Art. II. A Complete Diftionary of Music, confifting of a copious Expla.

nation of all Words necessary to a true Knowledge and Understanding of MusicTranslated from the original French of J. J. Rousseau. By William Waring, Second Edition *. 8vo. 3 s. bound. Murray. 1779. F all the translations that have disgraced the English press,

this is the most abominable specimen that we recollect ever to have fallen under our notice. It is a production, indeed, of so extraordinary a kind, that we find it difficult to form any hypothesis to account for its having made its way to, or through, any press. Though the name prefixed to it may seem to be that of a man, the version has all the appearance of having been the task of a child learning French, and set to transhate out of that language by the help of a Boyer's Dictionary. Be the translator however man, woman, or child, it is evident at least, that he or she is totally ignorant of music, and of the terms that relate to it both in French and English, as well as of the idioms of the two languages.

With respect to a performance thus executed, it might be thought sufficient to comprize our sentence of unreserved condemnation, within the compass of a few lines in our Catalogue. But the work of Rousseau, here so thamefully defaced, is of fuch extraordinary merit; and a translation of it, or, in fort, a good dictionary of music, is so great a desideratum in English literature ; that we think it incumbent upon us more particularly to stigmatize this disgraceful version of it, by placing it in

the more conspicuous division of our Journal, and exhibiting it in the most elevated and distinguished part of our critical pillory.

To begin with matters in which science and technical terms are not concerned, and indeed with almost the very first article ; -How would the feeling Rousseau-tremblingly alive all o'erwere he yet alive, revolt at the praises which this pervertor of his meaning makes him bestow on the French Royal Academy of Music, or the Opera at Paris; when he represents him as laying, that among all the academies of that kingdom, or of the world in general, that may, assuredly, lay the greatest claim to

fame!' On the contrary, Rousseau, who abominated the French music, sarcastically says of this academy, that of all the academies in the world it is that in which they make the greatest noise. C'est assurement celle qui fait le plus de bruit.'

The literal, and generally erroneous, version of his Author, almoft word for word, without any regard either to idiom or sense, cannot be better exemplified than by giving a paragraph

* The first edition was published in numbers, and was not mentioned in our Review,


or two of the original, with the translation placed immediately under it. We shall honestly take these passages at random, or as they occur on opening the book.

Under the Article, Harmony, where he is treating of the harmonic sounds, as they are called, which accompany the fundamental, thus says our Author, and thus, after him, his TransJator; who sticks as close to him as a leech, but without extracting any of his good juices ; - in short, ignorant of his meaning, and accordingly mistaking it almost in every line.

Chaque touche d'un orgue, dans le plein-jeu, donne un accord

Every touch of an organ in full play gives a perfect' concord parfait tierce majeure, qu'on ne distingue pas du son fondamental, major third, which is not diftinguithed from the fundamental à moins qu'on ne soit d'une attention extrême ; & qu'on ne tire found, unless we pay an extreme attention, and draw the tones successivement les jeux : mais ces fons harmoniques ne se confondent successively: but these harmonic sounds are not confounded avec le principal, qu'à la faveur du grand bruit, d'un arwith the principal, but by favour of a loud harmony, and an arrangement de registres, par lequel les tuyaux qui font refonner le for rangement of registers, by which the pipes which make the fondamental, couvrent de leur force ceux qui donnent ses fundamental sound resound, cover with their force those which harmoniques.

Or, on n'observe point, & l'on ne fauroit give their harmonies. Moreover, we do not observe, neither observer cette proportion continuelle dans un concert; puisqu' atcan we, that continual proportion in a concert; since in tendu le renversement de l'harmonie, il faudroit que cette plus conjunction with the change of the harmony, this greatest grande force pasât à chaque instant d'une partie à une autre; force must instantly pass from one part to another; ce qui n'est pas praticable, & defigureroit toute la melodie. which is not practicable, and would entirely disfigure the melody.

Opening the book again we meet with the following pleasant passages, under the Article Accompanying. In the whole compass of translation we cannot conceive any thing more curious. To heighten its relish, we fhall here too prefix the original; and likewise that the Reader may not be at a loss to discover on what subjects our ingenious Translator is discoursing.

Dans un air lent & doux, quand on n'a qu'une voix foible,

In a flow and sweet air, when there is but a weak voice, ou un seul instrument à accompagner, on retranche des fons, or a single instrument for the accompaniment, we cut off the founds,



on arpege doucement, on prend le petit clavier.-Quand on we sacken slowly, we touch the finall key.

-When we frappe les même touches, pour prolonger le fon, dans une note longue, ftrike the same strings, to prolong the sound, in a long note, ou une tenue, que ce soit plutôt au commencement de la mesure, or in a sesion, let it be rather at the beginning of the measure, ou du tems fort, que dans un autre moment : on ne doit rebattre or the strong time, than at another moment: we ought not to requ'en marquant bien la mesure.

Dans peat the stroke till we have well examined the measure. It le recitatif Italien, quelque durée que puisse avoir une note de the Italian recitative, how long a duration foever a note of the base, il ne faut jamais la frapper qu'une fois & fortement avec bass may contain, we should never strike it but once, and that tout son accord :

on refrappe seulement l'accord quand forcibly with its whole accord: we restrike the accord only when il change fur la même note: mais quand un accompagnement it changes on the fame note: but when an accompaniment de violons regne sur le recitatif, alors il faut foutenir la base, o of violins is attendant on the recitative, then we should sustain en arpéger l'accord. the bass, and facken its accord,

Quand on accompagne de la musique vocale, on doit, par l'accom

When we accompany vocal music, we ought, by the accompagnement, soutenir la voix, la guider, lui donner le ton à toutes paniment, to sustain the voice, to guide it, give it its tóne in all les rentrées, & l'y remettre quand elle détonne. its takings in, and correct it whenever it is out of tune.

