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I actually like listening to foreign voice with no understanding of the language. I listen for some humanity in vocal expression of emotion. I don't need to know what the lyrics are to be able to enjoy it. With enough exposure, one will come to understand other peoples much better.

I listen to music to feel, to be in the moment.
I have the same specially with the countries we do not talk about at the moment.
 
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Well said by vtpoet, in the thread A question for lovers of J S Bach :
One listens to Bach for the universality of his music, not the 18th century religious sentiments of the librettists, deal with people like me in some other way than by gloming onto the 18th century.
It's simply not all that controversial to say that Bach's Lutheranism is gone. Nobody in the 21st century is going to connect with the often trite and mediocre sentiments expressed in Bach's Cantatas the way Bach's congregation did.
 

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In which cantata are "trite and mediocre sentiments" expressed? This is certainly not the main content or thrust of these cantata texts. They might be contents or sentiments strange or foreign to 21st centur secular people, but this is quite different from "trite and mediocre".
I am not going to defend the texts of these librettists for poetic value, but this sounds like the worst possible kind of 20-21st century chronological arrogance...
 

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I suppose the answer to your question is that one doesn't have to know the language to appreciate the music on its own: one can enjoy all the things that one appreciates when listening to non-vocal music (the melodies, rhythms etc.) without any understanding of the speech sounds being made by the singer. But that's not the same thing as appreciating the song. A composer is inspired to write a song by the text of the poem, so it seems obvious that if you have some understanding of the poem and then pay attention to how the composer matches the music to the text, you are engaging with the creative process of the composer on a much deeper level, and it is a much richer experience.
This post from a couple of years ago captures my feelings on the issue. I always want to know and understand the text of anything I'm listening to. The idea of sitting through an opera or song cycle without this knowledge just seems absurd. I can't imagine wanting to do this since translations, when necessary, are almost always readily available.
 
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To me it’s common sense that of course you can enjoy the music for its own sake but you can appreciate it in a far deeper level if you actually know the meaning of what the singer is singing. Of course it depends on how profound the words are but generally this is a rule to a greater or lesser extent.
 

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In which cantata are "trite and mediocre sentiments" expressed? This is certainly not the main content or thrust of these cantata texts. They might be contents or sentiments strange or foreign to 21st centur secular people, but this is quite different from "trite and mediocre".
I am not going to defend the texts of these librettists for poetic value, but this sounds like the worst possible kind of 20-21st century chronological arrogance...
I certainly agree with you that it is arrogance to dismiss these texts as trite. Many of them deal with death which was a very real part of life at the time they were written. If you had 10 kids only four of them would probably make it to adulthood. So people tended to dwell on these things because they were so much a part of the reality of life. No doubt the people in those days would sneer at the sentiments of some of the words in the songs which are popular today. We need an understanding of the culture in which those cantatas were written.
 

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"I would say that in an opera the poetry must be altogether the obedient daughter of the music. Why are Italian comic operas popular everywhere - in spite of the miserable libretti? … Because the music reigns supreme, and when one listens to it all else is forgotten. An opera is sure of success when the plot is well worked out, the words written solely for the music and not shoved in here and there to suit some miserable rhyme." -Mozart, 13 October 1781

In which cantata are "trite and mediocre sentiments" expressed? this sounds like the worst possible kind of 20-21st century chronological arrogance
You could examine the actual thread to get a better idea of what vtpoet meant. Or we could "summon" him and discuss the issue here if you want.
 

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I don't think one needs to go into details to recognize the stupidity and falsity of the charge "trite and mediocre sentiments". Even a superficial glance at translations without knowledge of early 18th century Lutheranism will easily recognize that what is expressed are not at all trite but strong religious convictions and emotions concerning elemental sentiments like joy, grief, remorse etc. (The exception being stuff like the "Coffee cantata" which is obviously ironic like some sitcoms are today.)
Of course, the language and metaphors and often the religious content are all rather foreign to us but this doesn't change the fact that church cantatas were basically musical sermons and it is a strong distortion to view them as "universal, pure music" because they simply aren't.
 

