Showing posts with label Military Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military Music. Show all posts

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Beginnings Of MUSIC - The Romans

Seated woman playing a kithara. From Room H of...
Seated woman playing a kithara.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Romans had little or no musical genius, and they were content to take their music, like every other artistic element of their national life, from the Greeks. The Greek was the child of nature, refined and educated through his own innate sense of beauty and fitness; The Roman was a barbarian civilized with the civilization of the barrack-yard and the camp. So it's safe to say that the Romans music was just a rehashed version of the Greeks music.

To the Greek, Art of any kind was something great and almost holy. To the Roman, Art of any kind was just for relaxation. Roman music is simply Greek music in a corrupted condition, absolutely no artistic value whatsoever.

The only influence upon music by the Romans was in the development of wind instruments. A race of fighting men, the Romans regarded military music more seriously than any other branch of the art; essentially practical men, they could readily appreciate its usefulness ; and, in this respect, they remind one of the elderly warriors who expressed that music was all very well on parade, but should not be allowed to interfere with conversation.

In the Roman armies trumpets of various kinds were used, some of them being of immense proportions. All the military musical instruments were of brass, and comprised the tuba, a straight trumpet something like a modern post-horn in shape; the cornu, or horn, bent nearly in the form of a circle; the lituus, or Clarion, slightly bent at the end; and the buccina, shaped like the horn, but of much greater size, the tube being about twelve feet long. Of these, the tuba was used by the infantry, the lituus by the cavalry.

The most interesting feature in connection with Roman musical life is its wide distribution across the world. This has ever since remained a prominent characteristic of musical art. Into Rome drained all the wealth, knowledge, and luxury of the known world.

Greek philosophers and artists, Egyptian priests, men of all races from across the Alps, Jewish converts to Christianity, fleeing from persecution in their own country, all gravitated towards Rome. It was among these warring influences that the early Christian Church, preserver, and regenerator of music, was quietly growing in power and influence; and, with the coming of Christianity, music no longer belonged to one country but to the whole world.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem v...
 'Night Watch' (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the great insults of all time is to mention that whatever is to their standard what military music is to music. Military music is as such not that highly regarded, though we, of course, leave the window open for exceptions and note that even a marching band can be swinging sometimes.

However, in its defense, military music was mostly created to set the tone when soldiers marched into battle. It was not exactly meant to be used for easy listening. For such things, there was Bach and Beethoven and such. But what about military art? What about the many paintings requested by lords and kings to confirm their glory?

Fortunately, the situation here is a bit different. Paintings generally created to further enhance the reputation and legend of the depicted, but as a medium, it also offered more artistic freedom of expression. As such, paintings like Rembrandt's The Night Watch. With the full title of The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, the painting depicts a company moving out. As such, the painting has a clear military theme and yet, it is also counted among the clear masterpieces of Rembrandt.

But not all militarily related art is quite as masterful. Art has been used as part of propaganda throughout time, and e.g. the posters of the Third Reich are not considered art by even the most liberal. On the other hand, the posters created by Edward Hopper across the Atlantic might actually qualify.

But maybe the greatest militarily related art is not the art requested by the powers that be at all. Artists are products of their time, people of their era. As such, when actions of war are taking place around an artist, they will often comment on this through the only medium they really know Their Art. As such, some of the greatest militarily related art is actually comments on military acts rather than work commissioned by the military itself. In fact, some painters like Jack Wolfe based many of their works on such expressions of political opinions, as all actions of war are in the end political.

Of course, this leaves us with the clear conclusion that military influences do not ruin art the way some claim it affects music. The world of art seems safe, whether it is depicting or commenting on military acts. But then what could square art enough to qualify it for a doubtful comparison with military music? There are some that would claim that religion played that role, and indeed the influence of the church did take away from of the more sensual aspects of the world of art, compared to classic times. This lasted until the renaissance where the same classic art inspired new artists to regain the sensuality. However, while this lack of sensuality can at worst be said to be a temporary setback, it also completely forgets the amazing works fostered by the church. One only has to look at the ceiling of the sixteenths chapel or works like The Last Supper, and we are reminded of how much the world of art also owes to religion.

That probably leaves us with just totalitarian regimes to really limit artistic output and make it anything similar to military music. If the artistic expression is limited in such a way, if there is no freedom to define one's own expression, then art too can become bland and predictable. But sparing that, art reflects life and society and the times it is created in, and through this, helps us understand more about ourselves, no matter what the subject of the painting might be.