Classical music is dying.The fundamental problem is a lack of contemporary emotionally compelling compositions,because listeners get no emotional reward from most contemporary classical music ,orchestras are forced to repeat a small number of compositions from the distant past,and as each year passes the standard repertoire becomes less and less relevant to a contemporary listener.so the audience for classical music continues to shrink. traditional music education for composers is part of the problem engendering, snobbery ,elitism and a cold unemotional approach to music composition.l believe that the situation is so bad that only a movement from outside the traditional music institutions (l call this the deinstitutionalization of classical music)can save classical music from oblivion. ps .for more information on this topic go to my website http://www.onedarylsprakecomposer.com

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  • Interesting. I see precisely where you're coming from Daryl and agree to some extent with the methods you suggest to raise the profile and expand the audience for the mass of fabulous emotionally charged music that's already in existence. It makes me very depressed to see advertised concert programmes filled with what has become (through massive over exposure) hackneyed music. I am UK based and dislike radio 3 because it's programmed to play mainly contemporary 'squeaky gate' music - and it's principal rival 'Classic FM ' that rarely plays more than a single movement of anything and is therefore a bit trite...I might, after hearing 'The entrance of the Queen of Sheba' for the fourth time in a day, call the programme tacky and very low brow. I am definitely not a music snob and would like to see a more middle brow offering from the much vaunted BBC. But, of course, you can't please all the people all the time.
    You may be right about de-institutionalising the teaching of music but personally think the ball lies in the court of contemporary composers. We all need to ensure that we compose 'emotionally charged' music to which people can react...perfection in my view is to compose with the aim of producing a good balance between intellectual and emotional satisfaction for the listener.
    Incidentally, having looked at your website I'm a bit disappointed to see so many typos...tends to give a poor impression I'm afraid..
  • In my opinion what is lacking in contemporary classic music is melody! Everything is mood and rhythmic based. 

  • Thanks, Daryl, for this very basic and deep question, which in my opinion is philosophical and extra-musical.

    Everything dies in this world if it is organic in substance.

    I hope that arts are not organic.

    Turning the thought to another direction I would say that old audiences have died or have been manipulated to become unrecognizable and new ones have been created to buy new cultural products which are not necessarily created by creators but by capitalists and impresarios.

    So the question goes far deeper for me:

    Who creates/manipulates human societies and what can be done about it?

     

    My basic thought/answer is that it should all be part of a global effort of resistance, revival and social revolution and arts have a roll to play in it as they have done in the past.

  • Your argument makes a lot of assumptions that are not backed up by facts. Theses assumptions are made with a bias with your own personal convictions and desires. 

    The first assumption you made that is not entirely true is classical music is dying. Why that might be true in a general sense comparatively, its not the whole story. Orchestras do not have a small number of pieces to play, they have a couple of thousand of years of music to choose from, from the great composers to composers you might have never heard of but were famous in their own time. While other orchestras dye off, many others are not only doing well, they are making profit and growing. The classical music scene is also not dying in Europe in the least bit. 

    Second assumption that you made is one I consistently try to fight against because of how wrong and destructive it is, mainly to the people making the assumption. Contemporary music has not, and did not bring the collapse of classical music. I have researched this at GREAT length, gathered actual statistics, and compared it to what is going on it the classical world today. I have found without a doubt and no bias that contemporary music has had NO effect on the current state of classical music nor has it ever. In fact, contemporary music has actually been doing quiet well for itself. There are tons of contemporary ensembles, festivals, and organizations that are doing quiet well.  Many musicians who perform contemporary music are actually able to support themselves on their music now. 

    This assumption also comes from not knowing whats going on in contemporary music TODAY. The Contemporary music aesthetic is often misappropriated to a very specific to a non-tonal sense even though it much more diverse than that. It often comes out of fear that the "powers at be" only like a particular kind of music, which isn't the case. 

    If you want to really know why the symphony is dying and how to save it, take a look at the videos I made that goes into GREAT detail about this topic. 


