Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Exotic" Tunes in Rousseau's Dictionnaire (1768) & Laborde's Essai (1780)

I am at the moment interested in the history of the so-called "national airs" - in Germany "Volkslieder" or "National-Lieder" -, especially those of the more "exotic" kind. This means tunes from outside of Europe or from the European periphery like Scandinavia or the Balkan. What was available in the 18th and early 19th century, what was published when and in which context? What did scholars or also the general public - at least those interested in music - know about foreign countries' musical culture and how did they use these kind of songs and tunes.

Two French musicological publications from the second half of the 18th century were of particular importance, both as source and as inspiration for later scholars, editors and writers: Rousseau's Dictionnaire de Musique (1768) and Laborde's Essai sur la Musique (1780). The Dictionnaire was Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's major work in the field of musicology. Here he included a small but significant and influential selection of "exotic" foreign tunes. 
As usual I have added links to the - to my knowledge - best available digital copies of the different editions of this work. These are all complete scans, including the plates. Therefore there is no need to bother with those that can be found at Google Books. They are simply not usable. In every single case the plates were not scanned correctly (see for example here, here and here). 

But this is a general problem with the scans produced by Google. Much too often all kinds of extras like plates and foldouts have been mutilated or are missing. This is really annoying and seems to me like a waste of resources. In case of Rousseau's Dictionnaire at least the BStB, München offers a small booklet with all the plates (4 Mus.th. 1356 a). But this is an exception. Thankfully today better scans are available in other repositories, in this case at the Internet Archive and the French National Library.


Rousseau used the five tunes on plate N to illustrate his article about the term "music" and thankfully he also named his sources. The one from China was taken from du Halde's Description Géographique, Historique, Chronologique, Politique, et Physique De L'Empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie Chinoise (Paris, 1735, here Vol. 3, plate bef. p. 267) and the Persian song - with words - from Jean Chardin's famous Voyages en Perse, et Autres Lieux de L'Orient (1711, here Vol. 2, plate No. 26 ). There are also a Swiss Kuhreigen and two "Canadian" tunes. The latter he borrowed from Marin Mersenne's classic work Harmonie Universelle (Paris, 1636, here Vol. 1, pt. 3, bk. 3, p. 148, at Gallica BnF).

While the "Danse Canadienne" was in fact from Canada - at least Mersenne claimed to have received it from one French Captain who had been there - the other one wasn't. These were three of the five fragmentary tunes from Jean de Léry's Histoire d'Un Voyage Faict en la Terre du Brésil (Geneva 1585, p. 159 etc; Latin ed., Geneva 1586, p. 128 etc), the very first American music published in Europe. Mersenne identified them in his book as "Trois Chansons des Ameriquains" and clearly acknowledged his source.

Rousseau must have overlooked that or maybe he was a little bit sloppy. In his Dictionnaire they mutated into a "Chanson des Sauvages du Canada". Henceforth these three  Brazilian tunes  would lead second life as one from Canada.  He also doctored these tunes a little bit and "[...] copies none of the ethnic melodies correctly from the authors whom he cites as his sources" (Stevenson 1973, p. 17).

The Dictionnaire was also translated into English, at first only as an addition to James Grassineau's Musical Dictionary (first published London 1740, ESTC T135521; this was an English translation of de Brossard's Dictionnaire de Musique, 1700) without any illustrations but then some years later also on its own: 
  • Appendix to Grassineau's Musical Dictionary, Selected from the Dictionnaire de Musique of J. J. Rousseau, J. Robson, London, 1769 [ESTC T112418, ESTC T112419] (at BDH; here bound together with the first edition of Grassineau's Dictionary) 
  • A Dictionary of Music. Translated from the French of Mons. J. J. Rousseau. By William Waring, J. French, London, n. d. [1775?; ESTC T137130; only available at ECCO] 
  • A Complete Dictionary of Music. Consisting Of A Copious Explanation of all Words necessary to a true Knowledge and Understanding of Music. Translated from the original French of J. J. Rousseau. By William Waring. Second Edition, J. Murray, London & Luke White, Dublin, 1779 [ESTC N5070], here pp. 265-6, at the Internet Archive & Google Books (two other ed. publ. by J. French et al., London, n. d. [1779, ESTC T163022] and Luke White, Dublin [ESTC 5072] available at ECCO). 
Waring's translation was first published c. 1775 and then in a new edition in 1779. A copy of the latter is available at Google Books and it seems to be more or less complete. Thankfully the English publisher decided to integrate most of the content of the plates into the main text. Therefore the tunes - but only one of the two "Canadian", in fact the one originally from Brazil - found a place in the article about the term "music". Interestingly this was - as far as I know - the first time that Mersenne's melody as well as Chardin's "Persian Tune" were published in England. 

