Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a red square to see a textual note. Click a grey square to see parallel passages in In Praise of Musicke.
FOR MUSIC, BOTH
VOCAL AND IN-
AS WELL AS
Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our
King, sing praises.
Psalm 47 [K. J. V.]: 6
And David and all Israel played before God with all their
might, and with singing, and with harps, and with
psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and
I Chronicles 13:8
Both mornings and evenings God takes delight in the hymns
of His Church.
St. Jerome on Psalm 64
I am inclined to approve the usage of singing in the church;
that so by the delight of the ears the weaker minds may
rise to the feeling of devotion.
St. Augustine, Confessions X.xxxiii
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR HENRY UNTON AND SIR WILLIAM HATTON, KNIGHTS, JOHN CASE SENDS HIS GREETINGS
OT long ago, right honorable sirs, while intent on more serious studies, for a space I retired into solitude, and when I had enjoyed this a little, as if I were not alone (although I was alone), made drowsy by a kind of celestial harmony, I fell asleep. I believe that the Nymphs or Muses surely were singing, and behold, in my sleep there appeared to me two royal brothers, competing most bitterly like Eteocles and Polynices about kingship and possession of the scepter. They sought me as judge of their quarrel, I refused, they sought others. I named the two of you, right noble Unton and Hatton. The choice pleased them, they related their contention from its beginning, and they disappeared. Why waste more time on this? The matter stands thus. Sound, the king of Harmony, had two wives, to wit Grammar, by whom he fathered Accent, and the nymph Music, on whom he engendered Concord. The firstborn, namely Accent, was grave and eloquent, but austere and less popular, whereas the younger, I mean Concord, was endowed with a lovely appearance, sweet voice, affable discourse, and was welcome and agreeable in his companionships. And now their old father died and, Micipsa-like, bequeathed his realm to both sons. The elder was aggrieved, he refused to share the kingdom, as the firstborn and heir he claimed it all for himself by right. A senate was convened: musician, poets, orators, philosophers, holy prelates and theologians were assembled. These all urged that, brotherly hatred set aside, both should have an equal share in rule. Accent fell in a rage against the Britons, as Ferrex had, and ordered that his brother Concord together with his mother Music be banished from the senate, the marketplace, the theater, and the church, as if he were a deadly foe. But his brother, trusting in his popularity and the right of his cause, challenged his brother to a combat: straightway Fame sounded her bugle, they rushed to the field in their armor, they fought, but neither fell since Jove favored no victor. Now exhausted by their battle, both came from the field to a desert place, both appeared to me with their mothers, and they asked for judges and umpires. I named you, they immediately demanded your verdict, to which they would forever acquiesce. You consented, right worthy knights, so judge the matter as it stands. They are brothers, dissension has arisen, now the question is whether Concord and his most sweet mother Music is to be exiled from the commonwealth, the Court, the marketplace, the church. Let there be no prejudice in what I say, but were my opinion to be asked, I maintain that this should not be. For Music is a queen, albeit now a widow, Concord is a royal son, although now bereft of his father. It was his father’s will that he should reign, so his brother’s authority should not be so great that he be banished. It is indeed an unworthy thing that a son should cast his mother into exile, that a brother should do this to a brother. Indeed it is a most unworthy thing to have banished that mother whom God loves, that brother whom the world has so long revered. I appeal to you, right noble Unton, whose father (whom I mention for honor’s sake) worshiped the divinities of Concord and Music both in life and in death. I likewise appeal to you, right distinguished Hatton, whose still-living father (and long may he live) receives and protects Music and Concord as a widow and an orphan; you golden pair, I say, both of whom express Accent in such a way that nobody is so well versed in music and concord, with the result that not many practice these things more skillfully than the one of you, and scarcely anybody more than the other, I say again you must judge. And assuredly there is no reason for you to hesitate, for God, nature, heaven, earth, every constitution, movement and ordering of things since the world’s beginning commend Music and Concord to you, since in all of God and nature’s productions there is a certain concord, there is a certain harmony. So I wrote this apology for the mother and the son, that is for Music and Concord, with greater confidence than I offer it, written as it is by my unschooled Minerva, to your choice judgment. If it be worthy of the light, I pray that you will nourish it, still in its infancy; if you think less well of it, you should strangle it in its very cradle, an abortion. Farewell. Given from my house on the last day of November, 1588.
Most devoted to your dignity,
AN ENCOMIUM OF MUSIC; ITS ORIGIN
USIC, concerning which I begin my present oration, has God for a father and Nature for a mother, since it is a certain something which is divine, wherein the mind, that image of God, takes wonderful delight. It is also a certain physical and natural something, by which not only the ears of men but also, so to speak, the senses of all things are unutterably and unimaginably pleased. Therefore, although some of the ancient writers ascribe its invention to Jove (like Diodorus Siculus), others to Apollo (like Homer), others to Mercury (like Heraclides), others to Pythagoras (like Boethius), others to Jubalcain (like Moses), and others to this god or that one, yet I represent the three Graces with the organs and instruments of music set in the right hand of the true Apollo, that is of our wise and ever-living God, and demonstrate that music herself is the daughter of God and Nature, born with no stain of incest, granted to both divine and human things, not without incredible providence. For if there be a sweet concord in the power, number, movement, ordering, figure and beauty, if, I say, there be this in the entire essence (if I may so speak) of things, as Pythagoras said, if there be a union and harmony, as did Plato, no man can dream that music (which teaches this natural concord of the world) took its origin from any mortal. Hence those right wise philosophers were of opinion that Man’s mind arose from the First Cause and from music, that it is wonderfully captivated by music in its mortal journey and life, and that in the end it is perfected and blessed when returned to the First Cause and to Music.
2. And this is indeed credible, since those men either growing faint in mind or near death steadfastly affirm they have heard music, being men who recalled to their life, sensation and speech by the movement, speech and howling of bystanders, often grow quite angry and deplore being returned from such great peace of mind and delight of the inner senses to unhappy life, and indeed this should not be the case if, the external senses deadened, the mind did not perceive the heavenly music in the First Cause, whence it took its origin. This is the great and wondrous power of music, which none of the other arts possesses, to which none attains. Here I shall not adduce poets’ fables concerning Amphion, Orpheus, Arion and six hundred others, who by music’s power are claimed to have moved wild beasts, tamed infernal Furies, drawn after themselves rocks and forests, in this context (which is that of those who philosophize) I seek only the truth. But these things are true: that music, having taken its origin from God, residing in the movements of the celestial bodies, infused in individual things and the effects of Nature in accordance with divine providence, made vocal and (as they say) instrumental by a kind of human imitation, honorably taken up by our ancestors, polished by art, usage and experience, by its impulse sways and transforms listeners’ affections, intentions, gesture, movements, actions and manners not otherwise than does the influence of heavenly music, and swiftly bends them to, as it were, its own powers and properties, and indeed this would not be strange, if music moved only men.
3. But (as Agrippa says) beasts, snakes, birds take delight in the hearing of music, since birds are attracted by singing, deer captivated by flutes, elephants and dolphins are moved by melody. What I say is strange yet true, fish in a pond at Alexandria are brought to a halt by a musical tune. What I add is amazing yet most assured, the very elements, deaf and stupid, rejoice when suffused with a musical instinct. For Marcus Varro attests that in Lydia he saw islands leaping from the mainland into a lake to the sound of flutes: they dance, as it were, in a circle, but when the music ceases they return to the shore. But I relate things more wonderful than these and yet familiar, that on the Attic shore the sea itself makes sounds of the lyre and of harmony. At Megara a certain stone produced the sweetest concord when stricken by individual blows. What? You say these are false lies? Either repute and popular talk lie, or in that famous cathedral at Winchester a kind of choir was heard singing most sweetly for many years, without any human voice but not without great admiration. No few men deal in fictions and are egregious liars, if many years ago music (should I call it celestial or terrestrial?) was not heard at the tomb of a certain nobleman in Scotland. And so if God, if Nature, if the heavenly bodies, if the elements, if men, birds, serpents, fish, if the stones in churches, if spirits in graves sing and are charmed by musical sound, we are unfair, we are unjust, we are injurious to God, to ourselves and to Nature if we should debar it from heaven, from the church, from the marketplace, from men’s public and private employment as being a profane and false science.
4. For what is more unjust, what more unfair, than to deem that art as false and profane which is called the preserver of justice, the guardian of temperance, the moderator of morals, the tinder and spark of religion? It preserves justice (as Plato says), for the condition of the commonwealth depends on the modes of harmony. Why need I add more. It renders men chaste, honest and religious, as Aristotle teaches. Tell me, Anteas, tell me Midas, you who say that your ears and minds are more moved by the whinny of horses and the hubbub of the countryside than by Apollo’s Muse, what harm has music done you? Perhaps you accuse it of being a humble dependent of whoremongers. But Agamemnon joined it to Clytaemnestra as a guardian of her chastity. Perhaps you scorn it as a source of income for beggars. But among the gods Apollo, Mercury, and Minerva, among the heroes Hercules, Achilles, and Alexander, among the rulers Epaminondas, Themistocles, and Augustus, among the philosophers Socrates, Solon and Plato cultivated it as an ornament of their divinity, nobility, or gravity. So, then, you reject it as a corrupter of morals. But Aristotle and Plato recommended it for boys, lads and young men as a teacher of virtue. But you curse it as a plague upon republics. But Homer prescribed it for the Greeks, Solon for the Spartans, and Ismenias for his patients as a medicine for the plague. Finally you cast it out as rejected by sacred law. But Lycurgus urged its retention upon the Spartan citizen, Minos upon the Cretan, Pan upon the Arcadian, and taught and proclaimed that if it were absent it must be retrieved. And Plato himself, the prince of philosophers (Aristotle always excepted), denies that the laws of music can be altered without a change of political constitution.
5. Why waste more words? If you consider its author, Who is God, if you consider its nurse, who is universal Nature, if you consider its instrument, which is the machinery of the entire universe, if you consider the subject of the art, which is harmony, if you consider its means, which is the human voice, or its end, which is the body’s repose, the mind’s contemplation, moderation of the affections, the inculcation of morals, the preservation of virtue, the expiation of crime, and lastly the sweet union and blessedness of all things within the First Cause, undoubtedly, as in time past, music will stake its rightful claim on the laurel in peace, the palm in war, love in leisure, honor in business, profit in the city, reward in the countryside, employment in the church, and praise in every place and in every home.
