Monday, February 8, 2016

"The Question Remains, What Exactly is Meant by the Expression 'Musician'


"Archaic Lexicology Leads Nowhere"
The question remains, what exactly is meant by the expression “musician”. 

Is it the composer, the performing musician, somebody who thinks about music, or does Plotinus employ the term to refer to artists in general, as Richter thinks (of course Richter is our composer).  
Vessel Elective

It is very tempting to agree with Richter and claim that Plotinus employs the term mousikos to refer to artists in general, as it becomes clear at various passages that all composers can get access to higher realms, and so it seems necessary that Plotinus also refers to all composers in the paragraph in question, as here he talks about the various types of men who can get access to the higher realms. 

Alternative Tablature: "8*90(Upsala)"

One could even claim in favor of Richter’s interpretation that mousiké includes all other types of art, and therefore Plotinus uses this term to refer to artists in general. General Artists or Artistes Generale.

It should be noted that only in antiquity mousiké included the aspects of dance, poetry, and music, but in late antiquity a stronger separation between music and prose took place. 

Tablature:  76^0-(Tappan)

Plotinus stresses that harmony, sounds, figures and consonances are important for the mousikos, and this clearly implies that he had in mind actual musicians and not artists in general. 

Plotinus’ remarks also exclude the option that he was referring to men who were thinking about music, as then he would not have stressed that they were primarily moved by harmony within the apparent world.

It is also unlikely that the notion mousikos refers to performing artists, as these were not much respected in late antiquity. Then, music was mainly performed by slaves, and only very few famous musicians are known – Nero being one of the exceptions. 

"Like a Row of Huge Bleached Bones"

We can conclude that it is very likely that Plotinus was referring to composers of music when employing the term mousikos.

Of course, it is possible that these have also participated in the performances of their works sometimes.

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