Lack of Music Education Shows Deterioration of American Society

On July 23, 2016, we discontinued our forums. We ask our members to please join us in our new community site, The Hartmann Report. Please note that you will have to register a new account on The Hartmann Report.

60 posts / 0 new

It doesn't take formal education for the masses to listen to their pop music. It takes many years of study, starting at a very young age, for someone to become a musician in a professional symphony orchestra or soloist, such as pianist or violinist, or opera/classical singer. It takes exposure, and some degree of experience and knowledge, to appreciate what is commonly, but incorrectly, called classical music. Progressives haven't been that successful, politically. If they had a better appreciation for the "classics" in the world of art -- music, plays, novels, painting, and scuplture -- maybe they would be able to understand cultural development affects things like economics. Music instruction has been empirically shown through research to have a positive affect on academic performance in other, more technical academic areas. You can't compare a 3 minute pop song to a 60 or 70 minute symphony. Growing up, I found that people who criticized classical music were often unsophisticated and ignorant in other areas as well. People said they didn't like something that they knew nothing about. This parallels those who don't know anything about illness, medicine, environmental science, genetics, anthropology, or physics and have false beliefs about science, as sometimes written about in Sketpical Inquirer magazine.

An abstract work of art, such as an instrumental musical composition with no lyrics, can be interpreted many ways, or can be appreciated on its own terms, as a language onto itself.

In order to listen to a work that is not all loud and electrified, and which lasts for more than a few minutes, you have to learn patience, and respect not only for the performers, but for the composer who wrote it, and for other audience members, if it is a live performance. Now adays, people at the symphony or at a recital sometimes allow their cell phones to go off, or rattle their programs, open candy wrappers noisily, cough loudly, or even drop things on the floor during a performance which others have often paid to go hear. This kind of impolite behavior at one time seemed less frequent at concerts. It meshes with a decline in music education in the schools. I took a college course in music appreciation. A person does not necessarily have to play an instrument or sing in a chorus to appreciate serious music. Symphony orchestras, opera companies, and ballet companies are non-profit organizations. Yet, a lot of people only listen to commercial pop music.

Many composers of serious music were known to have thought of some of their musical ideas while taking a walk in the woods. Gustav Mahler worked as a conductor, but built a "composer's cottage" out in the country where he would go to write music. At a rehearsal for one of his symphonies, a window was open, and the sound of chirping birds was heard in the hall. Mahler asked that the window be closed, because that bird call was not one of his, as he sometimes mimicked the general effect of bird songs in certain passages of music. This emphasis on nature is generally not found in other types of music, except for maybe in some folk songs sung by the late Pete Seger, who was clearly an environmentalist.

Many classical musicians, such as the pianist Lang Lang or violinist Midori, are from Asia. Among orchesra personnel are usually a substantial number of musicians of Asian heritage. Japan, China, South Korea, and Hong Kong all have professional orchestras. In America, we are not putting enough emphasis on music education and appreciation in America, as we slip behind other countries economically, as well.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

Dumb, dumber, dumbest! That's the American trademark now, as education dies by a thousand cuts.

I'd just like to remind you, Robindell, of the merits of jazz music as well. It takes just as much compositional sophistication to produce a great jazz piece as works from any of the old traditional European genres. Jazz is more challenging, artistically and intellectually, than pop music. I think current trends in musical tastes are another sign of arrested development in American culture.

Dumb, dumber, dumbest! It's the "new normal".

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland
Joined:
Mar. 10, 2011 10:42 am

What you say about jazz music is very true. George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein were both greatly influenced by jazz in many of their compositions. Benny Goodman, the famous clarinetist and leader of his own band from yesteryear, performed clarinet concertos, most famously, the Mozart clarinet concerto, with the Chicago Symphony and possibly with some other orchestras. When I was enrolled at Indiana University sometime in the last millioenum, I met a fellow student who played trumpet and turned me onto jazz. I attended some concerts at the School of Music, which is the world's largest, directed by David Baker, who is well-known in the world of jazz for his compositions and for his teaching at I.U. as long-time head of the jazz studies program. I once heard a free concert in downtown Chicago with the late jazz trumpter Maynard Ferguson, and attended a jazz festival at a local university which concluded with a concert with a professional jazz musician from New York who played a kind of electried clarinet /saxophone and had made recordings. I have heard the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Winton Maralis on the radio. The reason I didn't include jazz in my post is that I wasn't sure anyone would even respond as most people on this site are rather narrow in their interests and who they will answer, and also, I wanted to keep the focus on classical music, having recently attended the symphony. Jazz is certainly America's original contribution to music and is like our native classical music, although there are many American classical composers whose music is sadly neglected. I have read that both Marurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky in Europe were somewhat influenced by jazz. Shostakovich wrote one or more "jazz suites" which, while lighthearted, don't sound anything like actual jazz. Being a Soviet composer, he probably did not have very much exposure to jazz, living in a closed society that had an anti-American bias. I believe you would agree with me that one of the reasons for what you describe as the arrested development in American culture is the influence of corporations on marketing, whereas they belive rather cynically, as is typical of business people, that the masses wouldn't care about anything that could be described as the fine arts, or the so-called finer things of life. In a way, this trend also applies to fast food, although because I was on a budget and was used to such places, I used to eat at fast food places from time-to-time, which I try not to do anymore. Both classical music and jazz, both classic and contemporary, places emotional and even cognitive demands on the listener, and involves an appreciation for the advanced skill and craft of these talented musicians. In politics, it occurs to me that the Republican presidential candidates, both in the last election and in this current cycle, were lacking in both talent and in any good ideas for the most part. The Democrats have also been problematic in some cases. Before I read your response, I was just thinking how standards in general, in education, in tastes, social behavior, values, movies, journalism with the influence of the Internet and big media conglomerates, and law and politic have deteriorated in many ways.

One day, I turned on RT and heard Chris Hedges talking. Interestingly, he specifically mentioned how in rececent years several American symphony orchestras have encountered a drop in fund-raising and financial problems, as well as a decline in some cities of subscribers to concert series, leading to strikes by orchestra members, who of course are all union members. An opera company in a large city in California has closed down due to a lack of financial backing. I would think that some smaller, regional theater companies may have experienced some financial distress. Hedges compared the bumps in the road encountered by orchestra with a decline in serious journalism and discussion in the media of the topics that he has written about, such as war, poverty, and religion.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

A person doesn't have to be rich to read some biographies of great composers, to listen to one of the limited number of classical music stations that still exit, to purchase a few classical CDs or music downloads, some of which are free, or to find video and audio performances for free of charge on YouTube.

The classical artist with the largest number of views, or "hits," on YouTube is the Ukrainian-born pianist, who lives in the U.S. Valentina Lisitsa. I have heard her perform live and is a virtuoso on the instrument. There are any number of symphonic performances on YouTube. It would take a while to research all of the musicians and orchestras that can be found there. That is where some education about music history and about music would be helpful, but is woefully lacking in many school districts today.

