Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tomorrow's Classical Music???

So I finally googled "classical music future" and was shocked what came up. I found a website talking about video game music. I know absolutely nothing about video games so forgive me if I'm naive on the subject. The subject of the article is "Tomorrow's Classical Music" so my initial thought was "oh neat they are using classical music in video games." Was I wrong! The writer suggests in his article that orchestras will have to make room in their programming for music composed or "remixed" specifically for video games. It seems to be all the rage for young people and some orchestras have recorded video game music or performed it to sold out crowds: Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra to name a few. There is an orchestra in Sydney devoted to video and anime music, Eminence Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra's vision is to "inject something bold, dynamic and fresh into classical music," and "break down the barriers between the audience and the musicians, and to revive orchestra in today's society; particularly amongst youth".

Is this really the future of classical music? I think, at least from my perspective as a classical musician, this is an unorthodox use of the term "classical music." How one defines that term is the underlying question to all of our discussions. I don't see the connection between studying, listening to and enjoying classical music (in my sense of the term) and staring at a computer screen playing a game. At least for youth, classical music can be an opportunity to hone a skill, interact with others in a positive activity for the brain. Maybe it is my bias against video games but I don't see them as being constructive. This raises an important ethical question - what activities do we value in our society? Is my bias against video games a result of my highbrow mentality, or as a classical musician must I be more open to performing video game music in an orchestra to reach youth? Another question - is classical music pure entertainment or an intellectual experience? I think it is both and finding a balance is where it gets complicated.

1 comment:

mixomodulate said...

I agree. It’s almost…depressing to have to ask the question “Do we have to play video game music or film scores to reach the youth of today?” Although, if this is indeed “classical” music, which we can probably all agree is a stretch, would it be that large of a stretch to say that the people that enjoy music from certain games would also enjoy music from the “classical” repertoire. The crossover is in fact very interesting. Classical music or “new” music has crept its way into several genres we would other wise not consider. In fact a former composition teacher of mine insisted that some of the best music being written today came from film scores, and furthermore that some of the best musicians played in ensembles created by the film industry. I cannot speak for his statement about the performers; however, I do not think that “best” music being written today is for film. In fact some of the least interesting music I have heard has been in films, and these are original scores I’m talking about. This is not to say that there is not the occasional interesting film score, however on average film score simply sever the purpose of supporting the events the audience sees on the screen, and I imagine the same is true for videogames. The music of these genres can not stand alone, save perhaps a few exceptions. The experience of listening to a concert of videogame music would most likely be very boring (especially since in this genre the music is designed to last an infinite amount of time). The result would be neither entertaining nor an intellectual experience. The only way you could enjoy a concert of this nature is if you were a videogame enthusiast, in which case it would generate a response similar to “that’s cool”. It certainly breaks no boundaries by doing this. You’re not exposing people to anything new; you are simply playing what they already know. A rock concert by your favorite band would break just as many boundaries.