Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If Music be the Food of Love, Pass the Antacids

Looking at this picture (it's from Ackermann's Repository, March 1819), can't you just tell by the way she's gazing up at the ceiling that she's singing waaaay out of tune? And maybe fat-fingering those chords as well? I just love this print.

But Regina's post a few weeks back on music as a required accomplishment for a nineteenth century miss made me think about something else...the fact that if you wanted to hear music, you pretty much had to make it yourself. There were no iPods, no downloads, no CDs, no radio. The first sound-recording device wasn't invented until 1877 by Thomas Edison, and widespread consumer use of the earliest recorded sound machines wasn't until well into the 1890s.

So there was a reason that an "accomplished" young lady learned to play pianoforte, or harp, or guitar like this girl: unless you went to a concert, doing it yourself was the only source of music there was.

For example...have you seen the A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice? You know, Colin Firth and all that? Remember that whenever there was a party, like the ones at Meryton or at Netherfield, a group of actual musicians was hired to provide music for dancing--no DJs or sound systems. And when people got together at someone's house, Mary Bennet always got dragged into playing music on her beloved piano that she obviously loathed so that everyone else could dance.

So our friend here strumming away on her rather squared-off guitar was probably entertaining friends after dinner or whiling away an evening around the drawing room fire with Mama and Papa. Because if you wanted to hear some music, that's how you did it.

(This is a repost of a previous posting that we had to take down because for some reason, it turned into utter unreadability when viewed on a Mac. We still don't know why. Dontcha love technology?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I kind of miss those days. Not that I'm old enough to remember them, of course.