A question of relevance:
I remember a panel discussion reprinted in the AMC newsletter also on the net.. Where a composer and 2 leading music educators decried the persistence of traditional classical music --to paraphrase-- this was a retrograde force on education as it had no relevance to today's children -public school children that is One always forgets that when anyone mentions any education reform they mean public education reform. I was struck with how unanimous was there agreement on this subject. To say that times have changed is perhaps the point its self. In the 1950-1960 even 17 magazine covered classical music as well as popular music – no longer. But then again is it because mass market or nich market media no longer cover classical music does that make it irrelevant?
Consider do public school children rather lets say poor children have any choice in the matter? Is there not money to be made in these choices or lack thereof? The music industry does many wonderful things but it has a huge stake in popular music and every year music seems to get cheaper to produce as performing skills are emphasized less and less and technology used more and more thus increasing profits. With the Anteries machine it is no longer necessary to sing in tune to sing on a hit record.
What I mean is this; Technology can produce many wonderful things but its main focus with the top 40 is to make music cheaper and more profitable. The advent of music video made an advertisement the object itself.
Why has technological advances replaced artistic achieve in the public mind as the greater good?
Artistic achievement is rare, sporadic, and not always apparent or easy to understand, it doesn't get much press or make a lot of money either. Higher thinking skills are required to understand it. (Hmmm maybe PS students need some of those).
Technological advances are a constant, and as products are easy to understand and not only do they get constant press they are the signal and the “bus.” That is they are the medium (Flat screen HD TV) and the message as well (for our next segment--new laptops!!)- they are ubiquitous and almost inescapable. It also drives our economy even thought not many of these products are made in America anymore.
Every new upgrade means more expense but my conclusion is this; new technologies makes music cheaper and easier to produce thus increases profits. To achieve that end it has also reduced the value and meaning of composition. Today music compositions are just another computer file.
Recent trends in the arts are also against high artistic achievement. The recent trend in the arts world is that “High art” is just “another” of many styles. This fits in well with the music industry that for years has marketed popular music as “outsider art.” “If Mozart were alive today....”
If we consider the public mind in American terms as Barnum did, we love winners.
So, its obvious that technology wins and artistic and achievement loses.
Why then does it surprise anyone that those in the know (the NYT?) would drop all the composers who would hitch there wagon to the winning team? Of course the connection with technology and powerful pop music world are apparent.