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March 09, 2010


You might have already read this, but this is the first chapter from Alex Ross (New York Times music critic, author of The Rest Is Noise)'s new book, Listen To This. Quite a long read, but it touches upon a lot that you raise, and rails pretty passionately against those who attempt to safeguard classical music from the 'potentially unsavoury results' you mention.


So what is "Classical Music"?

1. Music performed by certain instruments (an orchestra? A piano? A harpsichord?)
2. Music written by composers starting with Bach and ending with Beethoven?
3. Number 1 AND Number 2

I'll posit that there are only two kinds of classical music fans:
a. People who want to signal sophistication. The degree to which these people force themselves to listen to the stuff as a signal of authentic fandom is the important bit.
b. Musical historians.

(b) likes definition #1 and (a) likes definition #3.

I recently started listened to the Vitamin String Quartet and I have concluded that I typically enjoy these modern song arrangements more than I enjoy just about all music written for a string quartet during the classical period. Furthermore, I generally enjoy the original rock/pop renditions even more.

So I think today's artists make better music than Mozart could ever have dreamed of making. AND I bet that if you arranged all those classical melodies into today's rock/pop instruments, they'd bomb on the charts. And NOT because the producer doesn't "get it", but because they're genuinely inferior songs.

Is that so crazy? Is there a single other artistic or scientific endeavor in which we genuinely sit in awe of the ancients for doing something we can't blow away today? Nope.



(b) likes definition #2. Definition #1 only tickles (a) types who are bored with #3.

Potentially, at least, open a more expansive frame of mind in which to reflect on their wrongdoings.

I don't listen classic music but sometimes I can liste bethowen.

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