Victorian Music Room
Described by The Delineator
A MUSIC ROOM — To deserve its title, a music room should be furnished with a sympathetic understanding of the art it represents. The first provision is, naturally, for the performer. The placing of the piano is of importance, and the best rule to follow is that observed on the concert stage, where the soprano part of the keyboard is always toward the listeners.
If the upright piano can be placed at an angle from the wall without hiding the player, the acoustic effects will be better than if the instrument stands close to the wall. The first arrangement is practical only in a room of good size, with window and artificial light conveniently distributed. The back of a piano so situated requires some kind of light, opaque drapery to conceal the works.
The true music lover will do away with all bric-a-brac from the top of the piano, as this is liable at any moment to cause a distracting jingle and vibration of the strings. For protecting the polished surface of the lid an embroidered scarf may be laid upon it. If the instrument must be left for a long time in a closed house it is worth while to have a rubber cover to keep off the dampness.
A piano stool is always sold with a new piano, but many persons prefer the revolving chairs, some of which are designed with graceful spindles at the back and with inlaid wood or carving for decoration. This elegant decorative needlework pillow pattern (download for free), originally planned for a music stool, features a mixture of beads and wool forming a charming design which is relieved by the brilliant background. In a home where there is duet playing, a bench for two players will be found more satisfactory than two chairs or stools.
The keeping of music in orderly fashion away from the dust can be achieved only with a cabinet having doors. Some of the earliest made music cabinets missed this necessary point, but now there are a number of cabinets with doors and also various other devices. In illustration on the left, the doors open together and the shelves rest on supports that are made fast to the inside of the doors.
The lighting of the piano, when gas and electricity cannot be employed, is a problem. A small hand lamp with a shield on one side is made for standing on a grand piano, and the standard lamp in bronze, brass or iron can be used at one side of an upright piano. Lamp shades should be nearly colorless to be helpful in reading music.
After the comfort of the performer is assured, the comfort of the listener should receive attention. Seats that are restful and a light that is pleasantly tempered are the two main considerations; but the musical environment is not complete without the introduction of some plaster casts, bronzes, pictures and books. These, if selected from musical subjects, will impart educational and artistic value to the room. All decorative effect in a music room should be subordinate to the use to which the room is given. A harmony of color is as imperative as the musical harmony produced by voices or instruments. The single color scheme (at present on the top wave of popularity) in which red, green, blue or yellow alone is used on walls, floors and furniture is too dominating for the room allotted to music. There are numberless fabrics beside papers and burlaps that make rich and quiet wall hangings—grass cloth, Japanese cottons, velveteens, jutes, linens and tapestries. While a plain color in a quiet tone may seem essential, the preference may often be given to a design in a self-woven texture, or a pattern printed in two tones of one color, or a mixture of colors in subdued tints.
The frieze of dancing girls that appears in the above music room makes an effective decoration for a music room when the ceiling is over ten feet high. A frieze of a plain color may have a pattern stenciled upon it in a darker tone, or a collection of pictures framed alike may be hung in a row on the plain background. In this position the pictures must be in bold or poster style to show well from beneath.
As important as the fireplace is in every part of the house, it offers, in the music room, an unrivalled opportunity for a distinctive decoration. The space above the mantel may be filled with an ivory-tinted plaster cast of the famous Della Robbia singing children or a photographic copy of some mural painting relating to the art of music. A set of portraits of musicians and composers makes a stronger appeal to the attention when hung close together than when distributed in various parts of the room. Narrow, dark-wood frames in uniform sizes will further set off the little gallery of faces.
A large share of the distinctive quality that marks the interior of the music room depends on the selection of furniture. The pictures may be noteworthy, the instruments of the highest class, the coloring harmonious, yet a pervading sense of something wanting means that the furniture is commonplace or inartistic. The chairs should be well built and of various shapes and sizes. Rocking chairs should be omitted. Tables should be distributed wherever they can be of service for holding books and music. An entrance door into one music room was equipped with a door harp like the one shown on the right, and as the door swung to or fro the bells moved musically.
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