Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Decadence of Contemporary Classical Music

We've all suffered through the token "new composition" that all too often graces the concert-hall program. After enduring the silly sound-effects, colored strobe lights, and wild gesticulations of the performers, we wonder if we're just too stupid to get it. After all, the old fur-clad sophisticate sitting next to us has plenty to say. In reality, this kind of concept piece is anything but cerebral or intellectual -- mostly it's the product of very weak and uncreative minds. What classical music desperately needs is a new Bartok or Stravinsky -- a musical messiah to save us from this wasteland of gimmickry. Most of our current (com)posers lack any type of genius whatsoever, but they want us to believe they're in the same vein as Beethoven and Brahms, and that we're somehow just incapable of understanding them. On the contrary, I understand quite well the meaning of a piece that "uses silence as a quasi-contrapuntal device" -- it means the composer isn't talented enough to write real counterpoint (or even quasi-counterpoint, whatever that might be). Unfortunately, the public lumps together great masterpieces like the Bartok or Shostakovich quartets with this kind of pseudo-music, and calls it all "difficult music that's hard to listen to," or "music that's not pretty." Then, if someone intelligent tries to expose these musical used-car-salesmen for what they really are, they're considered part of the naive public that cringes at the slightest dissonance.


Blogger malia said...

rich, you are so awesome! i love the way you write!

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with your opinion and thus coming to this site entirely by chance chose to express why:

The reason for decadence in art as well as in philosophy is postmodernism and existentialism, essentially idiocies elevated to a form of an art and philosophy.

To believe that a priori there are no (and can never be) objective truths behind reality (even skepticism would obviously claim one cannot conclude so) and thus that we can simply we create our own "truths" (and fully believe them too) embrace cultural relativism (reality is a social construct) is more than an act of laziness, it is stupidity (perhaps extreme laziness, i.e. decadence).

Perhaps society has become too complex and it's far too easy (and convenient) to immediately give up thinking, particularly in light of insanities such as WWII, the holocaust, the cold war and the threat of its potential "humanicide",the current prevalence of ideology and religion in society despite (or because of) all our technological (rather than actual scientific/ philosophical) advances (which is no surprise in this age of materialism: its capitalism vs communism, who ever heard of utilitarianism?).

Leaving the philosophical babble aside: What do you think of artists like Bear McCreary. I like his style and see hints of technical and creative brilliance there.

I'd be interested in your opinion, if you would even care to consider it, if he might be an example of a young artist that would (and in fact will) potentially accomplish much more (e.g. in possibly different circumstances) or might this be for instance only my admittedly subjective layman's appreciation of him?

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would be really interesting is in 200 years when the Mario Bros Anthem is considered a masterpiece of 20th Century music.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

nice photo. haha

7:54 PM  

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