I believe music and art can help to make people somewhat more civilized and humane. Art and literature are the strongest ways of understanding and appreciating the human condition. If you want insensitive people who simply do what they are told by a boss or who base their conduct on what everyone else is doing, not on what is known by the indvidual as being the right decision to make, then supress free expression, and instill a culture of mediocrity in people. The Spanish celloist Pablo Casals said, liberty, but with responsibility. Music teaches mutual respect and discipline among other things, qualities that are often lacking today. The aggressive, reckless way in which people drive almost seems to reflect a preference for that which is impatient and hard-driving, qualities that in my way of thinking are contrary to quite contemplation and scholarship, needed for academic advancement.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Most of these "classical" or "serious" composers were writing the "music of their day." The media was orchestras that existed at the time. Some if born today might have chosen to become pop stars. Most would have taken advantage of conservatory training with the added advantage we have today: no lab orchestra required, just a good computer with music software.

There are a number of pop stars including Lady Gaga who have had serious training. Some of the rock musicians of the 1960s did too and often such info was omitted from their bios because the record company PR people like promoting the Horatio Alger scenarios that they just picked up a guitar and started playing.

Yes, I was a music major in college. Many of my peers even in high school music went on to not only be professional musicians but some early computer software engineers. We let the dummies determine what our schools will have and schools cater to the sports fans and not the music fans. I was fortunate to grow up at a time when music programs were just as popular as sports programs. It's hard to convince boneheads who think "readin', writin', and 'rithmetic" is what is needed that "playin' tunes" isn't.

captbebops's picture
captbebops
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Ain't nut'n stopp'n ya'all from contributing to the existing on going music thread.......or starting your own soul sacrifice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dTH32ClRwI

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

I am not very interested in most composers of today. On NPR, they try and play into a mass audience for ratings sake, rather than providing some programming for those with more select preferences who are mostly ignored by radio, by having a lot of segments on pop musicians. Whenever those come on, I usually turn the dial or turn off the radio. There is a weekly program specializing in contemporary classical music that is on a classical station. I occassionally listen to it. Some of it is interesting, but I would not be eager to seek out most of what I hear.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Okay, say I'll accept that I'm a one tone musical no nothing.......so broaden my horizons guys. While it my not be of the best quality sonicly, there's hardly a single artist out there that isn't open sourced. So share.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

YouTube is great. Here’re some ideas for listening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luL1T1WQC2k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbrRAgv1b4

The violinist is Maxim Alexandrovich Vengerov.

And for comparison, James Ehnes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cRCVieLESQ

or Oistrach?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-P183jzdfw

perhaps Perlman?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm82XOhIm9w

and this young lady, Soyoung Yoon?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCY-JYryRSw

These two, Mischa Maisky and Jacqueline du Pre, were both students of Rostropovich:

Mischa Maisky – cello

When young…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGQLXRTl3Z0

When mature…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk8QNzkzwYg

And so, youth or maturity?

Jacqueline du Pre Short bio:

http://www.littlecellist.com/page/cellist-dupre

The Elgar (First Movement):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH0jUQTCCQIhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH0jUQTCCQI

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUgdbqt2ON0

Elgar (Second and Third Movements):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6wt64X8Am0

And here’s Sol Gabbeta playing Elgar’s concerto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN0E6AupTBw

The Guardian hasn’t thrown in the towel:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2014/aug/26/symphony-guide-tchaikovsky-sixth-pathetique-tom-service

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2014/sep/09/50-essential-symphonies-blog-what-have-we-missed-from-our-list

http://www.theguardian.com/music/series/50-greatest-symphonies

I had the very great good fortune to attend one of Jacqueline du Pre’s last concerts, listening from the third row thanks to the university’s music department. Unforgettable, but so sad. We knew.

I intended to add some more but got interrupted by my wife and a young music teacher rehearsing down the hall for a program they'll be presenting at our cultural center. More later...

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

If we're talking classic music lets not forget:

Muscle Shoals:

Wilson Pickett "Land of a Thousand Dances"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fa4BfPQiKs

or Lynyrd Skynyrd "Free Bird"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcnrbuubxck

Jimmy Hughes "Steal Away"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBozxCs3yFk&list=PLB6kzwLir8YXr5EPCXx07F17dBJsgy89o

or this version of "Hey Jude" by Wislon Pickett and Duane Allman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y8Q2PATVyI&index=7&list=PLB6kzwLir8YXr5EPCXx07F17dBJsgy89o

------------------------------

this classic from Etta James:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-cbOl96RFM&list=RDS-cbOl96RFM

------------------------------

And then there's this piece from 1939 which Columbia refused to record because it feared the backlash in the South. Calling it a classic doesn't do it justice:

Billy Holiday sings "Strange Fruit"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98CxkS0vzB8

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm

OK, rs allen, you asked. These are pretty good places to start:

First this:

http://music.cbc.ca/#!/blogs/2013/7/10-pieces-of-classical-music-everyone-should-know

For the classical curious, cutting through the mystique may be a challenge, but we're here to help. Don't be that person who says their favourite piece of classical music is Phantom of the Opera. Get to know the following works, and build your classical music foundation.

And this - music and commentary:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/series/50-greatest-symphonies

And finally this site for a teaser. For complete works from WatchMojo you have to subscribe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDsAdl8nJm0

Top 10 Iconic Pieces of Classical Music

Published on Aug 12, 2014

They’re the definition of classic. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 iconic pieces of classical music. Check us out at http://www.Twitter.com/WatchMojo,http://instagram.com/watchmojo and http://www.Facebook.com/WatchMojo

I hope this will give you the introduction you wanted.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

I agree with the originator of this post.

My introduction to classical music was made by my mother. Back in the 60's you got a free classical record if you bought $25 worth of groceries. I remember as a small child listening to Firebird Suite, Grieg piano concerto and Death and Transfiguration. My other favorite record was Hugh Masakela because I thought the trumpet sounded like elephants. I also listened to Peter and the Wolf and the Robin Hood story with music by Rossini. It wasn't until I was about 9 years old when I heard Mahler's 9th on the Young People's concerts. I still remember the moment in the last movement where my brain felt like it was full of so many notes I could not think straight. It was soon after that when I begged my parents for a violin. I still play in symphonies to this day. Wouldn't trade it for anything. An instrument should be mandatory in school, it expands the brain. That along with a few mandatory languages would make us a nation of smarter people. But alas, the electronics are taking over the children. My niece was playing in piano recitals at age 7 but by age 9 she had a cell phone, ipod, laptop and gave up the piano.

GustavMahler's picture
GustavMahler
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 4:13 pm

And I suppose that any self-respecting literary purist worth their weight in papyrus would only read Shakespeare and other 400 year old literature, over and over and over again.... Cork sniffers. lol!

