February 3, 2011

East Asians and Western classical music

In response to questions about why East Asian parents are so enthusiastic for their children to be able to play Western classical music, I'm going to quote Amy Chua and the Chinese film director Chen Kaige of Farewell, My Concubine and Together.

Chua writes in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:
"That's one of the reasons I insisted [her two daughters -- I disapprove of Chua mentioning their first names and so I won't do it] do classical music. I knew that I couldn't artificially make them feel like poor immigrant kids. ... But I could make sure that [daughter #1] and [daughter #2] were deeper and more cultivated than my parents and I were. Classical music was the opposite of decline, the opposite of laziness, vulgarity, and spoiledness. It was a way for my children to achieve something I hadn't. But it was also a tie-in to the high cultural tradition of my ancestors."

Chua is particularly proud that she is descended in the direct male line from Chua Wu Neng, Imperial Astronomer to a 17th century emperor.
"To me, the violin symbolized respect for hierarchy, standards, and expertise. For those who know better and can teach. For those who play better and can inspire. And for parents.

"It also symbolized history. The Chinese never achieved the heights of Western classical music -- there is no Chinese equivalent of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony -- but high traditional music is deeply entwined with Chinese civilization."

Amusingly, Chua's progressive Jewish art critic mother-in-law disapproves of the violin and suggests Javanese gamelan percussion instruments for her granddaughter as something simple, low-pressure, and multi-culti: "Could she learn to play the gong?" After all, Debussy had been captivated by the gamelan music and it helped inspired his shimmering Impressionist compositions like Afternoon of the Faun. Chua responds:
"Personally, I think Debussy was just going through a phase, fetishizing the exotic. The same thing happened to Debussy's fellow Frenchmen Henri Rousseau and Paul Gaugin who started painting Polynesian natives all the time. A particularly disgusting variation of this phenomenon can be found in modern-day California: men with Yellow Fever, who date only Asian women -- sometimes dozens in a row -- no matter how ugly or which kind of Asian. For the record, Jed did not date any Asian women before me.

"Maybe the reason I can't appreciate gamelan music, which I heard when we visited Indonesia in 1992, is that I fetishize difficulty and accomplishment. ... Gamelan music is mesmerizing because it is so simple, unstructured, and repetitious. By contrast, Debussy's brilliant compositions reflect complexity, ambition, ingenuity, design, conscious harmonic exploration -- and yes, gamelan influences, at least in some of his works. It's like the difference between a bamboo hut, which has its charm, and the Palace of Versailles."

Movie director Chen Kaige comes from a more consciously cultured high stratum of Chinese society. One of his most searing memories is of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution smashing his father's collection of Western classical LPs. His 2003 movie "Together" is about a 13 year old violin prodigy in Beijing. From my review in The American Conservative:
Asia has produced countless young technical virtuosos, but "Together" acknowledges that often their nimble fingers and admirable work ethics have not been matched by the emotional depths required by the 19th Century Romantic repertoire.

In "Together," a working class father and his 13-year-old son move to Beijing to find a violin teacher who can help the prodigy fulfill his staggering potential....
Some American critics have praised "Together" for attacking modern China for becoming too materialistic, too conformist, too American. But that merely reflects the self-absorbed ignorance of anti-Western Westerners who confuse the unworldly Tibetan Buddhists with the worldly Chinese. The Chinese have never needed foreigners to teach them how to be materialistic.

Instead, Chen hopes Western classical music can educate his people in spirituality and individualism. "One of the biggest differences between Chinese and Western culture," Chen said in an interview with MovieWeb.com, "is that we don't have religion. We don't worship anything. Western classical music has elements of love and forgiveness that come from religion. Chinese music is very intellectual, very exotic, but there is no love. You don't feel warm after you listen to it."

The cult of the Romantic hero, as exemplified by virtuosi like Franz Liszt, first emerged in a Christian culture whose theology valued each unique soul, rather than a Confucian culture that emphasized orderly social relations.

"I always hope one day we'll see real individuals in Chinese society," Chen remarked. "But we have to hope for the young generation; it's too late for my generation to become real individuals. 'Individual' is a bad word in China…. Why did I denounce my father? Because of the fear I would be kicked out of society."

165 comments:

Chris said...

Guys who have a preference for Asian women are "disgusting," and dragon ladies who are obsessed with Western status norms are...?

Descartes said...

Western Classical music occupies a niche of prestige, and as worldy and globalized as east asians hope to be, its natural to focus on that.

Its in my opinion that classical music is a class-based interest. The upper class was supposed to enjoy music that was created for them.

Likewise lower-class people across the world(a recent phenomena including Japan and Korea), embrace hip-hop(for example the recent rise in girl bands embracing hiphop).

Descartes said...

I don't understand why such attention is given to East Asians in enjoying and using classical music to establish status.

The same thing happened in Russia, were Russian cultural elites(arguably, alot of Germans), wanted to emulate the prestige and status of Western Europeans, and so wholey embraced classical music.

But I suppose people can still believe one culture isn't allowed to influence another without it "stealing from them" or something along those lines.

Anonymous said...

It's a real shame how white children today can barely play the music of their own ancestors.

Anonymous said...

"It's like the difference between a bamboo hut, which has its charm, and the Palace of Versailles."

I read that and can only respect the clarity of thought. China has for a long time had a reputation of being the home of simple-minded peasants. It's striking that the Jewish mother-in-law now sounds much closer to that...maybe America is now the home of the simple-minded peasant, due to the intellectual chutes most of us have been directed down.

Seriously, the gong? That's the best our multicult vibrancy can muster? The fact this joke of an oppositional philosophy of multiculturalism can so hamstring the Western World is final proof of our decline.

Anonymous said...

"Why did I denounce my father?"

What a sad sentence. I had not realized (although 2 seconds on wikipedia would have educated me) that Farewell, My Concubine was intertwined with his personal history.

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of bad comments about classical music in the previous Amy Chua thread.

Western music won because it opened the harmonic dimension up. Western harmony is like perspective in painting: it creates a "third dimension." (In this analogy, the first two dimensions are melody and rhythm.) Before Western composers created tonal harmony, the third dimension was at best implied and more usually simply ignored.

You can have a rich tradition of portraiture, miniature, non-representational art, etc., without perspective. But perspective opens up the expressive possibilities that n representational artist can do without it once it appears. If you try to leave it out, you just look clumsy and naive.

Tonal harmony opened up new possibilities in pop music also. Thus, it became an indispensable element in pop music all over the world, including music from Cantopop to Arabic pop to Bollywood scores to Indonesian pop, none of which have much to do with black American music. That's really all there is to it; we don't need elaborate theories of how how the Church did this and that, the Japanese failed to invent tonality because of such and such, the Greeks, the Romans, whatever.

Tonal harmony is the main element of Western music to have a universal impact. It's conventionally dated to the 1602 publication of "Le Nuove musiche" (though music historians love to engage in bunfights over the extent to which mid 16th-c composers founded its techniques.) As such, it makes sense to see it as one of the bundle of technologies that early modern European civilization developed as it digested the scholarly legacy of the Middle Ages and used its new wealth and security to extent it in new directions. Galileo's father Vincenzo was one founders of the Florentine camerata, which ought to tell us how closely the two phenomena were linked.

-bb

Anonymous said...

Traditionally, authority has not only been respected in East Asia but aspired to. In caste-ruled India, the lower castes respected authority but didn't/couldn't aspire to higher authority. If you were born of lower caste, you might bow down before a Brahmin but never aspire to being a Brahmin. In China, even a poor peasant could dream of working hard, becoming a rich farmer, providing his kid with schooling so that he would socially climb to higher, maybe even elite, status.

Westerners also used to feel that way, but as democratic values gained dominance in the West, fewer white people were obsessed about rising higher to gain respectability. If anything, even rich people try to appear casual, hip, cool, and 'with it'.
Though we all recognize Harvard as a great university, most Americans are not dying to go to Harvard, Yale, etc. In fact, we even see them fellers as 'geeks'.
Also, in the rich West, one didn't have to rise very high to have a good comfortable life.
In the East, which was historically poorer, one had to rise relatively high to live well. So, social climbing was much more valued.

In a way, East Asian respect for classical music is paralled by their obsession to go to the top colleges. A great college isn't just a school or social institution but like a castle meant for the best of the best. All Japanese dream of going to TOKYO UNIVERSITY. Belonging to such institution makes one feel special. Being left out makes one feel worthless. It seems winning prizes and honors mean much more to East Asians than to Westeners.
East Asians have a fetish for that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Also, the sense of individuality among Westerners can provide even 'dropouts' and 'freaks' with some degree of self-worth(like the guys in EASY RIDER; India also provides greater respect/room for outsiders, freaks, eccentrics, aka yogis, gurus, and medicine men). But in a society without strong sense of individuality, one's worth comes from BELONGING TO SOMETHING. So, even though Chen Kaige explains love of classical music as an embrace of individualism, it is also a desire to belong to and be defined by something already well-established in terms of status and respectability. After all, while classical music may have historically been more 'individualistic' than Chinese music, it is less individualistic and freely expressive than jazz, afro-pop, rock, pop, etc. Thus, Chinese gains through classical music MORE INDIVIDUALITY THAN THROUGH CHINESE MUSIC but also LESS INDIVIDUALITY(ALIENATION AND ANARCHY)THAN THROUGH MODERN POPULAR MUSIC. Classical music both liberates the Chinese mind/soul and confines it in an established order.

Another thing. East Asians may be less off-put by classical music because they don't associate it with what Western PC considers all the evils that led to 'racism', imperialism, and Nazism: elitism, anal-ism, order-ism, stuffy-ism, repressed-ism, stern-ism, rigid-ism, exclusion-ism, snobby-ism, cold-rational-ism, pompous-ism, idealism, purism, refined-ism, perfectionism, grandeur-ism, holier-than-thou-ism, etc. To white liberals, it's DEAD WHITE MALE music. Worse, its greatest practitioners were them Germans who may have directly or indirectly paved the way for Nazism, not least because Hitler's greatest passion was the music of Wagner(who was seen by many as the apotheosis of German soul/culture/etc). So, even as Jews respect and practice classical music(especially performed by themselves), they don't wanna promote and disseminate it as the SOUL of the West. They would much prefer to 'deracinate' white people with black-derived music resulting from the cultural miscegenation of white and black sources. In this context, classical music is too white, too German, and too 'racist'.

