Fate of Contemporary Classical Music
There is a lot of discussion on the internet about the demise of Contemporary Classical Music. Eddie Silva talks of the Death of the Death of Classical Music to say it's been pronounced dead so many times we need to move on - and yet, Classical Music isn't something that really ever dies, but just looks to be re-born or re-invested into something new. Anzu says much the same thing (only much shorter - with references to sex, albeit a tenuous connection). Alex Fong attributes the death of Classical Music to the stuffy critics and patrons who feel "classical music is an art to be appreciated like fine wine, with a discerning palette to augur through its complexities."
While all of these are interesting reads, Stefan Kac, on his blog "My Fickle Ears Dig It", gives a fascinating insight into three reasons why he thinks CCM is dying. While I agree with his first and third arguments on Attempting To Use Analysis To Synthesize Experience and Appealing to Novelty in Place of Substance, I don't agree with his middle argument - Arbitrarily Imposing a Narrative on a Piece of Abstract Instrumental Music. His post is in response to Benjamin Zander's lecture at the TED conference.
Perhaps Benjamin Zander is one of those people Alex Fong is talking about; someone who feels CCM is elite and therefore requires more from its audience than "normal" music, although the quest for composers to create something new or novel has resulted in some very unmemorable music. Schoenberg feels music needs to be memorable in order to be likeable and yet so much of CCM is anything but memorable - different yes, but often lacks a quality that our brains can absorb without in-depth analysis. If the music needs analysis to be enjoyed, then there is something wrong with it.
I don't feel all music needs a narrative, nor should all music have it. However, that said, it can help in some instances.
Is CCM dying? No. I agree with Eddie Silva in that it just needs to be re-invented by composers who are looking for something new - that is memorable - that speaks to the audience with our without additional narrative and, while it may be interesting if analysed, it can be enjoyed simply by listening to it.
If you'd like to listen to some of my attempts at CCM, click here.