All of these people talking about Bach like he’s God’s left hand… you know what it is, right? He wrote the book on tempered keyboards. It’s like, before Bach, composers just did what they liked, any old scale will do and hey, if I want a harpsichord solo right now, I’ll have one. It’s the birth of the age of the enlightenment, innit, the time when art decided it was more important than religion, and science was the only game of truth in town…
Yeah, I like Bach in small doses, like a Ricercar à 6 as part of a well-balanced menu. You know, maybe to cleanse the palate before I tuck into some meatier fare. Maybe some romance, maybe Three Pieces for Piano and String by Piazzolla. Give me some of that tango-influenced swing, baby, and hammer on the bass and piano like they are percussion.
You know what we forget so often? That classical music is a story. That the movement from polyphony, through opera to the massed orchestra of Mahler and then into Matthew Whiteside working to get his compositions out on the street: it is history made visible through flashes of lightning… or a rattle of thunder… and events like South Atlantic Crossings or Sound Thought tell the story from a different perspective. And the story is that people keep moving, only finding places now and again to stand and grasp at solid ground.
Those people who say Bach is special: they’re only talking loud and saying nothing. Without history, with context, it just some sounds. In a good sequence, but it is this sequence that matters. And it won’t stop with the last note.
In my dreams, I am talking to Plato, and when he is not talking about Aristotle being a total ass, he’s like: you gots to listen to the right kind of music man. All that rock’n’roll going to destroy your soul man and I know you thinks that’s cool…
But have you seen the state of the world lately? Sure, we didn’t treat the slaves and the foreigns right in fifth century Athens, but I didn’t see any nuclear bombs in the hands of a maniac when I went on my holiday to Syracuse. I’m not saying Donald Trump is stupider than Pericles, but I am saying that the worst thing Pericles could do is head-butt someone.
He did have one hell of a forehead.
Anyway, I don’t think Trump will bomb anyone. It just comes across as an ass-hat to show off in front of his new mates. Get him in the Oval-Office, and it’s going to be like the end of The Candidate all over again.
“What do we do now?”
“Well, The Donald, why don’t you take Little Donald to the opera? Music soothes the savage beast after all. From the way you’ve been carrying on, I don’t think you’ve had your hole lately. Abstract sounds sculpturing air into architectural orders might assuage that raging boner for death.”
It’s like having Thanos standing for election.