By Phyllis Weliver
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Additional resources for The musical crowd in English fiction, 1840-1910: class, culture and nation
Com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-04-20 22 23 accounts of reading practices and their effects on individuals and communities. This perception of the public having en masse enough cultural capital to understand cultural references and literary subtleties was acknowledged at the time to be rather far-fetched. Wilkie Collins’s observations on the subject were front-page news in Dickens’s journal, Household Words, in 1858: Do the subscribers to this journal, the customers at the eminent publishing-houses, the members of book-clubs and circulating libraries, and the purchasers and borrowers of newspapers and reviews, compose altogether the great bulk of the reading public of England?
An account of Glover’s method (and later Curwen’s) is given in The Story of Tonic Sol-fa: On this [chalk]board were printed one above the other the initial letters of the Sol-fa syllables, showing much shorter distances between m and f, and between t and d (the third and fourth and seventh and eight of the scale, for in this method, d is always the key-note) than between the other notes. This Musical Ladder, as it is styled, corresponds with what we have called the Modulator. [ . . 65 The initial letters of Sol-fa would correspond to doh, re, mi (the syllables of psalmody) and the shorter distances would represent half steps in the scale.
Why fiction matters to musical performance in this period My above discussion of journal articles, program notes, and books by professional nineteenth-century musicians highlights critical-rational expression. Having briefly examined publications by professional musicians, we see that politicians and musicians both aspired for a quiet public sphere and sometimes used similar discourses to achieve it, such as the language of the mob. As we move forward in the following chapters, I look at these aesthetic (musical) gatherings embedded in another form of aesthetic production (fiction), which also displays a strong interest in exploring the cultural significance of musical performance and public groups.