Pure music is earnest and songful. It has meaning in every part. No tone is without a lofty purpose. That is true music. It is classic from the heart that is put into it.
By being faithful to our music it will do for us more than we can dream. Do you know the inscription that used to be over the north gate of the city of Siena, in Italy?
“Siena opens not only her gates, but her heart to you.”
THE TONES ABOUT US.
“Scientific education ought to teach us to see the invisible as well as the visible in nature.”—John Tyndall.
There used to live in England a famous scientist named Tyndall, who was interested, among other things, in the study of sound. He studied sounds of all kinds, made experiments with them, wrote down what he observed, and out of it all he wrote a book, useful to all who desire to learn about sound and its nature.
One day, Tyndall and a friend were walking up one of the mountains of the Alps. As they ascended the path, Tyndall’s attention was attracted by a shrill sound, which seemed to come from the ground at his feet. Being a trained thinker he was at once curious to know what was the cause of this. By looking carefully he found that it came from a myriad of small insects which swarmed by the side of the path. Having satisfied himself as to what it was he spoke to his companion about the shrill tone and was surprised to learn that he could not hear it. Tyndall’s friend could hear all ordinary sound perfectly well. This, however, seemed to be sound of such a character as did not reach his sense of hearing. One who like Tyndall listened carefully to sounds of all kinds would quickly detect anything uncommon. This little incident teaches us that sounds may go on about us and yet we know nothing of them. Also it teaches us to think about tones, seek them, and in the first days increase our acquaintance and familiarity with them.
Men of science, who study the different ways in which the mind works, tell us that habit and also a busy mind frequently make us unconscious of many things about us. Sometimes we have not noticed the clock strike, although we have been in the room on the hour; or some one speaks to us, and because we are thinking of something else we fail to hear what is said to us. It certainly is true that very many people do not hear half of the sounds that go on about them, sounds which, if but heeded, would teach people a great deal. And of all people, those who study music should be particularly attentive to sounds of all kinds. Indeed, the only way to begin a music education is to begin by learning to listen. Robert Schumann, a German composer, once wrote a set of rules for young musicians. As it was Schumann’s habit to write only what was absolutely needed we may be sure he regarded his rules as very important. There are sixty-eight of them, and the very first has reference to taking particular notice of the tones about us. If we learn it from memory we shall understand it better and think of it oftener. Besides that, we shall have memorized the serious thought of a truly good and great man. This is what he says: