This is the Research on MUSIC month and I have a great pleasure to invite Eva van Ooij, a freelance musician and researcher at Maastricht University, to tell us about her discoveries in music and law. It is more than fun than it sounds! 😉 Here she is playing her cielo
Music is everywhere. We cannot escape form it. We hear it when we switch on the radio, go to a concert or watch a movie, but also when we do our groceries or are on the phone, while being forwarded to another phone. Music is and has been around always. And so are the musicians.
Musicians travel while reaching their public, playing on a special occasion or place… This has been the case since many centuries and worked well. For example, London in the 18thCentury was a magnet for music lovers and music producers. In the opera and theatre houses many foreign musicians composed and played, while bringing their own knowledge and way of interpretation…. The same is true for Vienna, Paris, New York…. They just did it. Without any Schengen Agreement or European right to free movement of persons. Huh? Where does that pop-up from?
Well, music and EU law have both my interests and belong to my profession. When meeting new people, it is not unusual to have a puzzling face in front of me when I say that I am a musician and researcher in EU law. Often the statement that these two disciplines are not related and have a very different approach of work follows quite soon afterwards.
There is some truth in that – at the same time not. Music is everywhere, and so is law too. My research is about the fundamental right of free movement of persons and the pattern of work of very mobile EU citizens – such as many musicians – and how this affects the social security position of this mobile worker. Tensions between laws occur in this more irregular way of working, which results often in unclear situations and an administrative hassle for the person concerned.
In this post, however, I would like to highlight another cross-over between the musical and legal world, but to do that, we need to go back in the time. Take Italy in the 17th century. This was divided among Spanish domination and governance by the pope and many small free cities in the North. The lack of political unity in Northern Italy made that there was no central organised high court of justice, neither a lawgiver who developed national law.
All rules were local or provincial subjected to the power-game of local notables, which made the legislation occasional and changeable. Still, exchange and trade went on and it where the law professors who helped out in case of misunderstandings or disputes. These learned and wise men kept this mediating and powerful position for quite a long time: till the end of the ancient regime in 1789. It was at this time that the first universities in Europe where created in Italy, which attired persons from well-off sections of the population to study Roman law in Italy. This is still noticeable today and the influence of the Roman law applied by the law professors can be traced back in the law systems of many other countries in and outside Europe.
(Italy around 1650, showing the cities that were the main centres for music)
In the same period, there were flourishing days for the arts and music in Italy. Several rulers, cities and leading families in the North were competing for prestige by the way of supporting music and the arts. This stimulated not only the occurrence of new music genres such as the opera, but also created the first classical music education system and the development of craftsmanship in high quality musical instruments – think about the ateliers of Stradivari or Amati. This made Italy having a dominant influence on the European music scenes lasting till even the mid-eighteenth century. And as everyone knows, Stradivari string instruments are still the most desired instruments of today.
Today, we know quite sophisticated legal systems that provide us the playing rules of our societies. Some rights are the same (think about universal human rights); others may differ more or differ less. A clear example here is the gay-marriage, which is totally legally here in the Netherlands, but still unthinkable in societies like, for example, Poland or Bulgaria. Different choices have been made within these societies. We may think that is caused due to a different approach to matters, to a different culture. Or maybe not?
In his book Judges, Legislators and Professors Van Caenegem opposes exactly this more traditional view that legal history is shaped by and is a part of cultural history. He proposes an interesting and bold perspective, namely: the form of the legal system with all its duties and rights, regulations and decisions is created by the political development within the various European nations. He shifts the idea that culture is at the core of how our societal structure is shaped.
But, what then about the purest expression form of our culture: the arts and music? Could we then also say that political history can be held responsible for the development of these? When having a closer look at for example the musical developments in the baroque and classical music, we can actually come to a similar conclusion. Observing both the legal and musical developments in Italy, we can say that for a long period of time, the Italian developments where progressive for their time and have been of significant influence in Europe. And indeed, it was the way of political organisation that made these developments flourishing within the domain of the arts and legal organisation. Of course, developments are not black and white. However, reflecting on the maybe bold statement of Van Caenegem and comparing this to the music historical development in the baroque/classical era, it shows us that political organisation had an enormous impact on the development of the legal order and cultural life for a long-time and with a wide geographic reach. A good reminder I would say, since it shows us how important political organization is.
At the time of writing of this blog it is a very topical issue. Just observe the strong reoccurrence of nationalism, terrorism and other developments, such as the upcoming Brexit, an American president that is first and foremost interested in itself and not to mention the recruitment of the Turkish minister of Dutch/German/Austrian/…..–Turkish nationals for the upcoming referendum in Turkey…. I have to admit that politics are not my domain as researcher. Yet research, particular in law and culture is built on the values of enlightenment. To defend an open, rational and democratic society is not a choice as a researcher, but a duty in itself.
Post written by Eva van Ooij researcher at Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and mobility / ITEM regarding cross border mobility of artists, new forms of employment and their social security position.
Music with us more next Monday!
With love for Research,
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