In my previous post from Quantz â€œOn playing the Fluteâ€ I quoted:
â€œWhoever is aware of how much influence mathematics and other related sciences, such as philosophy, poetry, and oratory, have upon music, will have to own not only that music has a greater compass than many imagine, but also that the evident lack of knowledge about the above-mentioned sciences among the majority of professional musicians is a great obstacle to their further advancement, and the reason why music has not yet been brought to a more perfect state.â€
What I find very interesting is that Quantz criticizes the contemporary music of having many flaws and would like music students to be more educated. I wonder what his take on the conservatory studies today would be as they in my mind are much more narrow than what my impression of those days requirements are. This is great so that we can spend more time with our instruments, but as Quantz recognizes it does not necessarily make us good musicians as much as able technicians. People often argue that they make music because they play whatâ€™s they feel. But if we do study the language, how do we know what the composers wanted us to feel? How can we hope to communicate these feelings to our audience when we do not know the subtleties the composer put into these feelings? Just to speculate a bit, does the fact that we miss out on a great many subjects contribute to the mysticism of music where so many claim not to understand it or even claim to be non-musical?
Hope no-one got offended, as usual this is my thinking out loud and hoping to get your comments on the matter.
Iâ€™ve studied computer science and then gone on to study the recorder and Iâ€™m currently busying myself with making the recorder able to control the computer. I love the combination, but wondered a bit about if Iâ€™ve chosen a favourable tradeoff. Iâ€™m happy so I guess Iâ€™m not doing to bad. But, when I started reading â€œOn playing the Fluteâ€ by Johann Joachim Quantz (the book Iâ€™m referring to is the 2nd edition of the English translation by Edward R. Reilly published through Faber & Faber) I found that he had something to say on the issue. In chapter 1 (page 24) he writes:
â€œFurthermore, a musician must not occupy himself with too many other things. Almost every science requires the whole man. My meaning here, however, is by no means that it is impossible to excel in more than one science at the same time, but that this requires a quite extraordinary talent, of a kind that nature seldom produces.â€
Ouch! But later in the same paragraph: â€œYet if someone who gives himself to academic studies has sufficient talent for music, and devotes just as much industry to it as to the former, he not only has an advantage over other musicians, but also can be of greater service to music in general than others, as can be demonstrated with many examples. Whoever is aware of how much influence mathematics and other related sciences, such as philosophy, poetry, and oratory, have upon music, will have to own not only that music has a greater compass than many imagine, but also that the evident lack of knowledge about the above-mentioned sciences among the majority of professional musicians is a great obstacle to their further advancement, and the reason why music has not yet been brought to a more perfect state.â€
So, apparently, nature seldom produces people that can do two things well, but there are many examples if the two things are music and academic studies. Of course, a good question is what Quantz recognizes as academic studies. Is what he writes considered academic by his contemporaries?
PS, happy new year!
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