In this book an attempt is made first, to describe our modern orchestral instruments, where they sprang from, how they developed, and what they are today; next, to trace the types of music which have been reflected in these constructional changes and, in especial, the types most familiar since Beethoven's time. Without some knowledge on these points the student is working in the dark. He is like a Lascar turned loose in a dynamo-house. It is true that one may show him the button, and, if he presses it, he will get a terrific blaze of light. But what is behind the button ? How were the wires laid ? Why is one type of engine better than another for its own purpose? How is the shop to be run in the most economical way?

All these questions call for answers, and, on the musical side of the analogy, the answers are not difficult to find. For the facts that underlie instrumentation are few and simple: a skin or a metal plate to be beaten; a column of air in a brass or wooden tube with some sort of mouthpiece or embouchure; a string or two — four is a good number — to be bowed, plucked, or struck. These are the essentials and, if the student grasps them, he will soon be brought to see that change comes but slowly and rarely, and that, when it comes, it is more apparent than real. Edward I.'s “Roger o le Troumpour” 1) FIXME sounds very ancient in 1914, but he made exactly the same music for his sovereign at Carnarvon as the cavalry trumpeters now make for George V. at Aldershot. And, even if we leave the Long Valley for the more rarefied atmosphere of Queen's Hall, W., we can only record an additional tube or two each with a mechanical air-switch. This is the point for the practical musician. The old persists in the new and, without an understanding of the weapon itself, we cannot wield it.

It is not necessary to enlarge on these topics here. They are all dealt with as they come up in turn for discussion. The main-lines of study concern the original type of instrument, then its modifications, and last its use in its present-day perfection — or in some cases, one must say, very partial perfection. A good deal of space has been devoted to explaining the String-technique. This is a subject not often studied from the outsider's point of view. It is, however, well worth undertaking as, apart from its inherent musical and scientific interest, its complex and elaborately expressive methods are apt to baffle the student, especially the student who is a professional pianist. For purposes of reference I have begun with a complete list of orchestral instruments, their compasses, and notations; and ended with an index which is also a digest of the work.

Before concluding this preface I wish to acknowledge my obligations to Sir Charles Stanford. To his encouragement this book owes its existence. And, as an old pupil of his, it is with peculiar pleasure that I try to give back a little where I have received much. I hope he will forgive my zoological dissidences on page 461. FIXME

To Messrs Boosey and Co. I am indebted for the illustrations which are, I think, an interesting feature of the book. Besides lending me a number of blocks, Messrs Boosey and Co. have allowed me to make photographs from their collection of ancient instruments. Without this courtesy I might not have been able to include such specimens as the Fipple-Flute, Serpent, Cornett, Keyed-Bugle, and Bass-Ophicleide.

Finally I must offer my warmest thanks to Mr. Frank Bridge for his kindness and long labour in reading my proof-sheets. His wide musical knowledge and invincible accuracy have been invaluable to me.

London, March 7th, 1914.

This digital edition is by Brian Bondari.

See page 41.
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