Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Perspectives and Musical Analysis between Occident and Orient

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Perspectives and Musical Analysis between Occident and Orient

Article excerpt

When we speak of the Orient, our virtual memory evokes wide open spaces, where the time element loses its real meaning, all taking place as within eternity. On the contrary, the Occident, as a semantic concept means spatial and temporal limits, the quadrate, moral, intellectual and social constraints. But the spiritual typology of these two civilizations contradicts existing clichés, perhaps because of the inevitable truth that the mind has acquired out of contrasting marks as compared to where it was developed. As the balance, the fundamental law that should be ruling the world requires the existence of counterweights, so that reality may not be pleonastic, fact that would inevitably lead it to its extinction.

First, we must determine what East is referred to, because geographically it implies Asia (Middle East and Far East), but culturally it also includes the Turkic and Arabic speaking countries, countries of Islamic culture, not necessarily in the sense of religion, but mainly in the sense of cultural tradition.

Although in both civilizations the lode of music was religion, its role being to emphasize the expressiveness of the verb, the later development had different manifestations, in form and content, and even during shifted periods. Almost from the beginning Occidentals felt the need to free their mind and soul of the narrow space that overwhelmed them, as being the only way out of spatiotemporal constraints. Meanwhile, the Easterners reflected on themselves, while conserving the idea that "the world is the mirror of God" that leads to the focus on the theme of the individual tragic condition, as a consequence of the same dominant theme in antiquity. In fact, Occidental music quickly released itself from the burden of the word, and harmony, polyphony and counterpoint (choir at first, indeed) demanded the appearance of polyphonic instruments, of which the organ was the example of magnitude and complexity. The timbre spectrum was structured in the instrumental diversity so that the symbiosis between the full orchestra and the choir is fully accomplished in the early nineteenth century in Europe (the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven). The increasingly accentuated dynamic and formal timbre diversity reveals musicians' research and efforts to nuance the expressiveness of the fight between feeling and intelligence (their favorite theme). It is because of these efforts that they introduce, especially after 1830 (the year of impact with the Arab culture, due to the inclusion of Algiers), oriental items that they call exotic, meaning otherness, of what is neither ordinary nor known.

However, Islamic music (as music belonging to Arabic, Turkic cultures, and not in the sense of religious music) carefully kept vocal characteristics, with strict laws of composition, expression and behavior, being traditional music, transmitted orally and not in written form, as in the Occident. According to During "any tradition is created in the objective world, meaning that it adheres to a meaning, to truths (or dogmas), it complies to standards and laws, is full of symbols that bring up a lack of transcendence without which it deteriorates in practice"32. In Islamic cultures, tradition, especially oral (because here music is eminently vocal, dependent of poetry), has not allowed musicians to go beyond Sufism , since one cannot speak of music aesthetics (as an art independent of the verb) before the twentieth century. Music beauty laws take shape once with the loosening of music from poetry, namely, when the music starts to have an intrinsic expressive value. But, since until the twentieth century we talk about the perfect symbiosis between poem and melody, the influence of music on the audience can (and it surely should!) amplify the expressive value of the verb, while maintaining its high value aesthetics. For example, Al Farabi speaks of the existence of blank and full notes in Islamic music, and this in relation to the words of the poem. …

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