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

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAS View Post
    I understand that his work on mushrooms is pretty laudable.
    I'm not sure, because I've never tried that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanantone View Post
    so is your assumption that composers are out to con you.
    the great john cage paradigm heist

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    John Cage: "Mushroom Haiku" and "At the Middle"


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    John Cage : The Perilous Night (1943-44)
    Aki Takahashi (recorded in 2007)


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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    And yet they all had to meet deadlines to fulfill commissions in order to be paid. I don't buy the posterity motivation. It is BS. Of all those quotes Petty sounds the most real and least pretentious.

    I did say that the hero-composer-genius was something that came about during the Romantic era. Both before and after, those kinds of quotes are not found unless by excessively narcissistic pathologically egocentric individuals.
    Yes, these quotes, and many more I could find from the 18th century to the present, seem pretentious and over the top to us. Tom Petty had a vastly more down-to-earth way of expressing himself, but imo the point he was making was similar to the one I'm trying to make. The purpose of his music was to give his audience a plain old good time, not to try to inspire them with lofty principles or profound truths. And he was highly skilled at doing just that.

    The classical artist must aim high, and the task isn't an easy one. My guess is that the "egotistical blowhard" comments are as much directed by the artist to himself as to his reader, as it takes an unwavering belief in oneself and in the importance of what one is doing to do what they did.

    Johann Sebastian Bach derived this belief in the importance of his art from his faith: "The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where this is not observed there will be no music, but only a devilish hubbub." Similarly but much more recently, Igor Stravinsky: "Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament."

    Other composers, particularly modern ones, carefully avoid invoking a deity, yet still claim their paths were mandated by some fundamental force or principle, usually unnamed: Pierre Boulez: "It is not enough to deface the Mona Lisa because that does not kill the Mona Lisa. All art of the past must be destroyed." Arnold Schoenberg: "If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art."

    Another 100 paragraphs would not be enough to summarize all the pompous self-justification of Richard Wagner's writings. But getting all of that on paper helped him write great music.

    And finally, and at more length, Aaron Copland tried the gentler and more modest approach of trying to convince the reader of the importance of his work with logic: "Most people seem to resent the controversial in music; they don't want their listening habits disturbed. They use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living. But serious music was never meant to be used as a soporific. Contemporary music, especially, is created to wake you up, not put you to sleep. It is meant to stir and excite you, to move you--it may even exhaust you. But isn't that the kind of stimulation you go to the theater for or read a book for? Why make an exception for music?"

    But in the end, how different is Copland's quote from the others?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Yes, these quotes, and many more I could find from the 18th century to the present, seem pretentious and over the top to us. Tom Petty had a vastly more down-to-earth way of expressing himself, but imo the point he was making was similar to the one I'm trying to make. The purpose of his music was to give his audience a plain old good time, not to try to inspire them with lofty principles or profound truths. And he was highly skilled at doing just that.

    The classical artist must aim high, and the task isn't an easy one. My guess is that the "egotistical blowhard" comments are as much directed by the artist to himself as to his reader, as it takes an unwavering belief in oneself and in the importance of what one is doing to do what they did.

    Johann Sebastian Bach derived this belief in the importance of his art from his faith: "The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where this is not observed there will be no music, but only a devilish hubbub." Similarly but much more recently, Igor Stravinsky: "Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament."

    Other composers, particularly modern ones, carefully avoid invoking a deity, yet still claim their paths were mandated by some fundamental force or principle, usually unnamed: Pierre Boulez: "It is not enough to deface the Mona Lisa because that does not kill the Mona Lisa. All art of the past must be destroyed." Arnold Schoenberg: "If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art."

    Another 100 paragraphs would not be enough to summarize all the pompous self-justification of Richard Wagner's writings. But getting all of that on paper helped him write great music.

    And finally, and at more length, Aaron Copland tried the gentler and more modest approach of trying to convince the reader of the importance of his work with logic: "Most people seem to resent the controversial in music; they don't want their listening habits disturbed. They use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living. But serious music was never meant to be used as a soporific. Contemporary music, especially, is created to wake you up, not put you to sleep. It is meant to stir and excite you, to move you--it may even exhaust you. But isn't that the kind of stimulation you go to the theater for or read a book for? Why make an exception for music?"

    But in the end, how different is Copland's quote from the others?
    You can have your opinion and find some quotes, but for me all artists (no matter what genre) are motivated essentially by a desire to create art, whatever it is, a symphony, or a song. Only the most crass hacks do it purely for money, and I'm not saying those kinds of musicians don't exist, I'm saying they are not the ones I'm talking about. Because there are classical musicians who are also motivated by becoming celebrities and making as much money as they can. Hacks exist in all the arts, as well as true creative artists.

