Introduction to Music, Fall 2017

Prof. Jake Cohen, Rutgers-Newark

Category: Blog Entry 4 (page 1 of 5)

Beethoven is one of the most recognized names in music, and has been for some time now. Besides his amazing works of music, one reason Beethoven has been remembered for all these years was that he was a composer even though he could not hear. Beethoven’s deafness should have an impact on how we listen to music because Beethoven shows us that even though he couldn’t hear, music can change lives. The article regarding Beethoven shows that Beethoven was depressed for a period, but the music kept him alive. This shows that having music, or in his case creating it, can keep someone going, and for other people it can give them something to relate to. Another reason Beethoven’s deafness should impact music is that we take it for granted. We listen to it in the background and barely pay attention sometimes while people like Beethoven would probably give anything to hear it. The lack of ability to hear that Beethoven has shows how lucky those of us who have it are.

However, some make the argument that people fetishize these types of illnesses. I disagree. The fact that Beethoven was able to be such as great composer even though he was deaf is inspirational. Beethoven and people like him should be idolized for being able to accomplish impressive tasks even though they have a disability. They deserve to be treated as extremely important because they can inspire others with disabilities that they can make something of themselves too.

A good example of “triumph narrative” in his Fifth Symphony is how he starts with an aggressive and unique melody. He was struggling in the beginning of his life and shows this by starting off the piece with a very aggressive melody “duh duh duh duuuuh”. This conveys how he was sad and depressed at the time. However, as the song gets more musical and melodic, it becomes more upbeat. This demonstrates that as his life became more musical he became happier. Music was his passion and it shows in this song as it changes from minor and forte to major and more peaceful.

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Beethoven’s deafness should indeed have an impact on how his audience understands  his music. His audience should then force themselves to analyze his musical works instead of just listening. There is more that meets the ears and behind the soothing melodies and beautiful form that Beethoven uses in his works there is a hidden meaning to his music. Listening to Beethoven’s music not knowing he is deaf and than listening to his music after finding out about his deafness makes listeners analyze his piece from a different perspective. People now need to figure out how Beethoven’s makes his music even though he is deaf. The question is how do people do it. How can they listen to his piece while be “deaf”.  That’s up to everyone to analyze and place themselves in his shoes.

We do fetishize narratives where a person overcomes disability because we ask ourselves if they can do it we can do it as well. But why haven’t we done it is the question. Why haven’t we mastered an instrument, painting , or etc. These sort of ideas of disabled people accomplishing spectacular achievements is fascinating to acknowledge being that it takes a tremendous amount of effort and determination for someone who isn’t disabled in any way shape or form to even get close to stardom.

Beethoven’s Fifth symphony is a perfect example of his virtuosity. He is able to keep the overall theme of the piece while bringing in new ideas in the development part of the Sonata and in the recapitulation. The way that Beethoven syncopates the beats is also unique because while keeping the while going back and forth between two notes the dynamics increase and decrease in a very uniform manner. The 5th symphony is broken up into 4 movements like a  regular symphony should be broken into and Beethoven’s goes back and forth in between movements in an elegant manner without losing track of the main theme. Remember he is doing all this while being deaf

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Beethoven’s deafness should have an impact on how we understand his music. One of the reasons for that is because in his testament he states how he had no desire to live, but it was his passion for his music that pushed him to live and continue creating more art. Ultimately, Beethoven most likely changed the meaning of many of his songs due to this change in his life. Musical artist usually write or sing about how they are feeling and their emotions during the release of a new song. An example would be Justin Bieber who used to sing pop songs for a young female audience. This was because he was a child, but as he got older, his music immensely changed. Justin Bieber now raps and many young adults around my age enjoy his music. We should try to understand Beethoven’s music and what he was trying to portray. I also believe that as time went on, he was adapting to life as a deaf. Therefore, the meaning might have changed throughout the course of his life.

Society does indeed fetishize narratives where a person overcomes a disability. Whenever someone is able to overcome something very tough in their life, we seem to feel more proud and happy for them because they faced more disadvantages than us. We understand the benefits of being able to hear. Therefore, when we think about how hard it is to create music without hearing, we believe that makes Beethoven extra special. The best way I can describe it is that we view these people as the closest thing to a superhero because they pursued and over achieved.

A good example of a “triumph narrative” in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is how the song progresses. In the first movement, the first notes have a really rough timbre as well as no concrete melody. The song also starts in a C-Minor. Usually, in the beginning of a song, many artist introduce a melody immediately. I think this was done from him to demonstrate how his life changed losing his  direction and simply being angry. As the song progresses to the other movements, the piece moves into a C-Major with a light timbre expressing how he has found happiness. This is the triumph he overcame.