  • Tyler,

    Your response seems to me to be somewhat pedantic - you leave no room for manoeuvre, nor do you give credence to other people's views.

    I happen to disagree with you despite your having gone into 'GREAT' detail and undergone a 'GREAT' deal of study on this subject - and your shouting the word GREAT indicates that you feel very strongly about it all. You might perhaps consider, however, that others of us on this site also have long and broad experience of serious music and are well educated in the subject...and may have contrary yet equally valid views. I do agree with you that (neo-) classical music is not dying but it's not exactly thriving either. Some people enjoy what I might call 'serious' music because it stirs their emotions - others who are perhaps better versed (educated) in the mechanics of composition may achieve even higher levels of satisfaction and enjoyment because they 'understand' the music from both emotional AND intellectual perspectives.

    When I listen to live music I am aware of listening early on as though on the outside of a bubble looking/listening in; if I suddenly realise I'm listening from the core of the bubble then that music has truly captured me - it's a combination of the writing, its interpretation and performance that add up to that almost magical feeling...I can't think of anything else that can provide that sense of completeness.

    There has always been a division between those who enjoy music for music's sake on an emotional level and those who listen on an intellectual level (because they've had the good fortune to be educated in the dark arts that constitute brilliant musicianship)...then there are the very lucky few who are sufficiently blessed to be able to fuse the two elements and experience something that others cannot. If contemporary composers can succeed in achieving these rare heights then they will rightly join the pantheon of the 'greats' and classical music will not only survive but grow...and thank St. Cecelia for that.

    It would be a truly GREAT thing if the wider public could be sufficiently motivated to develop a better understanding of what constitutes a great composition and therefore be better able to receive the fantastic offerings that exist now and have done for hundreds of years. Maybe your offer to teach people via this Forum as part of your doctoral studies could be extended to a wider public.....now that would be GREAT.  

    Tyler Hughes said:

    Your argument makes a lot of assumptions that are not backed up by facts. Theses assumptions are made with a bias with your own personal convictions and desires. 

    If you want to really know why the symphony is dying and how to save it, take a look at the videos I made that goes into GREAT detail about this topic. 

    the reason why classical music is dying
     Classical music is dying.The fundamental problem is a lack of contemporary emotionally compelling compositions,because listeners get no emotional re…
  • We can talk till we are blue in the face about the emotion of a piece and how it effects people. However, to the topic at hand, that rarely helps. I emphasized GREAT, not because Im emotionally attached to this and might have a bias, I did so to emphasize how much work I did to make this research as impractical and detailed. I poured over archival programs of orchestras all over the world to get a sense of what they play every year, I looking at ticket sales, how orchestras fund themselves, what percentage of ticket sales go back to the orchestra, and so on and so forth. 

    What my research shows is that its not the alienating factor of contemporary music that drives people out, because contemporary music isn't even presented to them as a whole. 90% of clausal classical music fans have not even heard a contemporary piece beyond maybe film music. But yet we all want to blame contemporary music for all our classical music woes. If anything I am passionate about setting the record straight, and show people that that is not the case.

    Im not here to convince you to like it or even appreciate it. Im here to educate everyone on the real issues that classical music has. We can blame contemporary music all day, work to promote "emotional accessible" music, and elevate those composers to the perceived superstar status we think composers had before (spoiler they didnt). But even after all that classical music will still suffer because none of that is the issue. If we are too busy blaming the wrong thing we will miss the real issue. 

    I say emotions don't play into it, because the current business model of classical music prevents emotions from playing a role. Classical music is put to the level of a God in most people's minds, but its reduced to a charity that has to beg for money just to get by. Ticket sales play such a small role in their operating cost that an orchestra can sell out every concert and still come short of what they need. When Classical music is operated as a charity, musicians are force to plead their case to the super wealthy among all the other charities such as Cancer Research and Saving Children in Third World Countries. Back in the "golden age" of classical music, it was the only charity that the super wealthy, like the Rockefellers, to dump their millions on. Now they have to compete, and they are doing a really bad job at that. 

