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The teacher's handbook of the tonic solfa system: a guide to the teaching of singing in This book is a replica, produced from digital images of the original. TONIC SOLFA MUSIC. K likes. THE PAGE IS MEANT TO EXPLORE WORKS OF VIBRANT SONG WRITERS IN GHANA AND BEYOND. THE PAGE. Your browser does not currently recognize any of the video formats available. Click here to visit our frequently asked questions about HTML5 video.
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Managing morals through singing While developments in music pedagogy and concert etiquette might today be mostly regarded as insular to music history, in reality they interacted with the organizational strategies of other Victorian institutions.
Just as surveillance and discipline were used to rehabilitate or reclaim deviants such as criminals or the mentally ill Foucault , music for the masses was seen as having potentially corrective work to do. In looking back over the century, J. He discovered a larger proportion of juvenile criminals than in any country of Europe. He saw that some amount of pleasurable relaxation from labour was necessary to every condition of animal existence. Music would not make a bad man a good man, but there is no man, he said, who would not have been better for the influence of music.
With its perceived ethical appeal, J. Spencer Curwen recalls that music was used for correctional purposes and was seen to assist other early Victorian movements to quell rebellion and uplift working people. Considering developments in musical practices as part of wider social procedures thus highlights the importance of music and musical ensembles to Victorian social movements and, reciprocally, the centrality of ideas of collective behavior to performance practices and music education.
In the early s, bourgeois reformers responded in part to the threat of Chartism by supporting working-class music education and performance Russell 17, 22—4.
Brass bands associated with mines were an invaluable part of this phenomenon and sight-singing was especially far-reaching, being connected to and promoted through other movements such as rational recreation, the Ragged Schools and temperance. We learn that the general officer commanding the Portsmouth district intends inviting Mr. Hullah to the garrison for the purpose of inoculating the troops with his admirable system; and we hear from a corps in Ireland that not only are the men encouraged to glee and part singing, but are now in the habit of chaunting [sic] the whole of the service in the parish church of the town in which they are quartered.
We hope to hear of the extension of the rational and harmonious pastime. Not only should singing classes be instituted, but music might be taught and facilities afforded for its cultivation at a very moderate expense.
Taylor ; Hyde 86—7. During the following decades, the Curwens began publishing the Tonic Sol-fa Reporter which contained articles about the Tonic Sol-fa community as well as music in syllable notation , started the Tonic Sol-fa Association, began a Tonic Sol-fa College, and gradually shifted from being oriented toward the teaching of simple tunes to translating more complex music into the notation. Curwen, Story 5, 8, 10, Curwen, Story 3. See Fig. In the classroom, the instructor pointed to a letter in the central column on this chart and the students sang the corresponding scale tone, learning in the process not only to understand the relationships between notes in a single key, but also through the side columns how keys related to each other Unseld 1.
Figure 1: Tonic Sol-fa School Modulator and Complete Modulator In revisions to the system in , John Curwen introduced hand signs to correspond to the notes of the scale.
After students became familiar with the visual and syllabic system, they moved to books that used syllables rather than traditional music notation.
While working from these manuals, they beat time with wands J. Curwen, Story 4. Finally, an accomplished practitioner would be able to sing from published music also in syllable notation that reproduced the greatest works of living and dead composers, with rhythms indicated mostly by the punctuation marks of written language a system of lines, half-lines, colons, commas and dashes showed strong and weak pulses, the subdivision of beats and tied notes McGuire, Music and Victorian Philanthropy 11, From here, there was ostensibly nothing to stop a Tonic Solfaer from moving on to staff notation, but in practice few singers did—a point to which we will return.
Together, these printed materials provided the tools with which to continue to expand as a community that shared a particular literacy as well as a set of values. Curwen, Story 2. As such, singing by syllables joined other sign systems of Victorian Britain, such as developments in the phonetic alphabet as a global system of spelling. Alexander J. Ellis even bridged the two techniques. Although probably best known as a reformer in phonetics, Ellis also wrote on music, translated Hermann L.
So did Tonic Sol-fa develop as a specifically working-class mode of rational recreation or did it bridge classes because it was also meant to improve national musical life as a whole—a musical process that de Quincey and others perceived as helping to explain how a geographically dispersed country of individuals could function harmoniously together?
However, in looking at points of connection between the sight-singing movement and other national organizing systems, a certain overarching coherence emerges. The dominant, largely benevolent attempt to improve the conditions of individual, local and national life coexisted with what was widely believed to be unequal training.
Musically speaking, the contentious point of whether Tonic Sol-fa ultimately helped or hindered its practitioners was only exacerbated because the system was perceived by music professionals to create limitations in the musical ability of its adherents. Until the end of the century, Tonic Sol-fa was criticized for the near impossibility of moving its singers on to staff notation. Curwen, Story 21; Cox 8. Along with the anonymous letters and articles appearing in the Daily News, Globe and Morning Post arguing against the system, the Council of Education applied to G.