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I personally feel his deafness should not have any impact on the way we understand his music. Firstly, I feel he continued to compose music because he of his passion and love for music. He did not want to show anybody that even while being deaf one can still make and listen to music. When you have the passion for music and you want to continue composing music, the will power and faith is often greater than when one has the mindset of doing it for fame which is achieving something great. It is a hard task, even though they say, “able-bodied listeners often imagine hearing loss to be more extreme than it may be for some deaf people.”  When we see such an incident, we would definitely say it is impossible but Beethoven did it. And the major reason I would give credit to is his passion because that definitely has a totally approach and way of thinking.  So listening his music his music just like any other music would be the best approach. At the same time, his accomplishment has to definitely be recognized and given credit for but this does not mean we should be favour his music.

I definitely think we do fetishize narratives where a person overcomes disability. First and foremost is because of the sympathy it creates. Working hard for something then achieving success and working hard for something while having a disability then achieving success is different. More attention is paid to the person with the disability since it is a difficult task.

One of the most noticeable and surprising changes was at end during recap time. As we would have expected Beethoven to end in C –  minor but instead he ends in C –  major. Furthermore, he also changed the instrument to using an Oboes while in the previous movements he used a violin.  There seemed to be a lot of virtuosity in the recap stage with the oboe. Though he stayed with going with the same melody there were many places in the recap stage he showed his skills with instrument.

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Beethoven’s deafness should have an impact on how we as listeners perceive his music because of the sole fact that he became deaf in his 20s. It is true in recent studies today, there are ways the deaf can hear music and in the 1790s, it holds the same amount of truth. However, considering the fact that Beethoven had already started writing before that and it did not stop him from continuing makes his music more admirable. A talented musician is able to differ between the smallest changes in the dynamics or the pitch and Beethoven wrote a whole symphony that was completely different from the norm while having increasing deafness. This has an impact on me, which makes me admire his music more.
Rather than saying Fetishize, there is a more proud and “see you got it”/ You’re still ‘normal’ feeling. People, some, feel happy when a person who was without any disability all their life suddenly fall victim to one. Therefore when a person gets independent or goes back to doing activities they used to do it creates a sense of pride;” if that person can lose an arm and swim again then I can also do A, B, or C.”
There is a lot of back and forth in Symphony No.5 in the key. When the piece begins it is in C minor but ends in C major. Usually in a Sonata form in the Recap, the composer will reinforce the tonic to assure the audience yes this is the key. Beethoven did not do that. He ended the Recao in the major key and added a wind solo. That was unique and made the movement stand out.

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Beethoven was and still is considered one of the greatest composers of all time. After reading Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament, I was able to understand a bit more how slowly losing hearing affected Beethoven mentally and emotionally. I feel like his deafness should not have any impact on how we understand his music. I strongly believe that a person that has no idea who Beethoven is would not even know his was deaf. In a way, I can hear how much passion he pours into his music and if you really think about it, by the time he composed symphony 9, he could not even hear his audience applaud for him.

I do not think we fetishize narratives where a person overcomes disability. I feel like it is more inspirational than fetishize. In reading Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament, you see the discord of knowing he will live losing hearing each day. Beethoven states, “but I only reflect for the last 6 years an incurable condition has seized me, worsened by senseless physicians, cheated from year to year in hope of improvement” (326). Overcoming a challenge is inspiring.

In Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony a good example of these kind of “triumph” narratives is the first 30 seconds. The timbre of it is dramatic and intense. With that intensity the dynamics fluctuate, creating a dramatic them. I think these elements crashing in and out make it a kind of “triumph” narrative.

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Beethoven’s deafness should not have made any impact on how he understood music. The first time that I was really introduced to Beethoven was when I would watch “Little Einstein” on Disney. Children are being exposed to Beethoven as early as two years. It is unfortunate that Beethoven’s work is not the focus but his disability in this article. It is clear that he is breaking ground in his work yet people want to focus on what how he was breaking the norm for people with disabilities. All though it was important, I would argue that becoming death has helped him to understand music on a higher level that normal people cannot. His disability could have deterred him, yes, but the passion and talent was something he was born with. The way that we study this music should not be any different because he was death, hence I don’t think that it impacted his music.
I think that we do in someway give more importance to the underdog story where people are able to defeat their adversities. In the world where Beethoven grew up people were eager to point out people’s weaknesses and show how they overcome their adversities. I think that we see hope in cases like these and see how adversity isn’t an excuse to not succeed. This creates a story for the public something that they can believe in.
Beethoven’s 5th symphony comes to break all the norms that exist in the music industry at this time. The “triumph narrative” which I believe is the first movement. In the first movement, the exposition, the specific moment would be where there is a sort of resolution and the keys changes to major key. The piece changes to a soft, uplifting, and lyrical piece. The brass and trumpet are introduced in a major key.

