Friday, January 29, 2010

power of music

I  have been listening to the history of opera by Prof. Robert Greenberg.  He emphasizes the development of song as a tussle between words and music.  I have been attracted to words but had much less experience with music.  Lately, in Hawaii and in Cajun country, we have had  a chance to hear from musicians and composers about the place and importance of music.

Greenberg explains that it was a given in the 15 and 16 hundreds, that tunes were background to words, that it was the words and their articulation that mattered.  Then, discovery of ancient Greek writings about music challenged musicians to produce music that altered souls as the Greeks claimed their music had.  They moved toward the thrilling Verdi and Puccini arias we are familiar with today.

We have so much sound today, as background to ads and part of nearly every story on tv, that it is easy for me to overlook the power of rhythm and tone.  But when the congregation sings a great hymn or a single powerful singer sings a moving song at a wedding, I get refreshed respect for the power of music.

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