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Title: Spirit and Music
Author: Hunt, H. Ernest
Language: English
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     SPIRIT AND MUSIC

    _By the same Author_

    NERVE CONTROL
    SELF TRAINING
    A BOOK OF AUTO-SUGGESTIONS
    THE INFLUENCE OF THOUGHT
    A MANUAL OF HYPNOTISM
    THE HIDDEN SELF
    POINTS ON PRACTISING



Spirit and Music

BY

H. ERNEST HUNT

Author of Nerve Control, Self Training, &c, &c.;
Lecturer in Psychology at the Training School for
Music Teachers, The Metropolitan Academy of
Music, The Kensington School of Music, &c.,
London

LONDON:
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LTD.
J. CURWEN & SONS, LTD.
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.
1922

Printed in Great Britain by St. Stephen's Printing Works, Bristol.



CONTENTS


CHAP.

I THE SPIRIT OF MUSIC

II THE PLACE OF MUSIC IN LIFE

III THE EXPRESSION OF LIFE

IV SPIRIT A LIVING FACT

V THE CONDITIONS OF INSPIRATION

VI THE INTERPRETER

VII THE TEACHER

VIII THE SOUL OF SONG

IX MUSIC AND EDUCATION

X THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT

XI "PURE MUSIC"

XII THE PURPOSE OF ART



SPIRIT AND MUSIC



CHAPTER I

THE SPIRIT OF MUSIC

"Art is the Manifestation of the Spiritual by means of the
Material"

Newlandsmith


Music is a part of life. It is not merely an accomplishment or a hobby,
nor yet a means of relaxation from the strenuous business of earning a
living. It is not an addendum or an excrescence: it is an actual part of
the fabric of life itself. The object of these pages will be to show how
closely Music, and indeed Art in general, has woven itself into the
pattern of our lives, and how intimately it may influence and fashion
the design.

The structural basis of Music is vibration. Sound comes to us in the
guise of air-waves, which impinge upon the drum of the ear. The
nerve-impulse thus aroused is conveyed to the brain, and there
translated into sound. Strictly speaking there is thus no sound until
the brain translates the message, while if the machinery of the ear be
too dull to answer to the vibration the sound simply does not exist for
us. Beyond doubt the world is full of sounds that we cannot hear and of
sights that we never see, for of the whole range of vibration our senses
permit us to garner but the veriest fragment--a few notes here of sound,
and a brief range there of sight, out of the whole vast scale of vibrant
Nature.

There are sounds which are musical, and others that are raucous and mere
noise. The difference lies in the fact that harsh sounds are compounded
of irregular vibrations, while the essence of Music is that its waves
are rhythmic and follow each other in ordered swing. Rhythm is thus the
primary manifestation of Music: but equally so it is the basic
characteristic of everything in life. We learn that in Nature there is
nothing still and inert, but that everything is in incessant motion.
There is no such thing as solid matter. The man of Science resolved
matter into atoms, and now these atoms themselves are found to be as
miniature universes. Round a central sun, termed a Proton, whirl a
number of electrons in rhythmic motion and incessant swing. And these
electrons and protons--what are they? Something in the nature of charges
of electricity, positive and negative. So where is now our
seeming-solid matter?

When this knowledge informs our outlook we see that all that lives,
moves: and even that which never seems to move, lives also in continual
rhythm and response. The eternal hills are vibrant to the eye of
science, and the very stones are pulsing with the joy of life. The
countryside sings, and there is the beat of rhythm not merely in our
hearts but in every particle of our body. Stillness is a delusion, and
immobility a fiction of the senses. Life is movement and activity, and
rigidity and stiffness come more near to what we understand as death.
Yet even in death there is no stillness, there is but a change in the
form of activity. The body is no longer alive as an organised community,
but in its individual cells: the activity is the liveliness of
decomposition. Thus all the world expresses life, and expresses it in a
rhythm in which law and order reign supreme, and in which a sweet and
sane regularity is the ordinance.

Regular rhythm involves accent. Whether or no there be any such emphasis
as a thing in itself, the listening ear supplies it to meet a need. When
we attend to a clock ticking, the tick-tock, tick-tock, however even it
may sound at first, soon resolves itself into a rhythm with the accent
on either the tick or the tock. So does the beat of an engine, or the
hum of a railway train, merge itself into some definite sound picture,
with the accent for relief that the ear demands. Thus out of rhythm
grows very naturally an accentuation which gives balance, structure, and
form. We start with the little units--the ticks and the tocks--and we
build something bigger by grouping these together. This is a principle
which we may see running through the activities of life in a thousand
forms.

Bricks are made to pattern and thus possess a rhythm of their own, but
when they are laid in courses they merge their individual rhythm into
the ordered lines of the courses. These again may be comprehended in
larger units of arches, buttresses, and stories: and all these again
will be grouped and contained in this or that style of architecture. So,
too, Music may begin with notes and tones, but accent quickly groups
these into larger units to satisfy the senses in their demand for
balance and proportion. Thus by increasing the size of our unit we build
the rhythm of form and lay the foundation for the further development of
the Art.

Since Nature is regular, from the beating of our own hearts to the swing
of universes in the heavens, therefore engrained in our very selves is
this claim for ordered progression, balance, and sustained sequence.
When we attain this, whether in Music or otherwise, we derive a measure
of restfulness and satisfaction and we gain a sense of completeness. Any
work of Art should leave us with this conviction, that nothing could be
added or left out without marring the perfect proportion of the whole.
"Jazz," whether in Music or in any other direction, gives just the very
opposite effect, marring the sense of proportion and distorting the
feeling of satisfaction. It exists as a testimony to a morbid
dissatisfaction with life, it gives emphasis to the unbalanced and
neurotic. The true beauty of Art--as of Music--consists on the contrary
of this larger rhythm which makes for wholesomeness and proportion,
which achieves at once the rest and the satisfaction that the soul
craves. Its wholesomeness is health, which again is ease. Its reverse is
disease: and when Music becomes mere noise and discord it is the same as
when beauty becomes ugliness and health vanishes in sickness.

The second element of Music is melody, and this corresponds to the
outline in Nature. Things have their shapes and their forms, even as our
very lives consist of ups and downs, varied with occasional runs along
the level. The country has its outlines, its hills that rise and climb,
its valleys that fall and fade. There is the even line of the horizon,
topped by the swelling clouds: there are curves and sweeps in the
swaying of trees and grasses, in the flight of birds, and in the grace
of the human form. It is significant that Nature's handiwork so abounds
in curves, whilst that of man is fashioned so much upon straight lines
with consequent sharp points and angles. Is it not obvious that Art has
had but scanty share in designing our towns and manufactories? Right
angles, no doubt, stand for utility in a commercial age, but Nature with
her longer purview has little use for them and prefers a more rounded
way of progress. Nature inspires, but not in square-cut periods. It is a
safe plan to turn to Nature, as to the diagram of God, if we find
ourselves in any doubt as to the way.

"Let your air be good, and your composition will be so likewise, and
will assuredly delight," says tuneful Father Haydn, and Music's outline
in melody limns, as does that of Nature, the beauty of her design. It
speaks of wood or stream, of billowed sky, and now of sombre shadow. It
ripples in dainty dance, or tumbles down in cascades of joy. Music's
melody vies with the drive and bluster of the wind, sobbing and
sighing, whistling round corners and playing pranks. Then, maybe, it
sinks to silence, and the white mist creeps up: and now there is no
melody, no outline, but just the one still sameness over all.

We live in a three dimensional world, and in its length, breadth, and
solidity do we disport ourselves. Music also has its three-fold manner
of expression, its rhythm, its melody, and now its harmony. The rhythm
is for balance, the melody for the outline, while the harmony
constitutes the texture. Here again in other directions we may trace the
same essentials: there is a texture of colouring, a style in Literature,
and an appropriate technique for harmony in every branch of Art, just as
there is an harmonic scheme in Music. This may be airy, light, and
gossamer, or turgid and obscure: it may be commonplace or ponderous.
Like Nature, it may have a thousand or a myriad shades to mirror as many
moods and tenses. It may have the misty filminess of steam, the limpid
deeps of water, or the cold weight and icy dullness of pompous
ignorance.

See how Nature harmoniously groups her colour scheme, with a master hand
ensuring that nothing shall clash or be inappropriate. Into this scheme
she introduces the song of birds and the sighing of the breeze, with
perhaps in the dull distance the roar of the sea growling away and
refusing to be driven from its obstinate pedal bass. Into our life she
brings affection rose-colour, and for openness and truth the blue of the
sky. She paints hatred dark, and passion fiery. Energy she portrays as
red, and purity white. Could we but see ourselves in this colour-scheme
we should realise that, like God's fresh air, all should be clear and
bright, but we ourselves pollute the design with the smoke of our own
desires.

So the musician to-day takes the theme that has been given to him by the
high gods, for "the idea in embryo comes from a Higher Power"[1] and
paints in and accompanies it with such harmonies as his soul may sound
and his technique record. He has Nature for pattern, and he may do what
he will so long as, Nature-like, there is life expressing itself.
Everything in the world stands for something, as even the hills stand
for pulsing life. As within, so without: the outer semblance is never
the real thing, but ever stands as a mirror to the inner. The bird
sings, but he is ever expressing his soul in song: it is only the human
singer who can utter sounds without significance. Music is never mere
notes, never sound alone, but always the outer form as the expression
and unfoldment of something deeper. Rhythm, melody, and harmony are
simply the three-fold means of expression, both of the musician and of
Mother Nature. Of the two, Nature makes the better Music, being closer
to the heart of God.

[Note 1: Macpherson. "Music and its Appreciation."]



CHAPTER II

THE PLACE OF MUSIC IN LIFE

"Music is not merely a matter for the cultured: it is inextricably
bound up in the bundle of common life"

_Scholes_


Music, as we have seen, is implanted in the very nature of things, and
it is as deeply embedded in our lives. Was there ever a time when no man
sang? As a matter of evolutionary accuracy, yes, there probably was such
a time. But, looking at it in a commonsense way the answer is No. To-day
we find that savages and aborigines, who are still in the childhood
stage of evolution, are immensely susceptible to the sway of rhythm, and
in their weird dances to the beating of the Tom-toms accompany their
antics with a crooning or chanting, which no doubt to them stands in the
place of song.

Was there ever a mother who did not croon to her fretful child, and who
did not rock her babe to sleep with rhythmic lullaby? Song spans the
gap from mother Eve to the mother of to-day: the song may vary, though
the emotion of the mother-love remains the same. This crooning, with its
element of soothing monotony, it is interesting to note is distinctly
hypnotic in its effect, for the sleep of hypnosis is definitely induced
by monotonous stimulation of any of the senses. The rocking and crooning
on the part of the mother are quite akin, though unconsciously so, to
the approved scientific methods. It is also curious that the nature of
the monotonous stimulation does not seem to matter very much, for there
is a case on record where a doctor hypnotised a patient by reciting to
him in a low voice a few verses of "The Walrus and the Carpenter." The
psycho-analysts would probably say that the patient went to sleep in
self-defence. We can well remember how we were lulled to sleep in
earliest days to the following somewhat fearsome and original words sung
to the tune of a popular hymn:--

   "Bye, bye, bye, bye,
    Horse, pig, cow, sheep,
    Rhinoceros, donkey, cat:
    Dog, dickie, hippopotamus,
    Black-beetle, spider, rat."

From which it appears evident that the actual words used as a soporific
allow considerable latitude of choice.

No doubt Pan piped, and the Nymphs danced to his music in their woodland
groves, much as the poor kiddies in the slums and alleys of our
smoke-ridden towns dance to-day when the Italian organ man comes round
with his instrument. The melody and rhythm float out and call to the
music lying hid in their hearts, and their self responds. Something
within them demands instant expression, and they forget their slums in
dancing their merry measure, till the music stops and the Italian passes
on to raise Fairyland in the next slum. Music has given them a glimpse
of something outside their dull and prosaic surroundings, it has touched
their hearts with a glamour which is a glint of spiritual sunshine in a
drab world.

It was our privilege a dozen years or more ago to have a small share in
the active work of the Art Studies Association of Liverpool. This
organisation, due to the zeal of the Director of Education, existed for
the purpose of introducing the joys of Music to the children of the
various elementary schools. Concerts of different types were given for
their benefit in their own schoolrooms in the evenings, and as
admittance could not be given to all it was considered a privilege to be
able to attend. The pathos stills echoes in mind when we recall how some
of these children, boys and girls, would trudge out in the wet
evenings, often ill-nourished and insufficiently clad, to taste the joys
of music. Never was there any question of attention, for they were
eagerness personified, and it seemed as if they found there something
that their souls had missed. Too little do we realise that food and
clothing do not suffice us, young or old. We cannot live by bread alone:
our stomachs may be full and our souls empty. The spiritual side of our
nature demands sustenance and, as in the case of these hungry and often
wet little school children, it is the province of Music to minister to
that need. "A love of music is worth any amount of five-finger
exercises, and the capacity to enjoy a Symphony is beyond all
examination certificates."[2]

[Note 2: "Everyman and his Music." Scholes.]

A brass band will fill a whole street with glamour, and the normal
person finds it quite impossible to be out of step with the rhythm of
the march. Watch the way in which, as the Pied Piper of Hamelin drew the
children after him, the band draws the elders to the window and the
children to the street: the appeal is never in vain. Marching in time
with the music tired feet forget their weariness, and new strength comes
from the reserves of the greater self, liberated at the unspoken appeal
of melody and rhythm. The Salvation Army with its sometimes quite
excellent brass bands ever attracts a crowd of interested listeners.
Their enthusiasm is quite as real as, and perhaps even more real than,
that of a fashionable audience in the Queen's Hall: more real, because
if the Salvation Army fails to please it is always possible to walk
away. If a person is bored at the Queen's Hall a lack of moral courage
will probably detain him to the end of the performance. There is magic
in a bugle call, there are whole volumes of countryside history in a
posthorn's blast as the four-horse coach swings past. The beat of the
drum and the shrill pipe of the fifes carry a "come-along" atmosphere
with them, and if we fail to answer the call it is most likely with a
lingering feeling of regret that the days of adventure for us are past
and gone.

All this is the incidental music of the highways and byways, but as a
perennial stimulant for the emotions we call for Music's aid in many
circumstances. Does not the villain of the piece enter and take the
stage to a suggestively diabolic tremolo in the orchestra, and is not
the lovemaking also conducted to an appropriately sensuous
accompaniment, sufficiently subdued, to keep the emotions susceptible
and fluid? Could the villain enter with the same éclat to a stony
silence, or the lovemaking thrill in the same way without the moral
support of a few well-chosen harmonies? It may be that in heightening
the emotional element we correspondingly diminish the appeal to the
intelligence, and thus render ourselves less critical both of
stage-villainy and of fictitious lovemaking.

Nothing can be accomplished without music of some sort. We must have it
in our churches and our chapels, in our moving pictures, in schools, at
banquets and dinners, and in the restaurants. Could any bride feel the
same satisfaction in walking down the silent aisle of the church, after
the most important ceremony in the world, as if the organ were pealing
out its good wishes in Mendelssohn's Wedding March? Oh NO. Music we must
have, for it has wedded itself to all our pomp and ceremony, and if we
may not have it in any other guise we must at least end up with "Auld
Lang Syne" or "For he's a jolly good fe-e-ellow," or at any rate the
National Anthem.

In the robust and plain-speaking days of old Pepys our forbears took
their Musick seriously. There was less of the gadding about that fills
the time to-day, and much of the melody was perforce home-made. Any
educated person was expected to be able to take his part in a glee at
sight, and some of the music was none too easy at that. The contrast
with the present lamentable lack of sight-reading ability is most
marked. The number of people who could do the same to-day is, in
comparison, small. We have not made progress in this direction, indeed
we have fallen back. But we have multiplied our choirs and our choral
societies, our Musical Festivals with their competitions have taken
solid root, training in musical work is now more widespread than ever
before, and these considerations have served, and are serving, to make
music more and more a part of the national life.