    I advocate this truth because if we just sit back and blame contemporary composers, we only shoot ourselves in the foot. Instead of blaming other composers, we should be writing the music we love and supporting our musicians and orchestras. Its hypocritical of us to blame others if we do nothing to support musicians; and supporting them through your actions not just your words. Going to concerts regularly, attending festivals, buying classical music albums and not just watching them on youtube or other streaming sites. You don't have to like Schoenberg, but let it be crystal clear, he did not bring down classical music. 

    Stephen Lines said:


    Tyler,

    Your response seems to me to be somewhat pedantic - you leave no room for manoeuvre, nor do you give credence to other people's views.

    I happen to disagree with you despite your having gone into 'GREAT' detail and undergone a 'GREAT' deal of study on this subject - and your shouting the word GREAT indicates that you feel very strongly about it all. You might perhaps consider, however, that others of us on this site also have long and broad experience of serious music and are well educated in the subject...and may have contrary yet equally valid views. I do agree with you that (neo-) classical music is not dying but it's not exactly thriving either. Some people enjoy what I might call 'serious' music because it stirs their emotions - others who are perhaps better versed (educated) in the mechanics of composition may achieve even higher levels of satisfaction and enjoyment because they 'understand' the music from both emotional AND intellectual perspectives.

    When I listen to live music I am aware of listening early on as though on the outside of a bubble looking/listening in; if I suddenly realise I'm listening from the core of the bubble then that music has truly captured me - it's a combination of the writing, its interpretation and performance that add up to that almost magical feeling...I can't think of anything else that can provide that sense of completeness.

    There has always been a division between those who enjoy music for music's sake on an emotional level and those who listen on an intellectual level (because they've had the good fortune to be educated in the dark arts that constitute brilliant musicianship)...then there are the very lucky few who are sufficiently blessed to be able to fuse the two elements and experience something that others cannot. If contemporary composers can succeed in achieving these rare heights then they will rightly join the pantheon of the 'greats' and classical music will not only survive but grow...and thank St. Cecelia for that.

    It would be a truly GREAT thing if the wider public could be sufficiently motivated to develop a better understanding of what constitutes a great composition and therefore be better able to receive the fantastic offerings that exist now and have done for hundreds of years. Maybe your offer to teach people via this Forum as part of your doctoral studies could be extended to a wider public.....now that would be GREAT.  

    Tyler Hughes said:

    Your argument makes a lot of assumptions that are not backed up by facts. Theses assumptions are made with a bias with your own personal convictions and desires. 

    If you want to really know why the symphony is dying and how to save it, take a look at the videos I made that goes into GREAT detail about this topic. 

    the reason why classical music is dying
     Classical music is dying.The fundamental problem is a lack of contemporary emotionally compelling compositions,because listeners get no emotional re…
  • Tyler,

    I really don't think you argue your case at all cogently nor, for that matter logically: you seem to be confusing some of the irons you currently have in the fire with what's actually been argued by Daryl. Also, where did you get the idea that Schoenberg 'brought down' classical music....that's a new one on me? (As an aside, I read a lot of Schoenberg's words on musical theory and consider him to be a clear thinking and erudite individual with an excellent understanding of musical structure...I don't think he was a gifted composer though, because he approached his music (perhaps unintentionally) from too much of an intellectual perspective and produced works that, IMO, lacked any emotional depth to which listeners can respond).

    I understand and agree with what you say about supporting our orchestras in a practical way - sadly, to operate successfully they need the finances to do so...but how they manage to achieve this is a subject in its own right. I would say though, that too many UK concert programmes consist of lots of 'same old' potboilers that appeal to the musically ill-educated masses - simply done as a commercial imperative and generally put on by Victor Hochhauser because it makes him easy money.

    Incidentally, I belong to the International Horn Society and now and again they issue a free CD with their magazine. The last but one included a piece (I won't say which or by whom it was 'composed') that was contemporary nonsense that droned on and on, had nothing new to say, offered no new or exciting challenges for the solo performer and left me feeling utterly depressed that so many influential and normally erudite musicians could actually think it warranted recording. Yes, I was emotionally moved by it - into a deep depression that left me wondering if the (classical) world has finally gone mad...maybe a case of 'the emperor has no clothes' and the one to notice it is the only sane person within a hundred miles.