Asians may also be into classical music because they still qualify as a 'lame' people. White people like to consider themselves as having graduated from stuffy/square lameness and being into cool black/pop stuff. To them, classical music has no beat, no rhythm you can shake your hips to. It's boring and lame.
Though many more Asians are into pop/rock/rap music than into classical music, there are still many 'lame' Asians who might still appreciate something so 'dead' as classical music.

Anonymous said...

Amy is a riot. Many accuse her of being simply a successful troll. They are wrong. She takes herself very, very seriously.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the reason I can't appreciate gamelan music, which I heard when we visited Indonesia in 1992, is that I fetishize difficulty and accomplishment. ... Gamelan music is mesmerizing because it is so simple, unstructured, and repetitious. By contrast, Debussy's brilliant compositions reflect complexity, ambition, ingenuity, design, conscious harmonic exploration -- and yes, gamelan influences, at least in some of his works. It's like the difference between a bamboo hut, which has its charm, and the Palace of Versailles."

Amy Chua is deaf. She judges music superficially, by its clothing than by its body and soul. Gamelan music is not 'simple' and 'unstructured'. Only deceptively so. It's like people who know nothing about music saying rock is all primitive noise and bebop jazz is all formless chaos. Though their clothing may be wild and crazy, there is an 'inner logic' and structure within their soul and core.
I have a feeling that Chua has no feeling for African sculpture and modern art. Her loss.

travis said...

The cult of the Romantic hero, as exemplified by virtuosi like Franz Liszt, first emerged in a Christian culture whose theology valued each unique soul, rather than a Confucian culture that emphasized orderly social relations.

That is correct. Beethoven's music is romantic, not classical. It's the music of the rebel.

Lighten up said...

Chua does a pretty decent job with an unvarnished explanation of why Western classical music is something worthy to study and master. She's also a cut up when doing so.

Chua tongue-in-cheek musings echo Sailer's writing style. If only Sailer was a minority woman married to a Jewish mensch then maybe his writings would see the light of day in respectable corners. Even so, it appears a lot of the "right sort" vehemently hate Chua blunt and un-PC East Asian attitude.

The Egyptians, Greeks, SE Asian Indians and other non-Europeans developed the main foundation of mathematics. Europeans, to their credit, recognized the eternal truths, beauty and usefuleness in this, adopted it and advanced it far beyond the seeds they borrowed.

So why harsh on the East Asians for recognizing the singular beauty, excellence and culture embodied in Western classical music?

Even if EA don't end up significantly advancing the art, at least the may keep it alive while the West appears to be imploding and entering a cultural dark ages in this area.

Anonymous said...

”For the record, Jed did not date any Asian women before me."

Hahahahaha!

polistra said...

Korean and Taiwanese composers have been writing new GOOD classical music for a while.

Western "classical" composers are stuck with the academic/atonal crap that gains academic respect from other academics but destroys the cochleas of music-lovers. (And destroys the ticket sales of orchestras who try to "educate" their audiences by encouraging this crap.)

The Taiwanese music runs in the national-romantic vein, not unlike Aaron Copland or Benjamin Britten reshaped to Oriental scales.

Mercer said...

I love classical music but I don't see why Chua thinks it is important for her kids to learn to play it. The job prospects for musicians are horrible. Her kids would be better off playing sports if they want to be successful. Businessmen are much more into sports then music and they would be making future contacts if they were playing with other kids rather then spending hour alone practicing the violin.

Most Americans are indifferent if not hostile to classical music. She is setting them up to be considered oddballs by their peers.

Anonymous said...

What's really hilarious is Chua values classical music as anti-vular but she goes about it in a totally vulgar, blatant, loud, brash way in pushing her kids to master it. She's less like an art/music instructor than a military drill sergeant(or at best a marching band conductor).
She suits her kids in the uniform(or straitjacket)of classical music without instilling them with the soul of it.

"Is that you, Amy Chua?"
"Is this me?"

Anonymous said...

I suppose what Chua does with her children isn't so bad. But Chinese need to treat their animals better.

Anonymous said...


A particularly disgusting variation of this phenomenon can be found in modern-day California: men with Yellow Fever, who date only Asian women -- sometimes dozens in a row -- no matter how ugly or which kind of Asian. For the record, Jed did not date any Asian women before me.


Sigh. In her first book she is particularly disparaging of the Chinese wives of Chinese-Indonesian business men.

What is the deal here? Is it that she is some sort of special Chinese woman that Jed would discard those non-Asian women he porked in favor of her, or is it that it is important to her that he is not some sort of disgusting Californicating, racist, yellow-fever loser?

Christopher Paul said...

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is a poor example of Debussy's gamelan influence. Check out Pagodes from Estampes:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxDjLhy3aRk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Claude was an uncommon musical genius with an enormous head. HBD in action?

Thripshaw said...

Yeah right, Debussy was just going through a phase! The tonic-dominant harmonic system had been played out and brought to a near breaking point by Wagner. Debussy was not the only composer trying to find a way to progress and explore uncharted territory - what about Schoenberg or Stravinsky?

Never heard of Chen Kaige before, but he sounds like a man of great intellect and sensitivity.
"Why did I denounce my father?" Wow. The Cultural Revolution is unbelievably terrifying - probably the greatest episode of mass psychosis in history. It can't happen here, right?

munch said...

Anonymous.

Yeah, YOU.

I did a google search for "total harmony" and got only hits to wierd freak body spirit zen type sites. Does the term refer to anything. Is that thing unknown to the Internet hive mind?

Wade Nichols said...

An article in the great literary online magazine and arbiter of all things black the Root had this to say about Amy Chua:

http://www.theroot.com/views/parenting-win?page=0,0

Perhaps most aggravating is that Chua has no patience with those who challenge the status quo, implying that people who challenge the power structure -- no matter how stacked or rigged it may be -- are just too lazy and selfish to master it.

You can also see where her arbitrary pronouncements, while not in and of themselves racist, could travel a very short road to that point, along with her zero tolerance for anything but white European culture in its narrowest form. Example: She goes so far as to say that her kids must play piano or violin, because if they played drums, they might wind up on drugs. She was kidding, but was she really? There is no jazz in Chua's world.


Translation: We don't like what Amy Chua said, but since she's non-white, we'll give her a reluctant almost "pass".

Pretty much standard, boiler-plate comments that you would expect from a black perspective. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

how white children today can barely play the music of their own ancestors.
play? Understand, listen to, and actually like would be an accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Amy Chua is deaf. She judges music superficially,
orientals judge every superficially. It's all about status.

BTW, Orientals don't just excel at imititating western music - their academic art academies are amazing.

If you're ever in central park, you'll see lots of orientals offering to do a portrait for 20.00 or so.. most people don't realize they're getting their portraits done by some of the most technically proficient realist artists in the world (many are china art acad. graduates).

But i see lots of orientals at New York art schools - it's always the same, precise technique, but no creativity. They can even faintly mimic, the more open, direct style of Velasquez or sargent but there is never anything of their own put into it.

Anonymous said...

Chen Kaige's explanation as to why Chinese prefer classical music isn't very convincing. The real problem is Chinese music and language are, for lack of a better term, 'chinky'. Sorry to say this, but it's true. I don't understand a word of Japanese, Indian, Mongolian, or Korean but I don't mind listening to their music/songs. But Chinese songs can sound very 'chinky', especially if it's Cantonese. I mean what kind of language is made up of fongs, chongs, and wongs? No wonder their music uses so many gongs.

Japanese and Korean music, though influenced by Chinese music and instruments, are much less 'chinky', which may explain why Japanese music is respected as 'world music'. Lots of good stuff, refined and poetic but sharp and expressive. Japan, though it adopted Confucian culture, maintained(via Shinto)the indigenous connection to nature.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJrDFKaM-Mk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUhtCLKFMx0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPdOmY1BjAU


And Indian/Pakistani music is very special too. The styles are varied and colorful, ranging from playful to meditative, but always lively and electric.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXXBfL5lRqE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWPIylNm4jc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hobK_8bIDvk

You can listen to stuff forever, it's so good.

And Korean music, due to its shaman roots, is very dynamic and gutsy, lilting and swaying, even soulful and bluesy(and bit like American Indian music):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNR-_hH_qOM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0DPkvOktrc&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7ceMt7i_yc

There was a best selling novel in China called WOLF TOTEM which romaticizes the Mongols as a people who still retain something wild, spontaneous, instinctive, and natural in their souls. From the reviews, I got the impression that the author believes the Chinese culture, values,and manners became too ossified, refined, formalized, theorized, stilted. As such, men lost their virility, the raw source of creativity--their musicality. (The western equivalent of this would be 19th century romanticism which harked back to virile Germanic barbarians, inspiring the music of Wagner. There was also Nietzsche who thought Western art and culture had for too long been diluted and stultified by all the do-goody slave-mentality and anti-sensualism of Christian music and art. He supported Wagner as a neo-pagan visionary but then turned against Wagner when he infused Parsifal with Christian themes of redemption. More recently, there is the cold/drab Anglo romanticization of the hot Latin or American white romanticization of the funky and colorful Negro--who liberated the white male from lameness and white female from sexual repression.)
Anyway, it seems Indian, Japanese, and Korean music retained something of the natural, the 'primitive', soulful, shamamic, 'pagan'(here meaning pre-high culture), elemental, and raw even as their music got more refined or elaborate. But Chinese music lost that soulful element, and maybe the ridiculousness of Chinese language played a part. Languages are musical in their own right,and Chinese isn't music to my ears. (Only vietnamese is worse, which may explain why their music is even worse.)

Jiang Rong, author of WOLF TOTEM, thinks Chinese need to reclaim the pagan soul, like that of Mongol nomads. Chua thinks Chinese need to be more refined and cultured. The irony of all this is Chua, though a high-culture fanatic, has the feisty fighting spirit of a Mongol wolf(or a tiger as she calls herself). Despite Western image of demure Chinese girl, Chua, Jung Chang, Anchee Min, and late Iris Chang are anything but. So, why did Chinese music lose 'soul'? (But Hong Kong filmmakers are the most visually musical bunch.)

Anonymous said...