I'm all for music education, including, but not limited to classical.........."It's all good"

organican's picture
organican
Joined:
Nov. 30, 2012 4:24 am
Quote organican:

And I suppose that any self-respecting literary purist worth their weight in papyrus would only read Shakespeare and other 400 year old literature, over and over and over again.... Cork sniffers. lol!

I'm all for music education, including, but not limited to classical.........."It's all good"

Not only Shakespeare but, yes, William over and over again. The grand Greek tragedians as well. Moving on a few years Tolstoy and then later Conrad and Melville. There are many, many great works of literature. Sure, i'm also reading some fine contemporary writers but I always go back to the classics.

As for music, no, it ain't all good nor is all literature.

I share your sadness, GustavMahler. We persuaded our daughter and her husband to let our grand daughter take violin lessons. We bought her a violin and for a year and a half she progressed very well. Then, for reasons unknown to my wife and I, her parents put an end to it. Sad.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

It was semi-big news for the intelligent class in Chicago when the local FM jazz station, which was a BIG DEAL in Chicago back in the day, turned into a Ranchero, Spanish-music station about ten years ago. The only Jazz station in town now is low on the dial, and gets very low ratings. Kind of a sign of the times.

ChicagoMatt
Joined:
Apr. 28, 2014 12:29 pm

It was semi-big news for the intelligent class in Chicago when the local FM jazz station, which was a BIG DEAL in Chicago back in the day, turned into a Ranchero, Spanish-music station about ten years ago. The only Jazz station in town now is low on the dial, and gets very low ratings. Kind of a sign of the times.

ChicagoMatt
Joined:
Apr. 28, 2014 12:29 pm
Quote GustavMahler:

I agree with the originator of this post.

My introduction to classical music was made by my mother. Back in the 60's you got a free classical record if you bought $25 worth of groceries. I remember as a small child listening to Firebird Suite, Grieg piano concerto and Death and Transfiguration. My other favorite record was Hugh Masakela because I thought the trumpet sounded like elephants. I also listened to Peter and the Wolf and the Robin Hood story with music by Rossini. It wasn't until I was about 9 years old when I heard Mahler's 9th on the Young People's concerts. I still remember the moment in the last movement where my brain felt like it was full of so many notes I could not think straight. It was soon after that when I begged my parents for a violin. I still play in symphonies to this day. Wouldn't trade it for anything. An instrument should be mandatory in school, it expands the brain. That along with a few mandatory languages would make us a nation of smarter people. But alas, the electronics are taking over the children. My niece was playing in piano recitals at age 7 but by age 9 she had a cell phone, ipod, laptop and gave up the piano.

I essentially agree with your sentiment, every student should be exposed to music, classical and otherwise (although, with only a few exceptions, I don't recommend country western; to me it is a genre best appreciated by those who feel that a lack of talent shouldn't hold a person back) but I don't think that everyone is suited to or should be made to take up an instrument. As a musician myself I think of music as something in you that comes out and if someone is not inherently musical no amount of study will produce a musician anymore than years of art lessons will necessarily produce an artist.

As a classical musician you'll appreciate what the little fat fingers on this gentleman can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xiH2kUonIA

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm

It seems to me that a definition of “classical music” would be a good idea for this discussion. Yes, it’s appropriate to speak of classic jazz, classic folk, even classic rock but that isn’t “classical music” as generally understood. Here’re some dictionary definitions:

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/es/definicion/ingles_americano/classical-music

1Serious or conventional music following long-established principles rather than a folk, jazz, or popular tradition.

1.1(More specifically) music written in the European tradition during a period lasting approximately from 1750 to 1830, when forms such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata were standardized. Often contrasted with baroque and romantic.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/classical

: relating to music in a European tradition that includes opera and symphony and that is generally considered more serious than other kinds of music

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/classical+music

classical music

In technical musical usage this means music composed during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, characterized by the development of the sonata by such composers as Mozart. In popular use, however, the term is used to mean any serious art music as distinct from jazz, pop, or folk.

For more in depth discussion of “classical music” Wikipedia does it well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

Really!!!? Serious music!!!! hahahaha

Talk to any musician, any composer and I dare you to say to their face they're not serious about what they do or write no matter the genre. Music like all art forms is very subjective by it's very nature. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps a more apropos title for the thread would be music appreciation or lack of the arts studies.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

That's true, "classical" refers to a period which is why I said "classic" rather than classical above to describe music from different genres. I agree with rs allen though that music appreciation is subjective. having been trained by a classical pianist I play classical pieces and I would say that teaching classical is an excellent way for students to learn the intricacies of reading and playing music but, having learned, I certainly am not bound to only play classical. Some of my favorite music to play is early Beatles' stuff just because it's fun for instance.

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm
Quote rs allen:

Really!!!? Serious music!!!! hahahaha

Talk to any musician, any composer and I dare you to say to their face they're not serious about what they do or write no matter the genre. Music like all art forms is very subjective by it's very nature. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps a more apropos title for the thread would be music appreciation or lack of the arts studies.

I suspect that, as you say, all musicians and composers are serious about what they do, rs allen. The product of their labor, however, may or may not enjoy a serious or lasting reception. No doubt professional wrestlers are serious about what they do.

Agreement on definitions - meanings - are important. Without consensus communication becomes difficult or even impossible.

I can't imagine that any jazz piece written today would in 400 years fill a magnificent jazz hall built expressly for the purpose and to a large and enthusiastic audience all of whom have paid admission, some having paid considerable sums, for the privilege. That is what regularly happens today for performances of classical music aged upwards of 400 years.

Leaving the future aside, performances of Jazz or other forms of contemporary music do not today - could not - support magnificent structures such as grand opera houses and concert halls nor do they - nor could they - regularly attract large paying audiences to fill them all the while offering the same musical compositions over and over again. There must be a difference and there needs to be a way to express that difference. Perhaps there could or should be an expression other than "classical music" but that has been in use for many years, it's rather generally understood, and I doubt that it could be changed. The fact that there's disagreement on the meaning is, I believe, a testament to the failure or absence of education.

But yes, music and art education are important and of course tastes vary. Enjoy that which pleases you. If, for instance, you appreciate contemplating Andy Warhol's soup cans and enjoy attendance at a Miley Cyrus performance go for it. Both of them no doubt qualify as serious about what they did or do but I'm not sure that they were or are serious about art or music. Attracting an audience and making a buck, surely.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

You or I will not know how jazz or any of the popular music today survives the time frame and we can hardly guess because what you term as less than serious is at oldest only about 100 years. But if age is your criteria why that young up start using all those man made things put together for those that can't sing or find a note on their own? After all the human voice came first, why not Gregorian chants? They've survived for centuries, predate that popular music from 400 years ago and they're certainly serious. Why not opera that also predate the common mans love with triangles, drums, blaring horns, screechy strings and plucked chords cum hammered strings via the piano? Opera is considered serious.

