"Thoughts of my soul, how swift ye go! Swift as the eagle's glance of fire, Or arrows from the archer's bow, To the far aim of your desire! Thought after thought, ye thronging rise, Like spring-doves from the startled wood, Bearing like them your sacrifice Of music unto God!" - Whittier.
"What passion cannot Music raise and quell? When Jubal struck the chorded shell, His listening brethren stood around, And, wondering, on their faces fell To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell That spoke so sweetly and so well. What passion cannot Music raise and quell?" - Dryden.
As music is representative of both thought and feeling, it must not only be varied in form, but the best thoughts that the mind can give and the deepest things the soul can feel must enter into its composition. Man's work tells the story of his inner life. If it is the work of a Michael Angelo, a Leonardo da Vinci, a Beethoven, or a Wagner, then such work must be a true expression of his highest self. There is no way for a man to attain lasting greatness save through the development of his own innate powers and possibilities. All greatness comes from within, but in order to benefit the man or the world, it must take form in the world and the tree must become known by its fruit. It is expected of all that each shall live his own life, and live it to the full on every plane of being, from the elemental plane even to the Christ plane, so that each man will, eventually, contain within himself the full record of all life, because he has lived to the full on every plane of being.
Rhythm and melody are both true expressions of man's inner life, but they must become fully expressed in his outer life so that there may be the perfect correspondence between inner and outer. The greatest composers will ever resort to the inner, but they will seldom if ever be unmindful of the outer form. The vision is first, the form is last, and the composer who tries to reverse this order will never be able to produce great or soul-satisfying music.
Mozart and Beethoven both employed a great variety of rhythm because they were true interpreters of what might be called the higher or celestial music. But no composer however great has ever been able to reach the limit of musical rhythm, because the rhythm of music comes to us from infinity itself. It must, therefore, have an infinity of variety. Mozart and Beethoven were among the greatest masters of rhythm, and both introduced into their music much that was new in the way of rhythm. It is doubtful whether any poet ever lived who exceeded Tennyson in variety and beauty of rhythm, and yet the rhythm used by either Mozart or Beethoven far outdistanced in number and variety that of Tennyson. Poetry, while more nearly related to music than any other of the arts, is nevertheless greatly restricted in its expression, because the poet, in his effort to give expression, draws more from the external side of life, consequently the mind is used more than the soul. There can be beautiful, descriptive poetry, such as is to be found in the poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Moore, or Lord Byron, where mentality alone is used almost entirely; we might call them word painters of nature. But music is in no way dependent upon the spoken word. Too often do the words associated with music serve only to detract from its value. There is no doubt in the mind of the writer that the librettos for Mozart's operas and the verses used for other of his music, too often kept him from doing his best work. A composer cannot become very much inspired by the work of another which in every way falls so far short of his own, and it is to be observed that wherever the verse was of a high order, Mozart was always at his best. He certainly laboured under the disadvantage of having no composer of verse who could, to any degree, live up to his music. Wagner had at least the stimulus of his own poetic work to aid him in his musical composition.
Rhythm enters into the life of everything, and there is just as much variety of rhythm as there is variety of sound, color, or form. He who is in closest relation to all that is greatest in life will give a far truer and better expression than the one who looks at life in a superficial way. Let the composer realise that music is the language of the heart, and that this language should not be abused by prostituting it to ignoble ends or purposes, when he has the power through the language of music to talk to others of the very highest and most wonderful things in life. He can really become one of God's prophets to give to the world something that shall not perish, or he may use his God-given gift to call out only that which is vicious and purely emotional in the life of man. We can have infinite variety in music without taking away any of its true qualities.
If the music of every composer were a true expression of the indwelling Spirit, then we should have less poor music than we have at the present time, and we should have far more originality, because, if each composer, instead of trying to copy after someone else whom, perhaps, he thinks a greater master than himself, should go directly to the Fountain-head, he would get something new, something original, that would be better than anything he could possibly copy from another. The composer who is only an echo of someone else, is of practically little use to himself or anyone else. If one can do but a little and does that little in a true way, both the individual and the world at large profit much more than if there is only a copy or a poor expression of what someone else has already done, in a better way. The world needs to-day more of original temperament, more of original thought, and more of original expression. There is a demand for it in every department of the world's work. No man should ever allow himself to become a mere recorder of what other people have thought and done, he should be a living man, true to the highest expression of what the Creator intended him to be - strong, persevering, courageous, self-reliant, feeling, thinking and acting for himself. A man is able to express in an original way only that which he has thought and felt for himself, and so life can only become great to those who are able to discern the greatness that lives within their own lives.