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instrumental in music ideology

Thread Contributor: UFO_over_easyIdeology in instrumental music

#1
So I was thinking, quite a lot of the music I listened to before I was into electronic stuff tended to be quite political and ideological. In death metal and doom nihilism is dominant, in black metal, even though it's often for theatrical purposes, satanism and paganism are both popular. Hardcore and grindcore has strong links to anarchism and other far left groups... but you wouldn't really know were it not for the lyrics.

So can instrumental music be truly ideological? Obviously you've got people like Wagner, a strongly anti-Semitic composer, writing instrumental symphonies, but could you actually describe the music he was writing as anti-Semitic, or should you be limited to saying that he is anti-semitic and the music is open to personal interpretation?
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#2
...well, i'm not so sure about Wagner (the music doesn't seem to be anti-Semitic outright but it's bad enough Hitler was such a champion of his work and his stuff is painful enough to sit all the way thru imo), but for another example that fits better could be Fela Kuti...


...on his track "I go shout plenty" Fela defiantly vowed to continue bringing the noise with his musical criticisms despite government intimidation. on the tune "no agreement" however he took the opposite strategy, vowing to keep his mouth tightly shut on the funky instrumental track if it meant agreeing to something which would sell out the Nigerian people... it worked, and Lester Bowie blew a brilliant trumpet solo on it as if to non-vocally articulate Fela's stance..
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#3
wagner was very anti semitic, his music was inspired by germanic heros. he also proposed in 1854, that germans should find some kind of ultimate solution to the problem of jews in europe. he said publically that jews should help themselves and europe by burning themselves.

he inspired hitler through more than just his oppressive music. his writings went hand in hand with his operas and symphonies. it was his writings and his lifestyle that inspired hitler most. hitler almost married his daughter...

make no mistake, if wagner was a g from south central he would be rhyming about how to kill all white americans. the only thing that saves him from damnation is the fact that his genre does not lend itself to obvious political comment.

personally i cant seperate music from the setting it was written in. every generation has motive, has something to comment on.

but the ultimate irony is that you will find wagner high on the list of most jewish composers influence lists. his sense of nationalism and how it came out in his music has inspired people who have sought to mould nations for generations. israel wasnt above this inspiration.



but then, do we hate hugo boss, mercedes, volkswagon, porche, because of their involvement with the nazis all that time ago?

or do we get over it and enjoy these things for what they are now?
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#4
well to me jungle itself feels anti-establishment
heavily influenced by hip hop and reggae

but thas just me Wave

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#5
_cform Wrote:wagner was very anti semitic, his music was inspired by germanic heros. he also proposed in 1854, that germans should find some kind of ultimate solution to the problem of jews in europe. he said publically that jews should help themselves and europe by burning themselves.

he inspired hitler through more than just his oppressive music. his writings went hand in hand with his operas and symphonies. it was his writings and his lifestyle that inspired hitler most. hitler almost married his daughter...

make no mistake, if wagner was a g from south central he would be rhyming about how to kill all white americans. the only thing that saves him from damnation is the fact that his genre does not lend itself to obvious political comment.

personally i cant seperate music from the setting it was written in. every generation has motive, has something to comment on.

but the ultimate irony is that you will find wagner high on the list of most jewish composers influence lists. his sense of nationalism and how it came out in his music has inspired people who have sought to mould nations for generations. israel wasnt above this inspiration.



but then, do we hate hugo boss, mercedes, volkswagon, porche, because of their involvement with the nazis all that time ago?

or do we get over it and enjoy these things for what they are now?



...that's pretty dark, it reminds me of something i found out recently about Frank Sinatra from his autobiography... in "all the way" he describes getting into the cause for Israel and going so far as to covertly deliver a briefcase with about $2,000,000 cash to a boat waiting in New York harbor going to the armed movement aiming to establish the state of Israel...

(all of a sudden i can hear different lyrics to "New York New York")
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#6
ufo_over_easy Wrote:so can instrumental music be truly ideological?

have you read...?

eddie prévost - no sound is innocent

it's a collection of short pieces (1-2 pages) about free improvisation
including a lot about the political approach to this form of music

Xyxthumbs
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#7
Thanks for the tip Smile
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#8
The greatest classical music composer who ever lived Dimitri Shostakovich (DSCH) was a lifelong Anti-Stalinist who wrote his 10th Symphony to celebrate Stalin's death.
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#9
Sub Way Wrote:The greatest classical music composer who ever lived Dimitri Shostakovich (DSCH) was a lifelong Anti-Stalinist who wrote his 10th Symphony to celebrate Stalin's death.