"I think Debussy was just going through a phase, fetishizing the exotic ... Yellow Fever."

lol. I think her parenting is a bit much but you have to hand it her, she really put mother-in-law in her place, what with her shallow food court multiculturalism.

Allison said...

I've previously noted her lack of humility in parenting. But her lack of humility is in everything.

Christianity has a lot to offer the Chinese. I hope it spreads like wildfire. Chua's idolatry of status could use an antidote.

Descartes said...

"Amy Chua is deaf. She judges music superficially, by its clothing than by its body and soul. Gamelan music is not 'simple' and 'unstructured'. Only deceptively so. "

I think most of rationalize that she's not even motivated by a love for art, rather than a love for status or the perception of appreciating art.

Its like how man simply dismiss jazz or something as being "corruptions" of classical and only are fond of Mozart among others. Might not be an often case, but I know quite a few like this.

Jerry said...

The two most intelligent people I've known in my generation were both passionately devoted to classical music, not from a need to belong (their personalities were too strong for that) but because classical music is the most interesting kind of music. It was X (got into Harvard at sixteen) who introduced me to Sibelius, and it was Y (dropped out of Harvard grad school to go work for Cravath, Swaine and Moore) who saved up her meager funds twenty years ago to be able to buy a set of Beethoven's late string quartets.

A few days ago I listened to a new recording of Mahler's first symphony, and I was amazed yet again at the breathtaking and sophisticated suspense in that piece.

If you are unable to enjoy classical music, be it Mozart or Puccini or Beethoven, your mind is not first rate, or your soul is not complete. Allan Bloom is very clear on this in "The Closing of the American Mind", a book of which Amy Chua's seems a reflection.

Charlie said...

"Amy Chua is deaf. She judges music superficially, by its clothing than by its body and soul. Gamelan music is not 'simple' and 'unstructured'. Only deceptively so. It's like people who know nothing about music saying rock is all primitive noise and bebop jazz is all formless chaos. Though their clothing may be wild and crazy, there is an 'inner logic' and structure within their soul and core.
I have a feeling that Chua has no feeling for African sculpture and modern art. Her loss."

Shortly after Roentgen discovered x-rays, a French professor, eager to discover his own, Gallic ray, promptly did so. Only he and his own students could perceive the varying brightness of certain sparks that indicated the mysterious French wave phenomenon - but it was there! Really.

Modern art, bebop jazz, African sculpture and whatnot are the same thing. Maybe you can snow some of the more Aspergery people reading this blog with your nonsense about "inner logic" but I understand art pretty well. My mother is a poet and I grew up around her very postmodern artistic friends; I went to art school and got a fair bit of instruction from modern sculptors and painters, and also I don't think I'm immodest in saying that my native sensitivity to the aesthetic is in no way defecient. I wanted to believe that all these people knew what they were about; I tried very hard to understand what they were about, and I learned to produce things that elicited a bit of genuine, not merely polite approval from my instructors and classmates. And after many years I concluded that modern art is just one big exercise in flim-flam, and everyone pretending to perceive some profound depths in Charlie Parker or Jackson Pollock is just seeing the invisible Gallic ray. Yes there are really standards of performance - but its subtlety is just the subtlety of social games and status signalling; aesthetics has nothing to do with modern art.

Gamelan music is another matter; it's not an outright fraud. It's nice. But anyone who puts it on a level with Beethoven has no real understanding of music. Chua is by no means "deaf" but quite perceptive, and her assessment of Debussy's musical Yellow Fever is spot-on.

The Chinaman's relatively low exposure to nonsensical modern art theory is undoubtably the main reason that so many Chinese people play classical music. Western music from the late 16th to the 19th century contains the height of human achievement in music, and people who have a deep feeling for music, without being misled by some faddish ideology, will naturally gravitate towards it.

Likewise they've produced some really find classical performers, I think because of their more naive approach to the compositions. Lang Lang is the best piano virtuoso to come along in years; he's certainly a breath of fresh air to anyone used to recordings by Brendel and Goode and various other bores.

slumber_j said...

I haven't read the comments, so maybe someone has already made this point, but gamelan music is not even remotely unstructured.

Anonymous said...

"China has for a long time had a reputation of being the home of simple-minded peasants. "

Huh? I guess if you are egregiously ignorant and insular you could remain unaware of their prodigious accomplishments in the realms of literature and the visual arts, not to mention philosophy, and their remarable pre-modern technological record.

Seriously - the intellectual calibre of some of the visitors to this site sometimes...

Anonymous said...

"It's like people who know nothing about music saying rock is all primitive noise and bebop jazz is all formless chaos."

You just lost me. It IS formless chaos. The only people who deny that are childishly pretentious schmucks. "The emperor DOES have clothes, you're just not smart enough to see them!" No, it's you who's not honest enough to matter.

"I have a feeling that Chua has no feeling for African sculpture and modern art. Her loss."

More of the same. When you say things just to be pretentious ("African sculpture"), you look ridiculous. You become a figure of fun. "Modern art! Shapeless forms can be art, you're just not smart enough to see that!" - everyone with any sense was already tired of that line 100 years ago. In fact it's you who's not honest enough to be treated seriously.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Amy's got a serious case of Gatsbyism.

Anonymous said...

OMG Steve, you added stuff to the site! Recent comments, Facebook and Twitter links. Those can't hurt, I guess.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, Plato was wary of music since it was irrational and had the power to override reason. Music could seduce man from morality, responsibility, clarity. Greeks were not anti-music and loved song and dance but were also afraid of its daemonic power. Odysseus orders his men to tie him up and block their ears as they sailed past the Sirens. Bacchus the god of wine was balanced by Apollo the god of reason/order.

Confucius wasn't too crazy about music. I'm not sure he was anti-music, but he warned kings of falling into the habit of song-and-dance and being distracted from their role as serious sage-philosopher-patriarchs of the people. Music may be fun, but it wasn't really 'serious' to people like Plato and Confucius.

In a similar sense, Chua may instinctively realize the anarchic and sirenic power of music. Since music had often been the main source of teen rebellion or social deviance, Chua may want to direct her children to a form of music that is most intellectual, theoretical, and demanding of reverence(to past, authority, instructors, and great masters.)
A rocker hangs around with buddies in a garage; and female rock fans develop a groupie mentality. But interest in classical music direts one to elite conservatories in top colleges and higher class of people in a big city.

In the West, Christianity had a dual relation to music. Catholic Church celebrated the glory of God through music--even shamelessly. For certain protestant sects however, music was satanic or ungodly--too orgasmic and sinful. Music was banned in certain puritanical churches, or hymns could be sung only in the most elementary turgid way. Today's black churches would have given old puritans a heart attack.

In politics, there's the famous case of Frederick the Great. He loved arts and music and tried to run away with his musician friend. His father had the friend killed, and young Freddy had to put away 'childish' things and run a kingdom. Freddy had to be like Michael Corleone when he returns to the family. It's significant that Michael's son rebels against him in Godfather III by becoming an opera star. Having mellowed in his yrs, Michael accepts his rather fruity son.

Music is radioactive and unstable. It can inspire a people toward greater vision, nobility, unity, pride, etc--what classical music provided for the West. Or, it can unleash the most potent form of savagery, barbarism, lunacy, idiocy, ugliness--punk, most of heavy metal, and rap.

Jazz and rock have a strong 'anarchic' and wild streak in them, but it's balanced by a degree of sophistication, vision, depth, curiosity, eclecticism, and even intellectualism. Jazz produced giants like Ellington, Coltrane, and Monk. Rock produced Beatles, Dylan, Floyd, Zeppelin.

Though Classical music was the glory of Western culture, one could argue it became too refined, perfectionist, elevated, and complex-for-complexity-sake. (And modernist avant-garde music pretty much lost all link to the culture at large; same with ultra-experimental jazz of the 70s). Allan Bloom in CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND said he was initially on the side of rock n roll fans in the 50s because classical music no longer offered anything alive and vital to young people.
But he turned against rock music when it came to define the entire culture of the 60s generation. It overrode thought and sense. He regarded WOOSTOCK as a hippie equivalent of Nazi rallies--abandonment of reason and clarity in favor of mad passion.

Anonymous said...

This is all very weird. Classical music, in becoming overly refined, repressed and bottled up the creative energy of Western man. (I personally find a lot of German lied from the 19th century dull, dull, dull. It's pretty, rosy, and poised but lacking in spontaneity and life. It is too mannered, self-conscious, and formalist.) So, the explosion of pop music greatly expanded the musical possibilties and expression of Western music. Both pop and rock incorporated influences from everywhere--classical, folk, country, blues, jazz, chanson, one's own crazy soul, etc--,and Western music in the 20th century gained a vitality and freedom it had never truly known. Gershwin blended jazz and classical. Dylan mixed everything. More importantly, they felt easy and natural with themselves and expressed their feelings as it poured out. Classical music had limited expression to only those emotions and ideas worthy of 'seriousness'. At its best, it was serious indeed, but even so, it never put anyone at ease. You couldn't clap and dance to it. You had to listen with your MIND foremost. It was thought-music or grand-theme music.
Pop, rock, and Jazz liberated Western music from strictures of classical music(and academic/intellectual seriousness of modernist music), and it seemed as if this freedom would produce ever more varieties of great new fresh music,and for awhile, this seemed true.

So, how did we end up with Lady Gaga and Kanye West? How did all that freedom and liberty produce so much crap--or almost nothing but crap?
A cultural paradox. Increased freedom unleashes more creativity but total freedom diminishes it. For example, when black guys gained more freedom to express themselves but still couldn't 'say' everything, their sexuality and rage were channeled through stuff like blues, Jazz, and soul. But when blacks gained total freedom to say anything they liked, they no longer needed to sublimate anything. They could just blurt it out and override the need for any creativity. Black music went from sensual and soulful to just pornographic. Thus, freedom, which initially broadened horizons by unleashing pent-up emotions, led to a condition where culture came to be imprisoned by raw animal passions when freedom lost all sense of bounds. When man is allowed to free as a man, he discovers more of his man-ness; but when he's free to be an animal, he just reverts to one-dimensional animalhood. Is there anything more depressing that the sight of young people of all color in France trashing their own history and tradition while funky-wunkying to rap music? What was it all for? All that history, all that culture.

Anonymous said...

Well, classical music education sure beats this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wleyjo1W8Rk

Anonymous said...

