Monday, June 07, 2004

My homework assignment

Helen Radice has given all music bloggers an assignment: discuss Greg Sandow's question about the future of music.

Is classical music dying? That's a big topic, and a blog seems like a perfect way to attack it. Nobody knows any answers, and in my experience -- teaching a course about the future of classical music, writing and speaking about it, and discussing it with many people in the field -- anything we say spins off in 12 directions at once. So why not approach it all in little pieces, following thoughts wherever they lead?"

My take on this is that the current division between classical music and popular music will continue to blur, creating a new aesthetic or musical language that will be the basis for the next generation of art and popular musics. This was seen in previous periods of music history, with divisions between either sacred and secular or court and popular musics. I sometimes tell my students that the Babelization of musical languages of the 20th century has already started to stabilize into a new tonality/atonality mix in both art music and popular music. The fuzzy definition of contemporary tonality is coupled with very fuzzy style categories - mixes between hip-hop, jazz, pop, rock, contemporary art, and historical art styles - that will slowly dissolve our current division between orchestra hall and rock stadium, and more importantly, the canonical divisions in music education and in music stores. This is my little piece for the moment.

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