A Review of Christopher Schlegel's Until
G. Stolyarov II
A Journal for Western Man-- Issue XXX-- January 16, 2005
If an Objectivist composer could write non-classical music, what would it sound like? The basic premises of Objectivism imply, in the field of esthetics, that musical works of any genre must exhibit harmony, melodic complexity, dignity, and thorough benevolence on a fundamental level. All too frequent periferal encounters with such contemporary abominations as rap, hip-hop, and punk “music” have caused me to question whether or not the implementation of these principles is even possible in so-called “popular” music. However, upon listening to Until, a collection of non-classical songs created by Objectivist composer Christopher Schlegel, I have been able to understand precisely how popular music can be saved from the predominant cultural nihilism of today.
Christopher Schlegel, creator of six
symfonies and a variety of concertos, waltzes, and orchestral suites,
possesses without doubt the musical skills needed to synthesize a complex
melody no matter what the instruments he chooses to use. His ability to
create interesting, logical, harmonious arrangements for electric guitars,
drums, and saxofones is just as immense as his talent for doing the same
with traditional string, wind, and brass instruments. Moreover, Mr.
Schlegel is extensively familiar with the theory of Objectivism, and is an
avid reader of science fiction and writer of short stories, thus having
ample linguistic skills to create meaningful, thought-provoking lyrics for
his songs. Indeed, Schlegel’s incorporation of filosofy into his songs is
masterful. My favorite work of the compilation, “Intrepid Existence,”
offers the following wisdom in lyrical form:
Answering questions with my mind.
Active hands shape life and lives.
If there was a God, I’d look him in the eyes and
No one ever wonder what could have been.
That’s just a useless game that you can’t ever win.
I made a friend out of reality,
As it has been, as it is now, and forever shall be.
These words are accompanied by a steady, unfailing rhythm and Mr. Schlegel’s own resolute voice. While today’s rappers whine about how the poverty of the slums has “turned” them into mindless sadists, “Intrepid Existence” is a song of inspiration, putting forth as a role model an attitude that leads to success and pride, no matter what one’s past has been or could have been. Similarly, while contemporary nihilists glorify drug peddling, “getting high,” and living in the “underground” in their songs, Mr. Schlegel’s song, “The Secret Detective” is a tribute to an honest, clever law enforcer who likes to do the most thorough job possible in solving a mystery. While the decadent Eminem shouts about his desire to rape the world, kill his mother, and live the life of an adulterous playboy, Mr. Schlegel’s songs extol loving family relationships based on profound moral and intellectual values. Two songs, “Won’t You Let Me In?” and “Like That,” written in a pleasant 1930s Gershwinian style, are entirely about situations which convey a husband’s affection for his wife. “Until” is a song written for Mr. Schlegel’s infant son, Ethan, and consists of words of gentle advice so that the boy might grow up enjoying his life and exerting his fullest efforts to make it a success.
Mr. Schlegel’s work, above all, radiates a profound conviction of the individual’s potential for happiness and worthiness of life in this world. “Effort,” for example, is a metaforical portrayal of “rising above the trees” by “one’s own wings,” a perfect encapsulation of indefinite human possibilities, made possible by will, reason, and aspiration. “Seas of Discontent,” in the meantime, shows the futility of resigning oneself to an unhappy existence by complaining about it without acting to correct the situation. If “popular music” can be used as a vehicle to convey these valuable insights, what is the potential for restoring reason to the modern culture on such a grassroots level?
Indeed, popular music is precisely that: popular. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, unless seeing clear proof to the contrary, and I would hope to think that most individuals are attracted to today’s dominant trends not because they deliberately seek out lyrics advocating nihilistic decadence, self-destruction, and inhumanity, but because the melodic qualities of popular music hold a certain allure for them. Mr. Schlegel’s work presents a perfect example of how rational thinkers can harness the good aspects of popular melodies (rap, of course, is out of the question here) while introducing elements of dignity, benevolence, and inspiration into them. If listeners find the result not only musically entertaining, but also spiritually uplifting rather than dismal and depressing, they might gravitate toward Reason to an even greater extent. For the success of Objectivism, nothing less will suffice than to recapture both the field of “high music,” corrupted by a century of dissonance and discord, and that of “popular music,” which has been heading down that path for half a century as well. Mr. Schlegel, through his creations, has made formidable headway into both these areas, while simultaneously creating works of eternal merit rather than passing fancy.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician and composer, contributor to organizations such as Le Quebecois Libre, Enter Stage Right, the Autonomist, and Objective Medicine. Mr. Stolyarov is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Christopher Schlegel is a musician and composer of Objectivist convictions. He is additionally a writer of short fiction and essays, and a contributor to The Rational Argumentator and its store, where you can purchase Until. You can also visit his website (http://www.truthagainsttheworld.com) and contact him by e-mail.
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