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Thread: Debunking classical music myths/misconceptions

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    Senior Member nefigah's Avatar
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    Default Debunking classical music myths/misconceptions

    Recently, there was a swell thread here about the common viewpoint that all classical music is "relaxing." Similarly, the other day I lent some music to a friend of mine as he was going on a long car trip. His comment? "Classical music is too repetitive." Boy, did that one baffle me a bit... out of all the genres to call repetitive! I didn't take the issue much further with him, but it got me thinking about how I would respond.

    Are you aware of any other widely-held generalizations about classical music that you don't hold to be correct? How would you address them?
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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    I think there's a certain tendency on the part of some to take that which they find incomprehensible or indiscernable and conclude that it has a patina of sameness about it. It's the same kind of thinking that's applied by folks who say "all you (people from another ethnic group) look alike to me." Ultimately, it's more of a comment on their paucity of perceptive powers than a relevant statement on the subject of their perception.

    As for the "debunking of classical music myths," I think the vast majority of people on this board are capable of some extensive "myth-busting"-- but receiving the "good news" of Classical Music requires a somewhat open mind and willingness to listen. Or, as the ol' parental unit(s) used to say "there are none so blind as those who WILL not see."

    An anecdote from my college years... I had a roommate- and he and his friends were listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out (which is actually a damn fine jazz album, but moving right along) and they were raving about the unconventional meters as though they had just discovered the philosopher's stone. Well, I submitted for their consideration an excerpt from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring... you know, the one where, when written in its original form, the time-signature changed every measure. No doubt I made my point that more extreme metric invention predated the likes of Brubeck by close to half-a-century... but I don't think I made any 'Stravinsky converts'- at least not that day...
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    Apparently, all classical music is slow also.

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    An anecdote from my college years... I had a roommate- and he and his friends were listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out (which is actually a damn fine jazz album, but moving right along) and they were raving about the unconventional meters as though they had just discovered the philosopher's stone. Well, I submitted for their consideration an excerpt from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring... you know, the one where, when written in its original form, the time-signature changed every measure. No doubt I made my point that more extreme metric invention predated the likes of Brubeck by close to half-a-century... but I don't think I made any 'Stravinsky converts'- at least not that day...
    I jazz lecturer at my uni thought that big band invented the idea of having soloists and small sections of the band (orchestra) play alone rather than everything always playing at the same time.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I once went to a junior high school production of "Oklahoma!" The program book stated that in the early 1940's Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein invented the idea of putting music together with a play to make musical theater.

    This was written by a music teacher.

    Also, last week a coworker stated that classical music is all stodgy and serious - translated to mean pretentious and snooty. I regreted not having a copy of Mozart's Ein Musikalischer Spaß on hand.

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    Super Moderator jhar26's Avatar
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    I think that the biggest problem is that many think that it's too complicated for them to enjoy it. They may respect it but think it's beyond them - or expect that it would be beyond them if they tried, and so they don't think it's worth the effort.

    Another prejudice that I've heard quite a few times is that classical music is establishment music and music for the rich. They basically think it's music for snobs while popular music genres such as rock, folk, jazz, blues, country, and so on is the music for the common man.

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    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    I jazz lecturer at my uni thought that big band invented the idea of having soloists and small sections of the band (orchestra) play alone rather than everything always playing at the same time.
    [/SIZE]
    Re you comments on unconvential meters,
    As some one that has loved both Classical and Jazz for more years than I like to think about I can only agree that the Dave Brubeck Qt was a very fine combo they did experiment with 5/4 7/4 and other meters even using both in the same piece, if I remember correctly they were the first to make it popular in the Jazz world
    Last edited by Andante; Dec-15-2008 at 02:46.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Classical music is elevator music, it's for smart people, elitist snobs, it's dry, very serious, devoid of any carnal pleasure, and one must listen while sporting a look of haughty disdain. I always wear my tuxedo when I listen to classical, even at home.
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    ... even at home.
    At home?? You listen to classical music leisurely at home?

