By Mark Evan Bonds
What's track, and why does it movement us? From Pythagoras to the current, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of "pure" or "absolute" track in ways in which additionally account for its profound influence. In Absolute track: The historical past of an idea, Mark Evan Bonds lines the heritage of those efforts throughout greater than millennia, paying particular awareness to the connection among music's essence and its characteristics of shape, expression, attractiveness, autonomy, in addition to its perceived skill to reveal philosophical truths.
The middle of this booklet makes a speciality of the interval among 1850 and 1945. even though the assumption of natural track is as previous as antiquity, the time period "absolute music" is itself particularly contemporary. It was once Richard Wagner who coined the time period, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to reveal the constraints of in basic terms instrumental track. For Wagner, track that was once "absolute" used to be remoted, indifferent from the area, sterile. His modern, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this caliber of isolation as a guarantor of purity. merely natural, absolute tune, he argued, may well detect the top power of the art.
Bonds finds how and why perceptions of absolute tune replaced so greatly among the 1850s and Twenties. whilst it first seemed, "absolute music" used to be a brand new time period utilized to previous song, yet by way of the early a long time of the 20 th century, it had become-paradoxically--an previous time period linked to the hot song of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the most important advancements during this shift lay now not in discourse approximately track yet really the visible arts. The growing to be status of abstraction and shape in portray on the flip of the 20 th century-line and colour, in preference to object-helped circulate the belief of basically summary, absolute song to the leading edge of musical modernism.
By rigorously tracing the evolution of absolute track from old Greece throughout the center a long time to the twentieth-century, Bonds not just offers the 1st finished background of this pivotal suggestion but additionally provokes new suggestions at the essence of song and the way essence has been used to give an explanation for music's impact. a protracted awaited booklet from probably the most revered senior students within the box, Absolute track can be crucial studying for an individual drawn to the historical past, conception, and aesthetics of song.
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Extra resources for Absolute Music: The History of an Idea
20 Tomas Aquinas (1225–1274) also incorporated key elements of Pythagorean-Platonic cosmology into his thought, pointing out that the harmony of the universe rested upon the same ratios as musical intervals. Like other theologians before and afer, he understood the Holy Trinity as a harmony, a synthesis of diferent entities that retained their identity even when merged into a single whole. Eforts to place Pythagoras within the Judeo-Christian tradition continued well into the Renaissance. 22 From the Middle Ages onward Pythagorean thought dominated much of what we now conceive of as music theory.
Boethius transmited the tale thus: It is common knowledge that song has many times calmed rages, and that it has ofen worked great wonders on the afections of bodies or minds. Who does not know that Pythagoras, by performing a spondee, restored a drunk adolescent of Taormina incited by the sound of the Phrygian mode to a calmer and more composed state? One night, when a whore was closeted in the house of a rival, this frenzied youth wanted to set fre to the house. 12 “Pythagoras . . —is in fact essential to Boethius’s larger point: that understanding the movements of the celestial bodies enhances one’s understanding of the human soul, of music, and of music’s efect on the human soul.
P. Migne, 221 vols. (Paris: Migne, 1844–55), 37:1272: “Qui jubilat, non verba dicit, sed sonus quidam est laetitiae 44 n Essence and Effect: 1550–1850 And elsewhere, in his explication of Psalm 32 (33), he returns to the idea of “jubilation” as a form of musical expression: What is it to sing in jubilation? To be unable to understand, to express in words, what is sung in the heart. For they who sing, either in the harvest, in the vineyard, or in some other arduous occupation, afer beginning to manifest their gladness in the words of songs, are flled with such joy that they cannot express it in words, and turn from the syllables of words and proceed to the sound of jubilation.
Absolute Music: The History of an Idea by Mark Evan Bonds