Purcell

Purcell

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4
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Purcell by John F. Runciman

Published:

1909

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Purcell

By

4
(1 Review)

Book Excerpt

dn was the first to get that principle in an iron grasp and use it, with numberless other devices, to get unity in variety. Not till nearly a hundred years after Purcell's day did that come to pass; but the music of Purcell and of others in his period, showing a sense of key relationships and key values, is a vast step from the music written in the old modes. Let me beg everyone not to be so foolish as to believe the nonsense of the academic text-books when they speak of the new type and structure of the newer music as an "improvement" on the old. The older were perfect for the things that had to be expressed; the newer became necessary only when other things had to be expressed. By the substitution of the two scales, the major and the minor, with the dominant always on the same degree of the scale, the fifth, and the order of the tones and semitones fixed immovably, for the numerous modes with the dominants and the order of the tones and semitones here, there and everywhere, the problems of harmony could be

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Gilmartin
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Short and to the point, the author writes what he knows and avoids a lot of the idle speculation others read into the life of Purcell. Wittily written and very easy to read, this is let down a little by the fact that the musical examples are not reproduced in the e-text version.
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