Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 14 July 6, 1938
Music and History — History and Music
Music and History
History and Music
Why couple History and Music" Both are subjects of intelligent interest; and each is capable of throwing considerable light on the other.
In outline, there is the question and the answer propounded by Dr. J. C. Beaglehole in an address to the Phoenix club on Wednesday evening. To illustrate his subject the Doctor interspersed his lecture with gramophone records.
History is mainly intellectual a search for understanding on the intellectual side. Music, like any other art, for an ordinary person, is mainly emotional. There is the intellectual side, certainly but that subserves the emotional side. Music is part of the search for understanding on the emotional side. In History, the emotional should subserve the intellectual. They therefore make good partners. Particularly for anyone interested in what we may vaguely call the human mind.
Two things must be remembered: Either Music or History can be pursued out of pure desire for knowledge the knowledge it may be of Plainsong or of the British Constitution. Furthermore, a work of art in Music or anything else, has its ultimate validity in terms of itself and not of surrounding circumstances; beyond this, the masterpiece may illuminate, not merely our own minds but also its own age. It is that particular illumination we can find in coupling Music with History.
A true understanding of History involves the soaking of our minds in the arts and crafts of an age. In doing so we achieve both an intellectual and an emotional approach, The study of music is perhaps the best method of obtaining the emotion at insight.
Musics Historial Significance.
In music we get not only an insight into the mind of a composer but into a way of life, a way of thought, a type of character in a period of history. We fancy ourselves hearing Bach in a German Cathedral. With Palestrina we are at St. Peters, Rome, in the middle of the Reformation. In listening to negro spirituals we may understand slavery as a social institution of history.