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This 31 message thread spans 3 pages:  < <   1   2  [3] 
  Re: National heritage vs Political Correctness  Ben Mueller-Heaslip at 15:15 on 09 June 2008

Thanks for your interesting response to my survey! I hope more people will take a stab at it, and maybe contribute some points I left out.

I'm going to present a theory:

The weight that each of these individual points carries to a particular composer describes, in a limited way, differences in the way he or she is attempting to project their work - the cultural, social, and financial resources essential for achieving one's intentions.

That isn't, in itself, much more interesting or relevent than the daily horoscope. But I think the larger picture is very interesting and inspiring: for example, I find the key differences between how you (Scott) and I measure these things in that I'd put tremendous value in the "Experimental modes of presentation" point and very little in "Public perception of classical music" because the former is extremely important to the way I've chosen to do things while the latter is not. On other points (Emergence of small ensembles) I agree with you entirely; on others (Orchestras) I agree with your conclusion but not the reasoning for it.

This doesn't suggest that one perspective is superior to another. Other composers addressing that Survey would emphasize things that neither of us did, and they'd likely have other points to add.

But, if this is true, the most important point it suggests is that - while Misuc is right in that there is a body of social and cultural forces, conventions, and imposed limits that affects us all - composers define their role by their relationship to particular aspects of these rather than the whole.

Pete's 'National Heritage' premise that started this thread is a reaction against composers' perception of having "lost their place" as a significant cultural voice. It's a poorly-thought out reaction which shifts responsibility away from composers.

But there's also a very real and exciting reaction to this situation: composers' movement away from universal conventions of how music is made, where, and for whom. There is a new tendency for composers to 'specialize' their roles and, rather than attempting to wrestle the sum problems they face, to carve out valid and influential niches from which to operate.

Of course this phenomenon has always existed, but generally as individual exceptions to an over-all rule. My perspective is that the rule is increasingly the exception.

This trend - if it's as important as I think it is - will inevitably revitalize composition's cultural role by altering or eradicating some of the non-functional conventions compositional practice has carried over for generations, develop new relationships and institutions, and terrify those amongst us who have trouble dealing with change.

I will pre-empt Misuc briefly: yes, Misuc, as you've said, no one person can cause a revolutionary change in the face of historical pressure. But in this situation I believe historical pressure is the agent forcing a massive change. If one considers the negligable social role that composition occupies, the stagnation of its institutions, and the failure to project the voices of excellent artists beyond an extremely limited audience, it becomes logically inevitable that many artists of integrity and ability will (and do!) seek out different means of achieving their goals.

Manifesto? And also a response to a backwards insularism that seems very common on this forum: "You don't do things the same way I do so you're diluting the value of composition, traitor to the cause!" Nonsense!

This 31 message thread spans 3 pages:  < <   1   2  [3]