What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?

 

A recent documentary discussed yesterday, on National Public Radio, reminds us of the US instigated and supported slaughter in Indonesia—in cooperation with Indonesian military forces—of somewhere between 600,000 to one million Indonesians. 

 

(You can hear one version of this story, here:

 

http://www.wbur.org/npr/150149910/exposing-indonesias-cold-war-communist-purge  )

 

If one begins to trace simply the number of direct and indirect US military interventions in the Muslim countries since that time, or since the beginning of the last century, the quantity of them would appall the average American, and perhaps compel US citizens to take stock of the sheer masses of people killed by such US action over the years in what we call "the Islamic World."

 

In the Muslim areas of the Philippines alone, many hundreds of thousands were killed, as part of the US occupation of that region during and after the Spanish American War (1898).   Mark Twain, in 1906, wrote in disgust, with much cynicism and sarcasm, about the US slaughters in just one of the battles:

 

The next heading blazes with American and Christian glory like to the sun in the zenith:

 

"Death List is Now 900."

 

I was never so enthusiastically proud of the flag till now!

 

http://www.is.wayne.edu/MNISSANI/cr/Moro.htm.

Comments on the Moro Massacre by Mark Twain (March 12, 1906)

 

 

One could list about 35 US military interventions in Muslim countries from that time until today, during which significant numbers of Muslims were killed.

 

Add to that all the colonial activity of France and UK, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent betrayal of the Arabs via the Sykes-Picot Agreement (according to which, Arabs were promised their freedom during the period 1920-1922, as Turkish Ottoman rule was being overthrown, only to discover when the Turks were defeated, the Arab peoples were now part of the British and French Empires respectively). 

 

People in the West have to wonder why there is no love lost between the Arab and Muslim peoples, and their former colonial masters; and Muslims and the US government—the current (neo-colonial) master of much of the Arab World and many parts of Africa, both Muslim and Christian. 

 

So what effect does this have on Culture in general, and World Musical Culture in particular?

 

My own view is that a sort of "Berlin Wall" has been built in the minds of many Westerners, between "Western Music," and Eastern Music (especially Muslim, or Arab, Turkish and Persian Music).   This is partly evidenced simply by a careful examination of computer composer software, which is not yet even designed to allow for any sophisticated use of Arab tunings.  (Logic X has, out of scores and scores of possible tunings, only one Arabic tuning, called "Arab empirical."  I am grateful, actually to have even that).

 

I think the hostility of the US, the condescension and marginalization of Arab and Muslim culture, by the West as a whole, is obvious, palpable, and deleterious in the extreme.  There are too many examples to cite, and I dare to suggest that those who have not visited the Middle East, or lived in the region, may not even notice that there is such a thing as Middle Eastern culture, other than that which is caricatured and distortedly presented by the mainstream US and Western news and media outlets.

 

What effect do composers think this may have on the ability of Western musical culture, or World musical culture, to create, in an open and tolerant environment, a new musical synthesis of cultural import—one that may sooth and uplift the world, bring it together, and allow the dissolution of false boundaries that keep human beings apart from one another?

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  •  

    Hello Bob.

     

    Thanks for your response to the question.

     

    I ask, rhetorically,

     

    When did J.S. Bach say, "I am not even going to look at those Vivaldi scores.  I don't want to lose my Germanitude and mix it all up with an Italian outlook."

     

    You speak of a recent strengthening of local dialects.  As evidence of ... what?   

     

    Local dialects and languages generally strengthen  when poverty increases, income declines, and unemployment increases.  People are less able travel and to make citizen to citizen contract, across national, state and local borders, due to lack of resources.

     

    If you think that is the long term trend for the whole of humanity--decreased income and increased poverty--for most human beings, I would gently suggest that it doesn't seem likely. 

     

    Is there an actual increase in exposure to diverse cultural influences for most people, that has occurred during just the last decade?  Is that measurable?  During the "Great Recession," which still continues for huge numbers of people in the world, one might argue that there is a contraction in cultural outlook.  Hence the rise of the right wing.   Such developments are born are born of fear and xenophobia.  (One need only look at the "popularity" of certain politicians that fan the flames of anti-immigrant intolerance).  I think this is a very short term contraction.  The long term trend does appear to be the prospect of increased contact and exchange across all types of boundaries.  At least, I hope so.

