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Old 01-29-2004, 10:44 AM   #29
taoistimmortal
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: chicago il usa
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this is an excerpt from the novel "steppenwolf" by herman hesse the main character harry haller(who is the steppenwolf) meets an acquaintance of his who is a musician. his name is pablo. "Herr Pablo," I said to him as he played with his slender ebony and silver walking stick, "you are a friend of Hermine's and that is why I take an interest in you. But I can't say you make it easy to get on with you. Several times I have attempted to talk about music with you. It would have interested me to know your thoughts and opinions, whether they contridicted mine or not, but you have disdained to make even the baresest reply."
He gave me the most amiable smile and this time a reply was accorded me.
"Well," he said with equanimity, "you see, in my opinion there is no point at all in talking about music. I never talk about music. What reply, then, was I to make to your very able and just remarks? You were perfectly right in all you said. But, you see, I am a musician, not a professor, and I dont believe that, as regards music, there is the least point in being right. Music does not depend on being right, on having good taste and all that." "Indeed. Then what does it depend on?"
"On making music, Herr Haller, on making music as well and as much as possible and with all the intensity of which one is capable. That is the point, Monsieur. Though I carried the complete works of Bach and Haydn in my head and could say the cleverest things about them, not a soul would be the better for it. But when I take hold of my mouthpiece and play a lively shimmy, whether the shimmy be good or bad, it will give people pleasure. It gets into their legs and into their blood. That's the point and that alone. Look at the faces in a dance hall at the moment when the music strikes up after a longish pause, how eyes sparkle, legs twitch and faces begin to laugh. That is why one makes music."
"Very good, Herr Pablo. But there is not only sensual music. There is spiritual also. Besides the music that is actually being played at the moment, there is the immortal music that lives on even when it is not being played. It can happen to a man to lie alone in bed and to call to mind a melody from the Magic Flute or the Matthew Passion, and then there is music without anyone blowing into a flute or passing a bow across a fiddle."
"Certainly, Herr Haller. Yearning and Valencia are recalled every night by many a lonely dreamer. Even the poorest typist in her office has the latest one step in her head and taps her keys in time to it. You are right. I don't grudge all those lonely persons their mute music, whether it's Yearning or the Magic Flute or Valencia. But where do they get their lonely and mute music from? They get it from us, the musicians. It must have first have been played and heard, it must have got into the blood, before anyone at home in his room can think of it and dream of it."
"Granted, I said coolly, "all the same it won't do to put Mozart and the latest fox trot on the same level. And it is not one and the same thing whether you play people divine and eternal music or cheap stuff of the day that is forgotten tomorrow."
When Pablo observed from my tone of voice that I was getting excited, he at once put on his most amiable expression and touching my arm caressingly he gave an unbelievable softness to his voice.
"Ah, my dear sir, you may be perfectly right with your levels. I have nothing to say to your putting Mozart and Haydn and Valencia on what levels you please. It is all one to me. It is not for me to decide about levels. I shall never be asked about them. Mozart perhaps, will still be played in a hundred years and Valencia in two will be played no more-- we can leave that, I think, in Gods hands. God is good and has the span of all our days in his hands and that of every waltz and fox trot too. He is sure to do what is right. We musicians, however, we must play our parts according to our duties and our gifts. We have to play what is actually in demand, and we have to play it as well and as beautifully and expressively as ever we can."
With a sigh I gave it up. There was no getting past the fellow.


I wrote this here because it seemed extremely relevant to the contrast that i saw forming in this discussion between those who enjoy older styles of music and the ones that are growing up today. Also, as you may have noticed, this was written in the early 30's.


the vision of a future bliss annihilation or transcendence
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