That is all that form we today term as classical music is, a popular music construct from 400 years ago, ie. done for the buck both then and now.

I've no issues with it and listen to that genre when I'm in the mood.

And Alberto stop talking to me like I'm a 10 year old. It gets tiresome.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm
Quote mdhess:

As a classical musician you'll appreciate what the little fat fingers on this gentleman can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xiH2kUonIA

Thank you for this link, mdhess. You don't have to be a classical musician to enjoy such extraordinary talent. An appreciative listener will do just fine.

A little late but many thanks to you, Robindell, for initiating this discussion and for your comments. Sadly it doesn't appear that the decline in exposure to classical music as well as to classical literature will likely abate.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

Classical music training is the basis for a lot of music. Many jazz musicians were trained classically, it just gives you the foundation to do anything later. I picked up the flamenco guitar about 15 years ago. I took a few lessons to learn how to hold the guitar and stuff but after that I bought books because I already knew how to practice.

Same with languages, if young kids learn spanish and french at a young age they will be able to learn other languages very quickly later. Playing in a band or orchestra at a young age teaches kids so many things and also trains their brain. Their brain expands. A kid that learns violin at a young age can pick up a clarinet or trumpet and become a great jazz musician later, see Winston Marsalis. I played a concert with Benny Goodman in the early 80's. He must of been over 80 and playing clarinet concertos with semi-professional orchestras. I can still see him in my mind sitting backstage waiting. I remember wondering 'why is Benny Goodman in Huntsville Alabama playing the Copland clarinet concerto at age 80?' I guess it kept him young.

Sadly, this morning Atlanta eliminated all music programs from the schools.

GustavMahler's picture
GustavMahler
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 4:13 pm

Aw, the benefits of austerity -- lifelong voids in potential. That is beyond sad, it is morally bankrupt and generationally criminal.

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm

I myself am not intereted in training as the basis of other types of music, which I find to be less complex and serious and of lasting value than is classical music. That is not to say that I don't sometimes listen to other types of music, but my point was a deterioration in culture, in the fine arts, and the emotional and esthetic levels that are involved, along with the developmental value of playing an instrument, singing, or at least learning to understand more involved compositions. The term "classical" is inaccurate because of course it only refers to the classical era in music, which mostly entails two composers, Mozart and F. j. Hayden. Do we tell people not to waste their time going to serious plays or to art museums? Do we placate right-wing idiots and completely drop history from high schools? Corporate executives along with physicians and some lawyers -- in Chicago, I once went to a concert by a non-professional, part-time orchestra made up entirely of lawyers from the Chicago Bar Association, and I was very quiet as I didn't want to get sued -- once appreciated serious or concert music of these great composers. There is an ethos of practicality, of commercialism, of vocational training today. Perhaps on an unconcious level, people are afraid of our future in terms of using up natural resources such as oil, and the consequences of unchecked climate change. Great art is seen more as a luxury than a cultural necessity.

The consequences in part of these cuts can be seen in the recent strike by the Atlanta Symphony, an orchestra which has won one or more Grammy Awards for its recordings. When the orchestra and the management finally reached an agreement, the orchestra was considerably downsized from the number of musicians they had before the strike. Part of it was the recession which caused corporations and charities to give less to performing arts organizations, but part of it is the declining appreciation for greatness. One conductor of an orchestra in Boston, other than the internationally famous Boston Symphony, named Benamin Zander, was once featured on 60 Minutes. Back in the day, that program occassionally did segments on conductors or soloists. In fact, they did a sement several years ago about the book The Soloist, which is about a Julliard-trained bass violin player who developed schizophrenia, and was encountered by L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez playing the violin on the street in downtown L.A. This conductor, Zander, who by the way recorded some of the Mahler Symphonies with the Philharmonia Orchestra, said on 60 Minutes that if you attend a concert given by his orchestra in Boston and don't find it to be a life-changing experience, he would refund the price of your ticket.

Academically unqualified conservative politicians are not the complete cause of this situation, but some of them have attacked the broad, liberal arts component of higher education. It's sort of like the controversial Texas Board of Education's history and social studies texbook editorial policies. These consevatives are in favor of ignorance and lies. The dissonance or harshness of some contemporary or 20th century compositons brings some of this human failing to mind, but the great thing about abstract music is that it does not have a direct, concrete message, and works on a level that is beyond words and thoughts.

There was a radio station in Chicago which did not have the most powerful signal which played jazz and if I recall had studios both in downtown and out in Markham. It was called WBEE.

The husband of celloist Jacquelien Dupre was the condutor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, who started the East-West Divan Orchestra, which is made up both young Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Even after he stepped down from the Chicago Symphony, he brought the East-West Divan Orchestra to Chicago, not at Symphony Center but at the Harris Theater. Barenboim was in the news recently for having invented a new kind of piano that supposedly has improved sound over the conventional grand piano. It has something to do with the strings being straightened out.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

If you want another perspective and can get your hands on the DVD of "Pleasantville", listen to the commentary by Randy Newman. He wrote the score for the film but also talks about growing up hanging out with his uncles who scored music for the studios. He talks about the discussions they also with Jerry Goldsmith where they ripped the music of some of your "vaunted" composers. Not every note of music they wrote is revered by those who know the field.

Similarly, in college some of my professors discussed these composers as well as where they got some of their ideas.

captbebops's picture
captbebops
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The conductor of the Northbrook, IL Symphony, whose name is Maestro Lawrence Rapchak, has an interest in performing compositions which he considers to be masterworks in their own right by totally forgotten composers. I read of two of the composers and works that they played, and I never heard of either one, but Maestro Rapchak talked about how these works express a lot, musically, and deserve to be played in live performances, at least occassionally. He said that one of these works, which was performed by the Northbrook Symphony, requires editing of the score for some reason in order to be performed, but he said that the extra work is worth the effort. The Northbrook Symphony is a suburban orchestra with a dedicated audience who will attend even when unfamiliar, unusal programming is offered. When I went to a performance of the "Turangalia Symphonie" by Olivier Messiaen, Rapchak gave the preconcert talk, and he was beside himself with excitment from having heard the performance from the night before, and overjoyed that the work was being performed live. He told the audience, "You might have thought, I'd like to hear some Brahms. Well, this is not Brahms, it is something else. Brahms is played so often that here is a chance to hear something that is not." He also said that the Messiaen is "spectacular," and I agree with that description. The only thing is that the symphony is lacking in what might be called musical substance. It makes up for that, I think, in the unique sound world that Messiaen creates, which is even different in many ways from his other compositions. Turangalia he said is a word that comes from two Sanskrit words involving time and joy. He also said that work has to do with extreme love. After it was over, I overheard one of my fellow patrons say that it was one of the most impressive things he has heard in a long time, and he wondered how long it took for the musicians to learn it. The symphony is almost like a piano concerto in that the piano is heard in all of the movements, of which there are ten. One older woman said that it was "loud and long." Many percussion instruments, including the marimba, are used. The work also uses the celesta and the ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument that can produce an eerie glissando. There are not very many people in the world who can play it, and all of the instruments came from the workshop of its inventor, Francois Martenot.