Sometimes indeed we happen upon music in unexpected quarters. One of the
most impressive scenes that comes to mind is an occasion during the
Great War--in which music played so valiant a part in sustaining the
morale of combatants and non-combatants alike--when, drawn up on the
departure platform of a Metropolitan railway station, in full kit and in
two long ranks, was a number of Welsh Guards. They were singing some
song in two parts, and while the one half sustained the melody the
others were rolling out a fine contrapuntal accompaniment with full,
resonant, and sonorous tone. The effect was quite remarkable. Song
heartens us when weary and helps the miles to slip past even though the
ditty be but "Tipperary" or "John Brown's body." In the emergency
someone will strike up a ditty or a hymn and at once the human spirit
and Will revive their native courage: did not the Titanic sink to the
strains of the hymn "Lead, kindly Light," sung by a group of those who
were facing death, and faced it with song upon their lips?

We have music in our heritage, we have Folk Songs by land and Chanties
that smack of the seas: in these there lies a wealth of melody and
sentiment of which we have made too little. But it is entirely charming
to see the way in which small children in the schools will sing these
songs with complete natural verve and appreciation. "Oh, no John, no
John, No" will be rendered with that Art which only springs from
artlessness. Surely it is to the young that we must look if the love of
music is to be fostered and encouraged in the coming years. "Let the
rising generation become thoroughly well acquainted with the best
Musical works through the medium of concert-lectures, the mechanical
piano-player, municipal, hotel, and garden concerts. Let them follow up
their knowledge with reading about Musicians' lives, work, and
influence. Throughout all this instruction--and from the very
first--let them become acquainted with the elements of musical theory,
both in their minds and also as exemplified on the pianoforte keyboard:
and when all this has been done we shall have a cultivated musical
public--a public that is able to discriminate between the good and the
bad, the true and the false art."[3] This may perhaps be the counsel of
perfection of an enthusiast, but progress lies more along the lines of
appreciation of music than in the personal performance of it. There are
thousands who are able to appreciate the technical mastery of an
instrument to every one who can accomplish it. Music as taught at
present in the non-elementary schools is largely a snare and a delusion.
A few are turned out with a musicianly equipment, largely in spite of
the system rather than by its aid, but the vast majority have little
more than a smattering of musical knowledge and a mediocre standard of
executive ability as the result of years of study. But the growth of the
artistic soul is not accomplished through the fingers, and indeed it is
not infrequently strangled at birth by five-finger exercises.

[Note 3: Newlandsmith. "The Temple of Art."]

Yet we are waking up. Music already occupies an unassailable position in
our daily activities, it will presently occupy a still greater place.
Nothing is still, and least of all does Art remain fixed. The whole
world is awakening to a new standard of values, for we have at length
discovered the impossibility of running civilisation on purely
materialistic lines. The inner side of things is becoming manifest, and
a measure of spiritual insight is being vouchsafed to us: therefore all
those things which minister to the spiritual will be increased in our
regard. Of these Music is certainly not the least. "Religion, love, and
Music, are they not the three-fold expression of the same fact, the need
of expansion under which every noble soul labours?"[4] So the Art of the
future may be expected to ally itself with religion, on the side of
spirit, for the battle royal against the forces of an outworn
materialism. The end is not by any means yet, but the issue is certain:
and we ourselves to-day may play the more valiant part in the moulding
of the years to be if we realise to the full, not only what Music is and
the part it plays in life, but also the fine possibilities that lie
hidden in the future.

[Note 4: Balzac.]



CHAPTER III

THE EXPRESSION OF LIFE

"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life"

_Beethoven_


If Music be a means of expression, we must needs ask ourselves what it
expresses. It is entirely insufficient to accept music as sequence or a
combination of tones that "sound nice." It would be just as reasonable
to regard a meal as something that tastes nice, whereas of course the
meal has a meaning and a use beyond mere taste: its purpose is to
sustain life, and the question of taste is merely incidental to the
larger issue. Music therefore may sound nice, but we desire to arrive at
some explanation far transcending this.

All phases of life express something, and we shall not be very far from
the truth if we regard that something as spirit. The grass, we say, is
alive: but its life consists in its ability to express that essential
something which we here term spirit. When it is no longer able to
accomplish this, the grass is still there, but we call it dead. We might
draw an apt parallel from the electric light bulb: this is nothing but a
possible source of light, until it is connected with the main supply
from the generating station. The seeming independence of the bulb is a
fiction, it has no true existence as a lamp until it expresses itself by
giving light. Yet the light is not its own light, and when the filament
breaks and the current can no longer circulate through the bulb it
ceases to be a lamp. It is, like the grass, dead: and for exactly the
same reason, that it can no longer express life or spirit.

Furthermore, the amount of resistance that a lamp interposes to the free
circulation of the current through it has its effect upon the light it
gives. One lamp may yield a fine light, and another on the same circuit
may afford but poor illumination: the one expresses well, and the other
ill. So, too, with the grass, one patch may be free-growing and another
may be but poor stuff: one expresses well, and the other feebly. In the
same way with ourselves, if our bodies have the life force circulating
freely they express robust health: and if the force find but a
constricted channel, then our bodies express health in scanty measure
and approximate more to disease than to the normal well-being. Our
bodies are no more independent organisms than is the lamp bulb: they
express the spirit which is the essence of the self, and when that self
withdraws the body is as dead as the grass or the worn-out bulb. Yet the
failure of the bulb casts no reflection upon the generating station, for
the current is still there. We do not need to assume that the current
has failed, for in that case it would fail alike for every bulb upon the
circuit. If every form and phase of life were to expire and cease at a
given moment, we might then, and then only, be justified in assuming
that spirit had ceased to be: but in that case there would be but little
need for us to worry about the point.

We may imagine spirit as the driving force behind everything, as the
urge towards evolution, as the pent-up intelligence which ever seeks one
variation and then another. Then, when one variation appears, more
appropriate to its surroundings than others, this, because of its
fitness, survives. As human beings we are individualised fragments of
the great universal spirit. There is only the one life and the one
spirit, but there are diversities of gifts to enable that spirit to be
expressed. The grass expresses it in its luxuriance, its colour, and
its growth: the birds in their song: and the whole of what we are
pleased to term the lower creation bespeaks this spirit in the daily
activity. When this expression ceases, the thing that was once alive is
dead.

There is no special merit that all the works of the Lord should thus
praise the Lord in their expression, because below the stage of a human
being there is no option. The lower forms of life are like lamps on a
circuit which light up by reason of the current over which they
exercised no control. But a human being is like a lamp that is connected
with the main circuit and yet has its own switch. This ability to switch
on or off constitutes our measure of freewill, our power of saying yes
or no. It is a necessary accompaniment of our knowledge of good and evil
for "no choice, no progress." It betokens our progress from the merely
animal stage of consciousness to that of self-consciousness--the phase
of existence where we not only know, but we know that we know. This
ability to express well, badly, or not at all, just as we may please, is
our special prerogative: it gives man the privilege, which is denied to
all life below him, of deliberately choosing the worse and of making a
fool of himself. The animals know what is good for them because they
follow their unreasoning instincts and blindly repeat the racial course
of action implanted within them, and the mere survival of the species
proves that this particular response to the particular circumstance has
been "tried out" by ages of experience. But a man blinds and smothers
his instincts (and these at the best, it may be observed, are distinctly
mixed) or perhaps indulges them in defiance of his better judgment, and
thus his expression of his own divinity is often sadly marred.[5]

[Note 5: James Rhoades.]

   "Know this, O man, sole root of sin in thee
    Is not to know thine own divinity."

A man may even deny the very existence of spirit, and thus by a subtle
but efficacious species of self-suggestion prevent its manifestation in
himself. But whether he expresses this spirit well or ill, a man does in
fact join with all creation below him in manifesting this innate
spirituality without which there can be no life.

Thus everything stands for something else that is deeper, there is an
outer form and an inner soul or spirit. Spenser thus expresses it:--

   "For of the soule the bodie forme doth take,
    For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make."

It is only when we grasp this elementary truth that life becomes in the
least plain and intelligible, and the result of grasping it is that we
cease to be deceived by the apparent values of things, and are able to
appraise them more at their true and spiritual worth. We are then
enabled to pass from circumstances (which are results) to the realm of
causes: the balance is transferred from the seen to the unseen, and the
point of view approximates more to the eternal than the transient. A
greater poise and certainty follow as a matter of course, since the
mental outlook is centred in the true rather than the seeming.

All life then is the expression of spirit, and our varied activities are
but the modes of this expression. To this, Music is no exception. Very
naturally also, the better the machinery or the technique of expression,
the more of the spirit can get through. We can play more
sympathetically, more fluently, and with finer effect on a beautiful
"grand" than on a jangly upright instrument: the one is a better vehicle
of expression than the other. So also we can secure more fluent
expression with a fountain pen than with one that continually interrupts
the free flow of ideas by demanding to be dipped in the inkpot. We have
two typewriters of the same manufacture, but one is an early model and
the other a modern machine: there is a vast difference in the ease of
expressing thought, in the favour of the later instrument with all its
special conveniences. In general terms the object of all improvement of
technical means is the better expression of the spirit. Musically, to
practise scales and exercises with the object of getting one's fingers
loose is like eating for the sake of developing a fluent jaw action--the
vision of the end has been lost in the means. We must ever keep in view
the fact that life itself, and especially Art and Music, can only fulfil
a proper purpose when resulting in the ever-increasing and better
expression of the underlying spirit, or as Elgar puts it--"more of
Truth."

The law of spirit is Love. The drive of spirit is ever upward towards
progress, aspiration, and unity. If we take a drop of quicksilver and
separate it into smaller particles, as soon as ever the conditions
allow, these smaller globules will amalgamate themselves with the larger
body from which they have been temporarily divorced. We can almost
imagine we hear them utter a fervent "thank goodness" as they reach that
home of heart's desire. So are we, too, as separated and individualised
sparks of the divine fire, burning till at length we reach our freedom
and can merge ourselves in that Sun of spirit whence, "trailing clouds
of glory," we have come.

Man, we say, is a gregarious animal, and it is certainly only the man of
warped mind who seeks to cut himself off from his fellows: we are all of
us spirits, and spirit seeks unity and approach. Love is the one uniting
and binding force in the universe, just as its opposite--hatred--is the
disintegrating element. Love operates in attraction, as we see it in
motherhood, childhood, and the love of man and maid. But it also works
on the grand scale in the guise of the law of Gravity which attracts and
binds universes together, and regulates and controls the swing of
inconceivable immensities. Look again and we may see love working as
chemical affinity to attract molecule to molecule, or as cohesion to
keep the very particles knit together in kinship.

It is this spirit of love that unites the myriad cells of our own body
into the little commonwealth of self: when this life-force withdraws,
the love ceases to bind, and immediately the "dead" body becomes
infinitely alive, but the unity is at an end and decomposition has set
in. So love is the fulfilling of the law: not merely "a" law, but the
very fundamental law on which our continued existence hangs. Eliminate
gravity, and the universe as we know it must come to an end in a
catastrophe which it is beyond the power of our imagination to conceive.
If cohesion ceased to be, then everything would fall to powder and would
disintegrate. Destroy all love between man and man, and civilisation
itself would fall to pieces. This is no question of dogma, gospel, or
man-made law, it is simply a plain statement of the fundamental
condition of our very existence. The importance of love is paramount,
and if we are wise we shall seek to discover these overriding laws of
our being, and adjust our lives in conformity with their requirements.

Spirit is love, and love manifests itself in service: the love that
seeks its own ends, or strives to get instead of to serve, is no love at
all. Therefore if Music is to express this spirit it must do so by
contributing its meed of assistance to make this workaday world more
bright by gladdening the heart of man. Quite obviously much of the music
that is written has been composed with no such intent, therefore and to
that extent it stultifies itself. It must be classed as the "sounding
brass and tinkling cymbal" of the prophet. St. Paul's analysis of the
reason of the ineffectiveness of such, too, is searchingly accurate:
that, lacking charity, it signified nothing. Charity is only another
synonym for that love which is the manifestation of spirit. The true
musician has this spirit of love within him and it demands expression,
and so we find Mozart exclaiming "I write because I cannot help it." So
Granville Bantock, too--"The impulse to create Music is on me, and I
write to gratify my impulse. When I have written the work I have done
with it. What I do desire is to begin to enjoy myself by writing
something else."[6] The musician sings because he must: he writes so
that the spirit may find its outlet in that direction: or he plays, when
only through his fingers and the instrument can he find that expression
which his soul demands.

[Note 6: J. C. Hadden, "Modern Musicians."]

When Music is thus outpoured it speaks of spirit, and adds to the
spiritual store of the world. It reinforces the unseen hosts that fight
for spirit in the age-long struggle with the powers of materialism and
darkness. No breath of spirit is ever lost, and nothing devoid of it is
ever permanent, either in music or in anything else. Sounds without
sense or meaning are futile, notes without a heartfelt message are
"returned empty" as they were sent forth, and practice without purpose
other than mere self-gratification, agility, or display, is a
magnificent and glorious waste of time. But Music, when its true
underlying purport is discovered, is at once an inspiration and a most
real means of achieving that fundamental object, for which our very
existence here at this present moment is devised, namely spiritual
growth and development.



CHAPTER IV

SPIRIT A LIVING FACT

"Is Music the inarticulate Speech of the Angels on earth? Or a
voice of the Undiscovered Bringing great truths to the birth?"

_F. W. Faber_


Life is a diversity in unity, and the expression in countless different
forms and shapes of the one fundamental reality, spirit. We ourselves
are comprehended in this definition, being part of this fundamental
spirit, and claiming thereby our divinity. Music also, as a part of
life, is subject to the same explanation: and thus the spirit of Music
is a real thing. The Muses of a Classical day typified this same idea of
the spirit behind the form. Indeed man, spiritual as at base he is, can
never rest finally satisfied with the outer semblance and form: just as
the body craves sustenance, so does the spiritual part of him. No amount
of physical satisfaction will ever allay the heart-hunger, and no flood
of Rationalist thinking will ever put an end to the instinctive search
after the Unknown God.

In spiritual law, as in natural law, nothing is ever lost. We study the
physical, and by analogy we may learn much of the spiritual: we have not
been left without guidance in the maze of life. But the first essential
is that we should study those things which are open to us, and through
them learn something of the wisdom that otherwise lies hidden. Nothing
is lost: we see, as the hymn puts it, "change and decay," but the decay
is only change of form, and death, in the form of extinction, simply
does not exist. Even thoughts, transient and gossamer as they may
appear, do their work in our brains and leave their permanent impress
with us. Occultists further assure us that they are recorded in the
eternal archives. It is said that there are the Akashic Records, in some
subtle way which we cannot pretend to understand, imprinted in the
ether. "This primary substance is of exquisite fineness and is so
sensitive that the slightest vibration... registers an indelible
impression upon it."[7] If this be so, then here is the story of all
that has ever been, and all that is. In our own subconscious minds we
know full well that there is such a perfect and complete record as to
constitute an individual Judgment Book within of unimpeachable accuracy,
and there seems to be nothing intrinsically unreasonable in the idea
that there should be something of the kind on a world scale. Monumental
histories of the traditional lost continent of Atlantis have been
compiled, professedly from this source, and we find an interesting
inkling of the same idea in the way in which objects will sometimes
impress sensitive folk with their own history. Things sometimes have a
"feel" about them, pleasant or the reverse, just as buildings acquire an
aura and an atmosphere, sacred or convivial, or even unholy.

[Note 7: Dowling. "The Aquarian Gospel."]

The musician, then, may obey Nature's universal behest, and change his
form from the physical of to-day to the more tenuous of a finer realm.
He may die: but his music lives on. He perhaps has played his part in
the world symphony and, his present work finished, he lays his
instrument aside. This body of ours is the instrument of the spirit: no
wedding feast without a wedding garment, and no part or lot in the
physical world without a body. The tuning of the body to delicate
response and high endeavour enables the spirit to express its melody the
better, and therefore it is incumbent upon the musician to cultivate a
high standard of physical health. This does not mean the maximum of
nourishment, combined with stimulants to compel a jaded appetite: on the
contrary, artistic efficiency demands super-cleanliness and a tolerably
rigid self-denial. Girth is no measure of artistic ability. But the
body, sound or otherwise, is the instrument through which we play life's
little tune, just as the pianist plays through his pianoforte. But when
we have closed the pianoforte nobody supposes that we have extinguished
the artist, or annihilated the music: we have merely put an end to its
expression for the time. So when our instrument of the body grows old,
worn-out, or decrepit, so that it can no longer answer to the dictates
of the spirit within, we cast it aside, as an instrument whose keys are
broken, or whose strings are for ever mute. Then the musician goes upon
his far journey.

