Sunday, 3 March 2013

Soul Music.

No, not that kind of soul music, but this:

I’ve said before that my taste in music used to be almost entirely dominated by classical, but that I’ve largely lost my interest in it now. I was thinking more about it today when I had a classical music radio station playing in the background while I was doing some work, and I think what it comes down to is this:

What we term ‘classical’ had its genesis in mediaeval sacred music; and then court music became popular during the Renaissance, then the Baroque period was born, then the Classical period, then the Romantic period, then the Modern period. I know that’s a little over-simplified, but it’ll do for the sake of making a point.

My point is that early sacred music had what I would regard as ‘soul,’ a quality that was subsequently subordinated to the drive for self-conscious cleverness, the growth of grand architecture, and an increasing predilection for virtuoso playing. I’m not saying that any of these things are inherently wrong, just that they don’t accord with the relationship I have with music. I know I must be seen as a bit of a Phillistine when I say that I can't stand Mozart or Beethoven, for example.

And then, as the Romantic period was moving into the Modern, along came the French Impressionists and English Late Romantics, and ‘classical’ music got its soul back. That’s why those two forms are the only ones I consistently enjoy these days. (There are exceptions, as you’d expect.) And I do realise that this is a highly subjective view, and one with which I wouldn’t expect general agreement.

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