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I don't think one needs to go into details to recognize the stupidity and falsity of the charge "trite and mediocre sentiments".
The opinion is subjective, but not stupid. There are people who are turned off by opera plots they consider as silly, but still deeply appreciate the music by hearing it independently. In that thread, vtpoet said he speaks German, but never cared for the libretti of Bach's cantatas; "One listens to Bach for the universality of his music", he said. I remember the member Jacck (a German-speaking Czech) even calling the texts silly.

a lot of the texts/lyrics he uses are third rate, mostly amateurish and sometimes involuntarily funny best enjoyed in German by non-German speakers.
8:05
"It is the ancient law; you must die!"
Yes, yes, yes, come, Lord Jesus, yes, yes, yes, yes"
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Even a superficial glance at translations without knowledge of early 18th century Lutheranism will easily recognize that what is expressed are not at all trite but strong religious convictions and emotions concerning elemental sentiments like joy, grief, remorse etc.
So does stuff like Reichardt's German songs (which you had dismissed as "naive") and singspiels, it can be argued that there are "strong emotions" expressed in secular context; joy, grief, remorse, and whatnot in them.

Of course, the language and metaphors and often the religious content are all rather foreign to us but this doesn't change the fact that church cantatas were basically musical sermons and it is a strong distortion to view them as "universal, pure music" because they simply aren't.
Is there much more beyond "vague suggestions" of "joy, grief, remorse.." though? More than there is in purely instrumental music? Plenty of music from Bach's cantatas was transcribed into purely instrumental music and vice-versa, btw. I think Bach would have done it a lot more if he was paid to. I guess this ties into what Forster said in the thread <Do we hear the composers emotional intentions because we are told what we should hear>.
 

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The opinion is subjective, but not stupid. There are people who are turned off by opera plots they consider as silly, but still deeply appreciate the music by hearing it independently. In that thread, vtpoet said he speaks German, but never cared for the libretti of Bach's cantatas; "One listens to Bach for the universality of his music", he said. I remember the member Jacck (a German-speaking Czech) even calling them silly.
Maybe if you were mourning a dead child or seeking to come to terms with the loss of a loved one who had departed early as many of Bach's listeners, you might not have considered them so title and silly. When I see some of the nonsense which is on the television today I don't think our civilisation is so advanced as to call others trite and silly.
 

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If you had 10 kids only four of them would probably make it to adulthood.
Many children died in infancy in those times. I'm not sure why you keep pointing this out. Look at Benjamin Franklin's family or Napoleon's. When Bach lost his first wife, he remarried soon after. It's meaningless to assert parents who had many children and lost some of them as in the case of J.S. Bach and the Mozarts (Leopold and W.A.), "suffered" more than parents like M. Haydn, who lost the only child he had in life (and happened to write a requiem for the death of his employer soon after), for example.

There is obviously a range of suffering, from the discomfort of the dentist's chair to the trauma of the premature loss of a child or the experience of fighting in the trenches of WW1.
Compared to some, I've not really "suffered" at all. How would we weigh Messiaen's suffering in a concentration camp against other's experiences?
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Maybe if you were mourning a dead child or seeking to come to terms with the loss of a loved one who had departed early as many of Bach's listeners, you might not have considered them so title and silly. When I see some of the nonsense which is on the television today I don't think our civilisation is so advanced as to call others trite and silly.
No one has called the "music" trite and silly though, I don't think vtpoet (a fervent admirer of Bach's music) did either. Do you by any chance think that Bach objectively deserves more "special treatment" than guys like Christoph Graupner, Telemann, Reinhard Keiser, etc, who used similar sorts of texts as Bach in this regard? How much suffering Bach went through in his life doesn't really matter objectively, from the point of view of music appreciation. You can imagine in your mind all you want how much of Bach's "life sufferings" are sincerely expressed his musical expressions. ie. How much of them wouldn't have been expressed or present in his music had he not "suffered" in life. It's subjective.

I deal with this silly sentiment all the time. It permeates through all forms of music, not just classical. It started for me at Berklee where I used to hear things along the lines of, "You have to feel the blues in order to play the blues, man. You've had to have paid your dues. You can't play the blues unless you've suffered." Etc.
 
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