On Memory and Music in “Early Music America”

The Fall issue of Early Music America has a wonderful essay by Thomas Forrest Kelly from Harvard on "Our Memory of Music."  Worth searching out if you don't subscribe.  Here's the tantalizing opening from St. Basil the Great:

"Of the arts necessary to life which furnish a concrete result, there is carpentry, which produces the chair; architecture, the house; shipbuilding, the ship, tailoring, the garment; forging, the blade.  Of useless arts there is harp playing, dancing, flute playing, of which, when the operation ceases, the result disappears with it."

Rather discouraging words to a harpist, but one must remember that the early Church Fathers weren't exactly wild about instrumental music because of its pagan associations.  And in the age of "mechanical reproduction," as Walter Benjamin called it, we can make our music endure.

Or so we think.  How much of our performance is really "of the moment"?  How much is or isn't captured on a video or a CD?  Where's the real art? 

Good things to think about – check the essay.  Or join Early Music America and learn new things on a regular basis.

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