Loose Strife

An MP3 blog

Sunday, September 10, 2006

#28 - Fellini on the danger of music

(Above, Federico models a crown on the set of Fellini's Casanova, 1975)

There’s something about people who spend all their time listening to music---not musicians, but armchair music fans, whether they’re professional critics or record store clerks or just layfolk. It’s a bitterness, a sort of loss of empathy, as if the emotional songs they covet and fetishize and analyze were, like science fiction parasites, sucking their own emotions out, or acting as surrogate expressions of feeling they themselves have become incapable of.

It’s a strange and, frankly, rather scary phenomena; I worry about it, since I spend a great deal of time coveting and fetishizing and analyzing emotional music.

I’ve always been fascinated by this quote from Federico Fellini, which seems to have some relevance to what I’m talking about. It appears in the LP Amarcord Nino Rota, a tribute LP to the Italian film composer who scored most of Fellini’s greatest films.

I can listen to Nino for days on end, sitting at the piano endlessly reshaping a musical theme, intent only upon finding the exact musical phrase to coincide with the sentiments and particular emotions which I am trying to convey in a sequence of film. Yet funnily enough, outside of the work context, I actually can’t stand listening to music; it conditions me, it alarms me, it tries to possess me and consequently I am forced to defend myself---to push it away from me, like a thief trying to escape from the temptations of the bargain basement. I don’t know, it’s probably another case of our “catholic conditioning”---but music makes me melancholy: it fills me with remorse. And useless as remorse always is, music attacks me with the voice of admonishment, a voice which I feel destroying me because it sings so loudly, conjuring grandiose dimensions of harmony, of peace and of accomplishment, and yet quite clearly leaving me excluded---a total exile! Music is cruel---it stuffs you with nostalgia and regret and when it’s finished, just leaves you utterly directionless: music introduces you to the unattainable. Marvelous, but how sad!

Food for thought.


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