ELEISON COMMENTS DCCLXXXVI (6th August, 2022) : MUSIC’S STRUCTURE
When in mid-19th century Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) set out to make a list of the errors tearing mankind away from God, from Jesus Christ and from His Catholic Church, he began his “Syllabus of Errors” in 1864 with the most radical error of all : “There exists no Supreme Being…God is thus one and the same thing as the world and consequently spirit is identified with matter, truth with falsehood, good with evil, and justice with injustice.” In other words from the refusal of God follows immediately materialism and the denial of free-will, of truth, goodness and justice. Thus, as Karl Marx held, man would be a purely material creature with no spirit or anything spiritual in him.
On the contrary the Catholic Church has always taught that God exists, the Creator and the one and only infinite purely spiritual Being; that a multitude of angels exist, purely spiritual but finite created beings; while men are a multitude of finite created beings composed of body and soul, material by their physical body composed of the physical elements provided by the biological father and mother, but also spiritual by their immortal soul created individually by God, and infused by Him directly in those elements meeting in the mother’s , to dwell in that body and to give it life for as long as it will live. In other words man is indeed a material being, but he is much more than just material. In fact it is the soul which will determine, by the use it makes of its spiritual free-will while joined with the body, what will be the eternal fate of that body, either bliss in Heaven or torment in Hell, both of them humanly unimaginable.
Therefore man is the highest of God’s material creatures because he is the only one that is also spiritual, and that spirituality of his soul means a capacity for knowing and loving God which is the most important thing in him. To pretend that he is merely material is a gigantic untruth or lie, as the case may be. In fact all men have some knowledge of their own spirituality and eternal destiny, because “The true light that enlightens every man came into the world,” Our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. I, 9). Yet so many souls around us, especially but not only of youngsters, have been made to believe that their spirit is only matter !
Now music is a special language of the human soul, appreciated also by animals and even by plants, but which expresses for man things in his soul which nothing else can express in the same way. Therefore man’s soul being both spiritual by its opening to God and material by its function of enlivening the body, man’s music will be both spiritual and material, with all kinds of mixtures of the two. Gregorian chant is highly spiritual, Rock and Rap are highly material, and classical music is somewhere in between the two. What is of special interest – although it is basically common sense – is how music has an objective geography, so to speak, corresponding to the objective geography of the human soul. Thus if we break down music into its three main elements, namely melody (the tune), harmony (its accompaniment) and rhythm (its beat), we can say that melody speaks to the spiritual soul, harmony to the higher passions in the material soul, and rhythm to the lower passions in that lower soul.
Now in music as in man, there is an infinite variety, so that there can always be exceptions, but broadly speaking the objective correspondence between the nature of man’s soul and the nature of music is common sense, remarkable only for dyed-in-the-wool subjectivists brainwashed by their liberalism. In any case on Friday evening, August 26 is planned a preliminary conference on the geography of the soul here in Broadstairs; on Saturday, August 27th, several conferences on the geography of music, and on the Sunday a final conference to draw a few of the numerous available conclusions. John Sullivan will again be playing the piano, both to illustrate and to perform, especially from Beethoven who is pivotal between higher and lower music. Participants will need to find their own accommodation for the two nights. After the event, there should be recordings for anybody interested, but unable to attend themselves.
Music, they say, is merely a matter of taste.
But that is not thought out, just said in haste.