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Thread: Did you know that "Classical Music is Inherently Racist?"

  1. #316
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Hear, hear, I salute you.



    No, it's not inherently racist to listen to Mozart. You should be aware, however, that this music was created in an exclusively white framework, and the growing attitude of cultural superiority it represents to many people, which must now be acknowledged.
    Sigh. No wonder you are annoying people with condescending comments like that. Do you think I have not long been acutely aware of that, as a lifelong classical music listener and performer? I never did it for a living, but I used to do the occasional paying job, and even owned a tux for the purpose. (In recent years, a black shirt and slacks were enough, thankfully.) Organizations that hire classical chamber music groups for their events often do so for image purposes. You could say it is to promote an image of elegance, or you could say it is to promote an image of elitism.

    But even if you say the latter, the problem is entirely in our society, not in Mozart, and certainly not in his music. He was equally at home, and prodigiously skilled, in writing elegant music for royalty, sacred music for the church, and raucous comedy for the masses. Thanks to the amazing scope of his abilities, his music gives us a broad picture of cultural life in the major cities of late-18th century Europe where he lived and worked, especially Vienna. My appreciation of it doesn't come with political or racial implications. As I said earlier, I appreciate Sam Cooke and Jimi Hendrix too.

    If some chose to use classical music as one of their symbols of elitism, or even of white supremacy, the evil lies in them, not in classical music.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BachIsBest View Post
    So just to be clear, being "colour blind" is not racist.
    God, far be it from me to run to support MR, but yes, it can be. Well: not actively racist. But if you live in a racist world and you don't notice that, because you personally treat everyone fairly and assume everyone else does too, then yes, you can be said to be condoning (or ignoring) the racism that goes on around you.

    If "I recruit on the basis of ability, not colour" sounds good, then you are ignoring (or are on the receiving end) of the fact that, say (and I'm just making the numbers up and assuming a 50/50 white/black population split generally) only 25% of college degrees are awarded to ...er... People of Colour (I apologise for the neologism but I don't know what counts as acceptable these days). Because only X% of PoC can get to University because their parents are or were discriminated against and thus have lower incomes, lower social expectations, go to worse schools and so on.

    To just say "I appoint on the basis of merit" is to ignore how merit is marked in most countries -and how poor and black people can find it hard to get a leg-up on that particular ladder.

    So yes, being 'blind to colour' can mean entrenching systemic discrimination (though I would argue, at least in the UK, that it's often a product of class discrimination rather than colour or race discrimination per se. I have no idea about the United States, just as Millionrainbows has slightly less understanding of what goes on in the United Kingdom... or the rest of Europe for that matter).

    So... deep breath. If one is "merely" colour blind, that can be construed as being content to look at the surface of things and ignore the in-built inequalities that are giving rise to a distorted surface. I put the double-quotes around 'merely' because, frankly, that's a bloody good first step! But it is only a first step.

    I don't mind anyone asking us to look at our society and re-think it, if it needs it. But I do have a problem with labelling tastes and cultural preferences as racist or class-ist or sexist etc. That I like Dickens doesn't mean I hate black authors and doesn't mean I'm a racist fan of 19th Century English White Literature to the exclusion of all other literatures. Neither does liking Bach or Mozart, especially if I also like Takemitsu or Coleridge-Taylor.

    It's the reductionism that's going on here that is wrong. And the fact that MR can only regurgitate ideas he's heard other people spout in a factually-problematic video. Also labelling people as racist about whom you know nothing and have less idea. That's just wrong.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Nov-21-2020 at 22:24.

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  5. #318
    Senior Member Flamme's Avatar
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    Back at the space bros...Who would thunk even outer visitors would have the nerve to be goldylocks, snowhites...How dare you??? I notice they stopped appearing to earthlings after ''human righs'' movements got into full swing! https://daily.jstor.org/our-space-br...men-after-all/
    https://www.amazon.com/Here-Help-UFO.../dp/9081549537
    But even the dreaded ''greys'' look more asian than black so we need to hold them accountable to produce some black and brown, muslimistic aliens, because, diversity...
    'Listen, Mister god!
    Isn't it boring
    to dip your puffy eyes,
    every day, into a jelly of clouds?'

