The Pathetick Musician: Moving an Audience in the Age of Eloquence

PDF The Pathetick Musician: Moving an Audience in the Age of Eloquence © Oxford University Press 2016

Author in the category "Miscellaneous"
  1. Bruce Haynes
  2. Geoffrey Burgess
The Pathetick Musician

What is rhetorical music? In The Pathetick Musician, Bruce Haynes and Geoffrey Burgess illustrate the vital place of rhetoric and eloquent expression in the creation and performance of Baroque music. Through engaging explorations of the cantatas of J.S. Bach, the authors explode the conventional notion of historical authenticity in music, proposing adventurous new directions to reinvigorate the performance of early music in the modern setting. Along the way, Haynes and Burgess investigate intersections between music and oratory, dance, gesture, poetry, painting and sculpture, and offer insights into figural elaboration, articulation, nuance and temporality. Aimed primarily at performers of Baroque music, the book situates the study of performance practice in a broader cultural context, and as much as an invaluable resource for advanced study, it contains a wealth of information that pertains directly to anyone working in the field of early music.

Based on a draft sketched by celebrated Baroque oboist and early music scholar Bruce Haynes before his death in 2011, The Pathetick Musician is the fruit of the combined wisdom of two musicians renowned equally for their contributions as performers and scholars. Drawing on an impressive array of Classical treatises on oratory, musical autographs and performance accounts, it is an essential companion to Haynes' controversial The End of Early Music. Geoffrey Burgess has taken up the broader claims of Haynes' philosophy to create a practical, accessible text that will be stimulating for all musicians interested in the rediscovery of early music. With copious musical examples, contemporaneous works of art, and a companion website with supplementary audio recordings, The Pathetick Musician is an invaluable resource for all interested in exploring new expressive possibilities in the performance and study of Baroque music.

PREFACE
Pipe Dreams
BRUCE HAYNES

I’ve just loaded my 9BC with Balkan Sasieni and lit up. What a pleasure! My first pipe since last week. Years ago I stopped bringing pipes with me on trips, since the likelihood of finding a place to smoke where I won’t disturb others was so small, and smoking stops being a pleasure if you worry that it may be giving someone else the opposite feeling. I’ve pretty much stopped smoking my pipe anywhere but in my studio. The last few years, I’ve found one of the medicines I take tends to cause drowsiness, but smoking a pipe counteracts it, so I’m actually smoking more than I used to. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to have written what I have over the last years without my pipes.

The pipe is said to draw wisdom from the lips of philosophers, and stifle the voices of fools. I hope that works for me, whichever category I’m in! I’m in good company, because Sebastian Bach was a pipe smoker, too, and even left us with an aria called “Erbauliche Gedanken eines Tobackrauchers.” (Edifying Thoughts of a Tobacco Smoker) with a delightfully philosophical text on the inspirational aspects of smoking.

This book began as my attempt to sort out for myself the issues of expression and the passions in Baroque performance. My premise has been that we have been so concerned by the mechanics of music production that we have lost touch the spirit, the real music, the musicking.

Music and emotion are associated in most, perhaps all, human cultural activities with the theory of the passions, which as foreign as it may seem to us today, was a forebear for our modern psychology. My hope with this book is to confirm and reinforce our growing appreciation for the emotional side of music before the Romantic revolution. It’s difficult to isolate emotion as expressed and experienced in art from one’s life in general, but since I have begun to think of music as rhetoric, as I read more about these topics, and as it becomes evident that the music was originally conceived for the primary purpose of evoking emotion, I find myself gradually becoming more affected by what I hear. This is something I am glad to share with anyone who reads this, and it is also what makes it worth writing.

The notion that music is primarily emotional communication may seem, at first, like a small element in the craft of being a musician. Perhaps it is self-evident, but when I think of my own experience playing music from before 1800, I wish I had known from the outset what I know now. I was sometimes aware (even very conscious) of a piece’s emotion, but it never dawned on me that my job was to awaken that emotion in the hearts of my listeners. Nor did I know that virtually all the music I was performing was intended to convey passions. There were times when it would have made an overwhelming difference to me as a player to know that this music was never conceived to be merely beautiful and enchanting to listen to, but that it almost always had an ulterior motive: some kind of point to make. That would have affected my playing (quite literally!) because musicians who do not have that information (and most do not) inevitably tend toward the fast lane, or simply the efflorescence of beauty. It’s easy, you just put your fingers on the right keys at the right time, and the music plays itself ... or does it?

We are so used to beauty as an obligatory attribute of any artwork— something that needs to be consciously and deliberately expressed—that it’s difficult to imagine any other view. I catch myself sometimes describing a work of art as “beautiful” when what I really mean is that it has touched my heart. I’ve found enough substance in the idea of music as an expressive art that goes beyond “mere” beauty to fill a book, and to be worth devoting several satisfying years to its study. I hope, if you read on, you’ll see what I mean about the vital and fundamental effect this idea can have on contemporary music in general, and especially on modern performances of music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as new music written in that style.
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