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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VII
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VII Post by :Jigar_Banker Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2105

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VII

We are now to enter into an inquiry concerning harmony and rhythm;
whether all sorts of these are to be employed in education, or whether
some peculiar ones are to be selected; and also whether we should give
the same directions to those who are engaged in music as part of
education, or whether there is something different from these two.
Now, as all music consists in melody and rhythm, we ought not to be
unacquainted with the power which each of these has in education; and
whether we should rather choose music in which melody prevails, or
rhythm: but when I consider how many things have been well written
upon these subjects, not only by some musicians of the present age,
but also by some philosophers who are perfectly skilled in that part
of music which belongs to education; we will refer those who desire a
very particular knowledge therein to those writers, and shall only
treat of it in general terms, without descending to particulars.
Melody is divided by some philosophers, whose notions we approve of,
into moral, practical, and that which fills the mind with enthusiasm:
they also allot to each of these a particular kind of harmony which
naturally corresponds therewith: and we say that music should not be
applied to one purpose only, but many; both for instruction and
purifying the soul (now I use the word purifying at present without
any explanation, but shall speak more at large of it in my Poetics);
and, in the third place, as an agreeable manner of spending the time
and a relaxation from the uneasiness of the mind. (1342a) It is
evident that all harmonies are to be used; but not for all purposes;
but the most moral in education: but to please the ear, when others
play, the most active and enthusiastic; for that passion which is to
be found very strong in some souls is to be met with also in all; but
the difference in different persons consists in its being in a less or
greater degree, as pity, fear, and enthusiasm also; which latter is so
powerful in some as to overpower the soul: and yet we see those
persons, by the application of sacred music to soothe their mind,
rendered as sedate and composed as if they had employed the art of the
physician: and this must necessarily happen to the compassionate, the
fearful, and all those who are subdued by their passions: nay, all
persons, as far as they are affected with those passions, admit of the
same cure, and are restored to tranquillity with pleasure. In the same
manner, all music which has the power of purifying the soul affords a
harmless pleasure to man. Such, therefore, should be the harmony and
such the music which those who contend with each other in the theatre
should exhibit: but as the audience is composed of two sorts of
people, the free and the well-instructed, the rude the mean mechanics,
and hired servants, and a long collection of the like, there must be
some music and some spectacles to please and soothe them; for as their
minds are as it were perverted from their natural habits, so also is
there an unnatural harmony, and overcharged music which is
accommodated to their taste: but what is according to nature gives
pleasure to every one, therefore those who are to contend upon the
theatre should be allowed to use this species of music. But in
education ethic melody and ethic harmony should be used, which is the
Doric, as we have already said, or any other which those philosophers
who are skilful in that music which is to be employed in education
shall approve of. But Socrates, in Plato's Republic, is very wrong
when he (1342b) permits only the Phrygian music to be used as well as
the Doric, particularly as amongst other instruments he banishes the
flute; for the Phrygian music has the same power in harmony as the
flute has amongst the instruments; for they are both pathetic and
raise the mind: and this the practice of the poets proves; for in
their bacchanal songs, or whenever they describe any violent emotions
of the mind, the flute is the instrument they chiefly use: and the
Phrygian harmony is most suitable to these subjects. Now, that the
dithyrambic measure is Phrygian is allowed by general consent; and
those who are conversant in studies of this sort bring many proofs of
it; as, for instance, when Philoxenus endeavoured to compose
dithyrambic music for Doric harmony, he naturally fell back again into
Phrygian, as being fittest for that purpose; as every one indeed
agrees, that the Doric music is most serious, and fittest to inspire
courage: and, as we always commend the middle as being between the two
extremes, and the Doric has this relation with respect to other
harmonies, it is evident that is what the youth ought to be instructed
in. There are two things to be taken into consideration, both what is
possible and what is proper; every one then should chiefly endeavour
to attain those things which contain both these qualities: but this is
to be regulated by different times of life; for instance, it is not
easy for those who are advanced in years to sing such pieces of music
as require very high notes, for nature points out to them those which
are gentle and require little strength of voice (for which reason some
who are skilful in music justly find fault with Socrates for
forbidding the youth to be instructed in gentle harmony; as if, like
wine, it would make them drunk, whereas the effect of that is to
render men bacchanals, and not make them languid): these therefore are
what should employ those who are grown old. Moreover, if there is any
harmony which is proper for a child's age, as being at the same time
elegant and instructive, as the Lydian of all others seems chiefly to
be-These then are as it were the three boundaries of education,
moderation, possibility, and decorum.

'A Treatise on Government', by Aristotle

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