The Modern Orchestra

This is taken from Henry Edward Krehbiel's How to Listen to Music.

The most eloquent, potent, and capable instrument of music in the world is the modern orchestra. It is the instrument whose employment by the classical composers and the geniuses of the Romantic School in the middle of our century marks the high tide of the musical art. It is an instrument, moreover, which is never played upon without giving a great object-lesson in musical analysis, without inviting the eye to help the ear to discern the cause of the sounds which ravish our senses and stir up pleasurable emotions. Yet the popular knowledge of its constituent parts, of the individual value and mission of the factors which go to make up its sum, is scarcely greater than the popular knowledge of the structure of a symphony or sonata. All this is the more deplorable since at least a rudimentary knowledge of these things might easily be gained, and in gaining it the student would find a unique intellectual enjoyment, and have his ears unconsciously opened to a thousand beauties in the music never perceived before. He would learn, for instance, to distinguish the characteristic timbre of each of the instruments in the band; and after that to the delight found in what may be called the primary colors he would add that which comes from analyzing the vast number of tints which are the products of combination. Noting the capacity of the various instruments and the manner in which they are employed, he would get glimpses into the mental workshop of the composer. He would discover that there are conventional means of expression in his art analogous to those in the other arts; and collating his methods with the effects produced, he would learn something of the creative artist's purposes. He would find that while his merely sensuous enjoyment would be left unimpaired, and the emotional excitement which is a legitimate fruit of musical performance unchecked, these pleasures would have others consorted with them. His intellectual faculties would be agreeably excited, and he would enjoy the pleasures of memory, which are exemplified in music more delightfully and more frequently than in any other art, because of the rôle which repetition of parts plays in musical composition.

The argument is as valid in the study of musical forms as in the study of the orchestra, but it is the latter that is our particular business in this chapter. Everybody listening to an orchestral concert recognizes the physical forms of the violins, flutes, cornets, and big drum; but even of these familiar instruments the voices are not always recognized. As for the rest of the harmonious fraternity, few give heed to them, even while enjoying the music which they produce; yet with a few words of direction anybody can study the instruments of the band at an orchestral concert. Let him first recognize the fact that to the mind of a composer an orchestra always presents itself as a combination of four groups of instruments—choirs, let us call them, with unwilling apology to the lexicographers. These choirs are: first, the viols of four sorts—violins, violas, violoncellos, and double-basses, spoken of collectively as the "string quartet;" second, the wind instruments of wood (the "wood-winds" in the musician's jargon)—flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons; third, the wind instruments of brass (the "brass")—trumpets, horns, trombones, and bass tuba. In all of these subdivisions there are numerous variations which need not detain us now. A further subdivision might be made in each with reference to the harmony voices (showing an analogy with the four voices of a vocal choir—soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass); but to go into this might make the exposition confusing. The fourth "choir" (here the apology to the lexicographers must be repeated with much humility and earnestness) consists of the instruments of percussion—the kettle-drums, big drum, cymbals, triangle, bell chime, etc. (sometimes spoken of collectively in the United States as "the battery").

Seating of Modern Orchestra

The disposition of these instruments in our orchestras is largely a matter of individual taste and judgment in the conductor, though the general rule is exemplified in the plan given herewith, showing how Mr. Anton Seidl has arranged the desks for the concerts of the Philharmonic Society of New York. Mr. Theodore Thomas's arrangement differed very little from that of Mr. Seidl, the most noticeable difference being that he placed the viola-players beside the second violinists, where Mr. Seidl has the violoncellists. Mr. Seidl's purpose in making the change was to gain an increase in sonority for the viola part, the position to the right of the stage (the left of the audience) enabling the viola-players to hold their instruments with the F-holes toward the listeners instead of away from them. The relative positions of the harmonious battalions, as a rule, are as shown in the diagram. In the foreground, the violins, violas, and 'cellos; in the middle distance, the wood-winds; in the background, the brass and the battery; the double-basses flanking the whole body. This distribution of forces is dictated by considerations of sonority, the most assertive instruments—the brass and drums—being placed farthest from the hearers, and the instruments of the viol tribe, which are the real backbone of the band and make their effect by a massing of voices in each part, having the place of honor and greatest advantage. Of course it is understood that I am speaking of a concert orchestra. In the case of theatrical or operatic bands the arrangement of the forces is dependent largely upon the exigencies of space.

Outside the strings the instruments are treated by composers as solo instruments, a single flute, oboe, clarinet, or other wind instrument sometimes doing the same work in the development of the composition as the entire body of first violins. As a rule, the wood-winds are used in pairs, the purpose of this being either to fill the harmony when what I may call the principal thought of the composition is consigned to a particular choir, or to strengthen a voice by permitting two instruments to play in unison.

Each choir, except the percussion instruments, is capable of playing in full harmony; and this effect is frequently used by composers. In "Lohengrin," which for that reason affords to the amateur an admirable opportunity for orchestral study, Wagner resorts to this device in some instances for the sake of dramatic characterization. Elsa, a dreamy, melancholy maiden, crushed under the weight of wrongful accusation, and sustained only by the vision of a seraphic champion sent by Heaven to espouse her cause, is accompanied on her entrance and sustained all through her scene of trial by the dulcet tones of the wood-winds, the oboe most often carrying the melody. Lohengrin's superterrestrial character as a Knight of the Holy Grail is prefigured in the harmonies which seem to stream from the violins, and in the prelude tell of the bringing of the sacred vessel of Christ's passion to Monsalvat; but in his chivalric character he is greeted by the militant trumpets in a strain of brilliant puissance and rhythmic energy. Composers have studied the voices of the instruments so long and well, and have noted the kind of melodies and harmonies in which the voices are most effective, that they have formulated what might almost be called an instrumental language. Though the effective capacity of each instrument is restricted not only by its mechanics, but also by the quality of its tones—a melody conceived for one instrument sometimes becoming utterly inexpressive and unbeautiful by transferrence to another—the range of effects is extended almost to infinity by means of combination, or, as a painter might say, by mixing the colors. The art of writing effectively for instruments in combination is the art of instrumentation or orchestration, in which Berlioz and Wagner were Past Grand Masters.

The number of instruments of each kind in an orchestra may also be said to depend measurably upon the music, or the use to which the band is to be put. Neither in instruments nor in numbers is there absolute identity between a dramatic and a symphonic orchestra. The apparatus of the former is generally much more varied and complex, because of the vast development of variety in dramatic expression stimulated by Wagner.

The modern symphony, especially the symphonic poem, shows the influence of this dramatic tendency, but not in the same degree. A comparison between model bands in each department will disclose what is called the normal orchestral organization. For the comparison, I select the bands of the first Wagner Festival held in Bayreuth in 1876, the Philharmonic Society of New York, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Instruments like the corno di bassetto, bass trumpet, tenor tuba, contra-bass tuba, and contra-bass trombone are so seldom called for in the music played by concert orchestras that they have no place in their regular lists. They are employed when needed, however, and the horns and other instruments are multiplied when desirable effects are to be obtained by such means.

 

Instruments

Bayreuth.

New York Philharmonic.

Boston.

Chicago.

First violins

16

18

16

16

Second violins

16

18

14

16

Violas

12

14

10

10

Violoncellos

12

14

 8

10

Double-basses

 8

14

 8

 9

Flutes

 3

 3

 3

 3

Oboes

 3

 3

 2

 3

English horn

 1

 1

 1

 1

Clarinets

 3

 3

 3

 3

Basset-horn

 1

 0

 0

 0

Bassoons

 3

 3

 3

 3

Trumpets or cornets

 3

 3

 4

 4

Horns

 8

 4

 4

 4

Trombones

 3

 3

 3

 3

Bass trumpet

 1

 0

 0

 1

Tenor tubas

 2

 0

 2

 4

Bass tubas

 2

 1

 2

 1

Contra-bass tuba

 1

 0

 1

 0

Contra-bass trombone

 1

 0

 0

 1

Tympani (pairs)

 2

 2

 2

 2

Bass drum

 1

 1

 1

 1

Cymbals (pairs)

 1

 1

 1

 1

Harps
 

 6

 1

 1

 2

 

The string quartet, it will be seen, makes up nearly three-fourths of a well-balanced orchestra. It is the only choir which has numerous representation of its constituent units. This was not always so, but is the fruit of development in the art of instrumentation which is the newest department in music. Vocal music had reached its highest point before instrumental music made a beginning as an art. The former was the pampered child of the Church, the latter was long an outlaw. As late as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries instrumentalists were vagabonds in law, like strolling players. They had none of the rights of citizenship; the religious sacraments were denied them; their children were not permitted to inherit property or learn an honourable trade; and after death the property for which they had toiled escheated to the crown. After the instruments had achieved the privilege of artistic utterance, they were for a long time mere slavish imitators of the human voice. Bach treated them with an insight into their possibilities which was far in advance of his time, for which reason he is the most modern composer of the first half of the eighteenth century; but even in Handel's case the rule was to treat them chiefly as supports for the voices. He multiplied them just as he did the voices in his choruses, consorting a choir of oboes and bassoons, and another of trumpets of almost equal numbers with his violins.

The so-called purists in England talk a great deal about restoring Handel's orchestra in performances of his oratorios, utterly unmindful of the fact that to our ears, accustomed to the myriad-hued orchestra of to-day, the effect would seem opaque, heavy, unbalanced, and without charm were a band of oboes to play in unison with the violins, another of bassoons to double the 'cellos, and half a dozen trumpets to come flaring and crashing into the musical mass at intervals. Gluck in the opera, and Haydn and Mozart in the symphony, first disclosed the charm of the modern orchestra with the wind instruments apportioned to the strings so as to obtain the multitude of tonal tints which we admire to-day. On the lines which they marked out the progress has been exceedingly rapid and far-reaching.

