O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Saturday, January 08, 2011

William Byrd, Preface (1588)

William Byrd

1539/40 - 1623

English composer

Among his numerous works, in 1588 Byrd published a collection of English songs:
“Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of Sadness and Pietie”. They consisted mainly of adapted  consort songs, which Byrd, probably guided by commercial instincts, had turned into vocal part-songs by adding words to the accompanying instrumental parts and labelling the original solo voice as ‘the first singing part’. The consort song, which was the most popular form of vernacular polyphony in England in the third quarter of the sixteenth century, was a solo song for a high voice (often sung by a boy) accompanied by a consort of four consort instruments (normally viols).

Preface to
“Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of Sadness and Pietie”
by William Byrd  (1588)


Reasons briefely set downe by th’auctor to perswade euery one to learne to singe:

First,    it is a knowledge easely taught, and quickly learned, where there is a
            good Master  and an apt Scoller.

2.       The exercise of singing is delightfull to Nature, and good to preserue
           the health of Man.

3.       It doth strengthen all parts of the breast, and doth open the pipes.

4.       It is a singular good remedie for a stutting and a stammering in the

5.       It is the best meanes to procure a perfect pronunciation, and to make a
          good Orator.

6.       It is the only way to know where Nature hath bestowed the benefit of a
          good voice; which guift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand
          that hath it: and in many, that excellent guift is lost, because they want
          Art to expresse Nature.

7.       There is not any Musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that
          which is made of the voices of Men, where the voices are good, and the
          same well sorted and ordered.

8.       The better the voice is, the meeter it is to honour and serue God
           there-with; and the voice of man is chiefely to be imployed to that ende.

                   Since singing is so good a thing,
                   I wish all men would learne to singe.


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