GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 28, 2009, 03:10:31 AM

Title: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 28, 2009, 03:10:31 AM
This is a minor peeve of mine. Occasionally I run across a claim (or assumption) that a certain style (genre, piece, etc.) is important because it reflects certain political or religious values. Often there seems to be an underlying assumption that the ideology of the piece is more important than the artistry that went into it. This is especially annoying if the piece has no discernable ideology behind it.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3752

I frequently see this attitude on conservative sites - they seem to believe that if you are conservative politically (or religiously), you won't like anything more radical than Brahms or Rachmaninoff. In fact, you have a duty to like "conservative" music! Dissonance is equated with liberalism or radicalism.

One sees how insipid this attitude is when considering that such modernist "radicals" included figures like Schoenberg (monarchist, patriot, German cultural chauvinist) and Stravinsky (monarchist, Orthodox Christian, anti-Bolshevik).

In short: there is no such thing as a musical genre or style that is inherently liberal, conservative, socialist, Catholic, traditionalist, or anything else; and people who assume that there is are more interested in ideology than in art.

What are your thoughts on the matter?
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 28, 2009, 05:03:47 AM
Very interesting subject! I have thought about the same. I always thought that the school repetoire of musical developement is often based on works that shows best an ideology, fx Stravinsky and Bartok are considered more important composers than Prokofiev and Balakiev, but probably just because they work better as school examples of styles.

Also I have the impression, that many composers are mixing the subject theory up with their music. I see theory as a natural disciplin for composers as a state that comes entirely before the single musical idea. Theory can be solving certain kinds of problems, but it can also be very abstract as a particular subject, that the composer finds interresting, fx astrology, evolution, quantum physics etc. In both cases the idea with theory is to open up ones perspective to the world in which he will find inspiration. That means, that any musical inspiration must always come after the theory has been done, since if you already got the inspiration, the whole idea with theory mixed into it, wouldn´t make any theoretical sence. The theory is the aim of solving problems with music in general, and composition is solving problems in music. The same can be said for theory as for religion, politic and culture, in my opinion those factors are all just included in theory of music.

As a composer I have been fascinated of the question, what distances/values/durations has the greatest probability among short and long, high or low? My idea is, that it would help me in the future to search for inspiration without getting too stuck with musical habbits. But I would consider it exagerated to write a piece that shows the very ideology, an etude on distance/value/duration. Which I think many does! One of my friends recently wrote a piece called evolution, it was like a transcription of evolution on individual elements. If I was interrested in evolution, I would only use it to force my daily work and behavior forward in order to become a better composer.

You are often taught be teachers that this composer or work is better to study than another, because there is more than just musical interrests in it. The problem is, that music gets avant-garde-like in that way. I never write radical music, I only think and work radically.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on December 28, 2009, 05:14:57 AM
I certainly don't think that there is a one-to-one, and, as you say, an inherent, connection, but, as you point out in your post, some folks will seek out and "acquire a taste" for  a kind of music that is sanctioned as the one that best fits their worldview/class. An example can be seen in how kids in high school may want to be identified with a group that has its music, language, way of dress.

And if some folks align their tastes according to their ideology, self-identity, politics, etc., you can find plenty of examples of music  deliberately written to reflect an ideology, either in text, structure, or syntax  -- Ives, Cardew, Rzewski, de Volharding. And there is music that followed rules that were strictly prescribed to reflect the will of say, the Council of Trent. So, whether that ideology is "inherent" in such music, is hard to say, since, over time, the context in which music is written leeches away and the music itself, like words, takes on different meanings.

I have encountered political and social conservatives who like Ives because of all of the hymn tunes and marches, and most of the folks I sit with in concerts of Palestrina or Josquin are not Catholics, and Mick Jagger is now Sir Mick.

'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Dax on December 28, 2009, 07:04:12 AM
Madame Dax maintains that in the world of television music, there are such things as medical rhythms, police melodies and communist chords.

So here's the opening of Ervin Schulhoff's oratorio The Communist Manifesto.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/b4dxxh
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on December 28, 2009, 07:22:55 AM
Madame Dax maintains that in the world of television music, there are such things as medical rhythms, police melodies and communist chords.

So here's the opening of Ervin Schulhoff's oratorio The Communist Manifesto.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/b4dxxh

I have wanted to infiltrate the music dep't of a southern high school and "compose" their school song to the tune of "The Internationale," and see how long it would take anyone to notice.

...
  So classmates all, come rally
And every fight we'll face
  With Bobcat pride and honor
Our school will win the race

'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Christo on December 28, 2009, 07:37:39 AM
In short: there is no such thing as a musical genre or style that is inherently liberal, conservative, socialist, Catholic, traditionalist, or anything [...]

This opening statement of yours would be my conclusion of the whole thing.  8)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Spotswood on December 28, 2009, 11:34:13 AM
The problem to me seems to be that the use of terms "conservative" and "progressive" to describe both political positions and styles of music. One feels that to be consistent, one must be progressive or conservative in all areas.  Many composers who are liberal politically can be conservative musically. Bernstein comes to mind,   though why his music should be called conservative when the music of someone like Babbitt is "progressive" is problematic to me, since Babbitt's aesthetic requires a strict adherence to as many rules as tonal composition. (For the record, I prefer Babbitt. And off the top of my head I can't name any politically conservative living composers.) Perhaps it is simply that one is thought of more as forward looking and the other as backward looking, though all music, to be original, must be to a certain extent forward looking, just as all music (at least art music) must take part in the tradition to be regarded as music at all.

My favorite example of the paradox is the "conservative" Brahms, whose music was beloved of liberal German parliamentarians in the 19th century, vs. the "radical" Wagner, who was taken up by the most reactionary, antisemitic, and, let's face it, awful elements of the fin de siecle, both German and Austrian.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Spotswood on December 28, 2009, 11:37:36 AM
Strange, though, how cultural conservatives seem to get wired about stuff that was radical two hundred years ago ...
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 28, 2009, 10:37:54 PM
Strange, though, how cultural conservatives seem to get wired about stuff that was radical two hundred years ago ...

That's always struck me as funny. Figures like Beethoven get held up as exemplars of "conservative taste," even though they were regarded as uncouth radicals in their own time.