Maybe Amy Chua, being non-white and non-Jewish, doesn't feel white guilt(as white gentiles do) nor a particular vengefulness toward whites(as Jews do).

Though many white and Jewish elites privately or subconsciously disdain the out-of-control vulgarity of popular culture--especially black(especially rap), heavy metal, and etc--, white gentiles are loathe to express 'racist' or 'elitist' attitude toward popular or people's culture. That would smack of snobbery and reactionism. Also, there is the idea that the West lost all moral-cultural right to superiority in WWI, WWII, and the Holocaust, so who are white people to pass moral judgement on anything or say Western culture, such as classical music, is superior?
Jews don't share in this guilt, but they don't wanna trash popular culture since (1) it's very profitable to the industries they control and (2) it's a weapon to undermine white unity, pride, and identity.

Since white people cannot say 'black stuff is bad', they have a roundabout way of criticizing black culture, which is to praise the 'good blacks' to high heaven. By elevating Colin Powell, Oprah, Obama, and Bill Cosby on a pedestal, white folks(and some Jews troubled by excessive black craziness) are essentially saying 'this is the true way to be a wonderful black person'. Since whites cannot use the carrot and the stick, they can only use the bigger and bigger carrot. Since whites, filled with guilt, have no moral right to criticize bad blacks, they can only overpraise good blacks in the hope that bad blacks will take their cues from this and start behaving too.

Chua, lacking this guilt mentality, may be more open about her disgust with ugly jiveass popular culture.

Anonymous said...

It's a real shame how white children today can barely play the music of their own ancestors.

It certainly is. A century from now, one of the West's most glorious achievements will probably survive only in the Far East, while the European peoples who invented such treasures will be reduced to gawping at Ow My Balls! and Ass.

Anonymous said...

Allan Bloom in CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND said he was initially on the side of rock n roll fans in the 50s because classical music no longer offered anything alive and vital to young people. But he turned against rock music when it came to define the entire culture of the 60s generation.

Allan Bloom died of AIDS. He's not really the person to lecture the rest of us on how listening to Mozart is essential to the creation of a well-ordered soul.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

For some reason, I thought the link to the YouTube rap battle was going to be a link to Uncle Teaches Wannabe Facebook Gangster a Lesson

Anonymous said...

"It's a real shame how white children today can barely play the music of their own ancestors."

I think most of 'their own' ancestors were into local folk music, dance music, ballads, and stuff. Especially since most Europeans lived in villages and farms--and had no access to recorded music or court music performances--well into the late 19th century(or even into the 20th century in some parts of Europe), most Europeans never experienced classical music as 'our music'. Your average Russian wasn't listening to Tchaikovsky but to something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C-ahXn3Mw4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmArogHFGWo

And the drunken Irish were listening to stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCbuRA_D3KU

And most Greeks were listening to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujStMifFqDw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20NGp1fYfls

And Bulgarians were listening to stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdqjcW8u7Lw

And Germans were listening to stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5ryo-cd-EU&feature=related

And Italians were listening to stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFcjXWTmE0k&feature=related

And Spanish were listening to stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny5JnILQzOM&feature=related

And so on. Of course, many classical musicians borrowed ideas, melodies, and textures from folk melodies, but classical music as it developed sought to transcend cultural/ethnic/national boundaries across Europe. Vaughn Williams used English folk melodies but the finished product was something more than merely English. Bartok used elements of Hungarian folk music, but his work was within the classical music grammar.

In this sense, folk music of each people and nation, in its regional/cultura/ethnic distinctness, is the REAL music of Europeans. People all over may enjoy Danny Boy, but it is Irish in the sense that Beethoven's Fifth isn't really or only German. Folk music was marked by distinctness. Classical music, whatever its origin or influences, was part of a cross-cultural or trans-cultural phenomenon. Tchaikovsky may have used some Russian folk elements, but his main musical grammar was the 'lingua franca or Germanica' of classical music. While Russian folk musician had little in common with a French folk musician, a Russian classical musician and a French classical musician shared common references, concepts--such as symphony, concerto, etc. Also, if folk musicians used instruments and singing styles unique to their own culture, classical musicians everywhere shared in a common set of instruments and vocal styles. Opera was composed and performed in Italy, Germany, Russia, France, England, Hungary, etc. For this reason, a classical musician of one country could go work in another country/culture. An Italian could work at the German court, a German could work in Paris or London. But imagine a Russian folkie with a balalaika and dancing bear trying to find a gig in Spain. He would be like a fish out of water.

Anonymous said...

So, even as we fixate on classical music as 'white national music', it was the EU of music and culture. It was 'internationalist' in its ambition and conception. So, it is both Western and trans-Western.
And though the classical music of a nation could be said to belong to that nation, it was also much more. When we listen to Sibelius, we may think 'a Finnish patriot' but the music expresses much more than mere Finnishness. Same goes for Grieg, Shostakovich, etc, etc.

Also, classical music often dealt with big, universal, or foreign themes. If Shakespeare used non-English sources to write his plays, Verdi and Prokofiev adapted Shakespeare's works for their music. Folk music tended to be about 'my people and my little village'. Classical music strived toward the universal or the larger-world-themes. Verdi's Nabucco isn't about some Italian village but about ancient hebrews and Nebuchadwhatever.

So, there is a 'globalist' aspect to classical music, and we can see this in the appeal of John Williams music for Lucas and Spielberg movies all over the world. It's not a music that's 'only about us' but a music that sets out to conquer, share, and unite the world. Influence of Christianity? Rationalism and Enlightenment? Concept of universal truth and freedom? Whatever.

Anyway, classical music is dense, deep, heady, and heavy stuff. I think it's much better to introduce young ones to folk music--of one's own people and from around the world. Folk music is colorful, accessible, soulful, and has a strong sense/scent of origin and character. Classical music finely distilled the odor and germs of folk into a kind of perfume or wine, and it may have 'higher' value, but it lost some of the pungency and tartness along the way--in the same way that standard English lacks the flavor of various dialects.

Folk music is also good for kids because even when it's fun and rowdy, it emphasizes the community and sense of togetherness(old and young). Pop music(at least youth-oriented stuff), in contrast, encourges kids to reject or rebel against the family, community, tradition, etc. I'm not anti-pop music, but kids are gonna find and gravitate to that stuff on their own anyway, so it's better to introduce them to stuff they are not likely to find on their own.

My child-music-strategy would be.

From age 1-5: folk music from around the world.
6-10: Add baroque music, church music, and simpler classical music.
11-14: Add classic rock, old pop, higher classical music.
15 and up: kid's gonna go his/her own way and do his/her thing no matter what you tell him/her, so forget it.

Anonymous said...

"Allan Bloom in CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND said he was initially on the side of rock n roll fans in the 50s because classical music no longer offered anything alive and vital to young people. But he turned against rock music when it came to define the entire culture of the 60s generation."

"Allan Bloom died of AIDS. He's not really the person to lecture the rest of us on how listening to Mozart is essential to the creation of a well-ordered soul."

Plenty of great artists and thinkers were either gay or kinda weird.
I respect Bloom. Though born gay, he kept his gayness to himself. And though he died of AIDS, he didn't make a big stink out of it like so many gays who made themselves out be like Holocaust or Homocaust victims.
I wish more gays were like Bloom. Be gay in private and don't push the stupid gay agenda in public. He respected mainstream society.

John said...

"Perhaps most aggravating is that Chua has no patience with those who challenge the status quo, implying that people who challenge the power structure -- no matter how stacked or rigged it may be -- are just too lazy and selfish to master it."

This is interesting. What is Amy Chua doing if not challenging the status quo of American parenting?

Anonymous said...

People in the West these days don't like/appreciate/understand Western classical music because it isn't taught/explained properly. If it were explained more carefully and effectively, and separated out from the absurd class bias that has stuck to it, more people would dig it/play it/understand it.

If you're having a problem trying to grok classical music, begin with Mozart's last eight piano concertos, and his String Quintet in G Minor.

Don't have time or space here to explain why, but hopefully you'll get it.

Anonymous said...

"From age 1-5: folk music from around the world.
6-10: Add baroque music, church music, and simpler classical music.
11-14: Add classic rock, old pop, higher classical music.
15 and up: kid's gonna go his/her own way and do his/her thing no matter what you tell him/her, so forget it."
Music is a sentimental and emotional thing. Attempts to over intellectualise it are a dead end, leading to John Cage's 4:33 (or whatever, does it matter?)
So I would disagree with the universalist tendencies in your program. Forget 'folk music from around the world'. The point of folk music is that its YOUR folk music. Similarly martial music. I can't imagine Japanese appreciating the bagpipes the way I do. Devotional music: same thing. I'll give your Islamic wailing a miss, thank you, and I'm sure you feel the same way about my choral stuff.
BTW, Evelyn Waugh was another musicphobe.

Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

Beethoven's music is romantic, not classical. It's the music of the rebel.

You've been misinformed: his music is classical. At most it could be described as transitional between classical and romantic (no previous classical composer had tried to aurally depict, say, storms in his work), but to call Beethoven's music romantic would be to say that it elevates emotional content over classical proportion and forms--something Beethoven never did. Beethoven the person may have been a "rebel" (actually he comes across to us as an Asperger-y a-hole) but his music was not rebellious.

It's conventionally dated to the 1602 publication of "Le Nuove musiche"

Actually I prefer the 1609 publication of Monteverdi's opera "L'Orfeo"--but mostly because it is precisely 300 years before the final bookend of Western tonality--Schoenberg's earliest atonal string works in 1909. Three exact centuries of Western glory--then the decline and fall.

dores said...

For what it's worth, there was a chart showing the average IQ of persons who said the music they most listened to was...gospel, rap, metal, classical. Guess where the lowest scores were? The highest? Surpise. Lowest were gospel and rap, followed by various forms of other pop, topped by classical, who devotees scored highest. I would have liked to see where newagey and "world" music, and some other unclassifiable types would have landed, but the main mainstream types were listed and accounted for. There are outlyers of course who don't fit the averages. Still, the mind doesn't lie.

daemon said...

for cryingoutloud, I wish I had been made to study a musical instrument and learn something that took the concentration of classical music. It has been shown that certain of this kind of music increases mental clarity and concentration. Jazz, while it has its merits, has not been shown to do this, at least among children.
Learning music and musical instruments, like learning another language, makes all kinds of learning comes more quickly. They hone the brain. Maybe Chua knows this? Knowledge isn't power. Secrets are. And I think it's something of a secret that classical music really does improve the mind while pop degrades it. And I speak as a big fan of some rock. The biology of this has been well studied, and, of course, derided and dismissed. Bad for business.