Of course, not all works by famous composers are equally great or are played very much.

It takes talent to write any kind of music that people will perform and listen to. The terms, the labels, are merely used to indicate certain genres or classifications of music. Differences in different types of music are acknowledeged. John Denver wrote songs about nature, and I respect him and appreciate what he did for that. Is he my favorite composer of music? That ultimately is a matter of personal preference. I took music lessons which gave me some insights that I wouldn't otherwise have, but I already listened to music seperately from learning to play an instrument.

What I found out as a child is that several kids told me that they didn't like this kind of music, even though I don't think they ever heard very much if any of it. One needs some familiarity with many composers and other basic things, such as the instruments of the orchestra, to understand and take it all in. As Leonard Bernstein used to say, all composers borrow from one another to some extent. Benstein, a Harvard graduate, was clearley ifluenced by jazz in several of his works.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This might be a good starting point for those who have had no interest in - and perhaps no introduction to - classical music. I've included a comment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5bU7ibqGko Richard Strauss: "Also sprach Zarathustra" op.30

Jangle2007 6 months ago (edited)

Several years ago in my state, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra brought their music to a dozen rural schools around the state with our local NPR affiliate in tow, Vermont Public Radio. The purpose was to introduce children to music that they had likely never been exposed to. Imagine the scene: a standing-room only auditorium, the orchestra with all their strange instruments up on stage, know-it-all kids steeped in the latest hip-hop or whatever was the current rage in the top 100 in the audience. You could almost feel them rolling their eyes through the radio. The conductor himself, introduced the various sections of the orchestra, followed by a brief sound display of the individual instruments. Then the orchestra brought it all together with the incredible opening to "Also Spracht Zarathustra". By the end of the piece, the students were out of their seats, arms in the air, cheering. In the radio broadcast, you can hear the students screaming over the top of the music...a pandemonium of incredulity. It still gives me goosebumps! The producer (herself in tears) said that in the space of approximately one minute and fifteen second, the students went from teenage boredom to shock to utter disbelief - they had no idea that such sound was even conceivable!

You just know that in a very brief time, some student's lives were forever changed. I believe that these are the best and highest moments of education.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

Musicians do not like to rate compositions as to how great they are in comparison to others, because creativity and art is about originality, not competition. But in all of Western music, there is one piece which to some degree stands out, and that is Beethoven's Ninth. Beyond the music, Beethoven's use of a text that talks about the brotherhood of man is one aspect that stands out. The fact that he was deaf when he wrote it and conducted the premiere, and didn't realize the performance was over and had to be turned around to face the applauding audience, enters into the story as well. There is also an indirect connection with news. The symphony's second movement, for those who are old enough to remember, was the closing theme to the "Huntley/Brinkley Report" on NBC.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This is what happens when you're lazing around and haven’t anything better to do. I began to wonder how many popular songs were based on Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. After listening to the popular versions I suspect – and hope – that those unfamiliar with classical music will begin to appreciate it:

First the classical version of the 6th Symphony:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkxu0mpWriM

Then I came up with these popular “steals” but there may be more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clkqi7lkvBk (This is) The Story of a Starry Night" (by Mann Curtis, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p9xqWZ699Y "Where," a 1959 hit for Tony Williams and the Platters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUMKLv9hW6I "In Time," by Steve Lawrence in 1961,

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlDMBojZbpE John O'Dreams by Bill Caddick.

Well, once you get started it’s hard to stop. I had never heard this pop version of Rachmaninoff but I like it. First there’s the take-off or steal (the sound is very weak on my computer but when I plugged it into speakers or HDTV it's fine) and then a really fine rendering of the original:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KlhhvfAhM4 Eric Carmen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgYhcM5TB_c The pianist is Yevgeni Kissin - Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (full)

And then I got to Borodin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbCJbnNDmoM Stranger in Paradise from Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances

After all that searching I found this handy list (but I don't think that it's complete):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Melodia/List_of_popular_songs_based_on_classical_music

Melodia/List of popular songs based on classical music

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

Just listen to what young adults can do. You'll notice, too, that classical music isn't exclusive to white skinned people:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s-0xuWSRCk

Beethoven Symphony No 3 E flat major Eroica

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez es un músico y director de orquesta venezolano. Es director de la Orquesta Filarmónica de Los Ángeles, la Sinfónica de Gotemburgo y la Sinfónica Simón Bolívar.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Joined:
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel is part of "el sistema," the system, which was created by Jose Antonio Abreu, who is considered by many to be a genius, in Venezula. Hundreds of thousand of very poor children, many who are from the slums of Venezula, have had their lives improve through music instruction which they receive under el sistema. There is a documentary which I have not had the chance to see called "El Sistema" which is available. I have heard a few recordings by Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, including the ballet "Estancia" by Alberto Ginastera and Mahler's Fifth. There is a program to provide music education to poor students in America, but it is limited because it is being carried out with private funding by a non-profit organization in Los Angeles and I think in a few other cities. If the government backed such a program, it could grow to a national scale. The succesful results have been demonstrated in Venezula.

The other night, I was watching NHK Newsline, an English broadcast from the Tokyo-based network, and they had a feature about a young Japanese woman who is a violin virtuoso. There any number of conductors and piano virtuosos from China, South Korea, and now Japan. There are quite a few symphony orchestra in some of these Asian countries. Iraq has a national orchestra that visited New York City and performed with the New York Philharmonic. The long-time conductor of the South Bend Symphony is Chinese and is a gradute I believe of Yale University. He lives partly in South Bend. The orchestra is not a major ensemble but is very professional and has a budget that allows for only a limited number of concerts each season, including a chamber series, each season. Messiaen was heavily influenced by a type of Hindu musical ensemble which I don't completely understand in his Turangilia Symphonie. Eastern harmonies can be noticed in certain works by Stravinsky, and some Russian composers had some Middle Eastern influences, such as Rimsky-Korsakov in Scheherazada.

