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Medtner's "The Muse and the Fashion" (Read 1167 times)

Offline deschreiber

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Medtner's "The Muse and the Fashion"
« on: October 07, 2016, 02:50:58 AM »
Is anybody here reading Medtner's book "The Muse and the Fashion"? It's a protest against music that abandons the standard tonal system. Although a good deal is a rehashing of standard music theory, I find a value in his attempt to suggest that the traditional music system, the tonal system, is "natural," in the sense that to abandon it is to lose meaning, just as you would lose the meaning of language if you gave your own meanings to individual words. I'm trying to match those ideas with what's happened to classical music in the past hundred years.

However, it's the first chapter that really leaves me stranded, with all its abstract talk of unity and diversity and gravitation. If someone else has read the book and made better sense of it than I did, I'd love to hear their views and start a discussion.

The more time I spend with Medtner's music, the more I like and admire it. Because of my admiration for his music, I want to take his book seriously and not just dismiss it as out of date, backward-looking, lacking in innovation, etc. His music may stay within the tonal system, sort of, but it takes great liberties with it, and it is highly individual and interesting.

The book is available free in pdf version at

Offline mjames

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Re: Medtner's "The Muse and the Fashion"
«Reply #1 on: October 07, 2016, 03:13:23 AM »
Unrelated: If I remember correctly, Rachmaninoff endorsed this book and also had it published by his own publishing company.

I read about half of it awhile back, it was pretty interesting. I sort of get what he was saying. Even though engineering has allowed us to express music in a diversity of instruments, we still try to imitate or rather recreate the origin of human music; the voice. Once we lose the essence of "the song" the spirit of music is lost. That's the perspective I'm getting, and I sort of agree with it too.

Well despite the fact that it was written by a master-composer, I still find it to be, like you said, the ramblings of a conservative!