Play Listen Repeat Vol. 42

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In Music, the Exception Becomes the Rule

In his book “The Classical Style,” Charles Rosen makes a cool point. He sets it up by saying:

“The history of an artistic ‘language’… cannot be understood in the same way as the history of a language used for everyday conversation. In the history of English, for example, one man’s speech is as good as another’s. It is the picture of the whole that counts, and not the interest, grace, or profundity of the individual example.”
In other words, together we all create what is known as the English language.

But music, he says:

“…stands the history of a language on its head: it is now the mass of speakers that are judged by their relation to the single one, and the individual statement that provides the norm and takes precedence over general usage.”
In other words, individual artists define what is known as the music of a particular time.
He makes his point in reference to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven; but the same thing could easily be said about The Beatles and their definitive role in popular music of the 20th Century.

The Beatles: Masters

The Beatles’ recordings arguably demonstrate the limit of what is possible in their particular form of both songwriting and record-making, and so I was pretty skeptical when I heard that remastered versions of all of their records were coming out.


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