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Author Topic: The Historical Origins of the 'Western Musical Tradition'  (Read 1368 times) Average Rating: 0
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EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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« on: April 25, 2009, 10:30:15 PM »

I'm in the process of preparing a case for the general need to preserve those ancient cultures that have historically and to date served to promote the Orthodox faith and spirit. I've been asked to present this case before a very vocal minority in my particular jurisdiction who are intent on doing away with Coptic culture in the life of the Coptic Church in the diaspora.

I do not wish to debate the issuehere and would appreciate that anyone so inclined to dispute my assumptions on this matter begin a new thread to voice their contentions. Quite frankly, I am looking for insight from those who support my general position in support of preserving ancient Orthodox cultures.

With that preamble out of the way I now move on to my specific concern and query:

One of my primary arguments in support of my above-mentioned case is that ancient Orthodox cultures were generally, before their Christianisation, deeply religious and pious and as such were naturally geared towards receiving the Christian faith and promoting its general aim of transfiguring the entire being and life of man.

In focusing on the musical tradition in particular of such cultures I have noted that the Coptic musical tradition for example was inherited from the pharaonic religious tradition which, a) had a strong conscious awareness of the sacred, b) highly valued deep meditiation, and which hence, c) was able to mould the believer's disposition to one of deep reverence, awe and inner stillness befitting true worship of the true God.

Those from my church intent on doing away with the Coptic musical tradition generally seek to displace it with some form of western musical tradition as inherited by Western Christian churches.

Now I realise that the very concept of a "western musical tradition" (even if restricting our scope to such traditions preserved by and/or originating in 'Western Christian churches') is at the same time so ridiculously broad, vague, and eclectic that it'd be impossible to try and pinpoint its origins as if there were a single account of it as such, and I am sure that *some* Western musical traditions do originate in a genuinely pious and religious context, BUT...I was hoping that someone could at least provide some particular examples of the historical origins of at least some particular popular Western musical traditions as inherited by some Western Christian churches (traditional and modern) that are such that it can be reasonably argued that such musical traditions are antithetical to (or even simply 'not so ideal for') promotion of the Orthodox spirit.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 10:32:03 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2009, 11:07:49 PM »

What exactly is the "Western" music they're talking about?  Something contemporary, or something similar to "Western rite" like those of "Western Rite Orthodoxy?"

And it might help confronting them on the purpose of the change.  If it's for themselves, then it's a selfish purpose, imo.  If it's for converts, well that's a different discussion.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 11:12:04 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2009, 07:53:54 AM »

I don't know what specifically they had in mind.

And I don't think it makes a difference what their intentions or motivations are.

--------

I was expecting at least one answer by now...Is my question making sense to people?
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2009, 08:21:14 AM »

I don't know what specifically they had in mind.

And I don't think it makes a difference what their intentions or motivations are.

--------

I was expecting at least one answer by now...Is my question making sense to people?

a Bi-'Khristos aftonf!

I had pulled back from responding, but since you asked, yes and no.  When you say

BUT...I was hoping that someone could at least provide some particular examples of the historical origins of at least some particular popular Western musical traditions as inherited by some Western Christian churches (traditional and modern) that are such that it can be reasonably argued that such musical traditions are antithetical to (or even simply 'not so ideal for') promotion of the Orthodox spirit.

you rather start with an assumption, Western musical traditions are antithetical to Orthodoxy, and are now in search of proof. You have to start at least with a hypothesis.

What makes you think Western music is antithetical to Orthodoxy?

I mean, Gregorian chant isn't. Nor Mozarabic chant.  I don't know enough about other musical traditions in the West to comment on them.

As for popular, we in the East, including Egypt, have them too.  I know in Egypt we sang a lot of Protestant hymns at gatherings, but not in services.  Nothing wrong with that.  As to Western chant in services, it's theoretically possible: Coptic Churches have adopted Greek chant alongside the native Egyptian chant.  But I have to ask with you, why the need for Western music in the diaspora?  For the Coptic Western Rite Churches, and maybe convert parishes (which I haven't come across yet amongst the OO), it might make sense, as they are not in "diaspora."  If the Coptic diaspora ceases to be a diaspora, then it might be an issue. Are these factions pushing that?

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EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2009, 08:08:02 PM »

Thanks for your response ialmasry.

Khen Ou-methmi Aftonf!

Quote
you rather start with an assumption, Western musical traditions are antithetical to Orthodoxy, and are now in search of proof.

Whilst I am confident that many such traditions are antithetical (and in this sense am indeed admittedly looking to prove what I am assuming based simply on sense/intuition/experience), I believe if you read over my post again you will find that I nevertheless admitted two other possibilities (and as such I did not extend such an assumption absolutely to *all* western musical traditions):

a)   that whilst not antithetical to the Orthodox faith and spirit, they are, comparatively speaking, not as *ideal* in promoting that Orthodox faith and spirit.
b)   that some are rooted in an authentically religious and pious context.

In the case of b), however, I would still like to probe that very “religious and pious” context so as to be able to determine whether the psychological frame of mind that such musical traditions seem designed towards promoting (and this, I assume, would be very much influenced by the particular religious worldview and conception of God prevalent in their original context) is adaptive to the Orthodox phronema. As I mentioned in my post, the pre-Christian Egyptian religious mindset, reflecting a deep sense of awareness of the sacredness of the Divine and inclined towards reverent meditation and inner stillness, was adaptive as such.

An example of the type of questions I have in mind when considering the original context of various Western Christian musical traditions is: were they influenced by those Western movements (e.g. the so-called enlightenment, the renaissance, scholasticism etc) in which Western Christendom lost the fullness of the Orthodox vision of the ‘sacredness’ of the Divine and of the ascetic and meditative approach befitting true worship of God in which humility and inner stillness prevail, and in which the emotional self is bridled and the contemplative self made to soar.

« Last Edit: April 26, 2009, 08:10:40 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2009, 08:22:37 PM »

I really have nothing to offer on your question.  But may I offer a suggestion?  Perhaps, it will also help if you do the same research on other traditions, like Armenian, Syriac, Ethiopian, Byzantine, etc. to develop a consistency in your research (and not to mention, could make a very very interesting read for a lot of people...a thesis to look forward to).
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Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2009, 09:11:49 PM »

I'm not seeking to make anything academic out of this (it's probably beyond my ability to do so in any event); my concern is very specific and pastoral (and imminent--so please anyone who may be able to help in the slightest, please respond!).

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No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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