Classical music should be answering a cry for help

Last year 12 million adult colouring books were sold in the US. Which means the adult colouring market is worth half that of the American recorded classical music market. A recent Quartz article headlined 'America’s obsession with adult coloring is a cry for help' explained that adult colouring books appeal to America’s stressed, anxious, overworked and always connected cohorts. Colouring books may be a short-lived craze, but the classical music industry can learn from it. Just a few weeks ago I proposed that a classical concert should be a healing ceremony that placates the spirit, while back in 2011 I suggested that classical music should look to the booming $11 billion mind, body and spirit market for a new audience instead of reinventing itself as a sub-set of the entertainment industry. The Quarz article describes how the appeal of colouring books is that they are therapeutic without being therapy, meditative without being meditation, creative without being creation, and artsy without being art. Which is also a perfect description of classical music. As Osho wrote in The Great Pilgrimage from Here to Here:
In the East, music has always been accepted as a spiritual phenomenon. If your music cannot create silence in the people who are listening it is not music.
More on Arthur Bliss and the colour of music here. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


Pliable said…
Norman Perryman has commented on Facebook:

'This is fascinating, Bob Shingleton. Finally, people are returning to one of the earliest therapeutic needs of humans, to move the hand and fingers to make marks and spread colours. It's easy for professional artists to scoff at the results, but you can't deny the benefits described, not mention the market benefits. Even watching someone doing this is mesmerizing. I've been saying for years that the therapy of projected live kinetic painting combined in synch with music could have enormous benefits, if only concert programmers would take notice. Once the "bums are on the seats", the audience is absolutely thrilled, "transported", as someone said to me after a recent Berlin concert.'
MarkAMeldon said…
We all need "therapy time". It's funny how I find that as I age (I'm nearly 53) I spend more time reading (physical books and on-line) and, particularly, listening to music to the extent that I have almost stopped watching TV. Here's the thing, though, "notated music" (Thanks Alex Ross) takes TIME to listen to and appreciate and, with honourable exceptions, the young seem to think they have no TIME to concentrate on the abstractions of music. That is, of course, nonsense.

Whilst I like Bliss, I have found of late that I have spent more time listening to "historical" recordings from the likes of Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwangler and the Vegh String Quartet. Is that because these recordings were rarely "reconstructed" in the recording studio? I can't quite put my finger on it, but a certain "essence" seems to be added to recordings made by long-dead artists. They continue to gleam in the light for me. I still do buy modern recordings on SACD and CD, of course, but the older two of my three children, as examples, would rather rush into a streamed, compressed, "experience" than have the patience to wait for a CD to arrive in the post!

We all run out of time one day, so make the most of what we have, I say.
"therapeutic without being therapy, meditative without being meditation, creative without being creation, and artsy without being art"

That quote encapsulates one of the reasons I went into music therapy back in the 70's. Working as a group therapist in a long term locked psychiatric unit for adolescents and young adults, I helped a music therapist who came in to work with the patients - and one of the things that made a deep impression was how the making of music showed me sides of the patients I'd never seen before - they were simply having fun as a group - it was therapeutic without being "therapy". So simple and so effective.

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