Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How classical music lost its audience

Contemporary classical music is increasingly irrelevant to most people today. Yes, orchestral scores are written for film, some very inventive and beautiful, but as a genre, western art music has pretty much lost its way, disappeared so far up it's own arse that it can see the conductor just past the tonsils. Why is this?

ISJ has published an excellent article by Simon Behrman on the subject of classical music today, noting how what was once popular music (in the sense of populace) was in effect stolen by bourgois wankers intent on seeing themselves as superior. For example, prior to (and even during) Beethoven's time, the "town band" was often synonymous with "orchestra", in that the musicians were skilled but not isolated in a "classical" tradition which scorned (say) fairground dance music - the performers would have played all kinds of music.

I myself suspect that in fact the MAJORITY of melodies and forms of classical music have been lifted directly from "popular" music; not just obvious examples such as Bartok, RVW and Ives, but the work of almost every "composer" since and possibly before Bach. My contention is that this debt to "folk" music is rarely acknowledged by those who consider themselves connaisseurs of classical music... though I need to investigate this further.


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