These tunes later appeared again in other publications. Musicologist William Crotch was of course familiar with the Dictionnaire and included some of them in his Specimens of Various Styles of Music (London, 1808, here f. ex. No. 315, p. 152; Nos. 351-2, p. 165). Three of the five can also be found - more than half a century later -  in Thomas Hastings' Dissertation on Musical Taste (Albany, 1822, p. 219, at BStB).

For reasons unknown to me there was no German translation of the complete book, only a review and some excerpts in a periodical, but without the music or other illustrations 
  • Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend, Vol. 2, 1767-8, No. 38, 21.3.1768, p. 293 etc. (at the Internet Archive) & dto., Vol. 3, No. 15, 9.10.1768 , p. 111 etc. (at Google Books) 
But one may assume that German scholars were able to get a copy of the original French edition. At least the tunes may have been known to some of those interested in this particular genre. Carl Maria von Weber used the Chinese melody in the Ouverture of his music for Turandot (Op. 37, 1809, see Jähns, No. 75, pp. 87-9). As late as 1829 Baumstark and Zuccalmaglio refer in their Bardale (see p. 75, No. 1) to the Dictionnaire as the source of Chardin's Persian tune. 

Rousseau confined himself to only five "exotic" tunes. Another French scholar was much more generous and printed more than 50 different tunes from all kind of countries - from Norway to China - in what surely was one of the most impressive musicological works of the 18h century: 
  • Jean-Benjamin de Laborde, Essai Sur La Musique Ancienne Et Moderne, Onfroy, Paris, 1780, 4 Vols
    Vols. 1-4, at the Internet Archive (University of Toronto)
    Vols. 1-4, at the Internet Archive (NLS)
    Vol. 1, at the Internet Archive (UNC Music Library) 
Jean-Benjamin de La Borde (1734-1794; see Wikipedia), valet de chambre of Louis XV, businessman, millionaire, traveller, writer, musicologist and composer. of operas and songs. His Choix de Chansons Mises en Musique (1773, new ed., 1881, available at the Internet Archive) was still available a century after its first publication. Unfortunately he didn't survive the French revolution and was executed in 1794. This Essai was his major work, a massive treatise of more than 2400 pages in four volumes, beautifully illustrated and with numerous musical examples and songs, mostly from France but also from many other countries. Thankfully two excellent scans of the complete set are available at the Internet Archive. 

Laborde discussed Chinese, Persian, Turkish, Arab, African but also Russian, modern Greece and Dalmatian music (see Vol. 1, pp. 125-48, pp. 162-200, pp. 216-21, pp. 360-93, pp. 421-430, pp. 440-5). The many original songs and tunes served as an additional bonus. A part of these pieces were borrowed from the popular travel literature, for example the six Arab tunes (Vol. 1, pp. 383-5) from Thomas Shaw's Travels or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant (Oxford, 1738, p. 272, French ed., 1743, Vol. 1, p. 348), a Siamese song (Vol. 1, p. 436) from Nicolas Gervaise's Histoire Naturelle et Politique du Royaume de Siam (Paris, 1688, after p. 130, at Google Books, not scanned correctly) or a Greece song (Vol. 1, pp. 429-30) from Pierre Augustin Guys' Voyage Littéraire de la Gréce ou Lettres sur les Grecs (1776, Vol. 2, p. 4). 