     

    I am not saying the "boundaries" that you mention are "false."  In fact, you may be as much, as virtually anyone living today, an example of the trans-cultural man of our age and of the future.  The only "false boundary" I am speaking of is that which allows certain peoples to look down upon others, to think they can bomb and destroy and control entire regions of the world, that do not belong to them.  I am talking about the "false boundary" which allows condescension, racism and ethnocentrism to win out over a more global outlook. (But I am not advocating the disappearance of differences, or cultural distinctions; I am talking about awareness and knowledge of diverse cultures, which SHARES them, without destroying or subjugating them by force). I spoke of the "Berlin Wall" that is constructed in people's MINDS.

     

    The physical boundary between Somerset and Devonshire in the UK is real, of course, but the cultural boundary is almost meaningless in the larger scheme of things.  Going back to Bach's time, Germany and Italy did not even exist as nations with discernable identities.   Differences were discovered to be partly illusory, and smaller units merged to become larger ones, without eliminating cultural nuances that will persist as long as distinct languages, customs and moral attitudes exist.  Europe is, for all purposes, a single socio-economic unit, with some minor fraying around the edges.   Isn't it destined to become one political unit?  Most people in Europe think so, and many on the outside would appear to want to enter it.

     

    "To meld with a One World Culture, I have to give up part of my own culture."  Why?

     

    What do you have to give up? 

     

    You ask,

     

    "What am I willing to give up?"

     

    Perhaps people who resist some aspects of the ongoing cultural synthesis (or centripetal convergence) may want to give up ethnocentrism, ignorance of cultures other than their own, nationalism, "exceptionalism," pride, an exaggerated sense of what rights and privileges of the "Great Powers" should have (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, Japan, Germany and several others that seek to dominate).

     

    I don't know what else "Americans" are afraid of giving up, unless it's the right to mass produce films containing anti-Arab and anti-Islamic stereotypes.  But I am not directing this at you, Bob.  You have already described your immersion in African modes of thinking, African culture, and so on, in relation to your study of African drumming and music.

     

    You didn't feel you were "giving up anything," did you? 

  • Observing the mess that western commercial music is at present based on only one single tuning, I dread to think what would happen if more (soft genre) tunings were imported to it.

    Is such a fusion desirable? (maybe yes)

    Even highly educated/knowledgeable western musicians know next to nothing about Middle East music.

    How can less familiar musicians hope to achieve anything by a simple fusion.

    Is such a fusion possible in musical terms? (maybe not)

    I remember a recent example posted on this forum entitled "The Power of the Arabian Empire" or something like that, which was a piece running up and down the makam Hicaz and by that virtue the composer termed it as "Arabic".

    Both Spyros and I gave feedback on Hicaz, Arabia, etc, pointing at a few weaknesses and contradictions. I don't know if there were of any help to the composer (difficult to say).

    On the other hand the Arabic world (I don’t think here we should talk about "The Muslim World" but stick to secular terms), has easily adopted western musical equal temperament tuning co-existing with its  soft genre tunings and so we have sometimes (most times really) two tunings going on in the same piece (Ud and piano for example), but not because some advanced thinker conceived of this but simply  because there is nothing to be done about it.

    We are already living in a childish universal musical fusion.

    Do we want more of it? Is that what you are after here, Ondib?

    I personally believe that a musician (performer or composer) if he wants to use two very different musical languages, he has to learn them both correctly and in detail. To become musical in his "mother tongue" first and then bi-musical in his adopted language.

    In short,  as things stand today, in the west we should study as much as we can about the western tradition to a very high detailed level and only approach study of other musical cultures (if we feel inclined) at a very specialized post-graduate level.

    By this I don’t mean that we should not try to study an eastern musical instrument as early as possible if that is desirable, but the world of makamat is very specialized and very technical. Theoretical knowledge of it, if it is to be achieved at all, has to be based on a method similar to the western: Rational and progressive by steps, not irregular leaps, and take as long also, because it is an equally heavy discipline.

