America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
The eclipse of listening
The third in a series on The future of the European past,
was right!Support The
Music exists in every human society. In its primary forms of dance, march, and collective song, it is a participatory activity whose purpose is often religious or bellicose. The throbbing drum of the war dance is the spirit of the tribe, in which the warrior loses his identity so as to become one with the collective will. The hymn is the collective voice of the congregation as it communes with its god.
In Western civilization, music of a quite different kind has gradually pushed the old participatory forms to one side. Our musical culture depends on a radical divide between performer and listener. For us the act of listening takes place in silence, often in the hushed and reverential atmosphere of a concert hall. To sing, hum, gesticulate, or tap your feet in time is not just bad manners. It is a violation of the sacred ritual, which merits nothing less than expulsion from the divine presence into the cacophonous street ...
This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 15 November 1996, on page 5
Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.comhttp://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/eclipselistening-scruton-3440
E-mail to friend
How Lincoln dealt with the press and the founders' legacy.
by Bruce Cole
Plans for an Eisenhower memorial on the National Mall have taken a shameful turn.
December 18 2014
Friends, young friends, and authors event: Holiday Party 2014
The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Dec 15, 2014 04:18 PM