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Fraser's Scottish Annual
The Early Music of Scotland


THE secular music of Scotland was greatly improved by the ingenuity of one of her monarchs, James I., who seems to have been born to excel in every art and science to which he applied his mind. Walter Bower, Abbot of Inch-calm, who was intimately acquainted with that prince, assures us that he excelled all mankind, both in vocal and instrumental music; and that he played on eight different instruments (which he names), and especially on the harp, with such exquisite skill that he seemed to be inspired. King James was not only an excellent performer, but also a capital composer, both of sacred and secular music; and his fame on that account was extensive, and of long duration. About a century after his death he was celebrated in Italy as the inventor of a new and pleasing kind of melody, which had been admired and imitated in that country. This appears from the following testimony of Alessandro Tassoni, a writer who was well informed and of undoubted credit: "We may reckon among us moderns, James King of Scotland, who not only composed many sacred pieces of vocal music, but also of himself invented a new kind of music, plaintive and melancholy, different from all other; in which he hath been imitated by Carlo Gesualdo, prince of Venosa, who, in our age, hath improved music with new and admirable inventions." As the prince of Venosa imitated King James, the other musicians of Italy imitated the prince of Venosa. "The most noble Carlo Gesualdo, the prince of musicians of our age, introduced such a style of modulation, that other musicians yielded the preference to him; and all singers and players on stringed instruments, laying aside that of others, everywhere embraced his." All the lovers, therefore, of Italian or of Scotch music, are much indebted to the admirable genius of King James I., who, in the gloom and solitude of a prison, invented a new kind of music, plaintive indeed, and suited to his situation, but at the same time so sweet and soothing that it hath given pleasure to millions in every succeeding age.


A DRAWING-MASTER in Edinburgh who had been worrying a pupil with contemptuous remarks about his deficiency of skill in the use of the pencil, ended by saying, "ii you were to draw me, for example, tell me what part you would draw first." The pupil, with a significant meaning in his eye, looked up to his teacher's face and quietly said, "Your neck, sir."

A RICH elder put half a crown on the plate one Sunday by mistake, instead of the usual penny. The plate was guarded by two brother elders, and he felt that he could not rectify his error, but he afterwards thus described his conduct: "I said, 'Gentlemen, it's dune noo, and it will no' be lifted'; but I booed to them for twenty-nine Sundays after that."


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