Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The History of Music

Emo is a style of rock music typically characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics. -- wikipedia.com
That is a description of a recent genre of pop music. Emo has come to be associated with depression, suicide, self-injury. The blues gone bad, real bad.

Actually it's the same ol', same ol', same ol' stuff -- merely repackaged. Hardly can it be considered fresh, certainly not new, definitely not novel. It is mankind plummeting the depths of his despair and getting high on such emotions. So high that when he falls, he plummets. You know the stuff -- passion, unrequited love, depression, suicide, etc. In a nutshell, self-absorption. But it's a rerun. It's last season all over again.

Upon what do I predicate such a statement?

In our home we are studying The History of Classical Music, a curriculum that introduces us to different styles of music and some of the most well known composers. We are currently exploring the Romantic Era.

Consider the following excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Music by Max Wade-Matthews and Wendy Thompson:

One of the most potent examples of literary Romanticism was Goethe's epistolatory novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), published in 1774. It was inspired by Goethe's own unrequited love for a friend's fiancee, and the news of another friend's suicide as a result of disappointed love. Werthers had an enormous influence on European youth, and the theme of frustrated passion became a common one in the literature of the period.

This was the climate which produced the great musical masterpieces of early Romanticism. Among these are Schubert's song-cycles Die schone Mullerin (The Miller's Daughter), in which the brook becomes an equal partner in a drama of rejection and suicide; and Winterreise (Winter Journey), in which both singer and accompanist paint a vivid picture of wintry desolation, mirroring the bleak emptiness in the betrayed protagonist's soul.

The other hallmark of musical Romanticism was its emphasis on the individual -- either the composer, fighting a lonely battle against incomprehension and intolerance, or the performer.

This is art with self as the object, a preoccupation with oneself or one's own affairs. Self-absorption.

Art that is wholly inculcated with self-absorption encourages the practice of self-absorption. Whether found in the current "emo" genre, or the Romantic Era, or in a myriad of other time periods and locales, it is detrimental to individuals, families, society, and culture. It breeds hedonism...or perhaps hedonism breeds self-absorption. We could debate this "chicken or the egg"conundrum, but I will pass for now.

Suffice to say, I continue to love studying history. It never fails to reveal the weaknesses of mankind; it underscores the need we all have for God and reflects the glory of those who live for His purposes.

Even in the history of music.


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