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Luxury-Bugatti-Veyron-Supercars-HD-WallpaperIt shouldn’t surprise up that orchestras are distancing themselves from the idea of luxury. We generally, and perhaps rightly, sense that there is something wrong with it. The most obvious reason is the uncomfortable fact that luxury represents a category that might necessarily exclude us—or indeed anybody. That, of course, does not describe classical music, and the notion that it might solicits serious objections. But the problem of luxury goes even deeper than our egalitarian convictions and has serious ramifications for the symphony orchestra. For this reason, and because classical music’s association with luxury persists nonetheless both in the domain of luxury brands themselves and in the realms of popular culture, the subject deserves careful examination.

We may not, perhaps, recognize many of our efforts to eschew the lap of luxury as simply or overtly so. Instead, we might more immediately understand them as our response to shifting cultural realities and modern sensibilities. But those realities and sensibilities to which we are adjusting can also be understood as a reaction against luxury. For example, long ago luxury boxes gave way to un-luxurious boxes. Away went the sumptuous curtains and furnishings and the affectations that divided the audience with sharp distinctions suggesting class. Boxes began to resemble terraced seating, marked only by their proximity to the stage and the limits of their size. And now we see concert halls being designed without any box seating at all. Our immediate justification may be the predicted trend in ticket sales or innovation in the disciplines of concert hall design. But at the heart of it, what has really changed is our experience of the concert—more specifically, our social experience of it. What has changed is the way that we relate to each other as audience members and more broadly as neighbors who are also equals. Were someone to suggest the re-introduction of luxury boxes and their distinctions of exclusivity, I think we would learn quickly what our real objection to them is.

Evening_gowns,_1947Or consider the increasingly controversial tradition of musicians’ tailcoats. Decried for being old-fashioned and irrelevant to our modern life, they will likely go the same way as luxury boxes in the end. But what’s important to note is that when they are replaced, it will be with something not simply more “modern” but, crucially, more informal. “Modern” alone will not satisfy the demand for change in this case because the tailcoat is, in fact, still modern. As it happens, white-tie events did not disappear with the dinosaurs. People do still attend formal affairs and they do still prefer to wear tailcoats that look very much like they did hundreds of years ago. The issue isn’t a matter of style, but rather a matter of luxury as a reminder of class-distinction. What we really want is something less evocative of the luxury of white-tie evening dress. If anything, for many of us it is luxury that has become old-fashioned.

But if the egalitarian objection to luxury is the most obvious, it is also—at least so far as the symphony orchestra is concerned—the least important argument against it. In fact, it grows out of the more pervasive and pernicious problem, which is the fact that luxury has come to suggest to us gross and conspicuous materialism. It suggests the pursuit of excess for its own sake, the glorification of gluttony. And the more obvious the display of luxury is, the more we sense that it is empty, ostentation being its sole substance.

louis-vuitton-3Interestingly, the leeching of luxury into the mundane—of Louis Vuitton knock-offs, for instance, hawked on city street corners—and the popular cliché of “affordable luxury” attest to two important truths. The first is that most of us, regardless of our means, aspire to some level of luxury. I’ll come back to this point later. Secondly, for many of us luxury reduces to mere appearances. What matters is the appearance of the Louis Vuitton bag as such, and not any of the less obvious but arguably more important qualities that would distinguish the authentic article from its imitation. And for those of us who take home the fake, it doesn’t even matter that we know it really isn’t what it pretends to be. Our pursuit of luxury becomes largely a game of pretense, display, and excess—and one in which we must first deceive ourselves. That act of delusion chips away the gold veneer from the face of luxury, and we find staring back at us only the contorted visage of wanton avarice. So if we turn away from the idea of luxury in disgust, it’s most rightly because it has come to represent a vulgar and vain material world, littered with things we know to be inauthentic and trivial.

We are right to protest that classical music does not belong in this category. And yet it does represent something surplus to our material needs. Against this fact, of course, music educators are forever forced to battle. But if it is surplus, it is also essentially immaterial. Music does not appear as a physical object in our material world like, say, a handbag or a sports car. That it does not is the great challenge facing its advocates, who cannot therefore simply and empirically measure and sum its value, even for the sake of its defense. At the same time, that it does not appear as a thing in the physical world is the reason we can never conflate its value with its physical appearance. Instead, we value in classical music qualities that are also essentially immaterial—metaphysical qualities, which endure partly because they cannot be corroded like the physical qualities of material things, either by moth and rust or by the mockery of gross ostentation and cheap imitation. Perhaps it is for this reason that music belongs to the special category of immaterial and surplus things for which we will often sacrifice even our material needs. Indeed, many of the things that we value most highly in life are like this. Education, for instance, is like this, and so is friendship. For these things we are usually willing to sacrifice a great deal.

