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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's a thread on sacred slow movements where people are proposing all sorts of instrumental music, romantic adagios that sort of thing. Lacking the god gene, I don't really understand the mindset. So I thought I'd start this off just for personal clarification of spirituality in music.

So, what are some examples of spiritual fast music, not by a direct link to a sacred text or story, but rather by intrinsic spiritual musicalness? Or is spirituality linked essentially to slowness?
 

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Plenty of fast fugal "Amen!"s in masses and such, but it needs a context to come up as spiritual, I think. Music always needs a context. But having said this, I have opened the doors of the horrendous context/intrinsic debate, so my apologies!
 

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The fourth movement (Storm) of Beethoven's 6th Symphony is kind of spiritual I suppose and definitely at a fast tempo.

I'm not religious and I'm not "spiritual". However I tend to find that slow, legato melodies are most suited to invoke feelings about life and the universe as a whole. Fast-paced melodies/themes don't give you time to ponder and get lost in your thoughts.
 
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To address your notion: I suppose in broadest terms "spirituality" is often concerned with a "turning in" that may be more appropriate to a reflective, more considered pace of music. Frantic and fast suggests the busyness of doing rather than the "spirituality" of being.
 

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It seems obvious that spirituality is at least strongly associated with slow tempo, even if it is not an absolute prerequisite. On the other hand, what kind of slow music would not be considered spiritual (even by most of those who like it)?
 

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There is a "searching" spirituality, but also a "this is how it is!" spirituality, a revelation. Fast tempi can suit the latter just fine, I think. Also, fast tempi can suggest life and joy, which are suitably close and possible adjuncts.
 
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It seems obvious that spirituality is at least strongly associated with slow tempo, even if it is not an absolute prerequisite. On the other hand, what kind of slow music would not be considered spiritual (even by most of those who like it)?
I wouldn't describe the slow movements of Haydn's symphonies as spiritual. Off the top of my head, also the slow movements of pieces like Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto or Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto might be beautiful and lyrical (especially with Rach) but not spiritual.

Others might disagree of course!
 
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Could I just ask very briefly what "spiritual" in music is supposed to mean? I don't mind labels, as long as they are not constrictive, but I would like to know what this term is generally taken to mean. To be frank, it's a term I never use (as far as I can recall) and it rather disturbs me. I don't mind being disturbed, by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Could I just ask very briefly what "spiritual" in music is supposed to mean? I don't mind labels, as long as they are not constrictive, but I would like to know what this term is generally taken to mean. To be frank, it's a term I never use (as far as I can recall) and it rather disturbs me. I don't mind being disturbed, by the way.
Yes, I can't say what it is yet I feel I know it when I see it. I feel it lives in performance. I'll give an example, though it's an obscure one, it's one that means a lot to me, I couldn't recommend it more highly. Jens Christensen's Art of Fugue.

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I take spiritual to mean anything that gives you a sense of awe about your existence/the universe/God.

For example I am not at all a spiritual person but sometimes I feel a massive sense of awe and wonderment at the universe. I refer to this as a spiritual experience in a similar sort of way that Einstein used to talk about god.
 
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Yes, I can't say what it is yet I feel I know it when I see it. I feel it lives in performance. I'll give an example, though it's an obscure one, it's one that means a lot to me, I couldn't recommend it more highly. Jens Christensen's Art of Fugue.

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Thanks for the reply, Mandryka. Is it the AoF as a work that you find 'spiritual' (whoever performs it), or the performance of the AoF by Christensen in particular that you find spiritual? Do you find other performances of the AoF by other ensembles/players deficient in the spirituality you talk about? And once again, I am struggling to grasp this concept of 'spiritual'. I'm not mocking you or being cynical, I want to know. I of course suspect that what you mean by 'spiritual' means 'moving', and what I tend to shy away from in these sorts of discussions is the perceived notion (on my part) to associate the word 'spiritual' with some sort of deism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No I don't think all performances of AoF have the quality of Christensen's. And it has something to do with a sense of focus of the performer's mental and physical resources: the sense of everything that the performer has in him coming out in the performance.
 
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No I don't think all performances of AoF have the quality of Christensen's. And it has something to do with a sense of focus of the performer's mental and physical resources: the sense of everything that the performer has in him coming out in the performance.
OK, so you mean that specific performances (for example Christensen's) have this 'spiritual' quality and that this 'spirituality' has nothing to do with the work itself. But surely both ('performance' and 'the work') must somehow be interrelated? If not, what you are saying is that 'the performance act itself' renders this spirituality concrete. Once again, I have to confess that I have problems understanding what is meant by 'spirituality'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
OK, so you mean that specific performances (for example Christensen's) have this 'spiritual' quality and that this 'spirituality' has nothing to do with the work itself. But surely both ('performance' and 'the work') must somehow be interrelated? If not, what you are saying is that 'the performance act itself' renders this spirituality concrete. Once again, I have to confess that I have problems understanding what is meant by 'spirituality'.
I believe it's a product of performance, music and audience.
 

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Spiritual music, to me, is music that can bring the listener to ecstasy, in the literal sense - transcending ordinary awareness of the self. Much Romantic music, e.g., Rachmaninoff slow movements as mentioned above, does not do this - it rather intensifies the experience of ordinary emotions.

I don't believe that slowness and spirituality need to be linked. This idea is what once led some people to believe, incorrectly, that HIP performances of Bach lacked the "spirituality" of the old Romantic-style performances. On the contrary, I would say those old performances sometimes reduced the music to pseudo-spiritual kitsch.

Here is an instrumental fast movement that to me expresses ecstatic joy:
 
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