Romanticizing and deifying Music

If you are like me with a large number of musician and music educator friends (or even just friends with people who love music) you might see the occasional article being posted on places like Facebook, Twitter, etc. praising the powers of music in one way or another. You yourself might have posted one or several of these articles. When people of the music community try to advocate for music we often go for many of the following lines:

The list goes on and on. On top of the almost magical properties that many of these articles promise, it also doesn't take long to find people claiming music save their lives in one way or another. A common trope one might hear or read in a celebrity musician's bio is the transformative effect music (and/or other musicians and composers) had on them. 

NOW, I'm not one to discount to discredit any of these claims or research nor diminishing the effect music had/has on peoples lives. But I would like to discuss our relationship with the medium. Often, these articles and bios make music out to be an almost "cure-all" treatment to all of life's problems. And it is not just the way we talk about the miracle properties of music that seems almost romanticizing. 

In the way we speak of music, I find that many treat it almost like a divine presence. Music can do no wrong and must be treated with the upmost seriousness and respect. From musicians and composer outright saying things to the effect of "music is godly" or "music is a way to speak closer to the divine", or attributing god like characteristic to composers (which is something painters have been doing since the day of Beethoven if you examine the iconography of composers portraits compared to their actual death mask--there is a lot of god imagery in many of Beethoven's portraits).

There are also subtle ways we place music on a pedestal. From the act of dressing up to see a classical music concert, placing a much higher standard of quality to music than many other things like food or what clothes we wear. Even the way many of us look up reverently towards the composer we admire as if they themselves were divine beings that we could never measure up to. 

But is any of this really bad or good? Does deifying music harm our relationship with music or does it do music good to be treated this way? Do you find yourself looking at music through this romanticized lens? Discuss our relationship with music and if romanticizing and deifying music is inherently good or bad for us. 

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –

Replies

  • All this self-indulgent verbosity and sidetracking into "high-minded political considerations" really ought to be curtailed a good bit, and the saved energy used in actually composing music, or staying more on the stated topic, it sure seems to me. This isn't to say I don't consider them of a good deal of importance, but a man still can't help getting the idea the music is being neglected over the time being spent pontificating.

  • Hello, Paul.

    If you have doubts or reservations about the way the conversation is going, then I invite you participate, and set an example that might inspire us.  It's easy to criticize and then refrain from making any substantive comment on any of the issues discussed.  Can you go a bit further two sentences?

    Reply by Peter Brown 2 hours ago:

    "Tyler,

     

    "Right. Someone keeps deflecting your original premises."

     

    What original premises are being deflected?  Perhaps we should simply lay down the premises, and then go from there.   Do you agree?

     

    The title of this thread is "Romanticizing and Deifying Music."  What are the premises underlying this title?

     

    It's an interesting title, which allows one a great deal of leeway, in interpretation of the basic definitions, and in drawing conclusions from any set of propositions we might build upon.  I wonder if romanticizing music is the same thing as "deifying" music.   My inclination would be to say, they are not the same.   Then there is the question of defining music, which is not something easily avoided when dealing with an issue such as this one.  I notice, the movement seems to go back and forth between popular music, of the sort we might here on AM radio, and classical music, as written in different eras in the past, and written or performed by contemporary artists.

     

    Of course, it goes without saying that any controversial topic, such as this one, is bound to go in different directions, depending on how people define the terms, and formulate intermediate propositions and reach a final conclusion.  It seems that one direction the conversation should NOT go in, is in the area of mischaracterizing individual participants, or focusing on the discussion of individual personalities, as we see here:

     

     

     

    "This individual makes a mockery of nearly everything posters are trying to communicate and likes the chaos of derailment. I've threatened to call the police but that doesn't seem to have any effect on his behavior."

     

    I have used a bit of satire, but to say that anyone here "makes a mockery of nearly everything posters are trying to communicate" is clearly false.  Talk about police arrests, closets and locked doors, while it may be amusing, does not seem to further the actual debate on any of the topics, even the peripheral ones.   Nor does talking about "the psychology of this person" or that person, since that constitutes a kind of ad hominem, and making a diagnosis without a proper background in therapy, or even a cursory examination of the person(s) in question. 

     

    But lets deal with the points made, about the nature of the social order and revolution, which touch, if only indirectly, the subject at hand.  We can bear in mind that all talk of political and historical matters can be seen as having to do really with music and composing, metaphorically speaking.   We were talking about whether or not revolutions can be made violently, and non-violently, and what generalizations might apply to such events or processes that involve radical social transformation (or transformation of the culture, as in the arts, music and literature).

     

    If we see "deification" as the effort to put something purely human in the place of God, then that issue comes into play, as well.  So far, the question of "deification" has only been cursorily addressed.

     

    Peter Brown 1 hour ago:

    "Negotiation never stops, in spite of attempts to avoid it."

