In a 1982 interview Merce Cunningam described how John Cage's satori came when he separated sound from meaning. Today in the classical world the assumption that sound must have meaning dominates. Programmatic symphonies are supplemented by film music and musicals with meaningful narratives, and socially meaningful - aka virtue signalling - programming in a futile attempt to attract a new audience . But the target for a new classical audience is, by definition, the non-classical audience. And that non-classical audience values sound far above meaning . Do classical experts realise that electronic dance music (EDM) is the default soundtrack of a large chunk of the non-classical audience? Do these experts realise that the hegemony of ear-bud/headphone listening and bass-heavy Atmos mixes have permanently changed the expectations of non-classical listeners? Is this preoccupation with meaning why recorded sound is so rarely mentioned in classical reviews? Did Proms' atten
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Fascinating how the classical influencers who use Twitter to claim the moral high ground within and beyond the classical industry remain resolutely silent about the current unfair and unethical employment practices at Twitter. However one notable exception is Igor Levit who has quit the social media platform (again). Art conceived as pure marketing must be treated with extreme caution. But Igor Levit's Tristan album , with its commendable advocacy of Hans Werner Henze 's Tristan scored for piano, tape and full orchestra, and Ronald Stevenson 's piano arrangement of the Adagio from Mahler's uncompleted Tenth Symphony, reaches the heights that social media can't. Igor Levit may be outrageous; but he provides a valuable service encouraging others within classical's increasingly conservative culture to be slightly outrageous.
Nick Drake has featured here many times over the years. A new addition to the Nick Drake resources is Demian Dorelli's Pink Moon - A Journey on Piano . Impressive interpretation complimented by impressive piano sound captured in Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios . For some, including this listener, the style may be a little too Einauidu for comfort. But an awful lot of people like Ludovico Einaudi . And Einaudi sometimes sounds like Philip Glass on a bad day. And classical music needs a new audience. So what is there to complain about? Now we rise and we are everywhere is a quote from the last track on Pink Moon . It is inscribed on Nick's headstone at Tanworth-in-Arden.
These photos was taken by me at a music workshop for local women run by Sufi adept Ahmed Abdelhak Kaâb in Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast. Long-standing readers will know of my love for Morocco and the ageless wisdom of its generous people . Recently TIME Magazine selected Elon Musk as its “Person of the Year” . Morocco World News put this gesture of vacuous sycophancy firmly in its place with a coruscating op-ed . Below is the conclusion from that exemplary piece of journalism which contains a powerful message not just for the classical music industry , but for all humanity. 'In the end, perhaps Elon Musk does deserve to be “Person of the Year.” He deserves it not for any contributions he has made to humanity, he deserves it as it serves as an apt example of our current world. Indeed, Musk's brazen adulation and celebration perfectly captures a culture where pandemic responses are limited by profit-making, where business booms amid economic crisis, where v
A reader's perceptive comment explained that to reach a new audience classical music must help listeners across the classical/non-classical divide. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is the immensely popular staple fare of classical's elusive new young audience, and EDM lacks any narrative progression. Classical music can also be non-linear: one example is John Luther Adams' Become Desert , a seamless 40 minute sonic mirage which abandons the horizontal narrative structures of works such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with its 'Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside'. Become Desert sits comfortably in the concert hall, yet it would not be out of place in a sunset session at Ibiza's Café Del Mar or a full moon trance party on Koh Pha Ngan . As John Luther Adams described in a New York Times essay , Become Desert literally entrances its audience - "You find yourself listening in ways you never have before. The scale of yo
Is the sound of no CD playing the silence that Erling Kagge explored , Ajahn Sumedho identified , and John Cage immortalised ? Or is it the sound of streamed music like water ? Maybe it is the same sound as no audience clapping or perhaps the eerie silence of a hall emptied by lazy click bait programming . Or is it just the relentless white noise of social media ? Whatever the answer - if indeed there is an answer - 'What is the sound of no CD playing' is an example of a translogical question known in the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism - hat tip to John Cage - as a koan. In his book Bring Me the Rhinoceros John Tarrant explains that koans highlight the importance of creative moves, encourage doubt and curiosity, and undermine reasons and explanations. My undiminished curiosity and distrust of explanations led me to buy two recent CD releases - Sangam from sitarist Paul Livingstone and cellist Pete Jacobson, and Wherever I Go... Arvo Pärt from Gretsch White Falcon gu
This article is unique among the 4554 posts uploaded to On An Overgrown Path since August 2004. Because it agrees with a Slipped Disc post. Last week Norman uploaded a Slipped Disc reader's contribution headlined ' Why I won't be going back to concerts '. The thrust of the contribution was not the reader's fear of COVID, but how for him concerts had become "just a bit too often ordinary... a bit of a ritual". Which resonates with my recent post 'Where has all the musical adventurousness gone?' lamenting the demise of musicians who is transcend conventions and pursue their own unique musical visions. David Munrow is talking to Peter Maxwell Davies in that photo. In the early 1970s David Munrow’s Pied Piper radio programme was broadcast four times a week for five years and introduced a new audience to early music. He presented a successful TV series, and wrote scores for the BBC TV series The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elisabeth R , and
The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics postulates that "atoms form a world of potentials and possibilities, rather than of things and facts". Following a parallel path Ajahn Sumedho , a teacher from the Thai Forest Buddhist tradition , has proposed that: We do not know the future. But we do not need to know. We can let the future be the mysterious unknown, the infinite potential - the possibility for pleasure, the possibility for pain, the possibility for peace. As we let go of the fear of the unknown, we find peace. My photo of a stormy sky over Colombo in Sri Lanka hints at that infinite potential. There are many ways to experience it, and music is one of them. For me two examples particularly relevant to this post are Claude Vivier's Siddhartha and Jonathan Harvey's Body Mandala . It is now time for me to defy my advancing years and travel into the mysterious unknown of the future. Which means On An Overgrown Path will fall silent, When, or indeed i
Wilhelm Furtwängler was born on 25th January 1886. He was Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1923 to his death in 1954, and held this position for the twelve years that Hitler was in power. In January 1945 he was conducting in Vienna, and fled from there to Switzerland where he remained until the Battle of Berlin ended in the defeat of the Nazis. The musicians of his orchestra remained in Berlin during its darkest hour. Here is their story: On 28th March 1945 the Russian forces commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov were just twenty miles to the east of Berlin. A month previously Albert Speer had been replaced as Nazi armaments minister after trying to persuade Hitler that defeat was inevitable. Speer now turned his energies to preventing the musicians of his adored Berlin Philharmonic from perishing in the inevitable final battle. Reich Commisioner Dr Joseph Goebells, who was in charge of the defence of Berlin, had ordered the entire orchestra to be drafted into the Vol
Gunther Herbig's CD of his transcriptions for electric guitar of Arvo Pärt's music was recommended in my previous post . That new release should also have been recommended for Gunther Herbig's sleeve essay which is a much-needed reminder that great music is a personal and private experience, and not a Facebook moment . Here is an extract: "As wanderers through time and space we navigate by certain key experiences that shape and influence the charts by which we travel. One of those key moments in my life happened on a Sunday. It was the mid-80s in the beautiful North German town of Lübeck where I studied music. It was winter, a magical bright sunny day and, like in a Brueghel painting, the colours mixed between the blue of the sky, the gold of the sun, the white set of the snow and ice and the dark winter clothes of strolling people on the frozen river Wakentiz against the red bricks of the city. Maybe it was the magic mushrooms. It was a shamanic and spiritual exp