But long though the journey seem, it is a change of state rather than of
place: as if from being cased in solid ice he now were buoyant in limpid
water. His music and his melodies which were so great a part of him now
constitute his real self, besides being for ever inscribed upon the roll
of eternal remembrance. So the great musicians still live on, and when
we claim that such-and-such an interpreter gives us the spirit of Bach,
we may be saying more truly than we realise. There is no limit to the
range of thought save the intrinsic nature of the thought itself. All
thoughts seek their own, by the law of sympathy: like to like, fine to
fine, and gross to gross. "Not all of us give due credit to the
anomalous nature of love, reaching as high as heaven, sinking as low as
hell, uniting in itself all extremes of good and evil, of lofty and
low."[8] So when a man steeps himself in thoughts of a type, when he
ponders over and lives in the music of a master, his thoughts span the
realms and the ages, and he reaches that master, even if only to touch
the hem of his garment. Then the master's thoughts are his, and he truly
gives of the spirit of the music, for a measure of inspiration has been
vouchsafed to him.

[Note 8: Jung. "Analytical Psychology."]

Whatever we dwell upon has its "tuning" effect upon our thoughts, and
thus we reach some of the lore and wisdom of those who have trodden the
way before us. The inventor and the discoverer are truly what the words
imply: the inventor "comes upon" the new idea or principle, and the
discoverer "uncovers" and makes plain. But all the ideas and all the new
and novel discoveries, and all the laws, were there before: we only
reach them when we have climbed to a sufficient height to be able to
apprehend them. So the musician who reaches the spirit of Bach has, by
the attunement of his thoughts and his aspirations, crept into the heart
of the music and has tugged at the musician's heart-strings. He has
touched the composer's soul, and henceforth he plays Music, not notes.

Again, Bach, and all the masters of Music have in their turn but
discovered the Music that was already there. No man really creates, any
more than the gardener creates an oak tree by the planting of an acorn.
The gardener provides the necessary conditions in which the oak, already
miraculously pent within the acorn, can unfold and develop. So the
musician also provides the necessary conditions in which the spirit of
Music can blossom and bear fruit. He need take to himself no vast amount
of credit, for he is but a trustee of that which has been lent to him:
he neither creates it nor owns it. His music is a gift of spirit, and
when by his life's work he has glorified that gift, then henceforth that
is his contribution to the universal store of spirit, and his Art
belongs to the ages.

Inspiration is a commonplace of life, though only too often we think of
it solely in connection with religion, and especially with reference to
the Bible. Because thought flies free and ever consorts like with like,
so almost every moment of our days we are inspiring others and being
inspired in return. It is mere delusion that we consider ourselves
independent units, for we are literally built of one another. Memory
largely constitutes the man, for his every experience and thought is
recorded by his subconscious memory, and goes to the making of his
characteristics and his personality. Day by day we meet, and perforce
remember each other: we remember also those to whom we may never have
spoken, and so--unintroduced--they creep in this subtle way into our
personality. "We are, each one of us, united by bonds of emotional
influence with the personalities of all those with whom we have had to
do. If we could see them, they would guide us to their objects, for they
never lose their way. Thus by threads of love, threads of hatred,
threads of adoration, threads of thought, the universe of souls is
interpenetrated and linked up into a unity of correlated activity, an
intricate web of life."[9] Something of myself goes, in my thoughts,
into this written word: you read it, and as the thought incorporates
itself in your mind so does some tenuous element of my personality creep
into your own. Our independence is a fiction. We inspire each other,
whether we like it or no.

[Note 9: C. J. Whitby, M.D. "The Open Secret."]

But inspiration is of all kinds: it is like those neutral forces of
faith and thought, which depend for their result upon the direction in
which they are turned. Inspiration can uplift, but it may also degrade.
We ourselves by the tuning of our own thoughts determine which it shall
accomplish. Like can only answer to like: anger can never play echo to
love, for their vibrations are so far apart in attunement that the one
cannot influence the other. But anger answers to anger, and love to
love. It is the eternal response of the love implanted in the spirit of
man that ever bids him answer to the love that radiates from the divine.
Hence, in whatever age or clime we look, always there is to be seen man
in quest for the unseen, after joy, beauty, truth, happiness, after all
those spangles that glitter on the garment of love.

The mind of man is ever the tenuous instrument upon which are playing
the invisible forces of inspiration. All the thoughts that have existed,
exist still: all the thoughts that man can ever think are there already,
they do but await the time and season in which he can sense and
interpret them. These are the future discoveries for you and for me.
The pioneers who have passed our way are still working at the tasks
that were at once their life and love: and they have not gone so far
upon the journey that they have outspanned the reach of thought. If our
thoughts be fine and unselfish enough, if aspiration tune them
sufficiently high, they will reach their aim: and the reply will be
vouchsafed. There was never yet an aspirant who was unable to find a
teacher. It is most true that the living and the dead are still one
family, for of course there are no "dead," unless we most correctly put
into this category the dull of hearing, the dull of heart, and the
loveless who still walk this earth. But if we deem the pioneers defunct
and inarticulate, then it is little likely that we shall comprehend the
reality and the naturalness of this interplay and inspiration. If we
never seek, information and insight will scarcely drop upon us from the
skies.

We talk of inspired playing, inspired teaching, the gift of song, and so
on, and we talk of a reality. The playing that is not inspired is worth
but little, it has the worth of a nutshell with the kernel gone
amissing. It is sound, perhaps it may even be fine sound, yet it
signifies nothing: it is as the painted face aping true beauty. Art
without inspiration is our electric light bulb disconnected from the
main current. There are prophets in the world to-day, for a prophet in
the strict sense of the word is one who speaks forth his message.
Everyone who senses something of the eternal message--which is love--is
in his degree a prophet, yea and a saviour too. He may speak or sing, he
may perform or compose, he may wait and serve, or he may just pass his
message on with a handshake and a smile: he is an interpreter, a medium
twixt wisdom and the unwise. Thus we must place the true artist,
whatever be the particular bent of his activities, as a prophet in his
day and his generation. That he may be far from being regarded as such
by those to whom he ministers is merely one of the incidental
disadvantages of being a prophet.

Quite obviously also there will be both good prophets and bad: even a
prosaic telegram may be repeated on payment of half the original cost,
because of the possibility of error occurring in the text. How much more
may error occur, then, when tenuous messages are being sent from high
sources by the power of thought, and when the receiving instrument is so
often imperfect, so frequently out of gear, and when that instrument in
addition is more than a trifle wilful and tainted with selfishness.
Inspiration is ever ready, it floats around us like tuned wireless
vibrations waiting to be picked up by a sympathetic receiver. Yet so few
receivers, being but human after all, are sensitive enough and
sufficiently delicate in in their poise to catch the floating news: and
so the harvest is plenteous but those who garner it are few.

Perhaps Sullivan felt something of this when, in the "Prodigal Son," he
penned the simplest and yet most eloquent of melodies to the words, "O
that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments," ending up with the words,
set too simply for any but a consummate artist to sing with complete
effect,--"Turn ye, turn ye--why will ye die?" The marvel truly is that
we are already so dead, so immured and petrified in our hard
self-satisfaction, when we might so easily develop the freedom,
fluidity, and delicacy of fine response to these tenuous intimations of
our own spirituality and high destiny. Here we live, as some writer has
aptly said, on top of a gold mine, and the tragedy is that we are
ignorant of the gold. We live, and move, and have our being in an ocean
of spiritual and inspiring thought: surely our problem is to find the
conditions that will avail to put us in touch with this lively world of
inspiration in which we are accustomed to pass so dead and unresponsive
an existence.



CHAPTER V

THE CONDITIONS OF INSPIRATION

"The greatest Masterpieces in Music will be found to contain
sensuous, emotional, and rational factors, and something beside:
some divine element of life by which they are animated and
inspired"

_W. H. Hadow_


It may be interesting for a little space to consider the conditions
under which Inspiration operates, for, like any other faculty, it is
subject to the control of law. We have already emphasised the
universality of vibration and the call of like to like, but the theme
will bear some further elaboration.

We adventure into the study of sound and its laws and we find that all
sounds are propagated by means of waves. These proceed in circular
fashion, as do the ripples upon the still surface of a lake into which a
stone has been thrown. Further, these waves are of differing rates.
Middle C, on the piano, for instance, is made by waves that reach us at
the rate of about 256 per second. As sound travels roughly at 1,100
feet to the second, it is clear that the wave of this note is something
over four feet from crest to crest. The wave of a note an octave higher
would be double the rate and half the length. In addition to this there
may be big waves and little waves travelling at the same rate, and also
the actual shape of the waves may differ very widely. Thus waves have
points of similarity and yet their infinite variety, as do human beings.

This variety in the shape of the waves results in the difference in
timbre between various tones. Nobody could fail to distinguish between
the sound of a note played on a penny whistle and the same note given
out on a violin or a cornet: yet the actual rate of wave would be the
same in each case. The reason is that no tone is a pure fundamental
tone, there are always super-added a number of other tones, termed the
overtones. These are, to the original tone, exactly what the flavouring
is to the pudding. You have your fundamental tone and you can add your
overtones to taste: you can flavour with the penny whistle, the violin,
or the cornet timbre to suit yourself. But according to the flavouring,
so is the shape of the wave. Isolated fundamental tones are apt to be
colourless and monotonous, like the diapason work on an organ. The
organist is able to flavour his fundamental tone at will, by the stops
he draws to add to it: he has a special supply of "mixtures" which sound
truly dreadful and impossible by themselves, but these in combination
with the fundamental go to the making of a successful timbre. Carrots,
by themselves, are not a Christmas diet, but we understand that they go
to improve the flavour of the festive pudding.

In some such way as this thoughts are tuned, and from the thoughts we
think, the desires we entertain, and the aspirations which fill our
souls, the timbre of our life is determined. No one is fundamentally and
wholly good or bad, we have all of us our overtones, and some of us have
very curious mixtures which go to make us what we are. But just as the
gramophone will take in all the wonderful complexity of sound waves
which are sent out by a whole orchestra of instruments, and will combine
these into one wavy line on the record--a kind of compound wave
containing "all the elements so mixed"--so also it is with ourselves.
All the thought elements are so mixed in us that as we go through life
we vibrate to a note that is unique, compounded as it is of all those
inner thoughts and emotions that are so exclusively our own. To those
who sound the same note, or one that is in harmony, we are akin. We meet
them for the first time, and in a moment we have known them for years,
perhaps always: we play unison or harmony in our sympathetic attunement.
On the other hand, sounding our persistent middle C on our little
journey, perhaps we come up against an equally insistent C sharp:
excellent notes, each of them--yet there promises but doubtful harmony.
Keep to your own key, and be happy.

Whatever note we sing is an invisible, and yet most potent, influence in
our lives. We may deem that our thoughts do not matter overmuch, and
that it is only deeds that count. Heresy and mistake. Thoughts make us
or mar us. Sympathy ensures that we are surrounded and encompassed by
that which we ourselves attract. There is a law of consonance, and we
are responsible for things in a way that but few realise. This note we
sing, this mirror of our personality, this invisible force attracts our
friends: change the note--the personality--and we inevitably alter the
friendships which were determined thereby. This same note selects the
clothes we wear, the things we eat, it chooses the books we read and the
avocations we pursue. It is reflected in the pictures on our walls, and
in the furniture which decorates our rooms. It determines the prospects
which are before us, just as it has attracted the appropriate
difficulties and trials that we have left behind. It marries us, and
eventually it buries us. Sometimes our overtones of desires or greed
inter us long before our lease of life is due to expire. But perhaps
most important of all, it determines and selects the Inspiration we are
able to receive.

Thoughts of every kind beat upon our minds, as the waves lap the
seashore, but we are only able to respond to those that call and awaken
some sympathetic answer within us. The heart that is pure can live in an
ocean of impurity, and yet remain unsullied: but the character with
anger implanted within will find that anger blazing out in echo and
answer to a hundred provocations a day. Hatred means nothing, in
temptation or response, to a heart overflowing with love. Thus this
attunement is at once an avenue for our assault, or our sure shield of
defence, according as its note determines. A low tone is an ever-present
danger, and a high one a permanent safeguard.

Inspiration is therefore only possible to us at our own level, and
unless we are mentally attuned to a high note the inspiration itself
will reach no lofty measure. It is true that a mood of exaltation, of
earnest prayer or aspiration, may enable us to catch a glimpse of the
higher vision, but under these circumstances it is apt to be elusive and
fragmentary. The condition of any permanent influx is that the
attunement should be habitually and continuously lofty. When this
condition is at length reached we are not so very far from that "prayer
without ceasing," which most truly means "the practice of the presence
of God."

The avenue of inspiration is the subconscious part of the mind, that
part of us which in fact constitutes the greater self. In ordinary life
this department of mind is more or less shielded by the consciousness.
It would retain the permanent impress of every idea it came across, were
it not that the consciousness off-hand and summarily rejects a number of
impressions which might otherwise prove detrimental. One man calls
another a fool, but this one knows very well that he is nothing of the
kind, and so the idea carries very little weight in its record on the
subconscious. On the other hand, if there were no protective mechanism
of this nature, the subconscious might very well accept the statement
and believe that its owner certainly was the fool he had been dubbed.
The effect, therefore, of consciousness is thus to limit and reduce
this sensitiveness and susceptibility of the subconscious part of mind.

As the consciousness passes out of action, as in dream states, brown
studies, and in the induced sleep of hypnosis, this sensitiveness and
activity of the subconscious gradually emerges. The normal sleep, or as
Iamblichus calls it--"The night-time of the body"--is, to continue his
remark, "the day-time of the soul." Thus it is so often in the Bible
stories that we find the phrase--"The Lord--or the Angel of the
Lord--appeared, in a dream." These waves of thought and Inspiration are
continually lapping the margin of our subconscious selves, both by day
and by night, leaving the dream-traces of their impress as the ripple
leaves its marks upon the sand. It is the connection between this
under-mind and the consciousness that is so frequently at fault, so that
we remain unaware of the tidings. Usually the consciousness is kept so
busily engaged that it never has a minute to itself, and so peace,
quiet, and receptivity are unknown. The subconscious tries hard to get
in its modest word occasionally and edgeways, but the consciousness
rarely stops talking: the whole business is one-sided. Plenty of
material goes from the consciousness to the subconscious, but
comparatively little is able to come in the reverse direction.

This, of course, is a distorted method of existing: there should ever be
in the mind a process corresponding to the in-breathing and
out-breathing of the lungs. The active and acquisitive consciousness
procures the mental food: the subconscious stores this up, assimilates
it, and turns it into a kind of inner mentor or conscience which in due
course issues its orders and offers its advice. But just as we are said
to stifle the "still, small voice," so also do we strangle our possible
inventions and discoveries, and so do we cause our inspirations to
remain still-born. This is the price we pay for our mad rush after the
things that do not matter. We have said that no aspirant ever lacks a
teacher, but we would further say that when a person is content to make
use of the subconscious powers he possesses, he will find that the
knowledge and the inspiration he earnestly seeks will be granted him.
"With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of
joy, we see into the heart of things."[10] The acorn is already in the
garden of the mind, we need only to provide the requisite conditions for
growth, and the oak tree will then follow as a matter of course.

[Note 10: Wordsworth.]

Things grow and fashion themselves in this under-mind, as the novelist
and dramatist will testify. The artist finds his picture forming itself
before his inner vision, and so the musician hears his composition. "It
comes," they say: so does the oak. But like the oak it can only come
when conditions allow, and one of the main conditions is that the
consciousness should not rule the roost, and hold sway and dominance to
the exclusion and smothering of the still, small voice. "Be still, and
know."

Many things and conditions clog communication from the under-mind to the
consciousness. The well-being of the body is of the utmost importance: a
clogged and constipated body is no medium for inspiration. High living
kills the genius of inspiration, and masterpieces are more often
produced in the garret than where luxury rules. Success is an even
greater test of true genius than is poverty. A bilious attack will put a
stop to the most perfervid outpourings of genius, and a common cold in
the nose will play havoc with a work of Art. An unstable temperament
will have its moments of exaltation and its hours of despair: this is
sensitiveness uncontrolled. Sensitiveness is indeed the stock-in-trade
of all who work in the temple of Art, but unless it be controlled by
reins of more than ordinary strength it is a very doubtful blessing. We
must ever be able to keep our souls in tune so that they afford no echo
to the undesirable. Indulgence of the body in any form hampers its work
as an instrument of the spirit, while self-discipline (tho' by no means
to the verge of asceticism) increases its sensitiveness, and occasional
quiet periods afford the opportunity for the subconscious treasures to
reveal themselves.