Evil Sandmich said...

On some level I wish I that level of discipline when it comes to raising kids; I'm lucky enough to get my kid to shovel the driveway.

Anonymous said...

"I did a google search for "total harmony" and got only hits to wierd freak body spirit zen type sites. Does the term refer to anything. Is that thing unknown to the Internet hive mind?"

Damned if I know, since the term is "to_n_al harmony," with an "n": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonality

The point is that the Western tonal-contrapuntal system gives you rules for building chords, moving from one chord to another, and superimposing multiple distinct melodies in harmonious fashion. Western tonal harmony was so successful that it is now everywhere. Classical music is where it came from.

I sincerely HTH with your elementary education in music terminology, angry internet stranger.

-bb

VG said...

In most of the world, and even in liberal Europe, an appreciation of western classical music is a sign of good taste. It's strange that a lot of Americans are hostile to it. Liberal white Americans think it's dad white male music while proles think it's snobbery. Check out the BBC prom videos on youtube. I can't imagine such fervour in USA.
It's wrong to say that Western classical music has nothing to offer in today's age. A lot of popular pop and rock tunes are based on classical pieces. I even heard a hiphop song based on Pachelbel's Canon.

Anonymous said...

As a side note to music, I play chess, and scholastic chess these days is being dominated by teeming Asian kids, some of them quite good for their ages. I expect that the next couple of generations of American chess masters will be predominantly Asian. (Chinese and Indian).

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the reason I can't appreciate gamelan music, which I heard when we visited Indonesia in 1992, is that I fetishize difficulty and accomplishment."

I knew Amy Chua in passing while we were undergrads at Harvard. She was a typical Asian grind who barely stood out in either talent or looks. There were certainly no indications that she had a fetish for the difficult or Western Classical music – only a knack for craven careerism. She majored in Economics, which was a notoriously easy undergrad major at Harvard, certainly compared to, say, mathematics or physics or the classics. Economics, along with Folklore & Mythology or Psychology, were areas of concentration students chose when they were either strategizing their way to the highest possible GPA or trying to free up the maximum amount of time for golf or tennis.

Actually, Chua is a canonical example of regression to the mean: her father is a five sigma talent in the general population while she is a pitiful three. When measuring Amy Chua's "brilliance," one useful calibration point is Ron Unz -- also a contemporary of Chua at Harvard, who I also knew in passing. Ron was Phi Beta Kappa, too, but won a Churchill Fellowship after pursuing a double major in Physics and the Classics. Moreover, he did original publishable work in both fields before getting his BA!

IMO, there seems to be a glaring omission in Steve's frequent mentions of Chua's accomplishments: the huge role that affirmative action likely played in advancing her law career. (Calibration point 2: Sonia Sotomayer) Asians were a rarity in law back in the early 80's and a woman Asian lawyer (similarly, a Puerto Rican Female lawyer) was a big fat two-fer. The fact that she wasn’t two coyote ugly (like Sotomayor) made her a three-fer.

I'm actually embarrassed for Chua that she has produced this very personal stage mother memoir. It's "Mommy Dearest" written from the perspective of Joan Crawford.

"I could make sure that [daughter #1] and [daughter #2] were deeper and more cultivated than my parents and I were. Classical music was the opposite of decline, the opposite of laziness, vulgarity, and spoiledness. It was a way for my children to achieve something I hadn't."

Go on, Amy, say it. Having to attend El Cerrito Public High School in America was an indignity that left you culturally shallow, just like those guys who founded Creedance Clearwater Revival. The Berkeley campus was a five minute BART ride away, yet somehow you never got around to taking those piano or violin lessons. Maybe it was because Western music doesn't naturally resonate in your status seeking, materialistic Eastern soul.

FemX said...

Asians make their kids play western classical because its the only music they can make their kids learn. It is far more aesthetically appealing than eastern classical (face it, that sounds worse than western post-modern classical). All you have to be to learn western classical is smart enough to precisely memorize a song someone else wrote. It doesn't actually require any musical talent. So it's maximum bang for buck. You sound like you are playing an amazing harmonically structured piece, yet all you've done is be a trained monkey with precise hand coordination. It's not much more than playing a tough video game. I would know because I spent quite a lot of my childhood playing classical piano and a lot playing video games too.

Asians don't make their kids learn jazz and rock because you need actual talent to play those genres. You don't need brains or discipline or even much practice- you need a lot of talent. Hence, plenty of great jazz musicians have been illiterate/heroin addicted/self-taught. It doesn't mean the music is plebian though. It sounds great, it's innovative and if you analyze it, it has melodic/harmonic complexity.

Asians appear to have little talent for creating music. There are a few asian classical stars on string instruments- Yo Yo Ma, Midori etc, but that's about as much musical accomplishment as they are reknown for. The vast majority of classical soloists are of central and east European descent, despite the number of Asians that learn classical instruments. The makers of the best classical instruments are in Europe (who wants a Yamaha concert grand??), and the composers were Western too.

Otherwise, the most internationally popular genres of music for the last century were derived from African musical structures- jazz, rock, R&B, bossa nova.

Amy Chua is rather confused when she claims that Asians produce a lot of musical prodigies. Umm no. Asians produce children who can mimic intricate pieces at an unusually young age. There is nothing musical or prodigious about their ability to do so.

Kylie said...

"Anonymous.

Yeah, YOU.

I did a google search for "total harmony" and got only hits to wierd[sic] freak body spirit zen type sites. Does the term refer to anything.[sic] Is that thing unknown to the Internet hive mind?"


munch.

Yeah, YOU.

Anonymous mentioned "tonal harmony", not "total harmony".

Anonymous said...

Perhaps most aggravating is that Chua has no patience with those who challenge the status quo, implying that people who challenge the power structure -- no matter how stacked or rigged it may be -- are just too lazy and selfish to master it.

This kind of analysis always misses the point (though really, too "selfish to master it" - I mean, we're talking about the bourgeois here - "greed is good", ambitious, competitive social climbers). The people who challenge the power structure often are too lazy to master the power structure - but the point is that a power structure based on "merit" as embodied by credentialism and qualifications and the conformist "hard work" meant to garner them, as opposed to actual, real world achievement is a beast to which they owe no loyalty.

Jim O said...

And while we're at it, why did white British guys in the 1960's want to play nothing but black American music?

Anonymous said...

What of Whites and black music. Or whites and East Asian food?

Anonymous said...

This phenomenon - Asians and classical music - is much simpler than most here seem to realize.

It's intelligence.

Smart people like classical music and Asians are smart. There are also a lot of Jews in classical music. Same reason.

The smartest person I've ever known personally was probably Jeff Raskin. I hired him as a conductor for my opera company. You may have heard of him as "the father of the Macintosh". He was a typical Ashkenazim Jew but intriguingly he learned and spoke Chinese.

Almost the last thing Jeff said to me was to note that smart people seemed to always gravitate towards classical music.

It used to be that the violin section of every American orchestra was completely Jewish. When I was a teenager I used to dare anyone to name a non-Jewish violinist other than Ruggiero Ricci. Nowadays everyone knows of a lot of Asians string players, so the game has been spoiled.

You don't have to read Claude Shannon to appreciate that a Western style symphony orchestra playing a full length symphony or opera is producing a whole lot more information than some hip-hop or rap group droning and chanting. Rap simply has almost no musical elements - no harmony, no melody, no counterpoint. Rap is the music of the stupid performed by the stupid.

That, you will recognize, is an hypothesis. Someone please test it. Give SATs or other tests to the audience of rap concerts and to the audiences at the local municipal symphony. I can't find a study that confirms that the symphony audience has better test scores - but who would doubt it?

Modern black music isn't just primitive - it's degenerate. That is to say in the recent past it was more highly developed but it has declined. A half century ago black musical artists associated themselves with European royalty. There was Nat "King" Cole, "Count" Bassie, "Duke" Ellington and others. They created a sophisticated and serious genre of pop music pretending to be members of an hereditary aristocracy. Today's black performers want to be mistaken for street criminals, pimps, and drug pushers. The shift in social aspirations has been bad for their musical compositions.

The smart peoples (Asians and Jews) fill the concert halls and opera houses. The stupid peoples (blacks) listen to rap.

This is simply Occam at work again. IQ is important.

PS
It's Black History Month. Expect a lot of nonsense about Jazz and Black creativity.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Classical music for many people is too demanding. Not just for practitioners but for listeners. You cannot really be yourself. Its lofty and 'noble' emotions and expressions don't express the real you. It's like going out to a classy dinner at a high priced restaurant. It may be special and all that, but you have the suppress the real you or the you-you and be the better-or-higher-you. We all wanna be more than an animal but we also wanna be 'me'. Ballet, the form of dance most closely associated with classical music, is beautiful and fancy(and may well be the greatest dance ever created), but it doesn't feel natural. Even its gracefulness isn't 'easy' like that of a cat; it exudes total control, discipline, perfectionism. Everything is crystalline, as if one false movie will break all the brittle precious porcelain and glassware. There are occasions for higher things, just as there are times for evenings where you dress up and show proper table manners, etc. But it isn't really fun and you can't be the you-you. It's like when you go to Church, you gotta wear your best and be your best(unless it's a crazy black or hillbilly church). Again, there is a need for that sort of thing, but we just don't want it 24/7, 53 weeks a year. Not all classical music is like this; you can be intimate and natural with some classical music, but most are quite demanding and require patience and concentration--like L'Avventura by Antonioni or The Leopard by Visconti. Great movies but not for everyday; they require the viewer to repress the natural/eternal 'child-animal-clown' in oneself and ponder higher/deeper/graver/nobler/denser/or-seriouser ideas, values, and feelings. Once Upon a Time in the West is more like classical music(and it failed at the box office in the US). Good, Bad, Ugly is more like rock music, and it was a huge success.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, despite the importance of rock music in our lives, only a handful of movies have dealt with its significance. Three best I can think of are SAT NIGHT FEVER, DAZED & CONFUSED, and HIGH FIDELITY. SAT NIGHT shows what disco/dance means to Tony; it is to him what boxing is to Rocky. In DAZED AND CONFUSED, music isn't just an accompaniment but an anthropological study of the culture. We see how youths revolved around the music and vice verca. But HIGH FIDELITY really gets to the core of it. In one scene, the main character is re-classifying his collection and his co-worker drops by and is flabberghasted--he says 'no fucking way!'--when told that the criterion for categorization is 'autobiographical'. THAT'S IT. No music has had the kind of biographical immediacy and intimacy of rock music. When you fall in love, a rock/pop song expresses your exact sentiment--or what you want it to be. Right after a breakup and heartache, nothing 'agrees' with your emotions more strongly than a rock/pop song. Classical, folk, and other songs also deal with themes of love, pain, etc, but emotions in classical tend to be transcendant(detached and grandiose or meditative/philosophical, even intellectual) while emotions in folk tend to be, well, folksy and uh-shucksy(more communal than personal). But a rock/pop song gets to the core of your PERSONAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL emotions of love, pain, rejection, hope. Because of this closeness, it becomes a part of one's biography. Though any kind of music can have biographical value, rock/pop music sticks closer, like hookworms to a stomach. It may suck you dry but it becomes a part of you. And because rock/pop music matters most to us when we go through the crisis phase of becoming adults(when our emotions are most intense, confused, and searching for meaning), it has special meaning. The guy in HIGH FIDELITY said he never got over Charlie(Zeta Jones)like some people never got over Nam or the night their band opened for Nirvana. We never get over rock music. Classical music may be for the second crisis stage of one's life--middle age crisis when we attain wider/deeper perspective of life.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

