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The Power and Value of Music

Its Effect and Ethos in Classical Authors and Contemporary Music Theory

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Andreas Kramarz

Nobody doubts that music has a special, somewhat mysterious power. Less clear is how we can evaluate that power. What makes music good or bad? Are there objective criteria for such a distinction? What impact can or should music have on individuals and on society as a whole? What are the factors responsible for the effect of music? This book summarizes and discusses how authors of classical antiquity addressed these questions on musical «ethos» and how they can be approached from a modern-day perspective.
After systematically assembling and assessing the value-carrying characterizations of music in poetic literature, the author reviews all noteworthy Greek and Latin writings which enlighten musical «ethos» from the theoretical-philosophical perspective. He then carries the intuitions of the ancients into our time by proposing a coherent model to explain the relationship between music, ethos, and emotions based on the results of contemporary research in the disciplines of music psychology and philosophy. The concept of harmony, understood as the appropriate measure or as the balance of opposites and so central to the reflections of the ancient authors, plays a key role in shedding light on the value and impact, both positive and negative, of music in human existence.
This book provides the most comprehensive overview available about the effect and ethos of music in antiquity and discusses many related questions of scholarly interest. It includes numerous references provided in the original language with translation, ample empirical material for further research, and an extensive bibliography.
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Chapter One. Introduction

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction



There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur (…). And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. (…)

Then Ilúvatar said to them: “Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. (…) Ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme (…). But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.”

Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, (…) and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void. (…)

But when they were come into the Void, Ilúvatar said to them: “Behold your Music!” And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing; and they saw a new World made visible before them (…). And they saw with amazement the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and the habitation...

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