Music and Social Order

Music can teach us how to live in peace together.

In his very fine article, “Contrapuntal Order” (First Things, April, 2020), John Ahern shows how the music of counterpoint can help us to envision and pursue more harmonious and mutually beneficial social relationships at every level of society.

Counterpoint is music comprised of collaborating melodies, two distinct melody lines working together to complement and enhance one another, as in a fugue. Ahern’s explanation of counterpoint is very clear and shows the beauty of the particular musical form. He applies the lessons of counterpoint to marriage and social life in general, suggesting that we could learn from such music how to make our own lives in society more mutually edifying and ennobling.

Music can exert formative power on us if we will take the time to listen to it with understanding and appreciation. Its beauty can lend beauty to many other endeavors, but we’ll need to have more fine guidance from people like John Ahern to help us in this.


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