    Aaron Copland has his ideas, but I don't elevate classical music above any other kind and know many musicians working outside classical music with the highest aspirations about creating art as any classical musician.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    John Cage : The Perilous Night (1943-44)
    Aki Takahashi (recorded in 2007) . . .
    And this is supposed to be posted for the sake of endorsing in Cage's favor? Just checking since it is the kind of thing that I might post for the exact opposite reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAS View Post
    And this is supposed to be posted for the sake of endorsing in Cage's favor? Just checking since it is the kind of thing that I might post for the exact opposite reason.
    I thought we were having one ... and I like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I thought we were having one ... and I like it.
    I have always felt that the best part of a Cage composition was the title . . . and the moments after it has ended.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAS View Post
    I have always felt that the best part of a Cage composition was the title . . . and the moments after it has ended.
    Yeah, we get it, you don't like the music of John Cage. I don't like Wagner, but don't feel I have to broadcast it all over the forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post

    Aaron Copland has his ideas, but I don't elevate classical music above any other kind
    I don't either.

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    and know many musicians working outside classical music with the highest aspirations about creating art as any classical musician.
    So do I. I happen to be a very big fan of jazz, blues, classic rock, folk, bluegrass, tin pan alley, Broadway musicals old and new, among other things. At their very best, all of those genres can transcend time and place, as I am sure do other genres I'm not as familiar with. Sorry if I seemed to imply otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I make that distinction as a matter of definition, Millionrainbows, not as a value judgment. I define popular music as music created with the goal of capturing the zeitgeist of a particular time and place and reaching the largest possible audience, or perhaps the largest possible part of a particular demographic, at that moment. I define classical music as music created with the goal of expressing profound and universal ideas that transcend time and place rather than making the greatest possible immediate impact on a specific demographic. The distinction isn't perfect, all-encompassing or absolute, but I think it does exist. Both kinds of music are hard to do well.
    Your distinction is completely legitimate and in no way "exclusivist" or "elitist." Brahms and Johann Strauss were good friends and mutual admirers, and we can be sure they understood the difference between the kinds of work they were doing. I know the difference too, and I love them both.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-25-2020 at 05:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Yeah, we get it, you don't like the music of John Cage. I don't like Wagner, but don't feel I have to broadcast it all over the forum.
    Just your lust for Brahms

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I think all good music is created from the same reason: the composer/songwriter wished to create the best example within his power of the kind of music he wanted to hear.
    How does this address the reality that dfferent kinds of art aspire to say different things, and that some of those things are subtler, deeper, more complex, and even healthier and more moral than others?

    Bach wrote music for his time, weekly cantatas, and other kinds of music for immediate use and he probably did not think about posterity. He was writing the best music he could for a specific very earthbound reason. The same is true for Haydn and all composers. It was only with the Romantic period that the idea of the hero composer was spawned, probably in the wake of Beethoven. Still, all classical music was written for a opera, a concert, a commission, a religious purpose, and other kinds of practical considerations.

    Today composers still respond to commissions for specific venues and ensembles.

    Songwriters respond to opportunities and the market. But the bottomline is all but hacks are writing the best music they can under the circumstances that gave rise to the opportunity for their work.

    I have never met or seen a quote from any composer or writer of any kind who said with a straight face that they were writing to express "profound and universal ideas that transcend time and place."
    In general, artists don't try to articulate all the aesthetic and ideological goals of their work, with a straight face or otherwise. The wise artist, confident in his abilities, wants his work to speak for itself. The common experience of those who apprecate art (music or any art) is that some artists' goals and achievements are more ambitious than others. They try to do more, to say more, to push us closer to the limits of our cognitive abilities and our subjective experience of life.

    Occasionally composers let slip their aspirations and their understanding of what their art can, and hopefully does, say. Handel, one of those 18th-century hacks writing "for the market," said of his Messiah (I paraphrase slightly), "I should be sorry if I merely entertained people. I had hoped to make them better." Mozart expressed pleasure in his music's ability to appeal to both popular and sophisticated tastes. Beethoven was quite clear about his high artistic ambitions. Wagner too. Even a "popular" composer like Verdi, his eye unavoidably on the box office, never ceased to push his art's boundaries in search of greater depth of expression. I could go on.

    The urge to "equalize" artistic achievements as if they were somehow akin to citizens in a democratic state simply baffles me.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-25-2020 at 17:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Then you haven't looked very hard: Franz Schubert: "I am composing like a god, as if it simply had to be done as it has been done." Frederic Chopin: ""I'm a revolutionary, money means nothing to me." Beethoven: "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy"; and "There are and will be a thousand princes, there is only one Beethoven." In contrast: Tom Petty: "It [i.e., rock 'n' roll music] isn't supposed to be that good."
    Thanks for saying what I just said, but with more punch. Nothing better than quotes for that.

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