L'accompagnateur--est chargé spécialement d'empêcher que la voix

The accompanilt-is especially charged to be careful that the ne s'égare. voice lose not itself in an error.

One would almost doubt whether our musical Translator ever saw a fiddle; or, at least, whether he knows that it has a neck, and a finger-board. Under the Article, Doigter, where M. Rousseau treats of fingering, he says—Sur les instrumens à manche, tels que le violon & le violoncelle, la plus grande règle de doigter consiste dans les diverses positions de la main gauche sur le manche. Our Interpreter says— On inftruments for the 'breast, such as the violin and violoncello, the principal rule of fingering consists in the different posicions of the left hand on the

[ocr errors]

fleevė. - At the end of the same paragraph M. Rousseau, speaking of a performer well acquainted with the finger-board, says,

qu'il possede bien son manche'-or he is master of the fingerboard. - He is expert in the sleeve,' says our Trandator. That manche dces actually signify the sleeve of a gown or a coat, our Translator may safely aver, on the authority of Boyer : buc what peculiar train of ideas he had in his head, when he talks of the peeve of a fiddle, and of the instruments of the breast, is best known to himself.

The French have a musical language, or a set of musical terms, almost peculiar to themselves; at least very different from those ufed in the English tongue. Every one of these our Translator either employs as it stands in the original ; or translates literally, and often erroneously. Instead of the letters, G, A, B, C, &c. to fignify the notes of the octave; he invariably uses the terms, Sol, La, si, Ut, &c. Thus again, he is continually puzzling the English reader with such terms as the Tonic, the Sensible Note, the Dominant, the Subdominant, &c, instead of the Key Note, the Seventh, the Fifth, &c.

To a fhake he every where gives the appellation of a cadencé -a term unfortunately appropriated, in our musical language, to convey a very different signification : and that other musical grace, which we call a beat, he calls a beating ; and most richly deserves one for his ignorance of a term known to every blind fiddler at a country fair.-Instead of the terms, sharp and flats he constantly uses those of Diesis, and B flat ; [a translation of Bemol] and what he should call a Natural, prefixed to any note whatever, he calls B jharp [in French, Bequarré). Thus, for instance, F harp, and E flat are metamorphored by our mufical Expounder into Fa diests, and Mi B fiat; and G natural is transformed into Sol B sharp. The confusion arising from this strange gibberish, introduced into an English work, may easily be conceived.

The general turn of our Translator's phraseology may be collected from the following phrases, which occur within the compass of a very few lines at p. 249.— I cannot be prevented to remind my readers.'-—' The fimplicity of the connections [ Anglice, ratio's or proportions - The connection of a modified fifth pleases the ear.'-" The method of establishing and treating a mode.'--. Herein lies their consistent rules.'—" To modulate well in a fame tone, we must first go through all its sounds with a fine music,' &c.. The time and room we have bestowed on this miserable

production will not, we hope, be thrown away. We have, of late, treated with too much lenity, more than one execrable version of works of science; and to check, as far as is in our power, the progress of this evil, as well as to do justice to the Rey. June, 1779.


memory memory of Rousseau, we have thus hung up in chains this Defacer of his writings, in terrorem; to serve as a warning to all future unqualified translators, and a caution to booksellers : - hereby likewise configning his sheets to the oven of the pastrycook,

66 from whose bourn " No traveller returns.” It is not the smallest inconvenience resulting from such publications as the present, that they tend to prevent those who are qualified for the talk from enriching our language with translations of works of merit.

ART. III. Mufic made easy to every Capacity, in a Series of Dialogues;

being practical Lessons for the Harpsichord, laid down in a new Ne. thod, so as to render that Instrument so little difficult, that any Perfon, with common Application, may play well; become a thorough Proficient in the Principles of Harmony; and will compose Music, if they have a Genius for it, in less than a Twelvemonih. Writ. ten in French by M. Bemetzrieder, Mufic Master to the Queen of France, and published by the celebrated M. Diderot. The whole tranflated by Giffard Bernard, M. A. Perused and approved by Dr. Boyce and Dr. Howard. 4to. 3 s. 6 d. Ayre, &c. 1778. THE Public are here presented with the translation of

another musical work of very great merit. Though mufic is one of the molt pleasing of all the arts, it perhaps exceeds all the others in the revolting dryness of its precepts. In the present performance, however, these are delivered, or rather infinuated, in the most alluring form ; that of a dialogue, as pleafing as it is instructive.

Though the enormities of the preceding Article have, perhaps, rendered us less irritable or nice, on the score of idiom and diction, than we should otherwise have been ; they have not made us so callous, or even diminished our fenfibility fo far, as to make us overlook the too frequent gallicisms, vulgarisms, and other defects of the present translation. These, too, are the less excusable, on account of the excellence of the original work, even considered merely as a literary compofition. For though it is strictly a didactic treatise, the precepts contained in it are delivered in such an easy, graceful, and animated manner, that we have a right to expedt something more than mere fidelity, with respect to rules and examples, in the translation of it. In a work of this character it was reasonable to hope that our Translator would have attempted to transfuse into his copy a little of the phlogiston of the original.

The original work, which was published at Paris a few years. ago, under the title of Leçons de Clavecin, &c. consists of several dialogues, of which four only are here translated.


« VorigeDoorgaan »