IN the following little Treatise, intended for the Use of Children, the Author has endeavoured to set down his Meaning just as he would explain it by Word of Mouth, to a young Person an intire stranger to Musick, enlarging and more minutely expressing many Things, which, to Persons of maturer Judg­ment might have been explained in fewer Words. It is hoped, therefore, that the critical Reader will not take Exception to the Imperfections of Style, or Tau­tology that may have been occasioned by this Method of treating the Subject. If in other Respects it shall be found to answer the Purpose of Instruction, this is all that is aimed at.

The Author, however, that he may not seem to make much ado about no­thing, begs leave to assure his Readers, that, insignificant as his Method of hit­ting Distances may appear to some, it has nevertheless been practised, by several Persons, with great Success. He therefore flatters himself, that the young Per­sons, for whose Use the following Rules were drawn up, will not esteem them unworthy their Consideration, especially when they shall find that this Method of learning Musick requires very little Time in Comparison of the old Method of Sol fa-ing.

It is not alledged or pretended that a Child may comprehend these Rules of himself without the Assistance of some understanding Person, who, by reading them over with him, shall teach him how to apply them—neither does he say that they are sufficient to make a skilful Musician; nor does he recommend them to such Children as are bred Musicians by Profession; but to such only as cannot be allowed Time enough from their other School Studies to learn Musick in the regular Way, but yet may be enabled in a little Time, by this Method, to bear a CHORUS PART in the Service of God.



THERE are but 7 Notes in Musick,

Viz. ABCDEF and G, with the Half-Notes between them and their Octaves above and below.


Every Octave consists of five Tones and two Half-Tones; the Situation of the latter (viz. the Half-Tones) must always be attended to as they determine the Key.


If one Half-Tone is found between the 3d and 4th Notes of the Key, and the other between the 7th and 8th (commonly called the 4th and 8th Places) then it is a Sharp Key.


But, if the one Half-Tone is found between the 2d and 3d, and the other be­tween the 5th and 6th (commonly called the 3d and 6th Places) then it is a Flat Key.

The following Rule will explain this.


  • From A to B is a whole Tone.
  • From B to C is Half a Tone.
  • From C to D is a whole Tone.
  • From D to E is a Whole-Tone.
  • From E to F is Half a Tone.
  • From F to G is a Whole-Tone.
  • From G to A is a Whole-Tone.

[Page 4] Before I can give the Learner an Example of this Rule, he must be well ac­quainted with the Nature of the Cliffs; which, from their Situation on the Be­ginning of a Line, readily determine the Name of each Note. For Example:

Whatever Line in a Stave shall have the C Cliff marked upon it, at the Be­ginning, must be called C, and all the other Lines and Spaces must take their Names from it, rising in alphabetical Order. The same Method must be ob­served in the other Cliffs.


There are but 3 Cliffs in Musick, Viz.

First, The G Cliff, commonly called the Treble Cliff, and marked [...] which seems to owe its Shape to a careless Manner of making a G, as it is sometimes marked [...] for G sol re ut. It is seldom placed on any other Line but the Second, and is used in the uppermost or Treble Part of most Compositions, viz. the Part for Women's or Boy's Voices, and Treble Instruments.

Secondly the C Cliff marked [...]. It is called Tenor, Contratenor, or Soprano Cliff, according to the Line on which it is placed; which Line (being made C by the Cliff) is in the same Octave with the lowest C in the G Cliff marked [...] but this will be more easily understood by examining the Scale which follows the next Paragraph.

Thirdly, The F Cliff, marked [...] or [...] commonly called the Bass Cliff, be­cause it is much lower in Pitch than the rest, making the 4th Line (on which it is usually placed) one Octave below the lowest F in the Treble Cliff marked [...] notwithstanding which the young Scholar, in practising the following Exam­ples, may sing in the natural Pitch of his Treble Voice, taking his Key Note as it shall best suit himself; for the only Reason of prefixing the F Cliff to the follow­ing Examples is, that the Learner, by being sufficiently acquainted with it, may the more readily find the Key Note in real Compositions.

[Page 5]A SCALE shewing the different OCTAVES of the 3 CLIFFS.

1st Octave. [...]

2d Octave. [...]

3d Octave. [...]


In most musical Compositions the last Note in the Bass is the Key Note.

That the young Scholar may more readily find the Name of this Note in the following Scale (as it is somewhat aukward to say the Letters backward from the Cliff Line) let him find the 4th Space below the Line on which the F Cliff is placed, which is still F, though an Octave, or the 8th Note lower; then let him count forwards G, A, B, and the next Note, C, he finds to be the Key Note; as for Example. [...] the Key Note in the following Example.

