> Generally speaking, I think music reached its highest apogee,
> its highest point, in the 19th century. The culture of the
> 20th century became inundated with technology, electronic
> music and mass media and the fertile mind, has become less as
> common as it was in the 19th century. Great music is designed
> ultimately to reach up to a higher level, so that we become
> transfigured... music has the potential to change our lives!
I should clarify that when I mentioned that most music was electronic I meant that our experience of it whether Gregorian chant, Field Hollars or whatever, all recorded music is electronic, even most live music uses amplification, PA systems. Most of us are geared towards this type of experience to the point where just sitting playing a piano, guitar, etc. has an air of unreality about it. One wonders what we sound like and trust a recording after the fact more than our ears in the moment. Recordings of symphonic music are some of the most artificial there are, as they're said to be without overdubs, but we know there are frequent minute edits to bring the performance closer to some unrealizable ideal of perfection.
The 19th C, really the Romantic period, represented the apogee of a certain type of vertical music developed since the advent of the tempered scale. Composers took the modulation of chords into different keys and the construction of traditional harmony as far as it could go. To say this was the highest point of music though is a very ethno-centric and class oriented idea. It pretends that most of the world doesn't exist and even within the narrow western confinesof Europe and America that only the bourgeoisie and upper classes count. Your average person in the 19th C had no opportunity to even be exposed to the music you love. The same people who patronized symphonies and operas were those that were the slave owners and exploited the poor for profit. The great music of the European tradition far from uplifting people spiritually served the status quo.
> In the 20th century, if one examines the popular culture,
> mankind has forgotten who it is more so than in previous
> times. Hormones ruin everything and it certainly holds us
> down. We are of the musical essence but we've become so
> enamoured of our physical existence, we've forgotten who we
> are to the extent it's hard for us to get back to a higher
> awareness and that's a lesson not lost on those that would
> seek to control and subjugate us and keep us in what we could
> call, a modestly comfortable level, in terms of most peoples'
> lifestyle. They like the attachments of the body and all
> things physical and we are ever more primitive, it would
> seem, if we examine popular culture, the entertainment, the
> music, the media - it's not exactly reaching for higher
> ideals. It's reaching for reproduction in many different
> guises. Music should elevate people instead of bringing them
> to a lower state!
I think people respond to different music in very different ways. One person's spiritual sublimity is another's bete noire. I think that's okay. Look at Deano's response elewhere on this thread. He finds the sublime in Lynard Skynard, whereas to me they were little more than redneck thugs writing songs upholding unpalatable ideas about the south. I'm not criticising Deano's interest in them, people should find their spirit wherever they can. I point it out because it speaks to the essential subjectivity of the appeal of culture. If Lynard Skynard elevates Deano that's great, who am I to suggest otherwise. I think you're succumbing to a nostalgia for what never was, imbuing people of earlier centuries with qualities they didn't possess. For all it's faults the 20th C has promoted more equality of access to culture than ever before. An interesting argument could be made of the impact on today's youth culture by the democratising affect of post war UK governments giving working class kids the option to attend art school rather than be shunted off to work in factories. It's amazing how much of the British invasion was just those kinds of kids and without them Americans might never have discovered the wealth in their own folk and blues traditions. Our country was too racially stratified to pick up on our black music without it being sold back to us by white foreigners. You I guess see that music as part of the problem, the control and manipulation mechanisms that hold us down, but I think you're confusing the spirit of the music with it's commodification. That the elites have attempted to commodify and sell the trappings of rebellion without its substance is no surprise, but has it entirely worked? I find much more questioning of paradigms among those who listen to jazz, rock, folk, ethnic, or the so-called art music of the 20th C than I do with those with elitist ideas about how music died with Mahler, or whoever. You are something of an anomaly as far as that goes. I can't take that narrow a view of it. I usually have an instinctive reaction to music and then become curious as to what about it appeals or doesn't and find there are a great many answers to both those questions and they may all miss the point.