But while some things in this category, like friendship, might be free, other things like education and symphony concerts are generally not. And as is true for any category of things for which we can name a price or for which we are willing to make a sacrifice, we find that some such things are worth a great deal more to us than others. The question is, what makes one thing worth more to us than the next? Why, for instance, do we value this education so decidedly over that one? What distinguishes our best friend from all our other friends? We make these judgments all the time. And rather than it being simply a matter of taste, we often find our reasons in the fact that certain metaphysical qualities mean more to us than others–perhaps even more to us than a thing’s physical qualities. As difficult as these invisible qualities are to measure or quantify, most of us would have no trouble naming them.

This is also true of the immaterial qualities that belong to material things. While it seems that almost all of us aspire to some level of luxury, surely far fewer of us are motivated by abject materialism. In fact, for most of us it is likely the metaphysical and not the physical qualities of a thing that lead us to meet its higher cost in excess of our basic needs. Consider, for example, that you are presented with two apples. One is the conventional kind of apple you’d find in any supermarket: large, red, smooth, and waxed to an attractive shine. The second is not at all like that. It is a smaller apple, not nearly as physically attractive; but it comes from a small farm in central Pennsylvania where a third-generation farmer is taking great pains to conserve both the land by practicing sustainability and the old heritage varieties of apple that our supermarkets have forgotten all about. He doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides, and he loses a good deal of his crop every year because of that choice. For him, though, it is something like a labor of love. Most of us would not hesitate to recognize that the second apple is worth more than the first. And either will satisfy our basic need of hunger. In fact, perhaps the first apple, by virtue of being a little larger, would do so better. Nevertheless, many of us who have the means will select the second apple and duly pay more for it. The extra investment we make is an example of a kind of luxury—one based not on pretense and excess but rather on the value attached to metaphysical qualities.

This kind of luxury we could call “meta-luxury.” And it is the kind of luxury to which the avid skier aspires, for example, when he finally buys an expensive pair of expertly handcrafted skis. It is the kind of luxury that the very wealthy music patron aspires to when she invests in a rare violin that she’ll never even play. It’s the kind of luxury that moves the lover of books to bid on an illuminated, medieval manuscript when it appears at auction. And it describes the aspiration of the new professional who invests more than he can afford in a fine suit of cottage-spun and hand-loomed tweed from the Outer Hebrides islands. This is the kind of luxury that moves those of us who have rejected “luxury.” It is defined by values that transcend shallow materialism.

425-Mozarteum in Salzburg CUAnd it is those values that have already linked classical music with the idea of luxury. As much as we try to escape the connection, it is always and already there. Many of the world’s oldest and most respected luxury brands continue to associate themselves with classical music even while we try desperately to distance ourselves from their world. We see their advertisements printed in our concert programs. They sponsor our festivals. We hear our music in their marketing videos and in their showrooms. And we know it cannot be because classical music, which is entirely immaterial, lends them material grandeur. It’s quite the opposite. They are, in fact, the ones who supply the material grandeur themselves. No, it lends them metaphysical—or spiritual if you will—grandeur. What we sense in classical music is a set of transcendent, immaterial values, and these brands want us to know that these values are what they, too, embody.

What probably should surprise us is that these luxury brands—representing some of the longest-lived and most successful businesses in the world—firmly grounded in all of their worldly and material concerns, know what we pretend not to. And that is not merely that human nature aspires to something far more than the ordinary and to something surplus to our material needs, but even more importantly that our highest aspiration, whatever our means, is the one that seeks something essentially immaterial. This common impulse is neatly summed up in Oprah’s famous words, “Live your best life.” While to some that may conjure pink Lamborghinis, I hardly have to mention here that that’s not her point. And her point has not been lost on her many millions of subscribers.

Classical music, by its very nature, already represents some of our most treasured transcendent values—it is already like that second apple. Those of us who have experienced it and know it also know that it is already part of our “best life.” And as it is with so many of life’s most meaningful luxuries, the orchestra is also, by its nature, a costly proposition. So we must ask not how it can become cheaper or more common, but rather what are those values that make it worth its cost? The values that people are willing to sacrifice for are precisely what the orchestra should never sacrifice. Those, instead, are the values that should define it.

