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Did Ayn Rand bash folk music?

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I can swear I recall passages from either Atlas Shrugged, or The Fountainhead that clearly put down folk music. Does anyone recall this?

If so, I am wondering what her reasoning was?

I get alot of my acoustic, and piano material from old Tim Buckley, Bill Withers, Jim Croche, and Gordon Lightfoot type of songs. I don't think Ayn Rand knew much about making music, as fingerpicking a different rythym than the one you are singing is not at all simplistic. I am curious if anyone could provide a better explanation of this criticism for me, if it did exist?

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Yes, she did bash it; often and with enthusiasm. She saw it as unoriginal tribal mindless nonsense.

Which isn't to say that it isn't possible for someone with talent to make something good based on something which was folk music.

I guess I would have to agree on some of that; particularly for the large portion of folk music. I am more interested in current alternative type performers, such as Travis Meeks and Aaron Lewis, although I imagine if she was still alive she would have similiar words to say about them.

I like using it for melodic ideas. I generally elaborate on it by keeping the chords simple and doing vocal gymnastics over it. They make good live songs, as it is easier to perform with an acoustic than having to rely on an orchestra, or even a band to make music with.

I am curious though...Did music, in general, interest her less than the other artforms? I recall that The Romantic Manifesto had very little information addressing music. I am wondering if she, or any other Objectivists ever went further indept on music?

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I guess I would have to agree on some of that; particularly for the large portion of folk music. I am more interested in current alternative type performers, such as Travis Meeks and Aaron Lewis, although I imagine if she was still alive she would have similiar words to say about them.

I like using it for melodic ideas. I generally elaborate on it by keeping the chords simple and doing vocal gymnastics over it. They make good live songs, as it is easier to perform with an acoustic than having to rely on an orchestra, or even a band to make music with.

I am curious though...Did music, in general, interest her less than the other artforms? I recall that The Romantic Manifesto had very little information addressing music. I am wondering if she, or any other Objectivists ever went further indept on music?

Ayn Rand was very passionate about some types of music, especially the music of Sergei Rachmanioff. From what she and Leonard Peikoff said about her musical tastes, they seemed to focus mainly on classical and some early 20th century popular music.

Ayn Rand said nothing that I'm aware of regarding Jazz and Blues. She had great disdain for folk music and, I'm sure by extension, Country. The little she said about Rock was also negative. I disagree with her, however, on Rock as I find value in some bands and muscians who truly excel.

If you're interested, two lectures are available on music from the ARI: "The Music of Rachmanioff" by Stephen Siek and "Melody in Music" by Stephen Siek and Alan August.

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Yes, she did bash it; often and with enthusiasm. She saw it as unoriginal tribal mindless nonsense.

The phrase "music and drumbeat of the jungle" comes to mind.

Thought I saw this in The Romantic Manifesto as well as The New Left- The Anti-industrial Revolution

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If you're interested, two lectures are available on music from the ARI: "The Music of Rachmanioff" by Stephen Siek and "Melody in Music" by Stephen Siek and Alan August.

I would like to add my recommendation of these two courses. Stephen Siek is one of those rare individuals who not only has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the subject of music, but he also possesses such a warm and endearing character that it is virtually impossible for anything that is alive not to be enraptured by his talks. In addition, Alan August has a magnificent voice and, doing a bit of first hand research on his own, he is a wonderful supplement to Stephen in his lectures.

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Yes, she did bash it; often and with enthusiasm.
She didn't even bash Christianity "often and with enthusiasm", and that's certainly the worse of the two.

She saw it as unoriginal tribal mindless nonsense.
Yes she did say it was tribal, and she did disapprove of it, but she didn't call it unoriginal, mindless, or nonsense. When she did express her dislike of folk music, it was a kind of disappointed distaste, not vehement hatred one might deduce from the opinion above.

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What's happening here is that, instead of trying to accurately transmit what AR said on the subject, you've taken the liberty of speaking for her, and making judgments that in your opinion she might have made. That's uncalled for. The poster asked "Did Ayn Rand bash folk music", not "Does The Inspector bash folk music".

Folk music, while primitive and bland, is not the penultimate evil in the world, but if you hold a different opinion, that's your prerogative, of course. However, when someone new to AR will come to this thread and read what you attributed to her, he will think, "Yikes, Ayn Rand was a pretty mean person", while the truth is that this describes only you, and no one else.

This is how misconceptions about AR's person, values, and opinions are spread, and why some people new to the philosophy get turned off by the negative image of AR presented to them. The culprits are overzealous students who blur the distinction between her opinions and their own.

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This is how people get misconceptions about AR's person, values, and opinions, when overzealous students blur the distinction between her opinions and their own.

