Saturday, September 24, 2011

Music and International Politics, Part 2

I see the controversy that I discussed previously here in this post is still going on. Let me underline what I was saying there and elaborate a bit. I am repelled by the intrusions of politics into music--especially guerrilla war tactics such as disrupting concerts and trying to get musicians banned from playing. One of the commentors on Norman Lebrecht's blog had this to say:

"music making is by its very nature a political act" and "any claim that music is apolitical should be contested, since such a claim is itself ideological through and through, a typical ploy by those in positions of power to repress those who are not."
I haven't read such blatant Marxism for years! Yes, it is certainly possible to use music for political ends, though this may result in an unfortunate distortion of the original intention of the songwriter as we see in the controversy over the Bruce Springsteen song "Born in the USA" during the 1984 US presidential campaign. But most instrumental music, despite claims to the contrary, simply does not have the capacity to instill particular political views. Thank god! Music making is only "by its very nature a political act" if you fail to understand the nature of both politics and music! Or only if you see every single human act as being political, in which case I really don't want to talk to you. Ah yes, Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier as well as Shostakovich's preludes and fugues are typical ploys to repress, or perhaps escape repression?

We have an international ban on the use of chemical weapons in war: can't we also have a ban on the intrusion of politics into music? Can't we make all musical concerts a politics-free zone? I have no interest in the political views of performing musicians or composers and I heartily wish they would shut up about them. Let them have complete freedom to express their political views as often and as loudly as they wish, but please don't mix that up with music!

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