Pagan Music Project: Risky Material From the Forbidden Library

Learn how Classical Music harbors subliminal and not-so subliminal Pagan messages.

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The Initiation

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Hi folks! My name is Candice Larrivee, my internet handle is Amarfa, and I am a music nerd. I am working my way through college to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Music, with a concentration in Voice. Music school is hard work, and I was having trouble trying to integrate a daily prayer routine into my hectic schedule of full time work and full time college. I came up with a way to include my spirituality in a way that wouldn't sacrifice my school work. I decided to approach music history from the point of view of a Pagan, and I have found so much that I want to share with the world!

First, though, I've got to say that I'll be speaking from a technical point of view; this blog is, after all, in the Pagan Studies category here on PaganSquare. Second, I think academia should be written in an accessible style with humorous metaphor that gets the point across by being simultaneously entertaining and factual. Third, I'm in the process of developing a website that when it goes live, it will be groundbreaking in its approach and what it encompasses: that Classical Music is more Pagan than anyone truly realizes at this point in time, and this blog will be a shameless plug and shameless resource when that happens.

So, what is "Risky Material: Pagan Music Project," and why was it named that way? Risky Material was originally the title for an Honors Project that I wanted to work on. While the project fell by the wayside, my interest in it never waned. Truth be told, my ideas are too big for a 50 page paper. I want to trace the evolution of Pagan Music from the earliest archaeological finds up into the modern day, in a scholarly hunt for interesting facts, but through Classical Music. It was named "Risky Material" because I know and expect the findings of the project to be against the grain of academic trend, and I know and expect that the word "Pagan" will undoubtedly relegate my research to a 'fringe' category.

I think that one of the best things I can do to increase the visibility of Classical Music while promoting my own Pagan beliefs to sympathetic listeners is to include YouTube and web references to the pieces I'll be speaking of. Yes, it will be a review of sorts, but a Pagan exegesis of classical music tradition in its intent.

As a reader, this first post is your initiation into the world of Pagan Classical Music.  As an example of what I'll be writing about,  I choose for you to listen to and consider  "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'une faune" by Claude Debussy.   Inspired by and based upon a poem by Stephane Mallarme, ( Afternoon of a faun)  "Prelude" is at first, a piece of what's called "program music" and at second, a symphonic tone-poem.

Program music is instrumental symphony orchestra with no singers, that nonetheless is specifically crafted with a story to tell. As can be inferred, Debussy was so enamored of Mallarme's word-poem that he wrote a tone-poem as a musical answer to it.

In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, a faun was a politically softened way of referring to a satyr. The satyr plays the flute in the dusky afternoon, chasing nude nymphs and mating with them. The flutes and wind instruments are the lead instruments (as one would have lead guitar in a band, for example) directly as a result of the instrument the faun plays in the poem to attract the nymphs to him. Nymphs, of course, being the satyr's female sexual counterpart. Try to imagine what lines in the poem that the music reminds you of, because this was the intent of Debussy's composition. In my next post, I'll continue with Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun in much more detail, and give you some history behind Debussy, Mallarme', and the blooming occult climate in Paris at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. This is just a taste of what is to come! Stay tuned!

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Amarfa is the web handle of Candice Larrivee, who has been studying the occult, wicca, and paganism for 17 years and counting.  She has been a musician since age 5, studying first guitar, then accordion for 10 years, placing 2nd in her division in the 1995 ATARI/ATAM New England Regional Competition,  and has been studying voice for 9. She will be earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with Concentration in Voice from Rhode Island College in the 2012-2013 academic year.  She has directed small early music ensembles, performed publicly, and starred in local theatre works, particularly the World Premiere of Nightsong, a musical theatre piece with direction and book by Jon Brennan and music by Kari Tieger and Kevin Campbell, as well as composing a musical of her own and writing music in her spare time.
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