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ART. II. A Complete Dictionary of Mufic, confifting of a copious Expla nation of all Words neceffary to a true Knowledge and Understanding of Mufic. Tranflated from the original French of J. J. Rouffeau. By William Waring. Second Edition *. 8vo. 3 s. bound. Murray.
F all the tranflations that have difgraced the English prefs, this is the most abominable fpecimen that we recollect ever to have fallen under our notice. It is a production, indeed, of fo extraordinary a kind, that we find it difficult to form any hypothefis to account for its having made its way to, or through, any prefs. Though the name prefixed to it may feem to be that of a man, the verfion has all the appearance of having been the task of a child learning French, and set to tranfbate out of that language by the help of a Boyer's Dictionary. Be the tranflator however man, woman, or child, it is evident at leaft, that he or she is totally ignorant of mufic, and of the terms that relate to it both in French and English, as well as of the idioms of the two languages.
With respect to a performance thus executed, it might be thought fufficient to comprize our fentence of unreserved condemnation, within the compafs of a few lines in our Catalogue. But the work of Rouffeau, here fo fhamefully defaced, is of fuch extraordinary merit; and a translation of it, or, in short, a good dictionary of mufic, is fo great a defideratum in English literature; that we think it incumbent upon us more particularly to ftigmatize this disgraceful verfion of it, by placing it in the more confpicuous divifion of our Journal, and exhibiting it in the most elevated and diftinguished part of our critical pillory.
To begin with matters in which science and technical terms are not concerned, and indeed with almoft the very first article ; -How would the feeling Rouffeau- tremblingly alive all o'er'— were he yet alive, revolt at the praifes which this pervertor of his meaning makes him beftow on the French Royal Academy of Mufic, or the Opera at Paris; when he reprefents him as faying, that among all the academies of that kingdom, or of the world in general, that may, affuredly, lay the greatest claim to fame!'On the contrary, Rouffeau, who abominated the French mufic, farcaftically fays of this academy, that of all the academies in the world it is that in which they make the greatest noife.- C'eft affurement celle qui fait le plus de bruit.'
The literal, and generally erroneous, verfion of his Author, almoft word for word, without any regard either to idiom or fense, cannot be better exemplified than by giving a paragraph
* The first edition was published in numbers, and was not mentioned in our Review.
or two of the original, with the tranflation placed immediately under it. We fhall honeftly take thefe paffages at random, or as they occur on opening the book.
Under the Article, Harmony, where he is treating of the harmonic founds, as they are called, which accompany the fundamental, thus fays our Author, and thus, after him, his Translator; who fticks as clofe to him as a leech, but without extracting any of his good juices;-in fhort, ignorant of his meaning, and accordingly mistaking it almoft in every line.
Chaque touche d'un orgue, dans le plein jeu, donne un accord Every touch of an organ in full play gives a perfect concord parfait tierce majeure, qu'on ne diftingue pas du fon fondamental, major third, which is not diftinguifhed from the fundamental a moins qu'on ne foit d'une attention extrême; & qu'on ne tire found, unless we pay an extreme attention, and draw the tones fucceffivement les jeux: mais ces fons harmoniques ne fe confondent fucceffively: but these harmonic founds are not confounded avec le principal, qu'à la faveur du grand bruit, & d'un arwith the principal, but by favour of a loud harmony, and an arrangement de regiftres, par lequel les tuyaux qui font refonner le fon rangement of regifters, by which the pipes which make the fondamental, couvrent de leur force ceux qui donnent les fundamental found refound, cover with their force those which harmoniques. Or, on n'obferve point, & l'on ne fauroit give their harmonies. Moreover, we do not obferve, neither obferver cette proportion continuelle dans un concert; puisqu' atcan we, that continual proportion in a concert; fince in tendu le renversement de l'harmonie, il faudroit que cette plus conjunction with the change of the harmony, this greatest grande force paflât à chaque inftant d'une partie à une autre; force muft inftantly pals from one part to another; ce qui n'eft pas praticable, & defigureroit toute la melodie. which is not practicable, and would entirely disfigure the melody.
