Life and Music

“The entire system of relations constituting life has become detached from art, and thus the concept of art’s all-embracing coherence has been lost, and transformed into the concept either of superstition of of entertainment”.

G.W.F Hegel, The Difference between Ficte’s and Schelling’s System ofPhilosophy, 1801

Music is in the ivory tower or the dance hall. It is the divertissement of dinner guests or the holy relic of initiates. In most cases these poles meet towards the equator in countless variations: a scene of disaffected youths who amuse themselves on weekends through production of loud noise.

“…[T]he concept of art’s all-embracing coherence has been lost”. That rings at a more deafening rate than when it was written two hundred years ago. Why is that so? Is it the means of instant access music consumption? Is it the splintering upon splinters of insular scenes which unite in their differences and urge to outcool one another? Is it social media and its stage that forces actors to be ironic and funny to interrupt people to buy their recordings and see them play? Is it Erik Satie’s prophecy of music as furniture: music one can leave on while studying or entertaining? Perhaps all of these and more are part of the shift.

To restore the system of relations between life and music. There has to be many ways to approach the problem.

Matthew Guerrieri has written a great article about organist Paul Jacobs who, as Guerrieri writes, pursues a “vision of classical music and its chance of transcendence returned to the center of cultural expectation”. There has been an adamance from DIY scenes for safe spaces of performance that has justifiable fervor behind it. Artist or audience who show unwarranted abrasiveness towards others are cut off from the group, ostracized and blacklisted.

To restore the system of relations between life and music. If there wasn’t a vague enough problem worthy of our attention, here it is. It won’t be solved in a lifetime. Hell, maybe the symptoms of the problem won’t be clearly defined in a lifetime. The priority, however, lies in taking steps forward: having the conversations with others and participating and leading little acts.

To restore the system of relations between life and music.

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