Friday, June 24, 2005

The Rude, the Vulgar, and the Polite

From Peter Van der Merwe's Roots of the Classical: The Popular Origins of Western Music
This deep faith in 'natural law' is a bond between early Romanticism and neoclassicism. Just as the architecture of ancient Greece was felt to be more 'natural' than that of Rome because it was earlier and simpler, so the 'noble savage' was assumed to be the superior of a cultivated eighteenth-century gentleman; and so, too, simple folk melody was held to be a great improvement on Baroque polyphony. Of course, it was all self-deception. very few eighteenth-century gentlemen ever met a savage, noble or ignoble; ancient Greek architecture was far from simple; and the much-admired 'folk melody' was an urban idealization that had little in common with the rustic reality. The bogus has always played a vital part in Romanticism.

Roots of the Classical at Oxford University Press

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