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law of to and fro

Hughes

EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS ADDRESSED TO F. J . HUGHES BY DR. GAUNTLETT.

On harmonical parallel between tone and colour
—On the term of "rest," fifths, and the sympathy of music with life
Relativities of sounds and vibrations of strings
—The doctrines of three pairs, six tones, and the law of "two and fro"
—The germ of the system probably to be found in the adaptability of numbers
—Sudden death of Dr. Gauntlett, . . . . . 48 [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Table of Contents4 - Harmonies]

I had for a long time studied the development of the harmonics of colour, and believed that I had gained them correctly; but I saw no way of proving this. The thought occurred—Why not test the laws in musical harmonies? I wrote down the development of the seven major keys of the white notes in keyed instruments. I was perplexed by the movement as of "to and fro," but the development of numbers explained this point, and I found that the method of development in colours, tones, and numbers agreed. I remembered the keys with sharps, but had forgotten that B♭ belonged to the key of F, and here I thought that the laws failed. But I found by reference that all were correct, the eighth being the first of a higher series, the laws having enabled me to distinguish between flats and sharps, [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, General Remarks on Harmonies of Tones and Colours, page 12]

There is amazing grandeur, united with simplicity, in the working of Nature's laws in the development of harmonies of sound, so that the smallest conceivable point has its complementary and corresponding gradation, which renders it capable of development into its peculiar harmony, causing the "multequivalency of harmonies" in endless variety, whether veering round, to and fro, ascending or descending, or advancing and retiring in musical clef. [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Dr. Gauntletts Remarks1, page 13]

The tones between the seven white notes of keyed instruments, and the tints and shades between the seven colours, cause the multequivalency of colours and of tones; consequently every colour, as every musical harmony, has the capability of ascending or descending, to and fro in circles, or advancing and retiring in musical clef. It is a curious coincidence that Wünsch, nearly one hundred years ago, believed in his discovery of the primary colours to be red, green, and violet; and in this scheme, red, answering to the note C, must necessarily be the first visible colour, followed by green and violet, but these not as primary colours, all colours in turn becoming primaries and secondaries in the development of the various harmonies. To gain facts by experiment, the colours must be exactly according to natural proportions—certain proportions producing white, and others black. In this scheme, green and red are shown to be a complementary pair, and therefore (as Clerk Maxwell has proved) red and green in right proportions would produce yellow. The same fact has been proved in Lord Rayleigh's experiments with the spectroscope. Yellow and ultra-violet, [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, On Colours as Developed by the same Laws as Musical Harmonies3, page 20]

The first trinity of sounds (hereafter called the Primaries) rise veering from left to right; the second trinity (hereafter called the Secondaries) follow, veering from right to left. The life of sound always causes a variety of movement to and fro. [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Diagram II - The Twelve Keynotes1, page 23]

of action is the great law, and the same force that excites sensation with the auditory nerve lies at the bottom of sensation with organs of vision. When I say my plan, I talk in the old groove, and there are difficulties to be smoothed, but in a way that might be much grumbled over. One very curious thing is plain: your system meets many of the cases on which our present theorists stumble so awfully. I saw this from the first time I had the pleasure of considering it with you, and on this account never relished the idea of giving it up; and the more thought bestowed on it led to its applicability to the more ancient forms of melody—the little tunes of the old world in the East. These are said to be independent of harmony, but your system is perfect harmony. The latest theorists in Paris are all at war with the old theory, and there is now a petition lying before the governing powers of the Paris Academy of Music, praying for a total change in the teaching of harmony in that metropolis; and this memorial has been signed by all the rising celebrities in the musical world there. I really believe the best mode, after all, is the series of six tones—the two trinities; and the law of 'to and fro' is impregnable. That is all right. I should like that term to get into vogue, for it is much more plain and clear than what we call the inverse and reverse, or counterchange." "The grave, or rather extraordinary result of your system is, that so much, very much of it tallies with what may be termed the commonly unknown relatives of the tones. You offer affinities which are termed abstruse, and, although admitted, are accepted without demonstration. Why you should be able to explain the much-quarrelled-over connections is beyond my comprehension, and if I could discover the key, the result would be most important for the well-being of music. With this view your system always interests me. I suspect it lies in that wonderful adaptability of the order of numbers. With the artificial system, music is confined to a few single harmonical tones—none of which can ever be used without alteration—which we gently coax the ear into receiving." "Your system runs up the shortest way, and I find it of advantage in composing." [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Extracts from Dr. Gauntlett's Letters2, page 49]

See Also


Compression Wave
Longitudinal Wave
Transverse Wave
Laws of Music
Oscillation
Vibration

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Tuesday April 6, 2021 04:29:54 MDT by Dale Pond.