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But what I know for sure is that there are better and worse ways to appreciate classical music, and I strive to do it in the best ways only.
Thank you, I think your post is in the spirit of the OP. That is because you have re-focused attention onto the music itself, which you strive to appreciate in the best ways. The problem with "elitist" and "elitism" is that they imply by association that the systems and societies that once produced classical music are still dominant in the way they used to, or that the people who are devoted to classical music still share the socio-cultural attitudes of those systems and societies. Those ideas have to be proven, not assumed. And I believe that the efforts we make as listeners, performers, composers, and so on bring us closer to the nature of classical music than does any amount of class analysis.
 

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I may have misinterpreted your post, but you seemed to have a near gleeful indifference at the (supposedly) pending demise of opera. It just seemed so strange to me that one wouldn't care (and even exhibit a certain glee) about the demise of something that is so deeply important to many people, past and present.
I'm making this argument on principle (and note that in consideration of people who enjoy opera, I wrote the part in bold below).

Fair enough, but with opera in particular, I think there's no other issue as big as how they can survive in a financial sense. Honestly, with the enormous overheads they have, I think that categorising is superfluous.

If we where back in the day of Mahler and Richard Strauss, who said Lehar was basically rubbish, there wouldn't be opera anymore. Not that I particularly care about opera, but there are many others who do. So I'm saying these changes are probably inevitable, and necessary for its survival.
I am aware of treading on thin ice by saying this on a classical forum, but my main point was about how without change, opera can die.

As an opera lover myself, I have no issues with opera theatres being used for musicals and don't really see why anyone would. No one is claiming musicals are operas or vice-versa, or that they offer the same kind of artistic experience (I think one of the chief problems with modern enjoyment of operas is that people approach them expecting a sort of musical just with classical music).
Fair enough, and my point is that it doesn't really matter how we categorise what is performed there.

As a historical note, I think it is a bit inaccurate to say that folk music turned into popular music. Folk music was often (not always) performed by amateur musicians to people with little to no money. Popular music relies on the middle class created by industrialisation; it is performed by professional musicians to many people who are paying decent money. Before industrialization, the average joe simply didn't have the sort of money to make "pop music" a reality. Pop music, although it can trace its origins back a bit farther, is really a post-war phenomenon.
This isn't my conversation, science will probably give his own reply, but I'll chime in briefly.

I think an important aspect is dissemination, especially how music came into ordinary people's homes.

In the 19th century, you had more people being able to afford music lessons, the development of market for printed sheet music and mass production of instruments, especially upright pianos.

I see the 20th century equivalent of this to be the development of recording technology.
 

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Thank you, I think your post is in the spirit of the OP. That is because you have re-focused attention onto the music itself, which you strive to appreciate in the best ways. The problem with "elitist" and "elitism" is that they imply by association that the systems and societies that once produced classical music are still dominant in the way they used to, or that the people who are devoted to classical music still share the socio-cultural attitudes of those systems and societies. Those ideas have to be proven, not assumed. And I believe that the efforts we make as listeners, performers, composers, and so on bring us closer to the nature of classical music than does any amount of class analysis.
I actually meant that comment as a self-referential and self-deprecating joke because like everyone else I have an elitist attitude to music.
 

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As a historical note, I think it is a bit inaccurate to say that folk music turned into popular music. Folk music was often (not always) performed by amateur musicians to people with little to no money. Popular music relies on the middle class created by industrialisation; it is performed by professional musicians to many people who are paying decent money. Before industrialization, the average joe simply didn't have the sort of money to make "pop music" a reality. Pop music, although it can trace its origins back a bit farther, is really a post-war phenomenon.
Yeah this is a good point. To some extent popular music basically originated as recorded folk music, even though there was something like low-class music for performance ("Home Sweet Home" and so on) even before recording.
 

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Yeah this is a good point. To some extent popular music basically originated as recorded folk music, even though there was something like low-class music for performance ("Home Sweet Home" and so on) even before recording.
I think Sid James is right that the development of popular music as a major commercial phenomenon goes back to the mid-19th century and the creation of a middle class with money and leisure time that could afford to buy a piano for the parlor and lessons on how to play it. Before there were records there was sheet music, and lots of it. But where did the music itself come from? Partly from folk traditions, no doubt about it, and some transcriptions from the opera and symphonic worlds as well, but mainly from a growing group of song writers looking to write money-making hits.

And that, imo, is the fundamental difference between popular music and classical and folk music of any time or culture, or any other longstanding musical tradition. Popular music is created to be the biggest possible hit with as large an audience as possible as quickly as possible. It can and does borrow from longstanding musical traditions, and in turn can be a source for and influence on longstanding music traditions or even result in the genesis of new ones. Its practitioners can be highly skilled and innovative. But most of it exists for its own time, to be forgotten soon afterwards. If you disagree, go to an antique shop that has a huge pile of 19th and early 20th century sheet music and patiently look through it all.
 

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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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As I see the world, nothing is more important to most people than belonging to a group and being respected and valued by other people in their group. Music and other aspects of culture -- dialect, styles of clothing, religion -- is ordinarily a way of reaffirming group membership.

In complex hierarchical societies, the ruling elite form a group and as usual music is one of the ways that they affirm each other's membership in the group. Probably every society that has had a court has had court music. Of course each particular society develops its own particular idiosyncrasies.
You totally get it. Very well put.
 

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You mention clothing and you look at someone like Steve Jobs, who was famous for wearing cheap casual clothes, that sort of slumming it goes back to the French Revolution. The sans-culottes didn't wear wigs and ditched breeches for ordinary work wear, basically amounting to a rough suit and pants set, which was eventually taken up by the bourgeois.

This is how trends tend to change, and although it inevitably starts on the streets, it becomes more legit when people who matter take it up. The thing is though that someone like Steve Jobs can set a trend by doing something ordinary, but if I wore a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers to work, my boss would say "What are you doing?" :lol:
In business we seek our the innovator (starts on the streets) to wear our products. Then we market to the early adaptors (people who matter).
Once it hits the mass market, the innovator has moved on. If you allow your product to reach what we call the laggards, it is done.
 

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what I know for sure is that there are better and worse ways to appreciate classical music, and I strive to do it in the best ways only.
Can you explain a bit for a classical music novice such as myself? Thanks
 

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Im a blue collar...Even if I had millions of $...
 

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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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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.
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.

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).
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.
 

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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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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.
Indeed. But Louis Armstrong and Frank Zappa (and perhaps Drake too) are prime examples of popular musicians so creative and innovative they were able to transcend the popular music genre their work could nominally be categorized within and create something of lasting cultural influence and significance. For me, the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington has already reached the status of a classical music tradition, and I think Zappa won't be far behind.
 

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there's something uniquely off-putting when I see a rich person trying to sell himself as a salt-of-the-earth ordinary guy.
You mean EVERY modern country singer, I think.
 

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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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Indeed. But Louis Armstrong and Frank Zappa (and perhaps Drake too) are prime examples of popular musicians so creative and innovative they were able to transcend the popular music genre their work could nominally be categorized within and create something of lasting cultural influence and significance. For me, the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington has already reached the status of a classical music tradition, and I think Zappa won't be far behind.
I don't even consider what I hear as uninteresting music, including that among Classical music. So I won't talk about any composers or musicians unless I find their work interesting and of a certain quality.
 
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