Another irony: the cultural conservative approach is very like that of Stalin-era socialist realism: healthy, "uplifting" subject matter; established forms; and no nasty dissonances to befuddle the masses.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 28, 2009, 11:50:40 PM
The problem to me seems to be that the use of terms "conservative" and "progressive" to describe both political positions and styles of music. One feels that to be consistent, one must be progressive or conservative in all areas.  Many composers who are liberal politically can be conservative musically. Bernstein comes to mind,   though why his music should be called conservative when the music of someone like Babbitt is "progressive" is problematic to me, since Babbitt's aesthetic requires a strict adherence to as many rules as tonal composition. (For the record, I prefer Babbitt. And off the top of my head I can't name any politically conservative living composers.) Perhaps it is simply that one is thought of more as forward looking and the other as backward looking, though all music, to be original, must be to a certain extent forward looking, just as all music (at least art music) must take part in the tradition to be regarded as music at all.

My favorite example of the paradox is the "conservative" Brahms, whose music was beloved of liberal German parliamentarians in the 19th century, vs. the "radical" Wagner, who was taken up by the most reactionary, antisemitic, and, let's face it, awful elements of the fin de siecle, both German and Austrian.

I feel exactly like that, and I´m often getting misunderstood as a person because of my musical taste. I hate culture and people and see myself as a complete anarchist, and I sympathize most for the criminals, but at the same time the classical tradition is for me the most holy in music.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 29, 2009, 08:26:50 AM
And if some folks align their tastes according to their ideology, self-identity, politics, etc., you can find plenty of examples of music  deliberately written to reflect an ideology, either in text, structure, or syntax  -- Ives, Cardew, Rzewski, de Volharding. And there is music that followed rules that were strictly prescribed to reflect the will of say, the Council of Trent.

Which is a critic, that Im sorry to hear about Ives. I agree that he demonstrated experiments in his music, but I have always tried to think that it was ´just appearing´, and that his songs fx are also very focussed on the sound and excitement of the complexity as more clean musical thought than just "examples of what a composer should not do", as he describes. The composed errors in Ives songs also appear to be not as frequent as one could imagine, but perhabs he was doing this in order to make them sound even more like real mistakes. Fx in Grülle Nacht you have several minuttes of strictly romantic lied style before it is suddently crashing totally into mud. One could also imagine that inside Ives head, this was how music should naturally sound, as most things in the world are not that nice at all, so it is a rational musical language rather than experiments.

Also if you have a theory about how music should sound, it is a fine ballance how much it influences your music, since the musical idea on the one hand should not be formed of anything else but it self, which is impossible to avoid completely. We will always base our imagination of how structures works and what possibilities the music have from what we know about the world, from the music that opens up our eyes especially. We can only try to make the musical idea arise through unconscious imagination, which is somehow linked to the conscious one, and both are limitted. What I hate is, that when most people listen to music of any time, they often seem to value it for more than musical qualities.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Guido on December 29, 2009, 10:36:41 AM
Can't really make sense of your comments on Ives.

Apart from anything Grülle Nacht isn't a song by him - I guess you mean Ich grolle night? It's just 3 minutes long, and there's no real disjunct in style - its a late romantic song and is entitle to chromaticism after all! But it certainly doesn't crash into anything at the end - there an energetic episode about 3/4 of the way through but it quickly calms down again...

There's lots of material around (best of all in the Jan Swafford biography of him) which explain his political, religious and humanistic leanings and how these are expressed in the music.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 29, 2009, 10:59:53 AM
that´s what I mean, the song is more romantic than modern, but it really does crash around 3/4 shortly in a very harsh way. My point is, that many of his songs doesn´t sound experimental but musical. I don´t want to call it a musical taste but a universal progress. But then of cause the same can be said about every single composers on the planet. Well, ok, I like the word Ideological Predisposition  ;D
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on December 29, 2009, 11:04:16 AM
I guess you mean Ich grolle night?
Nicht nacht, nicht.
I also was puzzled by the comment, but I am not sure I was parsing your sentences correctly, Mikkel. Will seek clarification later. 

Not characteristic Ives --  count it as a student work.  I do like, or am at least amused by,  how Ivesrepeats "Ich grolle nicht" as in "doth protest too much," and that rare ornament in the first measure (piano and then in the voice). Hard to find such in Ives -- and the occurrence in the Piano Trio seems like either a reference to, or unconscious evocation of the romanticism of the song.
'

 
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 29, 2009, 01:21:58 PM
Nicht nacht, nicht.
Not characteristic Ives --  count it as a student work.  '

But all his songs are quite different. I also remember there was a beautyful christmas carol!  :o So isn´t it normal for Ives to write things that doesn´t even sound like himself? Fx compare his first and last symphonies.  :P I thought Grolle Nicht or Nacht was a typical and wellwritten Ives piece.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on December 29, 2009, 01:58:02 PM
But all his songs are quite different. I also remember there was a beautyful christmas carol!  :o So isn´t it normal for Ives to write things that doesn´t even sound like himself? Fx compare his first and last symphonies.  :P I thought Grolle Nicht or Nacht was a typical and wellwritten Ives piece.
Yes, you are absolutely correct about the songs all being quite different, but there is a class of student pieces where one senses that he isn't given a free rein. Those German songs were a class project (I _think_ that all of them were), and I remember that he was complimented on one  (Ich Grolle Nicht I think) by a composer visiting Parker's class (who? Chadwick?) for showing something that Schumann hadn't. Sorry, sketchy here. Someone less so will likely swoop in before I am home with time to confirm or correct.

First Symphony also was a Yale composition, and for a lot of this music he was on a shorter leash studying with Horatio Parker.

And that little Christmas Carol is a lovely thing, with its little shifted beats: "Little town of Bethlehem, do we see thee..."

'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mikkeljs on December 29, 2009, 03:01:00 PM
I just remember the Ich Grolle Nicht had some really disturbing chords that sounded like they were not really leading in any direction at all. Maybe it has been a spell mistake in the notes, I double checked it.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Guido on December 29, 2009, 04:05:13 PM
Arg cant believe I got it wrong when I was correcting it! Of course it's Nicht!

Anyway, the German song that Ives was praised for was Feldeninsamkeit which is probably the best of the German language songs - Parker grumbled about it modulating too much, but the visiting professor Chadwick (Parker's own teacher) said that it was in its way as good as Brahms (or something to that effect) and also that it was as good as anything that Parker could have written (much to Ives' delight I am sure).

This is all remembered from the Swafford biography which is not with me at the moment, so I can't be sure if I'm right....

Sorry, quite off topic now.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on December 29, 2009, 04:14:49 PM
I figured it was a fingerslip, but who could resist the nicht knock?

