Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Jazz Threat

When I was reading Ivan Hewett’s Music: Healing the Rift I was amused that the stereotypical fear of jazz music overwhelming the classical scene was present. If there is really any question about it, just count the number of jazz stations there are on the radio. Stations that play jazz only on certain days or at certain times don’t count in this case because there are classical stations that play classical almost nonstop.

The music popularly referred to as classical music has lasted a test of time that jazz has yet to see. Most of the pieces in the repertoire of “classical” are at least as old as the United States while the appearance of jazz is a little more than one-hundred years ago.

While classical and jazz have their own smaller circles when compared to the unyielding market of popular jazz influenced music that is heard on every radio/television station, the circle that supports classical is hardly threatened by that of the jazz. Both genres are struggling to draw audiences on the same scale that they used to.

As Hewett describes the time in classical history where technique started to become more important and surpassed that of most amateur musicians, bop and cool jazz brought about similar characteristics that alienated their listeners just the same as classical.

The proliferation of art music is imperative but musicians and artists can’t forget the audience for without an audience, does it even exist?

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