Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

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RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

Not that I can say it any clearer than Chris has done several times already Parla, but I’ll try again: this thread is about discussing music AND words, or words AND music, no more, no less. If this combination is not your thing that’s fine, but then this is not a thread for you, and you can start another one on your subject -which I’ll probably be very glad to join in.

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

Starting with your post Camaron, I have already responded to your first suggestion with my post #13, on Sept 29. As I said in most of my posts of yours or Chris, I stay in this thread and respond only to the issue the title specifically implies and comes, in various forms, in your posts or others' (see our exchanges with tjh).

I have no problem with the mere relationship of text and music (or music and text), as long as there is no implication that the text enhances or much more "redeems" the actual music. If we agree on that point, of course, I may contribute to the new subject with quite a few cases where the "text" enhances, contributes, complements the general artistic, emotional, social or even political value (extra-musical, in other words) of the musical work. Shostakovich's Symphony No.14 is a good case for further examination.

By the way, I never suggested that I wish to initiate a thread for the opposite: Music above the text or anything of that matter. (However, I have some other topics for potential threads, which, however, I must have enough time to handle after the intiation of the thread).

Parla

P.S.: Chris, the "experience" might be one (not for all or always though. As it seems to some of us, the texts in Bach's Cantatas are outdated and work as vehicles for a specific purpose that the composer had to serve. Remember Vic's comments on that matter?), but the Music is one as well. The "experience" is a wider notion than the specific one of Music.

 

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

i like music, because music is my life

___________________

dvd kosong

as with all matters of heart, you'll know it when u find it.

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

Yes Chris, that is the question: how? and it is a great question, isn’t? To which I don’t have an answer either, just some rambling thoughts:
 

Well before we get into the so-called literary value of a text there are so many things going on and which we can marvel at.

 

So for instance the words: I’m dying have an emotional load to which most people could relate to in an intense kind of way, if you like. Not so much the words yellow glass which are instead more able to produce a pretty defined image in your mind. The words silent music produce yet something else, a sense of paradoxe and maybe a reference to that which lies beyond the words.

 

But what the three previous examples have in common is that whatever they produce in us (their sense) very much emanates from the meaning of the words and their grammatical relationship.

 

Now, One, Two, Buckle my shoe, Three, Four, Open the door. There is something different going on there and whatever it does to us is not restricted to the meaning of the words: we can talk of music and words already, music that is purely rhythmic.We have to acknowledge that both are inseparable in the sense that its effect on us (its sense) needs of both the words and their rhythm.

 

As we know, composers (popular and from the classical tradition alike) will go beyond this and put more to it: melodies and harmonies. How good they are (and how good the materia prima is)  will determine to what extent they just put words on melodies or manage to produce something else, something that can not be reduced to its parts.

 

And then there is of course the human voice: how could it be the same to read I am dying than to hear someone tell you: I am dying. How about someone singing to you I am dying? … and on what melody?

 

So this is just a long way to say that I’ll be paying attention to those good examples you’ve provided Chris, and hopefully comment on them.

Why is Bach so much liked by atheists by the way? Surely because words are so important but their sense goes well beyond their meaning

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

Bach is "liked", appreciated admired etc. by atheists (and by quite a few believers too) by virtue of his Music.

Of course, listeners may examine the "dubious" texts accordingly...

Parla

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

parla wrote:

I'm afraid it is not an "artificial distinction", Chris. A work of Music is great because of its musical value. If this work of Music has also political, social, emotional or any other "value", it won't be a better work of Music. It can be a more (or less) "useful" work in some fields of interest.

In the case of BWV169, you and camaron find probably the respective movement with text more "enhanced" (maybe "richer" in some ways). I find the Concerto more pure and solid. However, we both appreciate the core score of the music used either in the Concerto or in the Aria. So, our common denominator is the Music, while the text may affect some but not all of us.

Parla

Parla

I think I disagree with you here!  Music can be judged in many ways in my opinion and although you can look at the technical merits of "the notes" there are other factors as well, not least its emotional impact.  Great music speaks not just to the brain but to the heart as well.

Chris

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

I never said or implied that music cannot be judged (appreciated) in many ways, Chris (Covenant). What I always try to say is that the "emotional", social, political, literary etc. value cannot contribute to the greatness of the musical value of a piece of music. A national anthem is perhaps the most important and significant piece of music for the subjects of the respective country, predominantly owing to the lyrics. However, most of them are based on poor, simple, naive, trivial short scores. The lyrics' political, social, emotional etc. importance cannot justify (redeem) the poor scores. However, the opposite can easily work...

Camaron, I tried to say that predominantly the atheists and some believers (not necessarily the practising Christians) find the texts in most of the so called religious music outdated, poor, bizarre, odd, irrelevant etc. However, the Music of the great composers is so direct, appealing, glorious in its musical structure and form that none can resist at least to explore and indulge in the respective musical works. When these listeners (atheists and some believers) are attracted to the musical outcome, then, they may explore the respective texts to find out the "other" aspects of these works. The results may vary, but, what I have noticed (including myself) is that, very rarely, at least the believers may be carried away by the texts.

For example, the Tenor Aria's text from Cantata BWV177 starts with the "Let no desire or fear turn me away from you (Jesus Christ) in this world"...I do not believe these commonplace religious words can possibly fit in the most refined playing of the violin, the vivacious role of the bassoon and the exquisite accompaniment of the basso continuo. In one or the other way, Bach's Music transforms the lyrics to something much beyond the "chosen" words.

And, then, we may jump to the very intriguing case of Shostakovich's 14th Symphony...A truly superb case of significant (established) poetry and monumental music. Whoever is interested...may jump in.

Parla

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

Right Parla, lets get the logical stuff out of the way first. Working from memory I think it was Chris who already said it, but I’ll remind you anyway: your main argument is not argument at all, just a pure rhetorical tautology: if you define music as just the notes, then it has to be true that words or anything else add nothing to the musical value! Go figure what use you see there

 

Now onto the interesting part: atheists liking of religious artists.

 

As an atheist myself I admit I often like religious artists…. not in spite of, but exactly because they ARE religious. I should qualify this and say it is actually mystic artists or thinkers I feel attracted to. As an atheist I don’t think there is any God behind their beliefs, but I do recognize their faith as A: a very human pulsion and B:  a sincere and sometime heroic attempt to go beyond the banal and ordinary.

 

Take San Juan de la Cruz Cántico espiritual: it is one of the greatest erotic poems ever written as well as a great longing for God.

More examples? The bible is fascinatingly enlightening, and I honestly think everyone should read it, if not for the obvious reasons

Going back to Bach, who I consider -again- not just religious but a great mystic. To reduce the texts to just ordinary lutheran theology and sunday service you would be right to dismiss them. But I also think you would be silly to get stacked in the biblical conflict between archangel Michael and Satan and not be able to see beyond. It is “fundamental conflict” what matters there, something that atheists or fundamentalists can relate to.

 

Bach’s mysticism can be traced well beyond the words by the way: in his use of polyphony, whether it is vocal or instrumental.

 

Chris, those links are very welcome as I won’t be home tonight (and so no access to my music) but hopefully should have time to listen to those. I’ll be reporting back.

PS, Parla: what are you wating on? extend on Shostakovich's 14 and I might give it a shot and listen to it.

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

I think people should read all the great religious works, the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc because they are a key part of our culture and civilisation.  What is interesting is that, at least as far as the Bible is concerned, music can enhance our understanding.  As an atheist friend of mine said "Only Bach makes me think that there might be a God".

Chris

PS My bridge partner's name is Gita and in Bengali this means "song" and the Bhagavad Gita means the song of Bhagavad.  She also makes me think there might be a God because she is as smart as anything and my atheism breaks like a wave on the rock of her faith.

RE: Words and Music: one art redeemed by the other!

That’s all brilliant music.

I did not know BWV 146. How he manages, eh? The music is so changed, by means of adding to it. I often wonder at the pragmatical way baroque musicians had with their music, all so “pre-romantic”. But this goes well beyond simple craftsmanship: this chorus is great. Thanks for the pointer Chris.

Now, BWV 248 and 214 make for a very interesting case. I personally find it hard to choose one (text) or the other as being more suitable. Both texts fit pretty well! But it raises an interesting question: did Bach have a way with words equivalent to how he dealt with music? I’ll explain myself: It has long been recognized the “abstract” or “pure” quality of Bach’s music, in the sense that to an extent is instrument-independent. Does Bach do the same with words, treating the “message” of the music as somehow word-independent?

The above example might suggest so. It is clear the message is one of celebration and joy. Can this message take different word-clothing depending on the occasion just as a violin concerto quickly becomes a clavier one and then a chorus for a Sunday service, or then a solo harpsichord piece?

For the great mass and BWV 11 I will need more time, but it seems it might suggest yet another level of textual abstraction: that of the national language!

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