Thanks for sorting out the story; I had forgotten that Chadwick's comment was also a dig at Parker.

(Still holding out hope for Ha-Ho Chorales).
'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Guido on December 29, 2009, 04:39:41 PM
(Still holding out hope for Ha-Ho Chorales).
'

(Me too!)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: jochanaan on January 03, 2010, 03:58:56 PM
Ideological predisposition does not foster an open musical mind.  And musical curiosity tends to cross ideological barriers.  At least, that's been my experience. 8)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Andante on January 03, 2010, 04:29:23 PM
This opening statement of yours would be my conclusion of the whole thing.  8)

I agree with you both 100%. A Rose is a Rose is a Rose so to speak, a listener can make what ever meaning they want from a piece.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Cato on January 04, 2010, 06:49:52 AM
Keep in mind the musical "taste" of the totalitarian regimes in e.g.  Russia, Germany, and China.

Socialist Realism says it all.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on January 04, 2010, 08:51:23 AM
Keep in mind the musical "taste" of the totalitarian regimes in e.g.  Russia, Germany, and China.

Socialist Realism says it all.

Such idealogy (socialist realism, "Praise" music, etc) does not ensure that the result will be crap, but it certainly increases the likelihood.'
 
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Cristofori on January 05, 2010, 12:09:33 AM
This is a minor peeve of mine. Occasionally I run across a claim (or assumption) that a certain style (genre, piece, etc.) is important because it reflects certain political or religious values. Often there seems to be an underlying assumption that the ideology of the piece is more important than the artistry that went into it. This is especially annoying if the piece has no discernable ideology behind it.
As much as I love music and art, I think it is wishful thinking to believe that it is somehow an entity unto itself. Like pretty much anything else, it is not immune from politics, ideology, or religion. A few artists do a good job at sometimes appearing immune, but no one is totally unbiased.

Music is simply a reflection of who we are, and it will show up to some degree in our collective worldviews and faiths, or in the state of our societies or culture at any given time.
Quote
I frequently see this attitude on conservative sites - they seem to believe that if you are conservative politically (or religiously), you won't like anything more radical than Brahms or Rachmaninoff.

How can one know for sure how some conservatives feel or believe about these things if they are not one themselves? For some liberals, anything goes, and more is never enough, but conservatives can set limits, and still be happy. I can easily spend the rest of my life listening and studying to the core classical repertory alone, and not be left feeling unfulfilled, not that I don't enjoy other styles as well.

There are some kinds of music I myself love in a carnal way, (I'm talking about rock/pop here) but deep down I know it's not good for me in the long run, and I wouldn't want my children being influenced by it in the way I was (with all the accompanying problems), so I do my best to avoid it. The artistic merit of the music doesn't always automatically trump my beliefs, no matter how good it is.

Also, I think that most people view classical music in general as being conservative (especially those that don't listen to it) at least when compared to other popular forms of music today.
Quote
In fact, you have a duty to like "conservative" music! Dissonance is equated with liberalism or radicalism.
Ultimately, we have a duty to follow our own consciences. I don't always agree with other conservatives on the topic of music, but they can always make suggestions or state there cases. This doesn't offend me.
Quote
One sees how insipid this attitude is when considering that such modernist "radicals" included figures like Schoenberg (monarchist, patriot, German cultural chauvinist) and Stravinsky (monarchist, Orthodox Christian, anti-Bolshevik).
Agreed here. Although I don't know much about of their personal lives, from what you say I can't see why anyone would view them as radicals in a political sense.
Quote
In short: there is no such thing as a musical genre or style that is inherently liberal, conservative, socialist, Catholic, traditionalist, or anything else; and people who assume that there is are more interested in ideology than in art.
I'd have to disagree here. Some musical styles, like punk/rap/metal and even soft rock, obviously stand poles apart from more conservative styles, both artistically and ideologically.

Thank you for the interesting article! :)






Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on January 05, 2010, 02:20:05 AM
Stravinsky (monarchist, Orthodox Christian, anti-Bolshevik).

Now I know why I love Petrushka: ideological affinity. :)

Not related to music, but somehow on topic: I am a staunch conservative yet I like leftist writers such as Garcia Marquez, Alejo Carpentier or Jose Saramago.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: drogulus on January 05, 2010, 02:20:39 AM
    What is the ideology of soft rock? Has it something to do with dentists offices?

    I don't usually see music as expressing an ideology but sometimes it's intended to, so that might factor in. However, you could take the example of Bruckner whose music is intended to express a particular ideology, yet while that way of interpreting it is available it isn't natural to me. I tend to hear his music not much differently than if he had written it as a purely aesthetic project. I see no reason not to do this since composers frequently produce music for ideological purposes they don't share. In either case there's little chance of missing something I need to get. By pretending  that the music serves only musical ends, I'm probably giving myself and the composer the benefit of the doubt. Artists are not often thinkers, so it's better not to dwell on what they do poorly when they're so good at what they do best.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: rappy on January 05, 2010, 02:42:26 AM
My observation is that conservative people prefer "pathetic" music, i.e. Bach and Beethoven - Rachmaninoff.
Mozart, Haydn and parts of Mendelssohn's music is not being taken serious by those people, because it is to "leightweight".
Does anybody share my view?
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on January 05, 2010, 02:57:34 AM
My observation is that conservative people prefer "pathetic" music, i.e. Bach and Beethoven - Rachmaninoff.
Mozart, Haydn and parts of Mendelssohn's music is not being taken serious by those people, because it is to "leightweight".
Does anybody share my view?

I can offer me as a counter-example. :)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Cato on January 05, 2010, 04:41:35 AM
My observation is that conservative people prefer "pathetic" music, i.e. Bach and Beethoven - Rachmaninoff.
Mozart, Haydn and parts of Mendelssohn's music is not being taken serious by those people, because it is to "lightweight".
Does anybody share my view?

No, and like Florestan I am also a counter-example!   $:)

And since when are Mozart and Haydn and Mendelssohn "lightweight"?!   :o


Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: karlhenning on January 05, 2010, 05:16:08 AM
As much as I love music and art, I think it is wishful thinking to believe that it is somehow an entity unto itself. Like pretty much anything else, it is not immune from politics, ideology, or religion.

Then you can help me out a great deal, here!
 
With exactly what politics, ideology or religion is JS Bach's C Major Prelude & Fugue from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier freighted?  And how do we know this?
 
TIA.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: karlhenning on January 05, 2010, 05:17:30 AM
Quote from: Velimir
Stravinsky (monarchist, Orthodox Christian, anti-Bolshevik).

Now I know why I love Petrushka: ideological affinity. :)

Hah!
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on January 05, 2010, 06:35:12 AM
Then you can help me out a great deal, here!
 
With exactly what politics, ideology or religion is JS Bach's C Major Prelude & Fugue from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier freighted?  And how do we know this?
 
TIA.
A1: The Virgin Mary.
A2: Gounod tagged it.
Actually, Schencker might use it as an example for his claims about god and that flavor on tonal syntax.
'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: karlhenning on January 05, 2010, 06:45:52 AM
I like your sense of humor!
 
My point of course is that Cristofori's assertion that music "is not immune from politics, ideology, or religion" is in obvious error.  The fact that some music is apparently political, ideological or religious, does not mean that all music must be political, ideological or religious.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Egebedieff on January 05, 2010, 08:17:20 AM
I like your sense of humor!
 
My point of course is that Cristofori's assertion that music "is not immune from politics, ideology, or religion" is in obvious error.  The fact that some music is apparently political, ideological or religious, does not mean that all music must be political, ideological or religious.

But not being immune doesn't imply being infected, and certainly much of Bach's music clearly is, and some of it, maybe even WTCI:1 may be idealogical in that sense the Schenker wrote about. Or in that sense of Norman O. Brown's comment “syntax is the arrangement of the army”
'
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Cristofori on January 05, 2010, 03:02:51 PM
Then you can help me out a great deal, here!
 
With exactly what politics, ideology or religion is JS Bach's C Major Prelude & Fugue from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier freighted?  And how do we know this?
 
TIA.
Since Bach was a devout Christian, and signed most of his works Solo Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone), we can assume that he dedicated them to God. Just because the work has no religious text doesn't necessarily matter to the Christian, who might follow this principle:

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Of course, I can't read minds, and your right, we can't always know what was intended for any given piece of music, But we can sometimes get a good glimpse into the composers by what we do know, and the way they behaved, and the things they said and did.

Just like a grinding, wrenching, heavy instrumental from Metallica can reveal their composers characters, worldviews and attitudes, so I believe religion or some other worldview can play a small part in the creation of a piece, even if it's a minor wordless one.

Now if your talking about a composer merely trifling about or writing something comical or that is only intended to be instructional, well then yes that music can be meaningless or neutral.

But that's not serious heartfelt composition.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Cristofori on January 05, 2010, 03:15:10 PM
I like your sense of humor!
 
My point of course is that Cristofori's assertion that music "is not immune from politics, ideology, or religion" is in obvious error.  The fact that some music is apparently political, ideological or religious, does not mean that all music must be political, ideological or religious.
OK, I'll grant you that. Not ALL music must be political, ideological or religious, or ANTI any one of those things, but much of it is to a certain extent. To make the argument in the opposite extreme is also an erronous one.

I'm just generally opposed to the idea that all music is somehow neutral, or is to be only judged or accepted solely on artistic or musical merit alone.

Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: jochanaan on January 05, 2010, 04:14:35 PM
...Just like a grinding, wrenching, heavy instrumental from Metallica can reveal their composers characters, worldviews and attitudes, so I believe religion or some other worldview can play a small part in the creation of a piece, even if it's a minor wordless one...
In the 1980s there was a band called Stryper who were just about as "heavy metal" as Metallica--but whose members were born-again Christians who would end their concerts by throwing Bibles into the audience. ;D Resurrection Band (sometimes called Rez Band) was another heavy-metal Christian band, a little earlier and sounding more Led Zeppelin than Metallica. 8)

You really can't judge a musician's character by the kind of music s/he plays and loves. :)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: secondwind on January 08, 2010, 08:09:30 AM
Since Bach was a devout Christian, and signed most of his works Solo Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone), we can assume that he dedicated them to God. Just because the work has no religious text doesn't necessarily matter to the Christian. . .

We may be able to assume certain things about Bach and his attitude toward his music from his biography, but that has nothing to do with the listeners throughout the ages who have heard his music and reacted to it according to their own tastes.  In my experience, ideology and religion have little or nothing to do with one's attitude toward Bach.  People of all ideologies love his music, and one need not be Christian to appreciate the magnificence of the Mass in B Minor.  It sometimes astounds me that people with whom I disagree on almost all of the burning cultural and political issues of the day are in complete agreement with me about the music of Bach (and other composers).   Perhaps that is a hallmark of truly great music--it transcends the ideologies of composers, performers, and listeners alike and brings us (not everyone, of course, but some of us) to a new realm where the old divisions no longer signify.

By the same token, ideology and religion are no guarantors of musical taste.  I know many Christians whose taste runs much more toward Amy Grant than Anna Magdalena.  Now, Anna Magdalena, there's a sad story and an object lesson in the limited success of applied Christianity in practice, but that's another topic altogether. . .
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on January 08, 2010, 08:20:39 AM
We may be able to assume certain things about Bach and his attitude toward his music from his biography, but that has nothing to do with the listeners throughout the ages who have heard his music and reacted to it according to their own tastes.  In my experience, ideology and religion have little or nothing to do with one's attitude toward Bach.  People of all ideologies love his music, and one need not be Christian to appreciate the magnificence of the Mass in B Minor.  It sometimes astounds me that people with whom I disagree on almost all of the burning cultural and political issues of the day are in complete agreement with me about the music of Bach (and other composers).   Perhaps that is a hallmark of truly great music--it transcends the ideologies of composers, performers, and listeners alike and brings us (not everyone, of course, but some of us) to a new realm where the old divisions no longer signify.

Excellent post.

Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: drogulus on January 15, 2010, 02:06:44 AM
Ideological predisposition does not foster an open musical mind.  And musical curiosity tends to cross ideological barriers.  At least, that's been my experience. 8)

       The reason it sometimes appears that ideology does not act as a barrier is because you're looking at a very special population. Musical curiousity among the irreligious art cultists* causes us to explore all kinds of music regardless of the predilections of the composer or the ostensible purpose of the work. Is everyone similarly open-minded? No, the art cult is its own ideology with its own habits and practices. The behavior of composers is instructive. They go along, as many listeners do, using the stories and symbols of a culture they live in, understanding it in their own way. Whitman can only be adapted so many times (many, but not many more). Listeners and artists that are both free to make use of what they find and desire to do so have a flexabilty of mind and disposition that isn't found everywhere. Most people have no ability to "transcode" messages like this. They think what they believe is true like gravity and art cultists are either degenerate or idolatrous. They're wrong, actually. Art cultists are really demonstraing they're not idolatrous by broadly sampling music produced by different belief systems. You have to have a special understanding of ideologies to translate them. It's not the usual way.

      * I mean irreligious in the operational sense, not avowed atheist/agnostics.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 15, 2017, 01:21:13 PM
Tonality Is God

It's possible to construe that the system of tonality itself, based on an hierarchy of sonance in relation to a single tonic note, as the harmonics of a fundamental note relate, is a "sacred" concept, since it relates every diverse harmonic function to a tonic, which becomes the "great note,' metaphorically representing God, "the one."

These harmonic functions of Western tonality are based on the division of the octave into 12 notes, which was derived from the Pythagoran (imperfect) cycling of the 2:3 perfect fifth, with its inverted counterpart, the 4:5 perfect fourth.

Fifths are a value of 7 semitones, and fourths are 5 semitones. These are the only two intervals which do not coincide within the octave or divide it evenly until many cycles of projection are completed; in the case of fifths, 12 x 7 = 84, and for fourths this is 12 x 5 = 60. These are the main harmonic stations of traditional tonality, which is based on root movement by fifths as being most closely related.

12 is not divisible by either of these intervals, so an 'outside the octave' common denominator must be used. This makes these intervals "outgoing" by nature.

The other basic intervals (of the 6 possible basic intervals, not counting inversional counterparts) can be divided into 12:
1 (m2)
2 (M2)
3 (m3)
4 (M3)
6 (tritone)

These are intervals which coincide in their cycles or projections within the octave, and divide it symmetrically, so I call these "inward-going" intervals.

Conversely, systems which are not tonal (based on harmonic models), but use local tone-centers and small divisions of the octave (geometric systems), like Bartok and most modern systems which diverge from harmonic-based hierarchies, are "inner-directed."

These two different systems represent what I have earlier called "Western" (outward-directed, objective), and "Eastern" (inward-directed, subjective).

If we continue to stretch this metaphor, we can see that each system represents a different way of conceiving a religious system, or approach to the sacred.

The Western represents an objective, outer system which must be approached in a receptive (and many times literal) belief in a God 'out there' which is part of the objective scheme of things. If anything, we are merely small extensions of this great oneness, if that. Until we establish a connection, we are separated.

The Eastern represents a 'going within,' a diametric reversal, where we are connected internally with the sacred. For me, this is a more inclusive model, as every being is assumed to have an inner connection with the sacred, with no recognition of external symbols necessary. For me, this precludes the establishment of 'objective' belief systems of religion.

On a number line, these two approaches, the inner and outer, can be seen as two directions to infinity (God): The Western going to the right, in ever-increasing numbers, from 1 into infinity; The Eastern going to the left, from 1 towards zero, in ever-decreasing degrees of fractions.

Both are based on the starting point of "1," the big note, or the octave.

Taking this metaphor further, tonality can be seen as the embodiment of a Newtonian universe, a universe based on "gravity" and in keeping with a church-based view of Man, that God is the center of all things.

Atonality, or serialism, can be metaphorically seen as the dissolution of the Newtonian universe, and of gravity, into a relativistic, Einsteinian universe, in which Man is insignificant by comparison to the stars. Historically, this reflects the diminishing power of the church, and increasing secularism and a new scientific realism which now pervades.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 16, 2017, 02:55:52 AM
On behalf of the many GMGers who enjoy and appreciate non-Common-Practice music, I want to thank you for your selfnessness in making yourself so amusing – by beginning with your own musical prejudices/limitations, conflating those with Universal Artistic Truth, and your subsequent repeated attempts to spin some sort, any sort, of dogma which suits the conclusion you’ve already formed.  The fact that you busy yourself with spamming multiple threads, many of which you have resurrected for the purpose, underscores what shallow agitprop your endeavor is.

So, again: thanks for the chuckles!
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on May 16, 2017, 03:22:24 AM
The fact that you busy yourself with spamming multiple threads, many of which you have resurrected for the purpose, underscores what shallow agitprop your endeavor is.

See my signature line.  :D
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Monsieur Croche on May 16, 2017, 05:19:17 AM
This is a minor peeve of mine. Occasionally I run across a claim (or assumption) that a certain style (genre, piece, etc.) is important because it reflects certain political or religious values. Often there seems to be an underlying assumption that the ideology of the piece is more important than the artistry that went into it. This is especially annoying if the piece has no discernable ideology behind it.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3752

I frequently see this attitude on conservative sites - they seem to believe that if you are conservative politically (or religiously), you won't like anything more radical than Brahms or Rachmaninoff. In fact, you have a duty to like "conservative" music! Dissonance is equated with liberalism or radicalism.

One sees how insipid this attitude is when considering that such modernist "radicals" included figures like Schoenberg (monarchist, patriot, German cultural chauvinist) and Stravinsky (monarchist, Orthodox Christian, anti-Bolshevik).

In short: there is no such thing as a musical genre or style that is inherently liberal, conservative, socialist, Catholic, traditionalist, or anything else; and people who assume that there is are more interested in ideology than in art.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

If -- from the linked article -- you're not actually offended by {fugue} being  "this odd musical form sprung from the tensions of the religious wars," {one of those great claims, because like faith itself, it can not be proven; stating it as fact is ridiculous:-) then you are wiping away the tears that resulted from the gales of laughter produced by reading such seriously pretentious, made up pseudo-intellectual piles of steaming horse dung.

Of course, if there are actual ideologies 'embedded in music,' I've never been one to pay much attention to them, in that, excepting the inclusion of text or a title more than a little giving away intent, "just notes" are just too abstract to deliver the ideological / literary goods.

That a piece is "Socially Significant," is another topic of gravely dubious worth and distinction that pretty much repels me.  (There are valid historic and social contexts that have and do 'affect' the mindset of the artists of an era, but for me, there is only so far that can be taken -- not very far at all -- before it becomes a subject overtaking the subject of the music itself.)

So, yeah, imo a lot one finds on these topics, the premises, are basically a barrel of laughs from the nusically and intellectually impaired.


Best regards
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 16, 2017, 05:29:25 AM
See my signature line.  :D

0:)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 16, 2017, 09:21:39 AM
Oh, but I like non-common practice music!

In tonal music, tonality is god. This means, God as as separate deity, and Man as his chosen subject. Very traditional. God is "out there" and we are still ourselves, with our ego and will.

The more Webern moves away from tonality, the closer he is to actually becoming "one" with god, more in the Eastern sense of "god is within us."

Thus, the alienation some feel when faced with the (to some) incomprehensible, mysterious later works: Webern's music no longer has any tonal meaning; he has reached the peak of the mountain. The atmosphere is thin, rarified; hostile to the comfortable confines of the mere human ego.

The closer we get to 'the light,' the more we disintegrate. Our egos begin dissolving; we are subsumed into the magnificent awesomeness of God.

To some this invokes fear and confusion; you must submit in order to see, to be; you must 'die' the death of the ego, to be reborn into a pure state of being. "You" do not matter anymore; "you" are an irrelevant speck in the vast scheme of things.

Schoenberg has touched on this as well, especially in Moses und Aaron, where the name of god is unpronounceable, and his image cannot possibly be shown. This is mystery, not meant for the mind of Man.

Then submit, ye tonal heathens: humble yourselves before the magnificence of the atonal god, if you want to 'get' the later works of Webern.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 16, 2017, 09:51:15 AM
I want to thank you for your selfnessness in making yourself so amusing – by beginning with your own musical prejudices/limitations, conflating those with Universal Artistic Truth, and your subsequent repeated attempts to spin some sort, any sort, of dogma which suits the conclusion you’ve already formed. 

Hey, did Sean come back under a different name?
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 16, 2017, 09:52:05 AM
(* chortle *)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 16, 2017, 10:09:12 AM
Schoenberg's journey into the 'abstraction' of serial music allowed him to create a music which supported and expressed no outward ideology or nationalistic tradition, but only the inner experience of its creator. Serialism became its own ideology.

The repercussions of WWII resonated well into the 1950s, when a new generation emerged and expanded on the methods and aesthetic of Schoenberg and Webern. The bombast of nationalism had almost destroyed Europe, and these new composers were disillusioned with all such notions of nationalism and state power; and the spectre of the hydrogen bomb still loomed. Thus serialism was the perfect vehicle; it had no traditional baggage of nationalism and was subject to no ideology other than its own.

Thus, although Schoenberg and the serial composers who followed acted out of artist concerns, with no overt political considerations or motivations other than general post WWII trauma, their retreat into the inner realm of abstraction, and into a receding, hermetic world of self-generating forms free of tradition, had political implications all the same, because of the inherent inner, individualistic nature of abstraction freed from tradition and nationalism.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 16, 2017, 10:30:43 AM
What is the root impetus of a Western-based strictly academic definition of tonality? I think the fact that Western classical music evolved from rituals and ceremonies of the Catholic Church has something to do with it.


I feel this "exclusiveness" of a Western-based strictly academic definition of tonality is also


• The impetus behind Classical music purists' attempts to exclude modernism and serial music from the canon;


• The impetus behind Classical music purists' attempts to exclude or reject Minimalism from the canon (Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, immersed in world cultures and Eastern religion);


• The impetus behind Classical music purists' attempts to exclude or reject John Cage as a legitimate composer (Eastern influence, Zen); and


• The impetus behind Classical music purists' attempts to exclude or reject broad definitions of tonality as "not tonal;"


...which excludes monophonic "world" musics as "non-tonal," as well as any music which does not adhere strictly to an academic definition of tonality based strictly on major/minor scales, triads, and functionality of these triads.


So what did, and does a Western-based, strictly academic definition of tonality represent?


It represents an exclusive, Christian-derived culture of music which was, at that time and perhaps still, a "good ol' boys" club with exclusive membership, which has excluded almost every other type of approach to tonality and culture except its own Western-style.

Tonality is God. Get it?
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Ghost Sonata on May 16, 2017, 10:35:18 AM
There will ever and always be attempts to mold music into the ideological shape of the listener.  One of the most obnoxious American examples of this is political activist Lyndon LaRouche, still alive if less active, who while in prison wrote much that was utterly bogus about LvB.  One's first impression is to regard him merely as another nutter, but like a toxic spill he can pollute many a musical stream.  This, from Wiki about him:

"1989: Musical interests and Verdi tuning initiative

LaRouche and his wife have an interest in classical music up to the period of Brahms. A motto of LaRouche's European Workers' Party, is "Think like Beethoven"; movement offices typically include a piano and posters of German composers, and members are known for their choral singing at protest events and for using satirical lyrics tailored to their targets.[146] LaRouche abhors popular music; he said in 1980, "Rock was not an accidental thing. This was done by people who set out in a deliberate way to subvert the United States. It was done by British intelligence," and wrote that the Beatles were "a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications."[147] LaRouche movement members have protested at performances of Richard Wagner's operas, denouncing Wagner as an anti-Semite who found favor with the Nazis, and called a conductor "satanic" because he played contemporary music.[148]

In 1989 LaRouche advocated that classical orchestras should use a concert pitch based on A above middle C (A4) tuned to 432 Hz, which the Schiller Institute called the "Verdi pitch," a pitch that Verdi had suggested as optimal, though he also composed and conducted in other pitches such as the French official diapason normal of 435 Hz, including his Requiem in 1874.[149]

The Schiller Institute initiative attracted support from more than 300 opera stars, including Joan Sutherland, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, who according to Opera Fanatic may or may not have been aware of LaRouche's politics. A spokesman for Domingo said Domingo had simply signed a questionnaire, had not been aware of its origins, and would not agree with LaRouche's politics. Renata Tebaldi and Piero Cappuccilli, who were running for the European Parliament on LaRouche's "Patriots for Italy" platform, attended Schiller Institute conferences as featured speakers. The discussions led to debates in the Italian parliament about reinstating Verdi's legislation. LaRouche gave an interview to National Public Radio on the initiative from prison. The initiative was opposed by the editor of Opera Fanatic, Stefan Zucker, who objected to the establishment of a "pitch police," and argued that LaRouche was using the issue to gain credibility.[150]
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 16, 2017, 10:47:28 AM
It's too overt to call Wagner antisemitic. It's better to say that he was an example of the 19th century notion of the Nietzscheian "ubermensch," which inspired all sorts of egomaniacs.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 16, 2017, 11:33:10 AM
It's too overt to call Wagner antisemitic. It's better to say that he was an example of the 19th century notion of the Nietzscheian "ubermensch," which inspired all sorts of egomaniacs.
Or we could be honest about it, and say he was anti-Semitic. Just go read what he wrote, the truth is evident.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on May 16, 2017, 11:37:49 AM
It's too overt to call Wagner antisemitic. It's better to say that he was an example of the 19th century notion of the Nietzscheian "ubermensch," which inspired all sorts of egomaniacs.

Actually he was both.  Being one does not mean one can not be the other.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 16, 2017, 11:43:19 AM
Actually he was both.  Being one does not mean one can not be the other.

Indeed.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 16, 2017, 11:44:22 AM


It's too overt to call Wagner antisemitic.

Not too overt to call this sanitizing.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: opaquer on May 16, 2017, 11:59:51 AM
It's too overt to call Wagner antisemitic. It's better to say that he was an example of the 19th century notion of the Nietzscheian "ubermensch," which inspired all sorts of egomaniacs.

Why does everyone pick on Wagner? Everyone was racist back then, it took America a long time too to accept people who happen to have a darker shade of akin colour.

The human racism throughout all history has perpetuated and Continued the cycle of a lot of ignorance, misinformation, indoctrination, intolerance and bigotry, how is Wagner special in that regard?

And what does that have to do with this:
(https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTI8n7eWq296ekvGnFfxfAaO7tARwbCJcoEhFzmPqim0xtCuzZhSrWB5IFSMA)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on May 16, 2017, 12:05:24 PM
Everyone was racist back then

Really everyone?
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: opaquer on May 16, 2017, 12:09:27 PM
Really everyone?

I'm generalising but yes, it was more common than sliced bread. Wagner just isn't special or unique in that regard
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Florestan on May 16, 2017, 12:10:54 PM
I'm generalising but yes, it was more common than sliced bread.

Now you're generalising the generalisation.  ;D
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Todd on May 16, 2017, 12:12:36 PM
Wagner just isn't special or unique in that regard


He's kind of special:

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Wagner_Das_Judenthum_in_der_Musik_1869.jpg)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: opaquer on May 16, 2017, 12:19:42 PM
Now you're generalising the generalisation.  ;D

Sure, but you're generalising the proposition that the intention of my generalisations are to generalise to get away from my point  ;)
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: opaquer on May 16, 2017, 12:22:08 PM

He's kind of special:

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Wagner_Das_Judenthum_in_der_Musik_1869.jpg)

I'm pretty sure everyone that knows Wagner's name knows about that already but what can I say, that's probably generalising too  >:D

I'll respond later
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Todd on May 16, 2017, 12:27:30 PM
I'm pretty sure everyone that knows Wagner's name knows about that already but what can I say, that's probably generalising too  >:D

I'll respond later


The point is that not everyone wrote anti-Semitic screeds like Dick.  That takes real commitment.  I love his music, but he was a real piece of shit.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: millionrainbows on May 16, 2017, 12:54:32 PM
At first I really liked Wagner, but then he screwed my wife.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Monsieur Croche on May 17, 2017, 09:58:34 PM
At first I really liked Wagner, but then he screwed my wife.

That is just "expanded" fidelity.

Expanded tonality = expanded fidelity.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Jo498 on May 17, 2017, 11:32:55 PM
With Wagner the question is whether (some of) his music is connected to e.g. antisemitism. Some people have claimed that the portrayals of Mime and Beckmesser contain elements of contemporary Jewish caricature/antisemitic archetypes. Be that as it may, I don't think there is an overall ideology in Wagners works. They are too diverse and e.g. in the case of the Ring it can be argued that the "ideology" contained developed from a quasi-Marxian (at least "left-Hegelian") historic to a Schopenhauerian (renunciation, pseudo-Buddhism) perspective. The overall dominant themes, quasi-religious redemption, renunciation whatever might have strange undertones but not political-ideological ones.

The only opera that has nationalist undertones is Meistersinger and it is far less obvious there than in "national" operas of slavic composers and the chauvinism is mainly in the field of art (Even if the Holy Roman Empire collapsed in dust there remains our holy German Art). I am pretty sure that we would hardly bother with Wagner's antisemitism, even less look for ideology in his music if there had not been a nazi regime. Although nationalists loved some Wagner already in the late 19th century German Empire (cf. Heinrich Mann's "Der Untertan"), there is very little of this obviously in the music. Brahms's Triumphlied is worse (granted, that's never been considered a major piece) and as said there is far more nationalist/patriotic music by Smetana, Elgar, almost any (late) romantic composer.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: ritter on May 17, 2017, 11:52:08 PM
With Wagner the question is whether (some of) his music is connected to e.g. antisemitism. Some people have claimed that the portrayals of Mime and Beckmesser contain elements of contemporary Jewish caricature/antisemitic archetypes. Be that as it may, I don't think there is an overall ideology in Wagners works. They are too diverse and e.g. in the case of the Ring it can be argued that the "ideology" contained developed from a quasi-Marxian (at least "left-Hegelian") historic to a Schopenhauerian (renunciation, pseudo-Buddhism) perspective. The overall dominant themes, quasi-religious redemption, renunciation whatever might have strange undertones but not political-ideological ones.

The only opera that has nationalist undertones is Meistersinger and it is far less obvious there than in "national" operas of slavic composers and the chauvinism is mainly in the field of art (Even if the Holy Roman Empire collapsed in dust there remains our holy German Art). I am pretty sure that we would hardly bother with Wagner's antisemitism, even less look for ideology in his music if there had not been a nazi regime. Although nationalists loved some Wagner already in the late 19th century German Empire (cf. Heinrich Mann's "Der Untertan"), there is very little of this obviously in the music. Brahms's Triumphlied is worse (granted, that's never been considered a major piece) and as said there is far more nationalist/patriotic music by Smetana, Elgar, almost any (late) romantic composer.
Very interesting, Jo498. A pleasure to read.

I would say, though, that the most overtly nationalistic (in the traditional, cliché way) Wagner opera is Lohengrin, more so than Meistersinger (where, as you rightly point out, it's "holy german art" that counts). And yes, a work like Meistersinger is a wonder of cospmpolitanism when compared to, say, Triumphlied or even the German Requiem.

Furthermore, an intersting point is that it can be argued that "Wagnerism", as a cultural phenomenon that took Europe by storm in the late 19th century, orginated in France rather than in Germany.

Regards,
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Jo498 on May 18, 2017, 12:22:29 AM
I don't really get the nationalism of Lohengrin; it is only a few scenes with the King and while it could be seen as "pan-germanic" it is not really central for the plot. The immense popularity (it is the focal piece of a famous scene of the Mann novel I mentioned) seems to prove the national aspect but I personally don't really get it.

With the Ring it is also interesting that Wagner did not use the better known high medieval treatment of the material. (As the playwright Hebbel did in the 19th century.) The anonymous Nibelungenlied was considered something of a national epos in the 19th century and it ends with a big suicidal fight against the huns: "Kriemhild's revenge". Kriemhild is the name of the Gutrune character in that treatment, Siegfried's wife and Brunnhilde's opponent. After Siegfried's murder (which is Brunnhildes revenge in that version) she marries Attila the hun and Hagen, Gunther and all their retainers finally die when a visit at the court of the Hun's goes awry) But that later part is very different from Wagner. When as a kid before I ever listened to Wagner (except maybe the popular choruses from Holländer, Lohengrin and Tannhäuser) I read the description of Wagner's Ring in an opera guide I was severely disappointed because it lacked the "best part", namely all that battles with the huns.

I disagree wrt "Ein Deutsches Requiem". Unless one counts having Lutheran churches organized nationally using the vernacular language as nationalist, there is nothing "German" about it. It is similar to Schütz' "Musikalische Exequien in Form einer teutschen Begräbnis-Missa" a generalized funeral service (of course the Deutsches Requiem could hardly be used in a real service as it is far too long but the same holds for Verdi's Requiem mass) in the German language.
Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: ritter on May 18, 2017, 01:21:19 AM
I don't really get the nationalism of Lohengrin; it is only a few scenes with the King and while it could be seen as "pan-germanic" it is not really central for the plot. The immense popularity (it is the focal piece of a famous scene of the Mann novel I mentioned) seems to prove the national aspect but I personally don't really get it.
....
Well, I suppose these lines by the King are the ones that reflect the "traditional" (or cliché) German militaristic nationalism IMO:

"Soll ich euch erst der Drangsal Kunde sagen,
die deutsches Land so oft aus Osten traf?
In fernster Mark hiesst Weib und Kind ihr beten:
"Herr Gott, bewahr uns vor der Ungarn Wut!"
Doch mir, des Reiches Haupt, musst es geziemen,
solch wilder Schmach ein Ende zu ersinnen
..."


But I agree, they are not central to the plot...

Quote
With the Ring it is also interesting that Wagner did not use the better known high medieval treatment of the material. (As the playwright Hebbel did in the 19th century.) The anonymous Nibelungenlied was considered something of a national epos in the 19th century and it ends with a big suicidal fight against the huns: "Kriemhild's revenge". Kriemhild is the name of the Gutrune character in that treatment, Siegfried's wife and Brunnhilde's opponent. After Siegfried's murder (which is Brunnhildes revenge in that version) she marries Attila the hun and Hagen, Gunther and all their retainers finally die when a visit at the court of the Hun's goes awry) But that later part is very different from Wagner. When as a kid before I ever listened to Wagner (except maybe the popular choruses from Holländer, Lohengrin and Tannhäuser) I read the description of Wagner's Ring in an opera guide I was severely disappointed because it lacked the "best part", namely all that battles with the huns.
...
Most interesting. I am not familair with Hebbel, but this strangely fits in with my perception that dramatically, Götterdämmerung is the weakest part of the Ring. Suddenly, all the drama that's been building up in the previous three installments comes to a dénouement, is resolved in what I see a hurried way.  ::). You can sense that the libretto of the Ring was written backwards...

Quote
I disagree wrt "Ein Deutsches Requiem". Unless one counts having Lutheran churches organized nationally using the vernacular language as nationalist, there is nothing "German" about it. It is similar to Schütz' "Musikalische Exequien in Form einer teutschen Begräbnis-Missa" a generalized funeral service (of course the Deutsches Requiem could hardly be used in a real service as it is far too long but the same holds for Verdi's Requiem mass) in the German language.
It's exactly that, this elevation of the religious phenomenon to a national one. I'm not a religious person at all, but come form a Latin, Catholic culture for which religion (Christiansm in this case) is not bound by any national components, but is rather universal (catholic, in the ethymoligical sense of the word).

Cheers,

Title: Re: Musical Taste and Ideological Predisposition
Post by: Jo498 on May 18, 2017, 03:04:26 AM
Well, I suppose these lines by the King are the ones that reflect the "traditional" (or cliché) German militaristic nationalism IMO:

"Soll ich euch erst der Drangsal Kunde sagen,
die deutsches Land so oft aus Osten traf?
In fernster Mark hiesst Weib und Kind ihr beten:
"Herr Gott, bewahr uns vor der Ungarn Wut!"
Doch mir, des Reiches Haupt, musst es geziemen,
solch wilder Schmach ein Ende zu ersinnen
..."


But I agree, they are not central to the plot...
And it was actually true in the 10th century when the Empire was still weak and not yet up to any expansionism and raids from the east or southeast were not uncommon.

Quote
Most interesting. I am not familair with Hebbel, but this strangely fits in with my perception that dramatically, Götterdämmerung is the weakest part of the Ring. Suddenly, all the drama that's been building up in the previous three installments comes to a dénouement, is resolved in what I see a hurried way.  ::). You can sense that the libretto of the Ring was written backwards...
The Hebbel is only a 19th century dramatization. The anonymous medieval epos is probably based on the older stuff Wagner also used (Völsungasaga? and others) but takes the migration period roots (like the huns) into a medieval scenario. No Germanic gods, the whole background is left out and the conflict is mainly from Gunther's wooing of Brunhilde when Siegfried helps him with the Tarnhelm. This leads to a conflict between the queens Kriemhilde (Gutrune) and Brunhilde which leads to the plot to murder Siegfried and Hagen who is no half-dwarf but just an important warrior at Gunther's "Burgundian" court also somehow manages to steal Siegfried's (the Nibelung's) hoard. The murder is covered up but everybody knows what really happened. Later Kriemhild marries Attila (called Etzel) the Hun and when years later Gunther, his brothers, Hagen etc. visit their sister things escalate and all the Burgundians are killed (while themselves killing scores of enemies). Last of all Hagen who until the end declines to reveal the location of the hoard and is killed by Kriemhild (who is in turn slain by an old knight because Hagen might have been an asshole he still did not deserve to be killed by a woman...) So in the end, all are dead and according to legend the hoard is still hidden on the bottom of the Rhine near Worms.