In the essays that will follow in this series, we’ll examine the principles of meta-luxury as outlined in the thoughtful book Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence, written by Manfredi Ricca and Rebecca Robins. We think this work is vitally important for orchestras and other institutions of classical music, and we encourage you to BUY or borrow a copy and read it for yourselves

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of the Future Symphony Institute

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12 replies to this post
  1. When I’ve been listening to pop, rock, or jazz then to a classical music piece, I get a sense of the sublime from the latter that makes me realize the former are only noise, while the latter is what I can call the sound of music. Not that I don’t listen to some of that noise from time to time as I was raised on the stuff, British Invasion, et al.

    On making classical music “common,” all sins lead to neurosis with envy perhaps bringing the worst, so I don’t concern myself with the Zeitgeist’s neurotic need to level all unto an egalitarian hell.

  2. A few points here. First, the issue isn’t wether luxury produce inequality, the issue is whether the luxury of some produces significant deprivation or other hardships for others.

    Another point here is that how, in an economic system based on abject materialism, can we say that fewer of those who desire luxury are moved by ‘abject materialism’? The analogy of two apples doesn’t address the issue since it isn’t working with a common definition of luxury.

    We should also note that, unlike Kevin Mack’s inclusion of Jazz as being noise, historically speaking, the connections between Jazz and Classical and between Jazz and classical musicians are numerous and deep. And, as much as it pains me to say this about kinds of music I don’t like, all kinds of music have something to say to us because they are the expressions of real people. And to call their expressions noise is to elevate ourselves above others. And perhaps, this is the weakness of classical music in that it allows some of its aficionados to look down on others.

    Finally, if you want to promote quality music like Jazz or Classical, which could also be called American Classical music and European Classical music, then we need to see these forms of music as basic necessities in our educational system rather than luxuries to only be enjoyed by the elites or whom we could call cultural gnostics.

  3. Curt Day, I don’t think a lot of the “noise” out there has much if any value. Other noise as stated I’ve listened to for years and still do, but still expressed my opinion that I think classical to be sublime, while other kinds are not. When I listen to the Guess Who’s No Sugar Tonight, and then Bach’s St. Matthew Passion I hear just a little bit of a difference in not only the sound but the subject that makes me think the one profane, the other sublime (profane as in that which is secular rather than ecclesiastical and thus also lowly). The one is elevated in that it glorifies God, the other does not. As well, since you say “…inclusion of Jazz as being noise….” you should understand that “noise” is a term used in music education, so all forms of music contain noise including jazz or classical; howbeit I am using the term here to mean that which sounds cacophonic to my ears as opposed to that which sounds melodically and harmonically ordered, or to simply say that which sounds beautiful to my ears, even heavenly.

    Really, do you wish to dictate to me your egalitarian worldview even upon the matter of what music I should enjoy and what my opinion should be on music in general, whether one thinks of one form as sublime, and others as not so? I’ll state then that I first invoke the right to express how different music sounds to my ears and mind, whether I think one to sound heavenly, and another lowly, to use critical judgment in what I hear. I won’t apologize if I think Bach superior to The Guess Who. Secondly, I do not consider it to be a “luxury” that I should feel guilty about that I can listen intelligently to Prokofiev and this somehow leaves others in “deprivation.” I came to classical music through a musical journey all my own, and continue to educate myself in listening to this form. It takes work, and I don’t consider that a “luxury.” If others wish to take up listening to classical music they may do so by putting in the many hours of work that it will take to really come to appreciate the craftsmanship Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, et al put into their pieces. Then they will not be in “significant deprivation” by my having done so.

    Historically, jazz and classical music have some connections in that later classical such as that of Gershwin and Dvorak had elements derived from jazz. My favorite era is that of the Baroque, and I don’t think you want to try to make a case that Joplin or Coltrane had any influence upon Bach, although the former may have taken ideas from the latter. It still does not lessen the fact that both the sound, and in most cases, the subjects of both forms are quite different, and that is why I can think one sublime, and the other “noise.”