I once heard a performance of a work by Tchaikovsky which is seldom-performed, partly because it is technically very difficult to play. It is is longest orchestral work and is called the "Manfred Symphony," after the poem by Lord Byron. The story of how it came about is interesting to read about. At first, Tchaikovsy considered it to be his best orchestral work, but he later changed his mind and almost withdrew it from publication. It does not as one of his numbered symphonies. The third movement, the slow movement, is about "mountain people" and is very buccolic. The second movement involves magic and fairies and has some extremely tricky woodwind passages and also a beautiful middle theme. The ending includes a passage for the organ. The symphony is about an hour long. Toscanni was a great exponent of the Manfred Symphony, but he edited out several minutes. The last movement, toward the middle, has a fugue section that was constroversial from the beginning when the work was first performed. It doesn't seem to fit into the work. But the last movement, which is the most compostionally problematic part of it, is great fun, according to one conductor. To hear the whole symphony performed live by a great orchestra, and it takes a virtuoso orchestra to manage to play it, is unbelievable in the dramatic thrust and power and gorgeous passages that the score is filled with. There are not the same kinds of memorable themes like in the symphonies and ballets of Tchaikovsy, but there is the Manfred theme which reappears in all four of the movements. Several recordings are available, including one by the Indianapolis Symphony under Raymond Leppard, and others by better-known orchestras. Many music lovers know about this symphony and greatly appreciate it.

In general, I think most Americans are too unsophiticated to know what they are missing.

A cellist from the National Orchetra of Iraq (he might also be their conductor, but I am not sure) goes to every location where people were killed by a car bombing and plays a musical tribute on the cello as a memorial to them.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Tipper Gore, who has since became divorced from Vice-President Al Gore, spoke out against the lyrics of many pop songs. I don't remember too much about her specific objections, but I seem to recall it pertained to some of the off-color language, cursing, contained in some songs, references to drug use, and to violence, including violence toward women. That criticism is one that seems to apply mainly to rap music. People tend to forget little details like that surrounding historical figures. Certainly, most pop songs don't have negative message, and from the little I have heard about it, a lot of the songs are autobiographical. But composers of classical music somehow embrace timeless values which I believe are all to often absent from the process of socialization, of upbringing, and that is inclusive of education. If combined with improved instruction for for students in high school or before in history, civics, economics, philosophy, and literature, music education could significantly complement these other areas of general education. The behavior of people in public is something that I observe. Instead of pretending to be objective, I allow for a degree of subjective judgement. The background of parents has been shown to be a predictor of future outcomes and upward mobility of the children, but I have to wonder to what extent teachers are failing to overcome provincial thinking and backwardness on the part of some parents, especially those who are not college graduate or have limited exposure to various subjects. Can't schools do more to make up for the limitations and failings of many parents? Some children fail to escape poverty, others may find an adequate vocation and make enough money to be reasonable well off without attending or graduating from college, and some go on to do better than their parents in terms of both education and income, although the U.S. as fallen behind other other advanced countries in terms of upward mobility. In terms of cultural knowledge, it sometimes seems as if young people have often fallen behind the enthusiasm and knowledge of their parents for the arts. Chris Hedges once even commented on the financial struggles of some symphony orchestras as an indicator of societal decline, comparing it to a decline in investigative reporting and serious journalism.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Aliceinwonderland:I'd just like to remind you, Robindell, of the merits of jazz music as well. It takes just as much compositional sophistication to produce a great jazz piece as works from any of the old traditional European genres.
To quote Frank Zappa, jazz isn't dead... it just smells funny. We use it for a burglar deterrent when we're not home.

:-)

Seriously, we survived as a civilization before rock, jazz and classical. Times change. I like medieval music. No one's saying civilization is crumbling without it. I DO think that case can be made by the public being turned off from science and politics... and becoming consumers instead of citizens and being curious.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Classical music has never spoken to me.

Van Morrison's Astral Week almost makes me believe that man has a soul, or anything Otis Redding sing. John Prine's music goes directly to my sensitivities, Tom Petty has been the soundtrack of my life, but Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner have nothing to say to me.

Maybe I lack the refinement to appreciate it, but I think it has more to do with what it inspires. I can't feel anything personal in classical music, not to say there is not beauty in it; it just lacks a sense of connection for me.

These few lines from a Avett Brother song say a lot to me:

She knows which birds are singin'

And the names of the trees where they're perfromin'

In the monin'

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer...
Joined:
Jun. 23, 2011 11:31 am

My local NPR station really loves to live up to what a lot of people might snicker at public radio as "national professors radio" network because in the afternoon when it starts running a lot soundtracks cut by mostly academic music experimenters with this or that "unique" sound in some avant garde manner. It's awful and damn near the equal to a jackson Pollack "artwork." C'mon, my kids when they were little and playing on Kidzpic were more creative.

Sigh, classical music died when Puccinni took his last breath.

Steven.PBarrett
Joined:
Nov. 1, 2010 10:01 am
Quote Steven.PBarrett:

My local NPR station really loves to live up to what a lot of people might snicker at public radio as "national professors radio" network because in the afternoon when it starts running a lot soundtracks cut by mostly academic music experimenters with this or that "unique" sound in some avant garde manner.

There's always WNNZ, WFCR's news/talk AM station! Not sure how good a signal you'd get up there in the hills. If we happen to be listening to FCR at 8p when Jazz A La Mode comes on we rush to change the station.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Classical musicians probably could and should do more to educate young people as well as older folks about their art. Simone Dinnerstein is a well-known pianist from New York City who has made the effort to do just that. She has been on NPR more than once. She is most famous for her performances of the keyboard music of Bach, including her recording of his Goldberg Variations. She initiated Neighborhood Classics, which is open to the public and is hosted by the New York City Public Schools. She also has a program called "Bachpacking," in which she brings a digital piano, supplied for free by Yamaha, into public school classrooms and plays Bach for the children. She then engages them in a discussion about the music. Most have need heard this type of music before and, Dinnerstein reports, are surprised at all of the notes and all that is going on just on one instrument. Dinnerstein has played with many orchestras all over the world and also gives recitals and occasionally plays chamber music as well.

Dinnerstein is a graduate of the Julliard School. Another person to have attended Julliard was Bill Ayres, the subject of the non-fiction book, The Soloist by Steve Lopez. It tells the story of how Mr. Lopez encountered Ayres playing the violin on a streetcorner in downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Lopez is an L.A. Times columnist. Lopez contacts Julliard and eventually verifies that Mr. Ayres had studied bass violin there. Mr. Ayres, who has schizophrenia, is suspicious of mental health providers due to a previous experience. Mr. Lopez (they call each other "Mr.") introduces Mr. Ayres to an innovative mental health agency in the skid row district of downtown L.A., where Mr. Ayres is offered a room of his own on the basis of the housing first model. Later, Mr. Lopez arranges for Mr. Ayres to attend a Beethoven performance at Disney Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Beethoven is Mr. Ayres' favorite composer. He is taken back stage and meets an orchestra administrator and conductor Esa-Peka Salonen, who at the time was the orchestra's music director. A book was made into a movie. Jamie Foxx played the role of the soloist, Mr. Ayres.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The state where I live has the world's largest professional, collegiate-level music school. The state university system in this state, as well as many others, has suffered from cuts in state funding, accompanied by tuition increases. Nevertheless, the taxpayers still are providing some of the funding, and the university is part of state government, even though an increasing amount of the funding comes from private sources. Most people who live here, I would guess, know little or nothing about the primary type of music that is taught at the music school. We had a recording at home by a pianist who was a professor of piano at the university. I had heard of several of the music faculty before even having attended that university.

