July 14, 2014

#EvPsych and #scientism still can't explain music

On the Fourth of July, after YouTubing Stravinsky's arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner, because we're just past the 100th anniversary of Gavrilo Princip's fatal shots in Sarajevo that helped launch World War I, as discussed by me here, with a dip into alternative history, I started YouTubing the national anthems of the three European empires that imploded after World War I. (Yes, the Ottomans were also in Europe, but  I'm not counting them.)

Here are the stirring national anthems of the three great ones of central and eastern Europe:

The Imperial German Anthem, and stop acting shocked at the tune, you Brits:

It was the Prussian anthem pre-unification, too.

And, the classic Austro-Hungarian anthem. Please don't act shocked at the tune. Franz Josef Haydn wrote "Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser" long before the Nazis stole the anthem, and, with edited lyrics, it's the anthem of today's Federal Republic of Germany:

Classic. Sing along. The full lyrics are at the webpage.

Finally, the Czarist National Anthem.

If it sounds familiar, it should; it's adapted as the second theme of Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave.

A few thoughts.

First, there's YouTube devotees to all three empires, just like there's neo-Nazi devotee groups.

Second, the empires, in general, were not evil on the same level or way that Hitler's Nazis or Stalin's Communists were. (That said, Romanov Russia was in a level above Hohenzollern Germany and the Hapsburg Dual Monarchy, above all but not solely on anti-Semitism.)

Third, even if one if a full-on pacifist, a national anthem is still stirring. Even more so, a military march. Rather than trotting out one from John Philip Sousa, I head to one written for the predecessor of the first of these empires, Beethoven's Yorck'schen Marsche:

Who could not be stirred by that?

And, per the header, evolutionary psychology, even in its non Pop Ev Psych version, still can't "explain" music. Nor can overblown uses of neuroscience, per the scientism tag.

Birds sing for mating calls, but it would be a huge extrapolation to claim that a military march is about male strength, therefore male reproductive fitness, therefore a mating call. And, you can't even try that with a national anthem.

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