On the mental side, selfishness is one of the most complete and
effectual deadeners of inspiration. The delicate intimations of finer
things can make no impression on a hide-bound mind. As Trine somewhere
puts it--"The man who is always thinking of himself generally looks as
if he were thinking of something disagreeable." The self-centred mind is
a mind closed to other things, and to this extent it is nearly always
unbalanced and distorted. Under these conditions such inspiration as it
may receive is liable to be of an uncouth and bizarre nature. Hatred,
malice, and all uncharitableness tune the mind to very undesirable
levels, and at this level it will come in touch with the whole body of
similar undesirable thought that is circulating around it. It both gives
out and receives. Such a mind is indeed doing active work in the world,
but in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, the individual who sets
himself to work positively and constructively to utilise inspiration, as
it assuredly may be used, is in some degree helping his generation and
becoming a prophet, and maybe a saviour.



CHAPTER VI

THE INTERPRETER

"I like joy, for it is life. I preach joy, for it alone gives the
power of creating useful and lasting work"

_Jaques Dalcroze_


There are, roughly speaking, three classes of interpreters in Music:
performers or executants, composers, and teachers. The function of each
of these is, by a special sensitiveness, to apprehend the message of
spirit, and then, by their own technique and in their own particular
way, to pass it on for the benefit of others. In the body the nervous
system, which is the link between spirit and matter, serves somewhat the
same purpose. Spirit is too tenuous to be able to act directly upon the
comparatively inert matter of the body, but through the medium of the
brain and nervous system it makes contact with spirit at the one end,
and at the other the nerves control the muscular system, which effects
the necessary and desired movements. Thus the spirit in music is sensed
by the artist in solitude and communion, and is given out by him to the
multitude in public.

The artist thus necessarily has two sides to his work, the inner and the
outer, the artistic and the technical. No amount of technique alone will
ever make an artist, nor will artistic or spiritual perception by itself
enable the message to secure adequate treatment. Both sides are
indispensable. But there has been far too much worship of mere technique
in Music, until at times even the fact that there has been any message
at all has been overlooked. In times, happily now gone by, a simple
melody which perhaps by itself might have conveyed a homely message, has
been smothered under showers of variations, decked out in wearisome
arpeggios, and entangled in meaningless scales, until it has reminded
one of nothing so much as a vulgar and greatly over-dressed woman: and
yet this has been looked upon as music. Technique is indeed necessary,
but only as a means to an end. Directly it begins to obscure the
meaning, or is developed for its own sake without reference to its task,
it is missing the mark. It puts itself on a par with the stupidity that
leads a man to undertake to play the piano for twenty-four hours without
stopping.

So many hours' scales per diem would be warranted to drive the spirit of
music to distraction: the utmost perfection in scales does not of
necessity lead to any illuminating message. It cannot be too strongly
urged that the feeling and the emotion are the real things, and that the
object of technique is simply that these may be expressed in the best
and most intelligible manner. Indeed the artist himself is secondary in
importance to the message, it is the spirit that works in and through
him that must ever come first. The true artist never seeks to obtrude,
or to make his own personality the first thing. He will, of course,
endeavour to make his technique fully equal to all demands that can be
made of him, but he will realise that he is doing his work in trust. "No
MAN ever did any great work yet: he became a free channel through which
the eternal powers moved."[11] In thus working the artist shines, as
does the electric bulb, by reason of the unlimited power which according
to his own measure may flow through him: and this limitless power may be
relied upon to secure its own effect, if only the steward be faithful.

[Note 11: Newlandsmith. "The Temple of Art."]

Contrast the work done in this spirit with that accomplished under the
stimulus of financial gain, or for the end of mere selfish display. The
latter is a species of artistic prostitution. Superficially the
performances may seem something alike, the difference may be intangible,
but it exists and is real. Time is ever the winnower. Things always
prove their survival value, that is to say the real things last, while
the shams are sooner or later extinguished. It is necessary, no doubt,
to make a living, no one will be so foolish as to overlook this
elementary fact: but the mere aim of making a living only too often
obscures the actual meaning of life. Balanced and informed views of life
work, through a law of consonance, to ensure a corresponding equilibrium
in the outer circumstances: in other words, if we seek first the inner
Kingdom, all these things, financial means and so forth, will be added.
But there are thousands who drive for the financial and other incidental
ends, and as a matter of fact miss the Kingdom entirely. To find the
personal centre of gravity in the world is to master life, to fail to
find it is to be mastered by life.

A performance that has self as its central motive can never ring true or
achieve any lasting success. Inferior music may be decked out by a
capable performer to sound impressive or pretentious, or be invested
with a glamour which is largely fictitious, but this surely amounts to
false pretences. It is simply a method of misleading the public. Such a
performer has misconceived his function, which should be to act as
interpreter, guide, philosopher, and friend to those who follow his
efforts. What is to be said to the singer of royalty ballads? Here is a
vocalist who receives, maybe, two or three guineas for each dozen times
he sings particular songs, the publisher of the song in question being
his paymaster. Of this type of song a contemporary Musical Journal
states:--"Every serious musician knows it, and, scenting the boredom,
tries to avoid it. It is highly sentimental, it moves within a limited
scope, emotionally and technically, and it deals with a few well-worn
subjects. Gardens, spring, sunshine, flowers--these are favourite
themes. If only, the singer tells us, he could have a cottage on the
hillside, with honeysuckle round the door (this appears to be of great
importance), heaven would indeed be there." These MAY be compositions of
artistic worth, in which case financial gain and true musical interest
consort together: but on the other hand they may NOT. Which, then, is to
receive the first consideration? Is the artist to refuse the guineas
because the ballad possesses no intrinsic worth, or is he to pocket the
cash and deck out with all the devices of his Art the twopenny-ha'penny
shop-tune, and make it sound something like the real thing? No doubt
under these circumstances the song may achieve a certain measure of
appreciation. Some of the audience will buy it, and only when they come
to try it at home will they realise what feeble stuff it truly is. The
artist has been paid to betray those who trusted in him and followed his
taste. In this he may have been eminently successful, but what is the
value of such success? And what of Art--and Music?

Wherein is the particular glory of a top note, or the specific value of
a compass that extends a note-and-a-half beyond that of anyone else? Why
should it be considered meritorious to be able to bang louder or to
scramble more quickly over the keys than one's competitors? Yet we have
certainly met singers and players who gloried in such accomplishments. A
performer may also know every device and trick of the trade, he may be
well aware of what will go down with his audience, he may play up to all
their little foibles and weaknesses and give them exactly what they
want: we can indeed scarcely quarrel with this. But so many are
apparently content to allow the matter to remain on this lowly level. A
singer who is thus able to play upon his audience and hold them in his
grip can surely also lead them up to the appreciation of better things.

An audience is normally receptive and impressionable, they come
expecting to receive satisfaction and enjoyment for the money they have
expended in the purchase of a ticket, or because they have some other
interest in the proceedings. Presumably if they were not interested they
would not be there. This element of expectation stimulates their
receptivity, and aids the performer in his work of giving out. Whatever
the audience receives, by the mere fact of its making some impression on
the delicate nerve-stuff of the brain, is retained and becomes actually
a part of them. Thus the artist is definitely building the minds of his
audience: he is forming their taste, and giving them that material in
mind which will enable them to enjoy and understand music the better for
the future. He is passing on the message according to his ability.
Therefore that individual who is merely seeking for compass, technique,
press notices, or his fee, shows that he has not appreciated the
elements of his task. Being thus in search of all the things that really
do not matter, he is putting himself into a position that will ensure
him a more or less comfortable mediocrity, provide he is lucky enough
to escape actual failure.

We call to mind a press criticism that appeared in a first-class London
daily newspaper, with reference to a singer quite unknown to fame. It
stated that "every note was pure joy." Could one say anything finer than
this, and would not anything added to it but serve to spoil it? It
epitomises what we have here been endeavouring to express. There could
be no "pure joy" apart from spirit, and in giving this forth in song the
singer achieved the aim of Art. This joy would become part of the life
of those who heard her, because it can never be too clearly understood
that we are built of our memories, and though we seem to forget, yet
these memories are absolute. So the joy that the singer gave out went to
gladden the world, and that which she gave, paradoxically enough,
remained with her. That which we express, by the record of that
expression we tend to become.

Herein the personality of the interpreter counts for much. The music, it
is true, carries its own meaning and message, but this is reinforced by
the mediumship and the imagination of the performer. "Imagination is the
life of art. Why so many performers give such little pleasure and leave
the audience coldly critical is simply because their imagination is of
the feeblest."[12] Necessarily there is always a certain coloration from
the mind which transmits the message, just as the tones of two violins
though played by the same hand might be different. Moreover, as a
resonant instrument would amplify the sound and an inferior one would
hamper it, so a greater artist would interpret a message to more effect
than one less capable. The gramophone will give us the actual notes of
the singer, but it depends upon ourselves as to whether we catch the
real thing or not. What is actually there is the shell: there is no
personality unless we ourselves build up that personality of the singer
in our imagination. We must supply that which the machine lacks, or else
perforce go without. When the artist is present in person we need no
effort of the imagination, and though the machine can give us a personal
rendering it can never offer us the personality. In much the same way
the mechanical piano-player may give So-and-so's exact rendering if only
we follow the requisite directions, but it is impossible for it to be
the same. Two things seem alike, but one is stuffed, and the other
hollow.

[Note 12: Lancelot, in the "Referee."]

Personality, then, must always be a vital factor since it colours and
vitalises, as well as reinforces the meaning of the music. Spirit is a
fact, but a beautiful personality will invest it with all the glamour of
romance. The emotion may be "pure joy" but it needs a warm heart to give
it out to full effect to a coldish world. Consequently, for the beauty
to shine through, the artist's personality must be finely wrought. A
selfish soul might sing a love-song, but a woman would not be taken in
by it--unless she thought twice: it would not ring true enough. Beauty
lies in the heart of all worthy music, so the artist who studies it and
lives in its atmosphere gradually builds that beauty into the life and
the character: the mere expression henceforth makes it part of him
through memory. So, beautiful thoughts are needful food to the mind of
the artist, and no amount of cleverness in the simulation of this or
that emotion will ever enable the same effect to be produced, as when
beauty is reinforced by beauty. Personality counts beyond all
calculation.

The music that is written shows whether its composer was an artist or a
mechanic in music. "The spirit of anything which a man makes, or does,
is his nature expressed in those things, and the fineness or poorness of
his work and actions depends upon the way in which he feels or
thinks."[13] The academic writer, steeped in his contrapuntal devices
and harmonic progressions, so intent upon the orthodox resolution of his
discords, is apt to produce excellent dry bones without the informing
spirit. We have even heard it stated that no music publisher would deign
to consider for publication a song manuscript with Mus. Doc. on the
title page. Yet Parry's books of "English Lyrics" stand as permanent
testimony that scholarly music may also contain the emotional and
spiritual elements to infuse it with abundant life: the pity is that the
combination is none too frequent. "A vast proportion of what is printed
and sold as music... is meaningless, and therefore worthless."[14] Such
music as is composed, or selected, for popular consumption is frankly
written for this purpose of pot-boiling, and as such it settles its own
fate. We need waste no tears upon it. Nor need we devote much
consideration to the sentimental ballads issued by the hundred, for "if
music has no further function than to appeal to the emotions, then it is
nothing better than melodious nonsense."[15] Of the dance and other
miscellaneous music issued broadcast some, no doubt, is genuine music,
but the greater part of it is avowedly commercial in tone and intention:
in any spiritual scale its weight is of the lightest.

[Note 13: Leigh Henry. "Music."]

[Note 14: Sir Henry Hadow.]

[Note 15: Sir Henry Hadow.]

The interpreter who works in collaboration with others, the choral
singer or the orchestral performer, should be bound by the same canons
of Art as the soloist. A chorus does not merely consist of a certain
number of voices, any more than eleven football players constitute a
team. Even the footballers must have their technique and must play with
their heads as well as their feet: but to ensure success they must
individually have subordinated their personal interests to that of the
team, they must play in the spirit of the game. Equally so a choral
singer must first have the vocal ability, then the intelligence, and
furthermore the spiritual vision. His individual aims must also be
subordinated in "team play," so that collectively, as individually in
the case of the soloist, the purport of the music may find its due
expression.

The one point to be emphasised is that, in whatever capacity the
exponent and interpreter of Art be concerned, the paramount
consideration must be the transmission of the artistic impulse. People
do not send telegrams flying about the country except for the purpose
of conveying a message: in the absence of a message there is, naturally,
no telegram. It would be a step in the right direction if it were
generally recognised that Art-work should be based upon somewhat the
same substantial and bed-rock foundation.



CHAPTER VII

THE TEACHER

"The teachers of this country have its future in their hands"

_William James_


Ideas on the subject of the teaching of Music are changing at such a
rapid rate to-day that the position of the teacher as an interpreter may
well receive some consideration. The study of psychology and the many
new discoveries in the realm of mind bid fair to revolutionise our
conception of teaching: the old standards are fast becoming obsolete.
Once the idea of education was more or less to get something into the
pupil, the newer ideal is to get something out: instead of compression
or repression the process is now regarded as one of expression. We aim
at developing the latent faculties and exploiting the hidden resources
of the mind. It is assumed that the various qualities and abilities are
embodied in mind, just as the possibilities of the oak were implanted
in the acorn: it is the function of the teacher to ensure the requisite
conditions under which these qualities may come to fruition.

From this it is clear that the modern teacher is more occupied in
teaching the pupil than the subject. The old method of grinding in
scales, scales, and yet more scales until those scales had become second
nature is recognised as being worse than merely futile. What can it
profit a pupil if he gain the whole world of scales and lose his
artistic soul? So also with other points, the centre of attention is
transferred from the subject to the pupil. Furthermore, the wise teacher
recognises that as music is a part of life, so the understanding of
music should lead to a larger comprehension of life. There are no
watertight compartments in our lives, everything is acted upon and
reacts: all life is of a piece, and nothing comes out of the mind in
exactly the same condition as it entered. Things become transformed and
assimilated in the process of mental digestion. Consequently the
discerning teacher knows that he is working in terms of life through the
agency of the music. He is helping to modify, form, or transform the
mind of the pupil through his memories, he is moulding his character:
and his character weighs in the eternal scales. The teaching thus
stands on a base that is wider than life itself, and such a teacher is
invested with a dignity and worth that can never attach to the
time-server or the crammer.

The Royal Academy of Music gives the Licentiate diploma for (_a_)
teachers and (_b_) performers: this is a technical distinction without
any real difference. It is the function of both alike to reveal and to
pass on a message of spirit. The performer passes it on to an audience
of many, and the teacher to a little audience of one. Teachers are
"artists to whom the most priceless material has been committed."[16]
There is an idea abroad that those who are not clever enough to perform
can always take to teaching, but this is of course a lamentable
perversion of the truth. There are diversities of gifts, but the same
spirit, and certainly as high a degree of spiritual perception is
necessary for the teacher as for the executive artist. The teacher has
merely chosen a different technique for its expression. Not so many
years ago the teaching profession was known as "the refuge of the
destitute," but we are changing all that with the revaluation of values
which is being forced upon us by the logic of events. In course of time
the old type of teacher must become as extinct as the dodo.

[Note 16: Canon J. H. Masterman.]

Effective teaching can never be done to pattern, for the simple reason
that pupils are not machines or blocks of wood and cannot be turned out
to sample. Every pupil is unique: he is the inheritor of a spirit which
is peculiarly his own, and of a body in its endowments and proportions
unlike that of anyone else, and in his nervous system he possesses
special pre-dispositions and "potentially linked paths" which provide
him with particular adaptabilities and traits. Were the teacher to treat
every pupil alike, his scheme would probably truly fit none of them: but
as a matter of fact each one of them calls for insight and special
treatment. So the teacher learns from every pupil, and the experience
garnered from contact with the many phases of human nature renders his
judgment the surer and his sympathy the more sound. But this, quite
obviously, is mind-moulding and character-building, with the emphasis
laid upon the teaching of the pupil rather than the subject.