    On your idea of educating the masses, particularly in classical music, moderns tend to think of classical as “traditional” and “fuddy duddy”; so of course in our modern social milieu not many wish to listen to it let alone be educated to appreciate it. That is a problem for orchestras and their musicians and if you knew any of the latter you’d find they are not “elites or whom we could call cultural gnostics” but people who are actively trying to expand their audience to enjoy their music which is after all their love, their work, their livelihood. These are human beings who by their own musical journeys came to love classical music and would like others to do so as well. These “cultural gnostics” as you call them often give performances of today’s music for example at Youth Concerts. If anything, your “moderns” are the “cultural gnostics” that will not even give classical music a listen because it is “old,” traditional,” or “fuddy duddy” and of course anything old is just not worth a “modern’s” time, we must after all move on, progress, and all in lock step.

    • Kevin,
      You used the word ‘noise’ to distinguish between European Classical music and all other kinds of music in your first note. So please don’t pretend that you didn’t say that.

      If you want to say that there is a difference between quality worship music and all other kinds of music, that is ok. But don’t classify the kinds of music you don’t think as being optimal or don’t like as being noise regardless of how you want to use the definition. Your point has been that we can ignore noise while we should listen to uplifting music to be transformed.

      Your first note shows nothing more than a hierarchal view of people. Those who listen to the right music are on one level while the rest of us grovel beneath you. Do you understand what is suggested here about your need to listen to those who are different?

      And btw, one doesn’t have to be egalitarian to realize that anyone can make a contribution to others. But it isn’t just the contribution to us that should cause us to listen to others. The arts can provide a mirror to society. And if we care about society, we should be willing to look at as many mirrors as possible.

      Finally, think about how you are using the classical composers as a canon by which we are to judge all other musicians. It is a current classical approach to music. Unfortunately, it is a self-limiting approach. For you imply that only one group can learn from the other. Don’t you understand how harmonies and rhythms have progressed. Perhaps you would want to compare Art Tatum to Vladimir Horowitz. Horowitz made such a comparison and claimed Tatum to be far superior to himself. Or look at Bernstein and Brubeck–the latter would improvise using polyrhythms and polytonality sometimes simultaneously. Those are just a couple of associations, I could make many more.

      Now if those who performed classical music and studied the greats could learn from and love the music of Jazz artists, why is it too hard for you to understand that Jazz could contribute very much to the classical composers of the past if it had opportunity to?

      Sometimes, our love for heros demonstrates nothing more than a tendency to applaud ourselves for whom we associate ourselves with. And that is so often seen when we are so ready to discount the talents and contributions of others while idolatrously building higher and higher pedestals for our heros. Such is really a demonstration of a form of authoritarianism.

      Finally, the cultural gnostics I am referring to are not necessarily those who love Classical music; it is those who look down on all other forms of music as if Classical music provides certain secrets that make them enlightened above others.

  4. ” I don’t like, all kinds of music have something to say to us because they are the expressions of real people. And to call their expressions noise is to elevate ourselves above others. ”

    I think you need to grow a sense of humor. I mainly listen to the kind of music he called “Noise”, and I didn’t take offense at all.

  5. “I think you need to grow a sense of humor. I mainly listen to the kind of music he called “Noise”, and I didn’t take offense at all.”

    Thanks. Despite my long-winded post, lighten up, get a sense of humor, were thoughts on my mind as I wrote it. I thought it pretty clear in my first post that I listen to “noise” and I do think for example that The Guess Who had talent, certainly much more than I who would not dare to perform karaoke outside of the house.

  6. ” You used the word ‘noise’ to distinguish between European Classical music and all other kinds of music in your first note. So please don’t pretend that you didn’t say that.”

    Curt Day, first, you’re using the capitalized sense of the term “classical” which take note I never did. Classical (with a C) speaks to both a specific period and place of the genre; I used the term “classical” throughout both posts because I also enjoy artists both earlier and later than the Classical period, including Gershwin of which I made mention and he was a twentieth-century American, and thus not of the Classical period. You just assumed I meant the Classical period because it suited even better your ideological assumptions and points you wanted to make, those you always like to make. Second, never did I pretend to say other than that I believe classical music to be what I consider to be the finest music my ears have ever heard. I stated unapologetically that I do think Bach superior to The Guess Who for example. The only revision I’d make to my last post would be to qualify “that I think classical to be sublime” with the words “most classical,” as there are classical music pieces I don’t think sublime, indeed do not even care for but I’ll leave off naming them as it’s not important in this context. Anyway, you’ve not made a point here.