    There you may find that the west has not an aural ability to appreciate eastern music. Not even for its relatively steady hard genre tuning, let alone all possible variations present in its soft genre manifestations as observed from region to region, month to month, day to day, performer to performer, or even within the psyche of the same performer from one moment to the next.

    That's soft genre for you. That's eastern music for you. It is a long learning trip of self discovery, same as western music. It is worth taking it. But not by fusion. Take it alone first. Learn a few things about it. Then you can ask your self again on the principles that you think should be fused.

    Otherwise you are going to have many more "Arabian Empires" creeping into composer's forums.

     

    P.S.

    I take your question as strictly musical. We could avoid politics and religion here. It would be a nice change!

    (or maybe not)

    Bob, has pointed to some very real difficulties above, We should think of them also. I consider myself bi-musical but still those difficulties are there.

  • What's the matter? Mozart's rondo alla turca and the augmented 2nd isn't enough influence for you?

    No, but seriously, the influence on some Western music thanks to the colonization of Spain, Portugal and the Balkans by the Muslims and the last 1400 years of attempted conquest really balances things out, don't you think?

    We live in a time of global cultural cross pollination. I think you're ignoring the positivity of our reality, despite the ongoing struggle for these cultures to coexist.

  •  

    My reply to Socrates (Socrates Arvanitakis), and to Richard (Richard T. Hill)

     

    Socrates said, "Observing the mess that western commercial music is at present based on only one single tuning, I dread to think what would happen if more (soft genre) tunings were imported to it. ... Is such a fusion desirable? (maybe yes)"

     

    I'll take that as a "yes." Or as a "maybe yes" (maybe).

     

    "Even highly educated/knowledgeable western musicians know next to nothing about Middle East music. How can less familiar musicians hope to achieve anything by a simple fusion. Is such a fusion possible in musical terms? (maybe not) ..."

     

    Why is that?  Not because it's so difficult to know or to become reasonably familiar with different modes, different ways of constructing a scale, or different tunings.  Harry Partch, John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi, and Olivier Messiaen are amongst the numerous composers who have had a go at innovation involving South Asian and East Asian modes, or even original modes.  It seems odd to me how "acceptable" dodecaphonic styles are, in comparison with Middle Eastern modes (or even East Asian modes), as a fit subjects for study (when the twelve tone system is arguably, an artificial and not a natural development). {I don't argue that, of course}. Fusion and recreation and the development of new modes, alternative scales and new tunings are far from alien to our musical culture since the time of Debussy—and let us not forget that the Russian and Soviet composers pioneered the Western-Eastern (Western-Eastern-Islamic; Western-Eastern-Central Asian) syntheses in the heart of their most famous classical creations, including works by Borodin (Prince Igor), Ipollitov-Ivanov (Caucasian Sketches), Aram Khatchaturian and many more. [Of course, the harmonic content of some of these works is a bit passé now, and similar orchestral creations, somewhat bastardized, are most often heard today in the West, as background music in films, when Turkish hordes, or "Mohammedan barbarians" come into view].

     

    My suggestion is that there is a strong prejudice, especially in the West (not so much in Greece, Armenia, Russia, or other Orthodox Countries, where parts of "Eastern" thinking were imposed for so many centuries, during periods of mostly Tartar and Turkic occupation).  The current prejudice, in the US especially, is against Islamic, Arabic and against most Middle Eastern Culture specifically, including music.   

     

    'I remember a recent example posted on this forum entitled "The Power of the Arabian Empire" or something like that, which was a piece running up and down the makam Hicaz and by that virtue the composer termed it as "Arabic".'

     

    I recall that, and remember some of the discussion, though I came to it late.  I would say, at least that's a start.

     

    "On the other hand the Arabic world (I don’t think here we should talk about "The Muslim World" but stick to secular terms) ...

