Here's the opening of chapter one from my new book 'Music to Raise the Dead'
I’m 100% engaged in your work. Thank you. As I read your words, I’m sitting in a recording studio working on a devotional music project which is intended to bring comfort and healing to those who engage the music. Every time I produce this kind of thing certain questions swirl in my mind with which you will perhaps deal. Where is this power to transform resident? Is it in the sound of the music? Is it in those who compose the music? Is it in those who perform the music? Is it in those who receive the music? Is the performance (live or recorded) of this music attended by a spirit (the Holy Spirit in the Christian tradition) which imbues the music with healing properties? Is the power an aggregate of all the above? Yes, I agree, this is a code well worth breaking.
Terrific! Thank you for sharing, thank you for posting this on Substack. So much I didn’t know. Never heard of the Derveni papyrus for instance. I’m haunted by this sentence: “The shape of Western society is the result of a battle of worldviews that took place 2500 years.” I’ve seen a similar version of this argument made about the Renaissance, the rationalists, Descartes, Mersenne, etc, actively suppressing an ancient hermeneutic tradition (Hermes Trisgemistus, etc) that was in the process of being rediscovered. Very interesting to think about this same sort of dynamic at the height of the classical world. Look forward to more!
I am enthralled and fascinated by this beginning to Chapter One of your book. It reinvigorates my interest in the avant-garde to which I was introduced during my college years in the early 1070s. I have always felt that artistic innovators occupied worlds beyond simply the discipline they might have been pigeon-holed into. I still find myself defending the likes of Cage, Ussachevsky, and even Yoko Ono to those whose “just don’t get it.” More please!
Thank you Ted! I stayed up last night pursuing a thread of music that schools songwriters in efficient production of the art; Your intro to your book brought back to me the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in my life seeking out the harmony changes that made my heart ache and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Music is magic. Here in my writing room, I’m surrounded by guitars, basses, frame drums and tambourines (all with goat-skin heads…) a ukelele, a fiddle, penny whistles and recorders. And books. Books on theory, instruction , biographies and autobiographies of musicians. On the wall over my desk is a Navajo rug with Yei singers. More than one person entering this room has remarked that there’s a special vibe. Montiverdi, Bach, Pachelbel and Bessie Smith all give me the chills that I would like to re-create for others, because it IS Magic, and healing.
Ted, your insight on how our civilization, not just music, is structured in Pythagorean-Platonic ways, is very much alike Michel Onfray's gigantic Counter-History of Philosophy. I dont know if Onfray is translated in english, but especially in the first volume of the Counter-History, Onfray explains (in a nietzscheanian way) how the materialistc philosophies were destroyed by the metaphisicals. Well, thats a long conversation. Just wanted to reccomend Onfray readings, because is a good dialogue with Ted's books and views on music and on philopsophy.
I am not a scholar, but I would like you to further explain how Plato is responsible for our algorhythmic society. Plato equals Spotify? Plato said that “music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Music is both rational and magical. It contains Plato AND Orpheus, yes?
Going back to the primordial beginning of music itself, Sarah Manguso writes that the first mothers of our species must have hummed to their babies to comfort them. They were pre-verbal and instinctive. But some kind of melodic sounds were created. The infant of course, carried those vibrations with them in their nervous system and built upon them.
I am getting so much from this. What you say about the disappearance of musical innovators calls to mind the legendary Arnold Schultz, the Black fiddler and guitarist who wielded enormous influence on Bill Monroe and, arguably, put the “blue” into bluegrass. Yet we don’t know what he sounded like because he left behind no recordings.
+1 for the mention of Lester Bangs and the punk ‘zine scene. I can remember the thrill of coming from a rural area to a university that carried “underground” newspapers in the periodical room where I discovered people like Bangs and Robert Somma. Flash forward a few decades and I’m letting some students at the university where I worked use my desktop publishing tools to put out a ‘zine. Now I’m retired but I’m still get a charge whenever I see new materials from Rick Beato or Ted Gioia. Thanks for keeping that thrill alive.
I enjoy that the book itself seems to be leading us on a hero's journey, doling out information as we spiral around the mystery. It's easy to read and flows well too. I'm looking forward to the rest!
Thank you again for enlightening me and everyone on, at the very least, the nature our craft. At this time in history this seems highly pertinent.
When I was a tourist in the town of Smolyan in the Rhodope mountains, now in Bulgaria near the Greek border, I learned that the locals believe that Orpheus was born there.
Amazing that no one until you has bothered to pursue this eye-opening subject. Looking forward with great anticipation to Part 2. BTW, while Plato's suppression of music did indeed express fear of its anti-establishment potential, it may not be fair to lump his student in with that belief. Aristotle in the POLITICS talks of music's ability to "purify the soul" and chastises the Socrates of THE REPUBLIC for banning certain modes.
Can’t wait for whole book! Wd another example be Albert Ayler found drowned in a nyc river with a rope tied around his neck to a jukebox?!!!
I simply cannot thank you enthusiastically enough for your fresh and invigorating content, here. From David’s “secret chord that pleased the Lord” through these other ancient mantras you chronicle to Luther’s song that became the battle hymn of the Reformation and was so seductive it was even taken up by Rome to Pete Seeger’s soul-stirring labor movement “Which Side Are You On?” to Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection” to “La La Land’s” “The Fools Who Dream” and on and on ad infinitum, the ‘song remains the same.” We thank you, kindly, Sir~
Great read! Looking forward to part 2!