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Maksim Turov
Maksim Turov

Reference And Information Services: An Introductio Extreme Lyrics Evang High Quality



  • During the historical journey of this hook, we have explored and tried to answer many questions relating to the moral theology of music by critically examining some philosophers of music, sacred scripture, texts of the Church Fathers, the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and finally the documents of the papal magisterium. Throughout this work we reflected upon the following questions as the means to answer some bask problems of our theme: How do theology and music fit together? Does God reveal anything about music? Does the Church teach anything about music?

  • How does morality fit in with music?

  • Seen in a Thomistic perspective, what is beauty and how does it relate to moral goodness? What is an aesthetic experience and how related is it to the fine arts and morality?

  • Is there a moral virtue relative to music from a Thomistic perspective'?

  • How can one distinguish liturgical and religious music from each other and from secular music?

In the introduction of this work, my own experience as a jazz musician and my clerical critics of the past years were described as an important underlying force of this dissertation. Likewise, certain problems of music and morality were posed in the introduction vis-a-vis rock music via the analysis of Allen Bloom who claims that rod music is entirely an orgiastic protest against western culture and sexual norm: themselves. Is it the melody and rhythms as such that suggest these immoral forces? From another perspective came the question posed by Minto: can rock music be Christianized? From another musical tradition, there also has been a revolution in "classical" music or a kind of nihilism against previous forms with no reference point or continuity with past musical laws, especially by the use of buzz-saws and the like interspersing atonal and at-random melodies. While one could argue about the musical quality of these latter experiments, can anything be said about morality here? If music should inspire love, sympathy and the like, can these latter developments, which merely image chaos, he said to be beautiful and moral music? While one could argue a priori that such playing is aesthetically ugly, from the perspective of morals, one could say that it might simply he a waste of time (listening to buzz-saws and random radio programs turned on and off at will) which is a moral judgement of a different sort. In the final analysis, it can he said that where there is no immediate conceptual reference point, music can have good moral consequences over the long term, but trying to predict such things is very futile. The beautiful can aid the life of virtue but it is difficult to prove that the musically deficient as such can aid vice. From chapter two, I began with the notion that while theology is concerned with God, secondarily it examines all of reality in reference to God, one part of which is the accidental entity made by the human person and called music. Is it subject to moral evaluation? The answer throughout the rest of the chapters showed how difficult it is to determine; but 1 tried to show in what sense any moral evaluation could be possible. That much music can influence moral responses is without question. That an outside judge can easily make moral determinations without reference to poetic or past memory concepts is well-nigh impossible. Muzak is the exception, but only because of circumstances where this "canned" music is played, not from the music itself, as was shown in the last chapter. That some kinds of music can harm the sense of hearing, raise undue anxiety, or on the contrary, aid learning and medical treatment (not enough research has been done to show how some kinds may hinder learning and medical treatment) was also demonstrated in the last chapter. While sacred Scripture says very little about music as such, it witnesses to the rich heritage which music had in the life of the Israelites, the time of Christ and the life of the early Church. Music can praise Yahweh and be involved in licit or illicit merrymaking and even help soldiers in war to terrorize an enemy. It can accompany as a heightening agent a whole host of activities both good and bad. Nowhere do the scriptures say that it molds or forms character. It can relieve stress as in the case of Saul, but not always. In St. Paul, we found him urging his people to sing to the Lord when they were joyful. Finally, the trumpet takes on significance as a symbol of God's final judgment. The Chinese philosopher Confucius represents the beginning of the philosophical tradition which holds that music forms character and is a sign of order or disorder in the politics of the state. When music is changing or in a state of flux, he taught that it forebodes ill for society. Like many philosophers in this field after him, he did not try to prove these statements but simply asserted them based upon his observations of the music/poetry of his time. Plato essentially taught what Confucius claimed, and more so, namely that music forms character especially through the modes of music. Through the character of its citizens, the state is formed. Music must never be indulged in for pleasure, nor should it be performed without words, which constitute its main feature. Melody and rhythm are to be the background for the poetic themes. Melody is for the words and its beauty is understood through the words. Harmony as we now know it did not exist in Plato's time. For all practical purposes, music was like the background music of our movies, not an independent fine art all of its own. Liturgical or ritual music was much like a revival of sanity from emotional stress. It was meant to sweep one's hyper-anxiety away emotionally much like black gospel music in a Southern Baptist choir sends people into emotional ecstasy after hours of singing and dancing, or like the whirling dervishes of one Islamic religion called Sufism. Aristotle said that character comes through music but no proof was offered save his own observations of its effects on the emotions. He seems to follow Plato in holding that music is part of poetry, dancing and drama and so by reference to ideas suggested and emotionally charged, it is true that music can influence morality. But can pure music influence character? He seems to say "yes" in some sections of his writing but he could be thinking of music that immediately suggests ethical notions through the words, much like the "Star Spangled Banner" when played to an American audience without a singer; the