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The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach

One of the memorable eras in the music history is the world is the Baroque period. It was a period of musical drama and an epoch where musical geniuses like Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and Handel became the center of Baroque-style music performances. The period began in Western Europe about 1600 to 1700. Baroque came from “barroco” a Portuguese term that means “misshapen” pearl. The music of Baroque period is said to be exaggerated and ornamented that many thought it was confused, dissonant and difficult music. This period earned derogatory connotations from various critics, but this historical age in the world of music is full of richness and diversity, made even colourful and vivid by the personalities who made great compositions, opuses and masterpieces that we still know today. One of the greatest personalities of the Baroque period of music is Johann Sebastian Bach, a German composer who made a name in the history of Western musical history and around the world. Bach was hailed from Eisenach, Germany, where he grew in the company of a family of musicians. It was his father who taught him to play the violin and the harpsichord. When his parents died at his early age, Bach lived with his organist brother, Johann Cristoph. He learned to play the keyboard and he also started composing his own music when he lived with his brother. Bach’s also had a great voice. He started his career by singing in the Michaelis monastery in Lüneberg and eventually became an instrumentalist. His early career was recorded to have started at the New Church in Arnstadt, where he became an organist. In Arnstadt, he provided music for religious events. His career did not go well in Arnstadt so he moved to Mühlhausen as an organist for Duke Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar. He composed many church cantatas. It was during this time that he composed his best musical masterpieces. Bach then went to Cöthen where he made more beautiful compositions for concertos for orchestras, dance suites and sonatas for multiple instruments. And the rest of Bach’s career was history until he became known as one of the renowned names in Classical Music (A+E Television Networks, 2013). Baroque’s music is known to be a very confusing kind of music that is full of dissonance. Such is the idea of critics. However, Baroque music seems to have been misinterpreted this way because of this elaborateness and its being exaggerated and over-decorative. Baroque music is full of emotions ad drama and it has emotional depth. The philosophy of the Baroque music is to bring music to audience as a tool for communicating. It aimed to arouse emotions among its listeners. Thus, the music of Baroque has contrast as a dramatic element, which is obvious in Bach’s music (Music of the Baroque, 2013). Contrast in the Baroque music is the differences in loud and soft, solo and ensemble, different instruments and timbres. Contrast between sections in a piece is and between instruments are common. Thus, compositions like those of Bach’s, sounded like there are conflicts. However, Bach’s music is organized and melodious. It is not confusing or difficult. Bach’s music contains passion and virtuosity that is highlighted by great melody in full drama and contrast. Thus, Baroque music is not really confused, diffused and conflicting, but the contrasts show raw musical emotions than reach the audience and touch them emotionally. This characteristic of the Baroque music is obvious in Bach’s composition, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. The piece has various contrasts of instruments and timbres from beginning to end. It was during the Baroque time when trumpets and violins became very popular. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 played a dramatic contrast between instruments. This style is not confusing, rather, it seemed to highlight emotions and drama in the piece. Thus, it is a very moving piece. Audience are not distracted and do not feel confused when they hear this piece, but rather, they are aroused with emotions that soar to great heights. Music scholars said that Bach excelled at counterpoint, a characteristic of the Baroque music wherein the composition is superimposed with two independent lines. Each makes musical sense by itself and each seems to blend with each other, making a seamless combination. Many said that Bach’s use of counterpoint was brilliant and innovative. Many of the dramatic complexities of his compositions still amaze musicians today (CBS Interactive, 2013). Music experts and scholars also agree that Bach excelled even more at the fugue. Fugue is a highly difficult contrapuntal musical form. It is a musical chase between two or more lines. In a fugue, the first line starts and then a second line joins in. The second line would sound a bit higher or lower than the first, but it would sound almost the same. Eventually, a third or fourth line may join the second line and they all bend seamlessly and effortlessly to bring a more dramatic