WHAT MUSIC IS; HOW MANY PARTS IT POSSESSES
USIC, that daughter of Nature, teacher of morals, mistress and moderator of minds (which I have posited to be divine in the spheres, human in more lowly bodies, and organic in instruments) is not inappropriately defined by Theophrastus as a numeric and harmonic proportion of all things in the theater of all the university, by which motion, order, powers, natures and forms resound amongst themselves like viols and strings, and stricken, is if it were, by the sweet touch of the First Cause, pour forth a heavenly choir and chant. It is proportion, since all concord and harmony consists of numbers. It pertains to all things, since (as Pythagoras, Democritus and Plato each) there is a certain melodic modulation and harmony in all the effects of Nature, either taken per se or in the connection of the Whole with other things. For bees have their buzz, birds their song, metals their ring, the elements and heaven’s bodies have in a manner their voice. And the conjunction and chorus of all these things has its harmony sweeter and more delightful than any honey. In this definition (“by which motion, order, powers, natures and forms resound amongst themselves like viols and strings”) that concord consists of the agreement of things. It is further added that “stricken, is if it were, by the sweet touch of the First Cause, pour forth a heavenly choir and chant,” that in the union of all things with God, as in the varied and manifold motion of the voices and their proportion with the bass, you may understand the wonderful symphony of all things. The Philosopher does a fine job of noting this in his book De Mundo. For he says, “in the way that when the master of the choir begins to sing, straightway there follows the most sweet modulation of the other voices, both high and low.” Thus after the First Mover touches Nature’s lyre with his plectrum, all of Nature’s strings, organs and instruments, moves from the First Mover to the center produce the sweetest song and harmony, a subject for minds rather than ears
2. But concerning this matter I would have the earnest reader consult Agrippa, who in De Occulta Philosophia Book II wisely, shrewdly and copiously describes music as natural, celestial, and human. I would have him note what voices the learned man ascribes to the planets, what ones to the elements, what to men, and what to the other effects of Nature and the works of God. Then, I reckon, he will assuredly understand (if he is not unduly aboil with a zeal for contradiction) that the machinery of the universe, order, motion, beauty and form cannot endure without music. For even if he should not hear Pythagoras’ sounds, even if he should not perceive the voices resounding in heaven, Apollo’s lyres, trumpets and instruments, he should be too much the slave to his ears if he should imagine that there is no insensible sound or harmony. For just as a chorus of many voices resided in Boetius’ inward mind as he was writing De Musica, and as images are often presented to the mind when the eyes and other external senses are closed, so, although the sound of bodies constantly turned by the hand of God is not impressed on the ear, in the mind there is nonetheless a most true modulation and harmony of their bodies being thus moved and of moving spirits. But Pythagoras and his disciples add causes and reasons that this is not heard, either because the organ [of the ear] is more obtuse than that it can be penetrated, or that the medium is more distant than it can be passed through, or that the object is more excellent than that it can fall within the purview of our senses, since within us there is no sense less acute than hearing. For those who dwell by the Nile grow deaf because of the roar of its waters falling from on high. The sight of the eye is easily dazzled if it looks to hard at the beams of the sun. Therefore it is no strange thing if immortal harmony fails to impinge on the ears and senses of mortal men.
3. But enough for this definition. I pass to another, not wholly different from the former, namely that music is the science of concords occurring by force of nature, voice or instrument, sweetly playing amongst themselves, which is granted us for the worship of God and the consolation of human life. It is a science, since it has a defined subject, namely harmony. It has defined properties, namely by its modulation to entice men’s minds whither it wants, to impel them in the manner it wants, to sway them when it wants, and to possess them wherever it wants, and it has defined demonstrations, namely from causes and effects. It is also a science of concordant things, since it consists of number, proportion, concord of things, voices and instruments. Hence it is said to be natural with respect to things, vocal with respect to men, and organic with respect to instruments. What is added at the end of this definition, viz. that it is granted us for the worship of God and the consolation of human life, shows music to be a divine science, since it flows from God, and the same is granted to Man since he has most need of it for the consuming of the miseries wherewith he is set about in this life. But (that I might embrace all these things in a few words) Euclid defines it thus: music is the science of skilful modulation. Hence it is agreed that all men who sing, and ply instruments and do so with practice and with art. Music is divided into the theoretic, which pertains to the mind and to contemplation, and the practical, which pertains to voice, hand and action. Again, it is divided into the divine which instructs intelligences and spheres, the human, which instructs sounds and voices, the organic, which instructs viols, instruments and keyboards, and the mixed which instructs the powers and concords of voices and instruments.
4. These two divisions are indeed those of the genus into its species. But if you wish to know of its accidents and affections, that practical music which is discerned in voice and instrument is customarily reckoned as various and multiple. For one kind, called the Lydian, is lowly and relaxed; another, the Phrygian, is vehement and agitated; and another middling and mean, the Dorian. The Lydian has for its subject peace and leisure, the Phyrgian Mars and war, the Dorian the mind, God and contemplation. Agrippa and Boethius are to be consulted about this matter, who posit seven species of harmony, namely the Phrygian, Lydian, and Dorian, to which in a higher grade and movement of modulation they add the Hypophrygian, which produces a warlike frenzy, the Hypolydian, which creates effeminate softness of mind, and the Hypodorian and Mixolydian, which engender the ecstasy and transport of a mind fixed upon the contemplation of divine things. They shrewdly and wisely compare these species now to the seven Muses, now to the seven planets, now to various movements of the humors, now to human parts, and now to numbers and proportions of voices; and, which I desire to be observed, both writers refer all hymns and songs, and all arts and forms of modulation to the glory and honor of God. A man should truly be deemed a musician who bends the strings and chords of his mind to God, the Master of the chorus and of the universe.
THAT MUSIC IS USEFUL FOR EVERY KIND OF LIFE
LL human life is located either in work (hence it is called mechanical), or in civil action (hence political), or in contemplation (hence theoretic and divine). Under the first heading I comprehend farmers, soldiers, and artisans; under the second, the more polite citizenry, nobles and senators; under the third, philosophers, academics and priests. Here I am not dealing with the vipers and locusts of republics, to wit, of vagabonds, beggars and idlers, who, being devoted to no pursuit of virtue, devour the flowers and fruits of others. For this kind of men is condemned by the votes of all the philosophers as unworthy of the light, unworthy of life, unworthy of the commonwealth. And so when in this context I prove that music is useful, or rather necessary, for every kind of life, I understand only those men who are striving to benefit the republic wherein they live by exertion of body or mind. For the liberal use of this science is conceded by Aristotle only to liberal and freeborn citizens.
2. But let me deal with each of these in their order. Among the first kind are farmers, soldiers and artisans, who would be shattered by their great labors, by most grave dangers to their lives, by the great tasks and works of the commonwealth, and would quickly fail, were they not refreshed by any solace to their life and enticed to return to their plough, their battlefield, their work. But there is no more liberal, more pleasant, no more honest recreation than that which is gained from music. Music is therefore a necessity for this first kind of men. For, as the philosophers teach, music repairs the body’s worn members, it renders stricken spirits more lively, it arouses buried strength, it refreshes travelers, it uplifts those who do battle, and lastly it diminishes every pain and weariness of those who toil. Hence they say the Arabs employ songs to create less fatigue for their heavily burdened camels. Likewise farmers and artisans, who while away their time and lessen their burden with a song, experience consolation. By rights I cannot blame the political institution of our ancestors, who granted Tityrus and Meliboeus their music two or three times a year, yet not in such a manner that they profane solemn feasts and festivals with impure songs, but that, freed from their toils and cares, they might serve God with greater ease and, refreshed by the honest sports which music begets, they might return to their jobs with greater energy. For music is to those who toil what medicine is to the ailing, what condiments on the table are to the feeble. Just as the one cures the sick and the other whets the weak appetite, so music helps those broken and wearied by their labors, and by a certain hidden power and property it inspires them to the undertaking of greater efforts. Hence the poet wrote: “Music, deservedly the pleasure of gods and men, alone relieves disturbed souls and sick sorrow. Without it there nothing delightful for minds, nor anything loveable, to whose numbers the gods and spheres are turned, fires shine in the heaven wherewith the great Zodiac glitters, and observe laws and prescribed times. With it their leader, Phoebus, Phoebus’ sister, and the golden stars in the heaven ply their movements with a perpetual agreement.” Why say more? Hector demands the bugle in war, in peace Zeuxis, Polyceitus and Alcmeon require the lyre. That is to say, all this first kind of men, which lives on the land, in the field, in the city, does not happily thrive without music being provided to it in good time.
3. Concerning the second kind of life, which is the political, you have no reason for doubting that it is refreshed by music, since the more polite citizenry, nobles and senators, who are occupied in turning the spheres of the republic, just as they sometimes experience a greater ecstasy of mind, so of necessity they demand a sweeter recreation and solace. And indeed, though men like Caesar, Cato and Decius may perhaps seem to the rabble to live more lavishly and happily, yet since they are the Atlases of their republics, always weighed down by great burdens, often buffeted by contrary movements, it is an intolerable insult if we should begrudge them music. Tell me why in Homer Apollo is said to have sung at the feast of the gods, Mercury to have engaged in the deception of Argos in Ovid, Pan in a music-contest with Apollo in Musaeus. Tell me why “the noble centaur sang to his great son,” Hercules was sung to by Linus, Achilles by Chiron? Alexander is said not only to have listened to Timotheus gladly, but also to have painstakingly learned the art of music from him. Were these not all princes and chieftains? And why, pray, did they learn music? Surely for no reason than that, burdened by the graver business of the commonwealth, they might live, as it were, restored to themselves by this divine medicine and consolation. Therefore these men who would, with the Egyptians, place on Philips’ table a skeleton and frightful image of death, i. e., those who prescribe only dire and gloomy things for political men broken and wearied by the political business of the republic, these are Stoics and very like Aristarchus; they fail to remember that Philip is a man, and if in the morning he gladly hear that statement, Philip, remember you are mortal, nevertheless at suppertime can be refreshed by honest music, since he is a mortal. Rightly did Homer sing, “Dancing and singing beautify feasts.”
4. Here I shall say little if anything about that third kind, wherein are categorized philosophers, academics and priests. For those men seem to me intolerably mad who deny them music and harmony, since their sciences, arts and studies are called divine Muses after music itself, and indeed these Muses speak of nothing but concord and harmony. Do you want me to prove this? Music teaches them to curb their affections, scorn riches, and cast aside their cares for mortal things, and these things befit philosophers. Music impresses upon us the forms and ideas of the virtues, it molds honest manners, it stimulates us to the study of wisdom, and these things befit academics. Music spurs us to the contemplation of the First Cause, it transports the human mind from earth to heaven, it purges the mind of its dross, it dispels its clouds, and these things befit priests. Music is therefore useful for this third kind, wherein are numbered the philosophers, academics, and priests. But you will say “these things which in this last place you ascribe to music are inventions.” No, they are true, as you will understand when you have understood that music has more power for the contemplative life than for the active, and I have demonstrated that its power strikes the internal senses more than the external.
ARE THE MIND’S INWARD POWERS AND POTENTIALITIES MORE AFFECTED BY VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC THAN BY THE OBJECTS OF THE OTHER SENSES?
T is an old truth that for the absorption of learning (which is a mental habit) vision has less power than hearing. For although vision is the most acute of all the external senses and the liveliest animal spirit, nevertheless inasmuch as only the appearances, representations and images of things exist in the eye by means of vision, whereas by way of the ear not only the image of things but the things themselves enter into the citadel and the coffers of the mind, it is clear that the mind is far more fitly informed by a voice through the ear than by an image conveyed by the eye and by vision. Hence what the Philosopher teaches is true, that men blind from birth not seldom grow wise, but the deaf never do. If these things be true, who does not see that the inward powers and potentialities of the mind are moved and affected by vocal and instrumental music far more than by the objects of the other senses? For if, in comparison with the ear stricken by sound, the eye is blind, what should you think of the other obtuse senses and their deceptive objects?
