If one where to ask me the question oft asked of Richard Dawkins; what would you consider the strongest argument for god? I would not answer that it’s the appearance of fine-tuning in the universe - the lotto fallacy answers that. Nor would I suggest any great declarations biblical or otherwise – that’s just conjecture. No I would have to say it’s the oeuvre of J.S.Bach. I’m not sure if others in the arts, perhaps a connoisseur of dance or poetry, can also be so awe-struck, but it boggles the mind. It is a grand hurdle to clear, even in this modern age; in believing his triumph was ultimately godless. He certainly believed his accomplishments were by the grace of God and his tireless efforts were for his glory. One wonders how the Bach oeuvre would have shaped up otherwise.
The subsequent and gradual decline in the quality of western music seems to correlate to some extent to the decline of the pious professionals. Correlation is not necessarily causation, and I’m sure it’s illusionary. However, from Bach to Britney in 300 years is a sad state of affairs.

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Brother Nicky,

I too, am a Bach fanatic and I have made similar statements regarding the oeuvre of J. S. Bach. I've even tried to introduce Bach to my constituents in the hood...without much success. I've even toyed with the idea of writing a piece entitled "From Bach to Bird"...I'm still working on it. And yes, it is a sad state of affairs.

Peace, respect and critical thinking
Hello Rob,
Of cause it’s a ‘punctuated equilibrium’ of a decline, as it seems, (from your profile), we are both also big John Coltrane fans. He too had the ability to awe; of cause he too was spiritual…
I was just pondering Robs comment. I just returned from Japan and have noticed over the years that some of the small boutique music stores in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo seem to gather the merchandise on the racks almost emotionally. I recall a couple of years ago being shocked that some specialty stores had sections that looked like my music collection. These are not divided strictly by genre but rather by types of players/composers that have an emotional connection. I wonder if there are others on this forum who would connect Bach and Coltrane. Are there other composers emotionally related to these giants. Not just a list of your favorite composers/bands. I suspect quite different groups would also attain.
My old friend would say it’s the celestial sewing machine Vs the stream of life. Bach Vs Mahler. I’ll take Bach.
you're just selecting spears bc her first name begins with b. you could have chosen the beatles. fuck, you could have chosen zeppelin or even more recently, radiohead. we've no way of knowing if our great-times-eight grandchildren will be discovering ok computer in their adolescence, but that's far more likely than britney or winehouse selling any records a century from now.

yeah, i said it: zeppelin, beatles, stones, and radiohead... all still influential in a century. me and my crystal ball here.
That’s a good point Traffician. The Beatles were exceptional, I’ll give you that, but the pop/rock genre for me is itself a decline. Incidentally, Paul, I’ve heard, is a Bach fan and responsible for using the sound of the baroque horn on the Beatles recordings. Anyway it’s just my opinion and taste, no big deal. I was just wondering if people make emotional connections in that way.
However Jeff's assertion that Bach was Britneyish in output is bizarre? I’m not an expert on Britney Spears, but I’m not sure she wrote anything at all. Bach wrote the equivalent of perhaps 400 cd’s worth of incredible music. Just the Cantatas alone, fill about 90 CD’s and perhaps that’s only two thirds of what survived. He did this without giving up his day job and for much of the time by candlelight.
Nor am I sure we ignore Bach’s contemporaries. Handel and Scarlatti were born the same year and are very well represented. Vivaldi, Marais, Telemann, Frescobaldi, Corelli, Rameau, Biber, Charpentier, Zelenka, Couperin, the great Buxtehude, are just a few of Bach’s contemporaries whose works are still regularly performed and recorded. As for the ‘musicians of the common people of that time’ how could we possibly know their abilities aside from anecdotes, and those we have – the greatest of which was about Bach himself as reported from the court of King Fredrick the great in Postdam 1747.
Bach the time traveler! I agree with the salient details of your comment about the patronage of ancient music, with the exception of the troubadours, much of the music at and before Bach’s time was commissioned by the church. Yet surely Bach’s work must be viewed both after and before his time. The North German school of organ ala Buxtehude, which Bach drew from, accumulated in its perfection at his hand, as did the concerto style of Vivaldi. Motets, Dance suits, Cantatas, Passions were all forms known before Bach that he took to dizzying heights. Then after his death, Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, all paid homage to him. I suppose I could have said “stunning harmonic progressions, to one, four, one, four, five, four, one, what a decline”, or, “living and breathing in all sorts of time signatures to (almost), everything being in 4/4, what a decline”. Still I don’t think the great one needs defending, my question was. What different genres or artists at first glance separate feel emotionally connected. I thought perhaps I could learn something about these connections or even better discover a new composer or artist. Oh well.
We’re all atheists here aren’t we? No, that wasn’t really a question, just a pre amble. I know what you mean, those organs are very otherworldly. Mixed with the otherwise silence of the stone walls (In Europe anyway), and the altered light through the stain glass they can create quite an ethereal ambiance.
Around 1982 I needed some atmospheric church organ for a project. I stood at the back of the church in a small village in the UK with my recorder as the organist played for the congregation’s departure. I was hidden behind a pillar, as the organist checked the last person had left, he promptly broke into the theme from the Dam busters movie. It was funny and really broke the holy atmosphere.




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