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Thus we perceive, that even at prefent the notes confidered as to tone only, could be equally well denoted by the letters, which are the names of these notes, as by the notes themselves. One difficulty only occurs, viz. that the fame letters denote several different octaves above or below each other. Could this difficulty be removed, it is perfectly obvious that every thing refpecting tone might be marked with equal precifion by means of letters alone, as can now be done by the help of notes and different clefs, which is a troublesome contrivance, neceffarily resorted to for making the high and the low notes be equally fufceptible of being properly placed upon the five lines in a mufic book.
To distinguish the different octaves from each other, nothing more is neceffary than to place certain differential marks upon the letters of each octave; and if these marks are very fimple and obvious, no difficulty can
The tenor clef is the medium between the high and low in mufic. Let us then take the octave from A founded on the fecond string of the violin open, to A next above it on the tenor clef, as the medium, and let that octave being all times denoted by the letters fimply, without any differential marks at all, thus A B, &c. Let the next octave above it be marked by the fame fet of letters, which have each of them a fingle dot placed above the letter, as AB, &c. The next octave above that to have two dots on the upper part of the letters; the third three dots; and fo on till you arife to the top of the fcale. The descending octaves should be marked in
like manner by dots placed below the letters, giving one dot to those of the first octave, two dots to the fecond, three to the third, and fo on till you reach the bottom of the scale on the bass clef. In this way, the true tone of every note would be marked with the same certainty and precifion as at prefent; and the use of this kind of gamut, after a little practice, would be found much more fimple than that at present employed, perplexed as it is, and ever muft be, with the variety of clefs, which prove extremely embarraffing to a learner, the perfect application of which in practice requires a certain acuteness, and stretch of thought, which fome perfons, who would be in other refpects excellent muficians can never attain. By the mode of notation propofed, this embarraffing difficulty would be totally removed, and the whole doctrine of tones be rendered as fimple as the nature of things can poffibly admit of.
All that would be wanted to the mufical composer in this cafe, would be a fet of types fimilar to those marked on the mifscellaneous plate, fig 3d. *Vol. II. P. 320.
So much for tone. We now proceed to time.
At prefent, mufical notes confidered as to time, are thus arranged:
Ift, A Semibreve ; 2d, Minums; 3d, Crotchets ; 4th, Quavers; 5th, Semiquavers; and fo on to Semidemiquavers, or as far as you will, every inferior denomination being precisely one half the length of that class of notes, which immediately precedes it. Now, can any thing be more fimple than to exprefs thefe different times by common Arabic numeral characters, obferving the fame order as that in which they are placed above. 1. then, of courfe would denote at all times a femibreve; 2. a minum; 3. a crotchet; 4. a quaver; and so on as far as you please to go; or in
This paper should have been inferted Vol. II. but could not be overtaken.
other words, 1. is equal to twice the time of 2.; 2. is double the time of 3.; 3. is twice as long as four, and so
To express all the varieties of time, however, it was neceffary to adopt a contrivance in mufical notation, that has been found to answer every purpose in the moft perfect manner. A dot placed to the right hand of any note, fhews that that note is lengthened precifely one half more than its original time. For example, a fimple minum denotes two crotchets; but a dotted minum denotes three; and fo on of every other note. Nothing can be better contrived, or more fimple than this is; and therefore the fame contrivance fhould be here adopted, a dot to the right hand of any figure, denoting that the time expreffed by that figure is one half longer than it otherwife would have been.
Thefe particulars being explained, nothing farther is wanted than to fhew how time and tone can be connected in this new mode of mufical notation; nor can any thing be more eafy and fimple than this. The tone is denoted by its proper letter placed in one line, and its time by an Arabic figure immediately above it, either with, or without a dot, as may be required. Thus the notes below marked in the usual way, would
It is not to be expected that a perfon who has never feen this mode of notation before, could read it readily, no more than that a man who has never seen a note in mufic, could read a piece of mufic marked in the ordinary way; but it is fufficiently obvious that the one mode of notation is equally precife, and more fimple than the other, fo as that the ufe of it could, by a little practice, be acquired as readily as the other. To perfons therefore who are beginning to learn the gamut, this mode would be equally eafy with that now in ufe, though it muft fubject those who are already taught, to learn the gamut anew, if they were to read mufic according to this notation.
A reft, by this mode of notation, would be denoted by a fhort line or a blank placed in the letter line, and the time of that reft, by the figure placed above it. Sharps, flats, and naturals, when applied to a particular note, fhould be expreffed by the fame characters as at prefent; only, in place of putting them upon the particular line of notes at the beginning, the letter to which they apply fhould be there marked at the beginning.
Trills, flurs, and other directions, bars, beats, &c. could all be applied here equally well, as in the common mode of notation, and fhould be expreffed in the fame manner.
Grace notes, which are at prefent denoted by notes of a smaller fize, fhould in this cafe be marked by fmall letters, or what printers call low-cafe letters. A gamut of thefe is marked on the plate, fig. 4th.
In short, there is not a particular that cannot be as eafily effected in this way, as by the mode of notation now in ufe, though I confider it as unneceffary to quote a greater number of particulars. It will perhaps afford fome fatisfaction to the reader however, to fee the following air fet to mufic in both these ways. The words to it were given in the Bee, page 147, Vol. II *、
There is only one objection that can be made to this mode of notation; but it is an objection of such a nature as will probably prevent its ever being introduced into practice. All thofe who have already been taught mufic, have been taught to read it according to the ufual notation; to them mufical notes are now familiar; and they will not be fond of beginning to learn anew to read mufic in another way, after they have got over the difficulty; and though their fcholars might be taught the new method more eafily than the old, yet the teachers would diflike to have scholars practising in a way they themselves could not understand, and
* Incorrealy. They are here corrected.
will of course refuse to teach any one according to this gamut.
But should any young mufician learn it, and teach in this way, his pupils would have a great advantage above others in getting their mufic at a much cheaper rate than they otherwise could have done, and in a more commodious form.
¡Mea - dow green, and Moun-tain grey, Cour-ting o' this young thing just come frae her Mam-my.
And whar gat ye that young thing, my boy Tammy?
I gat her down in yonder how,
Smiling on a broomy know,
Herding ae wee lamb and ewe,
For her poor mammy.