Anyone listening to baroque, rococo, and classical period music with merry violins and happy harpsichords chirping away would believe that the world is heaven. The music is too uplifting, and adding the setting of the gardens of Versailles it forms a display of utmost ecstasy, like a ballerina pirouetting on the roses of an imperial garden, fairies flying and gliding on the water droplets of the fountains. It is such elating music that it takes you into the thoughts of royal gardens and tables laden with scones and croissants, silk dresses and buckled boots, feathers and hats, and the thought of courtiers engaged in a waltz or a ballet spinning into happiness. It transforms you into a vision of eternal bliss. It is no wonder that these composers were called genius and prodigal classical masters. They truly did wave their music wand and the instruments would start playing the spellbinding notes enough to drift the elite into oblivion, especially oblivion to the suffering of the poor.
The effect of music on the soul is profound. A sad heart can turn joyful with a joyous melody and a melancholy tone could bring tears to even the jolliest fellow. The Indians take the legends of the rhythms of music even further, there are claims that certain musical tones or raga had the ability to bring forth rains, the powerful Raga Malhaar, and even cause fire to erupt the forgotten and lost Raga Deepak.
With so much frivolity, extravagance, richness was it easy to buy into the story of the world being a perfect place a fantasy come to life in the luxurious ballrooms and dainty, prim gardens with everyone being so felicitous and euphoric because of the addition of that mesmerising music? No wonder the french aristocracy didn’t feel much for the poor the melody of happy harpsichord was possibly an escapism into a Utopian ball in a rococo style garden where everything was abundantly lavish and affluent. Even if you listen to it now today as I am, it remains dumbfounding and gets you high.
Was it the music which caused the vanity of the royalty in France? It certainly does have that effect on me. Was the hypnotising music also a reason contributing to the absolute ignorance of the French Royalty and aristocracy to the plight of the villagers? It appears as a factor for the ignorance of the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, a true event portrayed in The Chess Players (1977), engrossed in the arts, rather than in rule and shamelessly looses his princedom to the British, without even trying to put a fight. The classical period following the baroque period in which Mozart was the most prolific composer, eerily falls in the time of the French Revolution too. Was his music far too soul captivating than we like to think?
It is no secret that arts and literature, and culture as a whole flourish in excellent economic conditions aka affluence. If they happen to be flourishing whilst peasants were going hungry it means only the rich and high gentry were endorsing them at the expense of the poor. This translates into the fact that the common folk were not ever amongst strolling minstrels playing as they toiled away into day and night. Whilst occasionally they would hit their local tavern to get a pint or two of beer to release the stress of a difficult laborious day surely they wouldn’t be able to listen to the likes of Bach or Viviladi in those dingy pubs more likely to be entertained by a village jongleur compared to the silken jacquard adorned royal court musician and composer.
The sinister tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin presents another evidence of the luring power of music. The fact that it happened on 26 June 1284 of seducing and kidnapping 130 children with his the enchanting rhythm of his flute, if literally true, does send a chill down the spine and strengthens my claim of music transforming one into a state of utter oblivion.
My notion presented could be absurd, but then again could it really be so far off? Is it also something we are engrossed in today too? Hitting the club on a Saturday night to be absolutely numb and ignorant to the dreadful week at work, and to enter into an escaping trance. When you need to get over a guy, you go for a night out dancing with your girls (The Breakup song anyone?), you need to forget those esteem-crushing, reviling comments from your boss, you go out for a live performance in the night. Is it not that whenever you need genuine escapism you delve into euphoric music?
Perhaps it was the excellence of Mozart’s and his contemporaries which contributed to the ignorance of the upper gentry. Perhaps this could be the subject of a psychology thesis. Include me as an author incase someone does want to prove or disprove it, it is afterall my idea.
Happy dancing to Viviladi’s 4 seasons everyone. A toast to all the great prodigies of classic western music.
Images Credit: Pixabay