I agree that this is one way that that occurs. There are other ways, too. But, the whole issue is so simply solved if posters would just provide exact quotes and citations, instead of offering their interpretations of what Ayn Rand said.

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Ayn Rand was very passionate about some types of music, especially the music of Sergei Rachmanioff. From what she and Leonard Peikoff said about her musical tastes, they seemed to focus mainly on classical and some early 20th century popular music.

A friend of mine has put up some delightful examples of Ayn Rand's favorite "Tiddly Wink Music" on his web site. You can listen to them online at http://dismuke.org/aynrand/.

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"I am trying to raise money for Friends of Global Progress." Rearden had never been able to keep track of the many organizations to which Philip belonged, nor to get a clear idea of their activities. He had heard Philip talking vaguely about this one for the last six months. It seemed to be devoted to some sort of free lectures on psychology, folk music and co-operative farming. Rearden felt contempt for groups of that kind and saw no reason for a closer inquiry into their nature.

That's the closest thing I can find to "bash(ing)" in any of her books on the research CD.

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That's uncalled for. The poster asked "Did Ayn Rand bash folk music", not "Does The Inspector bash folk music".

It is my honest evaluation that Ayn Rand DID in fact bash folk music. I remember reading where she used it in analogy to describe something as bad. I was not expressing my personal opinion above so you need to calm down. I don't have specific page numbers, so you're free to disbelieve me.

I remember that a character (in Atlas Shrugged?) was pondering the bleak future of the world and pictured endless tribal dances as part of the symbolism. I think that character screamed out loud when having those thoughts. I'm not sure who or where; it's a large book.

My point is that the statments above are my honest evaluation of Miss Rand's writings. You can say I'm not being accurate, but don't accuse me of intentionally substituting my own opinion for hers.

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I've never really understood exactly what people mean when they say "Folk Music". Does it encompass all traditional music? I have to say in that case that the grouping isn't done very well since the only common characteristic would be that the music is old, when the style of the music can vary greatly depending on the location it came from. For example, I absolutly love some traditional Irish songs, but have yet to hear any traditional African music that dosen't sound horrible.

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For example, I absolutly love some traditional Irish songs, but have yet to hear any traditional African music that dosen't sound horrible.

I happen to have the opposite perspective on Irish music, but de gustibus as they say. You might look into kora music, if you're interested in trying some other African music. I tend to agree about some of the non-virtuosoistic music of Africa, but if you have a skilled performer (as opposed to a crowd of people banging the drum and tweeting the whistle), it makes a difference. What makes the difference for me is whether the performance is skilled and the music is structured (and a lot of African music is, but it very hard to locate any examples).

Afropop is, needless to say, utter trash. IMO.

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I happen to have the opposite perspective on Irish music, but de gustibus as they say. You might look into kora music, if you're interested in trying some other African music. I tend to agree about some of the non-virtuosoistic music of Africa, but if you have a skilled performer (as opposed to a crowd of people banging the drum and tweeting the whistle), it makes a difference. What makes the difference for me is whether the performance is skilled and the music is structured (and a lot of African music is, but it very hard to locate any examples).

Afropop is, needless to say, utter trash. IMO.

Heh, I think we all can agree with that :)

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I'm not saying this is AR's opinion of folk music, it is mine and could have been one of AR's, but I wouldn't know and frankly I don't think it is all that important a topic to do any indepth research. Folk music was and still is a haven of untalented (Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan) "singers" of idiotic lyrics, not unlike rap music. Now the original post did mention Jim Croche, his songs are primarily about love and things like that, as opposed to statements on social issues or socialist diatribes, and he had the ability to sing unlike many more famous folk singers. I like Jim Croche songs primarily for this distinction but Jim Croche isn't whom most rock and rollers say is the greatest artist ever, most of them point to Bob Dylan, a man who cannot sing and who has been a complete idiot his entire artisitic life. And his disciples are all over the place, Springsteen, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, etc.

I perceive the glorification of this type of mediocrity to be the main problem with all modern music, but most notably with folk and rap music, though I fail to see any redeeming qualities in the latter.

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Here is the one and only reference that I was able to find.

"On a more adult level: a heroic man, the skyline of New York, a sunlit landscape, pure colors, ecstatic music--or: a humble man, an old village, a foggy landscape, muddy colors, folk music."

Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto: Chapter 2 page 27

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I'm not saying this is AR's opinion of folk music, it is mine and could have been one of AR's, but I wouldn't know and frankly I don't think it is all that important a topic to do any indepth research. Folk music was and still is a haven of untalented (Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan) "singers" of idiotic lyrics, not unlike rap music. Now the original post did mention Jim Croche, his songs are primarily about love and things like that, as opposed to statements on social issues or socialist diatribes, and he had the ability to sing unlike many more famous folk singers. I like Jim Croche songs primarily for this distinction but Jim Croche isn't whom most rock and rollers say is the greatest artist ever, most of them point to Bob Dylan, a man who cannot sing and who has been a complete idiot his entire artisitic life. And his disciples are all over the place, Springsteen, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, etc.

