Music Composers Unite!
Thanks Steve, for your level headed and sane perspective. RS
Some interesting remarks have been made. However, there appears to more diversion from the topic, which is Bach, I thought.
No evidence has been presented here to indicate the posts which focus on Bach and the discussion of his music are "trollish," "elvish," or dwarvish. "Trolling" would often just appear to be a word used (here) to dismiss thoughts and ideas expressed above a certain length, or which express ideas that a small number of people disapprove of. It has been the case recently on this thread. That is definitely a fact, which can be supported by "objective evidence."
I recommend an exclusive focus, to the degree possible, on the Music of Bach and Bach's views concerning his music, as well as books, articles and scholarly commentary, which actually attempt to answer the questions posed by the thread originator. Namely, regarding J.S. Bach, "what specifically makes his music great, influential, and worth all the recognition? How would you explain this to a musician and a non-musician?" It's worthy to note how even the emphasis on the recommendation to discuss Bach, on a thread entitled Bach, will be called by some "trollish." I offer here one link to help people focus on the issue at hand, a radio station online that plays Bach almost exclusively on a continuous basis:
I think there is another one that plays Bach 24-7. Does anyone know the url of that other station.
A great resource on the music of Bach and specifically its theological underpinnings is John Eliot Gardiner's Music in the Castle of Heaven. There's significant discussion of the cantatas (especially the Leipzig cycles) and most importantly the St. John and St. Matthew Passions and the B Minor Mass.
Scroll back to the post before last. Again, no evidence was offered there to indicate that posts which actually discuss Bach, and speak of Bach and his music (in a fashion which some people might disagree with) can be considered "trollish." If we are to accord the word "troll" any meaning, would it not more properly be applied to those who make the discussion about forum members, rather than about the topic thread, which is Bach? But that would be recrimination. We can leave the issue aside.
On the issue of God and Bach, I will say more later. However, I am still waiting for an answer to my questions about "evidence" of the sort which is not "objective," in the narrow scientific sense, which people rely upon every day. Can anyone say something substantive about that? Hitchens and Dawkins have not really studied comparative religion, nor do they say much about Bach that I am aware of. They are hardly worth mentioning in this context, unless you really respect them more than you do Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Bruckner and Mahler on the issues of music, musical inspiration, and the topic of the experience of the Divine, Deity or God, in relation to music.
It seems as if a few individuals want to say, in a typical logical positivist fashion, the following: one is obliged to prove the statement I want proved, for the conversation to proceed. Saying, "Give me the objective evidence," "Give me the objective evidence," "Give me the objective evidence," hardly advances the discussion. That is not the exclusive way in which mature human thinking works, especially when it comes to art, philosophy, and aesthetics. Nor is it a means used by many great thinkers in the fields of hermeneutics, phenomenology, literary analysis, musicology or even semiotics. Logical positivism, as a mode of thinking, was called into question and debunked well over 80 years ago. Even Husserl, a mathematician and great philosopher did not accept it. To talk about God, and the actual experience of the consciousness of God, as described and understood by Bach (or Beethoven and Mahler, for that matter) how can we proceed? I believe one does well to examine the process of thought, phenomenologically. If you like the trio of "popular atheists," then you might take note of the fact that even Sam Harris acknowledges this, and promotes the idea of the study of consciousness and even the study of the "divine" in consciousness. Bach was conscious of the Divine, or what he called God. To set minds at ease, perhaps I should say the following: This isn't a discussion, as I see it, about promoting a belief in any particular dogma, sect or traditional view of that experience which can loosely be called "God-Consciousness," or Satori, or Moksha, depending on the tradition. Personally, I do not support a discussion of Bach's notions of God and inspiration in order to prove that the "Christian religion" so called, is something to be advocated or supported, especially in its current popular forms. I made clear that a focus on Bach's Lutheranism, and the alleged expression of certain Lutheran dogmatic propositions (through his music and the texts he set to music) is very uninteresting to me personally. There are other more fruitful and profitable lines of inquiry.
But it's not that simple. Starting a new thread is oxygen enough; a ludicrous reply might follow, and often has in the past, and in the case of new members it's baffling and offputting. Expecting absolutely everyone to understand the non-engage rule won't work, and the nonsense thrives. We had a good few months post-OO suspension, a fat banning can work wonders here and there. Serenity started out pretty cautious, it's only more recently he's returned to true form since it's obvious no admin gives a shit. If that changed, any subsequent return would be similarly diffident.
Dave, you cannot prevent trolls joining forums then rejoining if banned again and again. Their oxygen is provided by your engagement. End of story.
This is especially true on this forum as the person allowing their membership here does no check whatsoever. This on the grounds, he wouldn't know a troll if it stared him in the eye.
"As for God in the music of Bach it's undeniable that Bach was a devout Lutheran and he viewed his music as an expression of the Divine. That is why he wrote Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God) on every manuscript. So there is your objective evidence that Bach believed God had everything to do with his musical output"
This again kicks the can down the road. If Bach wrote "this music is an expression of the divine" on his manuscripts would that statement still be true, in your estimation, if by "the divine" he was referring to Zeus or Wotan or the great juju at the top of the mountain? .
How would the music (the notes on paper) change if the deity to which Bach referred were not the god you favor? If the notes on the page don't change how, if at all, would their impact on your emotions change?
Moreover, if Bach wrote the inscription you claim, did he also write it on the cover of BWV 211 or any of his other secular works?