     

    I can understand your reluctance, but the Arabic World is rather small, comparatively, including only 21-22 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa (A total population of about 350,000,000—whereas there about a billion and half Muslims in the World).  If you limit your discussion to Arab countries, you leave out Turkey, Persia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and many countries in Africa which are not majority or even largely Arab, but which are Islamic. You also leave out the whole of mostly Turkic Central Asia, from Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea all the way to Xinjiang province in China.  In the musical culture itself of these countries and regions, "Islamic" culture dominates, and it is not always "Arab" or "Arabic" in nature (as the Turks, and representatives of the much more ancient Persian civilization will be amongst the first to tell you).

     

    Your statement about the adoption in Arab culture of the "western musical equal temperament," I don't think is entirely born out, as witnessed simply turning on the radio in any Arab country, (not to mention in a great many of the countries I mentioned above), and listening to the popular music of the region (though, of course, Western tuning has "penetrated" to some extent.)

     

    "We are already living in a childish universal musical fusion. Do we want more of it? Is that what you are after here, Ondib?"

     

    I don't think we can consistently argue that fusion is impossible, but that we already have it. I am not advocating "childish" anything, much less "childish fusion" (which is bound to happen, in any case, with very superficial results). What I would like to see is less prejudice against, and more openness in favor of, Arab, Turkish, Persian, Central Asian, Indonesian and other tunings, scales, and modes, instead of what we all practically acknowledge to be the case now, as you said:

     

    almost all "music is at present based on only one single tuning." 

     

     

    You said,

     

    "I personally believe that a musician (performer or composer) if he wants to use two very different musical languages, he has to learn them both correctly and in detail."

     

    This sort of strict attitude towards what people "have to learn," is something that prevents experimentation and even a modest expansion of the musical language.  No one told Borodin that he had to master the entire musical system of the Central Asian "Polovtsians" (or Eastern Turkic peoples) in order to compose Prince Igor.  Nor did anyone require Ippolitov- Ivanov to master every nuance of the musical culture of the Caucasus to write his celebration of the Persian-Marathi Sardar.   Nor should anyone have called upon him to master every aspect of Turkish musical culture in order to write his Turkish Fragments.  In the modern era, no one complains that Debussy should have learned to play the gamelan with perfect facility in order to write piano works that were inspired by Indonesian music.

     

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

    Procession of the Sardar - Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov – from Caucasian Sketches 

     

    (It's very popular, of course, to the point where it represents a stereotype—but the Western-Central Asian synthesis hasn't reached much further than this.  Oddly, the United Arab Emirates used this very piece to represent their international short wave presence, prior to broadcast, not long ago).

     

    Or,

     

     

    ‪Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov - Turkish Fragments, Op. 62

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIsl6VMPwTw

     

     

     

    In fact, I would respectfully suggest the exact opposite of the approach you advocate:  each musician and composer should feel free AND BE ENCOURAGED  to explore different idioms, originating in significantly or radically different cultures, and then adapting as much as they like into their own musical creations and performances.  (Not "childish fusion," but something falling short of the "total mastery" of every aspect of the other tradition).

     

    Your approach is like saying the Western multi-linguist in Euro-America must study Latin first, before studying French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic or Chinese.  Since these last five languages are the official languages of the UN (in addition to English), and very widely spoken and relevant in today's world, I see little logic in that for most people interested in language, just as I see little logic in your almost exclusive emphasis on Western musical language at the expense of the musical traditions.  I don't disparage the decision to learn of a Western European or American to learn Latin, ancient Greek, or modern Greek.  But in this area, it is a sad but true fact that more Americans study ancient Greek than study Arabic (and far more study Latin), which seems to make almost no sense, given the exigencies in today's world, and the gross misunderstandings that arise between the West and the Middle East.  (Don't get me wrong:  I love Greek language and culture, and have learned as much about it as I have been able, falling short of an effort to learn to read and write in Greek. I applaud those who have been successful in doing just that.)

     

    Speaking of West, in general:  this all or nothing approach—learn EVERYTHING about Western civilization—before you learn ANYTHING about Middle Eastern civilization, seems preposterous .... but it dominates academia in the US to a huge degree (and the training of people who report for mainstream media, as well), and this tendency prevents people from knowing even the basic historical fact of the Sykes-Picot agreement.  (More average Russians seem to know about it than Americans, but that's because the Bolsheviks leaked it out, and made the privy to the details).  