    “If you want to say that there is a difference between quality worship music and all other kinds of music, that is ok. But don’t classify the kinds of music you don’t think as being optimal or don’t like as being noise regardless of how you want to use the definition.”

    So you do allow me to make a distinction between sacred and secular music, which is an historical distinction anyway, but you don’t allow me to make one between what I consider sublime music and “noise.” You do wish then to dictate to me, and any others for that matter, what I should think is the finest music I’ve ever heard and what is “noise” to my ears; that I should not “privilege” one form over another as you would say. You make my point for me that you very much wish for me to take up your egalitarian perspective and think the way you do even concerning music. Unfortunately for you I don’t acquiesce to the thought control of the Left.

    “Your point has been that we can ignore noise while we should listen to uplifting music to be transformed.”

    Nonsense. As stated in the first post, I don’t “ignore noise” but listen to it. In my second post I also made a distinction between purely secular music and sacred wherein I used one piece of classical music and one of Classic Rock to point out a difference in subject matter; then you go off on a tangent and mistakenly “read” into it that I think there are no other musical genres that can be used in worship or as you say to “be transformed.” But when in a worshipful moment, in addition to Bach, I enjoy contemporary Christian music by artists like B.J. Thomas, Brown Bannister, Amy Grant, et al. Again you’ve “read” into my post that which you set out to find.

    “Your first note shows nothing more than a hierarchal view of people. Those who listen to the right music are on one level while the rest of us grovel beneath you. Do you understand what is suggested here about your need to listen to those who are different?”

    I spoke of the music I most enjoy and made ample use of the first person pronoun which is to say that I am giving an opinion and not pontificating and dictating how others should think about music, whether classical or any other genre. Again, perhaps I should have added YMMV, but then I believe others have read my post and not imputed too much to it. Nor did I ever refer to looking down on others that do not enjoy classical music. I have family members that call me “old” for listening to classical music and I make fun of them for not “growing up” because they still listen to the music of their youth that being Classic Rock. It’s all in jest on my part as they can reply that I still listen to that same music. Most here would read my first post and see that I included myself with those that listen to what I called “noise.” But according to your interpretation I look down on others for listening to this music so I must then look down upon myself as well when I listen to “noise.” An odd fellow I must be then.

    On listening to others who are different, you’re the one in need of taking off your ideological blinders so that you can make a better attempt at trying to interpret and understand what is being said rather than bringing your presuppositions to a text.

    “And btw, one doesn’t have to be egalitarian to realize that anyone can make a contribution to others. But it isn’t just the contribution to us that should cause us to listen to others. The arts can provide a mirror to society. And if we care about society, we should be willing to look at as many mirrors as possible.”

    First, don’t try to deny that you are an egalitarian as all of your posts here at TIC including this one are dogmatically from that perspective. Second, you have no idea what windows unto other worlds I’ve studied. Have you seen my library? Nonetheless as one reads, lives, and learns one does separate wheat from chaff. Truth exists and whenever truth is found falsehood must be seen as such and fall away as the dross that it is. If we care about our culture then we must seek what is true, and when that work is done we see that not all voices carry equal moral worth.

    “Finally, think about how you are using the classical composers as a canon by which we are to judge all other musicians. It is a current classical approach to music. Unfortunately, it is a self-limiting approach. For you imply that only one group can learn from the other.”

    I stated as an example that Gershwin and Dvorak had jazz elements in there compositions, which would imply that they thought they could learn from other musicians. Dvorak once spoke of both black spirituals and Indian music as being the stuff American composers should look into for it is the stuff of our soil just as many other composers have looked into their country’s folk music for inspiration. Obviously Bach could never learn from Coltrane being born in a different century so it’s a mute point. Where using a canon is concerned, whether in art, music, or literature, it is always useful as a point of departure so that one can learn how to discern what was done better and justify with reasons why one thinks it better. What one holds as canonical will differ, so I never try to force my views of what should be canonical upon others.

    “Sometimes, our love for (sic) heros demonstrates nothing more than a tendency to applaud ourselves for whom we associate ourselves with. And that is so often seen when we are so ready to discount the talents and contributions of others while idolatrously building higher and higher pedestals for our (sic) heros. Such is really a demonstration of a form of authoritarianism.”