In the hands of the latter-day Romantic composers, and with the help of the instrument-makers, who have marvellously increased the capacity of the wind instruments, and remedied the deficiencies which embarrassed the Classical writers, the orchestra has developed into an instrument such as never entered the mind of the wildest dreamer of the last century. Its range of expression is almost infinite. It can strike like a thunder-bolt, or murmur like a zephyr. Its voices are multitudinous. Its register is coextensive in theory with that of the modern pianoforte, reaching from the space immediately below the sixth added line under the bass staff to the ninth added line above the treble staff. These two extremes, which belong respectively to the bass tuba and piccolo flute, are not at the command of every player, but they are within the capacity of the instruments, and mark the orchestra's boundaries in respect of pitch. The gravest note is almost as deep as any in which the ordinary human ear can detect pitch, and the acutest reaches the same extremity in the opposite direction.

With all the changes that have come over the orchestra in the course of the last two hundred years, the string quartet has remained its chief factor. Its voice cannot grow monotonous or cloying, for, besides its innate qualities, it commands a more varied manner of expression than all the other instruments combined. The viol, which term I shall use generically to indicate all the instruments of the quartet, is the only instrument in the band, except the harp, that can play harmony as well as melody. Its range is the most extensive; it is more responsive to changes in manipulation; it is endowed more richly than any other instrument with varieties of timbre; it has an incomparable facility of execution, and answers more quickly and more eloquently than any of its companions to the feelings of the player. A great advantage which the viol possesses over wind instruments is that, not being dependent on the breath of the player, there is practically no limit to its ability to sustain tones. It is because of this long list of good qualities that it is relied on to provide the staff of life to instrumental music. The strings as commonly used show four members of the viol family, distinguished among themselves by their size, and the quality in the changes of tone which grows out of the differences in size. The violins are the smallest members of the family. Historically they are the culmination of a development toward diminutiveness, for in their early days viols were larger than they are now. When the violin of to-day entered the orchestra (in the score of Monteverde's opera "Orfeo") it was specifically described as a "little French violin." Its voice, Berlioz says, is the "true female voice of the orchestra." Generally the violin part of an orchestral score is two-voiced, but the two groups may be split into a great number. In one passage in "Tristan und Isolde" Wagner divides his first and second violins into sixteen groups. Such divisions, especially in the higher regions, are productive of entrancing effects.

The halo of sound which streams from the beginning and end of the "Lohengrin" prelude is produced by this device. High and close harmonies from divided violins always sound ethereal. Besides their native tone quality (that resulting from a string stretched over a sounding shell set to vibrating by friction), the violins have a number of modified qualities resulting from changes in manipulation. Sometimes the strings are plucked (pizzicato), when the result is a short tone something like that of a banjo with the metallic clang omitted; very dainty effects can thus be produced, and though it always seems like a degradation of the instrument so pre-eminently suited to a broad singing style, no less significant a symphonist than Tschaikowsky has written a Scherzo in which the violins are played pizzicato throughout the movement. Ballet composers frequently resort to the piquant effect, but in the larger and more serious forms of composition, the device is sparingly used. Differences in quality and expressiveness of tone are also produced by varied methods of applying the bow to the strings: with stronger or lighter pressure; near the bridge, which renders the tone hard and brilliant, and over the end of the finger-board, which softens it; in a continuous manner (legato), or detached (staccato). Weird effects in dramatic music are sometimes produced by striking the strings with the wood of the bow, Wagner resorting to this means to delineate the wicked glee of his dwarf Mime, and Meyerbeer to heighten the uncanniness of Nelusko's wild song in the third act of "L'Africaine." Another class of effects results from the manner in which the strings are "stopped" by the fingers of the left hand. When they are not pressed firmly against the finger-board but touched lightly at certain places called nodes by the acousticians, so that the segments below the finger are permitted to vibrate along with the upper portion, those peculiar tones of a flute-like quality called harmonics or flageolet tones are produced. These are oftener heard in dramatic music than in symphonies; but Berlioz, desiring to put Shakespeare's description of Queen Mab,

"Her wagon-spokes made of long spinner's legs;

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;

The traces, of the smallest spider's web;

The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams—"

into music in his dramatic symphony, "Romeo and Juliet," achieved a marvellously filmy effect by dividing his violins, and permitting some of them to play harmonics. Yet so little was his ingenious purpose suspected when he first brought the symphony forward in Paris, that one of the critics spoke contemptuously of this effect as sounding "like an ill-greased syringe." A quivering motion imparted to the fingers of the left hand in stopping the strings produces a tremulousness of tone akin to the vibrato of a singer; and, like the vocal vibrato, when not carried to excess, this effect is a potent expression of sentimental feeling. But it is much abused by solo players. Another modification of tone is caused by placing a tiny instrument called a sordino, or mute, upon the bridge. This clamps the bridge, makes it heavier, and checks the vibrations, so that the tone is muted or muffled, and at times sounds mysterious.