Not only did Macfarren decline to give his endorsement for the following reasons, but his letter to the Vice-President of the Council, A. Mundella, was leaked to all the major newspapers:  I think the system to be bad, because it hinders the acquisition of a sense of pitch, which is a most valuable quality for musicians; because it confounds the characteristics of keys, which have distinctly different harmonic derivation; and because many of its signs are so vague that persons familiar with the system often mistake them.
I think it to be inconvenient, because it can only apply to music up to a very definite limit; because persons who have learnt from this system have greater difficulty to acquire the ordinary technicalities of music than those who begin to study the art from the standard notation; and because persons who can read only from this system are unable to participate in musical performances with those who read from the usual alphabet.
I think the adoption of the system unjust, since imposing on the poor an expenditure of time and money which they can never turn to any practical account, and placing them at a disadvantage with the rich, who are able to read musical publications of all countries; whereas the use of this exceptional notation is confined to a sect in England and some of its colonies alone. The important point here, however, is that one of the most influential men in music education and J.
Most significantly, he perceived it as a problem of class equality. But the increasing importance of Tonic Sol-fa now demands enquiry from men and women of position, and it has become necessary to explain to them our aims and our work.
The classes begin to see that the masses are possessed of a better educational method, and of a notation which makes singing easy and pleasant. Industrious singing Along with the moral benefits of singing upright words within family settings McGuire, Music and Victorian Philanthropy 32, , social reformers believed that public music-making promoted order and industry.
Choral societies and brass bands were the core from which early industrialists organized work forces. Playing in a works band guaranteed continual employment for the player since it was desirable to keep a fully-functional band even in times of economic hardship Newsome 30—31 , but music practice and performance also had a unique benefit in paralleling the type of habitual, measured behavior that industrialists sought to instill in the workplace.
Nineteenth-century work schedules and methods differed from those of pre-industrial England. Productivity and fiscal gain would be enhanced, and providing schooling, chapels, accommodation and music Russell 21, 22 also helped to prevent the grass-roots rebellion that affluent bourgeoisie and aristocracy found incomprehensible, dangerous and criminal.
In short, instrumental ensembles and singing classes formed manageable units that acted similarly to other nineteenth-century systems of ordering groups. Victorian mental and evolutionary science gave value to learning music as being an associative and physiological process with a particularly useful moral component. In the middle of the nineteenth century, G.
Lewes, William B. Carpenter and Herbert Spencer developed ideas begun by eighteenth-century associationist psychologists that repeated thoughts, feelings and actions carved grooves or channels in the mind. With time and continued repetition, a person would develop automatic actions and habitual responses.
Understanding these physical functions fueled Victorian worries regarding the respective health risk or benefit when people engaged repeatedly in certain activities, as Alison Winter summarizes: It was important to choose with care, because each mental act had a permanent effect on the reflex system. They were reinforced by repetition. Whether one tended automatically to act in a virtuous or responsible manner depended on whether one had built a reliable set of reflexes.
The reflex system [. Advanced musicians could play a piece and hold a conversation at the same time, thereby demonstrating how automatic the music-making actions had become Hamilton 1: —8; Spencer —2. With this belief, concern rose over practicing activities that helped to develop mental discipline, rational thinking and ethics. Of course, music by its very nature straddles the line between disciplined practice and emotional release, and this was noticed and debated at the time.
However, most accounts of works bands and choir societies stressed the development of moral responsibility through carefully chosen repertoire that would enforce upright thinking. This emphasis makes music similar to reading, which could have beneficial effects if the content were suitably respectable. Training the body is a crucial component to this idea: the working poor literally functioned as bodies that performed certain tasks in tandem with machinery in the mills, potteries and mines.
These tasks were learned, repeated and therefore ingrained as habits. Not only did the same result occur in the process of practicing music, but performing in a musical ensemble also situated the performing body within a social structure, or a power dynamic. They produced leisure just as they manufactured goods and their position in this musical process was similar to their conditions of paid labor; they were useful because they were bodies that were productive in large part because they were subjected to an overseer, rules and a system of knowledge and skills.
Crucially for our topic, managing labor and leisure included issues of communication. During the first half of the nineteenth century there was a transformation from earlier methods of working at the handloom where weavers were famous for their singing.
Presumably, the factory was so noisy that in order for a weaver to be heard, he or she would have had to leave the loom and the work in order to stand close enough to be heard. If laborers could not talk or sing while working, and were organized into musical activities during off hours, then singing classes and brass bands not only provided an alternative to the pub, but were also outlets for a means of expression newly denied.
Rather than the free-flowing, random expression of the weaving shop, the mid-century worker labored silently during the day and was then given regulated words, a singing system, a group with which to perform and an overseeing instructor during leisure time.
Finally, workers were judged by their ability to perform within a specific system, both during and after the working day. One method of subjugating a mass of people is to objectify them: groups are turned into objects of knowledge when it is assumed that they are knowable and able to be manipulated, that they will learn what they are meant to, behave as they are supposed to, and generally function as classifiable objects.
Because the strategies in play in terms of the current subject include music, religion and education, however, it can be argued that a strictly materialist interpretation is too narrow. Yet even humanist practices can contain the people, organizing them into systems of belief and behavior already espoused by the more elite classes. Therefore, while Russell demonstrates that one goal of music for the masses was to ease the sharp divide in class boundaries by such methods as bringing people of different classes together in a single audience 28 , the very objectification of the people continued to act as a social divide, as did the perceived patronizing attitude toward this mode of cultural dissemination.