The three generally accepted divisions of mind are (_a_) intellect;
(_b_) feelings; and (_c_) will; and in these directions the teaching of
music should have far-reaching effects upon the culture and the outlook.
Observation is the root of all mental growth: it supplies the mind with
the necessary food for development and expansion, and according to the
range and definiteness of the evidence supplied by the senses, so is the
foundation laid for a good memory and a lively quality of imagination.
The earliest lessons will thus be a stimulus to mental growth: the pupil
will learn to take in by the eye and the ear, and what he takes in will
enable him to understand and to appreciate more and yet more. He will be
taught that everything in music means something, and even exercises will
be invested with a meaning and a purpose of their own. Purely mechanical
work has gone, never, we may hope, to return: and meaningless music is
discarded in favour of that which expresses something. It may illustrate
a mood or an emotion, a scene, an action, or a fairy tale--it matters
not what so long as it possesses a meaning to lend it point and purpose.
So right from the beginning the action of the pupil will be the
expression of the emotions and ideas that hold sway in his mind.

In this connection we may quote an actual instance. A teacher
writes:--"A young pupil (age 14) came for a lesson, playing Farjeon's
'Prelude and Pavane.' She had learnt the 'Prelude,' and had had one
lesson, a fortnight before, on the 'Pavane.' We went through the
technique, and I told her a little about the 'Pavane'--when it was
danced, the derivation of the name, and so on. When she played it, she
played it very, very slowly, but quite correctly and finished in detail.
I asked her if she liked it quite as slowly as that, and she replied
that she thought 'the Court ladies with their long dresses would not be
able to dance any quicker' and that it 'sounded grander very slowly.' So
I left it." This, we may add, is an illustration of method quoted by a
teacher in a diploma Examination paper, but it aptly shows the new
spirit. The teacher had no mind to force her own views upon the pupil.
Had she insisted that the dance should be played more quickly, she might
have spoiled the child's mental picture and destroyed her interest in
the piece. The incident also points the way in which the pupil's
observation, imagination, and powers of deduction were being stimulated,
so that, as we have been endeavouring to show, the music--of value for
its own sake--was also ministering to the larger end of life-growth.

The world of affairs and the world of education see to it that our
intellect and will are duly and properly brushed up, they exact their
penalties in default from the stupid and the invertebrate, but the
feeling and emotional side of the nature is too often ignored. It is
left to develop by chance instead of being nurtured by design. As a
consequence a vast amount of distorted feeling exists in the world, and
a very great deal of emotion is repressed. Music is at once a means of
cultivating the rightful feelings towards life, and an outlet for the
repressed emotions. The interpreter recognises that his true function is
to serve his day and his generation, and so he places this ideal of
Service in the forefront of his vision. If he substitute Selfishness he
is permanently wrongly adjusted to life, and nothing can go truly right
with him. He is off the lines of his spiritual evolution, and Nature
will take pains to impress the fact upon him: she has her larger vision
to which he must, willy-nilly, conform. The teacher, in handing on the
torch, will thus be able at the very outset to point to this ideal of
Service, exemplified in finding out the beauty or the meaning of the
music, and in passing it on for the benefit of others in song or sound.

Repressed emotions are now recognised as a potent source of trouble,
both mental and physical. In the adolescent stage of youth vital forces
surge through the body, they are perhaps indefinable but they are none
the less potent. "The emotions are there, and it is for us to find the
way in which we can best turn them upward: the time has passed when we
need or can deny their existence, or their expression."[17] These
emotions cannot be permanently repressed, they are too deeply embedded
in the self: they may find an outlet in the amours of youth, or in some
other way. But music offers a means and a channel through which these
emotions may flow in useful direction, and this is a most valuable
service. Failing legitimate expression they not infrequently find an
inappropriate or distorted outlet. There is discord within, and it is
far better that the discord should be resolved harmoniously rather than
ill, or not at all. The study of music at this period may thus result in
marked benefit to the physical health in a perfectly natural manner: for
to forbid any expression to these emotions would be much as if we
forbade a canary to sing or a lambkin to jump. If they can be reflected
in "pure joy" in song we may indeed be sure that the outlet they are
finding is a happy one. The subject is a very important one, but it
leads us far afield from the present scheme. The reader who is
interested may find further treatment of this topic in the present
writer's "The Hidden Self, and its Mental Processes."

[Note 17: Ernest Hunt. "The Hidden Self."]

The modern teacher has progressed beyond the stage of imposing his own
standard of judgment upon the pupil. By introducing the element of
musical appreciation and making the pupil familiar with a wide range of
musical ideas, he will gradually build up his power of discrimination
and judgment and his standard of taste. These are no fixed things, but
will grow as the experience of the pupil himself grows. As his sympathy
and insight also increase, so will his knowledge of the good and evil of
music progress. This is a vastly different process to any arbitrary
enforcement of "this is good and that is bad" standards, and indeed it
is but a poor compliment to any teacher when we find pupil after pupil a
more or less complete imitation of the same original.

One thing that is conspicuously lacking in the world to-day is the
ability to be one's self. Suggestion and habit are ever at work to kill
originality and to stifle self-reliance and initiative. Thousands can
copy, few can invent. The reason may be that only the few are able and
willing to go to the fountain-head of spirit, where there is the
infinite variety of universal thought to be their inspiration. The many
are content to live their teachers' ideas over and over again, building
their lives and abilities on quite ordinary models in a quite ordinary
way. In music we already possess far too many "dittos," ditto
programmes, ditto compositions, ditto renderings, and ditto ideals.
Praise the Lord for originality wherever it may be found. The
conventional goes round and round in a circle, like a puppy after its
own tail: but originality rises at each revolution and so reaches on and
up, in progress like a spiral. So to-day the teacher fosters
originality, shaping it with kindly criticism or helpful suggestion, but
never damning it with a fatal "don't." Education's maxim to-day is "Do;
but do better next time."

In this larger view of teaching, the technique, though not despised and
rejected, is relegated to its proper place in the scheme of things. The
cult of the head and the heart predominates, and the whole course of the
instruction is an integral part of the training for life. If it be true
that we are making "houses built without hands, for our souls to live
in," then music is determining no small part of the architecture for the
student who follows the gleam. The inspired teacher (and, without the
vision, teaching must ever be the veriest drudgery) is engaged upon one
of the noblest of tasks as well as one of the most responsible. We may
even hope that one day the world will awaken to this fact. Incidentally
teachers themselves, by thinking more nobly of their tasks, can do much
to dignify their calling. They are truly in the van of progress, and
"with the power of the Spirit almost untried and the possibilities of
Prayer as little known, with the inheritance of Love still unclaimed and
the ocean of Truth yet unexplored, life is full of an immensity of
purpose."[18]

[Note 18: Kirkham Davis. "Where dwells the Soul Serene."]



CHAPTER VIII

THE SOUL OF SONG

   "All the hearts of men were softened
    By the pathos of his music:
    For he sang of peace and freedom,
    Sang of beauty, love, and longing:
    Sang of death, and life undying
    In the Islands of the Blessed,
    In the Kingdom of Ponemah,
    In the land of the Hereafter."

   _Longfellow_


The power to sing is innate in practically everybody, and the number of
people who are actually incapable of any musical expression through the
voice is really very small. Suggestion plays an important part in this
matter, for there are few children having mothers or nurses who sing to
them who fail to pick up and imitate that singing. The reason is fairly
clear, because every idea in mind tends to pass into action unless
something intervenes to stop it: consequently the child having the idea
of singing in mind, simply from having heard others sing, has the
initial impulse to song. As he gradually acquires the control and
co-ordination of his faculties, song will follow as a matter of course.
On the other hand if the child never hears anyone sing, from where is
the motor impulse to come?

Those good people who boast that they cannot sing have very often, by
the simple denial of their ability, ensured a kind of mental atrophy in
the function. It is quite a usual thing for us to fasten unnecessary
limitations upon ourselves by refusing to believe in our own powers, and
most of us have a large stock of very real inhibitions, which prevent us
from doing things otherwise well within our capacity. If we do not
believe we can do a thing, as a rule we do not try: or if we try, it is
in a half-hearted, beaten-before-we-start kind of fashion. Thus we find
that as a matter of experience things generally do turn out for us
according to our belief. It is in this spirit that a man professes
himself unable to tell the difference between the National Anthem and
"Pop goes the Weasel." There are cases, of course, where the individual
may be able to distinguish the tunes mentally, and yet may be unable to
sing them correctly, or even to vary the tones of the voice according to
the desired pattern: in this case the fault probably lies in a lack of
the power of co-ordinating the various activities. The necessary
associations between the hearing centres and the motor centres for the
control of voice have not been built up. But they can be so built, and
then the inability to sing vanishes. A person who can speak has the
necessary machinery for song, and to say that one has "no voice" is
mostly nonsense.

Many people possess quite good voices until they learn singing. Their
natural aptitude, which so largely depends upon the models they may have
had for imitation in the earliest days, is possibly quite excellent.
Then comes the Voice Specialist on the scene with his pet theories for
improving upon Nature, and he gets busy. He may have his ideas upon
"breaks," registers, and a thousand other details. Perhaps he has
written a book on the way in which Nature has made a botch of the voice,
creating it in a number of sections like a fishing rod, specially to
provide an interesting and lucrative profession for the voice trainer.
On the other hand he may be wise enough to thank Heaven when he finds a
good natural voice, and leave it alone. Voices when naturally used have
beauty, ease, compass, and an even tone without break throughout: this,
we assert, in spite of the fact that many a famous contralto possesses
apparently two voices, so marked is the break. There is a technical
alteration of the working of the vocal chords at a certain pitch, but
with a rightly-used voice this is automatic and unfelt: the whole body
is full of such wonderful adjustments. To be called upon to deal
consciously with such details is generally proof that they have gone
wrong. Your attention to your digestion is enforced by dyspepsia: nobody
notices a perfectly acting digestion.

Some voices are expressive and carry emotion easily, while others are
hard and inelastic. Some correspondence in the temperament will nearly
always be found. Therefore the teacher who works at the voice (which is
a means of expression of the temperament) without touching the inner
characteristics, is like the man who tries to make an ill-regulated
clock keep time by altering the hands. Lack of tone colour is not to be
cured by cultivating a number of different sizes and shapes for the
mouth and a selection of assorted smiles for the features. If a person
feels sad, he will talk sadly. Carrying the same principle into song, we
find that a voice naturally shows the timbre appropriate to the mood.
Therefore in order to ensure proper tone colour the prime requisite is
imagination and the ability vividly to call up and experience the
various emotions. It will be evident that we are endeavouring to impart
into vocal work precisely those same principles which we assert to be
fundamental to the whole of music, namely--the importance of the idea as
behind, distinct from, and manifested through, the technical means. The
vocal machinery must necessarily be in first-class order, but the
influence of the mind upon the body is so intimate and so extraordinary
that even technical acquirement hangs to no small extent upon mental
working.

Seeing that song, then, is to be the vehicle for emotion, even though
that emotion be so tenuous as almost to defy verbal expression, for the
most part we ally words and music. The timbre of a voice, singing tones
without words, might carry a message to the sensitive, just as the
inflection of a voice may be exquisite joy or suffering to a lover: but
it would be insufficient to move the average hearer to any response. The
reason is that there is always a dual process at work in mind: there is
the sense-perception of the actual sound, and a brain-recognition of its
meaning. This latter must be supplied by the hearer himself from his own
imagination or experience. The non-musical multitude has neither, and is
therefore unable to complete this second process of recognition. Thus
the hearer hears, but does not understand. It is probably for some such
reason as this that we resort to words to make the message clear. Herein
lies the importance of the words themselves, and of the diction of the
singer.

Quite notoriously, many singers entirely fail to make their words
intelligible to the listener, and in the majority of cases this is due
to insufficient stressing of the consonants. Vowel tones carry, while
consonants do not. If we want to shout to anyone we call out "Hi" or
"Hey": never by any chance do we try to reach them with a "P-p-p-p-p" or
a "T-t-t-t-t," and for precisely this reason. If, therefore, a singer
wishes his words to carry to the end of the hall he must needs
exaggerate his consonants to allow for this loss in transit: the vowels
will look after themselves. Then, although the balance of the words as
they are uttered may be a trifle distorted, they will nevertheless reach
the hearers in due proportion. Comfort in listening is greatly increased
when this sense-perception is clear and unambiguous, and the
brain-recognition is easy by reason of a certain familiarity. When the
sense-perception is blurred, as in faulty diction, extra work is thrown
on to the brain: listening then becomes a strain, and the brain is
fatigued with supplying the details which it supposes the singer to
have intended. The listener has, as it were, to put in his consonants
for him, to dot his "i's" and cross his "t's."

Some singers distort their vowel sounds almost beyond recognition, and
many pupils seem to be definitely taught to adopt the habit. Then "and"
becomes "awnd," and the various words take on new disguises after the
reputed Oxford model of "He that hath yaws to yaw, let him yaw." Singing
is but glorified speech, it is not a thing apart, neither is there one
language of the speaker and another of the vocalist. This distortion may
be due to affectation or to ignorance, but in either case we could well
do without it. In cases where the actual production of the voice is
mechanically stiff, rigid, and therefore distorted, it is not likely
that we can secure a free and flexible musical elocution. We do
occasionally meet singers whose diction is delightful to hear because of
its absolute freedom and complete naturalness, but these only serve to
heighten by their excellence the shortcomings of the many.

Consideration of the manner in which the words are put forth leads us to
the matter of the words themselves. It is difficult to find even a
modicum of meaning, to say nothing of spirit, in much of the verse that
achieves musical setting to-day. A critic in a London Daily some time
back inquired if all our native poets were paralysed, the query being
suggested by an examination of a representative batch of songs. But the
poet is hardly to blame for the present state of affairs. In the wedding
of words and music, the usual routine is for the author of the lyric to
submit his effort to the composer for his consideration. The composer
will neither select nor waste his time in setting the better class of
verse because, as he says, the publishers will not look at it. The
publishers will not print and issue it because, so they say, the public
will not purchase it. The public might very well retort that they get
precious little chance to listen to it, since royalty ballads come
first: nor to come in contact with it, for the ordinary dealer does not
stock it. There, then, is the vicious circle quite complete. But the
poets are not paralysed, they are merely inarticulate by reason of this
commercialisation of Art. At the best of times the average lyric author
has a difficult and somewhat heart-breaking task to dispose of his
wares, and we need not further harrow his artistic soul by suggestions
of literary impotence.

It must, however, be admitted that on the whole there is an
extraordinary poverty and bareness of idea and inspiration in the
general run of songs: neither Nature nor Love are themes that can ever
be finally exhausted while human nature remains as it is, but the
treatment can be so stereotyped that it eventually wears threadbare. It
is possible to become thoroughly weary of roses and gardens, and gardens
of roses, gardens without roses, and gardens where we hope there will be
roses. It is such a pity, too, that there are so few rhymes to "love."
Yet even in dissatisfaction there exists the element of progress: if we
are bored with the present style we shall demand something better, and
the demand will create the supply. But to swing from bareness and
boredom to the other extreme of abstruseness and complexity is no
remedy: in these latter qualities there exists no special compensating
virtue. Listening to a song as it is sung is very different to reading
the verse at leisure. The sense of the song must be caught as it flies,
the verse can be read and re-read if necessary, until its meaning be
clear. It is no progress, therefore, to worship the turgid and obscure,
whether in words or music, or both. We may pretend that we appreciate
things because we cannot understand them, but that is only a concession
to convention and a convenient way of smothering artistic conscience.

Of late an outcry has arisen, on the part of wise men in exalted
station, about "beastly tunes," but surely if a tune can attain
sufficient popularity to earn the picturesque adjectives of the
academic, there must be some element in it which has escaped the
attention of its detractors. The Southern Syncopated Orchestra, which
played for some lengthy period in London a little while back, showed
that popular music might yet be extremely clever and artistic in scope
and performance. There were high-brow musicians who would not even go to
listen to such, but preferred to condemn it unheard: the loss was
emphatically that of the high-brows. Humour abounded in this little band
of performers on such a strange array of instruments, and it appeared as
if the players enjoyed their work no less, at any rate, than their
audience. Yet their programme was full of "tunes." Is any tune in itself
"beastly"? Or is it that the brain-recognition, to which we have
alluded, decks out the tune in sordid or sweet trappings according to
its own nature? We certainly know that in other directions we are apt to
see things according to the colour of our own mental vision.