It should be clear that the citation, if it does appear, would in no way prove the point that his music originated with a deity, which is the bone of contention in all of this, and not with his own skill and technique.
The question you have answered is not the one that was asked. Chandler said:
Fredrick zinos said:
Serenity. you post page after page of blather but never ever ever get to the point. That point is this: that to assert that god has anything to do with you Bach's musical output you must first provide objective evidence there is a god.
Like most religious people I've met, you want to first assume there is a god and then proceed to demonstrate how god works in people's lives. I and most likely a large contingent of rational people will not allow that assumption.
Do what I've asked and what is required. Provide objective evidence of the existence of your deity and you will have gone a some distance in your assertion about the origin of Bach's music. Until then, as Christopher Hitchens used to say "all of your work is still ahead of you."
I respond: (and I'm doing this because I haven't figured out how to end the quote)
I have to confess I haven't read all 22 pages of this thread. I revere Bach's music greatly, it affects me both with its mastery and with its emotion. However, I also know that there are many who view Bach's music an unemotional, so as always in the arts there is an aspect of individual perception which is the result of personal history. As for God in the music of Bach it's undeniable that Bach was a devout Lutheran and he viewed his music as an expression of the Divine. That is why he wrote Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God) on every manuscript. So there is your objective evidence that Bach believed God had everything to do with his musical output. IMO Bach would have been a better judge of the matter than any of us, he was there when the music was composed.
It bothers me when atheists get argumentative about the beliefs of others. As one who does not believe in the God of the Bible I understand the frustration with believers and their sometimes (often?) irrational priorities which tend to divide people into religious tribes rather than unite people with common interests (economic, artistic or otherwise). But, you're not going to win hearts and minds with reason. The joke among salespeople is that people buy for emotional reasons. People believe in deities for emotional reasons and asking for objective evidence will have no effect other than to harden positions. There is no scientist in the world who can explain where consciousness (sentience) comes from so that objective evidence argument can just as easily be turned against you. I have personally composed music that I had no idea where the inspiration came from, something popped into my head and I recognized a great idea and ran with it. I don't try to explain it as coming from God, I just know it didn't arrive from conscious thought and therefore could be the product of divine intervention (or random brain activity). The one thing I make a point of doing is being grateful for that idea arriving in my life and that I have the skills to make something of it.
Dave Dexter , said something, which as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with Bach, on a thread about Bach.
I wonder why. I would gently and politely admonish him to go back, read some of the earlier posts which have to do with Bach and Bach's music, and to make an effort to discuss Bach.
M. Zino's comments are confronting the actual topic at hand, and I applaud him for that. They merit a full response. I'll just say here, briefly that Wotan is not really at issue, and I explained that before. This is not a discussion about Wagner, but about Bach, and his efforts to create music. When the issue of the Deity is discussed, in relation to how he conceived his own sources of inspiration, I believe concepts other than that of the "Divine Zeus" or the even less relevant "great juju," are the object of investigation.
What did Bach mean, and to what kind of Deity does he refer to when he says,
"Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence." - Johann Sebastian Bach
It's cool, as I said Rodney is probably fine with it, and given he started the thread your arbitration - and admonishment - is of little concern.
Serenity Laine said:
I would gently and politely admonish him to go back, read some of the earlier posts which have to do with Bach and Bach's music, and to make an effort to discuss Bach.
Maybe the discussion might proceed a little smoother if the word
'divine' was defined and understood.
There are basically two things the word represents, selflessness
and unconditional love.
For Bach to say that his music 'aspired' to that spirit ,and that the music
was not written to glorify himself, makes perfect sense to me.
There is much more to say about this , but as I stated earlier,
progress and success often happen in small increments. RS
Good point. WRT Bach, Divine would mean his concept of Deity, plain and simple God (as he understood the term). Bach wrote Soli Deo Gloria on his manuscripts, meaning to the Glory of God, and yes he was deflecting any glorification from himself to the church.
Fred asked if Bach's music would be different if his belief was in Zeus or Wotan. I have no idea. I do know that Bach put a lot of Christian symbolism in his music. Anyone who has studied Bach in depth knows that. Let me give an example, the Prelude and Fugue in E flat for organ. The prelude is the first piece of Bach's ClavierUbung III (sometimes called the German organ mass), the fugue is the final piece. This piece was composed in the late 1730s and is Bach at his highest abilities). Both the prelude and fugue have 3 themes and attempt to portray in music the trinity (a Lutheran theological concept of God in 3 persons, father, son and holy spirit). Of the two the fugue is more easily understood in that regard (skip to the 9 minute mark of the youtube video link below to get straight to the fugue, though the prelude is wonderful music whether you believe in God or not. The 3 sections of the fugue portray the trinity quite effectively, the first section sounds very paternal, the second like a young son scurrying about (Bach had 20 children he knew what young boys were like) and finally the third section has much spirit. Even the key of the music points to the trinity (3 flats). I can't imagine this piece relating to Wotan or Zeus, but the Lutheran God and Trinity, absolutely. The linked performance is quite good and if you have time the next piece up is the E minor "Wedge" prelude and fugue (BWV 548), a much more secular work of incredible virtuosity (especially the fugue).
I've said before and will state again, I don't believe in the God of the Christian Bible, but I find this music effective and moving.
The concept of a triune god far predates Christianity.