2. But I shall touch on each point. There are eight arguments which render this thing we are treating sure and beyond doubt, namely 1.) from a comparison, 2.) from a property, 3.) from a simile, 4.) from an example, 5.) from a similarity, 6.) from effects, 7.) an argument a maiore, and 8.) one from an end. From a comparison, in this way: the soul’s internal powers and potentialities are much more aroused by things themselves than by the ideas and images of things, the sounds of music and concord, created in the ear de novo and received into the ear by the motion of air, are carried into the mind not otherwise than as things themselves, and therefore the mind is more vehemently moved by the impulse of voices and instruments than by the objects of the other senses. This reasoning is sound, inasmuch as the other senses, affected only by the fleeting forms of things, present to reason and intelligence uncertain colors and deceptive images of things, not things themselves. If you add this force to this argument it is much more firm, namely that musical sounds are more eagerly sought by the mind than the objects of the other senses. For just as nature and appetite are inclined to sweeter food, so the minds’ potential and intellect is attracted to the most pleasant sounds. For, as will be demonstrated later, there exists a great and wonderful likeness between Muse and mind, between music and the soul, inasmuch as, if Aristotle is not mistaken, the human soul is a kind of sweet harmony.
3. But I now I come to my second reason and argument, which is taken from the property of music. Music’s property is to invade the mind’s powers by a kind of divine assault, and to strike these not otherwise than the strings of a lute or other instrument, with the same movement and affection with which it is produced. The reason is that air is set in motion by voices singing in accordance with numbers, and, gently received at the threshold of sensation, moves both the vital and the animal spirits of the heart and the mind, which are the vehicles of the mind, and sways, strikes and inspires the mind itself with various affections in keeping with its modulation. For, were it otherwise, how could that famous musician Timotheus of Miletus inspired Alexander now to rage, now to mercy? How could Pythagoras (as the story is told) have by means of music led a wanton young man from his lust to a chaste and honorable life? How could David have restrained mad Saul with his harp? How could Ismenias the Theban have cured many gravely sick men? In sum, I quite fail to see how countless men have done many other marvelous things by the musical modulations and concords of sound, nor did the ancient philosophers whom I read understand this.
4. Hence (if I may come to my third argument, from the cause), the sages give no other cause for this notable motion aroused in the mind by music’s power than that harmonious concord, proceeding from a mental conception and an imperious affection of imagination and the heart, in conjunction with the air, broken and tempered by the voice’s power, easily penetrates the listener’s airy spirit (which is the bond of body and soul), and moves and affects the listener’s affection, impressed by a new affection, his imagination, impressed by a new imagination, and his whole mind, impressed, as it were, by the entry of a new mind. Indeed (which is strange yet true), the song that has made its entrance strikes the heart and so insinuates itself into the mind’s secret places and hidden recesses that it forms and creates new humors of the body, new affections of the mind, new manners and actions, and an entire new man, sometimes gradually, but not seldom of a sudden. Marsilius Ficinus expresses this thing finely. Concord, he says, moves the body by means of the airy nature innate in motion, by means of the agitated air it stirs the spirit (which is the airy bond of soul and body), by its affection it creates an impression on the mind’s affection, and then, as it were, by a friendly signification it acts upon the mind itself, and lastly, more vehemently penetrating by a movement of subtler ai,r it imprints a conforming and, as it were, kindred quality, suffuses nature with a certain wonderful delight, not just the simple delight of the mind, but also a natural one of the body, and it snatches and claims for itself by right the whole man. That these things are true is manifest from this, that the spirits agitated in the heart and imagination (as Cardanus says) catch up the air standing still in the breast, which the rest of the spirits on the other parts of the body and members follow, now moving the fibers, nerves and muscles, now restraining them, as the government of voices and numbers either makes them swell with its incitements or relaxes them as its course subsides and imitates a slower motion. Hence it comes about that Man is more inwardly aroused by voices and instruments, and is summoned to other actions than those which lies within the power of hearing, for example to mercy, murder, lust, cowardice, madness, tranquility, and to countless other passions which harmony begets, nourishes and inspires. For if hearing can render the human heart fearful by a thunderclap, a violent movement of air, give me a reason which the mind cannot be sweetly delighted by song gently striking the air. Now if this comparison be fair and just, there is no such power and influence in no objects of the other senses: color does not thus affect the eye thus, heat touch, flavor taste, or scent smell, their appearances do not thus move the imagination, do not thus affect the mind. For in them such a vehicle is lacking, there is no similar medium, in them, there is no such proportion with the mind, no such sympathy and likeness.
5. Which I shall now demonstrate in my fourth argument, which is from a simile. The human mind (as I have previously shown) is naught else but a certain sweet harmony. So the soul more greatly grows excited, grows soft, and is moved because of its similarity and sympathy with musical voices and instruments, more than by means of the fantasies and shadows of the other senses. What? Do you concede to the magnet the power of attracting iron? Do you concede to a dog’s tongue the means of cleaning herbs and plants, and eloquence the art of moving us, yet deny to music (which is the mistress of manners and affections) the means and the bridle for steering the soul? Assuredly there is no reason for you to deny this, for, just as we perceive that by means of sympathy the touched string of a viol is able to set a-tremble a like-tuned string of another instrument though itself untouched, likewise, with musical sounds sweetly striking the air and the ear, the strings of the internal senses are indeed moved, like the equally-tuned ones of a viol or lute , and when these are stricken and made akin the mind itself (inasmuch as it is divine) is wonderfully delighted. If you seek a further cause, it is this: inasmuch as what is the affection of the singer and the movement of the air carrying the affection, such is the affection of the mind and the motion of the mind receiving the sound. Therefore, just as orators in the senate or the forum, seething with various affections, impress upon the minds of their audiences the same affections with which they are burning, so skilled singers singing hymns in a church, if you will, or marriage-songs at a wedding, strike and affect others with the same emotions they are feeling. At the sight of Venus the eye often entrances the mind, so tell me the reason why, when cymbals, voices, organs and psalteries are sounding well, the ear should not move it more.
6. The fifth argument is taken from examples, and it is thus. Birds and beasts are more captivated by songs than by the objects of the other senses; soldiers in war, those toiling on the way, bawling infants in their nurse’s embrace, the sick, the sorely wearied, impious folk, melancholics, the sad, the mad are swayed by melodic numbers, voices and instruments, although they cannot be touched or moved by the other senses’ appearances or ideas (be they ever so pleasant). In music impressed on the mind there is therefore a far greater power for moving Man than in any other shadows and shapes of things, which with their lying images only tint, but do not touch, the mind. If you wish historical evidence to prove this point, you may read in any source that music summoned Alexander to arms as if it were a agitator, and brought him back from arms in more relaxed and softer style; that in the Phrygian mode it incited a young man of Tauromenium to burn down a courtesan’s house, but by shifting into a spondaic form it retrieved him from the act; that it restrained savagery in Achilles, rage in Hercules, the mind’s soft lust in Clytaemnestra Why linger on this point? Not only one man, but an entire Greek army would have perished, had not Homer applied wholesome music to them as a medicine when they were suffering from the plague. The Spartans would have failed, had not Terpander restored their health when they were affected by disease in peacetime, and unless Tyrtaeus had restored their courage when they were routed and distraught. Hippocrates did not achieve these and similar things with his herbs, nor Apelles in his paintings. And so music is a more emphatic and efficient influence than any deceiving objects, images and likenesses of the other senses.
7. These things that I have adduced ought to suffice for any man who is not a stranger to music and to all sweetness, but I shall nevertheless add the arguments which follow from music’s effects and from its end. From its effects, since music teaches us to rejoice over good things and feel pained by their opposites. Aegisthus the adulterer did not possess Clytaemnestra until the bard left as her guardian had been stabbed and perished, and none of the other senses produces nothing of the kind. So music moves the mind’s internal powers and potentialities more than any other objects of the senses.
8. My argument a maiore is not without validity, for those who scorn music are not men, but rather are said to be donkeys such as Midas; they are not men, but are said to be stones, such as Anteas the Scythian, for if they cannot be moved by music (that noble object of the mind), this is an argument that they can no more be moved by the objects of the other senses than are donkeys and stones, and this is as if you were to say “music, that most effective exciter of the mind, does not move certain men like Aristarchus, therefore the apparitions of the other senses can move them much less.”
9. Finally, there exists the argument from music’s end, since (as Macrobius says) in this life the soul is limitlessly captivated by musical tones since music conveys to the soul in the body a memory of that music of which it was aware in heaven, and which it it is destined to know after its separation from the body. For this is the end of music (but particularly of the Dorian) in this life, that, as a spirit speaks to a spirit though visions rather than languages, by forms rather than words, so by various movements and sounds music declares to the mind many secrets of future and celestial harmony (whence it has taken its origin). As a man in whom exists the sense and the savor of philosophy, reflect to yourself, if a sheep (a simple animal) can conceive hatred at the sight of a wolf, which is something else from the image of the wolf he sees; if it can conceive love at the sight of its mother, which is something else than the shape of its mother he visualizes in his imagination, tell me whether Man, that most perfect of all animals, only perceives sound and concord when he hears a concord? This is scarcely true, but rather he is often carried along to the perpetual pursuit of God and divine things by other forms of divine love that have been conjured up and perceived. Thus true harmony speaks to the mind, thus it instructs the inner mind. But next I shall speak of music’s theoretic use.
THE THEORETIC AND CONTEMPLATIVE HAS GREATER NEED FOR MUSIC THAN DOES THE PRACTICAL AND ACTIVE
OWADAYS those tho urge that music has no little power for the devotion of worshippers and the study of contemplatives are criticized by many men wielding a censorious pen. They too who strive to demonstrate music’s divine use in the Church of Christ are also in bad odor with the Stoics of our age. In the limits and confines of this epitome I have requested myself to limit discussion to philosophy, otherwise I out of sacred oracles and the Holy Fathers I could adduce many testimonies, many arguments which grant approval: Jubal and the patriarchs, if you consider the time of Nature; David and the Prophets if you consider that of the Law; Christ and the Apostles if you consider that of Grace. For Jubal invented musical instruments, David played his harp most skillfully, after the Holy Supper (as Matthew writes) Christ and the Apostles sang a hymn before ascending the Mount. Hence the Apostles, who in their epistles frequently urge the holy use of music, were imitated by apostolic men (the fathers of the Church reborn), who, as is agreed in Church histories, placed the greatest value on music both vocal and instrumental in their assemblies everywhere. This is crystal-clear, for Pliny the Younger, writing of the Christians in his letter to Trajan, says this: “This was the essence of their crime or error, that they were accustomed to gather before daybreak and sing a song to their Christ as if he were a god.” Here I cannot pass over in silence the testimony of Eusebius, who appears to trace the divine custom of singing in church to Christ. For, he says, by Christ’s example, Who sang a hymn after the Supper, it passed into common use. I shall prevail if I add St. Ignatius, the disciple of St. John the Disciple, the third Bishop of the Church of Antioch after Peter, who heard choirs of angles singing antiphons of the Holy Trinity, and therefore began the custom of singing the same among the psalms. Here too (to deal not only with vocal music, but also with that of organs and instruments), I can introduce and cite that most learned Vitalianus, Pope of Rome, who about nine hunbred years ago most skillfully composed a vocal piece, and taught men to sing in church in harmony with an organ. You may read more in the Fasciculum Temporum and in Platina in his Life of Vitalianus.
