Music and other four letter words; 7; Mannerism: The Broken World
University of Utah radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah Paul bad.
Such pleasant music. That's what Mozart's contemporary sometimes said. I'm sure they're probably thinking back on just. Those few notes that you've been listening to that it probably doesn't occur to you that early on that meant music. There was a moment of some. Kind of nervous unrest. It happened maybe about five or six seconds in. After the piano had entered when suddenly coming to the end of the phrase The pianist was given one of those conventional turns something 18th century to execute. The problem then you must go back some time and listen to the Concerto for Two Pianos in orchestra and E-flat by Mozart. The problem is that when Mozart. Set about writing just that turn just that moment. At the just that time of his life in the 18th century. He gave a sort of unusual. The musician would say chromatic. Turn. We would say sour to the year as though maybe the
pianist were playing the wrong notes. These little lapses on Mozart's part came rather frequently but he manages to have disguise them so well that sometimes people didn't really notice directly what was happening but had the feeling when his music came to an end that maybe there was something nameless lead disturbing are restive about him and sometimes about his music although they couldn't put their finger on it exactly. Sour is a good word. Abrupt is a good word brusque is sometimes a good word. Personal maybe too personal too subjective too individual for the tastes of some 18th century people for whom music was not meant to be that at all. There was after all establishment and music was made to serve the purposes the functions the rituals of the whole world and whatever peoples private troubles were. This was the sort of thing
wasn't necessary to know they should better talk about them. With their families at home and not to try to sort of wear them on their musical sleeve. There is a word though for lapses like this on the part of public artists such as Mozart or Gustav Mahler or Hugo world or John Donne or Luca SEO or here on the most Bush. Nowadays historians of the arts like to refer to it as a mannerism. And a sort of a sort of failure of composure that some people. Seem to feel in respect to the conventions and the formalities of their time. It's as though the artist needs a form in order to work against it rather than through it. Beethoven was no man arrested because the discipline was necessary for the final achievement as we've already seen to Mozart on the other hand is trapped
inside a series of. Formalisms with which he is by and large come genial. But there are times when they seem to rub the wrong way when whoever he is. Can't find itself very easily inside the mode of the time. Kenneth Clarke has called it a failure of nerve. In the case of painters of the sixteenth century particularly early on in the 16th century. And some people see mattresses just people who are drawn to gimmicks or effects. But people who are drawn to gimmicks or effects who even some unusual interest in things like but. Certainly must in in respect to the conventions of their time be even seeing a rather odd. Interest in nor will surprise. And it is this oddity or this grotesqueness or this sometimes that
insistence on the on and usual. And sometimes the hyper sensual which seems to characterize some manner wrists. I'd let me play you up a 16th century piece. This is one of those you would say tortured. Alienated madrigals of blue collar my rents you know from the tradition of the Italian madrigal of the 16th century which once again was fairly well established predictable to us probably less familiar than certainly than to people contemporary with my rents. But in respect to this magical wily cipher whose very apt discussion of mannerism. Has said something which is extremely Purton that. The man arrestee says usually tells the truth in a key. Pitched so high it is hysteria or ecstasy or else and a key so low it is nearly an
audible. The truth in this case of course to add to to decipher is his truth. And although he may not be doing better in any kind of metaphysical or cosmic sense. It is still a very personal very individual very odd very unusual this Madrigal is called the solo a man so so alone pensively I wander across the wintry fields. Looking at whatever is happening in the world of man and knowing that somehow I don't belong there.
Who. Was was was was the the. Of the ether.
Things the highboy. Screech non beautiful sound. Chromatically that is by half steps moving ever upward to some. Very high register which is not guaranteed to please you but really to wrath too great to pierce. Somehow to assault the ear. Beauty apparently which had been a consideration early in the sixteenth century was not the prime consideration for the man addressed the matter as tells his truth. To quote cypher again often in a key pitched so high that it approaches hysteria or ecstasy. In this case it's neither hysteria nor ecstasy but to the great individual personal way. That somehow is made against the form against the formality against the Madrigal which is the great musical tradition
to continue with cypher and probably a vein which leads us to a better place. This irregularity on the part of the mentalist composer or poet or playwright or whoever he happens to be this this failure of composure that we've talked about before is a sign of a mentality of crisis. With its techniques of accommodation and approximation in a world where as John Donne for example fears the sun and the stars are running and cousin ing lines where motions are not one inch direct. The very wrenching of accent in Dunn's meter expresses the disturbed sensibility of the poet who holds all the loose of question and accepts the shock tactics of drama as a means of representing experience. Then says Dunne as my soul to heaven her first sea
takes flight. Is a line governed by metrical approximations and accommodations like many other irregular and strangely dramatic lines and on the ends crown our works but the Crown Ste our end is not a line. Which reads smoothly which reads directly which reads irregularly but which is wrenched out of the normal context of poetic metre. And a predictable accent for another line if Yet I have not the all by love. Dear I shall never have it all. Verges on prose because of the sharp wrenching again of accent. If it isn't the accent which is wrenched or twisted or somehow suddenly made ambiguous it is
the thought I hear as a tradition that Don did not easily subscribe to the sonnets. And this sonnet begins apparently fairly clearly. And then the world goes are I. Then all is contradiction and and disapprove priority. What if this presents were the world's last tonight. Mark in my heart to both. So without us dwell the picture of Christ crucified and to tell whether that countenance can the oft cry. Tears in his eyes squinched the amazing life blood fills his frowns which from his pierced head fell. And can that tongue I judge the unto hell which prayed forgiveness for his foes fierce fight. Oh.