audience either substitutes the words or knows what the significance is behind the melody. So, Aristotle really does not answer the question. It has been my thesis that pure music can have tremendous moral implications for the good, if the virtue of music appreciation is developed. The Fathers of the Church became exceedingly critical of their contemporary musical situation for reasons of morals and religion. Many spoke against music of their times because it was essentially either idolatrous or licentious. Music of the theater was but an extension of the pagan cults and so to attack music was indirectly to uphold the fledgling faith of Christ in a people still filled with the dregs of their old ways, i.e., marriage parties, singing to their gods in their homes or on the occasion of pagan festivals still celebrated by their non-christian neighbors. On the other side, we find the Fathers waxing eloquent about the many effects of their "new song" inculcating the Christian virtues of patience, kindness, peace, joy and charity, bringing the assembly together in ardent and humble worship. That they likewise teach that music is subordinated to the words of the psalms is due partly to the influence of Plato's philosophy of music, and partly because some of them had composed or commissioned musicians to write hymns which contain the hard sayings of faith and theology made delightful in sound. In the writings of Augustine, we saw the kernel of the idea of pure music with he concept of "jubilation" whereby a singer could he so moved by the Spirit as to chant melody flowing from the heart without words. For a philosopher, it is a simple step from singing to playing a musical instrument and so, to the conclusion that pure music could also be created or made. Boethius was the cause of many ecclesiastics believing that the more one follows the mathematical rules of music, the more indicative music is of the moral life. Breaking the so-called laws of music (an occurrence which takes place in the history of music over the centuries) will usually he frowned upon by the past moralists among the early centuries, perhaps as a sign of breaking "natural" laws themselves. Such a theory held the early medieval music in check so that the Church was able to consolidate its own grip on its liturgical music. But as we saw in the early twelfth century, musicians were no mathematicians and therefore became prone to breaking all kinds of rules to create the music form called the "motet". This creative process has continued until the present day, sometimes with great success and sometimes with great failure. It took Albert the Great to see that music as such can be like a game which purifies the emotions for good or ill and that songs can communicate good deep feelings that surround the many circumstances of life. When it came to sacred music, Albert noted that it not only gives pleasure but images a realm of innocence, which is a moral reference point. Aquinas seems to derive nothing from the writings of Albert on music, but his analysis of the virtue of ars suggests very profoundly that "craftsman" is a wider term than today's use of the word and includes any kind of making. In so far as the artist (in the broad sense of the word) makes anything that affects humankind for good or evil, art has moral repercussions. Thomas does draw the distinction, as we saw, between the craftsman who makes things for utility and one who makes things for beauty. It is in the latter realm that one finds the musician. The key analysis of beauty by Aquinas helps us appreciate the value of the musician because for Aquinas, the beautiful stimulates not only the pleasure of the ear but the delight of the mind. The three characteristics or properties of beauty - clarity, order and proportion, splendor of form - cannot be simply reduced to any laws of music or the supposed laws of the other arts. These properties transcend any laws, which is the key to appreciating the openness of Aquinas's thought to artistic evolution within any of the arts, notwithstanding the misunderstanding of the critics. Given his hints about the possibility of a virtue regulating the pleasure of the arts, I developed the notion of the virtue of music appreciation as a potential part of temperance. As one grows in the ability to distinguish beautiful music, one is able to turn the aesthetic experience of music into a preparation for contemplation of other things, pose and possibly answer certain important questions regarding the meaning of life. Likewise, the virtue of music appreciation will lead one to know when to get refreshment from music and when one is becoming too attached to this pleasure and so must moderate its use in the overall life of virtue. After Aquinas, the next chapter shifted to the principal questions of sacred music. What has become very clear concerning sacred music (liturgical and religious) is that this kind of music requires diverse gifts from the musician, whether he be composer, singer or player. These gifts are different from the composer or player of pure music who provides the simple the aesthetic or purely intellectual/sense pleasure experience of melodies and harmonies in rhythm of themselves without reference to the virtue of religion and prayer. The liturgical musician must he very similar to the icon maker for he is close to giving, through his music-making/performing, sanctifying and actual grace. Like the priest and the liturgy itself which he accompanies, he must understand his role as an opaque channel through which grace and the virtues of worship, prayer and contemplation are communicated to his listener. This normally requires of him that he be imbued in the act of prayer, worship, contemplation himself together with a host of other virtues while performing, though he may have a charism which could possibly bypass some of these requirements. He is not principally concerned with musical beauty but with something along the lines of what is taught by Plato in the natural order and John Paul II in the supernatural order: a music that communicates directly the divine values (mania for Plato), graces and realities which flow through the liturgy (relief or catharsis for Plato and Aristotle). His playing must in some way reflect that dialogue which is going on between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is in the realm of the holy and awesome and so must reflect it. Hence his craft must transcend itself and in a sense disappear. This requires great self-discipline and dedication to the meaning of what liturgy is as worship. It requires ineffable communication, which for a musician is a kind of radical death to self as it would be for anyone to become so self-effacing. From another perspective liturgical music is like the incarnation itself. It is a kenosis artistically speaking. The ultimate sign that a liturgical musician has failed is if a musician deliberately incites the congregation to clap and cheer him after the Mass or liturgical service is over.