Opening the book again we meet with the following pleasant paffages, under the Article Accompanying. In the whole compafs of tranflation we cannot conceive any thing more curious. To heighten its relifh, we fhall here too prefix the original; and likewise that the Reader may not be at a lofs to discover on what fubjects our ingenious Tranflator is difcourfing.
Dans un air lent & doux, quand on n'a qu'une voix foible, In a flow and sweet air, when there is but a weak voice, ou un feul inftrument à accompagner, on retranche des fons, or a fingle inftrument for the accompaniment, we cut off the founds,
on arpege doucement, on prend le petit clavier.-Quand on we flacken flowly, we touch the small key.-When we
frappe les même touches, pour prolonger le fon, dans une note longue, ftrike the fame ftrings, to prolong the found, in a long note,
ou une tenue, que ce foit plutôt au commencement de la mesure, or in a feffion, let it be rather at the beginning of the measure,
ou du tems fort, que dans un autre moment : on ne doit rebattre or the strong time, than at another moment: we ought not to requ'en marquant bien la mesure. Dans peat the ftroke till we have well examined the measure. In
le recitatif Italien, quelque durée que puiffe avoir une note de the Italian recitative, how long a duration foever a note of the baffe, il ne faut jamais la frapper qu' une fois & fortement avec bafs may contain, we fhould never ftrike it but once, and that tout fon accord: on refrappe seulement l'accord quand forcibly with its whole accord: we reftrike the accord only when il change fur la même note: mais quand un accompagnement it changes on the fame note: but when an accompaniment
de violons regne fur le récitatif, alors il faut foutenir la baffe, & of violins is attendant on the recitative, then we should sustain en arpéger l'accord.
the bass, and flacken its accord.
Quand on accompagne de la mufique vocale, on doit, par l'accomWhen we accompany vocal mufic, we ought, by the accompagnement, foutenir la voix, la guider, lui donner le ton à toutes paniment, to fuftain the voice, to guide it, give it its tóne in all les rentrées, & l'y remettre quand elle détonne. its takings in, and correct it whenever it is out of tune.
L'accompagnateur-eft chargé fpécialement d'empêcher que la voix The accompanift-is especially charged to be careful that the ne s'égare. voice lofe not itself in an error.
One would almost doubt whether our mufical Tranflator ever faw a fiddle; or, at leaft, whether he knows that it has a neck, and a finger-board. Under the Article, Doigter, where M. Rouffeau treats of fingering, he fays- Sur les inftrumens à manche, tels que le violon & le violoncelle, la plus grande règle de doigter confifte dans les diverfes pofitions de la main gauche fur le manche.' Our Interpreter fays-On inftruments for the breaft, fuch as the violin and violoncello, the principal rule of fingering confifts in the different pofitions of the left hand on the
Fleeve.-At the end of the fame paragraph M. Rouffeau, fpeaking of a performer well acquainted with the finger-board, fays, qu'il poffede bien fon manche'-or he is mafter of the fingerboard. He is expert in the fleeve,' fays our Tranflator. That manche dces actually fignify the fleeve of a gown or a coat, our Tranflator may fafely aver, on the authority of Boyer: but what peculiar train of ideas he had in his head, when he talks of the fleeve of a fiddle, and of the inftruments of the breast, is best known to himself.
The French have a mufical language, or a fet of mufical terms, almoft peculiar to themselves; at leaft very different from thofe used in the English tongue. Every one of these our Tranflator either employs as it ftands in the original; or tranflates literally, and often erroneously. Inftead of the letters, G, A, B, C, &c. to fignify the notes of the octave, he invariably uses the terms, Sol, La, Si, Ut, &c. Thus again, he is continually puzzling the English reader with fuch terms as the Tonic, the Senfible Note, the Dominant, the Subdominant, &c. inftead of the Key Note, the Seventh, the Fifth, &c.
