Charles Burney

The Present State of Music in France and Italy (2nd, corrected edition)

London: T. Becket and Co., 1773


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ment of melody, and the exclusion of re-
citative, a song, which usually recapitu-
lates, illustrates, or closes a scene, is not
the place for epigrammatic points, or for
a number of heterogeneous thoughts
and clashing metaphors; if the writer
has the least pity for the composer, or
love for music, or wishes to afford the
least opportunity for symmetry in the
air, in his song, I say again, the
thought should be one, and the expression
as easy and laconic as possible: but, in
general, every new line in our songs in-
troduces a new thought; so that if the
composer is more tender of the poet's re-
putation than of his own, he must, at
every line, change his subject or be at
strife with the poet; and, in either case,
the alternative is intolerable.

In an air, it is by reiterated strokes that
passion is impressed; and the most passion-
ate of all music is, perhaps, that where a
beautiful passage is repeated, and where
the first subject is judiciously returned to,