Friday, October 28, 2011

Nietzsche and Music

In our latest chapter in the text, Hamilton brings up Nietzsche and some of his philosophies. As many people in our class know, especially those who took The Ring Cycle with Dr. Dilthey, Nietzsche was involved with music since childhood and later did work with Richard Wagner, one of the most famous German opera composers. I will try to stray away from the compositions and the music that influenced him and focus on his philosophy of music.

I'll start by discussing what was said about Nietzsche in Aesthetics & Music. Nietzsche believed that the parts of music are meaningful and combine aesthetics of representation and form (pg70, Hamilton). My interpretation of this is that Nietzsche believes that you cannot separate representation and form from aesthetic perception because the meaning of a piece is inseparable the parts of the music. Another claim Nietzsche made was that great art must be created through Dionysian consciousness and "musical mood" rather than being exactly musical(pg 79). The Dionysian as we discussed in class, is the crazy, "alcoholic", and ecstasy driven side of the dichotomy; whereas Apollonian is the concept of dreams and organization. A literal interpretation would be that, when we are drunk and crazy, and in the mood to make music then it is great art. Yet, since Nietzsche is a translated philosopher room is needed for the lack of correct translatable terms. Perhaps this statement means that when we are drunk with inspiration and driven to create music we create the best art. Another statement from Nietzsche was that since poetry converges with music in a rhythmic, stress (of syllables/words), and dynamic sense, it offers insight to the "inner world" and allows it to act as a language of feeling(pg 80). This convergence allows us to associate specific parts of the music with certain feelings. Nietzsche is saying that the poetic aspects in music is what allows the music to speak to us and without these qualities it does not.
Putting these three statements together as well as Hamilton's claim that Nietzsche is a follower of radical aestheticism, I come to the conclusion. Nietzsche believed that you cannot separate representation and form from aesthetic perception because the meaning of a piece is inseparable the parts of the music, the direct translation would be that great art is made when someone is drunk and in the "musical mood", but perhaps there was a loss in translation, and finally poetic aspects of music allows music to speak to us. A follower in radical aestheticism believes that aesthetics is the highest value, above morals and all other values. That leads me to my question...
Question: How can aesthetic value be above moral value? What sort of other philosophies would someone have to adopt in order to not contradict themselves with this claim?

"Without music life would be a mistake"
- Nietzsche
(Twilight of the Idols)