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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Classical Music Today

Views: 233
Comments: 1
It's funny how classical music performance has changed?

It's far from commercial - and appeals to a select audience of people.  It does not fall under the 'current canon' of music and concerts are usually largely subsidised by public bodies.

Classical concerts in modern day are usually in celebration to the composers of the pieces - take a look through any concert hall's listings and you will see it as "Violinist X in an evening of BACH!" Very rarely do we get to experience the music as it was originally written for - it seems the whole fuel behind the genre has shifted from celebration to restoration.

Taking Bach, for example; Bach's job, as a composer, was to write music which could be played at church that Sunday. He would be commissioned, by the church, to write a cantata during the week and then perform it to the congregation that Sunday - and then the next week, the same again. This was composition with purpose - as the music was to fit an event. Even if it was not for a specific event (Most notable composers were commissioned by bodies to write for events) - they still wrote their own ideas and generated audiences of spectators who would come to experience that composer's work.

Therefore, for the most part, Classical Concerts didn't need elaborate marketing and advertising strategies or Public Relations companies - the audience would have either been attending the event for an another reason (such as a wedding, a birthday, a church congregation) or the reputation of the composer had drawn the spectators from all over to witness their latest pieces being performed.

This is composition - the art. Now it seems that classical composition is dying - and we are more focused on appreciation, as if the ability to compose for orchestras is in extinction.

Personally, I don't know too many modern day composers. Certainly I wouldn't rush to my nearest theatre or concert hall to witness their latest symphony - because their reputations don't speak for themselves. What is it that draws crowds in classical music? It's performances of critical pieces - Toccata & Fugue in Dm, Beethoven's 5th, Profokiev's 1st - these are all well known, historical pieces which, should they be played, would generate enough interest for an audience. The performance is an appreciation, and adaptation, of the popular works by the great composers.

What if I wanted to write a symphony - we'll call it Josh's 1st Symphony? Would I have the opportunity to approach an orchestra and ask that they play it for me? Probably not, the orchestra have salaries and therefore need to generate income and as such can't afford to waste time 'trialling out' new pieces - because they have to stick with what they know to be secure pieces; ones guaranteed to get an audience.

But even if I was fortunate enough to complete an entire symphony and hear it being played by a generous orchestra - then what? Would radio stations be throwing royalties at me like they do to the likes of Lady Gaga or whoever the next generation Madonna is? Of course they wouldn't.

Because there is no demand for the music. Classical composition has been completely stifled by the fact that its futile should somebody wish to make something from it. I don't doubt there are many people sitting in their bedrooms composing pieces for their own satisfaction - I myself am one of them - but to actually have that piece propel into the world and become something; the chances are very slim.

Classical music doesn't sell products to mass markets. The ferocious finale of Shostakovich's 5th isn't exactly going to make me want to rush out and by a Coke - however, show some reality talent show contestant drinking a can with their perfect air-brushed smile and perfectly auto-tuned voice and watch as hundreds of thousands of teenage girls flock to drink Coke.

So what is the solution? Burn all hymnbooks and have the Church go back to a grassroots approach and employ local composers to write weekly pieces? Make Her majesty appoint composers to write pieces for all her monarchical events? Make all the princes and princesses and earls and dukes do the same? Rid TV of these horrid 'talent shows' which unite the worlds of music and advertising to an increasing Siamese state and instead use the money to inspire people to write, perform and aim high?

Ideally: yes. But realistically: no.

I honestly don't know the solution. But I do believe it is a necessity that more encouragement should be placed on people, specifically still in the years of education, to become involved in writing music. Most kids, at some point, try out an instrument whether it be at home or in school. When I was in school, we had an abundance of electric guitarists in metal bands, yet I was the only person, I was aware of, that composed music.

We need emphasis on the importance of composing music, we need people to realise the beauty of it and the rewarding feeling whether its the power to control an entire 100 piece orchestra or move people to tears with just one classical guitar.
1:53 am - 1 comments - 0 Kudos - Report!
jani92jani wrote on Feb 2nd, 2012 9:32am

The reason for that classical music doesent attract huge audiences today is that its too hard to understand for a normal ear
(compared to other mass genres like pop etc...)
When kids think about the classical music they immediately start to think old people playing music with suits and that makes it look uncool. Classical musics elitism drives away lots of potential listeners. If the classical musicians would start perform with same clothes as normal Rock/pop artists they would immediately
gain more listeners etc... Its too bad that most people today listen with their eyes instead of their ears.


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