"and dragon ladies who are obsessed with Western status norms are...?"

I'm going to go with "bitchy and annoying".

Is that the right answer? :D

Svigor said...

Guys who have a preference for Asian women are "disgusting,"

I don't know about Chua, but I find something a bit disgusting about people with an exclusive cross-racial preference. "I only date black women" from a non-black, "I only date yellow men" from a non-yellow, etc. It's creepy. Yes, this is obviously an emotional thing. I don't like the vibe I get from most other sexual fetishists, either.

Mark Wethman said...

"food court multiculturalism."

This is a great phrase. Gotta remember it.

kurt9 said...

Individualism is perfectly compatible with the values of intelligence, competence, and accomplishment. All of these values have no need for the psycho pathology of romanticism.

Svigor said...

Another thing. East Asians may be less off-put by classical music because they don't associate it with what Western PC considers all the evils that led to 'racism', imperialism, and Nazism: elitism, anal-ism, order-ism, stuffy-ism, repressed-ism, stern-ism, rigid-ism, exclusion-ism, snobby-ism, cold-rational-ism, pompous-ism, idealism, purism, refined-ism, perfectionism, grandeur-ism, holier-than-thou-ism, etc.

A couple false notes there. Holier-than-thou-ism is absolutely central to PC. Elitism ain't far off. Stuffy? Ohhh, yeah. Repressed? Tell me about it. Stern? Rigid? Snobby? Pompous? Purist? Anal? Ordered? Yep.

carol said...

On the other side of the musical spectrum, I just happened across this 1984 essay by Martin Williams, a jazz critic.

"Why do we all, at whatever level, find such meaning in the musical culture of Afro-Americans? Why has their music triumphed throughout the world? We invoke it to get through our adolescence and most of us then keep it, one way or another, central in our lives. [present company excepted of course]

"...I can't answer my question but if I could, I think I'd know more about what we are and what we might become than any man alive."

It forced me to guess, because being white is boring - ? I saw nothing special in being white while growing up (or in even being human for that matter). White and boring were the norm, hence the constant search for novelty.

Ennui should be a sin.

Anonymous said...

In some ways, rock's relation to its root sources may be like classical music's relation to its root-sources. In a sense, rock music is the classical music of the modern era. Each culture had its folk music, but classical music created a pan-European or meta-European form of music that transcended cultures. Classical music drew from folk music and traditions but remolded and reshaped those influences into a music for higher tastes, of greater sophistication, wider appeal, and greater breadth. It's no wonder then that the Wagner cult was not limited to Germany but spread all over Europe. Paris had some of the biggest Wagnerians.

Rock music too has 'folk sources'--rural hillbilly songs, country, blues, rhythm and blues, bluegrass, English ballads, Irish songs, ethnic music(or their flavor), reggae, Jewish music, etc. But rock took those elements and created a sensibility and musical form that had a more far-ranging and universal appeal/relevance/fascination than its folk sources. Blues became a passion for many white people, especially in the UK, but no matter how well Eric Clapton played the blues, it remained 'black music'. And blues records rarely became mega-hits or had cross-over appeal. There are blues clubs in Poland and Japan but it's more of a cult thing. Blues is still black folk music. But what the Stones, Who, Led Zeppelin, and Hendrix expanded the cultural and grammatical narrowness of blues. And Dylan grabbed ideas from blues, country, folk, etc. Most young people weren't into blues, country, folk, etc (Even the folk music movement was more college-centered and as much about politics as musical appreciation. It was also a means to show off that one was more 'serious' than a rock and roller. Besides. rock and roll had run out of ideas by 1959.) Rock music is what made it all happen. There was traditional pop before rock, and though it had its share of big names--Gershwin, Berlin, Cole Porter, etc--, they suppressed their personalities and pandered to mass tastes and were careful not to stir up too much controversy. Jazz had developed into an art form under guys like Ellingston and Beboppers, but it simply wasn't for everyone; Jazz was not wholly 'inclusive'; there was a certain style and sensibility that defined something as Jazz or not Jazz. Same was true of rock n roll, essentially a loud/fast form of dance music meant for teenyboppers and/or rebels. Rock n roll could not be everything; as Chuck Berry said, 'Roll over Beethoven'. His song 'Rock n Roll spells out what is and what isn't rock and roll'. Rock, on the other hand, was genuinely 'inclusive', as it drew from just about everything--even modern jazz and classical music. Without the rise of Rock, rock n roll might indeed have been just a fad. We remember most 50s rock n rollers as nostalgia acts of another time and place, but 60s rock still speak to us and has an almost timeless relevance; in this sense, rock is like classical.

Anonymous said...

Rock's two main fathers are Dylan and the British Invasion. Dylan grew up steeped in country, rock n roll, blues, folk, etc. He loved that stuff but he was also very well-read, played chess, read fancy poetry, and hung around avant-garde people. He was an intellectual. Though he played the simple folkie for awhile, he was always thinking beyond simple genres. He thought he could fuse everything and bring it all back home.
As for the British guys(Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Floyd, Animals, Yardbirds, etc), their distance from America--and the influence of British/European sensibility--allowed a wider perspective on American musical culture. If most Americans experienced their own music as trees, British could see the forest--the larger repercussions and potential of this music.
And, Beach Boys added lush harmony and California sun to pop music.
Rock music was also infuenced by the change of culture among NY songwriting teams. If the old Tin Pan Alley crowd simply pandered to audience taste, the new generation of Brill building songwriters added more of their soul and personality to the music, creating stuff like 'you've lost that loving feeling'. And with Motown, black music was no longer just black music for blacks but pop music with cross-over appeal, thus carrying on a lively back-and-forth creative conversation with white musicians. Though Muddy Waters never had a huge hit with white people, Supremes surpassed the Beatles in popularity in 1966. Blues, country, folk, etc, were all crucial to the development of rock music, but only rock music became something like universal music.

Rock music was also important as the first truly electric music. Though electric guitars had been used earlier by blues and country singers and even though rock n rollers developed the basic riffs, it was the rockers who really took electric music to the whole new level--really understood its radioactive atomic power. Chuck Berry was an ace propeller airplane pilot but Townshend was a jet fighter pilot and Hendrix, Gilmour, and Paige were the Enola Gay bombers. With the realization of electricity's full potential, 4 guys could do what it required 100 musicians in the days of Wagner and Mahler. The term 'guitar god' is apt for a great electric guitarist is like Zeus with his thunderbolts. Songs like Whole Lotta Love are essentially Wagnerian operatic/symphonic orchestration of blues motifs. Blues was the music of Negroes, but rock expanded blues elements into heaven/hell music that crossed over all cultures like storm clouds. But rock also took from English/Irish/European ballads and Germanic motifs, as we can see in Stairway to Heaven and in the songs of Van Morrison.

Anonymous said...

From 66-67, rock even got very arty, even classical, and everyone was trying to do their 'art rock' thing--Sgt Pepper, Satanic Majesties, Days of Future Passed, Pipers at the Gate of Dawn, etc. Dylan had paved the way with BoB or Blonde on Blonde. But Dylan, ever prescient, saw the danger of where this was heading. Though the concept of rock was to go beyond its root sources, rock music could lose its vitality and organicism if it tried to transcend its 'crude' and earthy roots altogether... which is why Dylan turned back to the music of 'old weird America' in his sessions with the Band(later released as Basement Tapes), his stark and spare John Wesley Harding album, and Nashville Skyline(return to country). What Dylan had realized at the height of summer of love in 67 finally dawned on others. leading Stones to ditch artsiness and release the elemental back-to-basics Beggar's Banquets. And Lennon was less arty and more fierce on the White Album. One of the dangers of classical music was it had become TOO DIVORCED from its root folk sources, thereby becoming too high-and-mighty and refined(and even pompous). Today, much of artsy rock--especially by Moody Blues--is painful to listen to. In a way, Moody Blues took the surface mannerisms of classical music without really undertanding its heart and soul. In this sense, Led Zeppelin, Dylan, and Hendrix understood the soul of classical music better than groups like Yes and Moody Blues who literally took superficial classical motifs, as if pompous imitation alone would make their music artier and 'higher'.
The group that best understood the soul of classical music is Pink Floyd. prolly the greatest rock band ever. Floyd didn't try to be 'classy'--like Moody Blues and Yes--but drew their inspiration from some deep source within and made storm and thunder with that stuff.

Richard A. said...

How about tilting US immigration policy toward those immigrants who like classical music?

Anonymous said...

Spengler has pretty interesting article in Asia Times, Why the West is Boyle'd, where he contrasts Asians, who are studying classical music, with the West and its Idol competitions.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone yet done a contrast and compare between Michelle Malkin and Amy Chua? At a glance they seem to have very similar life stories.

josh said...