These tunes, however, that have become so popular, have the three
essentials of music strongly marked: they have decided rhythm,
attractive melody, and harmony at times quite good. Are we to try and
attract the multitude to music by muddling up or emasculating rhythm, or
by eschewing melody and banishing anything that intrigues the ear, and
by supplying an harmonic scheme that awakens no brain-recognition and
cannot in consequence be understood? Well, the conventional suburbanite
may gush over such indeterminate and invertebrate music, saying, "Yes,
isn't it just too lovely," but the rough and tumble individuals who make
up most of the world will plump for the "tune" every time. Give him what
he wants, and then induce him to want something better, but avoid the
mistake of trying to turn him into a musical vegetarian while his
meat-eating appetite has no liking for the diet.

The incongruity of some of the songs we hear sung is truly appalling: we
find a charming maid, love for whom might honour any man yet born,
singing "Less than the dust,... even less am I," and so on. Lies, all
lies, even though she lie melodically with charm and with apparent
conviction. We have passionate love-songs sung by guileless individuals
who would be inexpressibly shocked if you explained to them the meaning
of the sentiment to which they had been giving utterance. There are
operatic scenas, dealing with abduction and all sorts of uncomfortable
situations, and again youngsters declaim of their somewhat indecorous
emotions with gusto and--let us hope--a sublime insensibility of all
that they imply. They are warbling words to music, but they are not
singing, for the meaning is not there. The fault, of course, lies in the
traditional idea that all aspiring vocalists must learn certain things,
just as that all pianists should go through a corresponding round of
instrumental compositions. Why should they? Many of these classical
examples that we accept as the right things to sing or play are
hopelessly antiquated and out of date: they would not stand a chance as
new compositions to-day. Antiquity itself is only a recommendation if we
are collectors of curios. The literature of Art is far too comprehensive
for anyone to study it all, we can but touch a fragment of the whole:
why, then, should that fragment be determined by tradition and custom
alone? Will anybody's clothes fit me: am I not likely to secure a better
fit by being measured for my own? And why should not the same
consideration apply to my mental outfit? It is the same desperate fear
of originality and initiative, coupled with a certain unwillingness to
take individual responsibility: it is the "ditto" idea again, and yet a
writer has said "imitation is suicide." Let music be studied
historically and in its development, by all means, this indeed is
necessary: but to spend hours and hours learning to play or sing
something just because "everybody does it" is the sheerest waste of
time, unless the music so played or sung still bears a living message
for the performer.

Protest might also be registered against the unadulterated rubbish that
is put forward as a translation when a song or operatic excerpt of
foreign origin is rendered in English. Of grand opera even the _Daily
Telegraph_ is moved to say that "the translations are in most cases
literary nightmares." Mere baldness might be excused, and even doggerel
overlooked, but one has only to turn to almost any of the current
standard translations of foreign songs to see that the matter is worse
than this. To expect a student to get up and participate in this verbal
foolishness and ineptitude, by endeavouring to express as genuine the
balderdash that poses as sentiment and sense, is an insult to his or her
intelligence.

Finally there remains the "graveyard" school of composition. Here we
have the author or composer, or both of them, seeing the world much
worse than it is, and think that they do Art a service by putting their
realistic conceptions on permanent record. We would join issue with all
the various methods--song, literature, drama, and painting--of giving
the unpleasant a wider and more effective publicity. The suggestive
nature of all of these negative things cannot be overlooked, and
should not be underestimated. The Biblical advice is to the point:
"Whatsoever things are true, lovely, and of good report: think on
these." The graveyard and realistic schools reverse this sage precept,
saying, in effect, "Whatsoever things are nasty, unwholesome, and
disagreeable--make the most of them: they will always appeal to a
certain section whose minds are correspondingly unpleasant." We prefer
the "pure joy" gospel, as being nearer the truth: for spirit is ever
pointing the vision upward to what we may become, instead of allowing it
to grovel around in the very unpleasant circumstances in which some
people are liable to find themselves. The outward vision is transient,
the inner vision can build eternal realities. "Are we to beg and cringe
and hang on the outer edge of life,--we who should walk grandly? Is it
for man to tremble and quake--man who in his spiritual capacity becomes
the interpreter of God's message,--the focus of Divine Light?"[19]

[Note 19: Kirkham Davis, "Where dwells the Soul Serene."]



CHAPTER IX

MUSIC AND EDUCATION

"Music is not only a source of noble pleasure--everyone admits
that, at any rate in theory--it is a form of intellectual and
spiritual training with which we really cannot afford to dispense"

_Sir Henry Hadow_


We may agree that education consists in the bringing of the latent
possibilities of the individual into action, and one of the most
important parts in the process of education is played by memory. The
fact that memory places on record our first impression of a thing is the
reason why we are able to recognise it on the second occasion: otherwise
we should have to make its acquaintance afresh every time. It is memory
again which enables us to retain the mental pattern of an action we have
once performed, and so to do it the more easily a second time, and on
subsequent occasions. Thus we see that everything we express, whether in
word, thought, or deed, leaves its mark within us: this impress is, as
it were, a brick in our life's edifice, and it has added something to
that disposition of mind which constitutes our character.

Mental growth is thus profoundly influenced by the things we express,
for whatever we express forthwith becomes part of ourselves. Anything,
therefore, that teaches us to express the fine, the noble, or the
beautiful, leaves the self by the fact of that expression with the
impress of that fineness, nobility, or beauty henceforth in the
character. We do not mean that by the utterance of a praiseworthy
sentiment a man at once grows estimable, but we do mean that the
sentiment according to its intrinsic value and worth has become an
element in his make-up. We observe every day in the contrary direction
that giving vent to continual complaint soon makes a person grow
sour-minded: and incidentally it also makes him grow sour-visaged. It is
frequently possible to tell a man's philosophy from his countenance.
Those whose efforts are devoted to preaching a violent discontent seem
to run to type, acquiring a discontented kind of countenance to match
their views. Equally so a person whose outlook is more balanced, and
whose character is gentler, will gradually inscribe a finer type of
characteristic both in mind and body. The case is very much the same
with Art. Those to whom Art stands for beauty and love must necessarily
be building themselves of their thoughts, and so be tending towards
their ideal. Thus so far as music becomes the expression of spirit and
love, so far its influence upon the individual is permanent and
progressive in these directions.

Apparent exceptions will at once spring to mind, and we may ask why
musicians as a class do not stand out specifically as more spiritual
than their fellows. There are many reasons. Not all musicians pursue
their calling with insight and understanding: mere perfunctory
performance has the effect of influencing in the direction of the
commonplace and the casual, and music is never the sole influence at
work, and not always the chief. The character is the result, on balance,
of ALL the forces that have played their part, just as the annual
balance on profit and loss account represents the net result of all the
transactions that have taken place. Unless the spiritual forces at work
in an individual's life outweigh the material, the net result will still
be on the side of the latter, even though he may have had music in his
soul.

When we look at the adolescent of to-day, particularly the town-bred
youth of from sixteen to twenty years, we may well ask what opportunity
he gets for the expression of any theme of beauty, or for any
impression of the like. The mind has a kind of breathing motion, as have
the lungs: it takes in, stores up and assimilates, and then expresses.
Education must allow for both processes. But our youthful friend has
left school, and is probably engaged in some more or less strenuous work
which brings him into the closest contact with grown men. From these he
derives most of his inspiration: much of it is highly coloured, and some
of it is certainly degrading. He does not read, and so knows nothing of
the inspiration of literature, and the past is to him a closed book. He
comes across nothing artistic, and he hears no concerts. He never goes
to church, and you can see him by the thousand loafing about in any
large town on a Sunday. "The modern townsman... has forgotten the habits
and sentiments of the village from which his forefathers came. An
unnatural and unhealthy mode of life, cut off from the sweet and
humanising influences of nature, has produced an unnatural and unhealthy
mentality, to which we shall find no parallels in the past. Its chief
characteristic is profound secularity or materialism. The typical town
artisan has no religion and no superstitions: he has no ideals beyond
the visible and tangible world of the senses."[20]

[Note 20: W. R. Inge.]

There is, however, one thing that our young friend does: he sings. We
see him, in company with three or four of his fellows, marching along
the street singing the latest music-hall ditty, with all the approved
music-hall inflections and mannerisms. Sometimes the group will be
accompanied by one of their companions on a mouth organ, and
occasionally they will attain to the dignity of two-, or even three-part
singing. Now and again we find them "throwing back" to the days of
Hucbald the Fleming, and running their harmony in a kind of diaphony a
fifth below the melody. But they sing because they like to sing. The
idea naturally suggests itself that if more firms and works would assist
in making provision for brass bands, string orchestras, and choral
societies among their employees, the music would prove to be a
humanising agency of the greatest value. Especially would this be the
case if some of the higher officials of the firm, not even excluding the
directors, would join on a footing of musical equality with the rest.
The aloofness of class is a potent cause of misunderstanding, but Art
knows nothing of social distinctions. If we knew more of each other we
should probably fight a good deal less, and it is just here that the
power of music might be used in healing fashion.

On one occasion in a suburban district, outside a branch of the Y.W.C.A.
on a Sunday evening, we stopped to listen to some excellent
part-singing, and we could not help thinking what an educative influence
it would surely prove in the lives of the music-makers. We could wish
that such opportunities were more generally available. The provision of
Municipal facilities, which would cost very little, would probably be a
most sound investment. But everything would in such case hinge upon the
conductor: mere perfunctory work at the husk of music would quickly damn
any such scheme. In addition it would do definite harm by creating a
permanent distaste for music in the minds of those who first were
attracted. Something has, of course, been done in the way of providing
organ recitals and so on, but we are here suggesting that the working
classes should be provided with the chance of being their own
music-makers. The use of a room, a fee to the conductor, and possibly a
small grant towards the cost of music would be all that was necessary,
but who can tell what might be the result in harmony and good feeling?

Folk dances, and the singing of old folk tunes, as taught in the
elementary schools, are of great value. There is a grace and poetry of
movement about some of the children thus taught, which is engaging in
the extreme. Nor can this be without its reflex action upon the mind of
the child. When taught to move easily and to express fluently in pose
and gesture, the child will have acquired some tendency towards a
corresponding facility of expression in other directions. According to
the songs chosen the singing itself provides outlet for the emotions,
and stimulates imaginative play. The prosaic life and surroundings of
the slum child are sufficiently deadening, and the new mental pictures
thus given are in the nature of windows opening on new vistas of life.
They suggest views that could come to the child mind in perhaps no other
way. The finer type of patriotism can be encouraged by such songs as
Parry's "England" (John o' Gaunt's Verse), and the more spiritual
element by the same composer's "Jerusalem" (words by Blake); while as an
example of the imaginative scene we might mention Dr. Wood's "The
Knight's Tomb." Regarding the simpler type of song, we recall the case
of an Inspector of Music in Schools who was moved, almost to tears, by
the rendering of "Will ye no come back?" by a class of children who had
been taught by a truly inspired instructress. A dull teacher, and there
are too many, does frequently damp and quench the fires that should be
fanned; and the personal element is an enormous factor in the
situation.

The mental and intellectual value of music should by no means be
overlooked. The mental alertness developed by sight-reading is of much
importance. Some children are slow thinkers, and react lethargically: as
a class, country children are mentally much slower than town-bred
youngsters. A city child quickly has to learn to look after himself, and
to make his own decisions on the spur of the moment, and consequently
his mental processes are more fluent than those of the bumpkin type. But
anything that can be done to accelerate this reaction time is so much
added to the efficiency of the individual. Sight-reading, we believe,
possesses a special value in this direction. Singing at sight is also a
means of developing the co-ordination of the various faculties. There
are numbers of people who know things ought to be done, and yet fail to
do them. In the case of sight-singing, the mental picture has to be
immediately translated into action, it is the essence of the proceeding.
The child is thus developing not only the mental faculties, but is also
acquiring increased power of regulation and co-ordination, through the
training of the faculties of the cerebellum.

It is now becoming generally recognised that the interest of the young
in music may be expressed in intellectual and emotional enjoyment, and
not only instrumentally and vocally. In other words we realise that good
listeners and appreciative understanders of music are, in their way, as
essential as executants. "Shocking as it may seem, hundreds of children
'learn music' for the length of their school life and never hear a
masterpiece, and indeed, hear no music at all except such as their own
untrained musical sense and half-trained fingers can compass."[21] In
increasing measure the teaching of music appreciation is coming into
vogue, and as an aid to this the piano-player and gramophone are
demonstrating their value. The slogan of the musical advance guard is "a
gramophone in every school." Teachers who are competent to give
first-class expositions of the classics in schools are naturally few and
far between, and it would be impossible for even the first-class, with
the best will in the world, to cover a range in any way commensurate
with that which can be reached mechanically. Therefore the mechanical
piano-player with a constant change of rolls, and the gramophone with
its ever-increasing list of records, are adjuncts to education which are
at present only in the stage of small beginnings. They possess
drawbacks and disadvantages, of course, but these are far outweighed by
the many solid points that tell in their favour.

[Note 21: Percy Scholes. "Everyman and his Music."]

The standard of musical accomplishment to be found in the various
schools is of very wide range. In the elementary schools there is a
certain uniformity of scheme, if not of achievement. But in the Public
Schools, and in the preparatory schools which act as feeders to them,
there is no uniformity of scheme, and the range of achievement is from a
very great deal to just nothing at all. Too much depends upon the
individual outlook of the Headmaster. If he be musical, then the music
prospers: but if he be not interested in the subject, then the music
languishes accordingly. This is not rational. Either music has its value
as an educational subject, in which case it ought to be in the
curriculum independent of the vagaries of the Headmaster for the time
being; or else it has no educational value, and should never be there.
Whims in such a matter are out of place: but they are nevertheless too
often a deciding factor. In many schools music is frankly regarded as a
nuisance, a sort of frilling that is inappropriate to the rigid texture
of education. It touches the emotions, and the Public School man has a
horror of being even so much as suspected of having emotions.

The average net result is that music has been tolerated rather than
encouraged, and most often the boy who elects to study music has to do
so at the expense of his playtime. Class singing is sometimes taken in
the regular school hours, but more often not. The consequence is that it
is frequently regarded as a grind and a bore: an attitude scarcely
conducive to any appreciation of its inner significance. Again, the
influence of the Music Master is of extraordinary importance: his
subject is identified in the boy mind with himself, and if the master be
not respected for his own personality, then the music suffers in
precisely that degree. A fine influence can be trusted to make itself
felt in every circumstance, though perhaps battles may have to be fought
before victory is achieved, and if the musician has grasped the
fundamentals of his Art, and realises that it is not so much himself as
the spirit that works through him, then the work that he can do both for
music and for his little musicians is beyond all price.

In one Public School with which we were closely acquainted the standard
of music was extremely high. The "Head" had his own ideas, which
occasionally came out in unexpected guise. For example, every Sunday
morning there was a choir-practice before Chapel for the non-singers.
This, of course, is a contradiction in terms, but an effective procedure
in reality. All the boys who were not in the choir had to attend a
practice for the musical part of the service, while the choir had the
privilege of a free time. There was no grievance about this, and it was
taken simply as a matter of routine. Further, in addition to the usual
Shields that were won and kept for the year by the various competing
"Houses," for cricket, football, sports, cross-country running, etc.,
there was a "House-singing Shield." This was competed for by the various
houses, each of which had to put up an S.A.T.B. (four-part) choir. The
competition consisted in the singing; of a compulsory glee, chosen by
the authorities some months in advance, and a voluntary part-song
selected by the competing choir. Both were to be sung without
accompaniment. If the house-master happened to be musical he generally
undertook the training of the choir: but if he were not, then a head boy
took it on. The standard achieved was, as a rule, remarkably good. At
the time of which we speak there were five competing houses in a school
of some two hundred boys, and this means that in the school there were
five complete four-part choirs capable of singing an unaccompanied
part-song. Practically every boy belonged to one or other of the
choirs, for marks were added to the total in proportion as the number of
boys singing rose, as compared with the total number in the house.