effect in the composition. It takes a great skill to make the lines develop independently and then let them fit in altogether. Bach, was an expert in creating fugue and in making this musical milestone in the history of the Baroque musical era. Bach is one of the most respected forefathers of the Baroque era of music, oftentimes described as a genius whose work lived for generations and generations. His music is characterized by lots of notes, contrast, and dramatic rhythms in an organized and beautiful manner. Despite the arguments of many critics that the Baroque music is full of dissonance and confusion, Bach’s musical opuses are still being played in this modern period and it still touches the hearts of many audiences around the world. Many scholars in music said that Bach explored harmony much more deeply than other composers of the time. He was even greater than Handel or Vivaldi because of his brilliance in surprising dissonance and contrast. Thus, his music remains in every Classical music lover and enthusiast. References A+E Television Networks (2013). Johann Sebastian Bach: Biography. Biography.com. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/johann-sebastian-bach-9194289?page=2 Cincinnati Radio, Inc. (2013). Johann Sebastian Bach. Classicsforkids.com. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/showview.asp?ID=31 Music of the Baroque (2013). Baroque Music. Baroque.org. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://www.baroque.org/baroque/whatis.shtml#whatis The British Library (2013). Johann Sebastian Bach. Bl.uk. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/musicmanu/bach/


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Self-esteem and Emotional Control

Self-esteem is an attitude on how a person evaluates his or her value or worth. It is a feeling of pride in oneself; an emotional judgment of one’s strengths. It is important for people, especially children, even at early age, to develop their self-esteem. Self-esteem is one a child’s powerful weapon against the challenges of his day-to-day activities, routines and challenges in school and at home (The Nemours Foundation, 2013). Children who feel good about themselves and who know their self-worth are said to grow more confident in life; ready to face hurdles and challenges more easily when they reach adulthood. Children who are proud of their skills, capabilities, talents and strengths can easily handle conflicts and they veer away from negative pressures. A child with high self-esteem also knows his or her weaknesses and his limitations, and work well with his strengths, thereby producing more values of confidence, optimism and hope. They are more cheerful, friendly, easy to get along with, and are more eager to learn. Children with stable feelings of self-esteem are also able to mingle with others effortlessly and are more adaptable to different kinds of environments. They are more independent and determined in life. Self-esteem is a trait that is vital to the overall development of a child. Patterns of this important trait are evident in the early stage of a child’s life. It develops at an early age and it progresses as they grow older (The Nemours Foundation, 2013). Thus, it is essential that this trait should be nurtured and continuously enhanced. So, how can parents help children develop self-esteem? There are various ways for parents to develop a child’s self-esteem. Through encouragement, children can cultivate a child’s self-esteem. Self-esteem comes from the feeling of being capable while being loved and being secured (The Nemours Foundation, 2013). A child who may feel capable, but is not loved well enough, will only have feelings of low-esteem. Children need the love and assurance of their parents when they achieve something. Care-giving and culture of parents also play a vital role in shaping a child’s self-esteem. How do care-giving and culture later affect a child’s emotional control? Studies have shown that children who were exposed to proper care-giving and environment factors impact a child’s brain to handle emotions. Children’s coping mechanisms are better enhanced through their socialization by way of good parenting and exposure to outside culture that is hale and healthy (Supplee, L.H., et. al, 2009). Praise is a good way to boost a child’s self-esteem. For most parents, praising a child’s achievement is like an instinct. It is like an automatic reflex felt every time a child achieves something like learning how to play the guitar, earning a high score in Math, scoring a goal at soccer, helping chores at home, tidying his mess. It is good to give praises to children when they accomplish a chore. When kids do well, it is great to give them a hearty tap at their backs to let them know that they are on the right track. Praises are forms of rewards. Praising a child will boost their self-esteem and will give them a sense of achievement. Praises will also inspire them to achieve better. However, in some cases praising a child can do more harm than good. When are praises harmful? When is it unwise to praise a child? It is unwise to praise a child when they