     

    Of course, in reality, in the US so few study ancient Greek, OR any Middle Eastern language, that the "either/or" is a mere quibble.  It needn't be that way in music, though, which is supposed to be a "universal language," so to speak.   

     

     

    I don't dispute a natural tendency for "Westerners" to study what we call Western music.  But for you to say, people should "only approach study of other musical cultures (if we feel inclined) at a very specialized post-graduate level," seems almost monstrous to me.  It's the erection of the very "Berlin Wall" in the mind, I was talking about.  I say, at the moment an interest in another culture becomes manifest, ENCOURAGE IT.  It's natural, and it often arises, only to be squelched with the caveat, "you aren't ready yet." 

     

    (My own view is that of Teilhard de Chardin, who says there is an indwelling force in the human mind, which compels him to reach out to the "other" {culturally other, linguistically other, ethnically other} and that this 'centripetal' universal urge or force will in time lead to the actualization of the brotherhood of humankind. To limit it or squelch it may almost amount to being a crime against the spirit)

     

    As for the suggestion that people avoid the discussion of "politics and religion" here, I don't see how that is possible for anyone with the slightest degree of philosophical and cultural curiosity.  Don't you acknowledge that it is precisely cultural prejudice (manifest as national, political and religious prejudice) that keeps peoples, ethnicities and nationalities in nearly perpetual states of tension and war?  That can't be good for artistic, musical or literary culture, and proves to be even worse for political, economic and social culture.

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  • To Richard, I will simply say, "No, Mozart's rondo is not quite enough." I am talking about the development of music since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  Beethoven's alla turca was fun too.  So was the Abduction from the Seraglio.  But wasn't that a long time ago?  You said, "I think you're ignoring the positivity of our reality, despite the ongoing struggle for these cultures to coexist."  Not at all.  I acknowledge cross-cultural progress in many areas.  What do you believe to be the most encouraging aspects of this, particularly in the area of East-West relations, as seen in relation to the Middle East in particular?    

     



    Richard T. Hill said:

    What's the matter? Mozart's rondo alla turca and the augmented 2nd isn't enough influence for you?

    No, but seriously, the influence on some Western music thanks to the colonization of Spain, Portugal and the Balkans by the Muslims and the last 1400 years of attempted conquest really balances things out, don't you think?

    We live in a time of global cultural cross pollination. I think you're ignoring the positivity of our reality, despite the ongoing struggle for these cultures to coexist.

    What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?
        What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?   A recent documentary discussed yesterday, on…
  • What do composers using foreign influences in their music have to do with West-East relations? There are some composers who are firmly grounded in their native cultures, some who make a display of their xenophilia and others that are somewhere in between. 



    O. Olmnilnlolm said:

    To Richard, I will simply say, "No, Mozart's rondo is not quite enough." I am talking about the development of music since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  Beethoven's alla turca was fun too.  So was the Abduction from the Seraglio.  But wasn't that a long time ago?  You said, "I think you're ignoring the positivity of our reality, despite the ongoing struggle for these cultures to coexist."  Not at all.  I acknowledge cross-cultural progress in many areas.  What do you believe to be the most encouraging aspects of this, particularly in the area of East-West relations, as seen in relation to the Middle East in particular?    

     



    Richard T. Hill said:

    What's the matter? Mozart's rondo alla turca and the augmented 2nd isn't enough influence for you?

    No, but seriously, the influence on some Western music thanks to the colonization of Spain, Portugal and the Balkans by the Muslims and the last 1400 years of attempted conquest really balances things out, don't you think?

    We live in a time of global cultural cross pollination. I think you're ignoring the positivity of our reality, despite the ongoing struggle for these cultures to coexist.

    What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?
        What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?   A recent documentary discussed yesterday, on…
  • Richard, you asked,

     

    "What do composers using foreign influences in their music have to do with West-East relations?"

