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«Seiner Leidenschaften Meister sein» - «In control of the passions»

Zur Reflexion des Gefühls im Musikdenken - Emotion as reflected in musical thinking

Joachim Noller

Was heißt es, wenn Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach vom ausführenden Musiker fordert, er müsse selbst gerührt sein, bevor er seine Zuhörer in Rührung versetzen könne? Der Autor schreibt über die Idee der Emotion, über ihre Rolle im Szenario sogenannter Musikanschauung (von ca. 1750 bis heute). Von Interesse ist dabei weniger die Gefühlshaltigkeit der Musik selbst, als vielmehr die Art, wie das Musikdenken dieselbe be- und verhandelt; nicht Emotionen in tatsächlicher Wirkung, sondern wie sie, als Denkfigur, in musikalischen Zusammenhängen theoretisch bewältigt werden.
What does it mean when Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach demands that a performing musician must himself be moved before he can move his listeners? The author writes about the idea of emotions and their role in the scenario of what is called music appreciation (from about 1750 till the present day). His focus is not primarily on the emotional content of music as such, but rather the way in which it is treated in thinking about music; not on the actual impact of emotions, but the way in which they have been thought about in a musical context, as concepts around which a theoretical discourse crystallizes.
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XIV Catharsis


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When the editor-in-chief of a German tabloid newspaper was asked to define his goal as a journalist, he brought it down to the following statement: it was his job to make people feel more strongly, we could also say: to strengthen "popular sentiment" (and this idea is quite as questionable as the statement itself). Critics of the methods used by this type of journalism, on the other hand, describe it in quite different words: the purpose of such efforts is not to strengthen, but to manipulate emotions. Where feelings are found, danger is not far away.

Many a work of art, too, aims to strengthen feelings. But when we examine poetological writings on the function of the representation of emotions and its effects, we may come to the hypothesis that it is never the exposition of feelings for their own sake which is sought; the intention is not to display emotions in a value-neutral way, but to set them in a clear relation to ethical standards and/or with reference to the structures of certain ways of seeing the world. The positive and negative aspects of emotional life are in every case distinguished from one another, logically leading to a filtering process in which the emotions are modified, so that we may say: the requirement of ethical meaningfulness itself demands a "manipulation of the emotions", one which threatens to end up on the slippery slope of moral questionability, above all...

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