Why cant white parents realize the education of their (male) children is NOT a priority of the school system,and organize to become their own Tiger moms & dads. A classical music curriculum,beginning early and continuing throughout the school career,like math or English,beginning with very elementary stuff and getting more complex as the student gets older,would be a great way to teach kids,and help them to fulfill their potential--which is something the Gap-mad schoolcunts do not believe in,except for black (& mestizo) males. BTW that "tiger mom" is a professor of law at Yale. We need to go to China to get our scumbag PC Overlords,like we dont have enough here already?? We need a China-doll lecturing us about "civil rights" and "Dr.King"? Which reminds me of a funny clip I saw on Fox News(which I hate but watch anyway) during the Arizona immigration law craziness. A heavily accented Mexican said re the brouhaha:"What theese reminds me of,eeze Germany and ADOLF HITLER!!"

Anonymous said...

Listen to ALan Lomax's recording of Genoses LONGSHOREMEN singing and you'll realize how much musical ability has declined in the west. Before radio when people made their own music, I think understanding and appreciation of music was higher.

Regarding youtube flamenco link - that's southern Spain, northern SPanish like say Galecia, sound more like celtic music.

Anonymous said...

WHy doesn't anyone use "oriental" anymore? Such PC nonsense

rob said...

Anonymous, would you please go back to using "Andrea Beavis Butthead" or a spasm along the aadsdaffsdasdaf. Like Lucius Vorenus, you are so obviously you that there's no reason not to use a handle.

As for the Asians and classical music. Maybe its an intellectual cargo cult. Whatever group of dim islanders saw white people getting cargo, so they built pretend runways. Chinese see that the rich, powerful, and creative west has classical music, so they imitate the form without ever "getting it".

steve burton said...

"...while classical music may have historically been more 'individualistic' than Chinese music, it is less individualistic and freely expressive than jazz, afro-pop, rock, pop, etc."

Ummm...so Mahler is "less individualistic" than Donna Summer? And Chopin is less "freely expressive" than Kanye West? How odd. I wonder how I missed that.

On the other hand, its true that a lot of white liberals associate classical music with "elitism," if only because they generally know nothing whatever about the social history of the arts.

"The tonic-dominant harmonic system had been played out and brought to a near breaking point by Wagner."

*Sigh*. The tonic-dominant harmonic system can never be "played out." Every year, there's a new crop of 16-year olds learning to use their ears and searching for new music in that system. If "classical" composers refuse to give it to them, they'll resort to pop-crap instead.

"The Chinaman's relatively low exposure to nonsensical modern art theory is undoubtably the main reason that so many Chinese people play classical music. Western music from the late 16th to the 19th century contains the height of human achievement in music, and people who have a deep feeling for music, without being misled by some faddish ideology, will naturally gravitate towards it."

Precisely so - except for the dates. Guillaume de Machaut ain't chopped liver, and neither is Vagn Holmboe, among various others falling outside the "late 16th to...19th century" window.

"Classical music had limited expression to only those emotions and ideas worthy of 'seriousness'. At its best, it was serious indeed, but even so, it never put anyone at ease. You couldn't clap and dance to it. You had to listen with your MIND foremost. It was thought-music or grand-theme music."

Carl Orff, anyone? Johann Strauss, Jr.? The "Anvil chorus?" Purcell's catches? Janequin's chansons?

In the house of "classical" music there are many mansions.

Anonymous said...

One value of classical music is the teaching of hierarchy of values in society. Though much of the high brow/low brow dichotomy was lost in the 60s--which wasn't necessarily bad since elitists tended to look down on great popular culture while elevating awful 'intellectual' avant garde stuff (liberal snobs) or gazing up only at long-established traditional art(conservative snobs)--, there is an hierarchy in everything. Even in pop culture. we prize the Beatles more than Bay City Rollers; Rolling Stones more than Herman's Hermits; Joni Mitchell more than Britney Spears. And only an idiot would say WEEKEND AT BERNIES and REAR WINDOW are of equal merit or demerit since they both belong to 'pop culture'. Since we cannot preserve or remember everything, there is a need for a canon, however imperfect or controversial, and that means hierarchy. After all, if Earth were to blow up and we could only take with us 100 best music, 100 best movies, 100 best book, 100 best paintings, etc, we are not gonna randomly choose anything in the belief that everything is EQUAL.

Classical music is useful in this sense by instilling a sense of differential worth of culture in children and young adults. People with this sense of hiearchy are better able to see junk and trash for what they are. They may enjoy junk and trash but won't fooled by its sham 'importance'. Same with food. A kid who knows about nutrition and health and good eating may enjoy sodapop, cookies, twinkies, and candy, but he will not mistake junk food for GOOD FOOD. Junk food will be enjoyed as snacks, not as the main course.

So, the problem isn't so much vulgarity or junkery per se. Vulgarity can be fun in the arts--and even serve as inspiration for higher arts. Dostoyevsky rubbed shoulders with grubby reality to find the stuff for his novels; and many great films and operas have been made from soapy tripe. The real problem is the lack of the cultural hierarchy, whereby young people often mistake vulgarity as GREAT STUFF. It's one thing to enjoy a Britney Spears tune pop fizzle, but quite another to worship the ho as a 'great artist'.

The problem among modern kids is they haven't been instilled with the sense of hierarchy, so they confuse junk with serious stuff. Since there's nothing inside them that experienced or strives for anything higher, they are completely content with ass-shake burp-out music and comedy. And once they've become infantilized this way, they become impatient and throw hissy fits if you try to introduce them to stuff that requires a bit of patience, thought, concentration,and curiosity. Everything has to give them orgasms: grand movie effects, loud fast music, thumpity humpity rhythm, scary gory horror, etc. There are lots of kids who say, I WILL NOT SEE A MOVIE WITH SUBTITLES. I WILL NOT SEE A B/W MOVIE. I WILL NOT SEE AN OLD MOVIE. They are spoiled babies.

Reading pulp novels is okay but pulp shouldn't be confused with literature. There's a difference between someone who knows real literature but enjoys pulp as a diversion and someone who only cares for pulp.
There are things of higher, eternal, and timeless value. Not everything is a discotechque or shopping mall or game store. There is a need for churches, museums, monuments, etc. This is why parents need to take their kids to art museums, churches, or special places which signify something more than 'this is fun'. Kids should be introduced to fun stuff too, of course, but they need to know there's more to life, culture, humanity, and history than funnery. And classical music is one of those things--like great literature and art films--that can instill a sense of seriousness in kids. Same is true of politics. People who know their politics and history are immune to stupid far leftist or far rightist ideas like communism and Nazism. But, morons fall for Chomsky or Stormfront. And people with no science sense fall for flaky New Age or Creationism/Intelligent Design.

steve burton said...

First Anonymous on 2/04: great links! But, in fairness, these performers are all highly skilled professionals, and what they're doing may be *almost* as distant from what the "average Russian" or Greek or Bulgarian or Italian or Spaniard of earlier generations was used to as, say a Tchaikovsky waltz played by the Vienna Philharmonic.

In general, I'd expect that folk music, when authentically performed, stands little more chance of weaning young people off the teat of present day commercial pop then *The Art of Fugue*.

Steve Sailer said...

Linda Gottfredson has said that perhaps the single most accurate casual question for judging whether somebody has a 3-digit IQ is something along the lines, "How much do you like classical music?" To be precise, you get the fewest false positives this way. Lots of people with 3-digit IQs don't like classical music, but very few people with 2-digit IQs like it a lot.

Other times and places, this wouldn't be so accurate, but in 21st Century America, it's pretty close to a slam dunk.

Anonymous said...

Watching this video of Lee Kuan Yew - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVDE0KPMaeY - I got an inkling of why East Asians may be into classical music. From the video, I get a sense that Lee has had a love/hate thing with the British. In fact, his hate is inseparable from his love. The Brits were powerful, wealthy, great, noble, dignified, advanced, high and mighty, etc. Chinese in Singapore, in contrast, were backward, poor, ignorant, weak, etc. Lee wanted his people to break out from British rule but he also wanted Singapore to be as rich, advanced, and proud as the British. Though Lee didn't think Western values were entirely right for the East, he wanted the East to aspire to be more like the West. So, even as he resented British power and authority over Singaporeans, he admired and respected the British--so much so that I'll bet he's grieving at the pathetic sight of modern British with their apologetics, self-loathing, etc. (There's a great irony to this. Lee rejected Western values as too 'free and individualistic', thereby leading to divisiveness, social tensions, demagoguery, and social violence, especially in a diverse nation like Singapore. So, Asian socieites, in order to promote harmony, had to suppress certain freedoms and 'guide' and 'shape' people's way of thinking. What's funny is that the West--especially EU--that admonishes Singapore for its lack of freedom has instituted political, social, and legal controls of its own--political correctness--in the name of preserving social harmony among an increasingly diverse population. Lee's PC is from the Right, EU's PC is from the Left.)

Anyway, for Lee and others like him, the West is the gold standard of civilization, achievement, pride, glory, greatness, and they never wanna see it go. Even as they want the East to rise and catch up, they want the West to remain as the model and emblem of what man has achieved and can achieve. They don't wanna see it be lost or fade--not least because people like Lee spent their entire lives looking up to the West in envy, admiration, wonderment, and fascination. In fact, it was because the West existed that people like Lee decided to 'work hard' to achieve great things.

The funny thing is this mindset is nothing new and indeed has its origins in 18th and 19th century Europe--and even earlier. With the rediscovery of lost ancient classical civilizations/culture, Europeans hoped to learn and know more about the glory that was lost. And when Greece fell to the Ottomans, it was especially jarring. Anyway, interest in the classics led Angos, French, and Germans to travel to Greece and Italy to learn about the 'lost' glory. Sadly, the people who lived in the cradle of the West were no longer connected to their own glorious history. Most Greeks were illiterate goat herders dancing to bouzouki or breaking dishes at weddings. There was nothing Periclesian about them. There was little or nothing about them that suggested 'Athena' or 'Apollo'. And most Italians were a bunch of swarthy and grubby mama's boys who were crying or kissing the cheeks of other men--and eating too much garlic. There was nothing Augustan or Caesarian about them. In other words, the very people who'd invented and developed classical culture--Greco and Roman--were no longer part of that culture. So, it was up to the Northern Europeans to rediscover, study, analyze, and appreciate this glorious culture of ancient Greece and Rome, Lord Byron went to fight for Greece not because he loved contemporary Greeks but because he dreamt of classical Greece. And no nation was more obsessed with Classical Greece than Germany in the 19th century. In fact, Germans knew more about Greek history, literature, arts, and philsophy than most Greeks. What Greeks had lost, Germans 'rediscovered', valued, and preserved.