2. But what am I doing? I shall first demonstrate this thing from the hardship of the theoretic life, which life is either inchoate in the mortal journey or perfect in heaven. The one is like a growing flower, the other possesses the fruit of blessed life, the former is like a slender, infirm plant growing upwards and subject to many and great storms. It therefore has need of aid, by which it can be supported against the tempests of this world. So lest Demas, stricken by the tedium of the contemplation he has undertaken, should turn away from God, from Christ, from religion to the world’s trifles, there is need of music’s divine inspiration, by which he might be called back from this slippery fall and perilous relapse — of music’s divine inspiration, I say, since (as Plato says) this life is wholly founded on musical concord, and the mind’s contemplation itself is nothing other than a kind of heavenly modulation. To the degree, therefore, that the way of virtue, which is situated in contemplation, is more difficult, it has more need of a sweeter companion (which is, as it were, like a vehicle on the journey), whereby it may be refreshed. And music is the sweetest companion, since it removes all the tedium of this most arduous and difficult way of life, and inspires the traveler, wounded by the thorns and pricks of this world, the object of a thousand buffets, pierced by the infinite miseries of misfortune, yet nevertheless rejoicing and triumphant, his mind fixed in God. For music teaches us to be heedless of vanity’s shadows, pleasure’s torches, fortune’s tricks, the world’s miseries. Music is therefore necessary for men who pray. And, if I am not mistaken, this can also be confirmed by a natural cause, since that Dorian harmony speaks mysteries and hidden things to the mind fixed on contemplation, and also, his inner potentialities touched, it transports the devout man to heaven, like Elijah in his fiery car. For sound moves external air, air moves the hear, the ear common sensation and imagination, and imagination the mind dwelling in its citadel. So if the sound be sweet, together with the string of the mind they pour forth the sweetest concord. For, the grave, sweet motion of air being perceived, it conjures up other species of sweetness, instructed by which it sings to itself and God that truly mystic alleluia of the contemplative. This being posited, pray join me in considering how much is lacking from the devotion of the contemplative, if this miraculous power and stimulus of music should be wanting.
3. My third argument is drawn from authority conjoined with reason. Macrobius writes that the gentiles employed Dorian music in their oracles, auguries and exsequies because the mind, frequently growing faint in its contemplation, rises up in flames of piety, reviving thanks to its sympathetically harmonious movements. As the Orator writes in his Tusculan Disputations, Pythagoras disclosed to his disciples in Greek his most arcane oracles of philosophy in a symphony of voices and instruments. And indeed this is not strange, for frequently at the point of death men stupid from birth speak divine things, whose prophecies and curses find an outlet, as is agreed concerning Domitian in Lucan, Orodes in Vergil, Calanus in Curtius, since in them minds nearly free and separated from the discarded clothing of the body speak: how much more divinely are those who are incited to heaven, to the mind, to God by music’s heavenly inspiration, drawn from the body, from the senses, from all thought of this world? Why should I add the testimony of Aristotle, who teaches that music has excellent power for three things, namely for quietude, for the disposition of life, and for contemplation? And this last, as he says, possesses two parts, the search for truth and the expiation of sin. “What? Does music search for truth? Does it free us from the bond and monstrosity of sin?” Assuredly it inquires and it frees. But hear me, it does so as a sweet medium, not as a first cause and principle. For it is a medium whereby a man (transformed, as it were, into mind alone) perpetually contemplates First Mind and First Truth. Here I shall say naught of the authority of Saints Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and the other Holy Fathers who unanimously, one and all, revere and admire music’s power in contemplation. Wherefore Isidore says “Music was introduced into the Church so that those who are not bound by words might be moved by the sweetness of its modulation.” Augustine adds an explanation for this thing: “for (says he) I perceive that in accordance with their sweet diversity all our spirit’s affections possess their particular modalities in voice in song, which are aroused by I know not what hidden affinity.”
4. The arguments which follow are taken from a usage, from a comparison, from a simile, from a necessity, from a relation, from a hidden property, and from an example. From the usage of music, which is either public or private public all over the world in churches, private mostly among the Muses in universities. Churches and universities are places of contemplation more than of action, appointed for philosophers and priests. It is therefore probable that music pertains to contemplation more than to action, to the theoretic life more than to the practical. Our ancestors commended this use of music in churches as holy, and not long ago many did so as useful, and now more recent writers as legitimate. The argument from a comparison that follows is between the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant: if the one should imitate the other, insofar as is possible, and if it is described as being possessed with the singing of twenty-four elders, the harmony of angels, the hymns of the Saints, lyres, harps, and other instruments of the kind, who should think it absurd, who should think it impious if within the Church Militant we, excited by the memory and the imitation thereof, should serve the divine godhead with human voices, organs, psalteries and other musical instruments, and prepare a road to the end, a movement towards the goal whither we are moving? Hence you may conclude in a word that music is required for perfect contemplation in heaven, and so it is necessary for inchoate contemplation in this life, and indeed that it is more helpful for this inchoate contemplative life than for the active one to the degree that music is more analogous, agreeable and similar to this life than to that one.
5. What ought I to add? I prove the same by a simile. For just as a skilled and prudent physician, wishing to administer pills or bitter potions to the indisposed, first alters their taste with sweeter syrups lest to their peril his patients refuse the wholesome medicine because of its bitterness, so, once upon a time our ancestors, truly philosophic and wise men, attempting to prescribe the bitter yet precious roots of the virtues to the contemplative, mixed music like a nectar with those roots so that, its sweetness being perceived, all the tedium and effort of contemplation might be removed, yet virtue’s fruit might be harvested. I shall not say with this same simile Augustine recommended to us the praiseworthy use of music in the Church, I shall not say that (as he writes in his book The Confessions) in church he was often driven to tears by the sweetness of the singers, and, thanks to the Spirit falling over his mind by means of this singing, he abandoned his Manichaeanism and was driven to a confession of the Christian faith. Oh music’s divine power, which thus touches the minds and hearts of the contemplative! But here an argument is drawn from a necessity, since, as they say, the whirlwinds of the affections cannot be calmed in music’s absence. For the fantasies of the contemplative are so many, so many the cheats performed by demons, so many the perils of the solitary life, that if you strive to dispel them by any other art but music, you will only act in such a way that you go mad from an excess of reason.
6. Lastly, this thing is proven by experience, since those who live in desert, solitary places, their eyes fixed on the ground, not seldom sing to themselves. The reason is that by song they dispel fantasies, banish the world’s deceits, and in living the solitary life they much more readily give themselves over to the contemplation of divine things. The reason for this takes its power from the relative nature of sensation. For in the theoretic life music so acts that, their minds wholly plunged into contemplation, men think of naught but the celestial. For you man often see the devout so cast into ecstasy by odes and hymns that, the rest of the senses put to sleep, they are transported outside of themselves that they seem separated from these mortal dwelling-places. And so if the contemplative life is like a death of the external senses and a lifting-up of the mind to God, nobody is such a dullard that he would not confess that music (which dulls the senses and carries the mind to heaven) is most necessary for the contemplative life. Music is a most divine science of the mind, therefore it is most fit to move the mind, therefore it is necessary for contemplation. “How do you prove this?” In this way: since the mind is the seat of contemplation, music is the science of mental virtue, therefore it much more powerfully moves the mind itself.
7. But what am I doing? My discourse swims out too far into the ocean of this subject. Two arguments still remain undiscussed: the one is sought from a hidden property, the other from an example. For brevity’s sake, I shall conclude by treating these two as one. Music’s hidden property, which shows that it is most powerful for the theoretic life, is manifestly discerned in the pelican, the phoenix, the nightingale, and other birds which lead the solitary life. For, sitting in its nest with its young, the pelican sings its final farewell and stabs its breast with its beak. Flying to the mountain-top, the phoenix sings once in its life, and with a movement of its wings steers itself into the flames and ashes. The nightingale, perched on thorns in the dead of night, praises God most powerful with varied song drawn from its heart, and, wearied with life, falls to earth lifeless. And the swan, as if desiring its demise, sings a little before its death, closing its unhappy life with voice and celestial harmony. There are few pelicans nowadays, no phoenixes; I scarcely know if there are any who sing with the nightingales at midnight, but I know for sure that there are right few who join the swan in singing before death. But music will make many men pelicans, phoenixes, nightingales and swans, which is to say men who devoutly pray and contemplate.
THE POWER OF INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IS WONDERFULLY EFFECTIVE FOR THE CONTEMPLATION OF DIVINE THINGS, AND THAT MUSIC WHICH IS MIXED, I. E., WHICH IS A CONCORD OF VOICE, MIND, AND HAND IS PRAISED MOST HIGHLY
LATO divided music into three kinds, vocal, instrumental and mixed. The first is performed by human voices alone, the second by instruments, and the third by a concord of both. I have dealt sufficiently with vocal music above, now I shall deal with instrumental and the mixed. Of instruments, some are warlike, such as drums, trumpets, and loud flutes, which (as Aquinas says) attract the mind to firmness; others are ethical and moral, such as cymbals, lyres, barbitons, which attract it to virtue’s delight; others are theoretic and serve divine uses, such as psalteries, trigons, sambucae, and organs, which attract it upwards to meditation upon divine things. Here I shall say nothing about theatrical and bacchic flutes which excite the torches and frenzies of lust, madness and love. So when I speak here of instrumental music, I want it to be understood that I am speaking of that Dorian music which is harmonized and performed by instruments (sounding, as it were, divine mysteries). But, that I might approach the matter, what, pray, do you criticize in organs and instruments, invented by our forefathers for arousing a greater fervor and impulse of devotion? If you consider their creation, it is divine; if their similarity to the human voice, it is wonderful; if their signification, it is mystic; if their property, it is unutterably arcane and necessary; if their approval by all ages and nations of the world, it is catholic and universal; if, finally, their end and perfection, it is holy and religious.
2. But you insist I prove these things in order. Come then, since you urge me thus I shall do that very thing, and to make my start from the beginning. The first design of instruments without doubt originated with God, which indeed the philosophers once insinuated when they expressed their belief that the zither was invented and given shape by Apollo, the lyre by Mercury, the trumpet by Mars, the sambuca by Pallas, and other instruments by others of those then accounted in the number of the gods. Let Jubal be the inventor, if it please you: thus they are most ancient. Let Pythagoras, if you wish: thus they are not new. However the matter stands, if you consider their invention, their introduction into the Church came from God, from immortal God, I say. They are therefore sacred, and instituted not without a mystery. For God and Nature do nothing without purpose. But you say they were once placed among ceremonies in such a way that when the Light arose, they were dispelled, like clouds. I reply that neither music nor these musical instruments of which I am now dealing were ceremonial, since they bore no type of any express future truth, and since Christ and the Apostles themselves, singing a psalm, the angels on high singing a gloria, bequeathed us a great encomium of music, which they assuredly they would not have done, had the wished music to be driven and expelled from the sanctuary of the Tabernacle and the Church of God.
