Friedrich Nietzsche, Miscellaneous Maxims and opinions (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche).

Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, the first supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1879.  A second supplement, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten) followed in 1880.


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Previous Section   134. HOW THE SOUL SHOULD BE MOVED BY THE NEW MUSIC   Next Section

How the Soul should be Moved by the New Music.  The artistic purpose followed by the new music, in what is now forcibly but none too lucidly termed "endless melody” can be understood by going into the sea, gradually losing one's firm tread on the bottom, and finally surrendering unconditionally to the fluid element.  One has to swim.  In the previous, older music one was forced, with delicate or stately or impassioned movement, to dance.  The measure necessary for dancing, the observance of a distinct balance of time and force in the soul of the hearer, imposed a continual self-control.  Through the counteraction of the cooler draught of air which came from this caution and the warmer breath of musical enthusiasm, that music exercised its' spell.  Richard Wagner aimed at a different excitation of the soul, allied, as above said, to swimming and floating.  This is perhaps the most essential of his innovations.  His famous method, originating from this aim and adapted to it — the "endless melody" — strives to break and sometimes even to despise all mathematical equilibrium of time and force.  He is only too rich in the invention of such effects, which sound to the old school like rhythmic paradoxes and blasphemies.  He dreads petrifaction, crystallisation, the development of music into the architectural.  He accordingly sets up a three-time rhythm in opposition to the double-time, not infrequently introduces five-time and seven time, immediately repeats a phrase, but with a prolation, so that its time is again doubled and trebled.  From an easy-going imitation of such art may arise a great danger to music, for by the side of the superabundance of rhythmic emotion demoralisation and decadence lurk in ambush.  The danger will become very great if such music comes to associate itself more and more closely with a quite naturalistic art of acting and pantomime, trained and dominated by no higher plastic models; an art that knows no measure in itself and can impart no measure to the kindred element, the all-too-womanish nature of music.  

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