Sunday, December 23, 2018

Comfort music comes in many different forms


A comment added to a recent post asserting that the "Problem with this article is that Mahler symphonies are so much more listenable than anything by, say, Malcolm Arnold" deserves a response. Let's leave aside that Mahler was a major influence on Sir Malcolm and that there are many similarities between the two composers: for instance the Mahlerian resonances in the second movements of the Fifth and Seventh Symphonies. More troubling is the assertion that 'listenable' or not - defined as 'easy or pleasant to listen to' - is now how we judge art music. Comfort music comes in many different forms, and they do not all fall into that definition of easy or pleasant to listen to.

We now live in a new dark age. A few weeks ago I hiked from Imlil up the slopes of Mount Toubkal in Morocco's High Atlas, and the next day I stood with my wife and our daughter at the point where shortly afterwards security forces and the world's media gathered following the horrendous murders there. Absolute evil is always the evil inflicted by humans on humans. Comfort in this dark time has been provided by Missy Mazzoli's Vespers for a New Dark Age. This distorted, wild, blasphemous and, at times, unpleasant to listen to take on the traditional Vespers service uses fragments of Matthew Zapruder's poetry. The text of the opening movement is so painfully relevant:
If the heart makes
the sound of two violins

sleeping in a baby carriage,
then new technologies
cannot make us

both more loyal and free
Wayward free radical dreams,
I want to be loyal,

I say it once into the darkness.
Come on all you ghosts,
try to make me forget you.
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3 comments:

Pliable said...

Also painfully relevant - http://www.alicemorrison.co.uk/the-aftermath-of-terrorism/

cowtownshortwave said...

making my current Sunday's morning listening ... thx, for all new music leads

Pliable said...

Thanks for that cowtownshortwave. Others measure their success in millions of visits by web bots. But I believe that all that you can do is make - and publicize - the best and most passionately well-crafted content you can think of. Ratings have to be watched, but calmly and with a sense of proportion. You have to believe that if even one person is swayed, or inspired, or changed, or comforted, by a post, then it has been worthwhile - https://www.overgrownpath.com/2017/12/if-one-person-is-swayed-or-inspired-or.html