Music, society, education by Christopher Small

By Christopher Small

Mentioned via Soundpost as "remarkable and progressive" upon its book in 1977, song, Society, schooling has turn into a vintage within the research of tune as a social strength. Christopher Small units out to check the social implications of Western classical tune, results that till lately were principally overlooked or disregarded through so much musicologists. He strives to view the Western musical culture "through the reflect of those different musics [Balinese and African] because it have been from the skin, and in so doing to profit anything of the interior unstated nature of Western tradition as a whole."As sequence co-editor Robert Walser writes, "By pointing to the complicity of Western tradition with Western imperialism, Small demanding situations us to create a destiny that's extra humane than the prior. And by means of writing a booklet that permits us to reconsider so essentially our involvements with track, he teaches us how we'd get there."

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Tovey observes that the listless organist in Sullivan's song must have found, not a lost chord, but a lost progression, which threw an essentially commonplace chord into a new and unexpected light. In the same way too, a group of commonplace words can come together to become what to me is one of the most magical utterances in the English language: Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Of course, just as in spoken language, the law of diminishing returns can set in, and surprising and beautiful harmonic sequences can become cliché.

Man the individual, living in time, has displaced God, living in eternity, from the centre of the universe. Sir Donald Tovey, writing in the nineteen-twenties, spoke more Page 13 truly even than perhaps he knew when he called tonal harmony the musical analogue of perspective. Like perspective, tonal harmony is a logical affair, and expresses through its successions of tension and relaxation the experience of the single individual. 8 Certainly quite untalented people, once they have grasped the nature of the logical relationships of triads within a key, can write perfectly correct (if uninspired) harmonic sequences, just as equally untalented people, once they have grasped the sets of logical relationships which surround the vanishing point, can make perfectly correct perspective drawings.

It is a grave but common error to think of the aims of art and of science as identical, or complementary, or even much in tune with each other. Art and science, it is true, are both means of exploration, but the intention, the method and the kind of reality they explore are very different. This is not simply the Cartesian split between matter and mind (we must indeed start from the assumption that they are identical); it is rather that the aim of art is to enable us to live in the world, while that of science is to enable us to master it.

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