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Questions & Answers

L. L. Elson's "Curiosities of Music" contains much interesting information, such as can be used in a talk on music among people who differ from us in their ideas of music. There is no one book on the subject of Russian music that can be used as a text-book. Newmarch's book on Tschaikowsky contains some material. Persons who are interested in the preparation of talks should keep a scrap book in which to collect material that appears in magazines and papers. You can get a number of compositions by Russian composers from any one of the leading music publishers.
 
C. W.—Werner's Voice Magazine has been discontinued. It was merged into The Muse, published in Chicago, Ill.
 
A. H. M.—The clavier is the name given to a practice piano which has certain mechanical features intended to promote the acquisition of piano technic. You will find an advertisement of the Clavier Company on another page of this issue. Write to them for particulars.
 
L. L. B.—The minor scales must be viewed historically, just as other facts in music of to-day. The Natural Minor scale corresponds to one of the old Greek scales and also to one of the Ecclesiastical scales, which were intended to correspond with the old Greek scales, although as now known the names were confused. The scale with a whole tone between the seventh and eighth degrees was in use until after the time of Bach. Therefore the Natural Minor scale is a relic of early music and handed down to us. When a feeling for harmony began to assert itself it was found necessary to have a half tone between the seventh and eighth degrees. This, however, caused an augmented interval between the sixth and seventh degrees, hence the former was raised. Both accidentals were omitted in a descending progression. This form was called the Melodic Minor. There were times, however, when composers, in obedience to harmonic laws, did not raise the sixth degree, only the seventh. This form is called the Harmonic Minor. Natural Minor.—A, B. C, D, E, F, G, A; ascending and descending progressions the same. Melodic Minor.—A, B, C, D, E, F-sharp, G-sharp, A ascending: A. G, F, E, D, C, B, A descending. Harmonic Minor.—A, B, C, D, E. F, G-sharp, A; ascending and descending progressions the same.
 
W. S.—1. The first tonic chord shows the key of a piece. If the root of this chord is the same as the keynote indicated by the signature, the piece is in the major key of the letter that the signature calls for. If the root of the chord be the sixth of the scale denoted by the signature the key is the minor of the letter corresponding to the sixth of the key shown by the signature. The last chord of a piece or complete movement indicates the tonic. If this tonic agrees with the signature, the key is major; if it be the sixth of the scale, minor.
 
The tempo direction of "The Flatterer," by Chaminade, is "moderato, molto capriccioso," which means that the general movement is at a moderate rate, but that frequent hurrying of the time is called for; in other words, tempo rubato.
 
The eighth measure of "Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground," transcribed by C. W. Kern, is correctly written. The first chord in half notes represents two alto parts, the soprano not being heard until the second beat, as shown by the rest high up on the staff. The two alto notes strike again on the third beat and are held one and one-half beats, the soprano being struck again on the fourth count and held one-half beat; the eighth rest with a hold over it indicates a pause at the end of the measure.
 
You will find a description of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies in Edward Baxter Perry's "Descriptive Analyses of Piano Compositions." The "Lassan" is quite slow, while the "Friska" is very fast.
 
M.—1. "Pas des Amphores" means literally "Vase Dance," and refers doubtless to a dance in which a vase filled with water is held on the head by the dancer, the object being to show the balancing skill of the performer. Other dances of this kind are the Egg Dance and the Sword Dance.
 
2. When two notes which represent an inharmonic change are tied, the second note is not struck.
 
G. B.—We do not commend the spirit that seeks to establish a standard, and say this man is the greatest composer, this woman the greatest singer. There are a number of persons who are entitled to rank in the first class of players or singers.
 
Melba, Lilli Lehmann, Ternina, Calvé, Edouard de Reszke, and Plangon are great singers.
 
Guilmant and Widor are great living organists.
 
Partisanship is so strong in vocal matters that we cannot pronounce as to the greatest teachers of singing to-day. See answer to E. H.
 
When two notes are to be played against five, as in the "Impromptu a la Hongroise," by Lacome, which you mention, the group of five generally divides into two groups, three in one, two in the other. In the Lacome piece the group of three comes first. The movement is so rapid that the two groups will seem almost identical, particularly because the fourth note is dotted.
 
F. W.—Mr. F. W. Root's course, "Technic and Art of Singing," will suit your needs. His "Elementary Song Studies," which is a part of the course, will help the particular case you cite, that of fitting the word to the tone.
 
L. G.—One who has reached the age of thirty-five will find it difficult to accomplish as much in voice culture as he will likely desire, but if the voice has not been abused or strained by singing "naturally," as some say, it is possible for a careful teacher to do much for a pupil. Consult a teacher and get his verdict.
 
E.—See answer to A. H. M. in regard to the practice clavier.
 
Anon.—There is some difference of opinion as to the pronunciation of acoustic, but Greek scholars are now agreed that the Greek "ou" has the sound of "oo" in English; and that the sound of "ow," as in "now," is, in Greek, given to "au."
 
H.—First of all, it may be said that it is impossible to give a positive answer to your query as to the best vocal teachers in Germany, France, and Italy. There are many teachers in Europe, each one of whom is no doubt "the best" to his pupils—else they would not be studying with him. Even as a matter of personal opinion, no one could be singled out as absolutely the best, unless a trial were made of all, which is manifestly impracticable. All that can be done is to indicate a few of the best known— those whose ability in forming singers is more or less in evidence. If the present writer were going to Europe to study singing he would go to William Shakespeare, of London, but this preference is not applicable to the present inquiry.
 
Julius Hey, of Berlin, stands at the head of his profession in that city. Of ladies, there is, first, that great artist, Lilli Lehmann, who, however, takes only a small number of pupils—four, if I mistake not—and they must be exceptionally gifted in voice and ability. Frau Nicklass-Kempner is also highly spoken of as a teacher, and is an artist of rare interpretative powers. In Dresden lives and teaches Francesco Lamperti, son of the more famous singing-master of Milan, who is credited with the early training of   Marcella Sembrich. Of ladies I can only recall one positively by name—Natalie Haenisch—who has a high reputation for teaching a refined vocal art.
 
As for Italy, students go there principally to prepare for opera, and in these days of the music-drama, it is by no means so much in favor as thirty or even twenty years ago. Italian singing teachers, too, as a rule, occupy a less prominent position in the musical world than formerly. One of the best of the older school, Cortesi, died in Milan but* a few days ago. Vannuccini, of Florence, has long been known as a representative teacher of the Italian school, and has taught many Americans. Another favorably spoken of is Vannini, also, I believe, of Florence.
 
Paris swarms with singing teachers, but it is a curious fact that those best known, at least in America, are not French, but foreigners. There are undoubtedly many excellent native French teachers, who confine themselves to pupils of their own nationality, of whom we never hear. Among those of foreign birth, Madame Marchesi has by far the most brilliant record as regards noted pupils. Others less before the public eye, but of whom much good has been said to me, are Madame Zizka and Madame   Picciotto. Then there are the veteran singers, Madame de La Grange and Madame Viardot-Garcia, who have, however, probably retired from the arduous work of teaching by this time. Of men there are the aged Delle Sedie, now somewhere in the early eighties, and Signor Sbriglia, whom the readers of The Etude will remember as the subject of a published interview in a recent issue.
 
That the above exhausts the subject or is even satisfactory, I do not pretend. It is only an attempt which shows that positive knowledge on such a point as absolute excellence is from the nature of the case impossible.— Frederic Law.

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