How to sing harmony in third shows


Recitative. (Music) There is a kind of passionate delivery of speech that holds the middle ground between the actual song and the ordinary declaration; Like singing, it occurs in certain tones belonging to a scale, but without careful observation of everything metrical and rhythmic in the actual singing. This speech delivered in this way is called a recitative. The ancients differentiated these three genres of lecture in such a way that they correspond to singing deposed Tones attributed to the Declamation contiguous, but put the recitative in the middle between the two. Martianus Kapella calls these three types genus vocis - continuum, divisum, medium and he adds that the last type, namely the recitative, is the one that is needed to recite the poems. According to this, the ancients would have recited their poems in the manner of our recitative; and from this we can explain why in ancient times the study of poetry was inseparable from music. The mere declamation was also noted in the ancients, but only by accents, not by musical tones. This says Bryennius who Valais published, in no uncertain terms.

The recitative differs from the mere declaration in that it takes its notes from a musical scale and observes a modulation that is subject to the rules of harmony and can therefore be set in notes and accompanied by a bass that strikes full harmony. It differs from the actual singing mainly in the following characteristics. First of all, it does not bind itself to the movement as precisely as the song. Whole bars and individual times in the same time signature are not always of the same duration, and it is not uncommon for a quarter note to leave more quickly than another; on the other hand, the most precise uniformity of movement, as long as the beat remains the same, is necessary in the actual song. Second, the recitative does not have a very specific rhythm. Its major and minor incisions are subject to no other rule than the one observed by the speech itself. Thirdly, therefore, the difference arises that the recitative has no real melodic thoughts, no real melody, even if every single note is just as singed as in the real song. Fourth, the recitative is not tied to the regularity of modulation into other tones that is prescribed for the actual singing. Finally, the recitative differs from the true song in that nowhere, not even with perfect cadences, is a note sustained noticeably longer than in the declamation. There are arias and songs that have this in common with the recitative that their entire duration takes up roughly the time that a good declaration would require; but you will find individual syllables in them where the tone is sustained longer and singing. In general, in the performance of the recitative, the tones are performed purely according to the scale, but repelled somewhat more briefly than in the singing.

The recitative occurs in oratorios, cantatas and operas. It differs from the aria, the song and other texts used for formal singing in that it is not lyrical. The verse is free, now short, now long, without a constant meter in the sequence. This only seems to determine its external character; but it was he who caused the special kind of singing.

However, the content of the recitative differs from that of the arias and songs. Always passionate, but not in the same or steady flow of the same tone, but more alternated, more interrupted and separated. You have to imagine the passionate expression in the aria as a slow or fast, gentle or rustling, but uniformly flowing stream, the course of which the music naturally depicts: the recitative, on the other hand, can be imagined as a stream that flows now quietly, now between Rushing through stones, soon falling over cliffs. Quiet, merely narrative passages sometimes appear in the same recitative; the moment after, however, violent and highly pathetic passages. This inequality did not take place in the aria.

However, the completely indifferent tone in the recitative should be avoided altogether; because it is absurd to perform completely indifferent things in singing tones. I already explained myself more extensively about this in the opera article, where I noted that cold deliberations and such scenes, where one speaks without any affect, should not be performed musically at all. It is really uncomfortable when a completely cold speech is delivered in verse. And that's why I made the suggestion there, for the opera, where everything is supposed to be musical, to choose a treatment of the material that is unique to her and thoroughly passionate, so that the recitative does not become improper anywhere. After all, who can refrain from laughing when, as in the Opera Cato, the inscription of a letter is read singing (Il senato à Catone) and accompanied with harmony? This kind of absurd stuff only occurs in too many recitatives.

If in this article I present my thoughts on the treatment of the recitative to the composer, I expressly exclude those that have nothing passionate about them; for why should one make suggestions to the artist as to how he could make something inconsistent? I assume that every recitative and every single passage in it is such that the one who speaks speaks naturally in affect. That's why I won't have to, like Mr. disc1 a difference between that mere recite and to declare To make recitative; because I reject the former entirely. If, however, it asserts its place in the opera and in the cantata, the poet may see how he is responsible for it and the composer how he wishes to treat it. Because to give rules about this would, in my terms, be as much as teaching a poet what kind of verse he has to choose in order to turn a newspaper into an ode.


Innocent! Righteous! breathe the dull, tormented soul from you! ––

Woe! Woe! Not chains, not ties, I see sharpened wedges –– Jesus offers his hands The dear hands whose work Woltun was.

How would it have been turned into an aria? It is probably not necessary for me to show how absurd it would be to set such a highly pathetic passage in the manner of an aria. From this, however, it becomes clear how the highest degree of passion is often much better suited to the recitative than to the aria. We see it clearly in some odes, after lyrical verses of the ancients, which certainly no composer will dare to deal with, unless he can treat them alternately, now as a recitative, now as an arioso, now as an aria.

It is not my intention here to show the poet how to treat the recitative. The patterns given by Ramler tell him more when he has a feeling than I could tell him.

I just want to touch on one particular point here. I cannot refrain from confessing that the interventions of foreign speeches and sayings that sometimes occur in recitatives, which the composer always performs as arioso, have something offensive to my mind. I have in a different place2 the lyrical narrative tone of the recitative in the Ramlerische Passion is recommended as a model. Indeed, I did not know how to find a more beautiful recitative than the one with which this oratorio begins. What can be more pathetic and desirable for the composer for the recitative than this?

–– Best of all human children! Are you hesitating? you shiver like the sinner on whom his death sentence falls!

Oh see! he sinks, burdened with the misdeeds Of a whole world.