I perceive the glorification of this type of mediocrity to be the main problem with all modern music, but most notably with folk and rap music, though I fail to see any redeeming qualities in the latter.

Have you surveyed the entire field of rap music? Besides the bubble gum rap that is pushed into the mainstream there exists an undeground culture who are often labled, "nerd rappers."

I know some very talented freestylers who can put together amazing strings of words, that rhyme, and make sense. Some of the things these kids come up with off the top of their heads is utterly amazing. I bet you didn't think this, but Eminem was one of the top freestylers in the country before he met Dr. Dre. You might not appreciate his particular subject matter, but his ability to battle someone with words was amazing. I would call it virtouso. Try putting together a rapid sucession of words with rythym, rhyme, and grace, and see what you can come up with. It is alot more than the stereotypical, "Tear da club up nigga, tear da club up," mainstream kind of rap.

Artists like Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, and KRS-One speak on subjects that will never be pushed into the mainstream, and thus at first glance everyone sees rap as useless and talentless. Hell, I would if I didn't know of the underground scene.

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I'm not saying this is AR's opinion of folk music, it is mine and could have been one of AR's, but I wouldn't know and frankly I don't think it is all that important a topic to do any indepth research. Folk music was and still is a haven of untalented (Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan) "singers" of idiotic lyrics, not unlike rap music. Now the original post did mention Jim Croche, his songs are primarily about love and things like that, as opposed to statements on social issues or socialist diatribes, and he had the ability to sing unlike many more famous folk singers. I like Jim Croche songs primarily for this distinction but Jim Croche isn't whom most rock and rollers say is the greatest artist ever, most of them point to Bob Dylan, a man who cannot sing and who has been a complete idiot his entire artisitic life. And his disciples are all over the place, Springsteen, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, etc.

I perceive the glorification of this type of mediocrity to be the main problem with all modern music, but most notably with folk and rap music, though I fail to see any redeeming qualities in the latter.

Hey hey, ease up on the Dylan bashing. If we're going to get into unbridled opinionation here, I feel obligated to voice my admiration for the man. He doesn't have a great voice to be sure, but he was a helluva songwriter and furthermore, his collaborations with "The Band" are some of the best musical performances I've ever heard.

On that note, is anybody else here a fan of The Band? They were the group that performed that great song "The Weight" (y'know, "Take a load off Annie, take a load for free..."). The famous The Last Waltz is a four-star movie-documentary about The Band's final performance, and includes such musical greats as Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, and Ringo Starr -- all in the same concert, and directed by Martin Scorcese! Awesome film for anyone who appreciates that genre of music.

I wouldn't call myself a fan of folk music (for the record I hate Country and Rap, and Woodie Guthrie). I am, however, a pretty good musician myself, with a wide variety of musical tastes. I take pleasure from different kinds of music because I like it, not because it falls under the genre of "primitive folk music" or "sophisticated tasteful classical music." Mozart was dull (and lest somebody call me a moron, I can play the trombone solo from his piece "Requiem" from memory...but I just don't like to).

And Bob Dylan is anything but an idiot. Also remember, in the vast virtuous pursuit of money, Montesquieu, I'm guessing Bob's got a helluva lot more than you :confused:

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I can swear I recall passages from either Atlas Shrugged, or The Fountainhead that clearly put down folk music. Does anyone recall this?

It is my honest evaluation that Ayn Rand DID in fact bash folk music. I remember reading where she used it in analogy to describe something as bad.

In The Fountainhead she is describing Toohey's approach to writing his columns & has him quoted as saying:

"The worst folk song is superior to the best symphony."

I view that as a concretization of her concept of the enshrinement of mediocracy in order to destroy genius. This is merely extrapolation on my part but, I think the symphony (classical, baroque, romantic music in general) as a form has the potential to be objectively superior to folk music because it represents a higher form of achievement than any folk song could. Obviously, that doesn't mean any given individual should be obligated to like any symphony or dislike any folk song regardless of context.

The Rand analogy I offered in another thread here on music is that an airplane could be considered an "objectively superior" mode of transportation to a car, but that doesn't mean you should use an airplane to ride down the street a couple of miles to the grocery store.

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In The Fountainhead she is describing Toohey's approach to writing his columns & has him quoted as saying:

"The worst folk song is superior to the best symphony."

Judging from the theme of The Fountainhead, I think Toohey wrote that because a folk song is "collectively produced," while a symphony is an individual achievement.

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