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February 1938


37 1

his pupil to note about an inch and a half across the record some noteworthy instrumental bit to which he has to call attention. This exact timing would be of invaluable assistance to the industrious listener. I t is a perfectly simple device to carry out, but nobody happens to have thought of applying i t to musical analysis with the help of the gramophone.

To return to our birds, it is encouraging to notice that the enterprise of the publishers has been rewarded by a demand for a third impression of the first volume Qf Songs of Wild Birds, and I have no doubt the second volume will be received with equal enthusiasm by the public. Each volume, with its records in a neat box, costs 15s., and when one thinks of the infinite patience, skill and judgment required to make these records i t is not a penny too much. I hope that a future volume will be devoted to sea birds, and, though it is not a pleasant noise in itself how well the corncrake's rasp would record, besides bringing back in mid-winter memories of summer nights.

Another book to which I wish to call readers' attention is Singing, The Art and Craft, by W. S. Drew (Oxford University Press, 7s. 6d.). With a beguiling humour, a graceful common sense, and much urbane logic Mr. Drew establishes an appreciation of singing against a background of aesthetics, and that without ever declining into jargon except when he quotes i t to be laughed at. How good he is on the English voice. " I t by no means follows that a person's usual voice is his -natural voice, and reasons will be given for supposing that in the vast majority of cases, especially among the more expensively schooled and universitied class, the English people do not use, for ordinary conversation and for singing, their natural voices. . . . The Englishspeaking child, like other children, when i t is quite young usually produces its voice extremely weB. That is to say, i t can make sounds with great intensity, and even of great volume with very little conscious effort . . . but the unrepressed vocalisation from childhood's phonological Eden unfortunately troubles the ears of the irritable adults outside, who continually tell the children to make less noise in the expression of their emotional states. They are no less frequently being told in their intercourse with their elders to talk more quietly than is natural to them. As time goes on, the English child begins to imitate the repressed, muffled thin and throaty tones which form the adult Englishman's conversational raw material; and finally-worst of all for the future singer-the adolescent comes to regard as bad form any way of speaking that conveys enthusiasm, or indeed any clear suggestion of some definite emotion. . . . The chief difficulty of good voice production for an Englishman singing the words of his own language is that the associations of muscular action are so strong during the making of the word that he immediately tends to use the vocal organs in the same constricted and inadequate way that he is accustomed to employ for his ordinary conversation."

And now follows a most acute observation.

" The practise of making English people sing songs in a foreign language is a good one, and a good thing too if the language is one that the singer has never used for expressing thoughts in ordinary conversation, because he then has no association with bad methods of using the voice."

I have repeatedly noticed how much singing in a foreign language often improves an English singerthere is a splendid example of i t in the remarkable performance given by English singers in the Glyndebourne Mozart performances-but the explanation of i t had escaped me till Mr. Drew pointed i t out. I should like to go on quoting Mr. Drew for the rest of this editorial, but I shall do him and my readers a better service by advising them to get hold of his book for themselves. I hesitate for obvious reasons to say i t is as easy to read as a novel, but you know what I mean.

I had intended to make some remarks about the dialect records issued by the British Drama Society, supplementing Mr. S. P. B. Mais's review of them, but I shall postpone them for another month.

The 1M Long Playing Needle

I have been trying over some non-metallic needles from Imhof House, made from hand-picked thorns (pity the poor hands !) of a prickly pear which grows in South Africa and Australia. They are certainly excellent, and the claim that they will stand up to well over fifty records, however heavy the recording, seems thoroughly justified by any experiments I have made. Their tone is clear, even brilliant, and the volume about the same as a medium steel. In the little booklet about them which Mrs. Imhof sent me I learnt two interesting facts which no doubt I ought to have known before: (I) that in the course of playing a 12-inch record a needle has to travel about a quarter of a mile, and (2) that the pressure on the needle point with the average present day pick-up is approximately 10 tons per square inch. I am not a good enough mathematician to work out what weight an 1M is carrying when i t walks the four miles necessary to play Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but I should think the poor 1M must wish it was back on the prickly pear again. In old days fibre versus steel was a contest you might watch in any number of THE GRAMOPHONE, but I do not recall a contest of fibre versus thorn. Perhaps I shall get them into the ring if I say that take it all in all I am inclined to prefer thorn. I should add that these needles from Imhof House cost 2S. for a packet of ten.

Joseph Holbrooke

I am glad to see that Decca has been recording some ofJoseph Holbrooke's music. It is some time since his name has appeared in the catalogue. So far they have given us the Prelude to the opera" Dylan," the Overture to " The Children of Don," and ┬Ěthe Finale from his Third Symphony, the whole of which the

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