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Posted by Aurino Souza on October 31, 2002 14:34:01 UTC

Hi Drummer Richard,

Your post struck a dissonant chord! I don't know who this Kerman guy is but if you got those ideas from him you should search for more reliable sources of information. I found most "authorities" in music know very little about the subject as they seem to think good music started with Elvis Presley or something.

Plato was the first to perscribe good from bad music. The human voice, for example, is the best instrument. Various harps are next. Drums are profane and only the orgaistic cults of Dionysus and Cebelle were allowed to play them, and only by women at that.

As a bit of trivia, Plato was actually more concerned with modes. Modes in music refer to the selection of notes which make up a scale. The Greeks divided an octave in twelve notes, and seven out of those twelve were used to create scales. Which seven were chosen determined the mode. Plato wrote a long prescription (mostly nonsense from the perspective of our age) about the usage of such modes.

Out of the eight Greek modes, only two survive today, which are referred to as the major and the minor scales. In any case, the idea that some music is good and some is bad is probably as old as music itself.

This separation of good from bad music carried into the Christian church, as typified by the chants of St. Gregory.

To the best of my knowledge, the Roman Church never opinated on the nature of the various kinds of music in vogue at any time. What the Church always did, and in this it was entirely justified and often misunderstood, was exercise its right to choose the type of music for the various services. Just like any person is free to choose what music to play on their birthday parties, I don't understand why the Church should be denied to set standards for liturgical music. A lot of people resent that but I just don't understand why.

Rhythm was not even allowed until the Renaissance.

All music has rhythm, like it or not. What the medieval church required was that the rhythm of chant must not obscure the words, as words are far more important from a liturgical perspective than melodies. But even that changed with time, and with the Church's blessing.

Before this time the only drummers were court jesters.

That's just not true! Drumming (or any instrument for that matter) was not allowed in Church before the Baroque period, but that doesn't mean secular music didn't use it. A steady rhythm, which drums are often used to emphasize, has always been a feature of dance music, and people have been dancing ever since they left the jungle, possibly even before that.

So we see that the church had a negative influence on music as well as science

This is simply outrageous. There are many musical cultures in the world, yet European music developed a concept which is not found in any other music: the concept of harmony. All musics of the world have rhythm, most have melodies, but only European music has harmony.

Harmony in music means the art of singing various notes together in a highly sophisticated way. Believe it or not, it was the Catholic church who came up with the concept and developed it up to the form we still use it today. Strange as it may sound, without the developments on Gregorian chant that the Church sponsored, there would be no Bach, no Beethoven, no Beatles, no Louis Armstrong, no Enrique Iglesias, or anything else that we call Western music.

That European music reached the sublime heights it did, which no other music comes even close in sophistication, technique, or sheer inspiration, is but a consequence of men trying to reach God in sound. The irony is that once sacred music lost the official support from the Church, secular music entered a period of continuous decadence which, I'm sorry to say, hasn't stopped yet.

In fact, I wonder if the supposed negative influence the Church had on science isn't a similar misconception. Just like all great composers of the past were deeply religious, the same seems to be true for most great scientists.

Cheers,

Aurino

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