Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bad Musicologist, Bad!

This video has been making the music scholarship rounds, as a poke at musicology:

While I acknowledge the humor to a certain extent, I have to say that our knowledge of events 1000 years ago is more complete than the video suggests. Yes, the average person on the streets may think that Charlemagne and Emperor Constantine lived at the same time, but the historians would never make that mistake. And while music creates it's own issues given the possibilities of losing audio evidence, thus giving rise to the performance at the end of the video, academics are also careful not to make claims that don't have clear evidence. Joining Scottie Pippin to the Beatles, and the Beatles playing in the Super Bowl, would take some massive misunderstandings of our current culture, suggesting that a major cataclysm wiped out practically all of our cultural products, like recordings, posters, books, and Larry King. And that doesn't match with our experience of the last 1000 years. After all, Larry King is still alive.

1 comment:

Peter (the other) said...

"...our knowledge of events 1000 years ago is more complete than the video suggests."

Mmmm, there is a logic flaw there somewhere. That is, our knowledge is only as good as our sources, and we have no way of verifying them, only a weak statistic that suggests, if there is a certain amount of correlation between the sources we do find, they might be true. The game of post office usually pokes the hole in that.

To me, much more importantly is, what are we doing NOW! That is a field as rich as any, considering there are more people alive on the face of the planet at this moment, making music, then existed through the vast amount of time. There IS a Bach, a Mozart etc. etc. out there right now, statistically. Besides if that silly old saw of Santayana is of any merit, we are only bound to repeat what happened a thousand years ago, anyway. We can do a better job of recording it then. ;-)

When one stops taking that large grain of salt with deep history, then it may be time to start drinking the cool-aid. There is validity, even in lightness. The truth is, we don't know what we know, and that is still alright, and our work is still valuable.

But I am not opinionated.