The moral value of music

The moral value of music

The moral value of music. All medieval aesthetics are characterized by the belief in the moral significance of music. Reasoning about the moral impact of music is a traditional element of most musical treatises of this time. In them we find constant allegations that music is able to cultivate mores, soften characters, heal diseases, and avert from evil passions. In other words, we are dealing here with one of the modifications of the ancient doctrine of ethos.

True, this doctrine undergoes significant changes among medieval authors. Antique aesthetics pointed to the diverse forms and forms of the impact of music on a person, ranging from magical and medical to the sphere of civic education. In music, the Greeks saw a means of forming a free human citizen in all the multifaceted manifestations of his character.

Of all this variety of manifestations of musical ethos, medieval authors take one thing – purifying, cathartic. The main purpose of music, according to their teaching, is the purification of passions, with the help of which healing of the spirit and piety of the soul are achieved.

To substantiate the position on the moral significance of music, arguments from ancient sources are widely used. So, in medieval treatises, the legend of Pythagoras is very popular, which, setting the instrument in a certain way, calmed the distraught young man. At the same time, medieval theorists constantly refer to various biblical legends and traditions. Particularly frequent are references to the biblical legend of David and Saul, which tells how, with his playing on the harp, David cast out an evil spirit from King Saul. This simple legend has become a traditional argument in favor of music, which is constantly addressed by medieval authors.

The doctrine of the moral meaning of music underwent a certain evolution. In the early Middle Ages, the impact of music on a person was interpreted quite limitedly, only as “piercing the heart” (conpuctio cordis) or as an achievement of remorse. “Singing,” said Raban Mavre, “is a means that leads believers to crush the heart; words do not reach them fully” (De cleric. Institut., II, 48). John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Jerome speak of music as a means of expelling evil spirits who are allegedly afraid of sacred music. “The Psalm,” says Basil the Great, “is divine and musical harmony; it contains words that do not amuse the ears, but depose and tame the crafty spirits that embarrass souls subject to their attacks. “1.” The chorus of the lyre strikes demons like an arrow, “says Vasily Selevsky. Thus, as we see, the ancient doctrine of ethos turns into a theological ethics, the doctrine of the moral meaning of music grows into demonology, into a mystical doctrine of demons and spirits.

However, later, when the musical theory was finally formed, the meaning of music began to be understood more widely. Within the framework of the doctrine of the ethical meaning of music, even an aesthetic, sensual element is allowed. Already in the X century, we meet attempts to combine faith and feeling, morality and enjoyment in music: “Although God is more pleasant to him who sings with his heart and not his voice, it’s both from God, and double benefit if both are performed “that is, if it is pleasant for God to be sung by God, and people rise with sweet-voiced singing to piety.”

Aesthetic value is not only singing, but instrumental performance, including secular music. According to Huckbaldt, “playing flutes, cifaras and other instruments and also secular singers and singers are extremely trying to give pleasure to listeners of their art with their songs and play.”

In the XI century, Aribo Scholastic in his treatise speaks of three types of aesthetic influence of music: “Music has three kinds of pleasantness: 1) the beauty of the melody, as judged by the ear; 2) the beauty of proportionality between voices, notes and words is a matter of reason; 3) the beauty of the similarities and contrasts of six intervals.

Anyone can understand the ethical, that is, moral, in music, since it also distributes its beneficence to those who do not understand art ”(Aribo Scholastic, Musica. Cit. Gerbert, II, 212–222).

In the anonymous treatise of the 12th-13th centuries, we encounter a gradation of aesthetic assessments of the possibilities that the human voice possesses. “Singing is a pleasant change of voice. People have nine kinds of voices: pleasant, tender, juicy, harsh, rude, uneven, deaf, strong and perfect. The perfect voice is high, pleasant and clear; tall, so that it could be likened to heaven, clear to fill the ears of listeners, and pleasant to caress their ears. If any of this is missing, the voice is not perfect. ”1

All these statements testify that since, the moment the church is from the “militant” (militans)

becomes “triumphant” (triumphas), the asceticism characteristic of early Christian aesthetics ceases to fulfill its ideological function. Theorists, on the other hand, see nothing wrong with recognizing the sensual nature of musical art. But this sensuality is recognized only to the extent that it can serve as a means of the easiest and most pleasant assimilation of Christian morality.

The doctrine of the moral significance of music is the most rational element of the musical aesthetics of the Middle Ages. It is in this area that the ancient doctrine of musical ethos is preserved, which is further developed in the aesthetic teachings of the Renaissance, for example, at Tsarlino. Of course, this legacy is in a significantly altered, transformed form. Nevertheless, through the medium of medieval authors, a thread is drawn connecting the ancient aesthetics with the aesthetics of the Renaissance.

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