We cite this case from our own experience in order to show what has
actually been accomplished in the way of fostering the love of music in
one Public School. We are aware that this standard would appear entirely
visionary to the authorities of some other schools: there are some to
whom the idea of one choir singing in two parts seems more than is
practicable. But when music is recognised as an integral part of
education, as it used to be in Greece, then we may look forward to a
different standard indeed. We may also recognise that unless education
itself pays some attention to the emotional and feeling side of life, it
is leaving neglected an element which has no little to do with national
stability and sanity, since these can only be grounded upon the
manifestation of spirit in love and service.



CHAPTER X

THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT

"Conventions mean very little to the artist, because
conventionality arises either from mental laziness or fear of what
others will say and think. Moreover the true genius must ever have
the capacity to feel deeper love and emotions than the man in the
street"

Eaglefield Hull


We frequently hear the "artistic temperament" referred to in ordinary
conversation as if it were some kind of a vice, a mental aberration or a
disease: and it is certainly doubtful whether those who so casually
discuss the subject have any clear idea as to what constitutes this
particular equipment. That no great work of artistic merit can be
accomplished in its absence is more or less tacitly agreed, but it may
be interesting to consider in what this essential basis of artistic
success consists.

We have before pointed out that the function of an interpreter is to act
as a link between the spiritual and the material: he is the prophet to
reveal the otherwise hidden message. The interpreter is the artist, and
the artist is the interpreter. The ability to come into contact with the
finer things, tangible or intangible, is simply a capacity of response
finer than normal. A trained sense-perception is more acute than a
non-trained: and quite apart from training there are very wide
divergences in the innate range of activity of the various senses.
Again, keen interest and attention tend to make a particular sense more
alert, and even to extend the boundaries of its response. A man who is
particularly interested in some maiden's voice or footstep will be able
to make correct distinctions which simply do not exist for anyone less
actively interested in that particular lady. Concentration enables any
sense to become more acute. This increased acuteness naturally gives its
possessor the power to receive impressions which would otherwise escape
record. In the sense of not being usual, this acute sensitiveness of the
artist is thus an abnormality: but it is only a variation in the
direction of progress, for the whole story of the evolutionary climb up
life's ladder is one of ever-increasing sensibility and response. The
artistic temperament is thus, in essence, a phase of evolution somewhat
in advance of its day.

Any departure from the normal, even though it be in the forward
direction and carrying with it certain privileges, yet entails its
disadvantages. The man who breaks out is generally made to pay pretty
dearly for his temerity: but, if there were none to advance and thus
break out, civilisation itself would stagnate and there could be no
progress. The artist, the dreamer, the visionary, the poet, the genius,
these all are the advance guard of humanity. As such they frequently
receive the pioneers' scanty reward, but their eyes are scarcely fixed
upon mundane munificence, already their scale of values is a spiritual
one. But it is just these delicate, sensitive folk, susceptible to the
gossamer impulses that would never even ruffle the surface of the
average man's mind, who are open to the urge of spirit and responsive to
its "drive." So they answer to the helm and steer out into the unknown,
while the more sleek, comfortable, and well-fed do not so much as guess
that there has been any impulse at all. "H'm," say the corpulent, "why
can't they leave well alone and be comfortable?" But it is no part of
the great plan that the wheels of progress should ever slow down, it is
much more to the point that they should be made to turn more quickly.
Spirit is the force behind evolution, the force that makes the acorn
unfold into the oak, and it is the urge of spirit which compels man to
unfold his own divinity.

The artistic temperament, then, is the super-sensitive, and by this very
virtue it creates its own difficulties. The artist is too responsive,
too widely responsive unless he knows how to safeguard himself. Nature
herself in her thousand moods plays upon the sensitive mind: she moulds
it with her beauties, leads it out into the open with the call of the
wild, or terrifies it with the grandeur of her anger. The artist replies
to the appeal of beauty, but is seared with the degradation of ugliness
or the sordid. He is thrilled with love, and wounded to the core by
hatred. He responds to praise, but is depressed by sneers to a degree
which the ordinary man is unable to comprehend. Thus his daily life is
pierced with a thousand exquisite emotions to which your well-fed
plebeian is stranger indeed. He lives on more exalted heights and yet
sinks to inconceivably greater depths. Life truly consists more in our
wealth of impression than in the length of our days, and therefore the
artist lives at greater intensity, and consequently with a greater
nervous wear and tear.

This sensitiveness is more easily moved to tears, since it is in essence
more feminine than masculine, being more a matter of the heart than the
head: but because of this element of the feminine it partakes more of
the magnetic temperament than the electric. It possesses to a greater
degree the capacity for holding on. Thus the sensitive artist, for the
sake of his ideal, will peg away at the forlorn hope, and, sustained by
the spirit, may bring off the thousand-to-one chance. He has the
capacity to endure to the end, while the man without this "drive" will
weigh things up, eventually playing for safety and, incidentally,
comfort. Our friend of the artistic temperament will be acutely
sympathetic, and thus an easy prey for the importunate: he may even give
everything away and so have nothing for himself. The world will furnish
him with countless opportunities both of great joy and bitter grief, so
the readings of the temperament-chart of the artist will be apt to
resemble the variations of a barometer when changeable weather is about.
Genius is thus as a rule variable to the verge of the irrational.

Erratic as it may seem to the ordinary person, the vision of the artist
is often inherently near the truth. His sensitiveness enables him to see
this "more of truth," even if it becloud his vision occasionally with
mundane perversions. He possesses his own standards, and when these
conflict with the conventional it is convention that must be sacrificed.
Thus the conventional mind brands the artistic temperament as immoral.
But morality is not absolute, it is conventional and relative: we do
not, as once, punish the sheep-stealer with the gallows nor the heretic
with red-hot irons, for our standards have changed with the years. So
also do they vary with our locality: what is right in this place is
wrong over the border. The vision of the artist sees beyond the
formularies to the substance, and so he is prepared to brave criticism
for his stand upon what he knows to be true.

Love and beauty call to him with other meaning than they bear to the
prosaic and self-satisfied, and so he answers to the call of affection
when perhaps it would have been better for his peace of mind that
caution and prudence should have held sway. But again it is an open
question whether the man who follows the gleam, with inspiration to
beckon him, does not come nearer to the truth than the man of
calculating caution who sums up and weighs. Sometimes crabbed age awakes
to the realisation that the cocksure aim of youth is on occasion nearer
to the mark than the aim directed by cold intellect, plotted out on a
diagram, and worked out correct to three places of decimals. It is
perfectly possible for the cautious and orthodox pedestrian to spend so
much time and effort in dodging the dangers of life's path, and in
endeavouring to keep off the grass, that he makes no solid progress. On
the other hand, the artistic temperament lives in the world and is not
entitled to follow its own laws where those conflict with the interests
of others. The mere possession of this type of temperament involves its
Bohemian owner in many difficulties which do not beset the path of those
who fit into the routine of life as they find it. Certainly it is
advisable for the artist to temper his ways with discretion, for genius
is altogether too apt to make a meteoric blaze and end up in a fizzle.

The possessor of the artistic temperament is frequently deemed
unreliable and capricious, and to a certain extent this is true. It is
the sensitiveness first to one impact and then another, the
susceptibility to the manifold forces that play upon the individual,
which turn him now in the one direction and then in the other. He is
lured and led by this, and then by that. Yet at times he is capable of
the greatest concentration: immersed in his subject he may even forget
the outer world and omit to eat his dinner, or perhaps like the
philosopher he may eat it twice.

It is, however, quite possible to cultivate some of the advantages of
this temperament and to restrict the disadvantages. It is not
necessary, for example, that anyone should be at the mercy of every
transient impulse: this involves an enormous waste of energy, as would
the voyage of a ship which should suffer itself to be blown hither and
thither by every passing breeze. We only respond to that to which we are
mentally attuned, and our minds pick up out of the welter of errant
thought only those which correspond to the note we sing. This, then,
suggests that by attuning the mind to certain things we automatically
throw it out of tune with conflicting ideas. The successful artist, as a
rule, is one who has learnt to render himself oblivious to distractions,
and so is enabled to concentrate his attention solely on the work in
hand. The artist who will be permanently unsuccessful is the one whose
enthusiasms attract him first to one thing and then another, never
allowing him to remain absorbed by the one thing long enough to bring it
to a satisfactory issue. Auto-suggestion applied to this point of
inculcating response to certain things, and immunity from the influence
of others, is an easy and extremely practical help.

One characteristic of genius is an extreme fertility in making mental
associations. A central object comes into mind, and immediately the mind
of the genius, by contrast, comparison, analogy, inference, and
imagination, weaves around it a wealth of possibility: the dull-witted
man sees the same, but his mind travels no farther than the actual
vision. The quick mind supplies the apt repartee, while the dullard
thinks of the appropriate reply next morning--if at all. The
disadvantage of the latter mind is that it does not work easily, the
danger of the former is that it may work too easily and get out of
control. Where the central control does not suffice to keep a strong
hand upon this easy-running mental machinery, it may quickly merge into
eccentricity and possibly into madness. The insane show this same
tendency to rapid, but irrelevant, association which lands them in
incoherency: they make, or indulge in, associations which no normal
person would allow. A genius is only a genius while the necessary
selection and control over these associations is retained, when this is
lost the genius passes into that insanity to which it is so closely
associated. The same conditions and remarks apply to the artistic
temperament, which itself is a mark of possible genius.

The artistic impulse is essentially creative, and in this it
demonstrates its relationship to the question of sex. It is well
recognised that many of the inspirations of genius in the various forms
of Art have come at a time when the artist was in the throes of the
gentle passion. This "love neurosis," as the cold specialist dubs it, is
in essence a condition of exaltation, and therefore of exceptional
sensitiveness. Need we wonder, then, that our artist-friend makes
perhaps more frequent excursions than the humdrum individual into the
realms of amorous exuberance? By nature he is more susceptible to the
influence of the finer emotions, and he will find a thousand graces in
the curve of an arm or the turn of an ankle, where, were you to appraise
such in cold blood, there might be after all little enough to rave
about.

It seems probable that the inspiration of the opposite sex in the
artistic direction lies more in this mood of exaltation than in any
specific influence. In the exalted condition there is the greater
capacity of response to inspiration from outside ourselves, and also
from within. Under all circumstances we are being played upon by the
waves of the sea of thoughts in which we daily live, and therefore
inspiration from this outside source is somewhat of a commonplace. But
under certain conditions one can undoubtedly be inspired by one's own
greater (subconscious) mind, which contains as treasure all the lore of
its own experience, and probably a good deal more beside.

However, the artistic temperament, with all that may be said for or
against it, is a gift of the high gods, and while it does not of
necessity imply a greater degree of spirituality and spiritual impulse
than the normal, it does at any rate make this possible. The conditions
are provided for finer work than is open to the majority, but so long as
man has a measure of free will he is able to turn the use of his gifts
upward or down. The freedom of the artist may of course degenerate into
license, and the spiritual impulse may be turned to perverted ends.
There is a distinct difference between the truly spiritual and what may
be termed the psychic: there are hidden powers and latent possibilities
which the specially sensitive are beginning to unfold. But the danger is
exactly on a par with that which up-to-date chemists and scientists
foresee in the physical world. There are tons of energy, we are told,
locked up in the atom of the physical world, and the scientist prays
that mankind may not find the secret of unlocking that power until his
moral sense is developed to such a degree as to prevent his using it for
destructive ends. It is comparatively easy to stimulate the psychic side
of our natures, but unless these powers be tuned by an accompanying
spirituality to a high note, unexpected and even undesirable results may
follow. The artist has taken a step forward in the exploration of a new
realm, and new discoveries--even though he does not fully comprehend
their import--are falling to his lot. The safeguard of the pioneer lies
in his recognition of the spiritual nature of his quest: if he realises
that he is making contact with a new realm of thought and idea, then he
will rate his calling high, and not run unnecessary risk by pursuing it
in any unworthy or selfish aim.



CHAPTER XI

"PURE MUSIC"

"We understand but little of music. The greatest masterpiece is but
a signpost to that infinite realm of harmony, in which music is for
ever included, and to the joy which awaits in its eternal
unfoldment"

_F. L. Rawson_


The point has been raised in discussion--"Is there such a thing as pure
music?" The question involved is whether music must necessarily convey
any emotional message, or whether it may just be a concourse of sweet
sounds signifying nothing. There are those who are prepared to lend
support to the proposition on either side: but, inasmuch as the whole
object of these pages has been to emphasise the spiritual message of
music, our viewpoint would naturally lead us to take up a position in
conflict with that of the "pure music" school.

The difficulty in all discussion, and particularly in such as this,
consists in the fact of our own individual uniqueness. Little as we may
realise it, our standards of judgment and criticism are purely
individual and infinitely variable. Two people see a thing: put
scientifically, the result of this is that each experiences a
stimulation of the optic nerve. Apart from any differences arising from
the varying powers of concentration and observation, the stimulus will
be the same. But the next step in the process of seeing is the
translation of this nerve-stimulus by the brain into a visual image:
this can only be done by the awakening of a brain-picture which is
already there--in short, by recognition. As the pictures already
existing in the mind are compiled by the experience of the individual,
and as no two sets of experiences can possibly be identical in all
respects, it follows that the visual image awakened is a purely personal
and unique one. The thing seen is variable according to the individual.
It is impossible for us to observe alike even when we are concerned with
concrete objects: still more is it impossible when we deal with abstract
subjects such as Art and Beauty. Hence arises the fundamental difficulty
of discussion.

In the world of affairs we have arrived at certain understandings or
conventional views which we generally accept, and upon this basis we
proceed to argue as if our facts were facts--which which they are not.
We agree to regard a certain "colour" as red, although as a matter of
fact it is neither a colour, nor is it red. Colour is merely the
reflection of certain light rays transmitted by ether waves: our red
object reflects the red rays of the spectrum, having absorbed all the
others. But in the absence of light our object is no longer red, and
colour does not exist. Had we generally agreed to call this colour blue,
then it would be blue instead of red. The basis of any argument about
colour must be some sort of convention of this kind to form a common
meeting ground. The difficulty in discussion about music is that such a
conventional basis of agreement does not exist.

Music may thus convey a message to one person and not to another: it may
be "pure music" carrying no emotion to this man, and yet it may convey
something peculiarly definite, to the mind of the other. The message is
not a thing of which we can logically argue "either it is, or it is
not": both statements may be true. Sound exists in the form of
vibration, but if I am deaf I cannot hear it: it has no existence--FOR
ME. The problem thus centres itself largely in the mind of the
individual rather than in the question whether there is or is not a
message and a meaning. Not only music, but the whole world is brimming
over with messages and meanings which our dull senses cannot appreciate.
The folk who populate this globe are largely dead. They answer to such a
limited range of interests and sensations that they cannot in any real
sense be said to be "alive."

The message of music may be a very gossamer thing, it may be far too
tenuous to be expressed in words, though possibly it might be conveyed
eloquently enough in some of the sister Arts, in dancing, posture,
gesture, or in facial expression. "Pour not out words where there is a
musician," says the writer in Ecclesiasticus. The message may scarcely
be a thought, or emotion, or even an idea: it may simply be a mood.
Words so often become our masters instead of our servants, and we are
apt to think that if a thing cannot be reduced to a verbal formula it is
an airy nothing, a figment of the imagination. So it may be, but it is
none the less real. We have thought of ourselves as material individuals
for so long that it is difficult for us to use other than material
standards in our estimate of immaterial things: hence our confusion. We
can feel a thousand things far too delicate to explain or express, joys
too exquisite to voice, doubts too tenuous to utter, and griefs too
heavy to be borne: we could not put them on paper, nor submit to be
cross-examined as to their reality and substance, but there they are,
and not all the argument in the world could impugn their reality to us.
What is the most emotional of all the Arts? Music. No art has a deeper
power of penetration, no other can render shades of feeling so
delicate."[22]

[Note 22: Ribot. "Psychology of the Emotions."]

