Friday, December 26, 2008

Music with an Ayn Rand Connection

 If you've ever been curious as to what kind of music Ayn Rand liked, or what "tiddlywink" music sounds like: dismuke.org: Music with an Ayn Rand Connection. While it doesn't really contribute towards answering those pesky music questions from The Romantic Manifesto, it's interesting in its own right. And I like the spirit in which this site was created:

When I discovered that Rand enjoyed music from the same era that I do, I became very curious as to what specific tunes she liked and classified as Tiddlywink music.  Unfortunately, only a few examples have been cited in books and lectures about her. Because I find it fascinating when different interests of mine meet,  I always try to keep an eye open for recordings with an Ayn Rand connection.

Dismuke (?) also makes an important point regarding "Tiddlywink" music:
Of course, there is no such formally recognized musical genre.  "Tiddlywink" seems to have been the name that Ayn Rand gave to music that she responded to in a certain way.  The music does not seem to come from from any one particular genre: Canadian Capers is an example of ragtime; El Choclo is a tango. 
 
 This site is of interest to the discussions here, beyond hearing Rand's "tiddlywink," though, because of this: 
As someone with extremely strong musical opinions, I think it is important for me to mention that, just because someone likes a particular song, it does not mean that they will like every rendition of it.  For example, every so often I will be hear one of my favorite songs resurrected and played in a dreadful "easy listening" style.  Whenever this happens, my usual reaction is revulsion over what I consider to be aesthetic vandalism.  When I listen to music, how something is played is often more important than what is being played.  I think it is reasonable to assume the same was true for Ayn Rand as well.  Please keep this in mind when listening. 
THIS is an important point that I'll address in the future, the idea that "it's not what you say, but the way that you say it." Of course, the musical content IS important, but the tone is just as crucial. This takes us back to Rand's question of "why does music make us feel emotion?". She primarily focused on melody, but really didn't mention much about tone. I personally wonder how it would have affected her theory had she done so. I suspect this has something to do with the claim made by Roger Bissell in his essay “Music and Perceptual Cognition” that Rand took Helmholtz's mistake in confusing "tones" as "sensations." I think that's it, anyway...but there will be more on that in future blogs, and I hope to have a link to the essay once it's posted again online.

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