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I Didn't Mean To "lecture" You

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Posted by Aurino Souza on October 31, 2002 18:25:33 UTC

But I noticed that you did not deny that Plato perscribed what music was OK and what was vulgar.

What I really disagree in your post is the idea that the Church hindered the development of music, when any student of European music knows that it all comes from the Church, starting with Gregorian chant all the way up to Bach and Mozart.

As to Plato, all I said is I don't think the notion of good and bad music came from him. Music has always been about inspiring feelings, and it can be taken for granted that at any point in time some feelings are desirable while others are not so.

I have seen other references to the fact that drumming was banished in the Greco-Roman empire except for the vulgar cults.

You are probably right about that. I just don't see it as much of a big deal, but then I'm not a drummer :-)

As musical instruments, drums are funny, they don't make music as much as they make noise. And they do seem to be associated with the mundane or even the violent. Which is not a bad thing musically, but it doesn't really go well in the church.

I know for a fact that the first use of drums as a military instrument in Europe was by the Swiss in the Battle of Sempach in 1394. They invented the snare drum after seeing the Turks control infantry movement using kettle drums. The snare drum came from the tabor, a snared drum used by court jesters which they played while playing a fife or whistle and dancing. It was the mercenaries of Basel that invented that drum and yet today there are more snare drummers in Basel than the rest of the world put together. They have preserved their history very accurately.

That is interesting. I study Japanese traditional music and drums are far more important for them than they are for European music. In fact, contrary to European aesthetics, drums are considered very spiritual in Japanese music.

There's a curious issue here. One day I was thinking, why is it that there is no sacred music for the piano or the guitar? What makes those instruments inadequate for religious music? Then I came up with this idea: instruments like the human voice, the organ, the violin, the flute, can produce sounds which do not decay with time; the sound from the piano, the guitar, the drums, on the other hand, always decays and cannot be heard for too long. Could it be that people associate sustaining sounds with God's timelessness, and decaying sounds with mundane things? That would explain why drums are considered spiritual in a Buddhist culture, as Buddhism emphasizes the evanescence of all things.

I don't know if that is true, but it makes some sense to me.

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