    "I don't believe this is true,"  Peter said.

     

    You may not believe that, but you don't say why. I explained why and how negotiation happens.  I would still ask, can you name a revolutionary process where no negotiation takes place, and where there is not at least some negotiation going on, by some individuals involved in the social transformation, at every point along the line.  The entire history of the French Revolution, from 1789 until 1793, is hardly anything but a history of the alternating use of negotiation and the threat of force, to achieve various goals.

     

    In the history of music and of composition, this is constantly happening as well.  Even the "revolution" released by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, involved all sorts of negotiation, between Diaghilev and the composer, between Nijinsky and the composer, between audiences and the composer.

     

    "People back down constantly, and the social direction may be forward, or backwards, in connection with any number of given facets of any social question."

     

    Peter said, "This is not revolution."

     

    You don't say why "this" is not a revolution.   Perhaps you may want to say what you mean by a revolution.  Are you saying a revolution always goes in the same direction, socially, politically and economically?  Are you saying revolutions never suffer set backs, or go through compromises, or deficits, sometimes moving back from the original goals?   If the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 don't prove that they do, I don't know what does.   

     

    In music, even today, we are debating the nature of the "revolutions in sound" that took place during the 1910's and afterwards, in the 1960s and 70s.   These revolutions have seen all sorts of vicissitudes, and movements forwards and backwards.   The role of the composer has been affected accordingly.

     

    "The ultra elite rich, 0.1% disregard negotiations and talks when their financial livelihood is at stake."  Might one be able to say, "Not always?"  

     

    "There are exceptions to every rule," you said.

     

    Are there exceptions the rule that "There are exceptions to every rule," and might this be one?   I had asked you to prove, if you could, that the ultra elite disregards negotiations and talks, even in the majority of cases.  I don't believe that is provable.  Is it?  Again, I have asked, what books are being relied upon for these generalizations?  No answer so far.

     

     You had said, "Revolution occurs when all negotiations fail and crisis is inevitable," and then added: " If you need to find argument with this statement, it seems to me that all your efforts on these threads and especially this one, would be sadly unrealistic as a fearful response."

     

    I don't "need" to argue with this statement.  But it seems it is often wrong, and negotiations are often occurring in the very moment when uprisings, or serious of revolutionary acts, are taking place.   John Reed's Ten Days that Shook the World is a sufficient testimony to the fact, that revolutions involve and include "negotiations" all along the way, between the oppressed class and the oppressing class, as well as between the many factions that join in and participate in the revolutionary transformation.   To think of the whole thing as "VIOLENT OVERTHROW OCCURS, REVOLUTION ACHEIVED," is far more unrealistic than any view I am proposing.

     

     

     

    I asked you this:  "Revolution occurs when all negotiations fail and crisis is inevitable, you say.  How do anyone can know whether that statement is generally true, or even partially true?"

     

    You answered,

     

    "I suppose, if I were living on Mars, was drunk and high on cocaine, I might ask the same question."

     

    I think that is a dodge.  Since you haven't offered any concrete example from revolutionary history, or even mentioned a single book on the subject, I think some effort on your part to make clear the source of your information is warranted.

     

    We can talk about drunkenness, Mars, cocaine or other topics.  But they don't seem to relate even peripherally to the subject under discussion.  If they do, you can explain how they do.

     

    We can say more about revolutions and various shaving experiences later, if you like.

     

    Yours in solidarity,

     

    Comrade O.

     

     

     

    Peter Brown's Discussions
    Peter Brown's Discussions | Meet composers from all over the world. Share ideas, thoughts, tech insights, job opportunities, and business knowledge!
  • @Olm:
    I'm reading why you say we must discuss the military and revolution if we are to discuss in this topic but your argument is very weak. It seems to boil down to "just because" or justifying it because it is a very loose connection. Yes the military is overblown and over romanticized but that is not what this topic is about. If I wanted to talk about the military I would've made a topic about the military but in this thread that is not the topic. The purpose of this thread was to be introspective on our own community.
    Like any good researcher you should be able to narrow your focus. You wouldn't read a paper about a Chopin sonata that include 20 or more pages on the history of the word sonata the history of the piano in the military history of Europe with you? That would be a poorly written paper because the title and abstract suggest one topic and we have now meandered into very loosely related topics.
    You say that the title of the topic gives a lot of leeway in the discussion but that just shows that you didn't read the actual body of my discussion. I ask very specific questions that were largely ignored. You are more than welcome to discuss all of these topics of military, revolution or even counterpoint in your own thread. But all the bickering back-and-forth inside conversation should probably and now. I am particularly not a fan of receiving multiple emails a day about activity in this thread when none of it pertains to my original topic. It also makes it very hard for others to participate when the topic has veered off into another rabbit trail.
  • Peter, you made a common grammatical error in your last post.