Let us take a concrete example: the change from the major to the minor
mode carries with it a change of sentiment. We feel that, quite
noticeably, the minor mood is one of sadness and resignation as compared
with the major of brightness and activity. It may be advanced that this
is merely a matter of association in the mind, that we have been long
accustomed to relate grief and melancholy and sadness with minor keys,
and that therefore the one idea very naturally brings up the other. The
argument is logical, and cannot be summarily dismissed. But when we
reflect that this contrast of activity and resignation, as typified by
the major and minor modes, also corresponds to the fundamental relation
of the sexes, the active and the receptive, the "doing" and "being," we
may question whether association is sufficient as an explanation. The
major and minor modes may thus be themselves but expressions of some
deeper spiritual relationship embodied in the nature of things.

Without giving rise to any definite emotion, and in the absence of any
specific programme, it is thus quite possible for music to suggest a
mood or to induce an atmosphere. Surely this is, in effect, the
conveyance of a message and a meaning, even though both be inarticulate.
Such influences may call to like moods or atmospheres within ourselves
and bring them into expression: by being made thus explicit instead of
remaining latent they gain added strength, and are recorded in ourselves
by memory. Thus even the mood suggested by the music of the moment may
be a lasting item in our soul's growth. Art in all its variety of noble
forms is ever beckoning to the best in us, to the sense of the beautiful
and to the unformulated ideal: it is the spirit clothed in form calling
to the spirit not yet expressed, bidding it build beauty. "This building
of man's true world--the living world of truth and beauty--is the
function of Art. Man is true, where he feels his infinity, where he is
divine, and the divine is the creator in him. Therefore with the
attainment of his truth he creates."[23] This call to spirit is the old
allegory of the sleeping beauty waiting to be awakened to her royal
rank by the kiss of the seeking prince: it is the same truth as
expressed in the Bible--"We love Him because He first loved us."

[Note 23: Rabindranath Tagore. "What is Art?"]

It is not music alone that thus seeks to arouse our latent divinity and
to stimulate the tenuous virtues which expression alone can make robust.
When rhythm without calls to the rhythm within, it answers because it
must. "Dancing is symbolical, it means something, it expresses a
feeling, a state of mind."[24] The grace of the dancer may very well
stir something in mind that ordinarily receives but little awakening.
With the changes in the rhythm of the dance, and the gestures that vary
in consonance, the echo within sings to a new tune. Perhaps we find
ourselves tapping the rhythm with our feet or our fingers, or it may be
that we find the very expression on our own face is altering to match
that upon the countenance of the dancer. The skilful speaker also can
arouse almost any emotion he pleases in the minds of his audience. He
may one moment have them laughing, and then the next, as if by magic
touch, he may bring them to sober mood or even to sorrow. Music no less
surely does the same through the agency of rhythm, melody, and harmonic
texture. There may be no words in the music or the dance, but the
emotion is nevertheless conveyed. Moreover, each idea in mind has its
own associations, and when once the central idea is implanted it
forthwith proceeds to clothe itself in these associations, decking
itself out according to the native colour of the mind.

[Note 24: Ribot. "Psychology of the Emotions."]

We find it impossible to conceive that anything which may be termed
music is devoid of significance, though there are certainly gradations
and degrees of import. It may well be that music, like so many other
things in nature, has a three-fold aspect corresponding to our own
make-up as body, soul, and spirit. The outer form, the composition and
actual structure, represents the "body" of music: that part which is
visible even to the unobservant eye and audible to the indiscriminating
ear. This is a matter of notes and tones quite apart from any real
meaning or value. Such would be an academic exercise, or a technically
correct but unconvincing ballad. It might possibly make some appeal to
the intellect by by virtue of the "exhibition of balance and symmetry,
the definiteness of plan and design, the vitality and proportion of
organic growth,"[25] but this would not suffice to place it in the
category of music displaying the "soul" element.

[Note 25: Hadow. "Studies in Modern Music."]

This second and higher "soul" significance shows itself in the
emotional appeal of the music, in the feelings it provokes and the mood
it engenders. Here sound speaks in parables with an outer story and an
inner meaning. The non-musical person hears sounds, but the musical mind
hears sense. Whether the tidings be of sweetness, affection, or delight,
of strength, vigour, or energy, of sorrow or regret, there is all the
difference in the world between the outward comprehension and the inner
interpretation. The formal part of the music is the frame, but the
emotion supplies the picture within.

Yet this is not all. There is still the significance which the picture
is intended to convey, the spirit, the very heart of it. This
constitutes the inspiration and "if this inner reality (Spirit) does not
exist in a work it ceases to be a work of art at all: it becomes an
example of beautiful handiwork--fine craftsmanship, perhaps--but not
art."[26]

[Note 26: Newlandsmith. "The Temple of Art."]

It is only in the spirit that the real meaning of true music is to be
found, minor and partial revelations may be met and enjoyed at the lower
stages, and at their level these may satisfy the aspirations of those
who cannot take the higher seats at the musical feast. It is impossible
that this spiritual message should be comprehended except by those who
have in some measure unfolded their own spiritual perceptions. Spiritual
things must be spiritually discerned. The Bible has its literal and
verbal message, appropriate in degree to those whose intellectual
accomplishment rises no further than an ordinary story: but there is an
inner meaning which the more advanced can appreciate. There is yet an
esoteric meaning, a holy of holies, into which only the initiated and
instructed can penetrate, and this only those whose spiritual vision is
unfolded can discern. "Only those in whom the spirit is evolved can
understand the spiritual meaning."[27] But each stage has its gospel,
though that of the higher stages is incomprehensible to those in the
lower. So in all true music there are meanings within meanings, and
nothing is meaningless. "Pure" music perhaps conveys the innermost
meaning of all, for "shades of colour, like shades of sound, are of a
much subtler nature, (and) cause much subtler vibrations of the spirit
than can ever be given by words."[28]

[Note 27: Besant. "Esoteric Christianity."]

[Note 28: Kandinsky, quoted in "Eurythmics." (Dalcroze.)]

In this three-fold aspect of music, then, we may perhaps find the key as
to whether music must necessarily imply anything or not. There are the
outer courts of the Temple of Art, where the meaning and expression is
adapted to those who may foregather only there, but there are the inner
courts where "more of truth" is to be found by those who have ears to
hear. But in the inmost chamber we may discern in the greatest
masterpieces in music that "something beside, some divine element of
life by which they are animated and inspired."[29] All true music has
true meaning, but this must correspond at each stage with the power and
grade of discrimination and appraisement possible for the individual. We
are wise in our generation if we refrain from disparaging what we do not
understand; it is easy to reflect upon ourselves in such disparagement.
Conversely, if there be no meaning, surely there is no music, and we
need waste no time in endeavouring to find a message and a meaning in
that composition wherein the composer himself could find none to put.

[Note 29: Hadow. "Studies in Modern Music."]



CHAPTER XII

THE PURPOSE OF ART

"But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear: The rest may
reason and welcome: 'tis we musicians know"

_Browning_


There are in essence but two creeds in the world, the one a
materialistic belief, and the other some degree or phase of a spiritual
conception. Every degree of density is to be found in the material view,
and every grade of refinement exists in the spiritual vision: by
imperceptible gradations they may shade from one into the other, but the
two extremes are material and spiritual. The latter view will tend to
result in unselfishness, in altruism and a keen desire to leave one's
own little corner of the world better for having lived in it. The
material idea must almost of necessity lead up to a selfish course of
conduct, where the personal interests are put foremost, and the sole
object is to "get" as much as possible, as opposed to the spiritual
philosophy which would advocate "giving."

The old wise-heads who carved "MAN--KNOW THYSELF" over the entrance to
the Temple at Delphi knew what they were talking about, for it is
largely owing to the fact that man knows so little of himself--and
generally knows that little wrong--that his philosophy has taken such a
perverted turn. The world, and more especially our western world, is
hopelessly material in its outlook, and we would suggest that it is
because the average man thinks of himself as his material body that his
philosophy follows along the same lines. When a man identifies himself
with his body, and has only a pious hope of having a spirit which will
come into action when he dies, or perhaps a very long time after he is
dead, then naturally his chief concern is with the body of which, at any
rate, he has definite assurance. So he looks after the body, seeks
comfort and luxury for it, and strives for the necessary money with
which to gratify its whims. This means that he must get money the best
way he can, but he must get it: if it has to be at the expense of
others--well, so much the worse for them. If it has to be fought for,
then naturally the stronger wins: the "survival of the fittest" he will
say. Thus, quite logically, from the primary misconception a
superstructure of error is raised. As each body has diverse whims, the
pursuit of these must lead to the widest range and conflict of aims, and
thus materialism results in disorder, cross-purposes and confusion. On
all sides this diversity of aim, with its corresponding confusion, is
visible both in individuals and in nations to-day.

But as soon as a man realises that he is primarily a spirit, having a
body as an instrument through which to play, his point of view is
entirely altered. The pursuit of mere physical enjoyment and luxury is
recognised as having an enervating and blunting effect upon the finer
spiritual faculties: it puts the instrument out of tune and spoils its
tone. Money is seen as somewhat of a snare and a delusion, when valued
for its own sake. The object of life is recognised as spiritual growth,
and in that growth happiness is found. Quite notoriously it is sought in
vain in mere selfish pursuits. This spiritual growth can only be
attained by the practice of the law of love, manifesting itself in
unselfish service in the interests of others. The effect of this
spiritual conception is to eliminate diversity of aim, and to lead back
to the simplicity and unity of a single purpose--that of spiritual
evolution.

The body, we know, has come up the long ladder of evolution, and it
still retains in its build many traces of the climb. There are muddy
patches in the instincts and passions, and encumbrances and impedimenta
in both mind and body, as part of our heritage. But spirit has come
DOWN. As Wordsworth expresses it--"trailing clouds of glory do we come
from God." All religions claim for us an immortality, and it is
difficult for us to conceive an existence finite at one end and infinite
at the other: so if we are to claim our immortality of spirit we should
surely recognise our present spirituality which ensures that
immortality. However this may be, we may at any rate agree that body
comes UP and spirit comes DOWN, and they consort here together for a few
decades: then the body undoubtedly returns as dust to dust, and "the
spirit returns to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes). But there would be no
evolution and no fulfilment of purpose if the spirit were not to return
a richer and more developed spirit by reason of its sojourn in the
flesh: there would be stagnation, just a simple ineffectual turning
round and round, as of a screw that had stripped its thread.

The battle royal is the fight for mastery as between body and spirit:
evolution proceeds apace when spirit takes command and bids the body
minister to its progress, but evolution halts when the body clogs the
spirit. Then Nature, our taskmaster, punishes us, ever choosing that way
which is entirely appropriate and induced by the fault itself: this is
the purpose and the cause of our pecks of trouble. The battle has to be
fought--and won--by each of us: the only effect of temporary surrender
is indefinite delay. The battle has still to be fought again with added
difficulties later on. "The popular-class composer nowadays is not
infrequently a thoroughly competent and well-read musician who, _if he
chose_, could write really solid and substantial music."[30] So the
frankly commercial musician who writes for the market has surrendered in
one skirmish of spirit. Very possibly he gains the desired pieces of
silver, but they are dearly paid for at the expense of his own artistic
soul. Also in the long run the surrender is futile, for he MUST evolve:
and if he has slipped down, then so much further has he again to climb.

[Note 30: Article in "John o' London's Weekly."]

The antagonist of Materialism in the world-contest is Spirit, and the
organising and marshalling of the spiritual forces has been the province
of religion in general. But religion has itself been too much apart from
the things of everyday, it has lived in a compartment of its own,
labelled "Sundays only." As a consequence its influence has failed to
permeate the world of affairs, and both religion and the world have
suffered direly as a result. When religion ceases to carry any weight
with the individual, his balance necessarily sways toward the material:
and when religious teaching practically ceases to have any vitality in
the education of the nation, it follows that the outlook must turn more
and more in the direction of selfishness, force, and mere worldly
affluence. This may be a tolerably comfortable method of extinction, but
it is no way of progressive life. Music allies itself with the forces at
work on the spiritual side, and thus comes to the battle in support of
religion.

Music exists as a permanent witness to the reality of the intangible,
and to the power and pre-eminence of qualities which no money can
purchase and which Time is powerless to destroy. The so-called solid
things disintegrate, the vogue of one year spells oblivion in the next,
but the power of music to stir the pulse, to awaken the emotions and to
uplift the spirit, has remained through all the yesterdays, and will do
so--we may anticipate--through all the to-morrows. It is an ally and
co-witness with religion for immaterial and spiritual ends. Another
ally, in the guise of science, is also coming fast in support. Science
has already overstepped the bounds of the material in many quarters:
its trend is ever in the direction of the invisible, where there is
another range of values and qualities, and where no scales weigh and no
footrules measure. It is now engaged in discovering the unseen causes
which underlie the objective effects we notice in the physical world.
Presently, there can be but little doubt, we shall find the three,
Religion, Science, and Music (or rather, Art in general) ranged side by
side for the ultimate destruction of the purely material and mechanistic
theories of life: and when these are finally overthrown, with them will
also topple the doctrines, founded thereon, of self-seeking and strife.

Our own spirit-nature is our truest guide to the discernment of the
spirit universal. There is but one life and one spirit, though the
degrees of its manifestation are wide as the poles asunder: just as in
our own body there are specialised cells for high tasks and for lowly,
yet the same life pervades them all. There is a wild robin redbreast who
always comes when I dig my garden, to eat the grubs that the spade turns
up. He is not in the least afraid, and he often answers when I whistle
to him: he is a little cousin of mine. His life is in no essentials
different to my own life, except that I have the advantage of him in
being able to express so much more of the same spirit. Divinity and
spirit (are not the terms synonymous?) are in all, behind all, and in
ever-increasing degree before all. Our own answering to love and the
appeal of beauty is simply the echo of like to like; the spirit within
replies to the call of spirit without. For this reason Music is a
universal language, and Art can know no boundaries.

To explore the beauties of Art and Music is to add those beauties, by
expression and the power of memory, to the self. Thus we may grow more
beautiful, just as surely as by thinking ever in terms of pounds,
shillings, and pence, we grow more sordid and mercenary. It is a
perfectly commonsense process. Furthermore, the appreciation of beauty
and of artistic expression develops our power of keener appreciation.
Evolution in music cannot stop, for spirit is behind it: and the spirit
within must eventually find its way back to the universal source from
which it came, just as water must find its own level. The present status
of everything that we observe to-day is purely temporary: we are looking
at one picture of a cosmic cinema film that stretches on to infinity.
Just because we see only one static picture of a process which truly
never stops moving, so we get a view of life that contains much of
delusion. We have heard a Doctor of Music state in public his opinion
that the age of the composition of musical masterpieces was for ever
passed: so will others say that the age of inspiration and prophecy has
also departed. These good people are mistaking the outer form which is
transient, for the inner principle which is spirit and eternal. They
have lost their bearings. Music must go on from development to
development, and just as soon as it proves itself incapable of further
development and expression along certain lines, the spirit within will
rend the husk that can no longer contain it and will blossom forth in
some new and more expansive guise. As with our own bodies, the outworn
garb will be laid aside, and the spirit will find a finer form.

"Like Scriabin, Scott looks to Music as a means to carry further the
spiritual evolution of the race, and believes that it has occult
properties of which only a few enlightened people are aware."[31] There
can be no doubt that this survival-value of Music lies in its power to
assist spiritual unfoldment and progress, and if the serious practice of
music involves a certain discipline of plain living and high thinking,
are not these themselves adjuncts to a progressive evolution? Where the
adequate interpretation of music involves a certain abnegation and
unselfishness in the case of a soloist, and a large measure of team-play
and co-operation in the case of concerted work, are not these again
elements in inculcating an attitude that transcends self? Does not the
simple appreciation of music tend to unlock the doors of imagination and
set it free in regions far removed from the gross? And are not all these
so many aids to higher ends?

[Note 31: Eaglefield Hull. "Cyril Scott."]

If the inspiration that is in music and works through it serves to
awaken us to the fact that the world of spirit is very close at all
times, and that our knowledge of it and our communion therewith is
solely limited by our capacity of fine response, it will have done
something of incalculable value. If it arouses in us the desire to fit
ourselves by aspiration and a high resolve to achieve that delicacy of
sensitiveness whereby we ourselves may catch some of the spirit's
tenuous message, it will have served to put us in touch with eternal
influences. It should certainly assist in breaking down any leanings
towards a gospel of materialism with all its naked selfishness, and in
so doing "Art is calling us the 'children of the immortal,' and
proclaiming our right to dwell in the heavenly worlds."[32]

[Note 32: Rabindranath Tagore. "Personality."]





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