His heart in work flies out of its cave His sweat flows purple down the temple. He calls: My soul is sad until death. etc.

Graun, according to the common usage that has become the rule, has the words: My soul is sad etc. which the poet puts in the mouth of a strange person as an Arioso and it is difficult, if you look at it for yourself, to have something more beautiful in this way than this Arioso: and yet it has always been offensive to me and remains so often I hear this passion. It is not possible for me to find myself in the fact that the same reciting person sings, now in his own name, now in someone else's name. And yet, on the other hand, I don't see why I don't dislike this dramatic aspect of the epic poet? So if my feeling about this does not deceive me; so I would like to say that we shall begin to speak in someone else's name and with his words; but not to sing. But, I don't dare to state my feeling about this as a rule. In real drama as the words: Saddened etc. were sung by the person himself, everything, as the composer did, would be perfect. Or if it were:

His sweat flows purple-red, The sleep 'down: His soul is troubled

    Until death.

So it seems to me that the Arioso, as Graun put it, could be retained. The poet could even say the consequence of this switched-on speech in his own name. Only in the single verse Take away, take away the bitter cup of my mouth. –– should be his. But, as I said, I don't want to decide anything about this: I'm just saying that my feeling has never got used to such places.

So much should be said about the poetry of the recitative. Rousseau was right to point out that only those languages ​​that already have a good musical accent or something singing in their normal performance are accepted as recitative. In this respect, of course, Italian usually surpasses all other contemporary European languages. But even less singing languages ​​can be treated by very good poets, if only the content is passionate enough, that they have enough of the musical accent: Klopstock and Ramler have convinced us of this with examples. Anyone who only knew the English language from a few cold social conversations would not imagine that one could write verses in it that sound like the best of the Aeneid: and yet have Pope done the like. So it is only up to the poet to write very musically, even in a somewhat unmusical language.

But it is time we came to the arrangement of the recitative, which is peculiar to the composer. But in order to say anything useful about this, it is necessary that we first indicate, as best we can, the properties of a perfectly posited recitative.

1. The recitative does not have a uniform melodic rhythm, but merely observes the cuts and sections of the text without worrying about their melodic symmetry. In Germany and Italy it is always set in 4/4 time. All kinds of time signatures appear one after the other in the French recitative, making them very difficult to accompany and even more difficult to grasp.

2. It has no main tone, nor the regular modulation of the regular sound pieces; it still has to close in the main tone again, like this one; Instead, the composer gives each following speech that requires a different tone its tone, whether it is related to the preceding one or not; he is not concerned about how long or short this tone lasts, but merely depends on the poet. Rapid deviations in other tones take place especially where someone who is speaking in a calm or even happy tone is suddenly interrupted by someone who is in intense passion; which often happens in operas.

3. Because the recitative is not actually sung, but only declaimed with musical tones, it does not have to have any melismatic ornamentation.

4. Each syllable of the text has to be expressed by a single tone: at least, if any other syllable is dragged to it for a better expression, this must be done in such a way that the clear pronunciation of the syllable does not suffer.

5. According to the poet's syllable measure, all grammatical accents must fall on good measures, the syllables without accents on bad measures.

6. The movement must be consistent with the best lecture; so that the words on which one likes to linger a little while reading are filled with long notes, but the passages over which one hurries away while reading are filled with quick notes.

7. Likewise, the rising and falling of the voice must be based on the increasing or decreasing sensation, both on individual syllables and on a sequence of several syllables.

8. Pauses should not be set anywhere other than where there are real cuts or sections of the sentences in the text.

9. In the case of the complete ending of a key, to which another completely contrasting one comes, the recitative part should not make any if the period of the speech does not already require the cadence. The recitative can leave the cadenza to the bass when the upper part is silent.

10. The special types of cadences, which characterize questions, violent exclamations, strictly commanding sentences, do not have to be made on the last syllables of the sentence, but on the noun, on the meaning of which these figures of speech are based.

11. The harmony should be based exactly on the expression of the text, light and consonant when set and cheerful; plaintive and tenderly dissonant with sad and tender content; disturbing and cutting dissonant with very dark, violent and stormy expressions. But it goes without saying that even the most adverse dissonances must be defended according to the rules of harmony. Particular consideration must be given here to the diversity of the harmonic cadences, through which one goes into other tones; because these contribute most of the expression.

12. That too piano and Forte with their shading should be observed according to the content of the text.

13. Tender, particularly gently lamenting and sad sentences, also very solemnly pathetic ones, which go on through one or more speech sentences in the same tone of the declaration, must both for the sake of variety and because it is otherwise appropriate, Arioso be set.

14. As a shading between the unequal common recitative gait and the arioso, one can prescribe the exact rhythmic movement of the reciting singer, where it is appropriate because of the uniform gait of the declamation that lasts for a while.

15. Finally, at passages where the speech is full of affect, but very much broken off and advanced with single words, without proper phrases, the so-called Accompagnement appropriate, since the instruments describe the sensation while the speaker is pausing.

These are what I think are the qualities of a perfect recitative. Rather than giving verbose and perhaps useless instructions on how the composer should incorporate each of these qualities into the recitative, it will probably be more useful if I give good and bad examples and provide a few comments about them. One of my friends, who associates a fine feeling for good singing with the theory of music and to whom I have shared this essay, has had the pleasure of looking up the following examples to explain the above remarks and to accompany them with a few remarks. Needless to say, I apologize for the length of this article; the lack of good instruction on the recitative sufficiently justifies me.



1 S. Whose treatise on the recitative in the library of the beautiful sciences in the XI and XII parts.

2 pp. Oratorio.