These devices, though as a rule they have their maximum of effectiveness in the violins, are possible also on the violas, violoncellos, and double-basses, which, as I have already intimated, are but violins of a larger growth. The pizzicato is, indeed, oftenest heard from the double-basses, where it has a much greater eloquence than on the violins. In music of a sombre cast, the short, deep tones given out by the plucked strings of the contra-bass sometimes have the awfulness of gigantic heart-throbs. The difficulty of producing the other effects grows with the increase of difficulty in handling the instruments, this being due to the growing thickness of the strings and the wideness of the points at which they must be stopped. One effect peculiar to them all—the most used of all effects, indeed, in dramatic music—is the tremolo, produced by dividing a tone into many quickly reiterated short tones by a rapid motion of the bow. This device came into use with one of the earliest pieces of dramatic music. It is two centuries old, and was first used to help in the musical delineation of a combat. With scarcely an exception, the varied means which I have described can be detected by those to whom they are not already familiar by watching the players while listening to the music.

The viola is next in size to the violin, and is tuned at the interval of a fifth lower. Its highest string is A, which is the second string of the violin, and its lowest C. Its tone, which sometimes contains a comical suggestion of a boy's voice in mutation, is lacking in incisiveness and brilliancy, but for this it compensates by a wonderful richness and filling quality, and a pathetic and inimitable mournfulness in melancholy music. It blends beautifully with the violoncello, and is often made to double that instrument's part for the sake of color effect—as, to cite a familiar instance, in the principal subject of the Andante in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The strings of the violoncello are tuned like those of the viola, but an octave lower. It is the knee-fiddle (viola da gamba) of the last century, as the viola is the arm-fiddle (viola da braccio), and got its old name from the position in which it is held by the player. The 'cello's voice is a bass—it might be called the barytone of the choir—and in the olden time of simple writing, little else was done with it than to double the bass part one octave higher. But modern composers, appreciating its marvellous capacity for expression, which is next to that of the violin, have treated it with great freedom and independence as a solo instrument. Its tone is full of voluptuous languor. It is the sighing lover of the instrumental company, and can speak the language of tender passion more feelingly than any of its fellows. The ravishing effect of a multiplication of its voice is tellingly exemplified in the opening of the overture to "William Tell," which is written for five solo 'celli, though it is oftenest heard in an arrangement which gives two of the middle parts to violas. When Beethoven wished to produce the emotional impression of a peacefully rippling brook in his "Pastoral" symphony, he gave a murmuring figure to the divided violoncellos, and Wagner uses the passionate accents of four of these instruments playing in harmony to support Siegmund when he is pouring out the ecstasy of his love in the first act of "Die Walküre." In the love scene of Berlioz's "Romeo and Juliet" symphony it is the violoncello which personifies the lover, and holds converse with the modest oboe.

The patriarchal double-bass is known to all, and also its mission of providing the foundation for the harmonic structure of orchestral music. It sounds an octave lower than the music written for it, being what is called a transposing instrument of sixteen-foot tone. Solos are seldom written for this instrument in orchestral music, though Beethoven, with his daring recitatives in the Ninth Symphony, makes it a mediator between the instrumental and vocal forces. Dragonetti and Bottesini, two Italians, the latter of whom is still alive, won great fame as solo players on the unwieldy instrument. The latter uses a small bass viol, and strings it with harp strings; but Dragonetti played a full double-bass, on which he could execute the most difficult passages written for the violoncello.

Since the instruments of the wood-wind choir are frequently used in solos, their acquaintance can easily be made by an observing amateur. To this division of the orchestra belong the gentle accents in the instrumental language. Violent expression is not its province, and generally when the band is discoursing in heroic style or giving voice to brave or angry emotion the wood-winds are either silent or are used to give weight to the body of tone rather than color. Each of the instruments has a strongly characteristic voice, which adapts itself best to a certain style of music; but by use of different registers and by combinations among them, or with the instruments of the other choirs, a wide range of expression within the limits suggested has been won for the wood-winds.

