I like to read books that challenge my way of thinking. One was siting on my bookshelf for a while as I gathered courage to work through it: The Agony of Modern Music (Henry Pleasants).
I recently wrote an overview and my own analysis and 'relationship' to what the author had to say.
Perhaps you will enjoy it: The Future of Classical Music
Let me know what you think.
I recently played Beethoven's 9th Symphony to a mostly young 'blue-collar' audience. I had invited a drummer friend of mine to come (gave him my comp tickets). He had never been to a Classical music concert before, but rather had played in rock bands all his life (is a great fan of Tool and Devin Townsend). I have to tell you this concert experience totally transformed him...he couldn't sit still in his chair, had to move his arms and his body to the music (to the chagrin of some of those around him!). He told me that the instant he heard the music it was like he understood it, almost like a long-lost friend.
Somehow great Classical music is more than style or medium, but rather transcends it. If you haven't read my article, What Is Classical Music?, I hope you can at some point.
Regarding the past versus the present:
I’m not one for wanting to recreate the past, but rather re-cycle it for the present and future. If we can somehow extract the greatness of Classical music from the exterior elements and turn it into fuel for current cultural language, then I believe we’ll see some success.
Great question about dance!
Throughout the history of music, there has always been music that moves man’s body. This usually correlates to social functions and festivities.
Then there is music that intrigues the mind and moves the emotions. This normally correlates to entertainment and performance.
But then, there is music that brings us face to face with Truth and Beauty. It touches a part of us so intimate that it is difficult to describe, a place that is referred to in theology as the ‘spirit’ of man. This kind of music brings us to a place of worship.
It seems to me that the main focus of ‘Classical’ music history (not all of it, of course) has been in this third category, as composers endeavored to touch this area of transcendence.
I’m not saying that this has to be ‘Christian’, in the usual sense. I have written many works in ‘secular’ genres, yet still endeavoring to touch this place of deeper meaning. Works such as this may use elements of dance and performance, yet the main emphasis is pointing to a place beyond these things.
That is not to say that dance and worship are incongruent. There are a number of scriptural texts dealing with dance and worship. Here is one of my favorites, which I believe reveals an ancient awareness of melody, harmony and rhythm: “The singers went on, the musicians after them, in the midst of the maidens beating tambourines.” (Ps. 68:25). And another: “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing…” (Ps. 150:4)
Michael - we're going to have to agree to disagree - I think some of the greatest strides mankind has made have occurred post 1948. Landing a man on the moon. Decoding the humane genome. Low-energy-consuming light bulbs. Cancer treatments. The internet. Cheap cell phones for all. Plumpy nut (look it up), perhaps the greatest anti-starvation food ever devised. There is much which is wonderful and positive in the world today -
thanks for the post Lowell good food for thought maybe good music(yes I know that is subjective)
isn't dead , but in some state of comatose , waiting for the right moment to re-awaken and reintroduce
class and art . I am not a fan of most 'electronic' music or computer generated movies tho' I do appreciate
the creativity behind the scenes, so to speak. What percentage of music history would you attribute to 'dance' ? Rather than worship or 'entertainment'.
Thanks for the clarification! - Best -
The article was not so much about everyone else, but rather my own relationship to the subject.
I hope you can also read: What Is Classical Music? and My Three-Cornered Hat
Thanks for reading...and your comments!
You had me all the way up until the last paragraph. Some composers may find enjoyment in writing based on Christ, but to make a blanket statement that that's the correct route for all of us to go strikes me as an overstatement. (Speaking only for myself) I think cultural relevance comes from tying the culture of our times - what's happening in the world *today* - what are the sounds out there which people attach to and love. While there is certainly a large audience for Christian music, many people do not care for it, or for any music which is religious based. This isn't to in any way denigrate Christian music, or music which is religious in character. But I can't buy the idea that it is the fundament of returning classical music to some former popularity. Personally, I think that Classical music will be forever dead - it's something that had its heyday when there were far fewer forms of entertainment, and in the fast paced world we live in, few people want to sit in an auditorium for 2+ hours and listen to it. I think the world has moved on.