Postmodern Conservative

Bad Philosophy, Bad Music

Roger Scruton on music today

Don’t miss this little gem, “How Bad Philosophy Destroyed Good Music,” from the philosopher Roger Scruton, over at Imaginative Conservative:

Music took its place in the ceremonies and celebrations of ordinary life alongside the rituals of everyday religion and the forms of good manners.

We no longer live in that world. Few people play instruments and music at home emerges from digital machines, controlled by buttons that require no musical culture to be pressed. For many people, the young especially, music is a form of solitary enjoyment, to be absorbed without judgment and stored without effort in the brain. The circumstances of music-making have therefore changed radically, and this is reflected not only in the banal melodic and harmonic content of popular music, but also in the radical avoidance of melody and harmony in the “modern classical” repertoire. Released from its old institutional and social foundations, our music has either floated into the modernist stratosphere, where only ideas can breathe, or remained attached to the earth by the repetitious mechanisms of pop.

 

There are also paragraphs that try to explain the musical ideas of Adorno — no, I cannot claim to really understand those, nor Scruton’s response to them, as I am fairly uneducated about these things in the strictly musical sense. With my Bloomin’ Platonic philosophy and Tocquevillean sociology, along with my two rock-raised ears, the best I can do — for now — on such topics is what I gave you in “Roll over Beethoven?” or in “Common Sense for Conservatives about Popular Music,” or in other Carl’s Rock Songbook numbers.

Anyhow, Scruton’s explanation of how classical music developed without much guidance from philosophy is very Burkean, and his quick presentation of Wagner’s ring saga as unintentionally arriving at an anti-Hegelian conclusion is fascinating. I also learned in passing about the architecture firm Morphosis, which seems to me a kind of (less curvy) institutionalization of the spirit of Frank Gehry:

Yikes! Fun for the kids, I suppose. I have a certain admiration for Gehry, at least, but let’s leave with a better “image” in our heads, from the musanim.com geniuses:  

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