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[- The (Ir)relevance of New Music?
By petertraub, Section review-a-rama
Posted on Sun May 11th, 2003 at 04:11:57 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
At a weekend-long new music festival at Stanford several weeks ago, I attended a couple of the concerts with two friends who really had no exposure to 'new music'. At the final concert, which was one of the centerpieces of the festival, we walked out during the intermission (they did not know that Sturgeon's Law must be taken into account at all such events :-) ). I didn't personally feel the need to leave as I have been working in this scene for several years now, but my friends just really couldn't connect to it...


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I think the problem was, to a great degree, that they couldn't deal with not having familiar musical structures like melody and rhythm as the basis of the works. This is the classic aversion that most people unfamiliar with contemporary music exhibit.

This set me to thinking about the greater question (and one that I think has always dogged new music composers), as to how to make this music relevant to an audience greater than just the composers themselves. The new music concerts I have attended in my life to date (except for a select few), have been notoriously underattended. Do visual artists also deal with such a great degree of disconnect with the public?

I'm not saying that composers should make different music in order to connect with a wider audience (unless they want to be the next britney spears), but rather asking what can be done in and out of academic new music circles to bring more of the public into the fold? Perhaps more importantly, why do most people have such a great aversion to cutting-edge/avant garde music when they generally exhibit a much greater acceptance (if not appreciation) of the visual avant garde?

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The (Ir)relevance of New Music? | 2 comments
[new] en garde avant garde! (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#2)
by amy on Thu May 15th, 2003 at 09:32:30 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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Perhaps more importantly, why do most people have such a great aversion to cutting-edge/avant garde music when they generally exhibit a much greater acceptance (if not appreciation) of the visual avant garde?

i don't think people are any more accepting of visual avant-garde. think of how many "my 6 yr. old can do that" jokes you've heard at art museums.... and how many "conceptual art" jokes in general.

but, i think a lot of new music sounds "dissonant" to most non-musician ears. then again, a lot of 20th-century music does too (schoenberg and even bartok turn off a lot of people.) people expect "classical" music to sound like mozart, same as they expect "art" to look like van gogh - i don't think there's really much difference...

what to do? i wouldn't change new music for 'middle america' of course. but this is certainly a concern of many artists - many political artists and digital media artists for example, see reaching a non-art audience as essential to what they're doing. which doesn't mean we "dumb down" the project, of course, but we try to think of ways in which the message can be sent that don't require familiarity with art history or "art world" cultures. i'm not sure how easy that is to translate to ears, but as an abstract filmmaker also, i find there are many abstract messages that are universally understood.

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[new] watching and listening (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#1)
by Aileen on Thu May 15th, 2003 at 01:10:01 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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Although I deal with texts about new music fairly frequently - and I am invariably fascinated by the ways in which the music is discussed - my direct experience is limited.
Recently I had an opportunity to go to a concert by Ikue Mori with Sylvie Courvousier and Susie Ibarra. I have heard so much about Ikue Mori, I was delighted to have a chance to see her perform.
The concert was fanstastic. I couldn't say anything about rhythm or melody, but I felt transported into a different space by the performance. Since I didn't have any more money with me, I couldn't have bought their CD afterward anyway, but that started me wondering, whether I would actually listen to just the music by itself. What I enjoy about concerts like this or the performance by Kaffe Mathew and Brian Duffy in Rotterdam is the visual aspect of the performance in combination with the music - but I seem to need both. Actually, "visual" is an inadequate description, too. For me, this music is more physical than acoustic, if that makes any sense.

The (Ir)relevance of New Music? | 2 comments

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