935. An invisible epidemic

935sonata

Octavia Pankhurst Gorring-Wilson had a mission in life. It was a calling; a vocation, if you wish. Octavia Pankhurst Gorring-Wilson was one of those relatively rare beings: a feminist musicologist. Her mission in life was to get banned every skerrick of music written in sonata form.

There was good reason for it. For too long Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and most composers since, had got away with blue murder. Not murder exactly; but they had disguised their misogynist bigotries in veils of invisibility.

Everything in sonata form – sonatas themselves, and most symphonies, concertos… – all followed the same course: they were designed for patriarchal subjugation and domestication of the feminine.

This may need a little explaining, but Octavia Pankhurst Gorring-Wilson delighted in explaining. A sonata has two tunes; each in its own key. The first tune is masculine and the second tune is feminine. BUT by the end of the sonata the feminine tune is in the same key as the male tune. The SHE has been vanquished. The female has been made to sing in the same key as the male. She has been made to stand henceforth at the kitchen sink. She has been cruelly subjugated by these composers who don’t and didn’t give a tiddlywink about women’s issues, but walk roughshod over the aspirations of half of society.

Octavia Pankhurst Gorring-Wilson was all for banning ALL music and starting again. Good luck, Octavia.

37 thoughts on “935. An invisible epidemic

  1. Susanne

    I think there’s a joke here that I’m missing. Gack. I hate that. Something to do with the name Octavia perhaps? Ironically, I find her name rather musical to say out loud.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      No joke. I read a feminist musicologist’s article slating sonata form as an attempt by males to dominate and I was pretty surprised that the university she worked for took her seriously…

      Reply
  2. Cynthia Jobin

    Are you sure Octavia’s real name isn’t Susan McClary? Good luck to her, too. If we’re lucky, the more visible epidemic, which was raging in the years I worked in Academe, may be petering out a bit….

    In poetry metrics there is an age-old tradition of genderizing line endings: iambs and anapests are called masculine because they end on a thump; trochees and dactyls are called feminine because they let you down softly. But I’ve never seen the one as intrinsically overpowering to the other. I’m glad my own name consists of one dactyl and one trochee.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      My next ballad is to do with “feminine endings”!!! Now parts of the story were direct quotations from Susan McClary’s ridiculous analyses of Haydn’s Keyboard Sonatas!
      The rather limp spondee of Bruce followed by a trochee starting with a G make it fall uneasily on the lips. All my brothers and sisters have trochee followed by a trochee. They don’t have to contort the mouth to get their name out.

      Reply
        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          Yes but I should’ve said that although Bruce is one syllable it sort of peters out almost in an attempt to be a spondee but not making it 😦 BRU – SSSS) – unlike BRU-NO

          Reply
  3. thecontentedcrafter

    I have long found that when people feel bad about themselves they look to place the blame somewhere. Academics and musicians are no exception, they just do it in more high-falutin’ and esoteric terminologies.

    Reply
    1. Cynthia Jobin

      You are so right, Pauline, but there are institutions so powerful that their blessing and approval totally bohonks the estimation that they have among ordinary folk (like us).

      Reply
        1. Cynthia Jobin

          It is indeed a fabulous word….and I’m not sure I use it correctly. 🙂

          …by the way, I know your surname is a spondee, but is your first name a trochee ( PAULine) or or an iamb (PaulINE)?

          Reply
          1. thecontentedcrafter

            Interestingly I learnt this years ago when practising eurythmy [it’s a Steiner thing] and haven’t thought about it in years, but for you giving me the clues I wouldn’t have known how to respond to you now ….. I use the trochee version – most people round these here parts tend to say Poor-lean to which I respond inwardly I am neither poor nor lean 🙂 and which stresses both syllables equally…….. My Italian friend calls me Paolina which I like very much!

            I’m going to google that word!

            Reply
            1. Cynthia Jobin

              It’s infinitely interesting. The French are famous for taking a male name (Paul) and making a female version ( Pauline, Claudine, Jeanine, etc.) and the Iriish have so many -eens, it’s quite perplexing.. I’m glad you’re going to google it, Paolina…. and I think it’s a good thing that ,deep down, we are no at all, entirely, our given names…..

              Reply
          2. thecontentedcrafter

            Oh dear Cynthia, according to google you don’t use it correctly – it’s both an ethnic slur and an off centre sexual thing done to bicycle saddles in the Netherlands 🙂 Personally I think it needs to be reinvented to mean something along the lines of plain freakin’ nuts! 🙂

            Reply
            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              If it’s any help (probably not) a bohunkus is a terrible creature that lives in the forest in the mountains and comes down at night and eats peoples socks.

              Reply
        2. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I have never heard bohonks before either. I presume it is the disparaging word for a Czech that would “replace” the use of bunkum or debunk – sort of like we say “friggin for another word???

          Reply
        3. Yvonne

          Hmm, where I grew up (prairie Saskatchewan), to call a person a ‘bohonk’ was not a term of endearment, and was used sparingly.

          Reply
  4. Eric Tonningsen

    This is just too tempting. This woman had/has issues. And far too much time on her hands. Can’t she, like most of us, simply enjoy classical music for what it is and how it stimulates the mind and soul? Oy!

    Reply
      1. Cynthia Jobin

        Now..now…here is the urban dictionary definition of bohonk: A well built or nice looking man that is a complete self absorbed idiot. Has the brain function of a retarded sea monkey.
        (So I think I stand by my above usage of the word even though I changed it to a verb! 🙂 )

        Reply
  5. umashankar

    As they, say, a jaundiced eye will see only yellow. I believe we have a brighter version around these corners of the Earth: a man gone blind in Spring will only see green.

    Reply
  6. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer

    I feel as if I am entering a private brawl, argument or discussion. This may be how “Road Rage” and other non-martial arts begin. And although I know better than to knowingly enter a fight of any kind I find you all quite fascinating and would like to join your discussion. May I begin by inviting your comments on my blog, Morristownmemos? I need the impressions of some intelligent people with amazing vocabularies to be critics! Thank you, and it was a pleasure meeting you!~

    Reply

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