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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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A Sermon to Vocalists

A Sermon to Vocalists

(p.25) Chapter 5 A Sermon to Vocalists
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

Singers may be, and often are, much cleverer than most people in the ordinary affairs of life; it is only when they come to singing, their especial talent, that they think it necessary to put off intelligence as a garment. Music, so far as the human voice is concerned, consists of melody and rhythm. Now the typical “royalty ballad” possesses neither melody nor rhythm. Melody—a real tune—must be vital and individual; and individuality is just what the musical penny-ice man abhors. He makes his poisonous sweetmeats out of old scraps. Phrases picked up here and there from the successful songs of former times, and hitched on to each other anyhow like the trucks of a goods train. The well-known phrases, so thinks the “composer,” will save the public trouble, and their haphazard arrangement will be all the easier for him. As to rhythm, a perfunctory arrangement of note-values suffices; as much like something else as possible.

Keywords:   music, human voice, melody, rhythm, royalty ballad

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