Sunday 29 November 2009

And then

having had a bit of Pergolesi in Arise once more, it was the music of choice on BBC2 and an episode of that series on Beauty. The last episode I saw was pretty ugly as it goes, but this was presented by Roger Scruton, who amongst other things wrote a book on aesthetics showing knowledge and sympathy for music, so I gave it a whirl. You do wonder, as a musician, quite what some philosophers actually know about music when they whitter on, but we saw Roger at the piano (a Steinway) tinkling the ivories.

Anyway, he saw beauty and religion as two doors into the same space. The old, 'I'm not religious but I love the St Matthew Passion argument.' The trouble is, without the faith of JS Bach, you don't get that music. That's why people can't just write a tune these days. They just don't believe. He also thought some modern artists had no love for humanity and therefore the human form, which explains why they produce images disfiguring it or being violent towards it. We musicians see the same in music where instead of studying orchestration and writing with your performers, you write things that are the opposite of idiomatic and have to be tediously practised and then sounds awful for the audience. Point?

Scruton demolished modernism (in the arty sense) comprehensively, for which he is worth watching on iPlayer.

It would be interesting to read why serialism, particularly that of the Webern sort took off in music. Was it that Schoenberg went to California? Or do we have to go to Boulez and Stockhausen and lay it at their door? They were both taught by Messiaen and I'm sure he would never gone for it because he was French and because he was a Catholic. It's still amazing that he wrote Turangalila just after the war. So was it the generation who were teenagers during WWII who were so damaged they wrote music for helicopters?

One of the instrumental teachers at work plays lots of contemporary stuff and lots and lots just now because of various festivals in November and she commented on how the audience is different from other concerts and a little eccentric. Stranger and stranger.

Enough ramblings...

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