Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What would Plato listen to?

So I'm lecturing on Plato's Republic tonight, and it just occurred to me, that I could make it a music appreciation night.... Well at least partly.

But then I was stumped.  I didn't know what kind of music would correspond to the Lydian, Ionian, Phrygian or Dorian modes.

See, Plato thought that the Ionian, and Lydian modes were to energetic, and may cause the guardians of the Republic to become frenzied and turn on the citizens.  They had to be censored for safety.  Funeral dirges would also need to be censored, since the guardians can't think death is a bad thing.

But on the other hand, the Dorian and Phrygian modes seemed to be good for military purposes.  It could help coordinate marching and such.  These would not be censored.

So... What kinds of music would Plato listen to today?  I haven't a clue since most of this talk about musical modes is completely alien to me.  But with a little Googling, I came up with a few things that I think Plato would not approve of, and some things that Plato would approve of.

Banned music:
Gin Blossom's Hey Jealousy  It's lydian
Anything by Flogging Molly  Irish music is predominantly Ionian
Wish you were here by Pink Floyd or Rasputina  Its a funeral dirge.

Allowed music:
Another Brick in the Wall Part II by Pink Floyd  Its Dorian
Sweet Dreams by the eurythmics  I'm not sure if this is Phrygian....  Google says its either phrygian or Aeolian.  Plato doesn't say anything about the Aeolian mode in the Republic.  If it isn't Phrygian, then I don't have any examples of a Phrygian song.

Anyone out there with a better grasp of music theory, willing to lend me a hand here?

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