All we are saying is give convergence a chance

Wenatchee the Hatchet has left the comment below on my post 'Have all the really great musicians come and gone?' For those with a maximum attention span of 280 characters the money quote is "I think working across all the musical genre boundaries to sustain a synergistic theoretical and practical cross-genre collaboration among musicians and composers could help people across the pop/classical divides... but music journalism and scholarship too often seems set on antagonizing the scene rather than exploring possible convergences". I suggest those words of wisdom should be the New Year's resolution for the classical industry. The accompanying graphics are from the predictably ignored The Arabian Passion according to J.S Bach from the genre-defying early music ensemble Sarband: music samples here and here. Now this is Wenatchee the Hatchet's quote:

'I know Doug Shadle is working hard to get [Florence] Price heard more but what I've heard is "okay". I still prefer William Grant Still and William Levi Dawson based on what I've heard and for my time and ears Scott Joplin is still more fun.

The demise of Christendom thesis might invite some over-eager reactions. I personally think that Christendom has been too varied to make sense as an explanation for a decline in the state of classical music. Zwingli & Bullinger banned music from churches in Geneva but it's not like music was banned everywhere. The scholar Charles Garside Jr went so far as to argue that the Zwingli/Bullinger legacy had the effect, by banning music from churches, of catalyzing music as a creative discipline separated into a functionally secular realm. Germans, on the other hand, promulgated what is broadly identifiable as German art-religion in the Wagnerian and post-Wagnerian mold.

What if the "crisis" in classical music is that the credibility of Romantic art-religion in a Germanic cast has reached a low point? A side effect of a demise in Romantic sounds might be that someone like Price isn't going to move past her idiom compared to Ellington or even Scott Joplin. Joplin's influence on American popular music is far more palpable to me. Romantic era art-religious ideologies are relatively recent inventions and J. S. Bach and Haydn didn't need them to write amazing music.

I think there's a point in favor of arguing that when the art-religion of Wagner emerged and WASPS embraced it there were racist elements to it but when I see there's a Church of Coltrane it's possible to have a kind of post-Wagnerian art-religion for jazz and rock, too, a kind of residue of Romantic art-religious ideologies that crop up for popular as well as classical styles.

My own theory has been that in the last two centuries "highbrow" and "lowbrow" musical styles and their journalistic and academic partisans have entrenched the scholastically and journalistically constructed barriers. Laurence Dreyfus said in his book on Bach and forms of invention that 19th century theory and pedagogy reduced analysis to form-as-genre in a way that misrepresents how fluid boundaries between forms and genres often have been.

I don't know that 1970s rock/jazz fusion is going to come back but I think working across all the musical genre boundaries to sustain a synergistic theoretical and practical cross-genre collaboration among musicians and composers could help people across the pop/classical dividesBut music journalism and scholarship too often seems set on antagonizing the scene rather than exploring possible convergences.'

Comments

btw Garside Jr's Zwingli and the Arts is on archive.org

https://archive.org/details/zwingliarts0000gars

For folks who can't go dig up the very informative book a 14-day lone via archive.org is possible. I was fortunate that one of my online blogging buddies is a Zwingli fan.

Recent popular posts

A Negro in front of a white symphony group? No - I'm sorry

Scott Ross and the paradox of genius

Have all the really great musicians come and gone?

...and the musicians were paid £800

New classical audiences need new music

Scott Ross and the paradox of punk

Classical music must woke up and smell the coffee

When classical musicians fought against tuxedo fascism

Classical music has many saviours