Monday, June 19, 2006

How to sing -- Thomas Symmes

Objections to the "New Way" of singing, by one favoring the "Usual Way"

(1) That it is a New Way, an Unknown Tongue. (2) That it is not so Melodious as the Usual Way. (3) That there are so many Tunes, we shall never have done learning. (4) That the Practice of it gives Disturbance; Roils & Exasperates men's Spirits; grieves sundry good People, and causes them to behave themselves indecently & disorderly. (5) That is Quakerish & Popish, and introductive of Instrumental Musick. (6) That the Names given to the Notes are Bawdy, yea Blasphemous. (7) That it is a Needless way, since their good Fathers that were Strangers to it, are got to Heaven without it.

-- Thomas Symmes, Utile Dulci. 1723

Note: Symmes was a proponent of the "new way" or "regular way" of singing -- learning to sing by reading music rather than memorizing tunes. He presented the above in the form of a dialogue to give the arguments for the "Usual Way" and against his viewpoint. Of his own views, he writes:

"Singing by Note is giving every note its proper pitch, and turning the voice in its proper place, and giving every note its true length and sound. Whereas the Usual Way varies much from this. In it, some notes are sung too high, others too low, and most too long, and many turnings or flourishings with the voice (as they call them) are made where they should not be..."

1 comment:

amity said...

While I enjoy listening to music sung the "usual way" I am glad these predictions for the future of the "new way" have not come to pass. Or maybe they have in a certain way....