The flute, which requires no description, is, for instance, an essentially soulless instrument; but its marvellous agility and the effectiveness with which its tones can be blended with others make it one of the most useful instruments in the band. Its native character, heard in the compositions written for it as a solo instrument, has prevented it from being looked upon with dignity. As a rule, brilliancy is all that is expected from it. It is a sort of soprano leggiero with a small range of superficial feelings. It can sentimentalize, and, as Dryden says, be "soft, complaining," but when we hear it pour forth a veritable ecstasy of jubilation, as it does in the dramatic climax of Beethoven's overture "Leonore No. 3," we marvel at the transformation effected by the composer. Advantage has also been taken of the difference between its high and low tones, and now in some romantic music, as in Raff's "Lenore" symphony, or the prayer of Agathe in "Der Freischütz," the hollowness of the low tones produces a mysterious effect that is exceedingly striking. Still the fact remains that the native voice of the instrument, though sweet, is expressionless compared with that of the oboe or clarinet. Modern composers sometimes write for three flutes; but in the older writers, when a third flute is used, it is generally an octave flute, or piccolo flute —a tiny instrument whose aggressiveness of voice is out of all proportion to its diminutiveness of body. This is the instrument which shrieks and whistles when the band is playing at storm-making, to imitate the noise of the wind. It sounds an octave higher than is indicated by the notes in its part, and so is what is called a transposing instrument of four-foot tone. It revels in military music, which is proper, for it is an own cousin to the ear-piercing fife, which annually makes up for its long silence in the noisy days before political elections. When you hear a composition in march time, with bass and snare drum, cymbals and triangle, such as the Germans call "Turkish" or "Janizary" music, you may be sure to hear also the piccolo flute. The flute is doubtless one of the oldest instruments in the world. The primitive cave-dwellers made flutes of the leg-bones of birds and other animals, an origin of which a record is preserved in the Latin name tibia. The first wooden flutes were doubtless the Pandean pipes, in which the tone was produced by blowing across the open ends of hollow reeds. The present method, already known to the ancient Egyptians, of closing the upper end, and creating the tone by blowing across a hole cut in the side, is only a modification of the method pursued, according to classic tradition, by Pan when he breathed out his dejection at the loss of the nymph Syrinx, by blowing across the tuneful reeds which were that nymph in her metamorphosed state.

The flute or pipe of the Greeks and Romans was only distantly related to the true flute, but was the ancestor of its orchestral companions, the oboe and clarinet. These instruments are sounded by being blown in at the end, and the tone is created by vibrating reeds, whereas in the flute it is the result of the impinging of the air on the edge of the hole called the embouchure, and the consequent stirring of the column of air in the flue of the instrument. The reeds are thin slips or blades of cane. The size and bore of the instruments and the difference between these reeds are the causes of the differences in tone quality between these relatives. The oboe or hautboy, English horn, and the bassoon have what are called double reeds. Two narrow blades of cane are fitted closely together, and fastened with silk on a small metal tube extending from the upper end of the instrument in the case of the oboe and English horn, from the side in the case of the bassoon. The reeds are pinched more or less tightly between the lips, and are set to vibrating by the breath.

The oboe is naturally associated with music of a pastoral character. It is pre-eminently a melody instrument, and though its voice comes forth shrinkingly, its uniqueness of tone makes it easily heard. It is a most lovable instrument. "Candor, artless grace, soft joy, or the grief of a fragile being suits the oboe's accents," says Berlioz. The peculiarity of its mouth-piece gives its tone a reedy or vibrating quality totally unlike the clarinet's. Its natural alto is the English horn, which is an oboe of larger growth, with curved tube for convenience of manipulation. The tone of the English horn is fuller, nobler, and is very attractive in melancholy or dreamy music. There are few players on the English horn in this country, and it might be set down as a rule that outside of New York, Boston, and Chicago, the English horn parts are played by the oboe in America. No melody displays the true character of the English horn better than the Ranz des Vaches in the overture to Rossini's "William Tell"—that lovely Alpine song which the flute embroiders with exquisite ornament. One of the noblest utterances of the oboe is the melody of the funeral march in Beethoven's "Heroic" symphony, in which its tenderness has beautiful play. It is sometimes used effectively in imitative music. In Haydn's "Seasons," and also in that grotesque tone poem by Saint-Saëns, the "Danse Macabre," it gives the cock crow. It is the timid oboe that sounds the A for the orchestra to tune by.

The grave voice of the oboe is heard from the bassoon, where, without becoming assertive, it gains a quality entirely unknown to the oboe and English horn. It is this quality that makes the bassoon the humorist par excellence of the orchestra. It is a reedy bass, very apt to recall to those who have had a country education the squalling tone of the homely instrument which the farmer's boy fashions out of the stems of the pumpkin-vine. The humor of the bassoon is an unconscious humor, and results from the use made of its abysmally solemn voice. This solemnity in quality is paired with astonishing flexibility of utterance, so that its gambols are always grotesque. Brahms permits the bassoon to intone the Fuchslied of the German students in his "Academic" overture. Beethoven achieves a decidedly comical effect by a stubborn reiteration of key-note, fifth, and octave by the bassoon under a rustic dance intoned by the oboe in the scherzo of his "Pastoral" symphony; and nearly every modern composer has taken advantage of the instrument's grotesqueness. Mendelssohn introduces the clowns in his "Midsummer-Night's-Dream" music by a droll dance for two bassoons over a sustained bass note from the violoncellos; but when Meyerbeer wanted a very different effect, a ghastly one indeed, in the scene of the resuscitation of the nuns in his "Robert le Diable," he got it by taking two bassoons as solo instruments and using their weak middle tones, which, Berlioz says, have "a pale, cold, cadaverous sound." Singularly enough, Handel resorted to a similar device in his "Saul," to accompany the vision of the Witch of Endor.