do not actually deserve it. Praising a child can be harmful when parents tend to overdo it. Some parents overpraise a child by painting perfection as a background. Over-complimenting gives the notion that children are perfect already and that sometimes with a parent’s standard of perfection, some kids try to overdo it too. They try to achieve perfection, which is actually an impossible standard because in the real scheme of things, perfection is not achievable. Gloating over a kid’s achievement and repeating that he or she is the smartest, brightest and the most talented of all can give the wrong signals to your child. Over-complimenting will create egomaniacs and over-confident children who will always be frustrated if they do not achieve the so-called perfection category (Myers, R.C., 2013). Thus, it is best to be realistic and give truthful compliments and praises. Do not overdo it and do not sugar-coat your accolades. Truthful praises will keep your kids’ feet on the ground and will imbibe them the values of humility and grace. And if children fail and make bad decisions, let them know that you still love them unconditionally. If you show love and praise only during peak of performances and achievements, children will always work up to your expectations. Today’s generation is a generation of the over-protective parents. We are the “band-aid” parents of this modern generation; always ready to patch our child’s problem, frustration and anxiety. For kids to be able to find their own strengths, capabilities, talents, weaknesses and limitations, let the take risks. Do not give everything on their plate. Let them decide for themselves and help them discover how they can solve their own little problems. Let the take life’s challenges and frustrations. Children who are given the opportunity to make choices on their own are empowered to become responsible individuals. They will realize at a young age too, the consequences of making good or poor choices. Thus, eventually they will imbibe good-decision making skills as they grow into adults later in life. On the side, cheer them on and support them in their decisions. In boosting a child’s self-esteem, give your children opportunities to show their skills and competence (Myers, R.C., 2013). Let them feel that they are important by involving them in family affairs such as doing house chores. Expand their horizons in many things by introducing various ways to tap their potentials and talents. Encourage them to take up activities that are fun, enjoyable and challenging. Let them pursue activities that they have high interest in. Follow these activities through with words of encouragement and truthful praises. Punishment forms part of discipline. Physical punishment can be a good way to discipline a child but there are limitations. Physical punishment has advantages and disadvantages. One may ask, what are the advantages and disadvantages of physical punishment? Physical punishment can help parents deter their children from doing more bad behavior. Knowing that physical punishment is an unpleasant experience, children will realize the consequences of misbehaving (Krow, S., n.d.). On the other hand, while physical punishment can instill fear among children, this can also do more harm than good. Physical punishment can lead to injuries in children if mismanaged. Sometimes, instead of instilling discipline, the outcome is fear, resentment and hatred in children. This attitude will usher low self-esteem among children. Thus, parents must find alternative ways to discipline a child. Many parents now opt to discipline their children in alternative ways other than physical punishment. Communication is still the best way to discipline a child. An open and healthy relationship between parent and child can be nurtured through communication. Self-esteem, the feeling of one’s self-worth must be continuously encouraged among children to help them developed into secured and fulfilled individuals later in their life. Parents can develop this trait through the show of their unconditional love to their children. Praising a child is also a great way to boost a child’s feelings of self-worth. Give only truthful and realistic praises to your children. To further develop their self-esteem, let your children make choices on their own. Involve them in activities that will empower them and let them realize their contribution, worth, and value. Care-giving and culture has also shown as good grounds for strengthening a child’s emotional control. These factors greatly affect a child’s coping mechanisms later in life. Meanwhile, physical punishment has its advantage in disciplining a child, but it also has its advantages. Communication is still the key to nurturing good parent-child relationships. Our children are our greatest treasures. Love, care and concern are the best ingredients in developing their self-esteem and emotional control, that will help that become loving and responsible individuals later in their life. References Krow, S. (n.d.) The Advantages of Corporal Punishment in Schools. Ehow.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.ehow.com/info_8159068_advantages-corporal-punishment-schools.html Myers, R.C. (2013 Sept. 18). How to build your child’s self-esteem. Todaysparent.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/how-to-build-your-childs-self-esteem/ Supplee, L.H., et. al (2009). Emotion regulation strategies and later externalizing behaviour among European American and African American children. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2712493/ The Nemours Foundation (2013). Developing Your Child’s Self-esteem. Kidshealth.org. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/self_esteem.html