But he also included a considerable number of songs and tunes from Iceland and Norway (Vol. 2, pp. 402-18), among them some of the so-called Døleviser, a group of songs - "from the valley" - written to popular older tunes by Norwegian poet Edvard Storm (1749-1794) 10 years earlier. In fact this was the first time these pieces were printed, and long before they would become available in Norway (see Storm, 1949). Laborde had received all the Scandinavian material from the secretary of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, one C. F. Jacobi. 


In the second volume (pt. 2, pp. 170-1, pp. 174-7) we can find a curious mixed bag of international melodies like a "Romeca" from Greece, an "Air de Sauvages du Canada" - this was the real Canadian tune from Mersenne, but taken from Rousseau's Dictionnaire and arranged for four voices -, an "Air Irlandois" that may have been the first Irish tune printed on the continent as well as some from Russia. Not at least Laborde managed to include a couple of Chinese tunes of which only a few were borrowed from du Halde. The others had not been published yet. 

All in all this was at that time the largest collection of international tunes available, only matched more than 20 years later by Fritz von Dalberg in Deutschland who included 50 pieces in his extended German edition of Sir William Jones' On the Musical Modes of the Hindus (1802, available at the Internet Archive). Publications like these reflect a much greater interest in foreign and "exotic" music cultures both by scholars and the general public. Interestingly Laborde's groundbreaking work was not translated into English or German. But interested scholars outside of France of course took note of the Essai and the music included. Crotch in his Specimens regularly refers to it and also borrowed some tunes. Even 90 years later in 1870 Danish composer A. P. Berggreen was still familiar with the book and reprinted one of its Chinese tunes in his collection of international national airs (see here p. 101, note to No. 75). 

Literature: 
  • Eduard Baumstark & Wilhelm von Waldbrühl, Bardale. Sammlung auserlesener Volkslieder der verschiedenen Völker der Erde mit deutschem Texte und Begleitung des Pianoforte und der Guitarre, Friedrich Busse, Braunschweig, 1829 (available at BStB-DS: Mus.pr. 2623-1, Google Books & the Internet Archive
  • A. P. Berggreen, Folke-Sange og Melodier Fra Lande Udenfor Europa, Med en Tillaeg af Folkens Nationalsange, Samlade og Udsatte for Pianoforte (= Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede 10, Anden Utgave), C. A. Reitzel, Köbenhavn, 1870 (available at the Internet Archive
  • William Crotch, Specimens of Various Styles of Music referred to in A Course of Lectures, read at Oxford & London and Adapted to keyed Instruments, Vol. 1, London, n. d. [1808] (available at the Internet Archive
  • Matthew Gelbart, The Invention of "Folk Music" and "Art Music". Emerging Categories from Ossian to Wagner, Cambridge 2007 (New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism) 
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Jähns, Carl Maria von Weber in seinen Werken. Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichniss seiner sämmtlichen Compositionen nebtst Angabe der unvollständigen, verloren gegangenen, zweifelhaften und untergeschobenen mit Beschreibung der Autographen, Angabe der Ausgaben und Arrangements, kritischen, kunsthistorischen und biographischen Anmerkungen, unter Benutzung von Weber's Briefen und Tagebüchern und einer Beigabe von Nachbildungen seiner Handschrift, Berlin, 1871 (at the Internet Archive)
  • Robert Stevenson, Written Sources for Indian Music until 1882, in: Ethnomusicology 17, 1973, pp. 1-40
  • Edvard Storm, Døleviser. Utgitt ved 200-Årsminne. Tekningar av Øystein Jørgensen. Litteraturhistorisk Oversikt og Kommentarer av Professor Didrik Arup Seip, Oslo, 1949 
  • Ueber die Musik der Inder. Eine Abhandlung des William Jones. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt, mit erläuternden Anmerkungen und Zusätzen begleitet, von F. H. v. Dalberg. Nebst einer Sammlung indischer und anderer Volks-Gesänge und 30 Kupfern, Beyer und Maring, Erfurt, 1802 (available at the Internet Archive)

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