Sunday, 30 May 2010

Lunacharsky on music

Extract from Lunacharsky: ‘Taneyev and Scriabin’ from On Literature and Art, 1925.

Music originated as an expression of human emotions. We cannot for a moment doubt that it was born of man’s cries of emotion. We know wherein the “music” of the animal world originates. Erotic music is the most objective example since, besides its cries of naked passion, it includes some elements of enticement, attracting the female by a sort of serenade. In the nightingale’s song we find not only the emotions of the male, but an art that is self-contained, unfolding in the mating process and reaching, not in the individual, but in the species as a whole, true perfection.

Every other type of song has apparently developed along similar lines: sobbing gave rise to lamentation, which in turn became a dirge; the wild shrieking of warriors before battle resulted in military marches, and so forth. The whole significance of transforming emotional cries into music, or, more probably, into singing, lay in the fact that a purity of form was acquired, that there gradually evolved clear tones and their set combinations, the skill of producing melody, etc.

In following this course, music eventually became most complex. Man gained helpers, the most varied instruments, to express the personal or social emotions that burned in his breast.


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