A Scale of 8 Notes, gradually ascending and descending. [...]

Having found the Key Note to be C, refer back to the 5th Rule to find where the Half Notes lie, proceeding from the Key Note, as follows:

  • From C to D is a Whole Tone.
  • From D to E is a Whole Tone.
  • From E to F is a Half Tone. N. B. Between the 3d and 4th commonly called the 4th Place.
  • From F to G is a Whole-Tone.
  • From G to A is a Whole-Tone.
  • From A to B is a Whole Tone.
  • B to C is but Half a Tone. N. B. Between the 7th and 8th commonly called the 8th Place.

This, according to the 3d Rule must be a Sharp Key.


The easiest Method of hitting the Distances is practised by those who play on the French Horn, or Trumpet: for as the Tones from those Instruments are not form­ed by the Fingering, like others, but only by the Lips and Breath; so the Idea of passing from Note to Note must be much the same as in Singing. They com­monly sound the Key-Note of their Instrument, and its 3d, 5th, and Octave, backwards and forwards, in tuning, before they begin to play any Piece, and strictly observe what Lines or Spaces those Notes (the 3d, 5th, and 8th) should be placed, according to the Cliff they play in; for, as they must keep the Sound of their Key Note in Idea, so they readily from thence sound the 3d, 5th, and Octave, having used their Ear to those Distances, which, like Steps, convey the Performer to all other Notes of the musical Scale. Before the Young Practi­tioner studies the following Examples, he must accustom himself (by Ear only, and without Notes) to sound, first, the sharp 3d, and the 5th, and 8th, and then the flat 3d, and the 5th, and 8th, to any given Note; which any Person, who has the least Knowledge of Musick, can teach him, by first sounding them for him to imitate. Let him likewise be used to sound the 5th and Octave to any given Note, missing the 3d, as [...] and to strike Octaves without the intermediate Notes, as [...] And if he finds it difficult to hit a 3d, let him suppose a Note between the given Note and the 3d, as [...] To find the Tone of a 7th let him suppose the Octave before it, as [...] To hit a 6th, let him suppose the 5th first, as [...] And to find the 4th above the Key, let him touch softly first upon the 5th as [...] With some Practice in this Method, a Person who has a good Ear for Musick, may acquire so clear an Idea of the Distances, that he will be enabled to sing tolerably at Sight, without those last mentioned Assistances.

In singing the following Examples let the Learner make use of the Word La to every Note, it being the best Syllable to form a round open Tone upon.

[Page 7] Examples for Tuning the Voice in the same Key as the First. [...]

Observe well the Situation of the 3d, 5th, and 8th. [...]

The following Rule will assist the Learner to know the Distances, without counting the Notes, viz.


If a Key-Note is placed on a Line, the 5th will be found on the 3d Line, and the Octave on the 4th Space above it; but, if it stands on a Space (as in the above Example) the 5th will be on the 3d Space, and the Octave on the 4th Line above it.

Examples of the same Key in the other Cliffs.

Example in the Tenor Cliff, being the C Cliff placed on the 4th Line. [...] [Page 8] [...]

The C Cliff on the 3d Line, commonly called the Contratenor Cliff. [...]

The C, or Soprano Cliff, so called when placed on the first Line. [...]

The G, or Treble Cliff. [...]


A Flat is marked b; every Note having this Mark set before it, or at the Beginning of its Line or Space, is sounded half a Tone lower than it would be without it.

[Page 9] A Sharp is marked ♯, and makes every Note, before which it is set, half a Note or Tone higher.

When any Note (having a b or ♯ set at the Beginning of its Line or Space) is required by the Melody to be sung as if there was no b or ♯, then this Mark ♮ (called a Natural) is placed before it.

Example of the Flat Key.

N. B. The following short Example is not intended to be sung (for it is not agreeable to the Rules of Modulation to ascend gradually the 4 upper­most Notes of a Flat Key) but is merely speculative, to shew the Situ­ation of the Half-Notes. [...]