To a fake he every where gives the appellation of a cadencè -a term unfortunately appropriated, in our mufical language, to convey a very different fignification: and that other mufical grace, which we call a beat, he calls a beating; and moft richly deferves one for his ignorance of a term known to every blind. fiddler at a country fair.-Inftead of the terms, sharp and flat, he conftantly uses thofe of Diefis, and B flat; [a translation of Bemol] and what he should call a Natural, prefixed to any note. whatever, he calls B harp [in French, Bequarré]. Thus, for inftance, F fharp, and E flat are metamorphofed by our mufical Expounder into Fa diefis, and Mi B flat; and G natural is transformed into Sol B sharp. The confufion arifing from this ftrange gibberish, introduced into an English work, may eafilý be conceived.
The general turn of our Tranflator's phrafeology may be collected from the following phrafes, which occur within the compass of a very few lines at p. 249- . I cannot be prevented to remind my readers. The fimplicity of the connections [Anglice, ratio's or proportions] The connection of a modified fifth pleases the ear.'- The method of establishing and treating a mode. Herein lies their confiftent rules. To modulate well in a fame tone, we must first go through all its founds with a fine mufic,' &c..
The time and room we have beftowed on this miferable production will not, we hope, be thrown away. We have, of late, treated with too much lenity, more than one execrable verfion of works of science; and to check, as far as is in our power, the progrefs of this evil, as well as to do juftice to the REY. June, 1779. Ff memory
memory of Rouffeau, we have thus hung up in chains this Defacer of his writings, in terrorem; to ferve as a warning to all future unqualified tranflators, and a caution to bookfellers: -hereby likewise configning his sheets to the oven of the pastrycook, "from whose bourn "No traveller returns."
It is not the smallest inconvenience refulting from fuch publications as the prefent, that they tend to prevent those who are qualified for the task from enriching our language with tranflations of works of merit.
ART. III. Mufic made easy to every Capacity, in a Series of Dialogues; being practical Lefjons for the Harpsichord, laid down in a new Me thod, fo as to render that Inftrument fo little difficult, that any Perfon, with common Application, may play well; become a thorough Proficient in the Principles of Harmony; and will compofe Mufic, if they have a Genius for it, in lefs than a Twelvemonth. Written in French by M. Bemetzrieder, Mufic Mafter to the Queen of France, and published by the celebrated M. Diderot. The Whole tranflated by Giffard Bernard, M. A. Perufed and approved by Dr. Boyce and Dr. Howard. 4to. 3 s. 6d. Ayre, &c. 1778.
HE Public are here prefented with the tranflation of another mufical work of very great merit. fic is one of the most pleasing of all the arts, it perhaps exceeds all the others in the revolting drynefs of its precepts. In the prefent performance, however, these are delivered, or rather infinuated, in the moft alluring form; that of a dialogue, as pleafing as it is inftructive.
Though the enormities of the preceding Article have, perhaps, rendered us lefs irritable or nice, on the score of idiom and diction, than we should otherwife have been; they have not made us fo callous, or even diminished our fenfibility fo far, as to make us overlook the too frequent gallicifms, vulgarifms, and other defects of the prefent tranflation. Thefe, too, are the lefs excufable, on account of the excellence of the original work, even confidered merely as a literary compofition. For though it is ftrictly a didactic treatife, the precepts contained in it are delivered in fuch an eafy, graceful, and animated manner, that we have a right to expect fomething more than mere fidelity, with refpect to rules and examples, in the tranflation of it. In a work of this character it was reasonable to hope that our Tranflator would have attempted to transfufe into his copy a little of the phlogiston of the original.
The original work, which was published at Paris a few years. ago, under the title of Leçons de Clavecin, &c. confifts of feveral dialogues, of which four only are here tranflated.