     You wrote(said) 'for you and me to agree'..... when you should have

    written, for you and I to agree. I think it is important and possibly even

    imperative that you correct this obvious mistake so that no one gets

    confused and misinterprets your intent and meaning.

    ps, Caddy.... ha ha          bazzinga

  • Tyler, I am sorry that you are getting emails because of the 'mutation'

    and migration from the OP. That does seem to happen a lot and I admit

    that I am guilty of this too.

    It does seem that most threads that have any duration will do this.

    That is not to say that the discussion won't or can't return to it's

    starting point or theme.

    As for the whiners and complainers....

    I remember a bit by George Carlin where someone tried to shut down

    a radio station because of some of its content.

    George said, ya know, a radio has 2 knobs, 1 on/off and the other

    to chaanngge the station.

    Who says you can't walk and chew gum at the same time?

    I can listen to music and read write and follow any one of the threads.

    Personally I find discussing all sorts of topics, challenging and even

    inspiring. Ya just never know when and where your next idea for a

    piece of music or a work of art might come from.

    I do agree tho' that there is an element in a lot of these discussions

    that seems to like to dominate and switch tracks, so to speak.

    It's a shame that as many times as a clue has been suggested,

    that this nonsense continues.                   RS

  • Peter, I believe I grasp the gist of what you were trying to say...

    Except for the part about your grandmother  :>}
     
    Peter Brown said:

    Roger,

    Uh Oh....You're absolutely write! I shudda said 'I' instead. But eye ain't purfict in my gramma or in the way I spells neather. And what are all those red underlines under my words fer???? 



    roger stancill said:

    Peter, you made a common grammatical error in your last post.

     You wrote(said) 'for you and me to agree'..... when you should have

    written, for you and I to agree. I think it is important and possibly even

    imperative that you correct this obvious mistake so that no one gets

    confused and misinterprets your intent and meaning.

    ps, Caddy.... ha ha          bazzinga

    Romanticizing and deifying Music
    If you are like me with a large number of musician and music educator friends (or even just friends with people who love music) you might see the occ…
  • Yeah Peter, I watched the Q&A portion. Tho' I don't agree with him 100 % on everything,

    I think there is a whole lot of 'meat on the bone' with what he says, and I

    like the way his mind works. He certainty seems to have lived it more than just

    read about it.

    I lived thru the 'revolution' of the 60's and early 70's. I was there at the May Day

    event on the Monument grounds in DC. (my first taste of tear gas.)

    Nixon must have been scared. At one point in the afternoon, there must have been

    about 500 cops with plastic shields roll in around the perimeter.

    As I remember it, Nixon agreed to meet with the 'leaders' of the movement.

    There was no meeting tho'. Apparently, there was no one brave or willing

    enough to embody the ideology.

    Whether we made a dent in Wash. thinking, will never be known.... but we tried.

    Anyway, I think Chris H. has purged himself of the affects of the kool aid and had

    much insight and a lot to say .

    ps- also, having lived thru the 'art of the day', I honestly think that a lot of that

    'art' also mislead a lot of people.

    Art may attempt to raise consciousness and awareness, but this is still a variable

    with the mentalities receiving the message and their interpretations, and how

    respons-able they are. I think that hunger and an empty wallet are more  motivating

    at a deeper level than art. There is no ideology at that point of survival.

    pss- in those day's I was not a true political activist, tho' I was a long haired hippie,

    and a peace advocate.... but mostly I was there for the free concert and the girls :>}}}     RS

  • You'd think all this would have been clear to this entity by now, but nope. And, you're right, the reason I'm not participating in this one is for the reasons you give... I just don't much see the point, unfortunately.

    Tyler Hughes said:

    @Olm:
    I'm reading why you say we must discuss the military and revolution if we are to discuss in this topic but your argument is very weak. It seems to boil down to "just because" or justifying it because it is a very loose connection. Yes the military is overblown and over romanticized but that is not what this topic is about. If I wanted to talk about the military I would've made a topic about the military but in this thread that is not the topic. The purpose of this thread was to be introspective on our own community.
    Like any good researcher you should be able to narrow your focus. You wouldn't read a paper about a Chopin sonata that include 20 or more pages on the history of the word sonata the history of the piano in the military history of Europe with you? That would be a poorly written paper because the title and abstract suggest one topic and we have now meandered into very loosely related topics.
    You say that the title of the topic gives a lot of leeway in the discussion but that just shows that you didn't read the actual body of my discussion. I ask very specific questions that were largely ignored. You are more than welcome to discuss all of these topics of military, revolution or even counterpoint in your own thread. But all the bickering back-and-forth inside conversation should probably and now. I am particularly not a fan of receiving multiple emails a day about activity in this thread when none of it pertains to my original topic. It also makes it very hard for others to participate when the topic has veered off into another rabbit trail.
    Romanticizing and deifying Music
    If you are like me with a large number of musician and music educator friends (or even just friends with people who love music) you might see the occ…
  • Hi, Tyler,

    This is Mariza here, by the way, with a temporary alias (got bored with my own name and photo).

