Home » The Consort of Music: A Study of Interpretation and Ensemble by J a Fuller-Maitland
The Consort of Music: A Study of Interpretation and Ensemble J a Fuller-Maitland

The Consort of Music: A Study of Interpretation and Ensemble

J a Fuller-Maitland

Published July 14th 2014
ISBN : 9781500526146
Paperback
256 pages
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 About the Book 

From the Introduction:MODERN English lacks an exact equivalent for the French word ensemble, and this, though useful, is yet so far from beautiful as an adaptation that the revival of the good old word consort seems very desirable. Besides theMoreFrom the Introduction:MODERN English lacks an exact equivalent for the French word ensemble, and this, though useful, is yet so far from beautiful as an adaptation that the revival of the good old word consort seems very desirable. Besides the fact that its use as a musical term is considered obsolete by the dictionary - makers, the main objection to its employment is its similarity to concert, with which it has in truth very little in common. No doubt at one time a consort of music meant very much what a concert means now- but the term carried with it no suggestion of public or formal performance. As to concert, which comes to us from the Italian concerto (to the confusion of translators the same word, or Konzert, is used in German for concerto and concert), it is suggested in the New English Dictionary that the verb concertare may at first have conveyed the idea of emulation such as too often disfigures the modern concert- consort, on the other hand, can only mean the accord of several musical factors in harmonious association, in fact, exactly what the French call ensemble.Another musical term now unused, but, like consort, enshrined in one of Miltons noblest poems, conveys nearly the same idea, and concent too is often confused with the similarly pronounced consent. As a matter of fact, for a perfect performance in public, it may be said that all four are required- there must be consent, or the fellow-feeling for each other among the executants- concent, or the power of making voices or instruments blend together- consort, or such perfection of association as may be attainable- and concert, including perhaps some friendly rivalry as well as the apparatus of a public performance.In spite of the etymological propriety of the old word which appears in the title, I think it best to use, throughout the book, the recognized term ensemble, since so very many non-executive musicians, and not a few performers, are strangely ignorant of what is meant by the spirit of concerted music. Ensemble may perhaps be defined as that kind of co-operation in music in which each performer bears some share of responsibility for the general effect, as well as for the correct execution of the notes set before him. In this aspect of associated music, it will be seen that the responsibility for a good performance of choral or orchestral music rests, not with the individuals, but with the conductor of the whole, so that the chapters devoted to these two kinds of music are necessarily a little off the main trend of our inquiry- but even here there is such a thing as ensemble, though the duty of obtaining it rests with one man, not with many. While, a good ensemble is not difficult to recognize when it is present, its absence is very seldom assigned as a reason for the hearers lack of pleasure, or for their feeling that all has not gone well, though each of the performers may be an accepted master in his own department. This important branch of musical art is naturally studied as carefully as may be at our great music-schools, but for those who have not the advantage of such surroundings, or of constant intercourse with executants more highly equipped than themselves, it seems strange that no written words should exist to help them in the study of what all critics are fond of insisting upon as an essential part of a good performance.It is because of this lack of practical guidance that I have ventured to draw attention to some of the main principles of ensemble in various kinds of music- for it often happens that even accomplished professional artists seem completely oblivious of the cause that makes their concerted efforts vain.