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On Listening to Good Music

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On Listening to Good Music

Post  Forum Janitor on Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:29 pm

On Listening to Good Music
published 21 March 2013 by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski
O IMPORTANT is it to have some sort of understanding of how the noble art of music works, and so important is it to become familiar with at least some of the great composers of the Western tradition, that all of the students here at Wyoming Catholic College (where I teach) are required to take two semesters of Music Theory & History. True, this is only barely a beginning, but a serious beginning must be made—one that stretches from the fundamental ingredients of music (rhythms in simple and compound time signatures, pitch in bass and treble clef, key signatures, the circle of fifths, scales and intervals) all the way to some of the greatest masterpieces of the art, like the Missa Papae Marcelli of Palestrina and the St. Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Unlike less complex forms of aural stimulation, “artful music”—a better term than “classical music”—needs, and deserves, to be given multiple hearings, with full attention. One needs to give this rich music a chance to speak to one’s soul, to convey its beauties to one’s mind, to mould one’s heart. It’s not supposed to be instant gratification; there’s more intellectual substance to it than that. A cartoon, for example, tells you right away what it’s about, and you laugh at the joke. In contrast, an artfully written novel or play takes time to enter into and appreciate. Like a good wine, it must “breathe.” Indeed, a cultivated person would not rush through a gourmet French dinner, but would take plenty of time, savor each course, and enjoy the entire ambience, most especially the conversation with other human beings.
Just as there are great books, which are known to be great by the common consensus of thoughtful people across the ages, and just as there are great paintings and great sculptures, so too there are great works of music, known and felt to be such by educated musicians and music lovers—works notable for their depth of feeling, nobility of sentiment, and exquisite artistry. Ignorance of these is as bad, for someone who seeks to be educated in Western (and Catholic) culture, as ignorance of Dante and Shakespeare in literature, Plato and Aristotle in philosophy, Augustine and Aquinas in theology.

http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2013/mar/21/listening-good-music/

H/t: Catholicism.org http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/catholicism.org
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