In Thom's home state of Michigan, the largest orchestra is the Detroit Symphony, followed by the Grand Rapids Symphony. Detroit also has an opera house and I believe they have an opera company like in many other larger cities puts on a limited number of operas each season. Michigan is also known in musical circles has being the home of the National Music Camp, better known as Interlochen. I knew a family growing up who went there as although none of them were professional musicians, the parents and most of the kids played and studied music.

When I think of the program in Venezuela which conductor Gustavo Dudamel is a part of, I have to wonder why more progressives don't ask, what if this country directed some of its military spending to a music education program similar to the one in Venezuela for poor, inner city youth. For America, it possibly could include a jazz option in addition to playing in a symphony orchestra. In Venezuela, there probably is a certain emphasis on Latin American classical composers not found in music education in North America. The point is, in troubled neighborhoods, there is always discussion about the need for something to enrich the lives of the students that might enhance their academic work, something to take their mind off of the stress and decay of poverty, something that would stay with them in a very positive way for the rest of their lives. From what I have read, the program in Venezuela has had some very good results.

Intead of all the American negativity, cultural backwardness, which I believe to some extent reinforces or is related to the political backwardness, the government being one of the several basic social institutions along with the family, religion, economy, and schools, and closed-mindedness (remember that book by a somewhat conservative academic, Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind), there should be more soul-searching and a more thoughtful approach to improving education. SImply looking at education as a glorified trade school, although vocational education certainly has a significant role to play, has harmed people by creating tunnel vision and a lack of sensitivity to things like nature. Art often has nature as its subject.

What concerns me is that the emphasis of some people, and perhaps a majority of people on this Thom Hartmann Web site, is on money, on not having enough of it, of what another trade agreement might mean, financially, of banks. I wrote a post on how some religious people actually seem to mean "wealth" or at least money, when they say the word God. When I visit the zoo on occasion, I have both a happy and respectful feeling toward the animals. I realize that some people don't like having captive wild animals in parks, but this might be the only hope for some endagered species. I also appreciate that animals are not the same as homo sapiens. One individual here says that music is dispensable, that it is not needed for survival. That is sort of like being a Luddite. We survived before computers and cell phones, so who needs them? Who needs surgery or medicine? If you are poor, you can survive on very little. Who needs an improved financial situation or a better job? Conservatives including some rich business people seem as if they believe that there are only enough resources to keep the financially well-off elites in luxury. One of the things that makes us human is to reflect on our environment and on our emotions through creativity. It is not just about building a better mouse trap or smarter smart phone or robot. Those things are conveniences, not expressions of humanity.

Thom wrote about disabillity and special education, and so I think he should consider some of things others points as well.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

When someone lacks education in a certain area and does not understand or "appreciate" something, that is not something to brag about. That is a disadvantage. I believe the applicable term is "lowbrow." One of the points of ignorance: music that came before influences, affects, and even makes possible music that came later. A certain number of pop musicians, as someone else already commented on above, have a background in classical music training. Not knowing anything about the lives of the great composers, who are acknowledged by experts and musicians as geniuses, doesn't help matters. Not knowing anything about the some of the technical aspects of instrumental playing, harmony, music theory, and music history, sets back one's level of sophistication as well. Not liking the fine arts is often a Republican trait, I have tended to observe, and only helps to set back the cause of progressivism through harming the culture. You haven't seen that much political success, even with a Democratic president, have you?

I don't read about concert pianists, opera singers, or orchestra members getting into trouble over narcotic use. There is one opera singer who recently came out with her autobiography who had a problem with alcoholism. But most classical musicians live to an old age and are never involved with drug usage, at least that is reported in the media. They don't have to.

One of the things I have noticed is that people here go off on tangents and ignore ciomments by people (posters/members) who they think irrelevant or perhaps even unworthy. I started this thread with an entry on a failing of our education system, particularly when it comes to certain forms or a certain genre of music. Some of the responses were "on target" and relevant to my main topic, but there are some who bring up irrelevant things. Conservatives are very good at staying "on target." Liberals sometimes are not. Because on this Web site, I have read any number of times that conservatives tend to be uneducated, or even that a study found that on average, they have a lower I.Q. than do liberals. It takes more knowlege and sensivity to fully understand a complex work of art, such as a sonata, than it does to criticize something that someone doesn't understand. So, when it is convenient, liberals will say that conservatives are uneducated, but when there is an area that they don't understand, are not interested in, or don't especially like, then they will not question their own lack of knowledge, exposure, or sophistication. Our present-day world just seems to have much hypocrisy.

In the past, professional people such as scientists, doctors, and some business people attended concerts and supported performing arts organizations, which are not-for-profit. Young people who are able to play difficult compositions sometimes excel in other academic areas outside of music. Such support still exists, but the lack of education could create a cultural vacuum, which in some ways seems to be somewhat in keeping what Tipper Gore was talking about all those years ago. As I noted, even Chris Hedges commented on music listening and support as a sign of a cultural, including political, decline. A professor I once knew who lived in the neighborhood who loved (classical) music and opera (I once attended an opera with him at a university) scoffed at the idea that literature must always have a "socially redeeming" message. Music, even with words, is not about "speaking" to a listener. It is a language onto itself. There are some works which have some philophical connection, such as the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth which I mentioned above, or Bemjamin Britten's "War Requiem" (Britten was a pacifist). But music is still music, an expression based on asthetics. What is weird about this Web site is that there is all this concern with the decline of the middle class, but criticism of "materialism," When I bring up something that is etheral and abstract by nature, I get a certain amount of misinformed criticisms, by people who do not have the educational background to make certain comments. The inconsistency is rather laughable. It's as if some of the people here are progressives who want to set people back, as do many conservatives. The enlightenment has receded.

