“Ligaretto” of Music
The main difference between music and words (according to Bach)
The main difference between music and words is the difference between history and art.
History is the process of knowing.
Art is the art of knowing.
I can produce a great song of praise for a man, by knowing him, I can recognize his greatness, by knowing that he is behind closed doors alone, and by knowing that he is the poet of history.
In music, we use words to express ourselves, we use rhythms to create a story, we use harmony to create harmony, we use rhythms in tune to sustain a performance. But in art we must know that the words are not produced by the musician, but are the creations of the artists.
Until they are completely understood and grasped by the audience, the words are wholly irrelevant. But when we understand the sound of these words in a context, we gain a great deal of insight into the whole music of the symphony or the song of the vaudeville dancer, or the song of the composer or the composer and the composer and the conductor.
In the symphony, the words are created by the composer and the conductor. When we recognize the first notes of the music, we can experience the beauty of the symphony.
In a song, we can still recognize the whole effort of the composer, but we know that the whole thing is made by a group of actors. We can still know that the whole piece is composed by a composer, but we have a much deeper appreciation for the whole ensemble. This is why Bach asked the German choristers as soon after his death to begin the study of Bach’s music, to study the whole music. By studying these differences and combining these with our own musical taste, we can understand music as a whole.
The art of music is not about learning words. The composer must show us the whole performance. But the whole performance is artistic experience; it is part of the art of music, the art of knowing. Music must be taught by experience.
The whole symphony is a musical creation, composed by the composer, based on what Bach himself called the “Ligaretto” of Music.