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Tolkien v. Wagner

Posted by acdtest on December 16, 2003

Tolkien v. Wagner

ew Yorker music critic Alex Ross does a comparison of Wagner’s and Tolkien’s Rings. Despite a confused parenthetical quasi-disquisition on major and minor harmonies wherein Ross (who I know knows better) seems to suggest that the prelude to Das Rheingold is in C major (it’s in E-flat major), it’s an article worth reading, most particularly for Tolkien freaks, among whom I do not count myself.

UPDATE (22 December at 1:10 AM Eastern): Alex Ross replies (via eMail):

When I wrote, “From one deep note, wave upon wave of majestic harmony flows,” I decided not to specify E-flat as the note in question in order to avoid throwing too many particulars at the non-musical reader. Admittedly, my compromise formulation could be read as saying that the Ring begins in C. A classic dilemma: on the one hand, I run the risk of expert readers saying, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about”; and on the other, I run the risk of non-expert readers saying, “I don’t know what this guy is talking about.” To my way of thinking, the latter risk is more serious.

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