February 4, 2008

I wanted to be left alone. I am not much for talking on planes anyway, and the woman sitting next to me seemed to be somewhat of an introvert. She was a younger woman, quiet, reserved, dressed conservatively, and with a Bible in one hand. After I took my window seat, I pulled out my journal and began frantically writing all of my thoughts down. I began to get lost in them, I somehow was transported outside the plane, outside of myself even and was concentrated only on my thoughts and trying to formulate the words to what I wanted to write. Like a pin popping a balloon, her voice ruined my concentration. “Excuse me,” She said, “Are you writing a book?” I replied, “No,” half irritated, half humored at the the thought that I could do such a thing. “I’m just journaling.” I said with a plastered-on smile in an attempt to show that I wanted to be left alone. “Oh, okay” She said.

Some time had passed and we were now in the air. I was now reading, still keeping to myself of course. This particular book was very good and I was immersed in it. And once again, she popped my balloon of concentration. “Can I ask you what book you’re reading?”. I told her, this time in a slightly less-polite manner. I didn’t want to be rude, I just wanted to read. I told her that I was enjoying it very much and of course returned the courtesy of asking her what book she was reading. After she told me she gave a slightly awkward, “ok” and we both turned back facing forward and continued reading. Not sixty seconds later she turned towards me again and, embarrassed, said to me, “Sorry to bother you again, what is it that you like so much about this book?” I put my finger on the page I was on and closed the book momentarily while I explained specific details about the book and why I was enjoying it so much. After another awkward, “ok”, we were back to reading.

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A Reponse to “A Response to ‘Whatever Happened To Classical Music'”

February 4, 2008

I stand corrected on several issues. Let me say a few things.

1. While symphonic concerts are expensive, there is the collegiate level. I agree that the idea of the high school band during an assembly turns off most people from classical, as this is the primary association they have with this so called “classical” music. However, the collegiate level is the perfect place for people to experience great classical music for very cheap, often free. You posed the question, “How are the common people going to learn of such things?” I suggest that they would learn of such things by any sort of traditional advertisement, a poster or whatnot, but particularly the internet. Of course the common people aren’t necessarily looking for such music. So they don’t find it. So, Haugh Performing Arts Center remains largely empty yet again. This would be the perfect place for one to familiarize themselves with classical, at a much higher level than that of the high school band, and at a much cheaper price than that of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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A response to “What Ever Happened to Classical Music”

February 4, 2008

Indeed seeing Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Symphony was a pleasure, as a European man and I concurred, it was “beyond enjoyment” and was truly an experience. I have some of my own theories as to why the group sounded so unique to my ears. Perhaps an unparalleled synergy that comes with such a small nation (although the group does have international members) bleeds into the musical lives of these musicians. Perhaps it is the education they are able to receive, most of Europe’s governments spending more money to support such classical arts.

But indeed this is not the purposes of my response to B. Shaw. I would have to disagree with his assertion of classical musics dominance in the first place. Symphonies and chamber ensembles, ballets, operas and the like have been predominately a high art throughout history. A place for the learned to develop ideas of listening and creating music. The peasantry of all generations has always been disconnected from this art form strictly due to socioeconomic reasons.

It makes sense for the prevalent folk music of the previous ages to go unnoticed by our Music History classes. For one, it is the rich and educated who write the history books (for they can achieve the educational standards to accomplish such feats) and furthermore what did those historians experience but the high life they indeed were a part of. As well folk music does not claim geniuses of its birth nor does it value music as an art so much as recreation.

These are not negatives to be sure. In all realms of art we see a line between the art of deep thinkers such as Rene Magrite, or Picasso, and the beautiful, more practical folk art we see in housewares, craft shows and the like. In fact I dare say that the folk art is infinitely more valuable, if not at the very least on an issue of practicality. The same rings true for music.

In fact, men such as Antonin Dvorak and Dmitri Shostakovich incorporate and have whole works made of folks songs! Now as for reasons classical music is not as popular today:

1. Symphonic concerts are expensive The concert we were so fortunate to attend only cost us $10 because we are students. In actuality the most affordable tickets were $40. No one is going to spend that much money on a concert unless they are truly in love with the music already! Sure there are collegiate level performances but where are the common people going to learn of such things? Especially when they idea of classical music is the band they hear at assemblies in high school.

2. Symphonic music is not practical To truly enjoy even recordings of classical music, expensive equipment is needed. The complexities of overtones and strong orchestration are IMPOSSIBLE to hear while driving down the freeway. Or from your little iPod speakers for that matter. With complexities lost, classical music for the most part sounds cheesy, the only part of the music reaching your ears being the melodies of the high strings, flute and trumpet. Also, the length of many classical pieces furthers the impracticality.

3. Entertainment is becoming focused on multiple senses simultaneously Of course opera or ballet would remedy this but they are more expensive then any other concerts. This is why film is so important and why classical musician should support the great composers such as Michael Giacchino , John Williams, and Danny Elfman because they have successfully been able to incorporate the artful music we love into a place where the whole world may enjoy it and for around $10 (funny we complain about this price).

4. I would assert that classical music listeners in general like being elitists and would rather keep things that way. It frustrates me to go to the Seattle Symphony and see old rich coots falling asleep, not truly understanding the music. It is social by all means. It reminds me of an episode of Frasier. To the rich, their tastes set them apart from the rest of the world, why let every have access to them.

I would hope that classical music and modern society would one day unite. I am not denying an obvious decline in the popularity of classical music, but it is not the drastic for it was never as popular as the Beatles. Especially I would like to emphasize that it is not fair to blanket the entire generation as evil or pinpoint the idiosyncrasies of our beautiful culture as the reason for not enjoying classical music. For any art form to survive it must change with the culture it finds itself in.