LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 15.5

Help for OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives


Next Message | Previous Message
Next in Topic | Previous in Topic
Next by Same Author | Previous by Same Author
Chronologically | Most Recent First
Proportional Font | Monospaced Font


Join or Leave OPERA-L
Reply | Post New Message
Search Archives

Subject: Re: SF Symphony... And Now Make The Comparison
From: Leslie Barcza <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Leslie Barcza <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 10 Mar 2017 23:36:53 -0500

text/plain (100 lines)

On Fri, 10 Mar 2017 19:07:52 -0500, Genevieve Castle Room 
<[log in to unmask]>, perhaps in his desire to channel Le Grand 
Orange(aka your POTUS) asked 
>Anyway - who cares?? What does diversity have to do with the arts in an
>absolute sense? One can commission works from a varied range of composers
>(regarding gender, religion, national origin, etc), and what will be
>How does this create better art?

Hm did Alec Baldwin recently join Opera-L, using GCR's login? 

Excuse me, i digress. And i hope by doing so, will seem to answer.

How does cross-breeding one strain of maple with others create a better tree? 
biodiversity. If you put all your genetic eggs in one basket, a little thing like a virus can 
leave you with no more maples.  And the different sorts of maple will each bring 
something to the mix. Oh sure if you prefer tall blonde aryan maples, you will resent the 
darker colours, preferring to slam the door on maples from other cultures.

I am simultaneously reading Wesley Lowery's THEY CAN'T KILL US ALL, where one of his 
recurring observations is the sad end to the initiatives to create community-based 
policing. Top down autocratic policing is more likely to generate an us-them mentality 
leading to unfortunate misunderstandings, and as a result: killings.  Community based 
policing is all about communication, about creating rapport and common ground, a 
discursive community if you will between the police and the policed.  When there is no 
one listening, when people are just shouting at one another, gee, they may as well be 
tone-deaf or, dare i say it, singing atonal musics.  Much as i love the theoretical 
underpinnings of serial music, I also love the way a music can arise from a culture, the 
way music is a conversation: a discourse.  But excuse me. 

How does opening up the stage to other ideas of what constitutes good music, improve 
the music? it doesn't if you insist that it's your vision uber alles.  Gee i see a thread that 
recurs, possibly an irritating smell of fascism? but excuse me, it must be the full moon 
and i do see fur growing where my paws i mean hands used to be.  It's getting harder 
and harder to type with these claws growing...rrrrrrRRR! 

I just read an essay from a musician who dislikes Schoenberg, offering some historical 
context for the composer he dislikes, as he prepares to perform his work this weekend.  
What he left out of that conversation is precisely what's missing from this formulation. If 
music is only designs on a page or screen, sonic vibrations without context or discursive
community: then one may indeed insist that it's all a pissing contest, let the best man 
(sic) win, a shouting contest using brass and strings instead of orators and accusations of 
fake news. 

History has shown by now that the academic infatuation with all things serial and 
dodecaphonic had to run its course, like the one-time obsession with Skinner and 
behaviorism that held Psychology departments in a similar sort of thrall.  Any orthodoxy 
that becomes a dogma is unhealthy.  One may not notice them, especially when one 
benefits from the systemic advantages conferred by those assumptions: that men are 
smarter, that Europeans write better music, that (insert your prejudice here)... Isn't it 
funny how men might read that sentence differently than women? In that tension you 
already see what might be gained from what i'll call discursive diversity. 

I invoked the organic analogy not because i am sure it applies, but because it seems 
suggestive, a metaphor at best.  I should think that first you get rid of stipulations.  Yes 
that means you might have some compositions that seem unworthy because they don't 
meet the criteria of your critical tribunal (sorry a bit of anti-fascism slipped in there... 
can't help it): but a narrow definition of what constitutes ART / SANITY may itself 
constitute a perversion of criticism / psychology, every bit as dangerous as losing 
biodiversity. When music MUST be patriotic (insert the nationalist censor of your choice, 
Nazi Germany isn't the only example) or MUST be dodecaphonic or MUST be tonal, or 
MUST have some sort of development (inserted here, as a tiny sample of a 30 year 
debate i've been having with someone here in Toronto, someone who absolutely rejects 
minimalism): you limit art and thereby harm art, because you're also harming the 
context, the culture into which that art is brought forth.  

The irony is --and i can hear you saying this very objection as you read it-- that allowing 
compositions based on who the composer is (race / gender / or some other criterion) or 
seeming to do so, (as optics is part of this), represents another stipulation.  If music 
exists only in the absolute sense of ink on paper or dots on a screen, then this might be 
problematic.   I would say that if a musician plays or sings music in a forest alone, and 
no one hears, there is no music: because music is cultural and contextual, not an a priori 
concept that can be abstracted without a listener, without a context. But recalling our pal 
Schoenberg, there are other criteria. Is it such a crazy idea that the concert hall not be 
empty? that after the concert people talk about the concert?  I was re-reading a review of 
John Adams' Scheherazade 2 the other day, recalling how much i enjoyed this 
composition.  I find that I enjoy Boulez and Kurtag more when there's some variety in my 
dietary options. Berg and Webern (or insert your choice) may actually still be the best: 
but if our ears are not restricted, if we can get Lulu AND Satyagraha, Pierrot lunaire AND 
Mixed Messages (Muhly's latest: heard recently in Philadelphia and Toronto), we'll have a 
better idea of what's up and down, good and great.  My eyes work better when i don't just 
stare at the screen all day, but sometimes look at clouds and birds and the horizon. I 
wonder, is it only an analogy or is it also true for our ears?

  Leslie Barcza in Toronto 

OPERA-L on Facebook:
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
Modify your settings:

Back to: Top of Message | Previous Page | Main OPERA-L Page



CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager