Music of the Gods

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2008-04-21 06:11

"The emotion involved in art is not an emotion in the ordinary meaning of the term. It is experienced more as a 'sense' or a 'feel,' but it has two characteristics pertaining to emotions: it is automatically immediate and it has an intense, profoundly personal (yet undefined) value-meaning to the individual experiencing it.

"The value involved is life, and the words naming the emotion are: 'This is what life means to me.' Regardless of the nature or content of an artist’s metaphysical views, what an art work expresses, fundamentally, under all of its lesser aspects is: 'This is life as I see it.' The essential meaning of a viewer’s or reader’s response, under all of its lesser elements is, 'This is (or is not) life as I see it.'"

—Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto

Introduction

As often happens, I am in hot water—this time on the "RACH” thread—for fulminating against “headbanging caterwauling” and touting the superiority of Romantic music. I am in hot water with the fans of caterwauling for daring to diss their favoured offal, and with a serious music aficionado who insists “Romanticism” should include sundry post-Romantic meanderers and blowhards. He has ranked some thirty Romantic and post-Romantic works according to merit (according to him) in what looks suspiciously like a J. Evans Pritchard modus operandi.

Here I propose to deal only with the “arguments” of the caterwaulers; the case for or against including the likes of Mahler among the Great Romantics will have to wait ... except to say, paraphrasing Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of beauty.”

First, a preliminary question: why does this matter matter? Why do I get so exercised about it? Why can’t I just “live and let live” and leave empty heads and deformed souls alone to wallow in their frightful cacophonies?

My answer: I am perfectly prepared to do that—but they’re not prepared to leave me or any other decent, innocent human being alone. They shove their filth at us at every turn, and I am beyond fed up with it. As Rand might say, "These are the commandos of the haters' army, who crawl out of the sewer of centuries and shake themselves in public, splattering muck over the passers-by. ... The passers-by are the rest of us, who have to live, breathe and work in this atmosphere."

As I said in my RACH editorial:

“They do not rule the world officially but they have taken it over. They have taken over the shopping malls, the shops, the bars and restaurants, the gyms and rugby fields, the interludes between television programmes and even the programmes themselves. Nothing is uncorrupted by these aliens—even opera singers perform with them.

“It’s time to shame these aesthetic thugs into oblivion. Musical masochism is for consenting adults in private; it shouldn’t be sadistically imposed on unconsenting adults in public. Ideally its perpetrators should follow the logic of one of their number, the Slipknot drummer who, when told his was music to commit suicide by, said, ‘We must be doing something right.’ I would certainly encourage that alien and all its fellows to top themselves and leave the earth to human beings.”

Since it’s unlikely that they’ll opt for suicide, unfortunately, it is they who need to be admonished to “live and let live” (if you can call what they do living). They should not be averse to a campaign for the voluntary clearing away of their pollution from places where it’s unsolicited.

Rand said:

"I am not willing to surrender the world to the jerky contortions of self-inducedly brainless bodies with empty eye sockets who perform in stinking basements the immemorial rituals of staving off terror, which are a dime a dozen in any jungle—and to the quavering witch doctors who call it 'art.'"

Well dears, neither am I. When some skunk squirts its filth in my face without my consent, I will punch its snout. And I shall campaign against skunkery in general.

I should say that the reason this essay has taken a while is that it was becoming an academic-style treatise on Romanticism in music. Well, the Internet is replete with such treatises, by people better qualified than I. All I ever intended was an informed layman’s polemic against The Age of Crap as manifest in music, and against the idea that music is somehow exempt from the standard, healthy Objectivist strictures against cultural relativism. Realising I had departed from my brief, I had to start over to get back on course.

I have used Dr. Richard Goode as my foil in this essay because, like Everest, he’s there, and because, in this debate, he is perfect in his immorality (I say this in a caring kind of way). He is delectably quintessential!

Cutting to the chase

So why do I feel entitled to pile on value-judgments such as “sub-human,” “skunks,” “filth” and so on in the realm of music? Didn’t Rand herself say:

“Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music … No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself—and only for himself”?

Yes, she did. And, I submit, she was wrong.

Note the practical implication of her dictum: that no one can claim the objective superiority of the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven posted on the Van Cliburn thread over the Slayer posted on the RACH thread. This is absurd on its face—but of course, “on its face” won’t do for those who seize on Rand’s statement as an excuse to remain in the sewer. So let’s keep going.

What did Rand mean by “conceptual vocabulary”?

She tells us. Such a vocabulary would explain how a work evokes the emotions it does. “Why does a succession of sounds produce an emotional reaction? Why does it involve man’s deepest emotions and his crucial, metaphysical values? How can sounds reach man’s emotions directly, in a manner that seems to bypass his intellect? What does a certain combination of sounds do to man’s consciousness to make him identify it as gay or sad?”

Why need we know these things in order to pass objective judgment? What difference would it make? That she doesn’t tell us. But she does reiterate:

“The formulation of a common vocabulary of music would require these answers. It would require: a translation of the musical experience, the inner experience, into conceptual terms; an explanation of why certain sounds strike us a certain way; a definition of the axioms of musical perception, from which the appropriate esthetic principles could be derived, which would serve as a base for the objective validation of esthetic judgments.”

Phew!

This, Rand goes on, means we need to do what we currently cannot do in musical perception--separate subject and object:

“In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others—and therefore, cannot prove—which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness. He experiences it as an indivisible whole, he feels as if the magnificent exaltation were there in the music—and he is helplessly bewildered when he discovers that some men do experience it and some do not. In regard to the nature of music, mankind is still on the perceptual level of awareness.”

Now, it is my contention that Rand has set the bar way too high here—we don’t need to know all that in order to judge—and that furthermore, my contention has her imprimatur:

“The deadly monotony of primitive music—the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull—paralyses cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind. ... Primitive music becomes his narcotic [that of a modern man brought up as a 'mentally helpless savage']: it wipes out the groping, it reassures him and reinforces his lethargy, it offers him temporarily the sense of a reality to which his stagnant torpor is appropriate.” (Note, incidentally, what she is describing as primitive music is still a slight advance on rap, which was embryonic in her time: rap has no notes!)

If that’s not passing judgment I don’t know what is! So, is Rand seriously arguing that she would then baulk at the final hurdle and decline to pronounce primitive music inferior to Romantic? She already has so pronounced it!

And with good reason.

Romanticism vs. Headbanging

See, “the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull” is a near-perfect description of, to cite a convenient example, the track, “Rain of Blood” by “thrash metal” band Slayer, linked to on RACH. (Apparently “thrash metal” is a sibling of “death metal.”) The piece is certainly melodically challenged. The rhythm is faster than water drops, to be sure, but the way it beats against the brain is definitely torture (which some clearly enjoy, but I’ll come to that). The description omits, since it wasn’t specifically what Rand had in mind, lyrics that are inaudible (and, on further investigation, unintelligible) rendered by a voice that is unlistenable, the voice of someone being tortured. It omits the seemingly deliberate over-amping of the guitars to effect distortion. It says nothing about harmony—but then, there’s not much to say anyway. Overall, the description could easily be of “Rain of Blood.”

By way of cleansing contrast, let us remind ourselves what makes Romantic music Romantic music, and what we know about music itself that permits us to judge.

We know that the primary components of music are melody, harmony and rhythm—and the greatest of these is melody, the ordering of tones. Melody is fundamental. As plot is to literature, so melody is to music. Whistle a tune, unaccompanied (no harmonies), each note equal in length (no rhythm)—it’s still music. No melody—no music. “It’s the toon, stoopid!”

We know that certain simultaneous combinations of tones (harmony), because of the mathematical relationship of their frequencies, are, as a matter of metaphysical fact, integratable by the human brain (consonant) and others are not (dissonant); that this is true for all human beings apart from the tone-deaf; that the resolution of dissonance into consonance helps give a piece suspense, sophistication and satisfaction, a sense of home-coming; and so we may rightly judge the deliberate refusal to resolve for the sake of refusal to resolve to be an act of sabotage and assassination.

We know that in the Romantic period (nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) composers and performers pushed the boundaries of every musical element, primary and secondary, achieving an unprecedented emotional expressiveness while avoiding the descent into the atonal anarchy that followed. New instruments, bigger orchestras; new forms, and the expansion of old forms; the coming of age of opera and ballet; virtuoso stars, like our modern-day “celebs” only with talent; the cult of the conductor; more inventive melodies using bigger intervals between notes; greater dynamic range—fff (fortississimo: very, very loud) to ppp (pianississimo: very, very soft); more daring harmonies (chromatic and dissonant, without recourse to the sabotage or assassination that became de rigueur later) modulating more frequently into other keys; more rhythmic variety, including greater use of syncopation, rubato (bending of the rhythm), accelerando (speeding up) and ritardando (slowing down), changing of the time signature within movements, etc. They honored but were not straitjacketed by the formalism of classicism, stretching but not eschewing the rules that make music cohere. They knew with their predecessors that coherence was integral to integration, and integration to harmoniousness, and harmoniousness to beauty. They exercised freedom within the rule of law—the perfect mirror of what was going on politically.

Thus did they bring individualism to music—they were each distinguishable from the other; each imposed his distinctive stamp upon the form without going out of it (at least not to the point of disintegration). They united the idiomatic with the idiosyncratic, reason with emotion, Apollo with Dionysus (albeit with a leaning towards the latter, via, it must be admitted, that villain Rousseau). They transformed the “universal language” into an individual language. As one commentary puts it:

“Romantic-era composers kept the forms of Classical music. But the Romantic composer did not feel constrained by form. Breaking through boundaries was now an honorable goal shared by the scientist, the inventor, and the political liberator. Music was no longer universal; it was deeply personal and sometimes nationalistic. The personal sufferings and triumphs of the composer could be reflected in stormy music that might even place a higher value on emotion than on beauty. Music was not just happy or sad; it could be wildly joyous, terrified, despairing, or filled with deep longings.”

We know that, in Objectivist terms, they projected as never before, if not for the first time, man the passionate valuer—their symphonies and concerti were “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” set to music and writ large. We know that Rand's description of Richard Halley's Concerto of Deliverance could only have been of a Romantic composition:

"It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up. They spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance." (Rach 3, anyone—how about the middle section of the second movement?)

In short, we know that in every important aspect of it one can name, music—demonstrably, empirically, as a matter of fact—reached its apogee in the Romantic era. Romanticism was the culmination of what preceded it, and the transcending of it; it was the high point of musical evolution to date; it was the “total height”—and it remains so. (What came after was disintegration into vagueness, gratuitous dissonance, ostentation, random plinkety-plonk, silly silences and traffic noise.) Not knowing the physiology of how music evokes the responses that it does in us, not knowing how many parts object and how many part subject are involved, cannot gainsay this fact, the supreme stature of Romantic music, and its superiority over any modern throwback to “primitive music” such as that of Slayer, which it seems ludicrous to mention in the same breath.

This superiority can also be ascribed, I should add, to the myriad forms of what one might call “mini-Romanticism” such as operetta, musical comedy, jazz (the intelligible kind), pre-80s pop, movie scores, Ayn Rand’s “tiddly-wink music” and so on. The standard pop tune of my youth was a veritable miniature sonata with a clear theme, stated, developed then reiterated (A-B-A), value-orientated (usually about love!) with meaningful if unchallenging lyrics, audibly articulated. Any of the foregoing is superior to Slayer and all other headbanging caterwauling.

Romanticism and sense of life

Now at this point someone might object: “All this is very well, but you’re over-emphasizing the technical and structural aspects of the compositions and glossing over the business of one’s emotional response to them. After all, headbangers can be complex and clever too. And the fact is, whether you approve or not, Slayer hits my emotional spot and Rach doesn’t. End of story.”

And of course, it is the end of the story if you want it to be, if you’re content with that. Let’s just not continue to tout the relativist fiction that all music is created equal.

And let’s see what can be observed about the emotional response, since the objector is quite right: that is the whole point of the exercise, and music, like no other art form, gets to the point straight away.

I assume that what the objector and I seek from music is the same thing: what I call value-swoon: “This is life as I see it”—in my case, in the form of a spiritual orgasm born of orgiastic love-making between me, the artist, the composer and life itself. Value-swoon consummated by tears. If there are no tears, I haven’t fully value-swooned. Tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words. The solemn gaze on Van Cliburn’s face as he looks up at his conductor at the conclusion of the aforementioned Tchaikovsky (Piano Concert #1, Movement Three), having thundered spectacularly up and down the length and breadth of the piano and pressed down the final home-coming tonic chord, says it all. Breathes there the man with soul so dead he cannot behold this and exult: “What a piece of work is man!”? This response, of course, is life-affirming, and so, by Objectivist standards, good. Moreover, it is the response the work and the performance are intended to evoke, so the subject’s reaction is consistent with the content of the object.

Now, it's true that one needn't seek the full monty every time, which would be rather exhausting, and there are less weighty but perfectly legitimate reasons one might listen to some types of music. "Objectively superior," after all, implies an answer to the questions, "Superior to what, in what respect and for what purpose?" Country is best for a good laugh (who can resist the hilarity of some retard yodelling about his wife leaving him for the horse?), for instance, and The Carpenters are great for getting to sleep. But it turns out metal fans do actually seek the full monty. Or at least, at first glance, they claim to. Dr. (PhD in philosophy) Richard Goode, Slayer’s cheerleader on the RACH thread, said there:

“Honestly, if you don't feel glad to be alive after a good pounding by Slayer, the Queens of the Stone Age or even Hayseed Dixie, then there’s something wrong with you.” (Note, there’s something wrong with you. Evidently it’s OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like Slayer but not OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you do!)

But hang on a minute! Pressed by me to explain just how a “good pounding by Slayer” made him “glad to be alive,” Dr. Goode responded as follows:

“Anger. Energy. Passion. Defiance. Catharsis. Slayer are musical genius.”

So, is it anger, etc., that makes Dr. Goode feel glad to be alive, that gives him his value-swoons? I tried to find out:

“Anger about what? Passion for what? Defiance of what? Given that ‘catharthis’ is the release of pent-up emotions, why are your emotions pent up (I did warn you that pomowanking makes one passionless)? Wherein lies Slayer's ‘musical genius’?”

Alas, my inquiries elicited no further response.

Which entitles us to assume, I think, that the anger is not a justified, discrete anger about some particular injustice or other, else Dr. Goode would have mentioned it; it is a generalised, metaphysical anger at life itself that makes Goode feel good!

Now, remember what Rand said about the way music affects us:

“Psycho-epistemologically, the pattern of the response to music seems to be as follows: one perceives the music, one grasps the suggestion of a certain emotional state and, with one's sense of life serving as the criterion, one appraises this state as enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible, according to whether it corresponds to or contradicts one's fundamental feeling about life.”

In the case of Dr. Goode and Slayer, he perceives their music, grasps the suggestion of anger and defiance and appraises it as enjoyable, desirable and significant, since it corresponds to his fundamental feeling about life. He says, “This is life as I see it.” Which, I respectfully submit, taking it at its own word, is anti-life—and the anti-life, need I point out, is, according to Objectivism, bad! Calling it and what evoked it “inferior” is letting it off lightly!

Inferior Music and Philosophy

None of this occurs in a vacuum. It’s no coincidence, but rather entirely congruent, that among Dr. Goode’s other pin-up boys is the philosopher David Hume, who taught that concepts, the means by which human beings make sense of reality, have no basis in reality; there are just brute facts, and the act of integrating them into concepts is entirely arbitrary.

Here’s Rand on Hume:

“When Hume declared that he saw objects moving about, but never saw such a thing as ‘causality’—it was the voice of Attila that men were hearing. It was Attila’s soul that spoke when Hume declared that he experienced a flow of fleeting states inside his skull, such as sensations, feelings or memories, but had never caught the experience of such a thing as consciousness or self. When Hume declared that the apparent existence of an object did not guarantee that it would not vanish spontaneously next moment, and the sunrise of today did not prove that the sun would rise tomorrow; when he declared that philosophical speculation was like a game, like chess or hunting, of no significance whatever to the practical course of human existence, since reason proved that existence was unintelligible, and only the ignorant maintained the illusion of knowledge—all of this accompanied by vehement opposition to the mysticism of the Witch Doctor and by protestations of loyalty to reason and science—what men were hearing was the manifesto of a philosophical movement that can be designated only as Attila-ism.”

Here’s Goode on the significance or otherwise of philosophy, in a SOLO exchange with James Valliant:

Valliant: As a philosopher, can you tell me what the practical upshot of your work is, i.e., its implications to human life?

Goode: Hahaha. You're kidding, right?

Stretching too long a bow?

Hume was a destroyer. Slayer, whose headbanging has included “songs” sympathetic to the 9/11 terrorists and Joseph Mengele, are destroyers. And all other headbangers. They are Hume’s chickens come home to roost. Richard, who claims there is no basis in reason for freedom, is an enabler of the destroyers (I grant he’d be horrified to think so). All three are archetypes. Hume, the clever/stupid philosopher, for whom logic and facts ne’er will meet; Goode, the modern “cool” sophisticat, monotoned and sardonic, getting his kicks from clever-dick nitpicking and word games; Slayer, the ugly reality behind the philosophers’ pseudo-civilized veneer, like so many “metal” bands of whichever variety—“thrash,” “death” or otherwise. It’s useful and instructive to see them all appropriately aligned—all nihilists together in this post-modern Age of Nihilism.

Conclusion

Nihilism is as objectively bad in esthetics as it is in any other realm—and in music as in any other part of esthetics, Rand notwithstanding. Appraising a positive response to musical nihilists as good, as Goode does, is bad. These animals intend to purvey ugliness and mindless rage and like nothing better in response than the perverted value-swoon of the nihilist, the pomowanker’s snicker of approval, perhaps more accurately called the "anti-value swoon." Again, the subject's response is congruent with the object's content.

We all hear the same thing. We all recognise deliberate ugliness and rage for ugliness’s and rage’s sake, just as surely as we all hear a minor chord as somber and a major chord as cheerful. It’s our responses to the ugliness and rage that differ, and the issue here is: evaluating the responses. It’s a question of values, not physiology. Life-affirming values = good; life-negating values (anti-values) = bad. So, if you respond with approval to deliberate ugliness and gratuitous rage, if you seek out and wallow in the anti-value swoon, then, in Dr. Goode’s immortal words, “There’s something wrong with you.” And that’s a fact.

I’m reminded of a painter friend from years ago who read The Fountainhead. He got it. He understood it as well as I. But he chose to blank it out, because, “If I take it seriously it’ll turn my life upside down” (his life being in thrall to axe-through-head tutors).

In his exceptional SOLO essay, “Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger and Hurt,” Peter Cresswell exhorts:

“Music is our food of the spirit. So do try to be careful what you eat.”

(This admonition, by the way, doesn’t mean we all have to like the same music any more than we have to like the same food. It means we should eat food rather than feces.)

Musically speaking, we have whole generations eating poo and militantly relishing it. It ill-behoves Objectivists to tell them there’s no objective reason not to do so. Objectivism is nothing if not a command to rise. To those addicted to feces but wanting to rise from the sewer, I commend Mr. Cresswell’s essay. He knows whereof he speaks. He has himself risen!

Just these last few days on SOLO, artist Michael Newberry has recounted the story of someone who presented plastic-wrapped blood from her miscarriages as an artwork, and asked:

“Many of you here are freaked out about the possibility of radical Muslims taking over the world. But what is it that could weaken the West so much that it could fall victim to a primitive anti-modern society? When I see America, I see and experience many great things, lots of freedoms. It's much easier to do what you like here than in the other countries I have lived in. But, I also see the postmodern art world everywhere, with its cynical, disintegrated, anti-conceptual mind-set, and pathetic sense of life. That is America too. What if art plays a major role in the health, flourishing, and spirit of country or a culture? If that is so, aren't we more in trouble from the inside than the outside?”

We’re certainly in trouble from the inside. I quote finally from my inaugural speech at SOLOC 1 in 2001. The "jungle cacophony" alluded to is Eminem—I had just compared Johann Strauss and Eminem as exemplars of two contrasting cultures, antipodal pop icons, one danced to by human beings, the other jerked to by the eyeless-socketed ones:

“ ... get out there in the marketplace and promote good art as zealously as you promote good philosophy, both being necessary for the preservation of freedom. The tide is against us at the moment—wherever we turn our ears are assaulted by jungle cacophony of the kind we've just heard. In the visual realm … well, we've just been reading on the SOLO Forum about the Canadian artist I alluded to earlier who won a prestigious award for ejaculating into vials; there was the Turner Award in Britain, recently bestowed on someone whose ‘artwork’ was a room with an electric light in it. These abominations are a dime a dozen right now; it is, as I often say, the Age of Crap. I want SOLO to wage an intellectual war on it every bit as relentless as the physical War on Terrorism.”

That war should include the unabashed proclamation of Romantic music’s objective superiority.

Romantic music is composed and performed by the heroes in our midst. It speaks and appeals to the best within us. It awakens our capacity for rapture. It is appreciated and adored by the passionately enlightened. It is inspired by and inspires the most intensely life-affirming value-swoons possible to man. If the expression, "total passion for the total height" means anything, it finds that meaning in Romantic music. In terms of what went into it and what can be taken out of it, Romantic music is simply the best.

And that’s a fact.


( categories: )

Music of the God Franz

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It KASSed to find this today, with so much of The Filth on such prominent display of late.

God Zoltan Kocsis, Hungarian, is no slouch when it comes to playing the works of god Franz Liszt, another Hungarian. (We're very pro-Hungarian right now, with Islamenablers Soros and Bwook both so anti.) On this occasion he steps aside for god Denis Matsuev and up to the podium. All the more poignant and powerful because Zoltan left us not so long ago. This recording is from 2014. Here is my answer to The Filth. Soros and Bwook have no chance:

Just wonderful. Absolutely

PhilipD's picture

Just wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

I need to hear more of Jonas Kaufmann...

God Yes ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

That's a value-swoon aria, and Anna's version is right up there. A goddess!

Turandot is one of the few decent pieces of serious music written in the twentieth century. After WW1, decent composers—since serious music was hijacked by terrorists, who took their cue from Wagner—repaired to operetta, musical comedy and pop—including, to a limited extent, jazz and rock & roll (till the advent of headbanging caterwauling). Mario's hit, Be My Love by Brodsky was a steal from Brahms, as was the Serenade from The Student Prince by Romberg. Taking nothing away from these guys, since they nicked just little bits and turned them into something different and equally magical—that's just where they as gods as opposed to sub-humans had to go. The realm of the gods had been conquered by sub-humans such as Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, et al. It hasn't yet been reclaimed.

Incredible!

Olivia's picture

Yes, Jonas' face - such a noble look of pride and gleeful satisfaction. Wonderful to behold!

Ed and I got to see opening night of romantic Turandot at the Sydney Opera House a few years ago - it remains the best highlight of our time out on a town together. It was spontaneous you see - didn't even know it was playing until we got there. Smiling

I adore this little aria sung by the ill-fated servant girl, Liu:

Sir, listen! Ah, sir, listen!
Liu can bear no more!
Her heart is breaking! My, how long I’ve walked
With your name in my soul
With your name on these lips!
But if your destiny
Tomorrow, will be decided,
We will die on the road of exile.
He’ll lose his son
I, the shadow of a smile.
Liù can bear no more! Ah! Ah!

Unclouded Exaltation

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Here's Jonas Kaufmann singing Nessun Dorma live. No tenor who's honest will say he's anything but terrified of the ending. Jonas' own reaction after nailing it is one of those incomparable reminders that life is beautiful, and headbangers and pomowankers do not rule! Value-swoon of the highest order!

Just so lovely...

Olivia's picture

yes, this is even better - the longer they play that gloriously sweet melody, the better.

I'm re-reading a biography on Jefferson - how he loved his violin! How he ever found time to play I'll never know. This is the kind of music that was being composed during his lifetime, and it sends me those sentiments: decency, beauty, standards, melody, attention, conversation, high-minded thoughts and a good dose of melancholic tenderness, which is fitting for a human being that knows loss and will one day lose everything. It also sends the sentiment of doing one's best so that a sense of excellence lives on without us, come what may.

Ha, Lady Slapper!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

If you think that performance is "indulgently long," listen to this one, my favourite. I didn't post it because I'm aware that even here on SOLO I'm up against MADD (Moronnial Attention Deficit Disorder):

The Schubert Nocturne...

Olivia's picture

is exquisite. I loved it in the doco about him that you sent through to me last week too.
Beautiful, simple melody - and nice and indulgently long too. Smiling

Music of the God Schubert

Lindsay Perigo's picture

3 wonderfully nerdy brothers perform Schubert's Nocturne, a quintessence of Romanticism, value-swoon for humans. C/f headbanging caterwauling, the "music" (nihilistic noise) of The Filth, and the proto-pomowanker Schoenberg's "emancipation of dissonance":

Hallucination

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay -- You claim I "defiantly asserted that [I] wouldn't ever read the article because it was too long and [I] already knew it would be a waste of his time." I never said anything remotely like that.

Delicious Delirium

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Last night at bedtime I thought I saw a post from Kyrel saying he'd just, finally, read Music of the Gods and found it "stunning," "truly outstanding" and "amazing." I assumed I must have had too little to drink and that I was hallucinating. This was the same Kyrel, after all—unless he has an impersonator—who had quite recently defiantly asserted that he wouldn't ever read the article because it was too long and he already knew it would be a waste of his time! This morning, however, the post was still there, and no matter how hard I blinked it wouldn't go away. So now I am delirious—with delight that the post is real. Thank you, Kyrel, for reading MoG, finding in its favour and being big enough to say that you do. I hope you will indeed mull its content and post your mullings. Other than right here there's been no discussion of it in Objectivist circles that I'm aware of. Persuading professed Objectivists of the importance of aesthetics is akin to persuading vegans of the importance of animal protein in my experience.

Thank you, too, Kasper, for the kind words. I fondly remember guiding you through the Tchaik 5, and often wonder if it did any good?! Smiling

Kyrel

Kasper's picture

I've read Linz's content for over 14 years and I would have to agree with you that MOG is his best Smiling

Insightful and Profound

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

I just finished reading Music of the Gods. A mere decade late! I thought the essay was stunning and truly outstanding. I'm not aware that I've read anything by Lindsay which is better. Of course, now I have to think about it, and consider the ocean of comments which have followed it. But this is an amazing addition to Objectivist thought. It isn't just about music: it has implications for all of aesthetics.

I'm curious: Has anyone from The Atlas Society, The Ayn Rand Institute, or any other significant Objectivist intellectuals commented upon it? Has anyone notably added to, or subtracted from, this monograph over the past ten years?

To be clearer, when I say

yonderwings's picture

To be clearer, when I say melody is not the most important element in music, I am referring to the requirements of appreciation and enjoyment of music as such. I once heard a very enjoyable composition consisting entirely of unpitched percussion. But aside from that, I should have mentioned that I am focusing on good, closed complex tunes such as the aforementioned Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff extracts, as opposed to open-ended or less-demanding ones.

A great many compositions, while containing the element of melody (as most any piece does perforce) do not offer a self-contained, sophisticated melody but instead use harmony, counterpoint, color, and structure to engage musical perception. Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, for example, uses an extended melodic/harmonic journey, or “endless melody” as some have termed it. Skillful counterpoint can multiply the appeal of a tonal line that by itself would garner little engagement. Even homophonic works with uninteresting melodic lines can be enjoyable, if they have other values to offer; a great arranger or composer can work wonders with a so-so tune. But it is still great music that we can enjoy.

PS: I did read Pleasants’ book many years ago. I recall general agreement with it with regard to modern classical music.

Music of the God Saint-Saëns

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Even a moronnial touting a sow-phone should be able to focus on this till the end:

To Rodney: melody is the most important element in music, as I've argued in the primary essay here and will do so at greater length having just read Henry Pleasants' 1955 monograph, The Agony of Modern Music. Great, but greatly wrong on the crucial issue.

No melody, no music.

Got to disagree on both

yonderwings's picture

Got to disagree on both points. The two musical passages AR mentions are the specific parts of the longer works that present complete, long-lined melodic statements that are so composed as to be clearly comprehensible to the attentive listener. They happen to be singled out, and are so famous, for just that reason.

As I’ve often said, while melody is not the most important element in music, it is the most intellectual element, so to speak—the one that speaks to the highest reaches of our possible musical perception. And the longer-lined a closed melody is, the more sustained and intense focus is needed to appreciate it; consequently, the easier the composer makes it for the listener to grasp this extended structure, the greater his achievement.

AR said something similar about literature in one of her letters to a movie producer: that a screenplay can be like an onion, with the outer layer being attractive to the common man, but allowing him to go as deeply as he wishes down into the philosophical meanings of the work. (The difference being that a melody tends to hit you right away with its depth.)

That is why Warren and Gordon’s “There Will Never Be Another You” and “The More I See You” are greater songs than, for example, the two popular songs that I linked (much as I love them). It takes a greater musical understanding both to create and to appreciate such elaborate melodic structures.

Of course, classical composers have integrated these strong melodies into longer works. However, one should not overstate the degree of integration. I hazard to say that often, the composer makes it his task simply to make the work musically interesting everywhere in a coherent manner, perhaps using a conventional structure; he does not sustain the laser focus of the great tunes into the complete statement. Due to the structure and orchestration, we do get a sense of unity, but not one as powerful and as consciously “intellectual” as the tune alone. I recall Tchaikovsky saying to someone, while writing a concerto, that he had to work to “think up piano passages.” That doesn’t sound like the degree of integration one finds in the famous tunes by themselves.

Such integration is rarer, but of course it does exist. I am thinking of the first movements of the Beethoven’s Eroica symphony and his violin concerto. In these, we are confronted with one vast integrated tune whose successive themes not only flow out of preceding ones but are necessitated by them. (It is different in works like the Blue Danube Waltz, in which the excellent tunes might easily come in a different order.)

The bicycle scene wasn’t offered as advice. The fictional world of The Fountainhead was dominated by second-handers. The boy needed the sight of human achievement for inspiration, to know that “the promise of that music” could find fulfillment here on Earth.

Linz

Neil Parille's picture

Most great Western literature and music was created by Christians. Isnt that why Rand hated most of it ?

Yawon thinks that it doesnt matter whether Europe remains nominally Christian or becomes Islamic.

Rand and Blue Danube

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Her comment about it was idiotic. Music was not her strong point.

I have two problems with the "boy with the bicycle" scene. First, such a boy would not have been content with merely the opening bars of the Tchaik 1 or the closing bars of the Rach 2—he'd have wanted the lot. Second, such a boy would not have let Roark out of his sight. Having the boy simply proceed on his way with "the courage to face a lifetime" might be arresting literature, but it's bad life-advice. Spiritual solidarity is the rarest thing on earth; when one encounters it, one doesn't just proceed on one's way with the courage to face a lifetime.

Never could understand Rand’s

yonderwings's picture

Never could understand Rand’s strong aversion to this waltz. It was one of my earliest introductions to classical music and it is still one of my favorite pieces.

The opening section is one of the most moving intros ever. Then after that a cornucopia of perfect tunes spills out its contents in seemingly endless profusion.

In other “approved” Objectivist writings by others, reference is made to the work’s “blaring titter.” True, the coda is, I find, somewhat trying and not nearly as appealing as the rest; but it does bring the piece to an appropriate close, and others may hear it differently. A loud, crashing ending seems to be de rigeur most of the time in classical music. I usually find such endings to be the most boring part of a piece myself.

As for today’s popular music, I tune out the barrage of shallow tunes and hackneyed structures we hear all day from every direction. It blends into a kind of white noise.

There was a time when I sat twisting the radio dial for much of the day, because there was a high percentage of good melodies and music. A lot of it originated from the so-called “Brill Building” hit factories. In the early 1960s, there were many songwriters who consciously sought to bring the tools and sophistication of the writers of standards like Porter, Loewe, and Berlin to bear on the newly emerged rock genre. The heavily-rock-influenced pop that emerged was and still is being called “rock,” but in fact it was an assimilation of rock into a much better esthetic, or vice versa.

The following two examples of what I mean may not be to everyone’s taste, but do note the skillful handling of melody and the meaningful lyrics. (Proponents of “pure rock” [a genre I dislike] tend to express scorn of the type of pop singers they call “the Bobbys”; yet “Aladdin” is an example of a great tune in the rock style, with coherent lyrics, in a great arrangement.)

Aladdin” sung by Bobby Curtola

Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),” written by Neil Diamond (who once expressed disappointment in himself, because he wished to be more like Beethoven)

It was The Fountainhead’s “boy on the bicycle” scene that kicked off a major interest in me in the best of classical music. A later reading of Who Is Ayn Rand? led me to discover a major formative influence on my own composing, Franz Lehár.

One of Lehár’s creations is still my favorite piece of all time. It is the whole sequence introducing the aria “Vilja,” especially the first theme in this clip—according to the score a “polonaise”—before and as the singer enters, and after the kickoff drum roll:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpAtmBltrSA

Can you tell that it is in 3/4 time? I never realized until I saw the score; each beat has four notes of its own and there are many feminine cadences, one of them, the last, landing on the final beat of the bar! 

Music of the God Strauss

Lindsay Perigo's picture

No, not the tiresome bloviator Richard, but King of Melody Johann, held in awe by such disparate contemporaries as Wagner and Brahms. Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic ring in 2018 with the legendary Blue Danube Waltz. Intelligently post-produced, this is an aural and visual feast, a soaring combination of the natural and the man-made, "unclouded exaltation." There's a glitch toward the end; just hang in there:

Music of the God Tchaik

Lindsay Perigo's picture

An especially riveting performance of Tchaikovsky's magnificent 4th Symphony. For moronnials, or those with moronnial attention spans, tune in at 42' 00", and get a few minutes' intimation of what you're missing. Note the expression on the conductor's face through the final chord. Therein is the essence of "value-swoon" and the quintessence of my essay:

Wonderful!

Olivia's picture

What a 3rd movement!
Melodic and powerful. These tunes, which were also old hymns, are so full of poignancy and the depths of the human spirit. When these are the anthems of a "tribe" of people, sung every week together in unison, it is little wonder that religion has held on so steadfastly through the ages. That's where the spiritual experience is felt the strongest.

I'm off to bed now to watch the Rach doco. Hoping it might be close to being at least half as good as 'Harvest of Sorrow'.

Music of the God Felix

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Mendelssohn's 5th Symphony was written to commemorate a milestone of the Reformation 300 years after the event. Apposite within Obleftivist OrgOism, given its total lack of Romantic awareness and affinity for anti-Trump Rap Filth.

You'll hear many allusions herein to A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Obleftivists, look out! The Objectivist Reformation is happening! A mighty fortress is our passionate reason!!

Music of the God Rach

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Rach: ultimate hero and object of my adoration and veneration and blind, inexpressible worship and love. Did he ever really exist? Apparently so. And others think about him as I do!

Music of the God Ludwig

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Unique

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Someone else ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... gets the civilisation-destroying nature of headbanging caterwauling! Note, especially, the part about "judgement" near the end:

'The Dream of Flight' by Christopher Tin

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Bruno

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your account reminds me of the brief time I spent studying music at Vic University, when the weekly gatherings of the musirati comprised recordings of traffic noise and glass being shattered. Complete, utter, total, unmitigated satanic evil. And still it continues.

Obscene noises at the library

Bruno Turner's picture

I go to a beautiful public library to study everyday, it's an old 1500's Italian villa. It's a great study environment, it's not the same ol' same ol' white desks and white walls kind of library. It has mural paintings (fresco, or affresco in Italian) and wooden ceilings. The main hall has four doors leading to different study areas, and at the top you find, in the Classical style, the figures of goddesses, of Music at one entrance, of Poetry at the other, etc.

The problem? In the main hall, they host events pretty regularly, about twice a week. They sometimes have musicians play, and you can hear the music through the closed wooden doors in the study rooms.

Well... just a few days ago, I had to go through the agony of having to hear very very similar NOISES to the ones in that video, Linz. It was terribly disturbing.
So I put my earphones on and played some of my favorite Vivaldi pieces in order to BLAST those diabolical sounds out of my consciousness.

What kind of perverse mind can even come up with such obscenity? It's revolting. The absolute mockery of classical music they make, the way they use the noble instruments of old. They even pretend that it's some form of concerto, with a a conductor! Absolutely pathetic, or worse. "Complete, utter, total, unmitigated, satanic evil" sounds about right!!

The production of such sounds is so obnoxious, it's nothing less than a violation of the personal space, or actually more like a violation of the mind and soul, of anyone unfortunate enough to be in hearing range.

And the antipode

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Here's a modern work recommended to me by a taxpayer-funded "composer-in-residence" at one of our universities. Complete, utter, total, unmitigated, satanic evil:

Saint-Saens Requiem

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Dedicated by S-S to a deceased friend. Nobleness set to music. And of course, there's an organ!

OrgOism still hasn't learned from Catholicism. Perhaps the eventually secularist S-S can teach OrgOism, as can other glorious, secular writers of music that evokes our sense of the sacred, such as Rossini and Verdi:

"Filithification"...love that

Andrew Atkin's picture

"Filthification"...love that word Smiling

Enjoyed that video. Paul Watson has a *real* talent for broadcasting the simple and plain truth!

The Filthification of Pop Music

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Two vets and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Schmeichelnd hold und lieblich klingen Graceful, charming and sweet is the sound
unseres Lebens Harmonien, Of our life’s harmonies,
und dem Schönheitssinn entschwingen and from a sense of beauty arise
Blumen sich, die ewig blühn. Flowers which eternally bloom.
Fried und Freude gleiten freundlich Peace and joy advance in perfect concord,
wie der Wellen Wechselspiel. like the changing play of the waves.
Was sich drängte rauh und feindlich, All that was harsh and hostile,
ordnet sich zu Hochgefühl. has turned into sublime delight.

Wenn der Töne Zauber walten When music's enchantment reigns,
und des Wortes Weihe spricht, speaking of the sacred word,
muss sich Herrliches gestalten, Magnificence takes form,
Nacht und Stürme werden Licht. The night and the tempest turns to light:
Äuss're Ruhe, inn're Wonne Outer peace and inner bliss
herrschen für den Glücklichen. Reign o'er the fortunate ones.
Doch der Künste Frühlingssonne All art in the spring's sun
lässt aus beiden Licht entstehn. Lets light flow from both.

Großes, das ins Herz gedrungen, Greatness, once it has pierced the heart,
blüht dann neu und schön empor. Then blooms anew in all its beauty.
Hat ein Geist sich aufgeschwungen, Once one's being has taken flight,
hallt ihm stets ein Geisterchor. A choir of spirits resounds in response.
Nehmt denn hin, ihr schönen Seelen, Accept then, you beautiful souls,
froh die Gaben schöner Kunst Joyously the gifts of high art.
Wenn sich Lieb und Kraft vermählen, When love and strength are united,
lohnt den Menschen Göttergunst. Divine grace is bestowed upon Man.

In my glorious opinion

Andrew Atkin's picture

You are right. Music is objectively the same to all of us - such as angry music is angry, and sad music is sad, and psychopathic music (much hip-hop) is psychopathic. If our perception was not the same on that level, then we could never use music as backing for movies - it would never work. The difference is in the appetite (psychology) of the individual behind it, like you say (meaning, if you like death metal you need therapy).

For fun:

Relating to Rands rant, I'm a little bit terrified. Because if art really does show us what life means to us, then I must be the biggest pervert that the God's had ever created.

The included is a music video that my brother, Richard, created. I posed in it as the narrator. (Just pretend it didn't happen! lol).

Astounding!

Richard Wiig's picture

All hail the mellotron

ding_an_sich's picture

I've been on a huge prog rock kick for about a year now, with Genesis and King Crimson at the top. These two bands, and a couple others, are in my mind the best things to come out in over the past 50-60 years. Everything else is just unpalatable. Here's a couple songs from each.

Genesis

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)

Watcher of the Skies

King Crimson

One More Red Nightmare

Ladies of the Road

And we'll throw in some Bach too, just for the heck of it. Good ol' BMV 1068.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Cloud Atlas!

Marcus's picture

Just reading this delightful book by David Mitchell made up of various linked short stories in different times and places.

It was just made into a film with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, probably quite badly.

The second story is about a young musician in the 1930's who goes to live with the very elderly genius British composer Vyvyan Ayrs, now living in Belgium. The tale is written as a series of letters from the young musician to a friend. I think you would love it Linz.

Here is a very funny extract:

"At breakfast, he has me read from The Times.

Old, blind, and sick as Ayrs is, he could hold his own in a college debating society, though I notice he rarely proposes alternatives for the systems he ridicules.

“Liberality? Timidity in the rich!”

“Socialism? The younger brother of a decrepit despotism, which it wants to succeed.”

“Conservatives? Adventitious liars, whose doctrine of free will is their greatest deception.”

What sort of state does he want? “None! The better organized the state, the duller its humanity.”

The first story is about an American shipwrecked on the Chatham Islands in 1849. He recounts in a journal how the Maori are a bunch of blood thirsty savages who enslave the Moriori.

If the film stuck to the book it must have caused a minor scandal in New Zealand.

Sorry Olivia,

Kyle Jacob Biodrowski's picture

I'm unable to understand what you wrote, but my savage senses have gleaned your displeasure.

Hold on...hold on...I've just divined a part of your message. The smoke and dice tell me that you have...just called...the vocalist a neanderthal. Is that correct? Don't bother answering, these rituals are difficult to perform.

Well, I wouldn't quite call someone who uses modern technology to create music a neanderthal, but to each his own. It would be more appropriate to call people who rub sticks on string to create a whiny sound, neanderthals.

Unholy shit!

Olivia's picture

.... I clicked on that Kyle, suddenly got blasted by steel bash. I don't care to hear some basher's primal call for freedom when he sends it out through that brain-dead medium. Ugh.
Seriously, you've got to put up a warning when you present something like that.
That was felt by me as if some stranger did a rotten fart in my bedroom.

This is Music of the Gods not Music of the Gimps!

Linz - Music and Character/Morality

Rosie's picture

Boethius - one of my favourite philosophers - writes on the subject of the apparent ability of music to affect character. (He also writes about the faculty of Reason and its being necessary to appreciate music which is also very interesting.) His discussion records his knowledge of the ancient Greek philosophers and their beliefs about music (as your post quoting Peikoff also records briefly and which was what reminded me of this).

In Boethius' review of this subject it is particularly interesting that he clearly separates music from the other “sciences” of the liberal arts in assigning to music alone an influence on morality.

It is also fascinating that he uses the expression, “that we ourselves are put together in its likeness,” for one of the latest discoveries in physics, in research conducted in England, is that all organs of the body vibrate to specific pitches. (When I was paralysed at one point in my life and had absolutely no skin sensory perception whatsoever, I attended a live performance of Bruch's Violin Concerto and I could literally feel the insides of my body vibrating!) One of these physicists has stated that we have evolved to look as we do, due to the combination of these harmonies and gravity. Amazing idea, isn't it?

Anyway, I am digressing (as usual!).

In the excerpt below Boethius discusses the effect of music on morality and character (second and third paragraphs most relevant to Peikoff) and is taken from De Institutione Musica (a link to a small section of the whole book but which contains more detail than I have written below; it is also a slightly different translation).

"There happen to be four mathematical disciplines [arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy], the other three share with music the task of searching for truth; but music is associated not only with speculation but with morality as well. For nothing is more characteristic of human nature than to be soothed by pleasant modes or disturbed by their opposites. This is not peculiar to people in particular endeavors or of particular ages. Indeed, music extends to every endeavor; moreover, youths, as well as the aged are so naturally attuned to musical modes by a kind of voluntary affection that no age at all is excluded from the charm of sweet song. What Plato rightfully said can likewise be understood: the soul of the universe was joined together according to musical concord. For when we hear what is properly and harmoniously united in sound in conjunction with that which is harmoniously coupled and joined together within us and are attracted to it, then we recognize that we ourselves are put together in its likeness. For likeness attracts, whereas unlikeness disgusts and repels.

"From this cause, radical transformations in character also arise. A lascivious disposition takes pleasure in more lascivious modes or is often made soft and corrupted upon hearing them. On the other hand, a rougher spirit finds pleasure in more exciting modes or becomes aroused when it hears them. This is the reason why musical modes were named after certain peoples, such as “Lydian” mode and “Phrygian,” for in whatever a particular people finds pleasure, by that same name the mode itself is designated. A people finds pleasure in modes because of likeness to its own character, for it is not possible for gentle things to be joined with or find pleasure in rough things, nor rough things in gentle. Rather, as has been said, similitude brings about love and pleasure. Thus Plato holds that the greatest care should be exercised lest something be altered in music of good character. He states that there is no greater ruin of morals in a republic than the gradual perversion of chaste and temperate music, for the minds of those listening at first acquiesce. Then they gradually submit, preserving no trace of honesty or justice -- whether lascivious modes bring something immodest into the dispositions of the people or rougher ones implant something warlike and savage.

"Indeed no path to the mind is as open for instruction as the sense of hearing. Thus, when rhythms and modes reach an intellect through the ears, they doubtless affect and reshape that mind according to their particular character."

He adds that this is exactly what has happened in his own time.

"Since the human race has become lascivious and impressionable, it is taken up totally by representational and theatrical modes. Music was indeed chaste and modest when it was performed on simpler instruments. But since it has been squandered in various, promiscuous ways, it has lost its measure of dignity and virtue; and, having almost fallen into a state of disgrace, it preserves nothing of its ancient splendor."

Freedom calls, Linz

Kyle Jacob Biodrowski's picture

Warning: may frighten the horses.

When Greeks were godlike ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

" ... the Greeks held that arete in character does not derive primarily from reading or lectures. The teacher's primary moral tool here is music--not music in the broad sense of the fields covered by the Muses, but in the narrower sense of auditory art. Based on their experience, the Athenians, including both Plato and Aristotle, believed that music has a great effect on character, that certain melodies and rhythms tend to uplift the listener and make him a better person, whereas others tend to coarsen and debase him. (We might think today of a child raised on Brahms or Chopin versus one raised on grunge rock or death metal.) ... "

-- Leonard Peikoff, The Dim Hypothesis, p 199

Yes they did

Jules Troy's picture

Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. I grew up listening to this much to my mothers chagrin. Smiling

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w...

Valentina Lisitsa playing Rachmaninoff Concerto#2Mov2

She is sublime.

A Fountainhead-banger?

Don E. Klein's picture

http://online.wsj.com/article/...

It seems a lengthy career in “headbanging” didn’t cause sufficient brain damage to prevent Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden from becoming an entrepreneur and even an industrialist. I like his attitude:

"The retort that lower taxes would fund less government is unlikely to go far with Mr. Dickinson, who says he 'would cheerfully pay the amount of tax I do at the moment if I didn't pay it to the government.'"

When I was a teenager I liked this stuff. Now, I’d rather do without, nevertheless this was my first exposure to Tennyson. They had another one based on Coleridge.

Schubert and Goethe, with a little posthumous help from Berlioz, can fill whatever void is left nicely. Just look at Maestro Abbado's cranium, particularly towards the end, is that "headbanging"? I wouldn't for a minute call Von Otter's most dramatic lines "caterwauling", but someone who doesn't care for this music just might.

Not a fan of Killswitch

Kyle Jacob Biodrowski's picture

Not a fan of Killswitch Engaged, I enjoy some of their songs, but I find the shouting/screaming unappealing

I'm more of a Blind Guardian fan.

You know, I enjoy a good

Cornell's picture

You know, I enjoy a good performance of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto as much as the next guy (the piece actually had a very profound effect on me growing up), and certainly there are nihilistic elements in many metal songs. But you can't tell me that this song is about nihilism:

This music is just as life-affirming, in its own way, as anything by Brahms, or Schubert, or Wagner, or even Beethoven, for that matter. Whereas, Chopin? Bizet? Berlioz? Those people were total nihilists.

L: "It was 100% sarcasm

Newberry's picture

L: "It was 100% sarcasm Michael, as I'm sure you realize."

Sarcasm doesn't work very well for me. Does it mean the opposite when you use it? Which would then mean that you are a gentle aesthete? Realistically, you are a fanatical advocate of your aesthetic taste.

"I laud the great and call filth filth. I didn't realize there was a law against that or that expressing one's opinions made one a fascist. If a bunch of precious Californian therapy-addled Babsian petticoats take it all personally, ain't my fault."

Lol.

Genuine passion, beauty, and love in art are some of the most difficult emotions to express successfully - romanticism. They require mastery on many technical levels, so much so that the technique doesn't show, only the essence of the expression. The difficult part is that an unsuccessful attempt at romanticism ends with works that register as propaganda, cheesy.

Ugliness, rage, cynicism, sarcasm, etc. are a lot easier to do because they don't take any skill to express. Make ugly people, draw them without figurative knowledge--anyone can do it. Rage, just fling shit around, and etc.

The same goes for art commentary.

Michael
www.michaelnewberry.com

BS!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You are only half joking.

It was 100% sarcasm Michael, as I'm sure you realize.

Online you of course browbeat people's choices in art. It's your nature.

I laud the great and call filth filth. I didn't realize there was a law against that or that expressing one's opinions made one a fascist. If a bunch of precious Californian therapy-addled Babsian petticoats take it all personally, ain't my fault.

Coming Around

Newberry's picture

"But then, I'm an intimidatory monster and esthetic fascist. ;)" http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

You are only half joking. Online you of course browbeat people's choices in art. It's your nature.

A collector and student of mine has a collection of abstract paintings and various tribal crafts in her modern home. She is a professional designer. A few months ago at a party she commented that abstract painting doesn't have light. It took her six intense months of seeing and drawing/painting light on objects to make that connection. But once she made it she was hooked for life. The issue of light on objects, as well as many art issues, is obvious to me and I am surprised that is not obvious to everyone, but it can take very intelligent, creative, and art savvy people a long time to come around.

Michael
www.michaelnewberry.com

Michael

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Somewhere you have written that you are an aesthetic fascist.

I have not, and I am not.

I do not advocate force or browbeating. Just glorifying that which deserves it.

Aesthetic WMD's

Newberry's picture

Lindsay: "This has had the effect of our not using the best music there is as a weapon in our amoury because we daren't call it the best music there is. "

Somewhere you have written that you are an aesthetic fascist. The above can be taken that way, though you might mean something like romanticism is a symbol of individual values or freedom.

Understanding, feeling, and respecting great art is a individual path that can't be forced. Education and exposure can help or backfire depending on the individual and context. Agatha Christie lamented that she was forced to appreciate paintings in museums, and it wasn't till her later years that she felt the wonder of Rembrandt - she mentioned the waste of many years, if they had just left her to discover him on her own.

Shakespeare's art was something I came to appreciate after about 25 years of periodically trying it on.

Objectivists are a mixed bag when it comes to their taste, understanding, and respect in the arts. There are objectivists that don't understand that Atlas Shrugged is an artwork. Sure you can try or succeed in getting them to agree that romanticism (actually neo-romanticism: Rachmaninoff, Puccini), is the best. But you will mostly succeed in achieving a chorus of lip synchers.

The best aesthetic approach is to try to inspire people through their feelings, smarts, and authenticity. Forget aesthetic WMD's.

Michael
www.michaelnewberry.com

Ah!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Oh, as to whether I agree with the thesis of Linz's post, yes I do. Perhaps not in every detail, but the idea that Romantic music is the best music there is, I cannot but agree.

That's all I ask folk to concede. When we're agreed on that we can have those other debates about Mahler et al till the cows come home. The problem I was addressing in the essay was that Objectivists, or at least those among us who are Objectivists first and thinkers second, had been paralyzed by unquestioning acceptance of Rand's saying we couldn't yet judge music objectively. The hell we can't! This has had the effect of our not using the best music there is as a weapon in our amoury because we daren't call it the best music there is. Not the only music (which some attacked me as though I were arguing) but the best, music's apogee. And we've been even slower to call filth "filth": death-worshipping cacophonous sub-excrement of the kind beloved of would-be Goblian, Witch-Doctor Baade, admirer of sundry death/trash/thrash-metallers, currently balking at bin Laden's being called "filth" on another thread (more entirely predictable synergy). A Randroidian fear of disagreeing with St. Ayn has emasculated and disarmed too many Objectivists in the War on Filth.

Sibelius 2 conducted by Von

Newberry's picture

Sibelius 2 conducted by Von Karajan, I think '61, is expansive, intense, noble and it climaxes with a glorious theme. It definitely suits some of the voices in my head: the general, the stoic, the egotist. There is nothing light or shimmering about it. It matches my mood when I feel lonely and would like to see the existence of an authentic, gruff, and great person doing his or her thing.

Von Karajan conducts it with the tension of momentum. Five out of five stars. About #100-125 on my favorite list of symphonic and opera works.

Michael
www.michaelnewberry.com

Romanticism, KASS/KAF, etc.

Chris Cathcart's picture

Re: Sibelius 2 - yeah, I think I get what Linz's issue with it is, but it is Romanticism. Not all Romantic music will be to every Romantic-music enthusiast's liking. I do regard it as a masterpiece of composition, but it is also Sibelius in development; he reaches full maturity roughly during the period beginning with Night Ride and Sunrise (ca. 1909) and ending with Tapiola (1926). As for the large "buildup" to the finale of Sibelius 2, I think it's pretty clear that Mahler 3 does it better (and did it first).

Speaking of Mahler, the KAF-music enthusiasts here should be plenty aware that the later Bernstein's Mahler is the most critically-reputed Mahler cycle out there. I wouldn't claim to know what is the best Mahler interpretation, but I do think the slow tempos work with Mahler 2:

I haven't heard Linz comment much, if at all, on Mahler; my suspicion is that he lumps Mahler in with "post-Romantic blowhards." But earlier Mahler is still situated well within the Romantic tradition, and his 2nd - quite accessible and quite accomplished compositionally - fits right in with the best of the Romantic tradition. Did you know that you can get the complete Bernstein Mahler cycles quite inexpensively?

Also, I've updated my list of favorite classical works to reflect my recent listening of Mahler 2. (I'm such a perfectivist, though, that even Mahler 2 falls a bit short of completely satisfying; there are moments there where Mahler gets off-putting, most likely on purpose. But it is surely the epitome of Music of the Gods. Oh, also, Sibelius 2 isn't on the list, either. I think I ended up outgrowing it. But I definitely like it more than Linz does.)

Oh, as to whether I agree with the thesis of Linz's post, yes I do. Perhaps not in every detail, but the idea that Romantic music is the best music there is, I cannot but agree. There are other musics out there that carry plenty of appeal in their own ways, but little really compares to listening to Mahler's 2nd. That's just a fact of the matter. But - and I don't think Linz would really disagree here - this is not to denigrate other music. Recently I've come to appreciate classic jazz of the Miles/Coltrane/Mingus era. I'm still a big Steely Dan fan. I still do relate to some of the heavy metal I listened to in my teens (not much of it, though). I think Toby Driver, the man behind the avant-garde/experimental band Kayo Dot (formerly maudlin of the Well - yes, that's a small "m") is a genius, though I doubt he'd be much to Linz's liking since he doesn't sound all that interested in avant-garde music. (Neither am I for the most part. I find Kayo Dot/motW a marvelous exception.) And there are many others I connect with.

But Slayer in comparison with Mahler? Is there even a comparison?

Smiling

OK. Nah.

Lindsay Perigo's picture

This thing will never give me value-swoon. It just irritates the hell out of me. It is not Romanticism; it is a series of jagged edges. Them as likes it: knock yourselves out. Give up on trying to convert me. I have too much love of sustained melody, lyricism, nobleness (the quality most lacking here) and coherence.

Complete mess?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Isn't that just a feature of the work itself? Eye

I did note that the thing is supposed to take around 45' 00" (on my Colin Davis CD it tales 43' 30"). Lenny takes 54' 00", so I assumed some naughty elongating was going on. Mind you I quite like the sound of "grotesque hedonism." Eye

Late Bernstein

Jason Quintana's picture

That video is an example of why one should generally avoid late Bernstein. He does in this video to Sibelius (and in the DG CD, which I think is the exact same performance) what he did to Tchaikovsky during this same time period. When he was with Columbia doing records in the 60s and early 70s with the NYP he did outstanding recordings of these two composers. Top notch all the way through. Those contain all of the intensity (and more) you see here without giving in to this kind of grotesque hedonism, which results in a complete lack of concern about the unity of the piece. The old LB had this obsession with disgustingly drawn out tempos in all of the wrong places, and the result is usually a complete mess as it is here.

Chris's Blisses

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I noted there had been a new post on Music of the Gods after a very long lull and rushed to establish by whom and about what. Lo! 'Twas Mr. Cathcart and his friend Jean again.

Re the thread being KAF ("KASS as fuck")—do I take it, Mr. C., you now agree with my thesis?

Re Sibelius 2: you're certainly going the right way about converting me, putting up Bernstein and all. I still have the impression the thing would be better used in bits, as parts of movie soundtracks, and that taken as a totality it remains much sound and fury signifying nothing. I'll give it several repeats though. I'd hate to miss out on a new source of value-swoon.

Here btw is the rest of it:

Blissing out

Chris Cathcart's picture

I'm blissing out right now to Bernstein conducting Sibelius and browsing this thread. Linz and I might have some (essentially unimportant) differences in taste when it comes to Romantic music, but this thread is just awesome. Smiling Smile Smiling

Linz, shouldn't this thread be pinned forever to the front page?

Edit: Oops, never mind, it is. KASS as fuck, Linz. KASS as fuck. Crown

Might I recommend Bernstein in Sibelius 2, in hopes that it might change your mind on this opus?

(currently listening: the opening of the 4th movement)

(next up: Bernstein conducting the 5th and the 7th - fuckloads of KASS there)

(Edit: Sibelius: "God is opening his doors for a moment, and his orchestra is playing the fifth symphony.")

Enjoy

Leonid's picture

Brant " Thanks for posting the Schoenberg link Leonid."

Not to mention. Enjoy it, if you can.

Lindsay

Leonid's picture

Lindsay "What came after was disintegration into vagueness, gratuitous dissonance, ostentation, random plinkety-plonk, silly silences and traffic noise.That's all the attention they're worth."

If the topic worth any attention, then only in order to understand why and how such disintegration happened. Without it there is nothing else to discuss.

Linz

Rosie's picture

Is that supposed to be an argument?

No. Just a gentle tease!

Slayer and the Nazis would have been a perfect match, their anti-music the perfect accompaniment to a Brownshirts rampage.

Yes I can see/hear that very clearly! But what music could then be used to accompany the Night of the Long Knives - a more evil and sinister rampage, with cunning and subtle political undertones? Eye

(Such a good joke, Linz - could you not think of music below Slayer for this? What about Slipknot?!)

Goode

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The worshipper of goblins, Slayer and naked emperors offers:

It's amazing!
Exiting performance!
my god, Schoenberg was a genius
amazing piece
I love Schoenberg so much, he was incredible.
Paired with the Vienna Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim conducting, it's like God.
It is awesome.
But my goodness, what a stunning performance this is! ... This really is music with atitude.
This is an aboslutely wonderful piece of music. ... Bravo!
Very good performance - musically very satisfying
Stunning! Superb! Brilliant!

These comments are culled from the YouTube page you link to. How do you explain them?

By the fact that the world is full of naked emperors and their avid, silly subjects.

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You say:

Hitler called serialism Entartete musik - Nazi term for all music they disapproved of; Linz calls Slayer filth - a Linzism for all music he disapproves of!

Is that supposed to be an argument?

The fact that the Nazis recognised filth as filth (and might well have recognised Slayer as such) doesn't mean it isn't filth, nor that I am like them. "Disapproves of" does not mean "seeks to ban." And the glory of Romantic music, I should add, is not diminished by the fact that totalitarians recognised it and tried to co-opt it for their filthy ends.

In point of fact, of course, Slayer and the Nazis would have been a perfect match, their anti-music the perfect accompaniment to a Brownshirts rampage.

Leonid ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You ask:

I wonder whether it's worth to spend so much time and energy on Slayer, when we have Arnold Schoenberg, who is according to the some leading experts, one of the most important composers in history.

I dealt with the serial serialists and other such filth in a sentence in parenthesis in Music of the Gods:

In short, we know that in every important aspect of it one can name, music—demonstrably, empirically, as a matter of fact—reached its apogee in the Romantic era. Romanticism was the culmination of what preceded it, and the transcending of it; it was the high point of musical evolution to date; it was the “total height”—and it remains so. (What came after was disintegration into vagueness, gratuitous dissonance, ostentation, random plinkety-plonk, silly silences and traffic noise.)

That's all the attention they're worth.

Thanks

Brant Gaede's picture

Thanks for posting the Schoenberg link Leonid. I had time to listen to the first two minutes. Powerful stuff. I'll listen to the rest later. I'll have to listen to a lot more of him for a general evaluation.

--Brant

Richard

Leonid's picture

Arnold Schoenberg was a representative of the culture of Expressionism which was flourishing in Weimar Republic. His method was quite simple-Rosie's quotation notwithstanding-he eliminated from the music everything which could distinguish it from the noise: tonality, rhythm, harmony, that is-its identity.
"The new music, said Schoenberg "treats dissonances like consonances." "I cannot be understood," wrote Schoenberg in a 1924 letter, “and I content myself with respect." " In this world", said Paul Klee, leading Expressionist painter, " I am altogether incomprehensible." (OP)
Observe the common pattern of this thread: they didn't strive to achieve values but to destroy them. They worshiped "Das Nicht", The Nill.
"Kant is the first major philosopher to turn against reality, reason, values, and man as such, not in the name of something allegedly higher, but in the name of pure destruction...He is the father of nihilism. The German intellectuals translated Kant's system into cultural terms in the only way it could be done. They created a culture in which the new consists of negation and obliteration." (OP)

The Number of the Beast

Richard Goode's picture

Entartete musik

Rosie's picture

"The politics of Nazi Germany intruded into the development of the musical idea [serialism]. With the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the implmentation of "race laws" with regard to ownership, culture and employment, many of the main composers of 12 music were placed on a list of Entartete musik ('Degenerate Music'), the Nazi term for all music that they disapproved of. There were two reasons, one was simply the nature of the composers as "jewish", the other was the Nazi ideas of art as part of the propaganda arm of the state. Avant-garde forms of art were thus banned, even if the artist was a political adherent of Nazism. With this regime's rise, Arnold Schoenberg was obliged to emigrate, eventually to America in 1933, and his works and those of his students Alban Berg and Anton Webern were banned." http://www.spiritus-temporis.c...

Hitler called serialism Entartete musik - Nazi term for all music they disapproved of; Linz calls Slayer filth - a Linzism for all music he disapproves of! Big smile

Richard

Rosie's picture

These comments are culled from the YouTube page you link to. How do you explain them?

This, from library.thinkquest.org, explains the "rationale" behind the music. I would say it would appeal to idiot savants and the other few who can decipher the pattern! The method is quite interesting though.

"The term "serialism" is sometimes used synonymously with "twelve tone music". The truth is, however, that the 12-tone method is just one of several kinds of serialism. The reasoning behind total serialism is simple enough: if Schoenberg could compose notes according to numerical patterns (or serialize them), then why couldn't you do the same thing with other aspects of music? Going down this train of thought, composers quickly came up with ways to serialize all kinds of musical elements: note length, silence, texture, volume, and so on.

"This could be done in several different ways. A serial composer could have several different series to govern several different elements of the music (for example, one series for the notes, one for the note lengths, another for volume, etc...). Another way of doing things would be to have everything be derived in one way or another from a single numerical series. Either way, the composer would be close to having "total control" over every little detail of his piece by way of the series he came up with.

"Of course, this doesn't mean that composers could just pick a few random numbers and try to turn them into music. The real challenge to writing "good" serial music is to somehow arrange the series so that the resulting music at least makes some degree of sense; otherwise, the whole thing can easily wind up sounding like total randomness (see indeterminism if you want total randomness.) Even in the most carefully constructed serial works, however, the unaccustomed listener will probably get the impression of randomness.

"Serial music is almost completely detatched from "traditional" music, in terms of melody, rhythm, and harmony. Ever since the days of Bach or Haydn, music had been written so that the listener could follow its development from beginning to end. This was done through "logical" harmonic progressions, melodic lines, and a sense of pulse or rhythm. In serial music, the listener is only aware of unrepeated and unpredictable musical "events" which dissolve in and out of each other in an apparently random fashion. The end result: it's usually very complex and is usually understood only after many listenings (if ever)."

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

In order to explain them in full I'll have to write a book...

Would you be able to summarise Peikoff's explanation in a paragraph or two? I doubt I'll be reading The Ominous Parallels any time soon.

Richard

Leonid's picture

"These comments are culled from the YouTube page you link to. How do you explain them?"
In order to explain them in full I'll have to write a book about how 250 years of philosophical assault on the man's mind cognitive ability caused that people admire Schoenberg, Kandinsky Kafka. Fortunately such a book has been already written. It is "Ominous Parallels" by Peikoff.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

It's amazing!

Exiting performance!

my god, Schoenberg was a genius

amazing piece

I love Schoenberg so much, he was incredible.
Paired with the Vienna Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim conducting, it's like God.

It is awesome.

But my goodness, what a stunning performance this is! ... This really is music with atitude.

This is an aboslutely wonderful piece of music. ... Bravo!

Very good performance - musically very satisfying

Stunning! Superb! Brilliant!

These comments are culled from the YouTube page you link to. How do you explain them?

Slayer versus Shoenberg

Leonid's picture

I wonder whether it's worth to spend so much time and energy on Slayer, when we have Arnold Schoenberg, who is according to the some leading experts, one of the most important composers in history. Listen to his music and tell what does he represent? I think, he represents assault on the law of identity in music, as his contemporary, Heisenberg did in physics, Gödel in mathematics and Freud in psychology. He is the commander-in chief. Slayer is only small insignificant field soldier. Slayer at least preserves some semblance of tonality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

An important afterthought...

Rosie's picture

And as for evaluating and judging, speaking one's mind and recognizing that right in others....

... well, they are all useful tools in the discourse and exchange of ideas. Big smile

(But perhaps are so taken for granted that they are often left out of the discussion.) Eye

How interesting...

Robert's picture

that you left out the bits about evaluating and judging, speaking one's mind and recognizing that right in others. If I was a Freudian I would probably read something into that.

Curt

Rosie's picture

They do represent the ugliness of human existence.

Yes, that is right. Represent it, not are it.

R: “It would miss the point to express the mood of the evil people they represent in sweet dulcet tones.”
C: Is someone here asking for this? I may have missed it.

There is an implied request for sweeter sounding music in the express criticism of the sound of their music (e.g., Robert's comparison of Slayer to the sound of walruses mating lol) but it would be quite wrong, in terms of what they are portraying, to have the music played any other way. It would be as a lullaby played by a brass band.

Of course they celebrate it. [wrongdoing]

No they don't. For example, as Richard says on another thread, Tom Araya, Slayer's vocalist, who co-authored the lyrics for the song Jihad, has this to say about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center: "the mentality of fanaticism is pure evil. Those were just innocent people. It was just fucking evil."
This is not a comment that celebrates the subject of their music.

And their fans don’t enjoy the expression, of course. Most of them see it as representation of what needs to be eradicated, don’t you know.
Some may understand it for what it is. I think most fans may simply like the energy in the music since the lyrics are not readily discernible. I don't know how all people approach this (or any other) type of music. I speak for myself only. I like to try to understand what is presented to me. Slayer was new to me and I made an effort to find out what it was about. The thing that interests me most is if they are writing from the view of the wrongdoer (and the music portrays the excitement/emotion of the wrongdoer) why does that kind of excitement/energy appeal? Is the feeling of excitement the same whether it is reaching the top of a mountain or killing? Or is the excitement of wrongdoing different? I think it is different - but not dramatically so. I remember when I killed my first duck with a gun. I experienced the thrill of bloodlust. It was frightening. I remember I burst in to tears. People thought it was because I had killed a duck (and I must be so very sensitive) but the truth was that I was frightened by my reaction to killing the duck - overwhelming excitement. (I accidentally killed another duck playing golf but did not feel any excitement at all - just remorse.) On reaching the top of a very difficult and high mountain I also felt enormous excitement but was not frightened by it. So is the frenzied excitement in Slayer's music what appeals to their fans? and, if so, have they captured mere excitement in their music or that different kind of excitement of wrongdoing? I may be reading too much in to it of course!

R: “Just as the link contains a powerful expression of an ugly reality in a visual way.”
C: Yes, I wish I could have watched that dog die of starvation. When is the "artist" coming to town?

A powerful expression, as I said. Again you miss the point (or maybe you just pretend you do). That sarcastic comment isn't really relevant here, is it?

If you are inspired by life-affirming visionaries, e.g., Rand and Rachmaninov, you are probably not moved to create solutions to the ugliness in the world. But if you revel in the ugliness of the world and wear it as your own skin, greatness is to be expected from you.

Greatness is to be expected of you? No, I didn't say that. I can perhaps understand how you may have thought this was what I was meaning.

I said that there are some folk who do not wish to think about horrible things and turn away from it. These are the sofa dwellers, predominantly listening and choosing only to think of beauty and what you call "life affirming" things. Then there are some who do think about the horrors and act to let the world know about them in an effort to stimulate an emotional response - at least to shock, maybe to record, or, at most, to raise awareness; presumably with varying degrees of hope that positive action will be provoked.

I finished the Dali & I book by the way. He was arrested, released on bail, escaped to his pregnant girlfriend in Spain, ended up quite by chance living next door to an elderly Dali, met more of Dali's friends and acquaintances (Amanda Lear, Ultra Violet etc.,) was caught by Interpol, went to prison for a very short time but was released by the Judge after the hearing as to whether there was or was not a case to be tried. Was his experience destructive to his life? You still haven't told me your reasons why it was.

Representing

Curt Holmes's picture

“I thought he voiced his criticism in a form very similar to Slayer's lyrics.”

I was referring to Robert’s criticism of Slayer. I believe you are referring to Robert’s criticism of you. It’s best not to confuse the two.

“The difference between what I said, as opposed to what you, Robert and others say, is that where I am explaining how they are representing the ugly reality you are criticising their representation, having missed the point of it.”

You seem so certain that I, and others, have missed something, but I’m not sure why. They do represent the ugliness of human existence.

“I used the link to explain the point using an analogy of visual art. (I dare say no one looked at it.)”

If you did say it, you would be wrong once more.

“It would miss the point to express the mood of the evil people they represent in sweet dulcet tones.”

Is someone here asking for this? I may have missed it.

“And Slayer do not celebrate that ugly reality. They represent it. Anyone who celebrated, for example, a serial killer, would be pretty evil wouldn't he?”

Of course they celebrate it.

“Anyway. It doesn't really matter to me whether you like it or not.”

Oh, but my life hangs on your likes and dislikes.

“Most people would not 'like' it.”

The troubling part is that so many do. It almost seems as if you are missing some of the points here.

“But it cannot be denied that it is a powerful expression.”

It can be, but I won’t do it. The power of their expression has created quite a following. And their fans don’t enjoy the expression, of course. Most of them see it as representation of what needs to be eradicated, don’t you know.

“Just as the link contains a powerful expression of an ugly reality in a visual way.”

Yes, I wish I could have watched that dog die of starvation. When is the "artist" coming to town?

And this, from an earlier post:

But, if you want to lie back on your sofa and listen to representations of how beautiful and fine the world is, or how you wish it were, do so. Chopin, Rachmaninov, Mario Lanza et al await you. You are probably not a visionary moved to create solutions to the sorts of world problems depicted in these representations of ugliness.

Quite a claim, Rosie. If you are inspired by life-affirming visionaries, e.g., Rand and Rachmaninov, you are probably not moved to create solutions to the ugliness in the world. But if you revel in the ugliness of the world and wear it as your own skin, greatness is to be expected from you.

Curt and others

Rosie's picture

Perhaps if you voiced your criticism "in a form that is symbolic of all that," it would be met with approval.

I thought he voiced his criticism in a form very similar to Slayer's lyrics. Eye

The difference between what I said, as opposed to what you, Robert and others say, is that where I am explaining how they are representing the ugly reality you are criticising their representation, having missed the point of it. I used the link to explain the point using an analogy of visual art. (I dare say no one looked at it.) It would miss the point to express the mood of the evil people they represent in sweet dulcet tones. And Slayer do not celebrate that ugly reality. They represent it. Anyone who celebrated, for example, a serial killer, would be pretty evil wouldn't he?

Anyway. It doesn't really matter to me whether you like it or not. Most people would not "like" it. But it cannot be denied that it is a powerful expression. Just as the link contains a powerful expression of an ugly reality in a visual way.

I'm sure

Brant Gaede's picture

I'm sure glad I didn't click on what Rosie tells us we probably wouldn't like before I got to dogs and India. Some like it?

Great art can depict horrible things: Guernica by Picasso. The Taggart Tunnel disaster in Atlas. Rosie is on another horse. Let her ride.

--Brant

Slayer Can't stand - The way

PhilipD's picture

Slayer

Can't stand -
The way you look
The way you talk
The way you act
Can't stand you

Do I think -
You're a dick Yeah
You're a fuck Yeah
We'll fight Yeah

Do I think you'll win No

Do I think you're stupid Yeah
Do I think you're lame Yeah
Am I stressing
You're the one to blame

(Repeat intro.)

I open my mouth at the wrong time
Always ranking on somebody
I'm drunk all the time
Throwing beer bottles and spitting in your face
Checking through the purse
Of the slut in our place

She'll never notice if her money is gone
Piss in her jacket
And just send her along

(Repeat intro.)

Fine stuff. True art. Deep. And not a word should be said against any of it.

Ugliness

Curt Holmes's picture

Rosie cautions us: "But don't criticise the artist who is moved to inform the world about the ugliness and the immoral and the evil in the world and who does it in a form that is symbolic of all that."

My reaction was similar to yours, Robert. She showers these sewer-dwellers with praise as they "inform the world" about the ugliness that exists, but you or I are precluded from simply commenting on their ugliness. Perhaps if you voiced your criticism "in a form that is symbolic of all that," it would be met with approval.

Robert

Rosie's picture

Here I say: Fuck off!

Don't even pretend to tell me what I can and cannot say... And if you don't like it, don't read my words, don't listen to my speech nor pay me any mind. Those are your ONLY choices.

Hmmm. I am sure Slayer could use those lyrics in a new song. Eye

"Is it mental retardation to enjoy listening..."

Robert's picture

... to folk challenging traditions in a challenging-to-traditions kind-of-way?"

Oh, so Slayer are a trio of traveling philosophers then. Funny, I thought they were experts in producing mind-numbing white-noise punctuated by growling and screaming.

"But don't criticise the artist..."

Here I say: Fuck off!

Don't even pretend to tell me what I can and cannot say. For the time being I have the freedom to speak my mind, and I shall. And I recognize, celebrate and will protect with my very life, Slayer's and your right to do the same.

But I WILL continue to evaluate and judge and criticize what I find to be abhorrent whether you like it or not. And if you don't like it, don't read my words, don't listen to my speech nor pay me any mind. Those are your ONLY choices.

Attempting to abridge my speech by tut-tutting or by invoking Christian tolerance (ie moral equivalence) is only going to piss me off mightily.

Linz

Rosie's picture

"Music was not just happy or sad; it could be wildly joyous, terrified, despairing, or filled with deep longings."
Despairing - but why is despairing only "acceptable" if expressed in a melancholic, romantic way? Slayer represent despairing in the way that some people are truly despairing: loveless, cruel, fanatical, amoral, evil. And often without hope. That is truly despairing.

"Romantic art = life as it might be, ought to be, and often, in spite of the sick fucks, is."
The point here is Romantic art is life as it ought to be (and often is).
But my point is that some modern art includes life as it is (not as it ought to be) in the form of evil and wrongdoing.
And modern artists express this in the same way as some artists want to express life as it ought to be. You don't comment about the link I provided. Did you read that? To me, that is the visual equivalent of Slayer's music. I don't like it but it has a profound emotional response.

"You like the very worst of life as it is, as glorified by scum?"
No, I do not like the very worst of life. I am not saying that at all. I am quite simply saying that this kind of art represents the worst of life. And Slayer is not glorifying evil - in the same way that the art in the link does not glorify cruelty to animals. I think you are wrong about this. I think that it would be rather pathetic and inappropriate to write music about the evil Slayer sings about in dulcet tones. The 60s protest songs do that but they are songs of protest not representations of the evil itself.

And why do you call Slayer "scum"?
Your analogy of Slayer to the child molesters is wholly inaccurate. Slayer have not murdered, stolen, committed wrong, etc. They do not claim empathy as far as I am aware. Where do you get that from? They portray an ugly aspect of life in a musically approriate way.

That is my understanding of Slayer. I don't actually own any Slayer. I prefer Romantic music!

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Nice try. Saw it the first time. Doesn't wash. Slayer's claim that their fixation on serial murderers, Mengele, Islamofascists and other such filth merely reflects their sociological "interest" in sick fucks rather than empathy for them is on a par with sundry child-molesters' claims that their porn collection is merely for "research." Slayer are sick fucks, as their hideous noise makes unambiguously clear.

Romantic art = life as it might be, ought to be, and often, in spite of the sick fucks, is. You like the very worst of life as it is, as glorified by scum? Knock yourself out. I just wish you goblin-worshippers would confine your hell to the hereafter instead of deifying those who embody it here and now.

Linz, Robert , Don E Klein

Rosie's picture

Linz: "Slayer, whose headbanging has included “songs” sympathetic to the 9/11 terrorists and Joseph Mengele, are destroyers.
Robert: liking Slayer is a symptom of mental retardation given the existence of a vast library of musical art that is morally, stylistically and aesthetically superior to Slayer.

But those "morally, stylistically and aesthetically superior" pieces do not challenge traditions. Is it mental retardation to enjoy listening to folk challenging traditions in a challenging-to-traditions kind-of-way?
The most controversial aspect of the modern movement was, and remains, its rejection of tradition. Modernism's stress on freedom of expression, experimentation, radicalism, and primitivism disregards conventional expectations. In many art forms this often meant startling and alienating audiences with bizarre and unpredictable effects.

Look at this for example. Moral or immoral? Challenging to tradition? You probably won't like what you see. You will say it isn't art. It is not traditional art. But it does what art does. It portrays a reality. A horrible reality, an immoral reality. It sends a message. Cruelty to animals is rampant. E.g., the treatment of dogs in India. Is it disturbing? Does it compel you to do something?

Slayer is anti-Romantic. It stares reality - not the pretty sort - in the face. It portrays the evil and the immoral from a different perspective. E.g. the exhilarated, frenetic song about the twin towers written from the perspective of the terrorists. Not to sympathise. To inform and express what we are up against. The serial killer song. Frightening. They satirise religion and challenge the existence of God. Rather than the traditional love song, they sing hate songs. There are people who hate and they inform us what is out there. And its loud, sometimes unharmonious music is necessarily the expression of this. It is not a celebration of these subjects any more than the art depicted in the link is a celebration of cruelty to animals. It is information. Scary but true information. Is the listener compelled to do something about this? What is the solution?

But, if you want to lie back on your sofa and listen to representations of how beautiful and fine the world is, or how you wish it were, do so. Chopin, Rachmaninov, Mario Lanza et al await you. You are probably not a visionary moved to create solutions to the sorts of world problems depicted in these representations of ugliness. Which is why they disturb you and you find them distasteful. That is not a criticism - your talents will be needed elsewhere.

But don't criticise the artist who is moved to inform the world about the ugliness and the immoral and the evil in the world and who does it in a form that is symbolic of all that.

And don't tell the listener who hears the message that he or she is mentally retarded or that Slayer are destroyers.

You simply do not understand what you are listening to.

Just like the folk who criticised D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf et al because they could not understand what wasn't traditional literature.

All headbangers?

Don E. Klein's picture

Lindsay Perigo wrote Mon, 2008-04-21 02:11 "Slayer, whose headbanging has included “songs” sympathetic to the 9/11 terrorists and Joseph Mengele, are destroyers. And all other headbangers. They are Hume’s chickens come home to roost."

This made me think of an old metal band that’s certainly an exception:

We see the light of those who find
A world has passed them by
Too late to save a dream that's growing cold
We realize that fate must hide its face
From those who try
To see the distant signs of unforetold
Oh... oh, take hold

From a haze came a rage of thunder
Distant signs of darkness on the way
Fading cries scream of pain and hunger
But in the night the light will guide your way

So take hold of the flame
Don't you see life's a game
So take hold of the flame
You've got nothing to lose, but everything to gain

Ride, to a place beyond our time
Reach, for the edges of your mind, and you are there
See, that the light will find its way
Back to a place where it will stay, make it stay

Throw down the chains of oppression that bind you
With the air of freedom the flame grows bright
We are the strong, the youth united
We are one, we are children of the light

So take hold of the flame
Don't you see life's a game
So take hold of the flame
You've got nothing to lose, but everything to gain
...

This singer could have been a Rubini or a Nourrit, what a range!

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