As Dani did, I suppose I should talk about what music is like in the 1650s . . . but not the actual 1650s, she's completely right on those points and, being an expert, I don't dispute her points. But my 1650 is not the real world, so I feel free to fudge on a lot of points. This isn't new. My world has no guns, though those were common in 1650. My world also has knowledge of numerous chemical elements that were 'discovered' until the 1700s. In fact, for chemistry, arguing that mages would be more diligent than their real-life, non-magical counterparts (and given that they're getting help from supernatural beings), I established the year 1800 as the measure for how far chemistry had progress (without, of course, allowing advances associated with gunpowder, munitions and other military sciences that I replace with magic).
We can, then, establish 1800 as the upper limit of musicology, also ~ and all the other arts besides. Therefore, we can have the elevation of music to a supreme art form (at least, as near as Mozart gets, if not Beethoven) . . . and at the same time, discount ballet as an option, since that did not really get started until after 1800. I simply despise ballet, but we don't need to go into that now.
Like Dani, I feel we can propose three basic fields for music . . . and for many arts, both in and out of Europe:
- The first path is, as Dani suggested, the folk performer. These are creators who have as their primary audience the average groundling, as they were called in Shakespeare's day. Being unsophisticated, artwork must be, for these people, a visceral experience ~ that is, affecting their inward feelings, essentially the 'gut.' Artwork of this type can't be the sort that people have to think about in order to enjoy it.
- The second path would be the contemplative performer. These are creators who have as their primary audience themselves ~ and because of that sophistication, these are artists who would tend to produce something new. Dani refers to this as the 'court-supported professional,' but many of these professionals had a great deal of trouble getting supported by a court and had to live in poverty and distress, hoping to find someone who would serve as a minor patron before a court would give any notice. This kind of life is much easier in Arabia, Persia, India and Indo-China, as the climate and the institutionalization of begging in both the religion and the vast numbers of poor mean that an artist can more easily live a subsistance lifestyle than in Europe (or Japan and Northern China, for that matter). In any case, the second path is naturally investigatory and intellectually compelling, as the artist is rarely satisfied with things that are purely gut-wrenching.
- Finally, the third path is religious. Not in the sense, I think, that Dani described. J.S. Bach and many others were something more than merely good church musicians, they were also deeply impassioned about their belief systems, being nearly clerics in their fervor or zeal. Certainly this can be argued vehemently for many Eastern artists, who fanatically continue into this century to pursue fanatical artistic expression on a level that leaves the ordinary Westerner positively baffled: . Bards on this path have as their primary audience the gods ~ who do not mind that the art being created is fleeting, numbingly repetitive or obscure in the extreme.
I have been thinking that a bard needs to determine their primary artistic expression. In retrospect, however, the choice of audience is critical for the artist to be expressive ~ and in determining what is the nature of that expression. Furthermore, the effects of the art produced must also descend from the choice of audience, knowing that what can be done to move a group of patrons at the local roadhouse is quite a bit different from what can be expected to move the gods.