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamme View Post
    Its kinda sad to see MR reduced to a trolling entity/bot...He knows better than that...
    What makes you think he knows better than that? You must have known him in a former life.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Speaking of John Cage and serialism, look at the resistance to the avant garde in the classical music community. The recent thread about John Cage is typical. These people want to "protect" the classical music paradigm as being "European music of the 18th century" and all that aesthetic carries with it.
    Laughable horse pucky. No one feels the need to "protect" the great heritage of Western music from the likes of John Cage.

    And if you want to dig for "racial" implications - as you evidently do - I would point out that Cage was a distinctly "white" man whose views were manifestations of the very "white," Western cultural phenomenon of Modernism. It wasn't a "black," "brown" or "yellow" person who autographed a urinal and stuck it in an art museum.

    EDIT: Oops! I forgot to include "red" people. Must be my racial guilt for stealing the continent from the Native Americans.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-21-2020 at 23:25.

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  9. #321
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Laughable horse pucky. No one feels the need to "protect" the great heritage of Western music from the likes of John Cage.

    And if you want to dig for "racial" implications - as you evidently do - I would point out that Cage was a distinctly "white" man whose views were manifestations of the very "white," Western cultural phenomenon of Modernism. It wasn't a "black," "brown" or "yellow" person who autographed a urinal and stuck it in an art museum.

    EDIT: Oops! I forgot to include "red" people. Must be my racial guilt for stealing the continent from the Native Americans.
    Agreed. Moreover, Sigh again. Why the endless debate about John Cage? He lived from 1912 until 1992. Most of his best known work dates back to the 40s, 50s and 60s. To the extent he was an "avant-garde" composer, the regiment has long since caught up and marched past.

    I think the reason is, much of his work is not so much avant-garde as countercultural, intentionally provocative and designed to undermine, and force the re-examination of, the audience's most basic assumptions about music and art. As he well knew, the price he would pay, and did pay, for his provocations was a backlash of anger, ridicule, and rejection, all of which he cheerfully accepted, though he seemed to try to soften these negative reactions with his modesty and good humor.

    Today we think of people like Cage more as conceptual artists than classical music composers, classical visual artists or classical writers. Love them or hate them, they have a place in, an an influence on, our cultural world. I agree, the great heritage of Western music does not have to be protected from the likes of him. They actually enhance that heritage by encouraging us to think about it more deeply, what its foundations are, where it comes from, and how it might evolve.

    I also believe non-Western influences, that became much more pronounced in the 20th century though they began earlier, have enhanced Western music. Maybe that's why I'm comfortable refuting the charges of racism and elitism. I happy to consider ideas from sources neither white nor European.

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  11. #322
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamme View Post
    Its kinda sad to see MR reduced to a trolling entity/bot...He knows better than that...
    I find him still very original with his comments

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    You are receiving a warning at TalkClassical for chiding and mocking other members. Please refrain from this and keep your posts polite and civil.

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  13. #323
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Agreed. Moreover, Sigh again. Why the endless debate about John Cage? He lived from 1912 until 1992. Most of his best known work dates back to the 40s, 50s and 60s. To the extent he was an "avant-garde" composer, the regiment has long since caught up and marched past.
    I do find it odd that some people - oh, all right, millionrainbows - find the ideas of modernist aesthetics so relevant to us today that Cage and other mid-20th-century artists should be dug up and held up as litmus tests to show how enlightened and hip we are. To me, just turned 71, a mere sprout when 4'33" was sprung on the universe, the debates of that era feel like ancient history, and I for one have long since made my peace with anything that was new and scary in 1950. I attach no "higher" significance to my liking or disliking the products of that era (or any era), and I and don't give a fig whether anyone thinks my sensibilities need improving or whether some pointy-headed academic thinks they betray some arcane sort of cultural or "racial" bias. I suspect most music lovers here feel similarly.

    I think the reason is, much of his work is not so much avant-garde as countercultural, intentionally provocative and designed to undermine, and force the re-examination of, the audience's most basic assumptions about music and art. As he well knew, the price he would pay, and did pay, for his provocations was a backlash of anger, ridicule, and rejection, all of which he cheerfully accepted, though he seemed to try to soften these negative reactions with his modesty and good humor.
    Reasonable point, although various strains of artistic Modernism - dada, surrealism, the theater of the absurd - were very much interested in subverting or undermining people's expectations and provoking such reexaminations. Cage's idiosyncracies fit comfortably within that Modernist tradition.

    Today we think of people like Cage more as conceptual artists than classical music composers, classical visual artists or classical writers. Love them or hate them, they have a place in, an an influence on, our cultural world. I agree, the great heritage of Western music does not have to be protected from the likes of him. They actually enhance that heritage by encouraging us to think about it more deeply, what its foundations are, where it comes from, and how it might evolve.

    I also believe non-Western influences, that became much more pronounced in the 20th century though they began earlier, have enhanced Western music. Maybe that's why I'm comfortable refuting the charges of racism and elitism. I happy to consider ideas from sources neither white nor European.
    Elitism is very much in the mind of the listener. It is rarely in the mind of the composer. Even the composer of those long, intense, musically and conceptually complex music dramas, Wagner, hoped in his heart of hearts that his works would prove accessible to people and speak to the broad mass of humanity. The supposedly elitist art we call classical music was rarely written with the assumption that "ordinary" people would fail to appreciate it - rarely, that is, until the Modernist era. Such phrases as "epatez les bourgeois," "burn down the opera houses" and "who cares if you listen?" could not have been uttered by artists before the 20th century. They sure sound elitist to me, and in this thread the only whiff of elitism I detect is coming from the million-rainbow-colored incense pot sitting on the altar to the dead white gods of old-fashioned Modernism.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-22-2020 at 08:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I think the reason is, much of his work is not so much avant-garde as countercultural, intentionally provocative and designed to undermine, and force the re-examination of, the audience's most basic assumptions about music and art.
    That sounds like Cage is making us question the paradigm of Western classical music, like I just got through saying. You can't have it both ways.

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    Senior Member Handelian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Agreed. Moreover, Sigh again. Why the endless debate about John Cage? He lived from 1912 until 1992. Most of his best known work dates back to the 40s, 50s and 60s. To the extent he was an "avant-garde" composer, the regiment has long since caught up and marched past.

    I think the reason is, much of his work is not so much avant-garde as countercultural, intentionally provocative and designed to undermine, and force the re-examination of, the audience's most basic assumptions about music and art. As he well knew, the price he would pay, and did pay, for his provocations was a backlash of anger, ridicule, and rejection, all of which he cheerfully accepted, though he seemed to try to soften these negative reactions with his modesty and good humor.

    Today we think of people like Cage more as conceptual artists than classical music composers, classical visual artists or classical writers. Love them or hate them, they have a place in, an an influence on, our cultural world. I agree, the great heritage of Western music does not have to be protected from the likes of him. They actually enhance that heritage by encouraging us to think about it more deeply, what its foundations are, where it comes from, and how it might evolve.

