Skip to main content

Full text of "Expression Of The Emotions In Man And Animals"

See other formats


90                    MEANS OF EXPRESSION            CHAP. IV.

language—one vrhieh, so far as I am aware., no one lias
been able to analyse, and which the ingenious specula-
tion of Mr. Herbert Spencer as to the origin of music
leaves quite unexplained. For it is certain that the
melodic effect of a series of sounds does not depend in
the least on their loudness or softness, or on their abso-
lute pitch. A tune is always the same tune, whether it
is sung loudly or softly., "by a child or a man; whether
it is played on a flute or on a trombone. The purely
musical effect of any sound depends on its place in what
is technically called a ' scale;' the same sound produc-
ing absolutely different effects 011 the ear, according as
it is heard in connection with one or another series of
sounds.

£< It is on this relative association of the sounds that
all the essentially characteristic effects which are summed
up in the phrase ' musical expression/ depend. But
why certain associations of sounds have such-and-such,
effects, is a problem which yet remains to be solved.
These effects must indeed, in some way or other., be con-
nected with the well-known arithmetical relations be-
tween the rates of vibration of the sounds which form
a musical scale. And it is possible—"but this is merely
a suggestion—that the greater or less meclianieal facility
with which the vibrating apparatus of the human larynx
passes from one state of vibration to another, may have
heen a primary cause of the greater or less pleasure pro-
duced by various sequences of sounds."

But leaving aside these complex questions and eon-
fining ourselves to the simpler sounds, we can, at least.,
see some reasons for the association of certain kinds of
sounds with certain states of mind. A scream, for in-
stance, uttered" by a young animal, or "by one of the
members of a community, as a call for assistance, will
naturally "be loud, prolonged, and high, so as to pene-