My first blog in a while is more a musing on art and culture than a random babbling on what I have been doing. This was inspired by a conversation on twitter between @jamiebullock and myself from the question “contemporary classical music = university music?” from @laputean.
This is a topic that has concerned and worried me greatly over the past year or two. Is contemporary classical music simply producing music for musicians (a large number of whom don’t respect it anyway) or does it have a wider cultural place?
In the world we live in everything seems to need a price, seems to need an explicit benefit or educational advance but how does contemporary classical music fulfill this? It has nothing tangible to give other than a pleasurable experience, but because of the musical language used people without understanding or even without the desire to learn to appreciate the tonality manage to let this music pass them by. The price of art can be extortionate or less then the cost it was to produce. The rich will pay thousands for an original piece of art by a famous artist but many will squabble over paying £30 or less to attend a concert. When anyone goes to a concert of modern do they go with the tools to understand it or do they just go to say to their friends in a form of one-upmanship? Even those that go with the tools to understand the music still may not because surely the only person who understands the music is the composer. Anyone that listens will take something different or nothing at all away from a piece.
When Feldman rejected the audience in writing his 2nd string quartet (I believe it was the 2nd) he received the best reception of any of his pieces. Does this then mean that the audience wants to be rejected rather than pandered to? That is something I cannot decide the answer to. Maybe a composers thought process changes to when he thinks like this allowing his own experiences to filter in.
The composer is the only one who understands their own work whether accepting or rejecting the audience, though sometimes not even the composer understands. Music as an art that is there to broaden the mind and be the pot in which ideas coincide whether these ideas be it maths, physics, poetry, philosophy or even another piece of music or art. Every piece is the sum of experience of the composer. From this I feel music can be described as a condensed encyclopaedia or even a wiki where different people can add their spin on it but the essential meaning and experience of the composer is still there.
This was just thrown together tonight. Hopefully I will come back and revise it. I know it probably posses more questions than it answers but I felt the need to put this down and have no problem showing it to anyone that might be interested