible : but music apart from the drama cannot risk this, for fear of becoming grotesque. I am afraid my scores will be of little use to composers of instrumental music ; they cannot bear condensation, still less dilution ; they are likely to prove misleading, and had better be left alone.
Page 159 - Symphonie dramatique, as it now stands, is neither fish nor flesh— strictly speaking it is no symphony at all. There is no unity of matter, no unity of style. The choral recitatives, the songs, and vocal pieces have little to do with the instrumental movements. The operatic Finale, Pere Laurence especially, is a failure. Yet there are many beautiful passages in the work. The Convoi funebre is a very touching and masterly piece. The opening theme of the Scene...
Page 158 - Mozart — or, if yon choose, along the same path backwards. It suited me personally to rest content with the acquaintance of the principal men, the heroes and their main works. — For aught I know this may have had its drawbacks; any way, my mind has never been stuffed with 'music in general.
Page 75 - The order of distribution varies greatly with the conditions. Music set to poetry with a ' burden ' to each verse would naturally adopt the form of repeating the same melody to each recurrence of the burden ; and when...
Page 6 - The simultaneous presentation of two melodies which fit each other is at once a musical invention; and when a third or fourth melody is added to the combination, the result is what is called harmony. To speak of studying harmony and counterpoint is, therefore, to put the cart before the horse. It is counterpoint which develops harmony and there is no such boundary wall between the two studies as most students imagine.

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