In all these cases a great deal depends upon the relation between the character of the melody and the nature of the instrument to which it is set. A swelling martial fanfare may be made absurd by changing it from trumpets to a weak-voiced wood-wind. It is only the string quartet that speaks all the musical languages of passion and emotion. The double-bassoon is so large an instrument that it has to be bent on itself to bring it under the control of the player. It sounds an octave lower than the written notes. It is not brought often into the orchestra, but speaks very much to the purpose in Brahms's beautiful variations on a theme by Haydn, and the glorious finale of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The clarinet is the most eloquent member of the wood-wind choir, and, except some of its own modifications or the modifications of the oboe and bassoon, the latest arrival in the harmonious company. It is only a little more than a century old. It has the widest range of expression of the wood-winds, and its chief structural difference is in its mouth-piece. It has a single flat reed, which is much wider than that of the oboe or bassoon, and is fastened by a metallic band and screw to the flattened side of the mouth-piece, whose other side is cut down, chisel shape, for convenience. Its voice is rich, mellow, less reedy, and much fuller and more limpid than the voice of the oboe, which Berlioz tries to describe by analogy as "sweet-sour." It is very flexible, too, and has a range of over three and a half octaves. Its high tones are sometimes shrieky, however, and the full beauty of the instrument is only disclosed when it sings in the middle register. Every symphony and overture contains passages for the clarinet which serve to display its characteristics. Clarinets are made of different sizes for different keys, the smallest being that in E-flat, with an unpleasantly piercing tone, whose use is confined to military bands. There is also an alto clarinet and a bass clarinet. The bell of the latter instrument is bent upward, pipe fashion, and its voice is peculiarly impressive and noble. It is a favorite solo instrument in Liszt's symphonic poems.

The fundamental principle of the instruments last described is the production of tone by vibrating reeds. In the instruments of the brass choir, the duty of the reeds is performed by the lips of the player. Variety of tone in respect of quality is produced by variations in size, shape, and modifications in parts like the bell and mouth-piece. The forte of the orchestra receives the bulk of its puissance from the brass instruments, which, nevertheless, can give voice to an extensive gamut of sentiments and feelings. There is nothing more cheery and jocund than the flourishes of the horns, but also nothing more mild and soothing than the songs which sometimes they sing. There is nothing more solemn and religious than the harmony of the trombones, while "the trumpet's loud clangor" is the very voice of a war-like spirit. All of these instruments have undergone important changes within the last few score years. The classical composers, almost down to our own time, were restricted in the use of them because they were merely natural tubes, and their notes were limited to the notes which inflexible tubes can produce. Within this century, however, they have all been transformed from imperfect diatonic instruments to perfect chromatic instruments; that is to say, every brass instrument which is in use now can give out all the semitones within its compass. This has been accomplished through the agency of valves, by means of which differing lengths of the sonorous tube are brought within the command of the players. In the case of the trombones an exceedingly venerable means of accomplishing the same end is applied. The tube is in part made double, one part sliding over the other. By moving his arm, the player lengthens or shortens the tube, and thus changing the key of the instrument, acquires all the tones which can be obtained from so many tubes of different lengths. The mouth-pieces of the trumpet, trombone, and tuba are cup-shaped, and larger than the mouth-piece of the horn, which is little else than a flare of the slender tube, sufficiently wide to receive enough of the player's lips to form the embouchure, or human reed, as it might here be named.

The French horn, as it is called in the orchestra, is the sweetest and mellowest of all the wind instruments. In Beethoven's time it was but little else than the old hunting-horn, which, for the convenience of the mounted hunter, was arranged in spiral convolutions that it might be slipped over the head and carried resting on one shoulder and under the opposite arm. The Germans still call it the Waldhorn, i.e., "forest horn;" the old French name was cor de chasse, the Italian corno di caccia. In this instrument formerly the tones which were not the natural resonances of the harmonic division of the tube were helped out by partly closing the bell with the right hand, it having been discovered accidentally that by putting the hand into the lower end of the tube—the flaring part called the bell—the pitch of a tone was raised. Players still make use of this method for convenience, and sometimes because a composer wishes to employ the slightly muffled effect of these tones; but since valves have been added to the instrument, it is possible to play a chromatic scale in what are called the unstopped or open tones.

Formerly it was necessary to use horns of different pitch, and composers still respect this tradition, and designate the key of the horns which they wish to have employed; but so skilful have the players become that, as a rule, they use horns whose fundamental tone is F for all keys, and achieve the old purpose by simply transposing the music as they read it. If these most graceful instruments were straightened out they would be seventeen feet long. The convolutions of the horn and the many turns of the trumpet are all the fruit of necessity; they could not be manipulated to produce the tones that are asked of them if they were not bent and curved. The trumpet, when its tube is lengthened by the addition of crooks for its lowest key, is eight feet long; the tuba, sixteen. In most orchestras (in all of those in the United States, in fact, except the Boston and Chicago Orchestras and the Symphony Society of New York) the word trumpet is merely a euphemism for cornet, the familiar leading instrument of the brass band, which, while it falls short of the trumpet in the quality of its tone, in the upper registers especially, is a more easily manipulated instrument than the trumpet, and is preferable in the lower tones.