    Certainly, you should be aware of the mores of the classical music community which state that classical music should only be heard in waiting rooms, telephone recordings, restaurants, or at formal social gatherings. Playing classical music for your own enjoyment undermines the sanctity of classical music.





    Of course, all this doesn't really help to debunk the myth that all classical enthusiasts are elitists. And whomever still believes classical music is "devoid of any carnal pleasure" hasn't heard any Stravinsky, or many others for that matter. Please tell me that you thought of that one just from off the top of your head.
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    Senior Member PostMinimalist's Avatar
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    Ah, myths... Double bassist play all the notes in fast passages!!
    Brass players don't drink.. at all!!!
    String players don't knit on the bus on tour (even the guys!)

    Apocryphal tales
    1. A coloured Contra bassonist (an excellent player called Gordon Laing) was playing in an orchestra directed by George Hurst (if I remember correctly) who was disgusted to see him reading a news paper while his instrument rested upright on it's stand towering above the woodwind section. He had 500 odd bars rest before he had to play and felt justified in bringing a paper to the rehearsal. George Hurst stopped the orchestra when he saw the paper and addressed the Contra player, "Contra-bassoon, could you please put that thing away, I don't want to see it again!?" The Contra player responded by folding the paper, puting it to one side, he then took the contrabassoon from the stand and layed it down flat on the ground, and finally picked up the paper again and unfurling it completely went on reading!
    True! I was there!
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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I once read a discussion of Bob Dylan's music (I can't remember for sure, but I think by Greil Marcus) which offered an idea - a kind of mental image, really - that I've found helpful ever since. It goes like this: the artist presents his work in a special kind of box, for us to contemplate. In order to appreciate properly what he's doing, we have to find some way of climbing inside the box with him. If we stay outside the box, we may get fragmentary glimmers of insight, but we'll never really appreciate what's going on.

    The comments about classical music being 'relaxing', or 'repetitive' are made by people who are outside the box. There's no way of countering such comments really, because the business isn't a matter of argument - it's a matter of perception. Once you're inside the box, you don't need to be persuaded. You see it for yourself.

    The reason I find the concept so useful is because it makes it possible to have an imaginative grasp of where all those comparable statements are coming from: statements such as "anyone can do that" (about abstract painting); "it's just a lot of unpleasant sounds" (about atonal music); or, indeed, "he can't sing" (about Bob Dylan).

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    Senior Member PostMinimalist's Avatar
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    More Myths
    The front desk of cellos in the Scottish Camber Orchestra was at one time two lads well known for their drinking abilities. There was a vacancy in the section and they had to give trials to some applicalnts which meant sitting at the front desk for a concert or two while the usual second palyer sat back in the section. There was one girl who was quite inoccent and of course the principle cellist got to the bar before the gig but didn't manage to get to the toilet before going on stage. The result was that he pissed himself onastage ifrint of this girl! He was so embarassed about the situation and he asked his mate to try to explain what happened. The second played immediately struck up a conversation with the girl about the first palyer and how good he was. Then he added that he gets very nervous on stage and sometimes he sweats rather a lot, at which point everybody else pissed themselves... laughing!

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    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Classical music is elevator music, it's for smart people, elitist snobs, it's dry, very serious, devoid of any carnal pleasure, and one must listen while sporting a look of haughty disdain. I always wear my tuxedo when I listen to classical, even at home.
    I must admit that some is better suited to the elevator [W.A.M]? but smart people don't use elevators, `The rest of your post makes no sense

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    nefigah, I'm certain your friend's impression that classical music is "too repetitious" is really about the length of pieces -- "twenty minutes ago this piece had a piano stomping around with an orchestra playing under it, and it still has a piano in the foreground accompanied by an orchestra!" And it's quite true that if your experience of music is that a song lasts four minutes and then stops (or fades out), a concerto or a symphony is this unbelievably extended thing. Maybe some Slavonic Dances or lieder would be a good gateway drug...

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    Tapkaara Devoid of carnal pleasure ???




    What do you want "Porn"??

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