Years ago, the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra were involved with some kind of event, possibly a special concert, which in some way that I don't remember was a statement against nuclear weapons.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

On a personal level, I grew up originally on the South Side of Chicago, which is the home of Muddy Waters and has an annual blues festival. I am not an expert on jazz, but it is considered to have evolved from the blues, gospel music, and even earlier, spirituals. When a person listen's to jazz on the radio, I don't think that is the most effective way to hear it. Jazz generally involves improvisation. No two performances of the same number are exactly the same. Part of the attraction of it is the spontaneity of improvisation and of how the different players interact with each other and pick up on what the previous soloist played. There is a composed, set part to the music, the main tune I think being called the "head." Even with a high-quality recording and with good equipment, it just seems to sound more immediate, with the audience present applauding after each solo, than on a recording. Classical recordings are usually of very high quality, but there is still something about hearing the music being performed right there, live, that makes a difference. The music goes by so quickly that I sometimes feel as if I missed something. With recordings, you can go back and listen again. I have heard things in a live performance of an orchestra that I didn't quite notice on a recording, and sometimes there could be mistakes that I am not sure about as to accuracy in a live performance that would be corrected through editing on a recording. I don't go out of my way to listen to the blues, and some of it is too rock-sounding for me, but yet, being from Chicago, with social ills and a large minority population, I somehow still get some of the mood of it. A local university has an annual jazz festival, and one year, I attended a few of the performances. They had some high school ensembles which were quite good as well as some from the university. There was a faculty jazz quartet which was very good. The culminating night of the festival is always a professional jazz musician or group. One recent year, they had Natlaie Cole, daughter of Nat King Cole. The year I went they had a saxophonist from New York who had made recordings and traveled the circuit. I remember that he played an amplified instrument which looked like a saxophone, without the large bell on the end. It had a cord coming out of it. He had his backup musicians. It was quite loud, but it sounded like jazz, not rock, and I both enjoyed it and was impressed with the professionalism of the playing.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

So many middle class people in this country are so ghetto. If the middle class is faltering, is that because they can't afford to install a new air conditioner or buy a new vacuum cleaner, or does it involve some more profound things? People are gullible in that they will accept and endorse mediocrity.

At least on this site, there seem to be some people who are conservative without necessarily even knowing it, because society is more complicated than either political commentators or economists make it out to be.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Robindell:

When someone lacks education in a certain area and does not understand or "appreciate" something, that is not something to brag about.

No one is such the generalist that they can be educated in everything. In an era when knowledge is doubling every year why can't some decide they just don't care about classical music or jazz? They are not the be all and end all of music. Both express a very western bias. Who are you to put certain narrow aspects of culture on a pedestal and claim they are superior to other things people are passionate about?

BTW... I may disike jazz, but with rare exceptions like O Mia Bambino Caro I generally despise opera...

Sue me.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

There are symphony orchestra in Asia. The last time I checked, Asia is East, not West.

There are music departments and schools of music in universities. If it is taught in college, it should be taught in elementary and secondary school. The determination as to what is taught need to be made by qualified educators, not someone who is not qualified.

Not everyone may be an art lover, but to come into an alledgedly progressive Web site and state a hatred for an art form is not progressive.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Really I think you're jumping to unfounded conclusions Robin. That someone says they prefer one form over another is not saying I hate or I think it's a waste of space. Rather like when Alberto went off about Andy Warhol earlier in this thread. Well irrespective weather I agree with him or not, I let it go because I felt it would have been a side track from the point of your thread, but in retrospect.......

It doesn't matter if I or you or Alberto or anyone else here likes ANY particular form be it a piece of music or any piece of artistic form, what matters is that the individual that does appreciate it finds it satisfying. That's what matters when talking about something as subjective as art, the individual.

You want to get back to the theme of the thread? Education.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

If you want to start a classical thread, this man is why I first picked up a guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRz3AQx21y8

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

You apparently didn't read what I wrote. I said that universities -- which educate all elementary and secondary school teachers -- have music departments, which in conjunction with schools of education train music teachers. Although art and music may be subjective, there are objective, even technical elements that go into making art or music. I pointed out above that educators have said that there is some evidence that playing music or at least learning something about it can boast academic performance. Perhaps using the brain to concentrate on music helps cognitive development in other areas. I also mentioned "the system' in Venezuela which was started not only to allow more young people to learn to play instruments and be involved with an orchestra, but to help poor children to develop a positive interest. Playing music is several things, an accomplishment, a way of hearing sounds one would otherwise not hear, which may help listening to language, learning to work with others and to follow a leader, and again, something which might help learning in general in ways that are not fully understood by experts.

The point is that some parents take their kids to art museums, science museums, natural history museums, if there even is one in the local community, or may take them to the symphony, ballet, opera, or children's theatre. Many but not all parents read to their children. Some children, however, don't get this type of enrichment at home. Many parents can't afford it. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution museums and National Zoo which it operates are all free, but that is not the case in all cities these days. If politicians think that kids don't deserve exposure or experience with something like music, then what else do they think is educationally irrelevant? I don't equally like all pieces of classical music. People probably like some painters and paintings more than they do others. But when someone is exposed to something at a young age, I believe they are more likely to have some kind of sensitivity and response to it as they grow older.

If America has fallen behind in math and science, as some standardized, international tests suggest, I think it would also be of concern if we fall behind other countries in terms of art and music sensitivity, awareness, basic knowledge, or whatever you want to call it. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has said that civics instruction has been dropped from many schools, and she has been involved with a Web site that uses games to teach something about government to kids. The problem is that there is a difference between not being enthusiasic about something, and hating it. Maybe if the person had been taught something about it somewhere along the line when they were young, they may not love it, but the chance of their hating it would probably be less. Music and art as I also said above involves creativity, where as hate seems to be connected with destructiveness There is a old, somewhat hackneyed saying, if you don't have something good to say about someone or something, don't say anything at all.

Tribes in Africa have native dances and songs. Much of classical music is based on European folk music that was once known by "peasants" or in some cases by the Roma people. People who think it is just for royality, nobles, and elites don't know enough about it to come to that conclusion. Anything that broadens people's understanding and experience in a positive way very likely can be a part of education. There are different styles of art and music, and different genres. At the very least, knowing something about this demonstrates something about history, and how things change, while at the same time, remaining the same in some basic ways.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Robindell:

There are symphony orchestra in Asia. The last time I checked, Asia is East, not West.

There are music departments and schools of music in universities. If it is taught in college, it should be taught in elementary and secondary school. The determination as to what is taught need to be made by qualified educators, not someone who is not qualified.

Not everyone may be an art lover, but to come into an alledgedly progressive Web site and state a hatred for an art form is not progressive.

Read your last sentence and tell me where I've gone wrong because generally I agree with you that the arts and humanities need to be reinstituded into the primary school system as a first line defense and perhaps as a base line against anything else.

At any rate I hope you're enjoying the guitar;-)

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Actually rereading that I just wrote I need to try and rephrase it to say that the arts and humanities AS the base line to learn from.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Sorry Robin, not much to watch for video. It's just for listening, I'd suggest a decent sound system or a good set of head phones whilest you peruse the threads.

I think you discount the cross over of any artistic endeavors and the humanist studies a bit too readily. Or maybe 'readily' is the wrong word, perhaps offhandedly(?) is a better word. In any case, there is a very good case to be made that (all) the arts need to be introduced very early and with continued access to the same through out a persons academic experience.

No matter where they may center they learning towards, the arts will always enrich their lives whatever life they choose and will, even if they don't know it, help them along their way.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

Can Humanity Be Saved?

Thom plus logo As the Amazon is on fire and the Democratic Party refuses to hold a debate focused on climate change, an Australian think tank has come out with a report suggesting the possibility that climate change could destroy human civilization within as little as 30 years.
Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system