     

    Then I think you partly answered your own question, when you said,

     

    "There are some composers who are firmly grounded in their native cultures, some who make a display of their xenophilia and others that are somewhere in between."

     

    Of course, other questions arise now.  Why do some composers "display their xenophilia" and others suppress their xenophilia?  Why do some highlight the demand of certain sectors in society to make a display of their xenophobia (on an obviously conscious level, or in a more subtle way)?

     

    When you speak of composers grounded "in their native cultures" or "not grounded," what do you mean exactly?  Can you give some examples of people who you think are outstanding composers that are grounded, or not grounded in their native cultures, and examples of those who do display xenophilia or who do not display xenophilia? 

     

    [Is there a difference, in your mind between "displaying xenophilia" and "making a display of their xenophilia."  The latter appears to my mind to imply a negative evaluation of what could potentially be a positive phenomenon.]   

     

  • "Then I think you partly answered your own question..."
    I think you're giving composers way too much credit for global relations.

    Someone like Stockhausen is firmly grounded in the Western Germanic tradition. Composers like this embrace their culture and traditions. In my opinion, it is a positive thing and comes from a place of love not some ridiculous imaginary "Phobia".  There is nothing wrong with this. There is a famous quote, paraphrased here, that without deviation from the norm, no progress can be made. Well, without norms, deviation becomes meaningless.

    Other composers (and artists in general) in the West make a display of rejecting their culture and traditions and champion "anything but" their own culture. Western composers have a long tradition borrowing from the East but the works that stand the test of time are the ones that are more grounded in the culture from whence it originated.  Personally, it is more irksome to me to have seen this mindset of Westerners posturing against The West for 20 years or more. It's destructive and useless. Finally, I can't think of anyone off the top of my head because artists like this are entirely forgettable.

  • "I think you're giving composers way too much credit for global relations."

     

    I don't really understand that sentence. Credit to which composers, and credit for doing what?  Do you mean I am crediting them with having done a great deal to enhance and improve the relations between states? 

     

    "Someone like Stockhausen is firmly grounded in the Western Germanic tradition. Composers like this embrace their culture and traditions."

     

    That's an interesting example.  I did happen to meet Karlheinz Stockhausen, and have a little chat with him, when he was premiering his work "Sirius," in Washington D.C. in 1976.

     

    'Sirius was commissioned by the West German government to celebrate the United States bicentenary, and is dedicated to the "American pioneers on earth and in space".'

     

    In other words, I met him precisely during a moment in which he was "promoting," not only inter-state relations and the links between one people and another, but when he was working to enhance global consciousness, and even "cosmic consciousness," in an effort to help humankind conceive of itself as a species belonging to a larger universe.

     

    The work Sirius purports to be a message from the people of the Sirius Star System to humans on Earth, to exhort them to abandon narrow boundaries within the mind that separate them from their fellow on their own planet, and their fellow beings in the cosmos at large. How does that message resonate with you?  In Stockhausen's Hymnen (Anthems), the last section culminates in a passage, 'whose final chord turns into an imaginary anthem of the utopian realm of "Hymunion in Harmondie under Pluramon"'  Does that appear to you to evoke some supra-national reality, or global society which enters into a more advanced stage of cultural and artistic awareness than the planet currently enjoys?   

     

    'In my opinion, it is a positive thing and comes from a place of love not some ridiculous imaginary "Phobia".'

     

    What is positive thing exactly?  Nationalism?  "West Germanic tradition?"  Then what do you make of Stockhausen's philosophical embrace of ideals much higher than that of his "Germanic tradition" and nationalism?   I don't think anyone here is arguing overtly in favor of any phobia.  Love of humanity (as opposed to a fear of any human group) should be singled out for praise above most human attitudes.  I think you probably agree with that.  What might be most severely decried is Islamophobia, which is promoted so stridently now by so many members of Western society, especially in France and in the US.  Today, we have Donald Trump promoting the fear of the Mexican immigrant, and receiving the full backing of a large section of the owners of the mainstream media outlets.  The absurdity of the former, the fear of the Arab and fear of the Muslim, becomes all the more obvious when we reflect upon certain statistical realities. The average American is more likely to die drowning in a bathtub, or by lightning (or even by an asteroid or meteor) than he is at the hands of an "Islamic terrorist."  [See the book entitled "Overblown" which provides the detailed statistics].