  • you are pretty close as far as the number of performances and number of audience members. They really havent changed much since Haydn's time. For almost all the of the 1700s orchestras were privately owned by courts. All the members of the orchestra and the composers were servants. Looking at Haydn's contract with you find that he was required to have two concerts a week at least and additional concerts even ever the Esterhazy requested. However these concerts were often not public and only performed for the family and court. By the 1800s we have our first subscription concerts but the number of concerts is greatly reduced as audiences want more original music and orchestras are funded mainly through ticket sales. With these concerts we get something that is similar to what we have today. Roughly 8-10 concerts a year. These subscription concerts are not the norm quiet yet, and its not till the mid 1800s do they rise in number. Keep in mind that even these numbers varied greatly due to war. Musicians were often soldiers as well, and this time in history was a particularly tumultuous time. However as orchestras become more privatized the more they have to seek donations and the higher their ticket prices go. We reach a tipping point of this in the early 1900s as more orchestras are funded by super rich capitalist like Rockefeller and Carnegie. Orchestras become increasingly more classism as the poor are no longer able to afford to go. That and the increase of newer popular music like Jazz, and the rise of recorded music that are much cheaper than concert tickets, orchestras are now completely dependent on charity. 

    We don't know the exact numbers of concerts performed and concert attendance as those were not kept, however we can surmise a lot of this data based on ticket prices, concert reviews, and other forms of iconography of music at the time. However we can see data from concerts starting around the 1960s in America, as the national endowment of arts began keeping records. You can compare numbers with different periods by looking at the more recent surveys such as this one:

    http://arts.gov/sites/default/files/highlights-from-2012-sppa-revis...

    You can see slight changes in audience attendance of arts broken up by age groups, how they consume it, and even where. 

    Here is another survey from Australia 

    http://liveperformance.com.au/sites/liveperformance.com.au/files/re...

    And then there is this very interesting article that made me really kickstart my research as it went against everything I was told when I grew up as a starting musicians:

    http://blog.syracuse.com/arts/2009/07/post_10.html

    These are just a few of the places I looked at for data. I have more but they kind of say the same thing. 

    Bob Porter said:

    Yes, we've been through all this before. Let's not forget that "classical" music was never written for the wide-spread general public. Not two or three hundred years ago. Not today. Is it not possible that classical and contemporary music appeals to the exact audience it is aimed at. That audience fluctuates in numbers over time. How often did the average orchestra perform in 1800? How often do they perform now? If I had to guess, I'd say they have to perform more often, and at a higher cost now. There is a saying that goes something like, owning a boat is like owning a hole in the water that you throw money into. While there are organizations that do well, I'm sure many are a hole in the water.

    There will always be people that go to the concert hall. The numbers may have been bigger 50 years ago, but probably never that great.

    Tyler, how about some numbers and statistics?

  • Fredrick,

    Plenty of life yet in C major - certainly there is....enough to last the next 300 years or so I would think. Well said sirrah!

  • :-)

    I fully agree, but I think it should be kept as a secret, (don’t encourage some "composers"), cause who would want to have again experiments in C like Terry Riley's?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNi0bukYRnA

    MUSIC MINIMALISM 1

     

    The European challenge

    Was serious and severe,

    Impossible to match it,

    Or come anywhere near.

     

    Its social background,

    Its inner mechanism,

    Trying to forget about them,

    Invent minimalism.

     

    As long as farts sound different,

    In every miniature,

    There is a sense of newness,

    Even if it's manure.

     

    You may invent new names,

    Music you couldn't invent,

    Just cry out loudly,

    Creates an event.

     



    Stephen Lines said:

    Fredrick,

    Plenty of life yet in C major - certainly there is....enough to last the next 300 years or so I would think. Well said sirrah!

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