Friday, July 13, 2012

Music and Politics

Norman Lebrecht put up a clip from the tv series The Newsroom on his blog the other day, quoting a description of it as "the most honest three and a half minutes of television, ever." Go have a look.

I put up a comment saying this had no place in a music blog and got both agreement and disagreement. But I've been thinking and I realize that the issue I have here is that this is simply an appeal for unreflective acceptance of a political view: propaganda, in other words. THAT'S the problem I really have. If you are going to talk about music and politics,for example, then it needs to be aware discussion. There are lots of good examples in Taruskin's Oxford History volumes. Take, for example, his discussion of Glinka's A Life for the Tsar and why it was so successful. Musically, it was the right combination of Italian and German musical techniques, but it also conformed to the nationalistic needs of the day: Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationhood. Describing how these elements were both integrated into the opera and how they were received by audiences is good musicology--aware musicology.

So what I always try to do here, is have aware discussion. I'm not asking anyone to simply accept my views on what is good or bad music or whatever. I try to present my reasons, my argument for the position. And, sure, I do take up positions. I'm not neutral. But my 'political' position is let's talk about it, not, just take my views as gospel.

Politics is interesting and music is interesting and their intersection is interesting. But only if we are aware of these things. Otherwise, it's just propaganda.

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