Is classical music obsessed by existential angst?

So I asked Elliott Carter "What if you don't feel existential angst? What if you want to write music that expresses joy or some other kind of emotion?" And he goes "Jeff, if you do that you'll never have a career in music."
I find that electronic music has a real problem to it, because, at this point, there is no good way to get across the kind of energy and vitality that the performer brings to acoustic music.
It has been a kind of meme of mine that the problem of classical music is that there just isn't enough bass, there isn't enough visceral quality to it.
When the oil spill hit we decided that enough is enough. I am a little concerned about how America is being controlled by the corporations... We had always flirted with the idea of moving to France, we has been trying to do it since Reagan was elected in fact, and we just decided to do it.

That is composer and new technology guru Jeff Harrington talking on the Chance Music programme that is being aired this weekend. Jeff studied at the Juilliard School and as well as composing he is active in computer programming, games design and computer graphics and is webmaster for New Music reBlog. This summer Jeff and his artist wife Elsie, that is one of her paintings in the photo above, made the big move from Florida to France. I recorded the programme with him in Avignon last week, which is where the photos were taken. Discussions, which range from Frank Sinatra via a delusional Iranian conductor to the role of the internet in music distribution, are mixed with a generous helping of Jeff's music. Chance Music was broadcast on Future Radio on Dec 5/6. It's a rich listen and you can hear the podcast here.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. All photos are (c) On An Overgrown Path 2010. My thanks go to Jeff Harrington and his wife for the co-operation that made the programme possible. More on Jeff's music on his website. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Anonymous said…
Congrats to JH & Elsie on making the move. Always good to hear Jeff's voice on musical issues.
ghooper said…
And yet Elliott Carter has surely written some of the most joyous and least 'angst-ridden' music of any living composer.
Antoine Leboyer said…
Music is one of these rare activities when you stop doing things and concentrate how to make sense out of pure sound outside of you.

This is active listening mode and is similar to say, interpreting the Bible as a Talmud scholar would do.

So no wonder that enjoying music has an existential feeling attached to it which no other art form has.
Unknown said…
I definitely agree with some major points in this article. Music is the art of time. However, I found it hard to compare classical music and electronic music especially when it comes to the subject of live performance. They are simply in different settings and attract different audiences.
Pliable said…
Ten years on this story takes a very disturbing turn -

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