Slate’s Mark Vanhoenacker published a statistics-laden (and admittedly sympathetic) “requiem” on the death of classical music last week. True, if you look at classical music through the lens of pop music, you might be forgiven for seeing a ER patient gasping for breath on a Beyonce-embossed hospital bed. But it’s been a long time since classical and pop music have competed for the same prizes, and that’s the problem with his argument: Vanhoenacker fundamentally misunderstands what classical music is about in the 21st century. Classical isn’t the same cultural beast as pop—not anymore anyway. It might not ever be again, and that doesn’t matter in the least for its survival. (more…)
In Part 1, I talked about some of the economic implications of the indie model increasingly being adopted by classically trained chamber musicians. Here, I want to look at some of the cultural trends involved. While the general economic climate certainly played a role in creating this movement, I think changing cultural shifts are just as important.
The end of the culture wars
Part of the reason I think indie classical has flourished is that the rift between traditionally highbrow (classical, modernist, etc) and lowbrow (pop, folk) genres has essentially disappeared. While highbrow artists from time immemorial have drawn upon popular or folk styles, there has always been the assumption that the purpose was to make something better, somehow more refined. (more…)
I’ve thought a lot lately about the effect that sound, and particularly music, has on our environment. This is what people frequently call Ecomusicology, though I’m not crazy about that term.
Basically, do we have a right to make noise? How must it feel for a bird living on my street? Does it enjoy (or notice) the sounds of cars, airplanes, people playing soccer in the park across the street? Maybe the bird doesn’t but the squirrel might. (more…)