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CLASSICAL  November 2005

CLASSICAL November 2005

Subject:

Re: "Why young people don't like classical music"

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 19 Nov 2005 22:08:26 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (53 lines)

Frank Wales:

>"Short attention span" is really just a way of (mis)describing someone
>who can interpret a more compressed form of something than a supposed
>average person.  This favours younger people who weren't alive when the
>older, less compressed forms were commonplace.

It seems to me that if you haven't the experience with longer, more
relaxed forms, then you need training.  Something -- to disagree mildly
with another of your points -- is indeed broke, but it's not unfixable.

>This isn't about 'pace' or 'slowness', it's about leaving out the stuff
>that isn't needed, which changes over time, and which is different for
>different audiences.
>
>Media have changed because we, as a whole (as a culture, if you prefer),
>have become more adept at making sense of imagery, juxtaposition,
>cross-references and other allegedly post-modern art techniques.  Those
>techniques are, in part, a reaction to the progressively increasing
>onslaught of diverse information that we are subject to in our lives.
>
>Those of us who are older people either get used to these changes, or
>get left behind waving our walking sticks indignantly at the receding
>world.  The young people who are the subject of this thread don't know
>any different, because they've *always* lived in a world with cellular
>phones, MTV and jump-cuts; they shoudn't be criticised or found defective
>because of that.

Their *experience* is defective or wanting.  If you can't appreciate
a work like the Iliad, Our Mutual Friend, or Light in August, you are
severely limited.  I would also contend that the same is true for someone
who can't move at the speed of haiku.  This needs to be criticized,
because it cuts people off from the better experiences of the culture
-- not just Bach and Mahler, but Ellington and Brian Wilson as well.

Furthermore, all of us -- on both sides of this issue -- postulate
an informed listener, one who makes critical judgments based on works
themselves.  I suspect this is a fairy tale in way too many cases.
Choices are made on bases other than the works themselves all the time:
self-image being one very powerful consideration.  Is the fact that I
love certain forms of "hard" contemporary music based on my wish to think
of myself as a solver of riddles?  To some extent, it probably is.  But
then much the same is true of my listening to Bruckner.

>If you can cut a scene from a movie, or a character from a book, or a
>voice from a choir, and the intended effect on the audience is the same,
>then that scene, character or voice *ought* to be cut out.  Great writing
>and great music is as much about what the creator has the insight, and
>the courage, to omit as it is about what they choose to include.

I would argue that it's never the same.

Steve Schwartz

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