Mendelssohn is quoted as saying that the trombones "are too sacred to use often." They have, indeed, a majesty and nobility all their own, and the lowest use to which they can be put is to furnish a flaring and noisy harmony in an orchestral tutti. They are marvellously expressive instruments, and without a peer in the whole instrumental company when a solemn and spiritually uplifting effect is to be attained. They can also be made to sound menacing and lugubrious, devout and mocking, pompously heroic, majestic, and lofty. They are often the heralds of the orchestra, and make sonorous proclamations.

The classic composers always seemed to approach the trombones with marked respect, but nowadays it requires a very big blue pencil in the hands of a very uncompromising conservatory professor to prevent a student engaged on his Opus 1 from keeping his trombones going half the time at least. It is an old story how Mozart keeps the instruments silent through three-fourths of his immortal "Don Giovanni," so that they may enter with overwhelming impressiveness along with the ghostly visitor of the concluding scene. As a rule, there are three trombones in the modern orchestra—two tenors and a bass. Formerly there were four kinds, bearing the names of the voices to which they were supposed to be nearest in tone-quality and compass—soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Full four-part harmony is now performed by the three trombones and the tuba. The latter instrument, which, despite its gigantic size, is exceedingly tractable can "roar you as gently as any sucking dove." Far-away and strangely mysterious tones are got out of the brass instruments, chiefly the cornet and horn, by almost wholly closing the bell.

The percussion apparatus of the modern orchestra includes a multitude of instruments scarcely deserving of description. Several varieties of drums, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, steel bars (Glockenspiel), gongs, bells, and many other things which we are now inclined to look upon as toys, rather than as musical instruments, are brought into play for reasons more or less fantastic. Saint-Saëns has even utilized the barbarous xylophone, whose proper place is the variety hall, in his "Danse Macabre." There his purpose was a fantastic one, and the effect is capital. The pictorial conceit at the bottom of the poem which the music illustrates is Death, as a skeleton, seated on a tombstone, playing the viol, and gleefully cracking his bony heels against the marble. To produce this effect, the composer uses the xylophone with capital results. But of all the ordinary instruments of percussion, the only one that is really musical and deserving of comment is the kettle-drum. This instrument is more musical than the others because it has pitch. Its voice is not mere noise, but musical noise. Kettle-drums, or tympani, are generally used in pairs, though the vast multiplication of effects by modern composers has resulted also in the extension of this department of the band. It is seldom that more than two pairs are used, a good player with a quick ear being able to accomplish all that Wagner asks of six drums by his deftness in changing the pitch of the instruments. This work of tuning is still performed generally in what seems a rudimentary way, though a German drum-builder named Pfund invented a contrivance by which the player, by simply pressing on a balanced pedal and watching an indicator affixed to the side of the drums, can change the pitch to any desired semitone within the range of an octave.

The tympani are hemispherical brass or copper vessels, kettles in short, covered with vellum heads. The pitch of the instrument depends on the tension of the head, which is applied generally by key-screws working through the iron ring which holds the vellum. There is a difference in the size of the drums to place at the command of the player the octave from F in the first space below the bass staff to F on the fourth line of the same staff. Formerly the purpose of the drums was simply to give emphasis, and they were then uniformly tuned to the key-note and fifth of the key in which a composition was set. Now they are tuned in many ways, not only to allow for the frequent change of keys, but also so that they may be used as harmony instruments. Berlioz did more to develop the drums than any composer who has ever lived, though Beethoven already manifested appreciation of their independent musical value. In the last movement of his Eighth Symphony and the scherzo of his Ninth, he tunes them in octaves, his purpose in the latter case being to give the opening figure, an octave leap, of the scherzo melody to the drums solo. The most extravagant use ever made of the drums, however, was by Berlioz in his "Messe des Morts," where he called in eight pairs of drums and ten players to help him to paint his tonal picture of the terrors of the last judgment. The post of drummer is one of the most difficult to fill in a symphonic orchestra. He is required to have not only a perfect sense of time and rhythm, but also a keen sense of pitch, for often the composer asks him to change the pitch of one or both of his drums in the space of a very few seconds. He must then be able to shut all other sounds out of his mind, and bring his drums into a new key while the orchestra is playing—an extremely nice task.

The development of modern orchestral music has given dignity also to the bass drum, which, though definite pitch is denied to it, is now manipulated in a variety of ways productive of striking effects. Rolls are played on it with the sticks of the kettle-drums, and it has been emancipated measurably from the cymbals, which in vulgar brass-band music are its inseparable companions.

