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To an extent its a bit of a boogeyman. The aspects of classical music which have "actual" elitist connotations (for instance-the association with the literal social elite which was the clergy) are of far less importance nowadays.

Usually I hear elitist in one of two connotations - one is the concern that classical music has a small, generally well educated, wealthy and old audience that the speaker would like to expand - whether due to marketing concerns, or simply because they want the music to spread more.

The other use of "elitist" I tend to see is to describe disdain at other musical practices as explicitly having less cultural or musical value - though this is not a practice limited to classical music. I've seen hip-hop, prog, electronic, noise music, and pop music elitists.
 

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I see this in all aspects of life.

This is by no means confided to classical music.

A secure person seldoms sees elitism or arrogance in another. An insecure person sees it all around him. Especially when they are "out of their element" or have an inordinate attachment to the mores of their tribe.
There is a certain personality trait where one feels insecure, off-put or otherwise disdainful when someone else simply has a greater interest in a certain topic. I've seen this with art, but also things as simple as cooking, alcohol, fashion and sports.
 

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I apologize if this is drifting off-topic, but the intended disposability of a lot of popular music* got me thinking.

One of the big effects I credit the post-modern view of art is the breaking-down of inherent ideas of "importance" in art - I think a lot of this can trace back to technology - when preserving music took a lot of time and effort in the form of writing sheet-music, what got preserved were things like liturgical music which was considered sacred and worth preserving. Now that critical views are more oriented toward a rejection of inherent ideas of "importance", and that we have the technology to do so, we are extremely hesitant to deem anything disposable or ephemeral. The idea that we have entire movies and television shows which are completely lost because they simply weren't deemed worth preserving back in the 50s or so- for instance- offends our current sensibilities - since everything is valuable, we want to preserve everything.

It even offends our contemporary sensibilities to an extent when we hear that Brahms destroyed some of his music that he deemed unworthy - nowadays, we want to poke through the archives and see what we can find.

*one of my favorite genres of music started out as extremely ephemeral by nature - you can listen to a lot of old house and techno tracks and they sound extremely simple - this isn't just due to style, but because this music was intended to be mixed live - a lot of it is fun to listen to on its own, but a lot of the intended use of the music was ephemeral, because the actual experience of listening to it requires a DJ to mix tracks into each other in a live set.
 

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If you think Classical music is the only music that has that kind of depth, you would be mistaken.
I think it's fair to ask of classical music (and any genre of music) what is unique about it. Instead of things like "why is classical music so much better than xxx (where 'xxx' is invariably either pop music, or music made by black people)" I tend to try to frame it as "What uniquely sets classical music apart?" in terms of style, techniques, practices, and listening conventions.

There are not many forms of music as fixated on tonality, and specifically the use of tonality/atonality for emotional effect, for instance (which makes all the "tonality is natural" arguments really funny- classical music is borderline unnatural - and therefore somewhat unique - for how fixated on tonality it is).
 

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Blue-collar has become more of a cultural affectation than a class identifier these days. Hence pickup trucks which cost as much as luxury cars, and are the size of Iowa.


of course, the wealthy affecting the practices of the proles as a fashion or cultural statement is nothing new, but there's something uniquely off-putting when I see a rich person trying to sell himself as a salt-of-the-earth ordinary guy.
 

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Why ask those questions? Unless you re writing an article what difference does it make what you think is unique about Classical music. There are all kinds of Classical music anyway all with different ways of being unique. I tend to think of all composers are unique, writing their music which has been lumped into a genre we call Classical music. But that is merely a label, which I think of as so reductive as to be meaningless.

I don't separate how I think about Bach, Debussy, or Boulez from Louis Armstrong, Frank Zappa, or Drake. Their music either interests me or not and I listen to and often enjoy it all.

While I generally agree with your post, but I don't ever think about the tonal/atonal or Classical/non-Classical question - they are superficial concerns, IMO.
I find it important to think about such things to an extent because how I approach music does change depending on what it is. Some people, like yourself, perhaps can separate themselves from learned expectations of form and context - but I find that it facilitates my enjoyment if I have a context of the musical conventions of the culture or cultural scene which produced art, and how the composer or writer approached their work within those conventions.

And also - because I think so much art is valuable in its own way because all art brings at least something to the table. I listen to other music because there are things I get from them that classical music rarely provides- and there are conversely things classical music brings to me that other music rarely provides.

I think it's fair to ask- what *specifically* people get out of classical music that sets it apart from other music without necessarily putting it on a pedestal as the be-all-end-all of civilization. This, I think, is a more appropriate way to put it than the boredom of yet another "Why is classical music objectively better than rap music" thread.
 

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hah. well, to be fair, country singers are at least operating in a genre where salt-of-the-earth narratives are expected, and this is art- fakery and suspension of disbelief are part of show business to an extent.

now - Harvard and Yale-educated politicians acting like they're blue-collar? that's where I draw the line. I've had enough of car dealers, dentists, and landlords thinking they're hard-working, put-upon proletarian workers just because they own a Ford F-350.
 

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Historically speaking, quotidian things can be of immense interest as well, and even then, I think there's a resistance to categorize anything as not worth preserving.
 
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