Refer to the 5th Rule for the Explanation, which will lie as follows:

  • From the Key-Note C to D is a Whole-Tone,
  • and from D to E is a Whole-Tone,
  • but from D to E b is but Half a Tone, for the b, marked at the Be­ginning of the Space, makes E Half a Tone lower, and consequently Half a Tone near D. N. B. This Half-Note is between the 2d and 3d commonly called the 3d Place.
  • Then from E b to F must be a Whole-Tone, because, from E, without the b, to F, according to the 5th Rule, is an Half-Tone.
  • From F to G is a Whole-Tone, and
  • from G to A is a Whole-Tone, but from G to A b (the b be­ing marked on the Space of the Octave below) is but Half a Tone. N. B. This is between the 5th and 6th, called the 6th Place.

Then from A b to B b is a whole Tone, for as they both have a Flat (A on the Space, and B on the Line of their Octaves below) so are they both brought an Half-Tone lower, and consequently are still the same Distance from each other, which the 5th Rule mentions. Then from B b to C is a Whole-Tone, the B being made Half a Tone further from C by the b; this therefore, according to the 4th Rule, must be a Flat Key, having one Half-Note between the 2d and 3d, and the other between the 5th and 6th.

Let the Learner be very careful to sound the 7th a Whole-Tone below the Octave; for, after singing in a Sharp Key, he will be very liable to make it only Half a Note lower.

[Page 10] Examples in the same Key. [...]

Example in D, with a Sharp Third. [...]

Refer to the 5th Rule beginning with D, as follows:

  • From D to E is a Whole-Tone?
  • From E to F is Half a Tone, but to F ♯ (the ♯ placed at the Beginning of the Line, making it Half a Tone higher) is a Whole-Tone.
  • From F ♯ to G is Half a Tone, because F is brought Half a Tone nearer to G, by the ♯ placed at the Beginning of the Line.
  • From G to A is a Whole-Tone.
  • From A to B is a Whole-Tone.
  • From B to C is Half a Tone, but a ♯ being placed on the Space of the Octave below makes C Half a Tone higher, so it is conse­quently a Whole-Note from B to C ♯.
  • From C ♯ to D is Half a Tone, C being made Half a Note higher, and nearer D by the ♯; so that, as this Half-Tone is between the 7th and 8th, and the other between the 3d and 4th, it must be a Sharp Key, according to the 3d Rule.

[Page 11] Example in B Flat Key. [...]

Refer again to the 5th Rule, beginning with the Key-Note B, as follows:

  • From B to C is Half a Tone, but from B to C ♯ is a Whole-Tone.
  • From C ♯ to D can be but Half a Tone, because from C Natural to D is a Whole-Tone.Note: N. B. Between the 2d and 3d.
  • From D to E is a Whole-Tone.
  • From E to F ♯ is a Whole-Tone, the ♯ removing F Half a Tone higher and further from E.
  • From F ♯ to G is but Half a Tone, the ♯ removing F Half a Note higher, and nearer to G. Note: N. B. Between the 5th and 6th.
  • From G to A is a Whole-Tone; and
  • from A to B is a Whole-Tone: therefore this Example, according to the 4th Rule, must be a Flat Key, having one Half-Tone between the 2d and 3d, and the other between the 5th and 6th.

In the same Manner are all other Keys to be proved, the Key-Note being found by the 7th Rule.

The next Thing to be considered is TIME, or the Length of Notes, which the following Table will shew.

A Semibreve 𝆹 is as long as [...] Minims, which are as long as [...] Crotchets, which are as long as [...] Quavers, which are as long as 16 [...] Semiquavers.

[Page 12] Every Piece of Musick, having 4 Crotchets in a Bar, is said to be in COMMON-TIME, and has generally this Mark C put at the Beginning of the Stave.

thus [...]

For the more exact keeping of this Measure, it is usual to beat with the Hand at the Beginning of every Bar, and to keep it down during one Half of the Bar; viz. while you count 1 and 2, and to hold it up while you count 3 and 4, the remaining Half of the Bar.

When a Piece of Musick has 3 Crotchets in a Bar, it is then called triple Time, and is marked at the Beginning of a Stave [...]

In beating of this Time, you must count the 2 first Crotchets with your Hand down, and the 3d with your Hand up.

The next material Thing to be considered in vocal Musick, is the speaking of the Words distinct and plain; which alone, and not the Singing quick (a false Notion which too much prevails in Choir Musick) can add Spirit to the Per­formance; but this, if the Student's own Genius does not direct him, must be taught by a good Master, as it cannot so easily be explained in Writing.

To conclude, I must advise the Learner to choose the easiest and slowest Com­positions to begin his Practice with, such as common Psalm Tunes, and other slow Movements.

A further and compleat Understanding of vocal Musick, can only be acquired by being long conversant in the Science.


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