     

     

    "There is nothing wrong with this. There is a famous quote, paraphrased here, that without deviation from the norm, no progress can be made. Well, without norms, deviation becomes meaningless."

     

    This seems to be a false dichotomy.  No one here is arguing in favor of the total destruction of "norms"  ... but I note ...  rather than agreeing with the hypothetical proposition   

     

    [Wars between the West and Islamic peoples are deleterious to the development of culture—literary, literary, musical, spiritual—or other kinds of culture],   

     

    you appear to leap to a defense of ... I am not sure what.  Perhaps you can say.  A defense of nationalism, in and of itself?  A defense of patriotism, as an inherent good?  An indirect defense of a supposedly just war, or set of wars, waged by the West against the Arab and Islamic peoples, rather mercilessly since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire?  A defense of imperialism, old-style colonialism, capitalist exploitation of "the periphery," supplemented by a salutary series of bombing campaigns, or some or some variety of neo-colonialism?  I am not sure what you are really defending.

     

    'Other composers (and artists in general) in the West make a display of rejecting their culture and traditions and champion "anything but" their own culture.'

     

    I don't see any evidence of that.  Can you name specific composers?  And even if they do, why does that matter?  Why is there a problem, if they see some weaknesses in their "own culture" and a need to reach out, understand, and appropriate aspects of cultures beyond their own parochial surroundings? 

     

    'Western composers have a long tradition borrowing from the East but the works that stand the test of time are the ones that are more grounded in the culture from whence it originated.'

     

    So Debussy, who borrowed extensively from "the East," and is often thought to be the greatest of all "early modern" composers, does not stand the "test of time?"  Your generalization seems patently untrue to me, based on the  study of specific examples.  Go back further in time.  Think about "the culture in which one is grounded." Bach is the acknowledged composer whose works have "withstood the test of time," better than all others, according to most experts.  Yet he borrowed, transcribed and outright "stole" (some might say), more of his "greatest works" from his Italian predecessor, Vivaldi, than any of his contemporaries.  Italian culture was NOT the culture in which he was grounded.  The same can be said of Mozart, though in a different way, given his own reliance on Italian culture in so many of his operas.  I think you are striving to create a "nationalist" myth regarding acts of artistic creation.  It has no basis that I can see in reality.   Bach, Mozart, Mahler and Debussy were all criticized for reaching out well beyond their own immediate cultural surroundings.  The so-called nationalist English and American composers, for the most part, are not widely appreciated outside their own national milieus, and the more nationalist they were, the less effective in fulfilling the goal of music as a kind of "universal language."   

     

     "Personally, it is more irksome to me to have seen this mindset of Westerners posturing against The West for 20 years or more."

     

    Someone irked you.  It's personal.  Ah, well, there we have it then.  The fear of the conservative Westerner, or the conservative American that what he sees or hears might be a bit too foreign, or a phobia about any attraction to what is not specifically "native to his soil" (an ironic phrase, considering what the Anglo-Saxons and the French have done to "natives," the world over).

     

    "Finally, I can't think of anyone off the top of my head because artists like this are entirely forgettable."

     

    But you appear to dodge the question. I asked for examples of great composers who either did OR DID NOT act in a spirit of what you call xenophilia.  Perhaps you  do think it's a problem.  Perhaps you think there may be some Western composers who have resisted the evil siren call of the "foreign," and at least tried to save themselves and "our culture." I wonder why you didn't name at least one of these.   (I would hardly count Stockhausen as one of these, considering all his trajectories, experiments, studies and influences.)

     

  • I'm very happy for you that you all the time in the world to expound at length. 

    "A defense of imperialism, old-style colonialism, capitalist exploitation of "the periphery," supplemented by a salutary series of bombing campaigns, or some or some variety of neo-colonialism? "

    I'm done here. It really is quite a burden being in the arts and not being a Leftist twit. 

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