    I also believe non-Western influences, that became much more pronounced in the 20th century though they began earlier, have enhanced Western music. Maybe that's why I'm comfortable refuting the charges of racism and elitism. I happy to consider ideas from sources neither white nor European.
    Funny as Cage has had no influence whatever on my cultural world as I never listen to him. I will admit that 4’33” is more listenable to than any other of his works but that seems to me just a mere stunt. But nihilists are no doubt captivated by it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Handelian View Post
    Funny as Cage has had no influence whatever on my cultural world as I never listen to him. I will admit that 4’33” is more listenable to than any other of his works but that seems to me just a mere stunt. But nihilists are no doubt captivated by it.
    Of course you don't listen to John Cage's music; you want to protect your exclusive definition of classical music as "the music of white European males of the 18th century," whether you acknowledge that or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Of course you don't listen to John Cage's music; you want to protect your exclusive definition of classical music as "the music of white European males of the 18th century," whether you acknowledge that or not.
    You are absolutely hilarious! Hasn't it occurred to you that I might not listen to John Cage's music simply because I don't like it rather than these fanciful ideas that you come out with? The same reason I don't eat jellied eels - I don't like them. Nothing to do with my racial bias I assure you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I do find it odd that some people - oh, all right, millionrainbows - find the ideas of modernist aesthetics so relevant to us today that Cage and other mid-20th-century artists should be dug up and held up as litmus tests to show how enlightened and hip we are.
    "Hip?" How quaint.

    Just the opposite: An aversion to John Cage's music is a sure sign that the listener wants to preserve the old definition of classical music as "the music of white European males of the 18th century."

    To me, just turned 71, a mere sprout when 4'33" was sprung on the universe, the debates of that era feel like ancient history, and I for one have long since made my peace with anything that was new and scary in 1950. I attach no "higher" significance to my liking or disliking the products of that era (or any era), and I and don't give a fig whether anyone thinks my sensibilities need improving or whether some pointy-headed academic thinks they betray some arcane sort of cultural or "racial" bias. I suspect most music lovers here feel similarly.
    You're going to find that your older paradigm which you are so comfortable with is being questioned and examined even as we speak.

    Elitism ...is rarely in the mind of the composer. Even the composer of those long, intense, musically and conceptually complex music dramas, Wagner, hoped in his heart of hearts that his works would prove accessible to people and speak to the broad mass of humanity.
    That's because there was no need at that time to think outside the box, or question the basic definition of classical music.

    The supposedly elitist art we call classical music was rarely written with the assumption that "ordinary" people would fail to appreciate it - rarely, that is, until the Modernist era.
    That's an inaccurate generalization. As classical music progressed, more difficult works emerged which might be said to be out of the ordinary listener's ability to fully grasp: Strauss' Elektra and Metamorphosen for example.

    Such phrases as "epatez les bourgeois," "burn down the opera houses" and "who cares if you listen?" could not have been uttered by artists before the 20th century. They sure sound elitist to me, and in this thread the only whiff of elitism I detect is coming from the million-rainbow-colored incense pot sitting on the altar to the dead white gods of old-fashioned Modernism.
    You act as if "modernism" is a personal insult to audiences. More objectively, what it does is question the paradigm of "classical music."

    You're just a 71-year-old conservative who thrives on Wagner and the old paradigm. Just because you can't get into modern music which lies outside that CM paradigm doesn't say anything about music, audiences or composers; but only about you.

    I don't see why that should be so difficult for you to "admit."
    After all, you're a white male who likes "white music:" music created by white males in the 18th-19th centuries.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-22-2020 at 13:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    . . . Just the opposite: An aversion to John Cage's music is a sure sign that the listener wants to preserve the old definition of classical music as "the music of white European males of the 18th century." . . .

    . . . as something other than pseudo-philosophical stunts, bits of glass and metal falling around inside pianos, and barking dogs. (I think that is a more accurate statement than the one made.) The productions of John Cage are probably not the best hill on which to fight the battle you propose, as there are perfectly reasonable, and widely shared, reasons for not being devotees of it.
    Last edited by JAS; Nov-22-2020 at 13:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Handelian View Post
    You are absolutely hilarious! Hasn't it occurred to you that I might not listen to John Cage's music simply because I don't like it rather than these fanciful ideas that you come out with? The same reason I don't eat jellied eels - I don't like them. Nothing to do with my racial bias I assure you!
    That's because you don't recognize that your preferred music's ideology is unstated and unacknowledged by you, to preserve its dominance.
    Last edited by mmsbls; Nov-22-2020 at 21:19. Reason: removed inappropriate comment

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