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Susan McClary’s Music Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2019

Although music is the sphere where the words cease to exist and where only the melody has the enchanting force that wins over the hearts of the audience, there is the chance to combine the two. In opera, the power of music and words is a single force which drives the audience through the plot of the story, making them feel every turn of the plot with every vein of theirs.

Trying to bring together music, gender and sexuality, Susan McClary manages to work the ideas underlying Carmen, the famous opera where sensuality collides with the art of music to create a perfect child of love, whose name is masterpiece. Arguing that music serves to express another point of the relations between a woman and a society in Carmen, McClary suggests a specific version of the impact of the music in the opera.

It is obvious that McClary suggests that the music should serve not only as the background for the opera, but also as the means to emphasize the tenseness of the moment, make the audience feel the opera through, so that they could understand with their own heart what the author meant and what thoughts whirled through his mind as he was composing the art of his.

McClary also drives to the idea that the music is supposed to coordinate with the key points of the ideas suggested by the storyline. Thus, she presupposes that the role of music as the evidence is enormous, and thus it needs careful observations so that the idea which the music carries could not escape the spectator’s eyes and be well understood.

McClary provides certain premises for the argument, and these premises seem to be sufficient to start a discussion about. McClary emphasizes that the music should necessarily support the ideas which the plot suggests. Such must be the musical illustration that it should make the audience not only hear the beautiful melody, but also see what it describes, watch the range of images rushing through their minds as the story unwinds into a perfect symphony, the union of music and words.

The evidence which McClary uses is quite sufficient. Basing her arguments on Carmen, McClary clarifies her idea of he role of music in the opera. The methods which the author uses in her research are rather sufficient to see the problem in depth and to analyze it, there are certain suggestions concerning the evidence. Indeed, the examples which McClary drives are of utter importance and are full of meaning, yet it would be desirable that the experiment should be taken a bit further and to touch upon some more examples.

The suggested evidence is convincing, yet it would be better if the author based her research not only on a single opera, but involved some other specimen of the opera art to consider. Thus, the multiple issues of different pieces of music would have been considered closely, and the result would have been more objective.

As a matter of fact, the question of whether music can serve as a piece of evidence is a thing in itself, demands close consideration. If considering music as a form of evidence, one must pay attention to the tiniest details which usually pass unnoticed by the rest of the people.

Music as an evidence is a note falling out of the order of the musical party, or a sudden change of the tone, or the winds or strings sounding in a different way. The fault of music as an evidence is that it is very uncertain, rather leaving questions to answer than the solutions to the problems.

Music frames the scene described in the play, without creating the additional features. It suggests some more hints to the puzzle which the author gives, yet it does not provide any clear answer. Where music reigns is the depth of the subconscious, that is, the sphere where there can be no certainty. With such evidence, as light as a feather, it is impossible to make any solid assumptions about the idea of the opera.

However, there is hardly anything that music cannot say. With each and every note, with the change of tone and melody, it makes people think of certain things, and different ideas and images float through their minds as they listen to the enchanting melody. This is where the subjectivity which McClare is speaking about matters so much.

The individual perception of the music plays an important part in evaluating the role of music as a piece of evidence for the opera. I case the melody evokes the same ideas in minds of different people, the goal has been achieved and the music has played its part as the means to emphasize the curves and lines of the plot.

The so-called “musical language” must not be underestimated. When used with the maximum of its expressivity, it can speak of different social problems as well as of the personal ones, crying about those living in misery and helping the others to understand the life of those in need. Binding people together, music can close the age, race of money gap between different layers of society and make them come to understanding each other.

Throwing some light upon the problems which have been topical for a number of centuries, music can help people to solve these problems. Pushing the audience to think, music opens their hearts to the ideas which would have never occurred to the audience if they had not listened to the motifs as old as the hills.

In this respect, music provides a sort of healing, which can make people see the light. Disregarding the form which the music takes, and the way the words sound, whether the latter make a song or a recitative, whether they float smoothly or sound like a drum, the music will remain the most powerful means of saying what escapes people’s attention.

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1. IvyPanda. "Susan McClary's Music." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mcclary/.


IvyPanda. "Susan McClary's Music." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mcclary/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Susan McClary's Music." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mcclary/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Susan McClary's Music'. 7 May.

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