    I don’t have heroes amongst those classical composers I enjoy most, as I can find faults with Bach, Beethoven, et al. Again you read in your own presuppositions. Where authoritarianism is concerned, your tribe are the new authoritarians and you’ve proved it in your last post with “…don’t classify the kinds of music you don’t think as being optimal or don’t like as being noise….” Every nook and cranny of our lives must have the prison search light flashed upon it by those of your tribe and everything that even appears exalted brought low.

    Your post is filled with straw men and thus you end by saying nothing, although it is an opportunity to preach your egalitarian perspective which I know you love to do and every sentence in your post again speaks from it. I’ve said to you before that I really don’t think you realize how you come off here at TIC, and used the parable of the Pharisee against you that you like to use against many of those that both write and comment here. You look down at those of a conservative perspective from your high place as you do think your egalitarian view is superior and that you have something to teach to those of this “tribe” who sit in darkness, always with the Leftist trope “don’t you understand?” which places yourself as the superior in knowledge. You have no idea what others here have studied and then found wanting by comparison with what they found to be true, or any idea to what extent any here have given an ear to other voices in their study and search for truth. You simply make assumptions about other people whom you do not even know, and while you profess to be a Christian, I don’t sense any charity or humility in your posts, only judgmental self-righteousness. You will deny of course but then we are usually the last to see our own sins and foibles.

    • Kevin,
      The distinction I’m making is this, there is a difference between not liking and not listening. I have negative opinions about certain kinds of music, but note why I wouldn’t call it noise. It is because music is a self-expression and when we classify a kind of music as noise, we indicate that it is something that we will never give a fair listening to. But in never listening to it, we shut ourselves off from possibly hearing something important about a person’s world or the world in which I live. So my objection to calling it noise is sociological.

      That being said, it should be obvious that I am not egalitarian in terms of music.

      From listening and performing, I do know that people generally fall into 2 categories when it comes to why they prefer to listen to certain music. The first group of people listen to music because it reflects the world they want to exist while the second group listens to music because it reflects the world as it is. My guess is that you might belong more to the first group while I belong to the second. And I feel that people who belong to the first group confuse some things. For example, suppose Bach is superior to the Guess Who, the question arises, could Bach musically express what the Guess Who did? If not, who is superior here? Here I remember the sentiments of one of the all time great Jazz Basists, Niels Pedersen who saw competition in music to be something that didn’t fit in. He believed that you were there to make music, not to compete. And you could add that once you introduce competition into the making of music, you start missing out on what people are saying in their music.

      That doesn’t meant that I don’t have music and musicians whom I favor over others, it is that I believe there are drawbacks to introducing competition and judgments like ‘best’ into music. And these drawbacks were made plain to me by an Argentinian archer who had been trained in classical music until he switched over to playing Jazz. He told me that with Classical Music, you are always living in the shadows of the greats because you are trying to reach some Gidot-like ideal. With Jazz, you are playing to be the best you can be. Here, there is a liberating factor because instead of hiding your weaknesses, they become an important part of your music., Those who listen to music for the first reason previously stated will struggle with the same problems that many who take a classical approach to music do. It is this attempt to find an unidentifiable, and possibly nonexistent, ideal.

      Finally, no, my post isn’t filled with strawmen. How we listen to others will only confirm what I have written. And no, I wouldn’t classify you as being old for listening to classical music. I’ve performed Bach and Handel in public and have been part of performing Mahler’s 8th symphony. I know the appeal of Classical music. But I have had a taste of where these great musicians have been surpassed in other areas of music. Areas of music we will never learn to appreciate when we all too easily attach the ‘noise’ label to any kind of music. Besides the fact, calling noise what people have worked to create isn’t an example of charity.

    • Kevin,
      This is my second attempt to respond to this post.

      First, the term classical music does have an understood meaning. It does refer to a specific genre and time period in the general sense. TO use the term in anther manner is to invite confusion.

      Second, I stand by my statement about how our applause for our heros sometimes becomes applause for ourselves. Our reactions to other views most often confirms this.

      Third, please note that generally speaking, there are two reasons why people listen to the music they listen to. The first reason is that the music expresses the kind world people want to exist. The second reason is that the music expresses the world that actually does exist. It is easy to see why those who pick music for the first reason regard other music as noise. It is disturbing because they want to hear about the world they want to exist, the idealized world and the different forms of dissonance from the latter kind of music interferes with that.

