What considerations are necessary for composing of music that resists the ability to be used as torture?
If extreme volume can be thought of as “exclusive”, are extremely soft sounds inherently inclusive? For that matter, could softness (read: quiet-slow-boring) offer a rupture for further inquiry?
Primo Levi called music “infernal.”
Although not given to imagery, Primo Levi wrote:
“Their souls are dead and it’s the music that pushes them forward as the wind does dry leaves, and takes the place of their will.”
Then he underlines the esthetic pleasure the Germans felt before such matutinal and vespertine choreographies of misfortune.
It was not in order to assuage their pain, nor was it to win the favor of their victims, that the German soldiers provided music in the death camps.
- It was in order to increase their obedience and to bind them together in the impersonal, nonprivate fusion that all music engenders.
- It was for pleasure, esthetic pleasure and sadistic enjoyment, felt upon hearing beloved songs and seeing a ballet of humiliation performed by a troupe of those who bore the sins of those who humiliated them.
It was a ritual music.
Primo Levi laid bare the oldest function assigned to music. Music, he writes, was felt to be a “malediction.” it was a “hypnosis of continuous rhythm, that annihilates thought and numbs pain.1
- Quignard, Pascal. The Hatred of Music. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2016. 135-36. Print. ↩