3. But I have nearly overstepped my self-imposed limits. Therefore I arrive at my second argument, which comes from the similarity which the instrumental musician has to the human voice. But here you will possibly sneer, Aristarchus, when you hear me, as it were, attributing life, voice and tongue to inanimate organs and instruments. Laugh if you like, but there is no reason for sneering if you join me in considering more deeply who bestows sound, voice and sense on instruments. A man indeed has done this, who, after he has conceived celestial harmony in his mind, touches, strikes and moves instruments with finger, plectrum and breath, and shapes, forms and modulates their voices and tongues in accordance with divine inspiration and affection. So organs thus speak as the conceptions of learned musicians command. So if human voices, employed with science and poured into the ear, move the mind to God and to piety, which you cannot deny, tell me why musical instruments, touched by the spirit and affection of musicians, cannot achieve this selfsame thing in the minds of men.
4. “But those inanimate instruments lack articulate and distinct voices.” You do right to remind me, so I go a-flying to my third argument, in which I teach that instruments have fixed and distinct voices and significations. Why do you deny this? Does not the sounding bugle summon us to war, and the lyre to the laurel and peace’s palm? Pray tell me why some instruments are destined for war, others for peace, others the theater and the banquet, and yet others for the church: is this because they all speak in the same voice and confusedly at that? Is it because instruments sound the same thing for actors on the stage as for diners at table, the same for men fighting in the field as for those praying in a church? If you say they all sound the same thing, I appeal to you yourself, for you are aware of your error. But if you say they do not sound the same thing, you must admit that instruments claim for themselves distinct voices and sure significations of voices. If it were permissible here to add holy testimonies, which I choose not to do, I could join St. Paul in saying, And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? He adds the reason drawn from an example: For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? In this context you see that instruments are expressly conceded a voice, and that not confused but certain, not obscure but known and distinct in its signification. For, were this voice confused and uncertain, that rebuke of Christ would unfair in which He says We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. So mark you, if a certain voice, if a certain distinction of sound, if a certain kind of tongue and sense is conceded to trumpets and flutes (the least of all the instruments in weight and dignity), how much more should these be attributed to organs and other instruments manufactured for divine usages and made strong with an speech-like artifice (or rather a mystery) for speaking distinctly, especially when they are conjoined with and enunciate affections or, if it please you, the minds themselves of those devoutly playing upon them are conjoined with and enunciate the affections and minds of bystanders and listeners? Well then, I acknowledge the known and certain voice of instruments, but I ask the means whereby it becomes known and distinct. You have just now learned the means, for, just as appearances and objects of things, purveyed to the eye through air or water, are proper means, so the divine conceptions of musicians are most fitly transmitted by means of well-sounding organs and instruments.
5. This more than miraculous power and influence attributed to instrumental music is that whereby, as if by fire sent down from heaven by divine intervention, not only the Gymnosophists of India are fired so that they divine and forecast future events, as some write, but also God’s Prophets, set ablaze by the same, pronounce great mysteries and miracles. Thus they report that once upon a time the Sybils, with instrumental music played at their door, were awakened from a deep sleep and slumber and issued their prophecies, and indeed I cannot but believe that some mystic property lies hidden in musical concord. For otherwise why would Elisha have said But now bring me a minstrel And why would these words have been added in the text, namely, And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him? Oh the power of music, more than divine and stupendous! Oh the heavenly arcane influence granted to instruments and viols made ready for God’s praise! Hence, I believe, the reason why in that consecration of the Temple the ranks, orders, rules and names of the singers were recorded, of whom some sounded divine praises with the cymbals, some with the harps, and others upon other instruments. And, to add strength to my argument, one man, Chenenias by name, presided over both the prophecy and the melody. Here if you want you may add that miraculous virtue of banishing demons, of curing the sick, of pacifying beasts, whereof theologians, physicians and philosophers constantly write in their monumental works.
6. But concerning this virtue of instruments more will be said afterwards. What remains now but for me to prove this same thing by the reckoning of our ancestors? But at this point I know not where to turn me, willy-nilly I am looking at a lyre in the sky, a zither in the sky. I do not know if by this cause instruments have sufficient praise and honor, but in this context I shall not inquire into astronomical lyres and zithers. Now I am only celebrating those things which make men devout and religious. Antiquity discovered these things, the authority of our ancestors gave them its approbation. If you seek examples by name, let us travel through the lands and nations and ask why everywhere bells ring in towers, instrumental music resounds in churches. Beyond doubt, we shall hear this answer, the bells are like spiritual bugles summoning us to battle, instruments are divine means which call us to heaven. For there is a sweet clangor in the one, in the other a most sweet love of God, since by the one, when rung in due order, we are incited to war against the world, but by the sounding of the others to peace, to devotion, to God. Hence in olden times emperors, kings, races and nations bestowed the highest rewards on skilled players of musical instruments. What need of examples? Periander king of Corinth bestowed great rewards on Arion, Hiero king of Sicily on Simonides, Alexander the Great on Timotheus, Agamemnon on Demodocus, Julius Caesar on Hermogenes, Vespasian on Diodorus; among the nations the Egyptians on Mercury, the Spartans on Terpander, the Greeks on Ismenias; we English not long ago on Taverner, Munday, Blitheman, Tallis, and More, and for what reason should we, their descendants, not accord due praises to Byrd, Munday, Bull, Morley, Dowland, Johnson and many other most skilled instrumentalists?
7. Grant me your pardon, earnest reader, if I be overenthusiastic in pursuing this matter. For music claims me, and instrumental music claims me wholly. In my wretchedness I am not to be compared with Augustine, and yet I confess that, like him, I am very much moved by musical voices and strings. I shall add one or two reasons, and thus conclude everything in this thesis. This will be the first, that musical instruments, skillfully drawn and touched, guides human voices, and renders them more assured and sweet. For their united force is stronger, as the Philosopher says. And when voices combine and conspire with instruments, a music is born that is more than divine If these things are true (as they are most true), why are cymbals, psalteries, trigons, sambucas and organs, i. e., why are musical instruments to be removed from churches, from holy places? Indeed why they are not rather to be approved as means of greater piety? Why waste many words? I shall conclude in a few. They do not confuse the sense of the word, for they possess a voice that is distinct. They do not destroy devotion, for they kindle piety’s torches. They do not hinder the pursuit of contemplation, for they bear us to God and heavenly things, for this is the end of instruments, this is their use, and when united with human voices they render harmonies more celestial, they join mortals’ minds to God and to heaven the quicker. So, although every kind of music has its very just praise, nonetheless that which is called the mixed, i. e., that achieved by hand and voice, should be deemed by far the most divine, since in it both art and nature sing. For nature has given the voice, art the instrument, and wonderful is the agreement and harmony of art and nature in voice and instruments.
8. If you ask the reason, it is since both have the same foundation. For as viols made with the strings of a wolf and a lamb are necessarily dissonant, since their foundations are discordant, thus it is necessary that art and nature, voice and instrument, greatly conspire together, since they arise from the same or at least kindred first-beginnings, and since art imitates nature, instruments the voice. But mark you, although in this context I give by far the greatest commendation to mixed music employing voice and instrument, I do not exclude from churches and pious employments that simple instrumental art of touching. Aquinas, that star and splendor of his age, after having proved that music was invented so that the human mind might be provoked to God, wisely introduced a distinction concerning instrumental musics and their uses, namely that some have been instituted for the mind’s strengthening, such as the trumpet, others for its delight, such as the lyre, and others for loftiness and divine contemplation, such as organs, which by a certain occult virtue and property make us rise from the lowest places to the lofty, i. e. from terrestrial things to eternal and divine, and this is indeed true. For the simple and solemn sound of organs contains an imitation of a heavenly choir, as is learnedly confirmed by Theodorus Beza and Jacobus Andreas in their dialogue on the subject. I cannot commit to writing all I read there, for I am striving for brevity. And yet I shall add a little. As far as organ music goes (says Beza), “we know that the power of music and harmony is great for moving men’s minds, nor do we perceive a more excellent use for it than that it be directed towards and preserved for the celebration and praise of the divine Name, and the moving and exciting of human minds to God’s true worship.”
9. “But what (perhaps you ask) do these things have to do with approving organs.” A great deal, assuredly, if you heed him disputing just about the organ’s harmony. But a little further he adds these words “likewise we do not deny that instrumental music is morally indifferent, since we may employ it or not without giving offense to God.” So much Beza, Andreas speaks thus. “Concerning myself I can solemnly attest, being a man who takes great delight in pricksong and organ music: not only for the ears to perceive the sound, but also for the mind to be wonderfully affected by that harmony, and also to be wonderfully excited either to prayer or to delivering or hearing sermons when a church hymn is played with sweet harmony either on the organ or by singers, as is done by received custom before the preacher mounts the pulpit, and it is so divinely imbued with the spirit of harmony that I can affirm that in myself I positively perceive what you have been saying from the beginning, that it is present in pricksong. I have likewise heard from many other pious men, even laymen ignorant of the musical art, that they experience the same in themselves.”
10. “These things indeed prove that Man is greatly moved by concords of voice and instrument, but not that he is moved by the organ per se.” You are not paying attention, but hear what follows. “Furthermore, the story of David in Saul’s presence is a familiar one, how, when he was agitated by an evil spirit of the Lord, David played his harp, and its harmony drove away the malign spirit. This harmony did not only strike the ears of King Saul, but also affected his mind, so that he was freed from the evil spirit for a time and was at peace. And it is not written that David sung, but that he employed instrumental music (such as it was in his day.) Therefore the power of pricksong’s harmony, which subdued the evil spirit of the Lord, which penetrates as far as the mind even if what is being played or sung is not understood by everybody, is not to be scorned. And this power is experienced and felt as far greater in those men who understand the sacred things which are being sung of, as well as hearing the harmony.” Hence it is understood that organs in churches have a great power to arouse pious affections, not only when conjoined with voice, sense and word (although in this manner it moves us most effectively), but even (as I have just said) it can distinctly speak and enunciate arcane mysteries to those who listen and those who pray. For as is the devotion of an artful and pious organist, such is the affection that flows from instrument into the hearts of his audience, which strikes the nerves and fibers of the mind and, wondrously instilled by a certain divine power transports him from lowly things to the most lofty.
11. I shall therefore join Andreas in concluding that those men act ill-advisedly who at a single stroke employ horses and ropes to pull down organs, as if they were profane things, and drag them out of churches to rubbish-tips and bonfires. For (to employ his conclusion) it is agreed that “organs are morally indifferent, and not only permissible but also excellent ornaments of churches, as long as we use them to celebrate the divine godhead.” He adds an argument that “to employ them thus is not only not prohibited but expressly mandated in Psalm 150, Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Why say more? If no arguments should move us to embrace this kind of music, at least that should inspire us, namely that this kind of harmony is pleasing to God and therefore should not displease us little mortals. I prove my antecedent, since, when music instruments have been struck up, God has deigned to look down from heaven on us little men and to fill the Temple of Solomon with the cloud of His divine majesty. For thus the text has it: It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever; that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.
DOES MUSIC HAVE A POLITICAL USE? FOR WHOM, AT WHAT PLACE, AND WHEN THE SAME IS TO BE EMPLOYED
OCRATES and Plato placed such a high value on music that they often expressly stated its alteration and its eclipse to be by far the most perilous thing for republics, since, as they say, the manners, affections, actions of citizens and the entire ordering of civil life depends, in a manner, on music and harmony. For if there exists a certain concord in a single man, it needs must be that in the commonwealth as a whole (which is a union of many men) and in a republic (which is the ordering and administration of that union) music is a kind of concord and harmony. Otherwise, just as if when the nerves fail and the body dangerously falls into paralysis and palsy of its members, so if its members are dissonant the convulsed commonwealth perilously collapses into horror and the confusion of its citizenry. Hence in Socrates and Plato — what, did I say in Socrates and Plato? Nay, I should have said amongst the Cretans, the Spartans, the Athenians, and the Romans, and if you please I shall add the French, the Spanish and the English — useful and excellent laws were once legislated and (which is more important) observed concerning the use of music, and concerning the ordering, life and education of musicians. There still exist amongst us notable traces, since according to the statutes of our ancestors precentors, organists, clerics and instrumentalists exist in our individual colleges and more well-populated churches, and when in individual towns at daybreak nobles are summoned to their civic pursuits by musicians’ instruments, burghers to their work.
2. But to summarize the whole thing in a few words, the use of music is threefold: divine, which pertains to contemplation, ethical, which pertains to the institution of our life, and political, which pertains to the preservation of the republic and the commonwealth. I have said enough about the theoretic and divine, now I shall speak a little about the ethical and the civil. The ethical or moral use of music (if I may proceed by way of drawing distinctions) is especially perceived in two things, namely in the settling of bad affections and in the acquisition of goodly morals. Hence the reason why Aristotle and other philosophers have exhorted boys and young men to the study and practice of music, and there are three reasons for this, because within it is the express image and sweetness of virtue, a useful exercise of the voice, and a moderation of affection. The image of virtue, for music itself is a virtue. The sweetness of virtue, for music itself is a concord. Exercise of the voice, for in the practice of music there is a wholesome agitation of the lung which begets a noble spirit and heat in the region around the heart, puts in order the thick humors wherewith the age of boyhood abounds, and dispels all the vapors and clouds that flow from the head or are in flux. Finally, there is a moderation of affection therein, since (as I have taught above) by means of air and ear it acts on mind itself, and wondrously binds it to its will and command.
3. The political use of music is common and universal. In it ought to be considered persons (for what individuals), place (when), means (in what manner), and end (why) music is to be used, as can be understood by any man. The persons for whom music’s use is fit (excepting only slaves by nature) are kings and burghers, princes and subjects, husbandmen and senators, soldiers and lovers of peace, and in sum the entire body and multitude of the citizenry. “But this is absurd to have kings, princes and senators playing Paris’ lyre in the senate like minstrels.” It is indeed absurd, as you say, but I do not require this. I only wish that high, middling and low have the timely solace of music. “What? You want Caesars and Catos to become musicians.” What, pray, is the evil if Caesars and Catos should learn this art. For although Nero should not be allowed his zither in the theater, if nevertheless he should employ his zither to refresh himself in private, no man of sound mind, as I believe, would rebuke this act of Caesar. So let princes liearn this art, let citizens learn it, let all men learn it if they arable. But if they cannot fitly do so, let them learn to apply it for their solace.
4. Next follows another condition to be observed in its use, namely the time. The time is both fit and opportune when solemn feasts and holidays, public banquets, weddings, or triumphs of a noble victory are being celebrated for the honor of the commonwealth. The place wherein this political use is discerned is either public or private; public such as the theater, which the tragic befits, the battlefield, suited for the warlike, the banquet hall, suited for comedy, and finally the church, fit for the Dorian and solemn kind of harmony. I say the Dorian, since a soft and effeminate kind of music is unsuitable for a church. Thus they who employ organs or other instruments play saucy tunes which impede devotion and divine worship abuse the place. For this is a sacred place wherein, as Augustine says, nothing should exist save only that for which it was created. Here I draw no distinctions concerning private place, since this does not pertain to music’s civil use. Yet it will be politic and prudent if it is permitted each citizen to employ music according to his will in his private house, if he should carefully consider the means and end with which we are now dealing. Why waste more words? Decorum is in the means, virtue in the end, since you observe the mean if you attain to decorum, and the end if you seek the delightfully honorable that exists in concord. But if at home you only pursue Venus’ vain delights, the less sober form of dances, and trash, you are abusing this art and you fail to comprehend its true use. For just as it is a remedy if you use it, it is a toxic poison if you abuse it. Use it, if you please, at your weddings, at your banquets, and even for dancing, but remember the mean, in which decorum shines, remember the end, wherein shines virtue.
5. Oh would that the young men of this age (I almost said “men and old men,” but I shall add nothing), would that, I say — But I shall not continue. Would that (but I shall not chafe the point), I almost said, men would abandon those odes and rhythms which are more than rhythmic and without sense (stuff such as Mars once used to adore his Venus, Antony his Cleopatra, Paris his Helen, even Demosthenes his Laias), and worship our God of heaven and earth with hymns and psalms! But this world is out of its mind, otherwise so many tomes — why should I not say tumors? — of love poetry, so many books and palaces belonging to Cupid, so many idols consecrated to vanity would not be presented to men’s eyes and ears. Music’s use is not to incite us to embrace virtue, not Venus; not to provoke nude dancing girls to the furious foaming lust of a wicked Nero, but chaste bashful Vestal Virgins to the counsel of a Cato. Once upon a time in tripping their solemn measure our ancestors expressed, as it were, the movements, evolutions and steps of the virtues. But oh the times, oh our manners! Times change and we change with them, since nowadays in the dance nearly each and every one of us bend our knee, paying our respects to Venus, as in mid-evolution we captivate our mind with our wanton eyes, at its end we seek a kiss and an embrace, “and who does not know the sequel?” This is a hideous abuse of public and private music: recreation should be given, but turpitude avoided. Let organs be played, and even, if you will, let there be dancing at banquets, in theaters, in private houses. Let citizens be delighted by music, if only (as I have said twice before) they remember the mean, in which is decorum, and the end, wherein exists virtue.
RESPONSES TO OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE EMPLOYMENT OF MUSIC, BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
6. OBJECTION Music, either vocal or instrumental, is not commanded by the express Word of God: therefore it should not be approved in the Church.
RESPONSE I fail to see how it is commanded by the letter of the New Testament, but I do see the example and the advice wherewith it is praised: the example of Christ, who recited a hymn after the Supper, the advice of Paul and James, who exhort us to tunefulness.
OBJECTION Music belonged to the ceremonious Law. It is therefore to be abolished now, since the new light of the Truth has arisen and the clouds of the Law have vanished.
RESPONSE Music (as certain men teach) was not a shadow of the Law, since it bore no express image and pattern of the Truth that has now been created. But even if it be granted that it belonged to ceremony, your logic does not follow. Many ceremonies which are the tinder of devotion and inspire it are retained in Christ’s Church to this day. For this reason music was instituted in Solomon’s Temple, for this cause alone it is received by us and was once approved by our ancestors.
OBJECTION God is spirit: therefore He is to be worshiped by the mind rather than with song, by the spirit rather than a sonorous concord of the voice.
RESPONSE Your reasoning does not hang together, because God created both mind and body. Wherefore, just as He directed that worship should given Himself with all the powers of the former, so He enjoined worship with all the parts and potentialities of the latter. So when I praise external music, I am not denying the mind’s internal concord; indeed, by the impulse of the one we much more whet and excite the keenness of the other.
7. OBJECTION God knows what we are going to ask for before we ask it, nor does He take delight in circumlocution and verbosity. Therefore there is no need for pricksong or for instrumental music, wherewith we hope to sway and overcome God by the pointless repetition of the same syllable of a word or letter. For it is better and more expedient to say pater noster in the mind than with a stentorian voice to bawl out paaaater nooooster accompanied by organs, idly repeating and insisting as if we were singing to Baal or some deaf, sleepyheaded god who required trumpets and instruments to be awoken and heed us.
RESPONSE You are a playing a dangerous game, not unaware (as I believe) of your vanity. For even if God, Who is eternal Wisdom, knows in advance what we are going to ask for before we ask it, nevertheless He requires our perpetual devotion and prayer as a sign of our humility. And although He rebukes the vain undertaking of those who, in seeking wholly unnecessary things, imagine that by a multitude of words they are able to obtain their hopes and desires. Yet this does not constitute a criticism of the musical repetitions and antiphonies of those who pray aright, as is clear in that song of the boys in Daniel and the emphatic petition of the Canaanite woman and a certain blind man who, often rebuked and rejected, were cured by Christ after often repeating have mercy. What? Should it be allowed to the Seraphim thrice to repeat Holy Holy Holy, and to David to use the name of God three times in singing a single verse of a psalm, but not be permitted us Christians to do the same? Take care not to jest with sacred things, learn from the Apostles that not only your mind and voice are required of you, but the musical concord of both in the singing of hymns and psalms. And if, your mind fixed on God, your tongue repeats the same letter, syllable or word, you should regard this as the mind’s mystical zeal, not a magical incantation.
8. OBJECTION By the confusion of voices and instruments the sense of the sacred Word is either destroyed or rendered obscure. Therefore music is not to be tolerated in churches.
RESPONS This is true if it is not sung with by the musicians with good diction and, as they say, articulation, but if the instruments and voices combine sweetly and distinctly, we perceive a greater warmth and fervor of our inward devotion.
OBJECTION The piping organ and other instruments lack voice and tongue. Thus they wound the ear with their racket more than they inform the mind with any understanding of the Word. There is therefore no use for them in churches, or if there is any, it deserves to be reckoned pagan and profane.
RESPONSE Although the piping organ (as you satirically call it) and the other instruments of music lack a voice and a tongue, yet they speak to the mind and fill it with divine affections, full of mysteries. There are many reasons: 1.) because the concepts of the devout musician are borne to the minds of men at prayers not otherwise than objects through mediums. 2.) because from those concepts other visions are conjured up by the power of divine Mind; 3.) because, the mind thus shaped, pious affections are aroused therein. 4.) Lastly, because, these divine sounds being impressed by instruments, forms conjured up by their proper power, affections being created de novo, the whole man, forgetful of the world, soars aloft to heaven with the eagle towards his prey and his prize.
OBJECTION Augustine confesses that he was often distracted by the concord of voices and therefore that he had committed mortal sin. Likewise Gregory, when he says that, when a sweet voice is sought after, a harmonious life is neglected. Hence that saying “not the voice but volition, not hearty music but the heart, not the loud but the loving sings in God’s ear.” It is therefore probable that the Fathers did not approve music in the Church.
RESPONSE In that matter the Fathers are not accusing the art, but rather human frailty. For just as wine’s sweetness is not the cause of drunkenness, but rather the intemperance of the drinker, so music is not the cause of distraction, but rather the unconcern of the listener who, the sense neglected, takes delight only in the concord.
9. OBJECTION The theoretic life, fixed on God, is sufficiently pleasant in itself. Therefore it has no need of music for its delight.
RESPONSE The theoretic life is twofold, absolute in heaven (which is delightful enough per se), and comparative in Christ’s Church, which is subject to persecutions. And this life needs music, so that the minds of those who bear the cross in this life might not fail, and might not be diverted from the journey they have undertaken.
OBJECTION It is a well known fact that organists often play saucy, impure tunes in church. Therefore it will be more in the Church’s interest if those pipes are taken away from them altogether. Better for pipes to be destroyed than souls, and it is needful for them to be destroyed or at least cast into jeopardy if they are bewitched by softer music like birds.
