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CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Re: Hoffman on Tonal Music

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 24 May 2005 09:01:54 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (55 lines)

Denis Fodor wrote:

>As I see it, it's only a problem when Nono or Boulez, or the likes, are
>foisted on listeners, in dribs or drabs, on a classical radio station
>or in a large symphony hall.  Audiences tend to abide the stuff provided
>it's not too long.  Ten minutes of Webern'll pass muster.  But the average
>symphony-goer or classical-radio attender is not deeply educated in
>music.  As with most of his/her other pursuits, (s)he's been conditioned
>to react by upbringing and pursuant experience.  (S)he might be ready
>to read a bit of Pushkin in translation, but learn to read him in Russian
>s(he) will not.  Trouble is, you can't translate Schnittke and you can't
>ask the multitudes to seek to lend him its ears by learning to break the
>sonic barrier.

For me, it isn't just a question of education.  As you suggest, it
is, at least in part, a question of expectation.  I don't believe one
has to be any more educated to find value in Webern than one needs to
find value in Bach.  It seems to me that part of the problem is one of
expectations (marketing vesus content of the product).  What if you
had classical music (as a product) marketed, like I once joked with a
friend...for a concert of atonal music I suggested..."Prepare yourself
for the shock of your life...you will hear screaming sounds which will
set every nerve ending in your body on fire...see musicians performing
acts of desecration on their instruments...you will see two Strads being
tapped on their back with bows...musicians will be streaching their minds
to the extreme, just to keep in time...it will have you sitting on the
edge of your seat...you will hear sounds that will explore the darkest
places in your soul and push your abilities to concentrate to the absolute
limit.  Come join us for our Xenakis festival.  Tea and dessert cakes
will be served after the concert."

Instead, classical music is marketed to relax you, or to inspire you to
lofty thoughts...not to remind you of the horrors one person can do to
another.  I would be the last person to say that Erwartung relaxes me
or touches the infinite...that's not what its about.  From my perspective,
it is the marketing and the programming which hurts music more than any
unresolved dissonance, or lack of tonality.

Could art music survive being marketed and presented in such a way
to reflect its full range of expression?  I honestly don't know, but I
can only wonder if we reinforced the notion that music did not have to
fit into some limited harmonic vocabulary, maybe more people would take
classical music seriously.  For me, at the extreme in poor taste, classical
music, on radio in particular, can often be presented as wall paper.  I
would guess that only those who make wall paper, or are interior decorators,
take wall paper seriously.

For me, the most horrifying thing I hear in concert is a person sitting
next to me eating candies wrapped in those plastic wrappers that crinkle.
It is fascinating to watch the person try and predict load passages in
the music, looking for an opportunity to unwrap more of the candy.

I know...I'm crazy.

Karl

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