Reflective account on learning through Part 5

After my personal experience so far, I was expecting the Old Music to be melancholic, sad, without drive. Although the prejudice keeps alive to a big extent, it was so much more enjoyable to find exceptions like Jan Dismas Zelenka or Tomás Luis de Victoria, letting a joy for life impregnate almost every work they wrote. I read the Classical period produced many more works in a major key than any other period, and we tend to perceive minor ones as more melancholic—and just a few composers (but some at least) escaped the paradigm.

Dissonances are usually described as unpleasant or even the basis for noise—but that is a very subjective perspective. The view on it as something that makes music move forward was new to me—and I agreed totally, since I do not perceive dissonances as unpleasant but rather as interesting (or even better, thought-provoking). The different approaches that exist in all periods of music and the uses dissonances can be given opened a new world of possibilities for me as a composer.

It makes sense to divide music in periods, and some composers are stereotypical for their times; yet Zelenka, Machaut, Victoria… are composers that, through sound, technique or wit, brought to my mind music from times that were to come after their lives, or in other words, they foreshadowed future styles. Music style is a continuum.

After several decades, I remembered all the circumstances around the first time I listened to Bach’s music consciously, just not sure about the piece—I think it was Fantasia and Fugue in G minor. I felt in love with his music immediately. I was, though, far from the admiration I feel today at his heavenly gift to create musical architecture combining dissonances, mathematics, counterpoint, beautiful melodies and arresting feelings. Going through this project has increased that admiration to painful levels: how can I even try to write music? (Answer: because I normally do not choose, it is music who decides to be written).

Again, the investment of studying a score proved to be worth it: it enhanced my listening of Bach’s Fugue in D# minor, BWV 853. Having said that, some compositions are more enjoyable when one does not know the story behind or the musical messages used to support the meaning of the words. The best example of this is probably the Crucifixus from Bach’s Mass in B minor.

One could discuss the advantages and downsides of the different types of patronage, but it is undenyable that, together with music printing, it did a lot to help music existing, spreading and even surviving in some cases.

Philosophical movements and social changes in general affect the way we see, produce, and consume Art. Sometimes it can impose certain rules upon us, sometimes it will release us from ties. Having said that, I got the impression that Music, in general, is affected later than the other Arts (painting, literature).

Listening to variations reminded me again my musical memory has worsened a lot. I need to find the reasons for it, as it affects my enjoyment of certain musical forms.

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