[1] The sign of his success is if people prolong their experience of God and wish to stay after the liturgy to speak with and listen to God. I think we can now see how important the philosophical service of Plato and Aristotle was to the Fathers of the Church who wanted music to communicate the divine virtues and the Christian way of life. Certainly, liturgical musicians, potentially at least, do precisely this most important work of surrounding the entire dogmatic and moral message of Christ with prayer shot through with tonal beauty. Now, the musician of religious music has a different but related task, like and unlike the liturgical musician. He must create and play music that is truly beautiful and inspiring that does indeed draw attention to itself as a work of exquisite music. People must become so moved as to question their lives and perhaps may even want to give themselves more to the service of God. All of this rich experience is done outside any liturgical context so that the medium of music shoots through any poetic texts, overwhelming the listener with pleasure and spiritual joy even occasionally mixed with sorrow. Sometimes, this is done even without immediate reference to any accompanied words but by reason of the title, or a song ordinarily used in the liturgy but now done as part of the accompaniment to a concert (think of the many works using the musical theme of the "Dies Irae" or the "Salve Regina"). Finally, there is the composer/player of simply pure music without words who fashions deep melodies, harmonies and rhythms in a unity amidst variety. He may or may not be leading a high moral life. His music may be simply sensuous of symmetrical. If he offers the gift of the aesthetic experience, we have seen that it is to be integrated as part of the moral life (in terms of the regulation of this pleasure as an aspect of play which is a potential part of temperance) and can, by its power of suggestion show its listeners the importance of a life pursued under the guidance of reason or order. Secondly, pure beautiful music when allied with emotions suggesting the heroic, or any virtue connected with happiness or sadness, also can suggest by example the conflicts in the struggle for virtue and keep offering to listeners the possibility of some vague or general hope in the attainment thereof. It now should be clear that music which accompanies words and feelings of an immoral character and nature could then share in this moral ugliness even though it melodies, harmonies and rhythms are proportionate and filled with aesthetic splendor It may sometimes happen that the words are forgotten and then the musical sound it brought into its own realm. Moreover, it may happen that good music by reason of it suggested mood may be used for extrinsic purposes or a morally disvalued feature not at all intended by the composer as in the case of some Muzak. Likewise, certain pieces of music may hinder attention unreasonably when driving a car, but certainly such danger does not flow from the music itself but the lack of prudence on the part of the driver. The use of music in medicine, psychiatry, study and the like are really discoveries made outside music's parameters and purposes. To the extent that it helps humankind overcome certain evils both physical and moral, it is to be commended. But this will not be so simply because it follows certain musical laws of a particular time and place as its inner core shares in the ineffable mystery of the human person. Created musical beauty has other mansions or levels within itself that not even the musician is always aware of, which in some ways has been the task and findings of this book. It has been difficult to develop an understanding of the theology of music from a moral perspective because it is perplexing to comprehend what music is and why it exists at all, since we are dealing with a string of ordered accidents: timing, tuning, rhythms, melodies and harmonies. Additionally, once one has developed an appreciation for particular pieces of music, it is difficult to make allowances for new music as the school of Aristotle (and experience) has noted. Also, there are the further problems about musical species: are there distinct kinds or is there simply one music? It has become my contention that music is like a genus with various specific branches that have blossomed over the centuries based upon many factors: development of the art form by musicians and composers who were equipped to write both sacred music (liturgical and religious) and non-sacred pure works of music, with and without words and so with or without explicit meaning. Also, these works could not have been produced without the positive and even negative influence of the Church authorities. As music and musicians became more notable and important, a corresponding change in attitudes occurred toward instruments as such, simple things like the ability to write music in a common code to a common tuning fork, and finally, the various purposes of music changing over the centuries: all of these factors gave rise to the various branches of a common genus called music. Certainly it should he clear by now even with different musical styles that (1) the quartets of Beethoven or a composition improvised by the Benny Goodman quartet, (2) the operas of Verdi and Wagner, or the songs performed by Frank Sinatra and the Beatles (3) a Mass of Bach or an oratorio by Handel, (4), a Mass of Palestrina or Gregorian Chant are four different kinds of musical, aesthetic and/or religious experiences. They are all related yet somewhat different by reason of their immediate end(s). They can have immediate or remote moral or immoral effects of themselves by force of the music plus implicit or explicit ideas drawn from the lyrics, pure music being "somewhat" of an exception. While I did not go into the effects of academic courses about music and musicians, one could argue that whatever increases the spiritual pleasure of listening can proportionately increase the related virtue.[2] Moreover, looking at the question extrinsically from the point of view the person listening, there can be moral or immoral experiences depending upon the motives and manner in which the musical experiences are employed or imbibed. Based upon my studies, we saw that some music


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