'The musical world has dumbed down so much it hardly exists'.
MORE READERS' COMMENTS
From: Robert Jordahl
I am aware that there has been a 'dumbing down' in the music classroom
at many levels. This may also be true in pop musics. However, art music
is a whole 'nother ball game.
From: Irvine Greene
As already remarked, 'dumbing down' is a matter of historical perspective.
Ever since man existed, (s)he thinks to have lost some Ancient Golden Age.
But things do not go 'better' or 'worse', they go differently.
Actually, this is becoming a very interesting phase of music history.
In a couple of decades everyone will have the power to produce music at
what is now professional level. Orchestras will disappear, or exist only
to play the standard repertoire of the previous centuries. The music industry
will transform itself or disappear. Most new music will be created, performed
and distributed in electronic form.
But creativity will not disappear, only evaluation parameters will
From: David Thompson
No, I don't think the musical world has 'dumbed down', but maybe
your correspondent needs to define 'the musical world'. It's true that lots
of junk and crossover music is now promoted at the expense of the 'real
I think the rot really started a few years ago with the launch of
Classic FM, where 'classical music' is reduced to tuneful, enticing
soundbites with the result that the majority of its listeners will start
thinking that to enjoy three minutes or so of appealing and emotional melody
constitutes an appreciation of real music, which, of course, it does not,
by several thousand miles. But an uncritical audience which does not appreciate
the subtleties of genuine artistry, in composition, as well as execution,
may well run away with the idea that a certain tenor 'Voice', or a certain
young soprano of cambrian ancestry are to be compared with the likes of
Wunderlich and Callas. Look at the so-called Classical Chart, awash
with such stuff. And look at the enduring popularity of certain musicals,
whose musical content is totally puerile.
The truth is, I think, that a true appreciation of serious
music is, always was, and always will be, the privilege of a small minority.
How else do we explain why one of music's supreme geniuses lies buried in
an unmarked grave, whilst a purveyor of gratuitous, derivative nothingness
can be a multi-millonaire, (and a peer of the realm to boot)? But for a
few of us, music is a sublime, spiritual experience, where quality of content
and performance will always out, and there will always be a hunger for it,
which, despite the commercial promotion of the mediocre, will, like all
great art, always survive. And we will not allow our own tastes to be dumbed
down by anybody. We, surely are 'the musical world', aren't we?
From: Steve Hansen Smythe
I suspect that the well-known performer was talking about a small
subset of the musical world: that portion which understands and appreciates
classical music (in the broad sense). The musical world is full of invisible,
insular pockets of expertise.
For a young listener just developing musical taste, the choices are
overwhelming, and the ratio of listeners who travel the same path as the
'well-known performer' to the rest becomes smaller.
As a result, to each specialty the rest of the musical world appears
to have dumbed down.
From: Jan Templiner
I don't think it's true, really. While there certainly is a certain
point to that some parts of music are 'dumb', I don't think it has been
any different at any time. Perhaps people used to not question this, but
accept that there always needs to be a certain amount of 'dumb music'.
I believe that Darwinism also applies to the arts -- only the best
survives. But that demands that there is a lot of less stuff that doesn't
survive. I'm sure that in a century most of today's music will be forgotten,
just like we forgot most music that existed a century ago. Nonetheless,
the great music of our time will take a place just as special in history
as the great music of former times.
We have received a number of answers to the question put to readers in
an editorial entitled 'Professionalism' published
on 31 January. The choice of 'true' or 'false' percentage-wise has so
far revealed that just over half of received answers have indicated the
assertion to be true.
That to me is surprising in expectation of a strong vote for rejection
of the assertion; so the majority vote goes the other way and suggests that
Music can be in danger of trends in some way detrimental to its acceptance
by music lovers, and the public which attends some concerts and opera.
It is now my intention to invite a few experienced musical writers willing
to share their thoughts on the matter, so watch this space! But I urge any
reader fidgeting to add to the debate to get
Copyright © 28 February 2002 Basil
Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK
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