      Classical and worship music is often the music of choice for the former group. As one Argentinian archer musician said to me, with classical music, you are playing in the shadows of the greats. Thus you are always trying to reach a gidot-like ideal and thus flaws are frustrating. But with the latter group, flaws are a natural part of the music and serve a positive purpose. This is true with Jazz. That both your strengths and weaknesses are combined inseparably to say what you want it to say. As that archer and musician said to me, with Jazz, you become the best you can be.

      Yes, there are times for each approach. Too much emphasis on the idealized approach to music leads to snobbery. We should note that kindness does not come with snobbery. Neither does calling the creative efforts of others ‘noise.’ Too much approach to the latter approach can reflect a loss of faith and hope. That has its own consequences.

    • Kevin,
      FYI, the response from bdaymac was actually from me. I wasn’t aware that I was logged in under a different user since I was at the daughter’s house when I wrote it. Sorry about that.

  7. Curt Day, I don’t have time for TIC right now but I said your last post was filled with strawmen, and you deny it so I’ll just post what I edited out of my last post showing how your ideology gets in the way so you end by twisting the sentences of others. Then I’ll make a quick comment on your last.

    I wrote: ” My favorite era is that of the Baroque, and I don’t think you want to try to make a case that Joplin or Coltrane had any influence upon Bach, although the former may have taken ideas from the latter.”

    You wrote: “”Finally, think about how you are using the classical composers as a canon by which we are to judge all other musicians. It is a current classical approach to music. Unfortunately, it is a self-limiting approach. For you imply that only one group can learn from the other.”

    So your interpretation is that I don’t think Bach can learn from a Jazz musician which would also mean, in your mind, that I place Bach on a pedestal and that I don’t believe he could ever learn from Coltraine; but I made mention that later classical composers such as Dvorak, whose work I think sublime, took elements from Jazz which itself would negate your interpretation. But, and this is the crux of it, my sentence quoted above meant that earlier classical composers, Bach as example, could not have been influenced by Joplin or Coltraine because Bach had died centuries before the latter two were born; that is the explicit meaning of the text and should have been understood in that sense in my jesting in the clause, “…and I don’t think you want to try to make a case….” A little dry humor there for you which meant that Bach could not have learned from these musicians being dead, and it says nothing concerning what might have been had they lived in the same century, or Bach lived after these musicians, and to speculate against historical fact would lead us nowhere except possibly to logical fallacy. So I tried writing the sentence differently in my next post as, “Obviously Bach could never learn from Coltrane being born in a different century.” Both sentences said the same thing which was, again, that Bach was dead before Joplin or Coltraine were born. Perhaps I should have written “later classical composers employed jazz elements but those of the Baroque era could not have being dead, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” “six feet under” but I expect you still would have read it in the manner that you have. These are sentences that I believe most readers would understand but you read them with your ideology firmly in mind and then got into your egalitarian preacher mode.

    To your last posts, you speak of some folks, myself here, wanting music that expresses an “ideal,” as, “the world they want to exist” but again these are strawmen; you don’t know me and you fail with the binary psychoanalysis; neither do you know others here at all but the statements you so often make are simply how you read people through your ideology rather than taking part in a personable conversation wherein you try to learn the views of others and what others might mean by what they express. Written or verbal communication can go awry, but I have seen you so often twist the words of both essayists and those that comment here at TIC because of your ideology that I really do believe you are blind to just what it is you do; so evident is it that I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not possible to have a dialogue with you.

    • Kevin,
      Since I never claimed that the Baroque period was influenced by Joplin or Coltrane, I am not sure of your point. I did say that Bach has much to learn from all sorts of modern musicians just as they have much to learn from him. The learning potentials go both ways. But that is not the same as saying that Bach has learned from them.

      Simply speaking, you lean toward an ideal view of music. Bach and worship music point to that. Stating who could musically influence Bach and who couldn’t, as if you know Bach personally and could speak for him, points to that ideal view of music.

      There is no psychoanalysis on my part. My interpretation of your view comes from hear the similarities of your views with the views of people I know who want their music to express the world they want to exist. Not that that is all bad, it just needs balance. That is what the last paragraph of my last note states.

      On the other hand, you are not shy at linking my “ideology” with my music. You insist that I am preaching egalitarianism with the view of music I presented here. I answered that already when I wrote that believing that anyone can contribute to others not imply egalitarianism. But suppose it did, why do you react to the mention of egalitarianism like Superman reacts to kryptonite? BTW, that view stating that anyone can contribute to others comes from listening to other musicians saying the same thing.

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