You haven't answered my question with that post. Can the music be called anti-stalinist, or just Shostakovich? Surely a pro-Stalinist could find meaning in his music as well?
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#10
So why is there an alt.fan.shostakovich? Are their really that many more Shostakovich fans than, say, Tchaikovsky?

No, but with Shostakovich, we have just the sort of cultish addenda that guarantees usenet interest:

A sort of pre-cyberpunk film noir fantasy set in a Kafkaesque pseudo-Stalinist dystopia where Dimitri/Kingsly, pursued by Warhol-like arrays of bloated busts of Uncle Joe, is metamorphosed into an icon (Greek-Orthodox or Windows 256-color) of The New World Order of yuppie greedheads and market-worshipping skinheads. Coo-ool.
The movie's book: Solomon Volkov's famous fraud that was supposedly secretly communicated by the dying composer, with his name (signed in blood?) forged on the chapters, heroically smuggled out of the U.S.S.R., to be published after his death. Wow.
And if that's not enough, a former tabloid journalist and wannabe Beatles pundit proposes a cryptic "New Shostakovich", with arcane interpretations that suggest that the works of this famous composer have, for more than half-a-century, completely fooled everybody from fans to musicologists on both sides of the iron curtain as to what they are basically about!
And there's more! Shostakovich is Reconsidered with pounds of pseudo-scholarship and self-referential silliness that will blow your mind with the DSCH-O.J.Simpson connection and proof (well, sort of) that all accredited western musicologists have been involved in a secret Stalinist conspiracy.
This is the stuff of an alt. usenet newsgroup! Debussy & Ravel, Verdi, Rossini, & Puccini may need help. But alt.fan.shostakovich is a gimme. And its content, varying in intensity as from time to time someone challenges the cult hierarchy, is about what you'd expect. Members who've sufficiently established their right-wing credentials describe at length the colorfully cinematic anti-Soviet day-dreams they experience while listening to their latest CD. One can also find quoted as gospel some rarely remembered revisionist cranks of the rabid right.

I followed this group for a few years before spending some months trying to debunk some of this fashionable but ahistorical nonsense. Stepping out of line from the insular group's political orthodoxy provokes a circling of the wagons and red-baiting at a level scarcely to be believed. I suppose my attempts have added somewhat to the political traffic you object to. Sorry. But I have done so because, as you say, his music deserves to be judged on its own merit, and not on the absurd fantasies ascribed to it by musically naive Young Republicans and axe-grinding emigres. And, while I have been a musician all my life, history is also important to me.

-Rick

http://www.geocities.com/rickredrick/Shostakovich.html
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#11
UFO_over_easy Wrote:You haven't answered my question with that post. Can the music be called anti-stalinist, or just Shostakovich? Surely a pro-Stalinist could find meaning in his music as well?
Let me see if I can address your question this way.

I despise the racist anti-white Marxist hate politics of Chuck D. and Public Enemy. They are racist. They are Marxist. They are antiamerican. But I love the music because Terminator X and Chuck D. both sound dope.

In fact I'm going to play Don't Believe The Hype right now Icon_exclaim
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#12
dj_obiwan Wrote:well to me jungle itself feels anti-establishment
heavily influenced by hip hop and reggae

It felt that way to me too... as much as a form that refuses to vocally articulate a coherent political ideology in the trad. sense actually can............ but when techstep became neurofunk (97-99) it felt like the resistance had collapsed into a full-on dance with the devil: Babylon had won and suddenly Junglists were dressing like house heads, and doing loads of cocaine, and making the music into e-z beat straight line music, and endlessly looking for ways to further refine it into a generic music/drugs/cultural experience.
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#13
UFO_over_easy Wrote:So I was thinking, quite a lot of the music I listened to before I was into electronic stuff tended to be quite political and ideological. In death metal and doom nihilism is dominant, in black metal, even though it's often for theatrical purposes, satanism and paganism are both popular.


Can death and doom metal be characterised as 'political'? Clearly there will be specific examples, but is it any more political than pop - with Band Aid, or Prince singing Sign O' the Times?

And can nihilism in that sense usefully be described as 'political'? I think such bands are probably about as political as Linkin Park.... angst fantasies seeking expression. Nothing bad with that per se, but flip it over and you've got The Cheeky Girls, who just wanna have a good time (also 'political', if you like - and depending on the circumstances)...
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#14
I think the perfect answer to your question lies in autechre's anti EP. this EP was constructed as a direct respobse to the criminal justice bill in england, which as most of youknow, basically outlawed raves and therfore a whole way of life. the liner notes on the album state that autechre are not politically aligned and tey simply wanted to make music that summed up the mood everybody was in.

to me the album is very similar to neil young's after the gold rush album, in that it is the sound of a failed revolution. of people coming to terms with the fact that their dreams have been shattered by the state. the music alone speaks these feelings.

here's another one - phonem's ilisu LP - all about the ilisu dam in turkey and energy conservation in general.
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#15
Breaker Wrote:people coming to terms with the fact that their dreams have been shattered by the state.
Grin Grin Grin

Welcome...this board is in desperate need of more Conservatives like you... Grin
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#16
Naphta Wrote:Can death and doom metal be characterised as 'political'? Clearly there will be specific examples, but is it any more political than pop - with Band Aid, or Prince singing Sign O' the Times?

