Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Art and politics. Separate?

I am on another list where a Comrade said that art and politics were separate. I was/am not sure on this. In fact I would have to say that until I would hear more I am against this. Anyway here is the response I put on to this other post. Sean.

I write:" Comrade  I am not sure what you mean when you say art and politics are different worlds. I think you are also saying that music and politics are different worlds. If this is so I think we should struggle against this. Or are you saying that such a struggle would be impossible to win given the structure of our brains, the hard wiring. I know just about nothing about art and music. And some would say politics either but I will let this go for now.
When we were building the old CWI in Dublin and got to be able to have socials of up to 100 people those who could sing and say poems would do their party pieces. Given the tradition of music in Irish life there were always plenty of people to take the mike. The music was usually Irish traditional or Dublin working class songs.
But I also had a friend at this time who was a classical musician. She studied the harpsichord at Trinity College. She also conducted a small classical ensemble. I was always on at her to do something at our socials. She resisted and I would get angry as I thought she was saying that the mainly working class audience would not appreciate her music. Some working class Comrades also were not in favor of her performing as they said nobody would want to hear her.
One night she just up and went to the front of the hall and sat on the performer's stool. The Comrade organizing the singers handed her the mike. All others used the mike. My friend did not she just held it down by her side. The night was well on and there was a buzz of well lubricated Comrades. Then my friend started to sing with her trained classical voice. Slowly heads began to turn, slowly chatter and the clink of glasses stopped. Eventually the room was totally silent as the working class audience recognized world class music and world class, is it right to say, art. This is where I am confused Julian where you say art and politics are different.
I emigrated to Canada when I was 20 and worked in an iron ore mine in Northern Ontario. I was a bit of an odd man out as the rest of the shift were mainly white Canadians. But there was one guy who kept himself apart and said little and I could see was examining me. He was native Canadian.  One night he said: "Hey Irish you want to come back and have a drink and listen to some music?" I said no as that time I did not drink alcohol. But he asked me again and so I went. He lived in a not too well preserved shack at the edge of town. We went in he pointed to a chair poured himself a large brandy and then went and put a record on his record player. He sat down and lay back on a large soft arm chair. His big cat came out from the next room and jumped up and sat on his chest. Then the music started. Great crescendos, then down to the most gentle and tender renderings that you had to curl your toes to allow into you, then great rolling sweeping powerful driving surges. I was in shock.
Eventually the record was over. "Well what did you think of that Irish?"  In my terrible backwardness and ignorance I said "I did not like it that is the rich man's music." Marty who was to become my friend gave me a dressing down. "What is wrong with you. Do you not know the rich keep all that is best for themselves and leave us the scraps. Well I am taking the best from them. The best music." That night there with Marty was the first time I heard Beethoven's 5th symphony. I went on with Marty's help and my Dublin friend's help to appreciate classical music so Comrade Julian I am confused when you say that art and I think you also mean music are separate from politics and I take this to mean you are saying separate in a fixed manner.
I believe that music and art and dance and politics are all part of us. And I believe that building a fighting movement full of life in all its great wonder has to see that such a movement would draw from all our talents and abilities and potentials.
I read recently that Mozart wrote a small piece and one day he was down the street at a coffee shop, not Starbucks, and he heard some little sparrows singing it but with one note changed. Is this true or is something I just want to believe. I am a bit of a sucker for good stories.  I heard he even adopted the changed note version and called it after the wee sparrows. Were they listening at his window and knew a good thing when they heard it?  I wish I could play an instrument. But the backwardness of rural peasant life when I was young did not offer an opportunity for this.

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