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Hearing Religious Music. The Subject-Object Relationship of the Listener and the Piece of Music in a Consumption Era

   | 10 août 2020
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In the Footsteps of the Divine Artist. On the Religious and Spiritual Dimension in Art. Editors: Wessel Stoker and Frank G. Bosman
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In a concert hall, the attitude of the audience focusses on the formalistic aspects of music. In religious rituals, music is a means of leading the hearer to a spiritual experience. What happens when music, meant originally for a liturgical purpose, is played in a concert setting? Gadamer shows, with his conception of Verwandlung ins Gebilde, that an art work is never static, but carries a depth in itself, which is connected to an artistic ingenuity throughout centuries. In this ‘depth’ lies the connection to the listener, which is broader than a mere aesthetical one. On the other hand, music in itself has a strong ‘theatrical’ side, which can easily surpass its contemplative aspect in consumer culture. It appears that this aspect, in combination with the formalistic-aesthetic approach of modern museum culture, of which concert culture is a part, made the hearer become almost ‘deaf ’ to the religious content; because a concert practice focusses primarily on entertaining the hearer, s/he is not able to engage in the music as a source of spiritual edification of the soul. Nevertheless, Gadamer’s conception of play makes us be aware that there will always be new, unexpected ways in which the truth comes into being in the interaction of a piece of music and its hearer. In order to create such a reality, it is necessary to turn to new and renewing hearing practices, where the play between music and the hearer has a wider range of musical experience than the mere formalistic aspect.

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Sujets de la revue:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception