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Music is a key concept for Nietzsche, as is in its highest degree a universal language. This universality allows it to connect to the Dionysian essence. Music surpasses all other arts with its power to access the will directly, without attempting to copy the phenomena of the will. This is equivalent to saying that music does not need secondary sources, and thus can go strait to the original. Nietzsche suggests that music is not the medium through which the essence of Dionysus flows, but rather that it is the embodiment of Dionysus.
It is only through the spirit of music in tragedy that we can experience joy in the annihilation of the individual, for music carries us beyond individual concerns. The tragic hero, whose annihilation we witness, is a phenomenon of the world-will. His death signifies only the death of the phenomenon, not of the will itself. Man may not comprehend this truth logically, but he can feel it in the music.
Having established that music is the soul of the tragic myth, Nietzsche then demonstrates how modern German music has the potential to affect a rebirth of tragedy. Music is a central theme in this work, as it is one of the few constants that is able to connect Greek and German cultures. Nietzsche sees music as the key to the soul of a people. Because the German character is still connected to the vital primitive power that precedes civilized life, German music is of necessity a new incarnation of the Dionysian in art.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Birth of Tragedy!