Wednesday, January 28, 2009

music and myth

i don't know why i keep thinking about that claude levi-strauss book "myth and meaning". i'm still processing it. and although i found a lot of it interesting, for some reason the final chapter on music keeps coming back in my head... when he talks about music taking over the structure and function of mythology. the example he discusses is the recurring theme of the renunciation of love in wagner and that the only way to understand the recurrence of the theme throughout this long story is to try to see if the events which represent that theme are one and the same... okay, you get it, right? if not, just read the last chapter of his book because what i really wanted to talk about is something different. namely, reading about wagner got me thinking about country music, and i mean music like maybe what george jones made popular... country music with a narrative, frequently an autobiographical one. so i thought, that would be a fun project -- looking at the narrative constructed in country music or american folk music and see how the structure and function is comparable to mythology, as discussed by CLS. in my quick search for such studies, i found this book.

looks cool. it's on the 'to read' list... like so many other books.

in the meantime, i can't stop listening to this song by band of annuals... it's a little bit country and little bit folksy.


Chris said...

You are certainly right that American country music held onto the tradition of narrative longer than most pop culture forms (FYI, check out this tear-jerking performance by the Dean of Country Pop himself, George Jones).

But one of the great gifts of 20th Century aesthetics is the recognition that we are not bound by our own evolved sensibilities. Yes, narrative is touching and deep, but Pollock
and Mondrian, Rothko,
Warhol and Basquiat taught us that our impressions and sensitivities and crazy, mixed up intuitions are every bit as touching and affecting as a connected, coherent narrative.

You may want to add yet another book to your "someday" reading list: Denis Dutton: The Art of Instinct

Chris said...

Having nothing to do with anything, let me say that I'm close, razor-thin-on-the-verge-of-declaring that in fact, The Ting Tings
are, indeed, the greatest pop band since ABBA. Just sayin...

Listen here, here, and here, then talk me down...

cko said...

hey chris -- this blog is "just for fun" (said in fake german accent). don't burst my structuralist bubble.

could those 20th century aesthetics exist in a non-complex society?

let me be self-indulgent and tell you my favorite pop rock group right now -- vampire weekend.