RESPONSE I join Andreas in replying that in this argument there is an accidental fallacy, and the true and legitimate use of organs is scarcely to be abolished because of their abuse. Otherwise we should have to forbid all employment of steel and wine, since many men abuse the one for bloodshed and the other for drunkenness.
OBJECTION It scandalizes many men to see and hear an organ in a church. It is impermissible to offend weak men. Therefore it will not be permissible to allow organs.
RESPONSE The scandal is taken but not given, since if the thing being done is legitimate, he who is offended appears to be unreasonable.
OBJECTION Musical instruments are wood or metal. Therefore they do not possess the power and virtue of moving the mind to the pursuit of piety.
RESPONSE Argue likewise, if you will, that hematite is a stone and rhubarb a plant, therefore the one has no power to staunch blood, the other none to purge choler. Mark you, I attribute the power not to wood or metal, but to God, Who has granted to instruments this property. For just as He has granted His secret and divine powers to stars, plants, and stones, so has He to harps, organs and instruments played in His honor.
AGAINST MUSIC IN THE THEATER
10. OBJECTION Dramatic harmony pertains either to comedy, which renders people’s manners soft and effeminate, or to tragedy, which makes them barbarous and truculent. It is therefore not to be suffered in a well-regulated republic.
RESPONSE Comedy and tragedy are acted in the theater, not so citizens might imitate softness or barbaric truculence, but so that, other men’s evils having been witnessed, they may learn to shun and avoid dangers. Thus, if toads suck poison out of music giving a lifelike expression to those affections in the theater, this is said to be a corruption of the humor and the man, not a fault of the science and the art.
OBJECTION Nothing delightful ought to be sought for its own sake. All music in the theater is only sought for the sake of the delightful. Therefore no music ought to be sought or tolerated in the theater.
RESPONSE I concede that only the honorable ought to be sought for its own sake, and the delightful as it is acquired for the sake of the honorable. And thus indeed music is sought in the theater, not only that we be delighted, but also that, refreshed by its sweetness, we may more eagerly return to our appointed tasks in the republic.
OBJECTION Neither theater nor the theater’s music is conceded to those who pursue the theoretic life. But the theoretic life has more need of music than the active, as you have taught. Therefore, if it is not allowed to those living theoretically, much less should it be conceded to political men.
RESPONSE I taught that the theoretic life has more need of music than the active, but there I introduced a distinction between heavenly or Dorian music, of which the contemplative life has greater need, and the civil or Phrygian, more required by the active life. The one administers solace and medicine to those living theoretically, the other to those living politically.
AGAINST MUSIC AT BANQUETS AND MARRIAGES
11. OBJECTION At banquets and marriages, having eaten and drunk well, we are avid gluttons for the pleasures. At these, therefore, there is no need for music, which transmutes the tinder of Bacchus into the flames of Venus.
RESPONSE Music is to be introduced into banquets and marriages, not that men become bewitched by its seductions, men whom the Prophet rebuked for their wantonness and the Apostle chastised as intemperate, but that the minds of the banqueters, suffused with heavenly modulation, might be uplifted from reflection upon food to meditation about heaven.
OBJECTION During their feasts the Egyptians set images of death before their banqueters, the Romans debarred flautists from their meals, Alcibiades banished the lyre from his table. Thus, according to their examples, we should ban music from banquets rather than retain it.
RESPONSE The Egyptians used to provide their banquets with the recollection of death to the sound of music, just as prudent physicians administer absinthe seed to babes mixed with milk. For just as medicine is wont to purge worms from the body by a mixture of the sweet and the bitter, so the Egyptians were wont to employ that image to purge the mental baseness that attends upon surfeit. The Romans, Alcibiades, Alexander and Lycurgus indeed did forbid music, although not all music but only the effeminate, soft and wanton music which corrupts men’s manners.
AGAINST MUSIC IN A TRIUMPH
12. OBJECTION To employ music in triumph is is to indulge our own powers overmuch and gloat excessively over other men’s evils and miseries: the former argues vanity, the latter savagery. Music is therefore impermissible in triumphs.
RESPONSE This reasoning has the skin and semblance, but not the substance and sinew of an argument. For to employ music after a victory over our enemies or liberation from perils is not to confide overmuch in our own powers or to rejoice at other men’s evils, but rather to refresh our minds, wearied by miseries, and to offer our undying thanks and praises to God, Who granted us our liberty. This is not lacking in examples, for Miriam, Deborah and the daughter of Jepthah celebrated victories in this manner.
AGAINST MUSIC IN THE HOME
13. OBJECTION In the home moral images, and histories read and heard, do much more to capture and inform the mind than does music. The employment of music is therefore not so useful in the home. The antecedent is proven both because the eye affects the mind more than the ear (as is agreed concerning the contrast between eyewitness and hearsay evidence), and because things heard with the help of the intellect, such as history read aloud, delight the mind more than those which penetrate and are borne to the ear by concord alone.
RESPONSE It is an old and true saw that one eyewitness gives better testimony than ten who give hearsay evidence. And yet it does not follow that the objects of the eye affect the mind with pleasure per se more than those of the ear. And the fact that sometimes in witnessing evil things or calm and good ones we are agitated more violently by affections does not come about because of simple sight, but because all the other senses and indeed our entire nature seem to be moved and touched at the same time. For the eye conveys a simple shape and appearance of a thing to common sensation via the optic nerves, but here, out of the single appearance presented to it, the senses conjure up others, and hence new imaginations arise by means of the mind’s running to and fro. But within the airy spirit of the ear (whereby music is immediately brought to the brain) there is a greater sympathy with the mind (and this is a kind of concord), hence a greater delight arises in the mind from the simple hearing of music than from the sight of an image. As for what you add about histories read and heard, I say we take great delight in these if they are understood. But the amount of pleasure reading bestows is proportionate to the spirt consumed by the mental attention required for understanding: then the mind is said both to be delighted and fatigued. For just as there is a sweet savor in learning which makes for pleasure, so there is an effort in learning which engenders tedium and pain. But there is no effort in music, no shadow of pain, since it refreshes rather than shatters the powers of the wit, renders the vital spirits subtler rather than consuming them, sharpens the intellect with its wonderful influence rather than tiring it with study; it instructs and informs the mind more than a history, painted or read, rather than confounding the mind, as you fancy. The reason is that it conveys understanding into the mind’s storehouse without any fuss and bother.
VIII. CHAPTER VIII
MUSICAL PROBLEMS, WHEREIN THE AUTHOR OF THIS TREATISE ATTEMPTS TO ATTACT EARNEST READERS TO INVESTIGATE MUSIC’S SECRETS BY GIVING THEM A SMALL TASTE AND FEEL OF RECONDITE THINGS
THE FIRST QUESTION
WHY DO MEN FALLING IN A SWOON IMAGINE THAT THEY HEAR HARMONY?
T is not the exclamation and commotion of bystanders and those coming to his aid striking his ears which is confusedly perceived, but rather the soul, now meditating escape from the body and the prison of its servitude, has a kind of presentiment and foretaste of the firstfruits of its future blessedness. For of necessity his soul, existing as a harmony and on the point of returning to the heavenly choir, hears the sweetest concord inwardly and in its heart, and, recalled from this by the hubbub of the shouting men, it not infrequently grieves and is tortured vehemently.
THE SECOND QUESTION
WHY DO MEN MOST REMOVED FROM MUSICAL SWEETNESS NOT SELDOM SING TO THEMSELVES IN THEIR SOLITUDE?
Indeed, this comes about not only because the mind, consumed by solitude, is refreshed by musical concord, but also since those live the solitary life understand that this greatly contributes to the contemplation of divine things and the pursuit of virtue. For within the melodious movement of air this an incredible power for moving the mind, since voices and viols, sweetly sounding outside fall into the mind’s foundation not otherwise than lines towards a center, and are sweetly united therein.
THE THIRD QUESTION
WHY IS IT THAT BABES, CHARMED BY NURSES’ SOUNGS, EITHER SURRENDER THEMSELVES TO THE SOUND OR AT LEAST CEASE TO CRY?
2. Infants, who are very full of humors throughout the body and vapors in the head, are easily coaxed to sleep and rest when their spirits are pacified and settled, and by the sweet song of a nurse the excessively agitated vital and animal spirits are pacified and soothed. So it is not surprising if little babes, captivated by the sweetly-sounding voice of a nurse, yield themselves to sleep and repose. For when their movement and passion ceases, the humors of their spirits grow tranquil and the vapors gather and seek out the head. And there, condensed into a fog, for a while they abolish sensation, begetting sleep and repose.
THE FOURTH QUESTION
FOR WHAT REASON ARE EVIL DEMONS PUT TO ROUT BY MUSIC?
Because good demons delight in concord. For just as good demons are a kind of spiritual harmony, so bad ones are like horrid discords of nature, since they are bewitched by strident unpleasant noise rather than concord. For since by their nature evil demons deviate the most from the First Cause (which is the principle of all harmony), it needs must be that they are the most greatly wounded by sweet music (which takes its influence from the First Cause), and flee from it as far as they can.
THE FIFTH QUESTION
WHEN MUSIC IS SUDDENLY HEARD, WHY DO MEN FEEL IT IN THE INDIVIDUAL FIBERS OF THEIR BODY AS IF IT WERE A SWEET MOTION OF SUFFUSED JOY?
3. The reason is that the spirits (which are the instruments of sensation and motion), stricken by the mind with music’s number go a-flying into the several regions of the body; they retain the same movement they received from the mind and in an instant convey it into the fibers and several parts of the body. This is proven, since, just as at a violent sound and motion the body often suddenly falls into a paralysis and dissolution of its parts, so it is necessary that its parts be marvelously restored by a peaceful and harmonious movement, and that too suddenly, since the animal and vital spirits, being most approximate in nature to soul, are dissipated into the several parts of the body by a glance of the eye, as is manifestly clear in men who suddenly grow pale when stricken by fear.
THE SIXTH QUESTION
WHY ARE MEN BUSILY AND SERIOUSLY CONCERNED WITH SOME UNSUITABLE MATTER DEFLECTED FROM THEIR THOUGHT AS SOON AS MUSIC IS HEARD, EVEN AGAINST THEIR WILL?
The reason is not only that music stirs the mind by a kind of divine inspiration and makes us forgetful of ourselves because, admitted by the ears to the mind’s inner recesses, it scatters the animal spirits with its sudden movement, and strikes the mind, as if idle and off-guard, and also distracts and impels it away the cogitation in which it was plunged and towards solace.
THE SEVENTH QUESTION
WHY DO SERIOUS STUDENTS OF MUSIC OFTEN GO MAD?
4. Music which delights the mind is one thing, but the study of music, which exhausts and consumes the spirits, is quite another. The study of music is the most difficult of all, both because music is a mathematical science which is exclusively concerned with abstract forms and ideas, and also since the songs of many singers seem to be resounding like a perpetual chorus in composers’ brains. Thus, although music itself is most beneficial, nevertheless the energetic study and contemplation of music is harmful, since it shatters and enervates the instruments of the mind and wit (which are spirits, potentialities, and senses). Therefore, just as in music (which consists of numbers) there is a certain power that refreshes the mind (which is called the numbering number or the first principle of numbering), so the excessively intense study of music entails labor and effort, because of which the mind’s keenness grows most blunt, and hence they over-arduous students of music lose their minds.
