Big Brother Is Listening
Word came across the transom the other week of a new website called “musoc.org.” Its aggressive stance is that classical music is simply better than other forms of music. Actually, it maintains that other forms of music aren’t music at all.
The site isn't altogether without merit; I like its lists (to be updated monthly) in the “Campaign for the Recognition of Neglected Classics,” which includes twenty works written in the last fifty years that it feels have been insufficiently recognized, and “Classics of Contemporary Art Music."
But statements like “Art Music is in many ways objectively superior to Pop ‘Music’” (note the quotes) make me grit my teeth and want to play Talking Heads albums really, really loudly. And this, from the FAQ, is just stupid: “The ‘music’ is melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, structurally, texturally, dynamically, thematically and conceptually barren compared to Art Music; it's also spiritually and politically shabby by comparison. It's short, trite and highly repetitive.” One is tempted to order a copy of Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue" for the site's editors, just for starters, but one wouldn’t know where to send it. Indeed, there’s something vaguely creepy about musoc's deliberate anonymity, which is evidently part of its philosophy, though there are limits to how much an audience will care about what a website says if one doesn’t know who’s writing it.
Of course, classical music (or "Art Music," to use musoc's terminology) includes some of the world's great masterpieces. But it is also responsible, like any field, for some singularly vapid outpourings. And the idea that one kind of music is a priori better than another leads to indefensible cultural demagoguery. If you follow this argument to its logical conclusion, a bad recording of a second-rate Donizetti opera has more artistic merit than "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" or "Mingus Ah Um." Classical music fans are fond of taking refuge on a putative high ground: "we're better, and everybody who doesn't understand us is an idiot." The ignorance of that stance is off-putting to anyone with a genuine ear; and there's no better way to ensure the failure of the field than that.
Posted by: robertcostic | July 2, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kashe | July 2, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bobkingston | July 2, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kashe | July 2, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: whiterhino | July 2, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: whiterhino | July 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ACDouglas1 | July 3, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LouisFurther | July 3, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shovetheplanet | July 4, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: LouisFurther | July 4, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: cicciofrancolando | July 6, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lindemann777 | July 6, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.