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Role of Iran

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State, has started making its presence felt in 2010 after its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, split from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was founded by the late Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. In 2013, its Syrian front, the Al-Nusra, joined the rebellion against the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (BBC). While in Iraq, the ISIS has taken advantage of the void after the US forces left and ended its invasion, in Syria, it has taken advantage of its three-year civil war. Since the ISIS, because of its notoriety and its growing strength, has become a force to reckon with in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, the primary concern of the United States (US) and the West in the Middle East have been to counter the terrorist threat (Rafizadeh, 2014). Although ISIS poses a threat that the ISIS to the security of the free world, for the US and the West, the ISIS represents both an unfinished business, resulting from the War on Iraq, and a complication, for its refusal to intervene in the Syrian Civil War. For Iran, however, the threat of ISIS is more imminent. The terrorist group, which espouses the establishment of a caliphate in the Middle East, occupies regions of two erstwhile powerful Islamic countries with whom Iran shares borders, not to mention interests. If the terrorism that the ISIS brings cannot be controlled, Iran could not help but affected by the turmoil. Notwithstanding Iran’s hegemonic ambitions (Rafizadeh) in the Middle East, it is only rational for Iran to act to stop the ISIS. Apparently, this is what Iran has been doing, with or without the help of the US and the West, by supporting the regime of Syrian President Al-Assad and by sending military assistance to the Iraqi Army to help battle the ISIS. In a recent pronouncement of the Iranian Foreign Minister, he confirmed that Iran will continue to support the Syrian and the Iraqi people fight the Islamic State (Dziadosz). Many analysts are wary of how Iran has been throwing its weight around in the fight against the ISIS. For one, it reflects the aspirations of Iran towards regional hegemony in the Middle East, and because of the preoccupation of the Western and the Arab players with fighting the ISIS, the question on the nuclear capability buildup of Iran seems to have been set aside (Rafazideh). Iranian efforts, albeit apparently unilateral, were also welcome by the US and West, thereby signaling the beginning of the latters’ policy of appeasement towards Iran. Many feared that continuing such policy might lead to a very powerful Iran that would eventually rival the US and harm Israel. On the other hand, Iran is in the best position to help Syria and Iraq in countering the Islamic State. First of all, it is Iran’s region that is most affected by the terrorist threat. In no time, the ISIS has spread to Syria from Iraq. If the ISIS sphere influence expands, it may also reach other Middle Eastern countries, especially those who have been reeling from internal strife. It is better to have one strong Islamic Republic of Iran in Middle East, which despite its antagonistic relationship with the West in the past has remained moderate in its foreign policies, than allowing an extremely virulent terrorist organization occupy the region. Also, affording Iran greater role in securing the region will also relieve the US and the West of its complex responsibilities in the Middle East. The US must already accept that Western-style democracies cannot be imposed and that the Arab countries must be given the chance towards self-determination. In such situations, the US will be able to avoid getting itself in sticky situations where it cannot decide if it should intervene or not in domestic instabilities in these Arab countries. Nevertheless, it seems that the critical consideration as always has been the US-Israel alliance. It is a tough balancing act for the US to allow the Iran to help its neighbors and at the same time fulfill its commitment to Israel. In such case, the US must learn how to constructively engage Iran and cease treating it as a rival. This can be done by encouraging Iran to cooperate in existing multilateral institutions that will ensure that Iran shares the responsibility of ensuring regional instability in the Middle East, but still, in a responsible manner.


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