    I did not really understand your topic at the onset.  I just read the header again and I find it unclear and confusing. The only thing that I thought provided insight into "where you were coming from" was your later comment about school funding cuts. You talked about a backlash against claims about music's benefits in the context of school funding cuts. I guessed what you meant was that choices must be made by schools about what to eliminate from the curriculum. 

    Under the light provided by that context of school funding cuts, I then interpreted your original header as implying that, unless we can show that music aids children with the rest of the school curriculum, then it is justified to cut music out. You said explicitly that keeping music in the curriculum would not help the poorest children.

    Ondib stated that music contributes to the soul.

    What is your view about that?  If you concur that's true, then do you think that's important enough for school funding?

    I said that schools are now offering job training instead of an education.  I could've written a much longer post on that, mentioning for example that California has approved a bill to make computer programming part of the curriculum.  I could've speculated that perhaps Silicon Valley needs a wider pool of well trained applicants more than children need to have a soul nourished by the cummulative work of thousands of years of human development, in music, visual arts, history, literature and philosophy.  This would've been an interesting discussion, but there was no answer from you, so I didn't continue.

    The great American educator John Dewey said that education is not only preparation for life, it IS life.

    For perhaps most children, and especially those from disadvantaged families, the school day IS their life.  If they don't study literature and music at school, it's not going to be part of their life at all.  Their only exposure to music will be through commercial jingles on TV.

    Does this not make it crucial to keep all of these subjects in school curricula?

    What is your opinion, Tyler, on that issue in particular?  

    That's why I asked you what it might be like to live without music at all, and whether you'd be able to do it even for just 1 month.  If it's essential to us, how can it not be even more essential to children?  Especially those children already under stress?

    Ondib, in a post that I found priceless, suggested that we shouldn't have math taught, either, unless we can prove that it helps us in ballet class.  By that he brought home the message of just how incredibly low the status of the humanities is compared to STEM subjects.

    Your opinion?

    I'm imagining now that I had a retired uncle called Joaquim and my family held a meeting to discuss whether my uncle should skip a meal each day or stop taking his medication, since he can't afford both.  The discussion amounts to deciding whether uncle Joaquim would rather die of malnutrition or of his heart condition.  When aunt Clotilde lashes off saying that a man who worked every day of his life should have a decent pension, everybody would blame her from gearing off topic.

    But of course, that would be right on topic.  If the US military consumes half of the country's resources, then when discussing the "need" to choose between depriving the next generation of music versus some other essential educational resource is, like for uncle Joaquin, a way to accept their demise without complaint.

    P.S. I hate the bickering, too.

  • Hey there pie-smith, (new english), Kudos man, I just listened thru some of your music

    and must tell you, I loved it. Your 'sound' is fantastic and your orchestration and use and mix of

    the instruments is wonderful. To me and my ear, this is where neo-classic will flourish and grow.

    I thought I detected an interesting 'undulation' in some of the pieces. A quality that doesn't appear in many

    electronically produced works. Is it my Imagination or do you have a secret? :>}       RS
     
    Pysmythe said:

    You'd think all this would have been clear to this entity by now, but nope. And, you're right, the reason I'm not participating in this one is for the reasons you give... I just don't much see the point, unfortunately.

    Tyler Hughes said:

    @Olm:
    I'm reading why you say we must discuss the military and revolution if we are to discuss in this topic but your argument is very weak. It seems to boil down to "just because" or justifying it because it is a very loose connection. Yes the military is overblown and over romanticized but that is not what this topic is about. If I wanted to talk about the military I would've made a topic about the military but in this thread that is not the topic. The purpose of this thread was to be introspective on our own community.
    Like any good researcher you should be able to narrow your focus. You wouldn't read a paper about a Chopin sonata that include 20 or more pages on the history of the word sonata the history of the piano in the military history of Europe with you? That would be a poorly written paper because the title and abstract suggest one topic and we have now meandered into very loosely related topics.
    You say that the title of the topic gives a lot of leeway in the discussion but that just shows that you didn't read the actual body of my discussion. I ask very specific questions that were largely ignored. You are more than welcome to discuss all of these topics of military, revolution or even counterpoint in your own thread. But all the bickering back-and-forth inside conversation should probably and now. I am particularly not a fan of receiving multiple emails a day about activity in this thread when none of it pertains to my original topic. It also makes it very hard for others to participate when the topic has veered off into another rabbit trail.
    Romanticizing and deifying Music
    If you are like me with a large number of musician and music educator friends (or even just friends with people who love music) you might see the occ…
This reply was deleted.