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As a musical prodigy, Beethoven had encountered a turning point in his life when he had lost his hearing. While relying mainly on his hearing his whole life, once he had lost that he had to assimilate himself into a new musical life. Agreeing with Jessica A. Holmes, I believe that his music contained an extra element after his deafness. Getting to know the reason to that element can provide an insight to how we can understand the underlying meaning of music. However, this does not mean that we must know every aspect of a composer’s life in order to understand their music, rather, we can understand an artist’s music by knowing their motivations.

Having a story to go along with a composer gives us a feel that we are more closer to a composer. More closer in term’s of understanding as well as associating more feelings toward an individual. For that reason we do fetishize narratives about people. Overcoming disability is a good way to show heroism. It provides spectators with the feeling of accomplishment and a sense of overcoming something themselves.

Beethoven’s 5th symphony is composed of multiple obstacles that can be seen in triumph towards the end. First, the symphony begins with a deviation from how normal symphonies start. By giving us 4 bold notes that were not heard before in symphonies it shows that he is taking a new turn in music. Also he says that this piece is in c minor, however toward the end we hear that it is in c major key. It seems like it went from a dark/gloomy feel (c minor) to a more happy (c major) tone, which symbolizes triumph. Maybe toward his life or just a resolution to the musical piece.

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Beethoven’s deafness should have an impact on how we understand his music because when one of his main senses for evaluating music disappeared, four others heightened. He doesn’t hear the music in the specific we we hear it. After his deafness, he takes his time writing his music and making sense of it through observation and vibration, not by hearing. Secondly, what Beethoven produces is not necessarily what the listen will hear. He might be writing it and feeling the music in his own then produces it for us to hear. But when played, it sounds completely different for us because we are using only one of our senses to interpret it, which is our ears. Finally, after his deafness, his work took longer to produce which can change the meaning of he whole piece. Since he is taking longer to produce his music, then it means he is working and focusing microscopically on each note versus when we hear it as whole. “Impact” does not necessarily imply it affected him in a bad way. In  fact, I believe that his deafness impacted how we understand his music in a whole new way. Music is way for expressing oneself. It is very likely that during his deafness, Beethoven wrote music pieces that he felt, not just anything that came to his mind. In this way, we can listen to his work and interpret it  by imagining his situation and his struggles and all his time spent to produce them. Just as Beethoven was revered for producing wonderful works after his deafness, others in our society are admired as well for overcoming their disability. We as a society look for these kind of stories where someone overcame an obstacle because it gives us hope and peace to know that someone who is struggling has found their silver-lining. Also, we are always rooting for people who overcome their struggles because it means they will keep going and keep doing what they love and won’t give up on their dreams.

In the first movement of the fifth symphony the opening is very bold and and loud which is contrasting to the usual classical music that starts off slow with an obvious calm melody. He created a new norm in this piece and did not follow the rules of what would be expected in a first movement. In the beginning you could not figure out what the tempo was but as the music went on syncopation occurred.  Also, the first movement went from a C minor to an E Flat Major which is a huge range difference. He created his own style while keeping the listener in anticipation. All these skills showed triumph.

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Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist who was and still is considered as one of the greatest of his time. He faced obstacles throughout his life that affected him and his music but the most important one which defined him was his deafness. This deafness affected him for more than half of his life and played a big role in shaping the person he became and the new music he produced. Although he composed classical music, the addition of new elements made his music unique and helped make the connection between both Romantic and Classical ages of Western music. Beethoven’s deafness should definitely have an impact on how people view and understand his music because this disability changed the style of his music. Beethoven went from being able to use his hearing to find pleasurable sounds for his music to using the memory of these sounds to create new music. Hearing is one of the most important tools a composer/ pianist should have so his disability challenged him and made him come out of his comfort zone. Although it was a complication, his disability gave his music the essentials it needed to make his work distinctive from the other composers.

I believe people do fetish narratives where a person overcomes disability because they fit as inspirational stories to encourage others. There could be many more musicians who have lost their hearing and felt as if their music career was over and/or they had no purpose, but knowing of people like Beethoven, gives a person the inspiration to adjust and eventually overcome. These inspirational stories not only serve a purpose for situations for musicians but also for any person who has a disability who needs a little push to make the change they so desperately need.

In Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, example of triumph abnormality is all over the place because music in this time was usually modeled after Mozart’s pieces. Beethoven’s music is very different from that of other composers because his music comes with a heavier and darker feel to it. This is evident at the beginning of the Symphony where he uses the four note opening motif. The symphony has a distinct tone from other symphonies and composers because his piece is broken down into four movements in which he translates from C- minor to C-major key. Not a very common structure for a symphony of that time.

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