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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

With song to the accompaniment of the viola

or the merely technical presentation

of medieval church ceremonial, and was characterized by a certain expressiveness, approaching sentimentality and having a flavor which has led many to assert that its roots were to be found in the song and dance of Spanish Moslems. To be sure, the influence of Italy was greatest at this time. The _siglo de oro_ in Spanish music was the sixteenth century, in the time of the four great composers of the era, Morales, Guerrero, Cabez?n, and Victoria. The greatest works were in the field of religious music, in which various parts were sung to the accompaniment of the organ. Music of the court occupied a half-way post between church and popular music, displaying a combination of both elements, with song to the accompaniment of the viola, which filled the r?le of the modern piano. At the close of the sixteenth century the viola was replaced by the guitar, which became the national instrument of Spain. Popular music found its fullest expression in the theatre. It got to be the fashion for the entire company to sing as a preliminary to the play, to the music of the viola, the harp, or the violin. This song had no necessary connection with the play, but song in dialogue soon began to be employed as an integral part of one-act pieces of what might be termed a vaudeville type. In the seventeenth century, song invaded the legitimate stage, and some operas were sung in which the dialogue was entirely in music or else alternated with recitation. The last-named type, the _zarzuela_, became particularly
popular. Unfortunately, none of the examples of this music which would have been most interesting, such as that employed in the _zarzuelas_ of Lope de Vega and the other masters, has survived. Its true character therefore remains unknown, although its use in theatrical representation is an important fact in the history of the art.



[Sidenote: Basis and consequences of Spanish reforms of the eighteenth century.]

The eighteenth century in Spain was of intense import as affecting the ultimate interests of the Americas. It was an era of regeneration, of a somewhat remarkable recovery from the decadent state which Spain had reached by the time of the reign of the last Hapsburg monarch. It was accompanied, however, by Spain's engaging in a series of wars, due in some cases to unwise ambitions of an imperialistic character in European affairs and in others to unavoidable necessity as a result of the aggressions of foreign powers. It was a period when international morality with its attendant diplomatic intrigue and unprovoked attacks was in a low state, and Spain was often a sufferer thereby; indeed, many interesting parallels might be drawn between European diplomatic practices in the eighteenth century and those of William II of Germany in the twentieth. England, Austria, and France were at various times the opponents of Spain, but the first-named gradually emerged as the most persistent, aggressive, and dangerous of her enemies. If the prospects of wars were the principal motive force which induced the life-giving reforms,--so that Spain might acquire wealth and efficiency which could be converted into military strength,--the wars themselves tended to increase the needs of the state. Thus in the case of the Americas the very improvements which were introduced were to contribute to bring about the eventual separation of Spain from her colonies, in the first place because they occasioned a development in resources and capacity which gave prospects of success when the revolts should come, and in the second because Spain drew too heavily upon the colonies in promoting European objects without giving an adequate return, wherefore discontent was fostered. Nevertheless, her efforts were at least to have the merit of saving those colonies to themselves, thus conserving the influence of Spanish-speaking peoples in the world, with indirect effects on the history of the United States.

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