> In thinking about the history of music, have you ever
> considered Spengler's divison of the last, three millenia
> into three, equal parts of 1000 years each? You know, the
> Apollonian (Greek and Roman): 1000 BC - O, the Magian: 0 -
> 1000 AD, and the Faustian: 1000 AD - 2000 AD?
I can honestly say I never have thought about it in that way. I've never gotten around to reading Decline of the West. Why is the first millennia named for an ancient Persian sect?
> All of these ages began with architecture (the first art)
> uniquely their own, and, according to Spengler, spoke volumes
> about the people who built them. The Apollonian culture,
> which died at the Battle of Actium, (so Spengler) lacked the
> interiority of the Magian culture that followed. It's temples
> were not meant to serve any congregation, and were basically,
> banks, or vaults, wherein a city might keep its valuables. As
> Spengler put it, if I remember right, the Apollonian temple
> began on the outside - and stayed there, as opposed to the
> Magian, which, based on the Syrian domus, began on the
> inside, and stayed there. The Apollonian temple was little
> more than stele in the round and meant to impress the world
> of the outside.
To correlate this with music, for me, would require more examples from the two earlier periods in question than I'm familiar with. It may be that Apollonian music was a projection outward of their mythic principles, but beyond that I don't know. It seems principally aimed at its own audiences and not to impress the surrounding world, but maybe that's too narrow a view of the way Apollonian principles would extend to music.
I'm guessing he's seeing the ME as at the center of the Magian Age, early Christianity and Islam? Coptic music comes from this period and does appear as a largely hermetic tradition, but on the other hand as mentioned previously some believe it's in a direct line from ancient Egypt.
> The Faustian temple is the Gothic catherdral, and was all
> about light, and escape, as Spengler put it, into the
> beckoning, pure thither. The Gothic catherdral begins with
> polyphony (c. 1000 ), and, it seems to me, the lightness of
> the Gothic style, the welcoming of natural light into the
> inner most sanctum, is continued on through the history of
> Faustian art, which becomes ever lighter as its millenium
> moves on: architecture, sculpture, painting, literature,
> music, and so on. It seems as though the denser the
> population, the lighter the art. Do you have any thoughts on
> this? Am I barking up the wrong tree?
Didn't Spengler reject linear theories of history? I see something of a cycle beginning wide open, moving towards systems and theories and a creativity that must be expressed within ever more defined forms and upon reaching the limits of that beginning to open up once again.
Anyway, Medieval music, plainchant or the music of such individual composers as are remembered, Hildegard von Bingen, Guillaume de Machaut, Dufay, etc. appears in many ways freer than what followed. This period saw the use of polyphony as you say, multiple themes in parallel fourths or fifths, hocketing techniques to give the illusion of polyphony in a monophonic music, irregular rhythms and phrasing, even uncertain tonality, etc.
As music moved into the Rennaissance period it became it seems more systematized, though the outside was still let in through such devices as Thorough Bass, where only the bassline was written and the chordal melodic accompaniment was improvised over the top.
With the Baroque came the tuning change, the tempered scale, allowing key changes and an increasingly vertical oriented music. Harmonic development was in it's ascendant continuing through the Classical and Romantic periods while rhythms were generally de-emphasized for the same period. Bach was said to have been a brilliant improvisor, but the Bach we know through his scores doesn't show that aspect. The Cello Suites may be an exception to some degree as they were thought to be unplayable except in small sections until Casals came along.
At the end of the Romantic era, the vertical architecture had gone about as far as it could, tonality began breaking down, Schoenberg's dodecaphonic systems, Ives clashing contrasting tonalities, Debussy looking to Asian tonality such as the whole tone scale, Stravinsky reintroducing irregular rhythms, Satie ignoring harmonic development altogether, Russolo's intonarumori mechanical noise machines, Cowell's creation of the piano cluster, Antheil's incorporation of mechanical noise (sirens, propellers) with unaplayable pieces composed for player pianos, Varese's similarly shocking paeans to the industrial age, Cage altering the timbres of pianos with screws and washers and turning it into a percussion orchestra reminiscent of Balinese Gamelan or making pieces using radios, French radio engineers like Schaeffer and Henry using the newly developed recording tape as a medium in itself.
At the same time there's been a proliferation of ensembles dedicated to the music of the past whether medieval codices, early Christian musics or these approximations of ancient musics. Composers have looked to Africa and Asia for structural ideas and principles to free them from cultural constraints.
Today a good portion of music is made with non-instruments, turntables, power tools, industrial detritus, etc. Even recording tools like samplers (devoid of samples) and mixing boards are being utilized for sound generation in ways their manufacturers would never have dreamed of.
We've come full circle and then some, as this time around, the very definition of what music is, is under assault.
Anyway some musings in the cracks so to speak.