“The slightly prissy and demure aspect of some of Mozart’s and Haydn’s music can be legitimately criticized as a character flaw in music—albeit one mixed together with many other great virtues. ‘Classical restraint’ is therefore a vexed concept—like the modern concept of ‘fun’—which packages together some positive things with some negatives, blurring together what is beneficial and proper with what is damaging, frustrating or dangerous.” www.EmotionInLifeAndMusic.com
From Chapter 2 on "The Psychological Signature of an Emotion," the section on "The Musical Form of the Psychological Signature," of Emotion in Life & Music.
“Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride, an expression of the happy optimism of the European Enlightenment, is a superlative study of all the different variations and transformations of the emotion of joy.”
From Chapter 3 on "Objectivity and Musical Emotion," the section on "The Least Subjective Thing in the Universe," of Emotion in Life & Music.
"It is time to take music out of the stinking toilet of subjectivism."
From Chapter 1 on "Emotional Life," the section on "Solipsism: A Mind Wrapped Inside Itself," of Emotion in Life & Music.
"The man who does not know himself, defeats himself."
I'll be leading a MeetUp discussion on "Bringing Music to Your Classroom and Home"
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
The T.E.C. Schools, Think. Explore. Create
73 Lancaster Street, Worcester, MA 01609, Worcester, MA
How can students come to effortlessly incorporate singing and playing instruments to their lives? How can it become a pleasant and natural part of their activities, in contrast with motivation problems that sometimes accompany "stereotypically strict piano lessons"? How can children have fun learning music rather than being forced to "practice"?
More information here.
I'll be teaching a seminar on the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, for young people ages 7-15, at the art museum in Worcester, MA. It will include study of mythology, history, visual art and music. It runs on two Sunday afternoons, this coming Sunday, January 29 and Sunday, February 12. We will continue the program on later Sundays if there is further interest from parents. More information in the flyer below. For more information and registration call Rupali Sharma at T.E.C. Schools, (508) 577-3045.
From Chapter 4 on "Emotional Integrity," the section on "Music as an Emotional Integrator," of Emotion in Life & Music.
“Music takes you on a ‘guided tour’ of the process of separating and combining feelings, of completing the incomplete; of departure from, and return to, a baseline of healthy, balanced contentment; of ‘rolling with the punches’ in adaptive flexibility that copes with upset yet maintains the poise of dynamic stability and direction; the process of building psychological organization and order; the process of growing. It is a miracle means of educating and strengthening the soul, and of training for excellence in the domain of feeling.”
From Chapter 3 on "Objectivity & Musical Emotion," the section on "Music as an Emotion-Object," of Emotion in Life & Music.
"Music is a systematic mathematicization of emotion."
A reader of my book "Emotion in Life & Music" wrote in to the Facebook discussion group to point up the use of Chopin in the show Dexter (Season 2, "That night, a forest grew"), and how it relates to emotional integration.
I finally had a chance to check it out. At first the woman in the show starts listening to Chopin (previously outside of her ken) and finds it makes her more irritable with her boyfriend; the woman's mentor (who had originally recommended the Chopin) says it can "stir up some dust." But then in the end, she gains self knowledge, and it becomes clear to her that she wants a man-upgrade: "Sometimes the truth speaks from a peaceful place." And this music brings you there.
The initial introduction of Chopin's music in this episode was unfortunately a use of the "classical music is for psychos" meme, which Alex Ross discusses in "The Rest is Noise"--an association stemming from Wagner and the Nazis. The butcher's crimes in this show were described as elegant and flowing and disciplined and exact, therefore like Chopin's music. Completely backwards. But that is the rigid meme of our backward culture in which "wicked" is good or funny and wholesome is "boring" and "suspicious."
In fact, the criminal mind is a disintegrating machine, not a harmony- or closure- or clarity- or catharsis-generating integrator. The criminal's natural "music" is chaos, mayhem and destruction, just as it was in the Weimar culture of Germany before the Nazi's came to power. Think Schoenberg and the original, creepy version of "Mack the Knife." Chopin's ethos, on the other hand, is that of the Enlightenment, the age of freedom and mutual respect, clarity and self-knowledge, and self-integration.
A significant factor behind the reversal of value-judgments is the morality of self-sacrifice. If the good is (per altruism) inherently painful to the self, and the bad (pleasure, selfishness, etc.) feels good but in some guilty or corrupt way, then the evaluations are all set in reverse. What is good for you (self-integration) must be perverse and abnormal. What is bad for you (chaos and mayhem) must really be "liberation" and the only kind of "selfish freedom" and "pleasure" possible given the metaphysical assumption. This is the kind of thing we get in the bizarre cultural soup we have today, subjectivism plus sacrificial/backwards morality. The morality of self-fulfillment rectifies this, but most people are on the opposite premise.
FYI, the show Dexter, overall, seems like a large study in the manipulative traits of "cluster b" personality disorders--something very needed today from the point of view of education and common knowledge.