At a concert in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 5 where Henrik Frendin and myself presented a program of electroacoustic music for electric viola and live electronics we were asked the question if we regarded this music as a cross over between western classical tradition and popular music (I believe the term used was ‘low music’). Leave alone that the question is stupid it made me think more about a few things relating to the bodily experience of music as compared to the spiritual. These are just thoughts and they may prove to be irrelevant or even wrong but I will want to give it a chance.

Western european dance music and popular music has had a strong rhythmic element for a long time. This is music with a purpose to make us want to dance, to move our body. In western thinking the body, res extensa, is seen as an opposition to the spiritual or intellectual qualities in the human experience. There is also an underlying value judgement that the spontaneous reaction of the body is in a certain sense less worth or that it can not reach the same level of refinement as can the intellectual and analytical expression. May this be the reason that so little effort and work has been put into the theory of rhythm in western classical music? (Compare the number of books that can be found on the subject of western classical harmony and the number of serious books dealing with rhythm.) It is obvious that church music has deliberately removed many of the qualities in its expression that, in extremely generalised terms, speak to the body and this music is the ancestor of the western classical tradition.

Regard this post as a point of departure rather than a statement…

Click the tag/category for related posts