THE EIGHTH QUESTION
WHY ARE SUFFERS OF FRENZY AND CERTAIN OTHER MALADIES OFTEN CURED BY MUSIC?
Since, just as frenzy and other disorders of the kind are (if I may so say) discordant furies and intemperances of nature, so music, which is a natural harmony, soothes those furies by a certain art and its regular numbers, and, the spirits enhanced and repaired, renders the spirits concordant and amicable. Hence what Agrippa writes concerning Theophrastus and Democritus is not wholly incredible, that the one healed many victims of snakebite, and the other a number of men suffering from sundry kinds of malady, by musical concord alone.
THE NINTH QUESTION
WHY IS THE LIKE-TUNED STRING OF ONE INSTRUMENT SET IN MOTION BY THE MOVEMENT OF ANOTHER INSTRUMENT’S STRING, AND NO OTHER?
5. Since there exists a sympathy and likewise a foundation for them both. For just as there is such great affection between friends that one seems to feel pain at the other’s ills, and to rejoice over his good things, so between like-tuned strings there is a wonderful agreement which moves both equally by a movement of air, as if they were of one mind, and produces the same sound and concord in both. For wonderful is the power of likeness in all things. For man moves man, medicine moves a humor, adamant moves iron, the string of one instrument the string of another, and everything moves that which alike and akin to it by the hidden property of similitude.
THE TENTH QUESTION
WHAT ARE THE REASONS WHY STRINGS MADE OUT OF THE SINEWS OF A WOLF AND A LAMB FAIL TO HARMONIZE?
As Agrippa says, it is necessary that all concords proceed from agreeing foundations, if you wish them to come together in one. Hence the saying roaring lions, mooing cows, grunting pigs do not comprise a chorus. This is the same reason that governs strings made out of the fibers or sinews of a lamb and a wolf: they have no consonance, since the things whereof they are made have an innate mutual hatred. In life the eagle hates the dove, the wolf the sheep, and when they are dead the feathers of the former cannot coexist, nor can the sinews of the latter sing together. This antipathy and disagreement of nature is perceived between murderer and victim, between goat’s blood and steel, between cabbage and grapevine, between axe and jellyfish, and countless other works and effects of nature.
THE ELEVENTH QUESTION
IN WHAT WAY CAN VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC ACHIEVE A CONCORD WHEN THEY DO NOT POSSESS THE SAME SPECIES OR FOUNDATION?
6. Although instruments do not possess the same species and sign per se, nevertheless they do by means of human intention and moderation, since organs and musical instruments so speak and sound as the minds of those knowledgeably and skillfully plying them command. Wherefore, if in war the trumpet distinctly sings taratantara so that men are inspired to the rage of Mars, why cannot organs sing alleluiain church so that men may be inspired to the ardor of piety? There is therefore no reason why voices and instruments cannot combine, since both have the human mind for their mover and moderator.
THE TWELFTH QUESTION
WHY HAS NATURE BESTOWED HARMONIOUS AND SEDUCTIVE VOICES ON SIRENS, HYENAS, AND OTHER MONSTROSITIES?
Nature has granted the toad a crystal eye, the snake a precious gem, the elephant a defending tusk, Sirens and hyenas a melodious voice so that even in the basest things God’s most arcane wisdom might shine forth. Furthermore, just as the Siren and the hyena have a human face, so it is scarcely surprising for them to possess an imitation of the human voice. For, just as heavenly modulation is especially granted to men, so sweet voices and concords are most often bestowed on those creatures that wear man’s form and likeness.
THE THIRTEENTH QUESTION
FOR WHAT REASON ARE SOUNDS AND CONCORDS OFTEN HEARD IN THE EARTH’S DEEPEST PITS, SUCH AS EXIST IN THE WEST COUNTRY OF OUR NATION?
7. Air that has come through passages in the earth is in sundry ways agitated. For if the openings are narrower they produce a high sound and harmony, if larger a deep one, and middling ones produce a middle one. Thus from exhalations driven through those outlets of the earth in tune with numbers occasionally arise sound and concord. For if a ringing is heard in our ears because of the movement of entering air, if a buzzing is heard in bees, it is not strange if air, insinuating itself through the veins of the earth, produces various sounds and concords in proportion to the variety of its movement and the manifold nature of its outlets, and these are sometimes sweeter in proportion to the purity of the metals that have been mined, which create a kind of echo and resounding. For gold a has a golden ring, silver a silvery one, and copper and iron have a melodious voice.
THE FOURTEENTH QUESTION
WHY ARE FAMILIAR DEMONS SAID TO SING AND DANCE?
A chorus of philosophers has taught that demons exist. For they posit some that are celestial, they that move the spheres, some that are ethereal, that hang in air, others terrestrial, that live in land and sea, and yet others who live, always a-dying in the Stygian lake. The demons of the first order (as they call them) are blessed, since, beholding the majesty of the First Mover, they turn their orbs forever with no trouble or tedium. But the rest are tricksy and evil, but (as they teach) secundum magis et minus. For the closer they are to the First Cause, the better a nature they are held to possess. Hence some of them are called familiar demons, since they work harm in their sport. These (and I except the infernal), whether they be incubi, succubi, or other terrestrial spirits, have been seen to dance like Pygmies of both sexes, they have been heard to sing, they have been known to snatch babes from their cradles or charm them in their mothers’ arms, they have been recognized to guard buried treasures, visit some households, and very frequently to frighten mortals in their fields, their houses, and in deserted places. These demons, just as sometimes they flee music, as I say, because of their lapse from the First Cause and deviation from the First Harmony, so, retaining their essence (which was doubtless good and divine), they are entranced by musical numbers and concords. Hence, assuming Pygmy-like shapes, they seem to sing and happily to trip their measures in a circle, either because they are thus delighted, their nature being retained, or since under this guise of the good they strive to deceive good men, not otherwise than do Sirens and hyenas. For just as birds are deceived by a sweet flute, so unwary mortals are frequently deceived by soft, effeminate music.
THE FIFTEENTH QUESTION
WHY DO SWANS SING BEFORE THEIR DEATH?
8. If what the philosophers teach is true, namely that the essences all things derive from the First Cause in their constitution, and flow back and are recalled to the same in their dissolution, lest being be turned into nonbeing or something into nothing, it is likely that this white bird of Jove, not unaware of its coming death, sings before its death and burial. For, having a presentiment of death, it sees its liberation, and in seeing this by some natural instinct it breaks into song. Hence the poet wrote “Sweet songs are sung by a failing tongue, the swan is a singer at its own funeral.”
THE SIXTEENTH QUESTION
WHY IS IT THAT THOSE WHO LABOR OR SUFFER FROM A FEVER SING?
Great labor begets tedium, a sharp humor of the body creates pain, and sweet harmony is called the remedy and medicine for them both, inasmuch as it refreshes the spirits, enhances strength, restores all nature to itself. Work is lightened by singing, singing relieves a fever. For those who sing do not perceive the burden, those who sing do not feel the fever’s heat. By song the spirit is repaired wherein exists life’s preservation.
THE SEVENTEENTH QUESTION
WHY ARE WILD ANIMALS TAMED BY MUSIC?
9. Just as the frenzied and the insane are less wild when their spirits are calmed, so beasts feel the heat of bile and fury less when their agitated spirits are tamed by musical concord. For just as dispersed and inflamed spirits add fires to their fury, so spirits which are collected and, as it were, harmoniously united give more powers to repose. Furthermore, not only the spirits but also the humors are wonderfully tempered in them by music’s power, and forced into temperament by its sweet motion. Hence what the ancients write can be true, that fish an a pond at Alexandria are so captivated by the concord of musicians, Hyperborean swans by the touch of a harp, Indian elephants by the sound of organs, tigers, lions and beasts by a chorus of singers, so that they can easily be caught by hunters’ bare hands, without any need for nets.
THE EIGHTEENTH QUESTION
WHY ARE BEES, WHICH ARE NOT POSSESSED OF HEARING, MOVED BY MUSIC, AND OFTEN CALLED BACK TO THE HIVE BY IT?
Musical harmony strikes, captivates and moderates not only the ear, but also the airy body with its tempered motion. Hence it comes about that when the air is moved and agitated according to numbers, bees, being airy little creatures, follow where the concord leads them, not because they hear it (which Aristotle denies), but because the air, moved by music but by no violent blast, delightfully attracts them, since the little membranes they have within are stricken and the bees themselves are likewise moved, and, delighted by this motion, they follow the flute to the hive wherein, like citizens, they observe the form of a republic.
THE NINETEENTH QUESTION
HOW DOES MUSIC PROCURE SLEEP?
10. As I have shown above, music tempers our humors, parts and potentialities and compels them to repose. Which being done, it is no wonder if vapors moved upwards to the head become mists, from which arise sleep and repose. Sleep is procured then, when the condensed vapors turn into mist, the cold of the head being tempered.
THE TWENTIETH QUESTION
HOW DOES MUSIC AID DIGESTION
With the spirits enhanced and tempered, our inward heat is banished, our powers are stimulated, nature is reinforced, and digestion is rendered better and quicker. Music (as is now sufficiently demonstrated) both enhances our spirits and tempers our humors, and with a wonderful sweetness suffuses the body’s fibers, sinews, and individual powers, and so primary, secondary and tertiary decoction are wonderfully helped. Hence not without reason nobles and august gentlemen oppressed by cares of state fetch musicians to their table, not only that their minds be freed of cares, but also that, their digestion improved, their bodies are preserved safe and sound, with no need for the little pills of Hippocrates and Galen.
THE TWENTY-FIRST QUESTION
WHY DOES MUSIC MOVE THE HUMAN MIND IN CHURCH MORE THAN IN WAR, AT THE THEATER, OR IN THE HOME?
11. The power of Dorian harmony is greater than that of Lydian or any other kind. for Dorian music, being the closest approximation to celestial harmony, strikes the mind’s inner recesses more vigorously, elevating it to the pursuit of piety and devotion. For if you consider the place, it is holy; if the kind of music, it is sacred; if its influence, it is wonderful; if the cause of its influence, it is religion; if its end, it is wholly divine. For the likeness of heaven exists in a church, and the contemplation of God in Dorian concord; in its movement and cause exist piety, salvation and blessedness in its end. These are indeed great reasons why the mind is brought to God in a church more than in war, at the theater, or in the home, since its place, its harmony, and its power, cause and end all speak of sanctity. And so if we be saintly, let us sing saintly things with the Saints. Let us Englishmen sing sacred things, let us take up drums, psalteries, harps, let us proclaim the glory of God among the nations and His wonders to every people. For God has freely worked His vengeance along with us. Oh how sluggish, how slothful, how idle we be! He has not dealt thus with every nation: “O how beloved to God, when at thy behest the very elements fight for thee and the allied winds come at the call of thy trumpets.” “The enemy lately said, I will pursue, I will overtake England, I will divide the spoil; I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them.” But behold, “Thou didst blow with Thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” Why not sing unto Him a new song? Let us sing, I beg you, let us praise the Lord in his holy places: if we be soldiers, let us praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; if citizens, let us praise Him with the psaltery and lyre; if priests, let us Praise him with drum and with choir, with strings and the organ. If we are true Englishmen and British, let us praise Him with the well-sounding cymbals, and let every spirit praise the Lord. For He alone made this day, let us rejoice and exult in Him.