People were schooled to find value in music, yes, but the fact is that music-making helped to improve quality of life and participants felt proud of their achievements. We eat, we sleep, we work, endlessly, ceaselessly work, from Monday morning till Saturday night, without remission. Cultivation of the mind? How is it possible? Those of us who are determined to live like human beings and require food for mind as well as body are obliged to take time which is necessary for sleep to gratify this desire.
As for recreation and enjoying the beauties of nature, the seasons come and go, and we have barely time to notice whether it is spring or summer. Indeed, beyond Tonic Sol-fa alone, music was generally perceived to have transcendent and transformative elements that worked alongside religion for the improvement of the masses.
Reverend H. Haweis makes the point clear in his memoir, My Musical Life: I am convinced that the influence of music over the poor is quite angelic. Music is the hand-maid of religion and the mother of sympathy. The hymns and hymn tunes taken home by the children from church and chapel are blessed outlets of feeling, and full of religious instruction—they humanize households all through the land.
The Moody and Sankey tunes have exercised a cheering and even hallowing influence far and wide, in remote Welsh hamlets, from Northumberlan d to Devonshire , in the crowded dens of our manufacturing centres, and in lonely seaside villages. Teach the people to sing, and you will make them happy; teach them to listen to sweet sounds, and you will go far to render them harmless to themselves, if not a blessing to their fellows.
Hullah had not risen into a power more enviable than that of kings, and given to every workman a free entrance into the magic world of harmony and melody, where he may prove his brotherhood with Mozart and Weber, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Great unconscious demagogue!
Of course, such an embrace begs the question: Were these laboring men and women simply digesting what they were taught?
But its formation in eighteenth-century associationist psychology and philosophy in conjunction with the notion of sympathy gave it a more flexible range of possible meanings in the very way that it was defined as subjectivity, as sentiment and emotional response.
It was thus a slippery term, one meaning of which seemed perfectly clear, while another resisted stable definition, just as it stressed the malleability of identity itself. Because of the powerful feelings that music inspired, dissenters and industrialists turned to it as a fairly exact tool; harnessing musical notes to moral words would be an effective and affective means of molding performers to act in accord with the ethical message.
In reality, the practice contained flaws and resistances that leaders of the mass-music movement understandably did not emphasize. For example, the musical training that mostly resulted in managed groups could be used by a protesting body, as occurs in the novel Felix Holt, the Radical, published in The Dissenting Minister Rufus Lyon must listen to a deacon who was complaining to him about the obstinate demeanour of the singers, who had declined to change the tunes in accordance with a change in the selection of hymns, and had stretched short metre into long out of pure wilfulness and defiance, irreverently adapting the most sacred monosyllables to a multitude of wandering quavers, arranged, it was to be feared, by some musician who was inspired by conceit rather than by the true spirit of psalmody.
Lyon puts it in the next paragraph. The novel as a whole, however, emphasizes forward social progress, and a few pages later Mr. Lyon uses the discourse of music to communicate how individuals should ideally work together for a greater collective good. He says to Felix Holt, the moral center of the novel: I apprehend that there is a law in music, disobedience whereunto would bring us in our singing to the level of shrieking maniacs or howling beasts: so that herein we are well instructed how true liberty can be nought but the transfer of obedience from the will of one or of a few men to that will which is the norm or rule of all men.
And [. As Dickens reported to Hullah nine months later, the system did not meet the needs of the students: Miss Coutts thinks that our young ladies have made sufficient advancement in that scientific kind of instruction which Mr.
Bannister communicate—which is better adapted, she holds, to the wants of a superior class of pupils [.
Her wish is, that they should now use what they have learnt in this wise, socially, and turn it to account in their devotion and relaxation, rather than they should learn more, as an abstract study or accomplishment. I state her views, of course, without any admixture of my own. Despite the resistances seen in the examples of Felix Holt and Urania Cottage , however, both novel and anecdote evince the overall belief that music was a legitimate social helpmate; singing moral repertoire was popularly believed to promote individual character reform and national unity.
If an individual self-regulated according to the dictates of the philanthropists, preachers and factory owners, then he or she may reap the promised rewards. Many individuals did just that. But performing upright music did not in and of itself guarantee ethical reformation, nor did it always accurately signpost the respective angelic or reprobate qualities of the musician.
Popular sensation novels of the day played upon that very fear. Of course, controlling laborers or musicians was a complicated issue because of the competing tensions between the desire of reformers to alleviate the distressing conditions of the poorer classes and their investment in social control. The situation is further complicated because it is not necessarily the case that mob action or revolution benefits an individual or a group.
Activities like making music do raise the quality of life, and reforming initiatives that seek to benefit and regulate workers are not necessarily conspiracies of social dominance. Yes, the musical ensemble was a conceptual aid for understanding how a national unity and a managed mass might be formed out of many individuals, but this imaginative device went hand-in-hand with how music was being portrayed and used as a practical reforming tool.
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