Nature, Beauty, and Truth

There is so much in the Baroque to explore. I’d like to start with aesthetics and style. Just to clarify, aesthetics is the philosophical discipline of truth and beauty in art. Baroque composers are very conscious of this concept of aesthetics and there are many discussions on the topic. Contrary to mainstream relativism which we often find today, early composers and philosophers act on the assumption that there is absolute truth and beauty and that discussions arise out of our quest for these and the different ways we have of thinking about them. There may be contrasting views as to what they are, but the underlying idea that they exist is a common theme amongst Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque writers and composers. This is refreshing and exciting. It allows us to begin the process of discovery because in order for us to discover and to be connected to each other through what we find, we need to believe that there is something true there. Baroque musicians believed just that and they have left us many ideas which can help us understand how they were able to interact with truth and beauty. Note: The historical idea of taste also exists and is very important, but that’s a topic for another day.

So this quote from Geminiani, that the sound of the violin should “(…) in a manner rival the most perfect human voice; and in executing every piece with exactness, propriety, and delicacy of expression according to the true intention of Music”, is a good example of how Geminiani believes there is a true way to play the instrument, that it is connected to nature i.e. the human voice, and that it is through a connection with nature that we can discover how to play the instrument as an artist.

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