But as in my idolatry. I said to all my profane mistresses beauty of pity foulness only is a sign of rigor. So I say to the. Two wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned this beauteous form. Assures a pitiless mind. And I suppose if we are the great pretenders we come to the end of that sonnet and we look knowledgeably at one another. And nod their head and say Oh yes yes yes yes yes what a part was done. But I wager that at some point in those. 14 lines. Something's slipped. For one thing a failure of syntax. For another and not knowing suddenly what it is that he's talking about or
if indeed he is talking about anything. The first part is OK. Mark in my heart also without a struggle to picture of Christ crucified is something that everyone can do. I suppose we've seen enough crucifixion pictures in our life to be able to get a picture of Christ on a cross. Look at his face he says and tell whether or not whatever expression it is that you see there creates great luminous fear in you. There are tears in his eyes. Blood is filling his frowns which from his pierced head fell. And do you suppose looking into that face he says in the first eight lines that he could judge you to hell if he were asking forgiveness for his foe's fierce spite. No no no no. Nobody could believe that. OK up to that point everything is alright. And. Up to some point in the music of months not everything is alright. And I suppose even up to some point in some of the
madrigals of moments you know everything's alright. And then there are the strange times they are the ugly moments they are the sour times they are the bumpy and grindy time. No no no it says done and then he explains why. But the explanation is very on lucid and it's also for some people very on poetic. But as in my idolatry I said to all my Pro thing mistresses and I suppose we do have to put the accent there. This is what I said to my mistresses in the days of my idolatry. Beauty of beauty found its only as a sign of rigor. To which I suppose we say beauty of beauty vileness only is a sign of rigor doesn't make sense. It's like what is the subject.
I said to my mistress beauty of pity found this only as a sign of rigor. So I say to be. And that doesn't help that he's saying it to me because I don't really know for a minute what he says. That is I'm arrested I am shocked I am surprised I am baffled. I am baffled. I begin to cast about somehow inside the convention of the sonnet. I think maybe he has become a bad poet because his meter and Gollum fights. And worse than that he's a bad thinker because I don't understand what he's saying. I. Found this only as a sign of rigor might be OK. The beauty of pity is the problem. Well we don't have time to investigate the problem. I presume that the of pity is one of those asides. Pity Tuesday is true sort of thing. Beauty I say to my mistress. It's a shame that it has to be this way but I found that only as a sign of rigor.
So I say to the two wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned this beauteous form assures a pitiless mind of what is this beauty its form but who speaks up its beauty its form is that awful countenance of Christ on some splintery cross that he has just sort of presented to us. The lines before tears in his eyes blood filling up his frown coagulating his tongue with the deaf. And somehow this strange priestly man beginning of the 17th century is able to pass beyond effect to pass beyond whatever is a kind of lurid scent reaction to something that he says is beautiful. When this happens again and again in poetry the poetry that does it is better than the poetry that talks about it. I think
Hopkins at some point tries to talk about the matter as to experience of his life. But it's not until later on that he actually finds some way to excuse his poetry so that it does. What he is. And the sonnets are less good when he says something like I am gone I am heartburn. God's most deep Dickory bitter would have me taste my taste was me. He is still talking inside the normal convention in using the sonnet as sonnets are traditionally used. The subject matter may be manifest in its tendency and by the manner of saying it is not there when Thomas came closer. People do complain especially Robert Graves. What about the sonnets of Dylan Thomas because of their ambiguity. But if ambiguity is the mode if it is the way if it is the surprise on all sides then the poetry must be whatever is the way. Alter wise
by our lights in the halfway house the gentleman lay grave bored with his fury. It's a bad one in the hangnail cracked from Adam and from his fork a dog among the fairies the Atlas eater with a jaw for news out the Mandrake with tomorrow's scream. Then Penny eyed to that gentleman the wombs old cock from nowheres and they had an egg with bones unbuttoned to the Halfway winds hatched from the windy salvage on one leg scraped at my cradle in a walking word that night to time under the Christ word shelter. Along gentlemen he said and share my bit with Capricorn and cancer. Which is. Much more difficult than John Donne. But then I suppose Dylan Thomas would have said. He was with a much more difficult time and life.
And why shouldn't of poetry have been what his life was. Let me play you I'm not very new or smooth or pleasant recording. This was made by if you Phil Taylor a long time ago and I'm Fred has suffered the wounds of time. It is a song that I suppose all of you know but it is played by a man a wrist pianist of our generation. I think maybe it's the best way to kind of say whatever it is I'm trying to say. Maybe what you should try to do is figure out what it is that he's playing that's a good beginning anyway.
For some people sour may be the word. It's not just a question of Highness and lowness as cypher says but sometimes to the musician what is non harmonic or something is in respect of the traditional cycle thing of keys. The circle of fifths if you will and the normal Harmonic series of odd grotesque. Someone working against a song in this case rather than through it on Disintegration The Splintering and greatly appealing to a generation which really knows what Yeats meant about things falling apart in the center not being able to hold and mere anarchy being loosed upon the world. The person the world the general world the great world the whole world and maybe even for all he knows the universe. Well we must pursue this again later.
- Episode Number
- Mannerism: The Broken World
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4928 (University of Maryland)
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