Friday, November 27, 2009

Is there actually an answer?

Before this semester started, I wondered if this class would uncover an answer as to what the actual future of classical music is. Since about halfway through Hewett's book, I have been waiting to find out what his prediction is. He ends his book with the following:

"The essential fact about music, which is that it dies, and has to die in order for it to glorify this present moment happening now, is systematically denied in our passive musical culture, just as mortality is denied. The result is precisely the lack of emotional intensity that Jung observed in contemporary life, and which we can observe in those forms of music most symptomatic of the present day. Restoring that intensity is something we crave, but we never think that its lack may be partly in ourselves, and with the way we relate to music. Instead we instinctively delegate. In pop music and world music, we always look for performers with that mysterious daemon, and in art music we look for composers with some special 'vision' that will seize us like a revelation. But perhaps we've delegated for too long. Perhaps it's time to look to ourselves."

I think he makes some interesting points, first being that there really is no answer. If there were a clear cut solution, an absolute future for classical music, there wouldn't be a need for these books or for this class. The truth is no one really knows. It is virtually impossible to predict what will succeed and what will fail. Do we ever really understand why certain products become a phenomenon?

Also, the idea of delegation is a very real one. It is far too rare that people today want to take the reigns responsibility. A fair amount just want to tag along for the ride. It makes me think of a choral situation. When sight reading music or cutting off at the end of the phrase, it doesn't work if some singers wait for their neighbor to do the work. It is audible when someone poops out early and doesn't sing through the end of the phrase cutting off with confidence. I think this is what Hewett is saying about our future. We have to all be leaders rather than followers. Classical music isn't going to regain its popularity on its own. It isn't going to step out form behind the mask of violent movie scenes and images of decadent chocolates unless we do something about it. What it is we are supposed to do is not clear, but something is better than nothing.

Musicians have to have perseverance in order to be successful. We push ourselves and do all we can to fight for our spot within an expanding pool of people reaching for something that is diminishing. Are we being selfish? Should our efforts be focused on the greater good versus our personal career? Can we fully commit to both?
The more I think about all of this the more circles I find myself running in. Does anyone else feel the same way?

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