And can nihilism in that sense usefully be described as 'political'?

No, but it's a coherent ideology. The two aren't mututally exclusive. Hardcore, and the recent revival of DIY hardcore, were and are extremely political though - check out bands like minor threat, scalplock, infest etc... their politics were perhaps their defining feature.

Quote:I think such bands are probably about as political as Linkin Park.... angst fantasies seeking expression. Nothing bad with that per se, but flip it over and you've got The Cheeky Girls, who just wanna have a good time...

As political as Linkin Park sure, but their music carries more meaning and substance than any pop-metal bands that I can think of. The majority of the members of death metal bands that I like are fiercely intelligent, well read, and far from angsty. Their often incredible musicality and technical ability is testament to their dedication...
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#17
Sub Way Wrote:
Breaker Wrote:people coming to terms with the fact that their dreams have been shattered by the state.
Grin Grin Grin

Welcome...this board is in desperate need of more Conservatives like you... Grin


u dont have a clue Roll
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#18
sorry, haven't figured out to do the quot thing yet but, in response to sub way's comment on my last post:

I think it was a valid comment to say people's dreams (well at least their lifestyles) were shattered by the state. remember nixon sending in the troops at ohio state? neil young wrote a song about that too. then in england the riot police betating the shit out of ravers weekend after weekend.
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#19
breaker Wrote:i think it was a valid comment

it was a valid comment Xyxthumbs

it's best not to take much notice of subway - unless you're in the mood for an endless argument

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#20
UFO_over_easy Wrote:No, but it's a coherent ideology. The two aren't mututally exclusive. Hardcore, and the recent revival of DIY hardcore, were and are extremely political though - check out bands like minor threat, scalplock, infest etc... their politics were perhaps their defining feature.

For Minor Threat, Fugazi etc., undoubtedly. But Death Metal... hmmm? It seesm to me that this genre tends to be most motivated by an aesthetic alignment with the Gothic / the morbid / trappings of the occult etc. Perhaps things have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years, but if the aesthetics take precedence over the politics per se, are we not just looking at the flip side of pop music?

Quote:As political as Linkin Park sure, but their music carries more meaning and substance than any pop-metal bands that I can think of. The majority of the members of death metal bands that I like are fiercely intelligent, well read, and far from angsty. Their often incredible musicality and technical ability is testament to their dedication...

I don't think that virtuousity or technical ability being testament to their 'dedication' relates in any way to their actual political beliefs, does it? e.g. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani etc....?

For me, the most interesting 'metal' band I've ever heard were the first incarnation of Jane's Addiction: Perry Farrell expressed sentiments that normally seem off-limits for most Metallers - probably cos they appear to compromise the limited bellicose worldview traditional in Metal (which IMO is a simple music: it likes black v white, good v evil etc.)

Don't get me wrong - that simplicity is its greatest strength too.... I love the aggression of vintage Slayer for instance..... but the lyrics and vocals are execrable - either cringe-inducing immaturity, or just tacked on as an afterthought. "Er, what rhymes with 'Death' again...?"
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#21
Breaker Wrote:sorry, haven't figured out to do the quot thing yet but, in response to sub way's comment on my last post:

Type

quote

in square brackets at the beginning of the passage you wanna quote

and then /quote

in square brackets at the end
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#22
More interesting than whether or not music is political... What happens when musicians query the relevance of their work and wish to bring politics into it?

AMM split because of this. I'm not sure who exactly went which way (without checking) but certainly Cornelius Cardew went away to write polemic music, while others stayed to pursue the art music itself.

This is partly what makes Eddie Prévost's book so interesting... where he justifies the music making itself (or rather AMM's approach to music making) as a meaningful political act.
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#23
Naphta - all I can really say is that I need to send you some music for you to check out!! Smile

Do you AIM at all?
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#24
Statto Wrote:More interesting than whether or not music is political... What happens when musicians query the relevance of their work and wish to bring politics into it?

Interesting point. Cryptopsy underwent very important line-up changes and become political... that's when they started to suck.

They got their old vocalist back recently though, so I have hope for the future.
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#25
UFO_over_easy Wrote:become political... that's when they started to suck.

yeah, that's what usually happens Hahaha

unless it's part of the music to begin with, trying to force it in doesn't usually work
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