In the full sense of the term the orchestral conductor is a product of the latter half of the present century. Of course, ever since concerted music began, there has been a musical leader of some kind. Mural paintings and carvings fashioned in Egypt long before Apollo sang his magic song and

"Ilion, like a mist, rose into towers,"

show the conductor standing before his band beating time by clapping his hands; and if we are to credit what we have been told about Hebrew music, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, when they stood before their multitudinous choirs in the temple at Jerusalem, promoted synchronism in the performance by stamping upon the floor with lead-shodden feet. Before the era which developed what I might call "star" conductors, these leaders were but captains of tens and captains of hundreds who accomplished all that was expected of them if they made the performers keep musical step together. They were time-beaters merely—human metronomes. The modern conductor is, in a sense not dreamed of a century ago, a mediator between the composer and the audience. He is a virtuoso who plays upon men instead of a key-board, upon a hundred instruments instead of one. Music differs from her sister arts in many respects, but in none more than in her dependence on the intermediary who stands between her and the people for whose sake she exists. It is this intermediary who wakens her into life.

"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter,"

is a pretty bit of hyperbole which involves a contradiction in terms. An unheard melody is no melody at all, and as soon as we have music in which a number of singers or instrumentalists are employed, the taste, feeling, and judgment of an individual are essential to its intelligent and effective publication. In the gentle days of the long ago, when suavity and loveliness of utterance and a recognition of formal symmetry were the "be-all and end-all" of the art, a time-beater sufficed to this end; but now the contents of music are greater, the vessel has been wondrously widened, the language is become curiously complex and ingenious, and no composer of to-day can write down universally intelligible signs for all that he wishes to say. Someone must grasp the whole, expound it to the individual factors which make up the performing sum and provide what is called an interpretation to the public.

That someone, of course, is the conductor, and considering the progress that music is continually making it is not at all to be wondered at that he has become a person of stupendous power in the culture of to-day. The one singularity is that he should be so rare. This rarity has had its natural consequence, and the conductor who can conduct, in contradistinction to the conductor who can only beat time, is now a "star." At present we see him going from place to place in Europe giving concerts in which he figures as the principal attraction. The critics discuss his "readings" just as they do the performances of great pianists and singers. A hundred blowers of brass, scrapers of strings, and tootlers on windy wood, labor beneath him transmuting the composer's mysterious symbols into living sound, and when it is all over we frequently find that it seems all to have been done for the greater glory of the conductor instead of the glory of art. That, however, is a digression which it is not necessary to pursue.

Questions and remarks have frequently been addressed to me indicative of the fact that there is a widespread popular conviction that the mission of a conductor is chiefly ornamental at an orchestral concert. That is a sad misconception, and grows out of the old notion that a conductor is only a time-beater. Assuming that the men of the band have played sufficiently together, it is thought that eventually they might keep time without the help of the conductor. It is true that the greater part of the conductor's work is done at rehearsal, at which he enforces upon his men his wishes concerning the speed of the music, expression, and the balance of tone between the different instruments. But all the injunctions given at rehearsal by word of mouth are reiterated by means of a system of signs and signals during the concert performance. Time and rhythm are indicated by the movements of the bâton, the former by the speed of the beats, the latter by the direction, the tones upon which the principal stress is to fall being indicated by the down-beat of the bâton. The amplitude of the movements also serves to indicate the conductor's wishes concerning dynamic variations, while the left hand is ordinarily used in pantomimic gestures to control individual players or groups. Glances and a play of facial expression also assist in the guidance of the instrumental body. Every musician is expected to count the rests which occur in his part, but when they are of long duration (and sometimes they amount to a hundred measures or more) it is customary for the conductor to indicate the entrance of an instrument by a glance at the player. From this mere outline of the communications which pass between the conductor and his band it will be seen how indispensable he is if music is to have a consistent and vital interpretation.

The layman will perhaps also be enabled, by observing the actions of a conductor with a little understanding of their purposes, to appreciate what critics mean when they speak of the "magnetism" of a leader. He will understand that among other things it means the aptitude or capacity for creating a sympathetic relationship between himself and his men which enables him the better by various devices, some arbitrary, some technical and conventional, to imbue them with his thoughts and feelings relative to a composition, and through them to body them forth to the audience.

A score, it will be observed, is a reproduction of all the parts of a composition as they lie upon the desks of the players. The ordering of these parts in the score has not always been as now, but the plan which has the widest and longest approval is that illustrated in our example. The wood-winds are grouped together on the uppermost six staves, the brass in the middle with the tympani separating the horns and trumpets from the trombones, the strings on the lowermost five staves. The example has been chosen because it shows all the instruments of the band employed at once (it is the famous opening tutti of the triumphal march of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony), and is easy of comprehension by musical amateurs for the reason that none of the parts requires transposition except it be an octave up in the case of the piccolo, an instrument of four-foot tone, and an octave down in the case of the double-basses, which are of sixteen-foot tone. All the other parts are to be read as printed, proper attention being given to the alto and tenor clefs used in the parts of the trombones and violas. The ability to "read score" is one of the most essential attributes of a conductor, who, if he have the proper training, can bring all the parts together and reproduce them on the pianoforte, transposing those which do not sound as written and reading the different clefs at sight as he goes along.