Anonymous said...

Later, this fascination extended OUTSIDE Europe, especially in the 'ORIENT', stretching from North Africa to Southeast Asia. New science of archaeology and historiography allowed Europeans to rediscover the glorious lost and forgotten cultures, civilizations, and achievements of Egypt, India, Cambodia(Angkor Wat), and whole bunch of other stuff. Europeans were stunned by these discoveries. How could such wonders have been forgotten, neglected, and buried by the very people who'd created them with vision, ingenuity, creativity? How could the Cambodians, for instance, have created something as magnficent as Angkor Wat yet know next to nothing about it? How could the Egyptians have forgotten about the pyramids? How could Iranians have forgotten all about the glories of ancient Persia? Since the very peoples in those regions had forgotten all about their own histories, glories, and cultures, Europeans felt it was their duty to rediscover, study, appreciate, and preserve this culture. This is one reason why so many ancient treasures of the Orient ended up in museums in Europe. In a way, Europeans 'stole' them, but in another way, they revived it and brought it back to life. It is indeed sad when a people lose appreciation of their own culture and history--as when Taliban blew up the Buddha statues or when Chinese during the Cultural Revolution destoryed something like 80% of all traditional art, literature, architecture, etc.
And though Western classical music cannot be physically destroyed, it is sad to see it being lost from the souls of Western man. Of course, with the massive influx of Africans and Muslims into Europe, entire treasures of Western culture could be PHYSICALLY destroyed or ignored by newcomers who feel no attachment to them. In this sense, I'm somewhat grateful that some people, even if non-white, care for some of the glories of the West.

Anonymous said...

"People in the West these days don't like/appreciate/understand Western classical music because it isn't taught/explained properly. If it were explained more carefully and effectively, and separated out from the absurd class bias that has stuck to it, more people would dig it/play it/understand it."

Classical music is not for 'digging'. If it's not for everyone, that's okay. Art cinema isn't for everyone either.
Why should we popularize everything simply to draw more people? Megamall churches draw more people, but do they offer better spirituality?
The fact is no amount of innovative marketing is gonna make films like PERSONA 'cool' for everyone to dig.
Of course, good teachers do matter, but while some kids have it in them to appreciate classical music, some kids simply don't--just like some kids get calculus, some kids don't(even if it's explained to them).

Also, classical music is essentially PAST MUSIC, just like classical architecture is most past architecture. Sure, there is neo-classicism, but when we think of classical architecture, we think of Greece and Rome and Europe prior to modernism. If we never tire of the great architectural wonders of the past, what's wrong with appreciation of past music? Besides, it's always gonna be new for the next generation to rediscover. Idiots like Alex Ross think the problem is the term 'classical music'. Does he really think it would be more popular if it were called 'cool hip music'? If classical music is promoted and practiced like pop music, not only will it fail to attract the dummies but it will lose its core fans--just like gimmicks like 'hip hop republicans' not only fail to attract blacks but drive out more whites from the GOP.

One area where classical music or classical style music is very much alive is in the movies. LOR's score was awful but classical-ish. John Williams is a brilliant if conventional classical stylist for movies. Bernard Hermann did some fine classicalish work in cinema. Delereu and Morricone composed some great classical-ish scores too. Delerue's score for CONTEMPT and TWO ENGLISH GIRLS are especially memorable. Movies have also popularized classical music through works such as EXCALIBUR and APOCALYPSE NOW. Ride of Valks may well be the most famous of music in the world. So, classical-ish music still has its appeal through movies though most of it sucks.

Anonymous said...

So, what can we do to preserve classical music appreciation among the people?

Parents should have a classical collection and play them once a week just to give their kids a sense that there's more than pop music out there. My dad had a classical collection and though I didn't get into it as a kid, I knew something other than Bee Gees existed, and this knowledge later developed into greater interest.

Also, instead of turning music appreciation into an academic thing for lay students, why not just offer a pass/fail class where students arrive, relax, and hear some good music with minimal explanation. Too much eggheadishness kills the sense of fun. Don't associate classical music with too much reading, theory, homework,and grades--at least for non-specialist students. Let them just get the feel of it. If they really like it, they may sign up for the tougher classes.

Make more movies about classical music. Movies are very influential in what people like. Before AMADEUS, most people said Beethoven was their favorite composer. But with the movie, Mozart became the hot item.
The problem is most movies about classical music sucks--AMADEUS wasn't that good either. But if some conservative filmmaker wanna make movies, why not about guys like Mahler and the like?

A conservative documentary filmmaker should make a series on classical music like Ken Burns did for Jazz. Prior to Burns' documentary, Jazz was an elite thing about educated liberals. But after the documentary, a record number of kids signed up to study Jazz. Burns' documentary didn't just present Jazz as music but a series of PERSONALITIES. Cult of personality matters in art. When we think of Picasso, we don't just see the paintings but see his face and recall parts of his life story. Maria Callas became a big star not only for her voice but her unique looks and personality.
Most people don't know the personalities behind classical music. So, a documentary series on the glory of Western music that compellingly features the life stories, thoughts, adventures, tragedies, and triumphs of individual personalities like Bach, Haydn, Handel, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, Sibelius, etc can inspire interest in classical music. We live in the age of film and video. Seeing is believing, Music needs a face, personality, biography. This is missing for the most part in classical music. When most people think of classical music, they confuse all the different artists as one and the same and interchangeable.

Steve Sailer said...

A reader writes:

"I knew Amy Chua in passing while we were undergrads at Harvard. She was a typical Asian grind who barely stood out in either talent or looks. There were certainly no indications that she had a fetish for the difficult or Western Classical music – only a knack for craven careerism. She majored in Economics, which was a notoriously easy undergrad major at Harvard, certainly compared to, say, mathematics or physics or the classics."

That's pretty much Chua's description of her career, too.

kurt9 said...

Christianity has a lot to offer the Chinese. I hope it spreads like wildfire. Chua's idolatry of status could use an antidote.

I seriously doubt that.

When I lived as expat in Japan during the 90's, we used to talk about whether Japan would have been better off if the missionaries (that came in the late 16th century) had been allowed to stay (they were thrown out at the beginning of the edojidai). Our consensus every time we had this conversation was that Christianity would have turned Japan into an economic basket case like the Philippines, the only Christian country in the region.

With the exception of the Protestant work ethic, Christianity really does not promote competence and accomplishment.

josh said...

Good God(y'all)!This is one of the most fascinating isteve comment sections ever--but at the same time...FRIGHTENING!!Its like a whole roomful of Fraziers were unleashed on their keyboards to argue with each other!

Anonymous said...

As a lifetime aficionado of classical music, I've gradually learned to hear a solo musician's nationality. On the piano, I can tell a Russian from an Italian (The Italians are the best: Maurizio Pollini can express subtly different voices with his left and right hand). There are clear distinctions between French and English brass players; in Canada those distinctions have been hybridized. Only the French produce great flautists (James Galway's embouchure reminds me of a sloppy wet kiss from a basset hound). The Spanish really are the best guitar players.

When Asians perform on Western instruments, no matter what, I hear only hysteria. Play YouTube clips of YoYo Ma and Pablo Cassals back-to-back, then tell me I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the posts on this thread, I need to step outside and get some fresh air.

Anonymous said...

With the exception of the Protestant work ethic, Christianity really does not promote competence and accomplishment.
aquainas, augustine, luther, michangelo, bach, rapheal, the scientific method, hospitals (knights hospitalier, get it?) universities, (oxford and cambridge, yale, harvard, salmanaca (which had a female prof in the 15th century), chartres, durham cathedral, pugin, rubens, handel...
yeah you're right...moron.

Anonymous said...

@steve burton First Anonymous on 2/04: great links! But, in fairness, these performers are all highly skilled professionals,
Look up alan lomax's historic recordings of european folk music- italy, england spain, in particular -the 'amateurs' sometimes simply singing to work in sync, are far more talented then most professionals today.

Anonymous said...

"Also, instead of turning music appreciation into an academic thing for lay students, why not just offer a pass/fail class where students arrive, relax, and hear some good music with minimal explanation.'

Nobody liked music class in my school,but just about everyone likes some type of music. Your explanation is probably why. We were drawing treble clefs. How many 11 year olds want to do that?

Niles said...

Its like a whole roomful of Fraziers were unleashed on their keyboards to argue with each other!


And what does he know anyway?

Severn said...

When measuring Amy Chua's "brilliance," one useful calibration point is Ron Unz -- also a contemporary of Chua at Harvard, who I also knew in passing. Ron was Phi Beta Kappa, too, but won a Churchill Fellowship after pursuing a double major in Physics and the Classics. Moreover, he did original publishable work in both fields before getting his BA!



Having read his pitiful attempt to "prove" that Hispanics have the same crime rate as whites, I'm convinced that Unz uses whatever intelligence he possesses in the pursuit of stupid ends.

Anonymous said...

With all the talk about East Asians and Jews and their affinity for classical music, how about a word on the group that wrote the best and most influential classical music, ethnic Germans. My love of classical music turned me into a Germanophile. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation produced Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Wagner among other lesser composers.

Anonymous said...

@Anon, Angkor Vat was a Hindu temple, when the Cambodians converted to Buddhism they abandoned it to the Jungle.

As fas as modern Egyptians and Persians not being connected to ancient Egypt and Persia, keep in mind they were invaded by Arab armies and converted to islam.

Islam considers the pre-islamic period as a period of darkness and destroys any pre-islamic artifact like the Bamiyan Buddhas

kurt9 said...

aquainas, augustine, luther, michangelo, bach, rapheal, the scientific method, hospitals (knights hospitalier, get it?) universities, (oxford and cambridge, yale, harvard, salmanaca (which had a female prof in the 15th century), chartres, durham cathedral, pugin, rubens, handel...

Almost all of this stuff comes from the Renaissance and Enlightenment. That which existed in Europe between Rome and the Renaissance was nothing more than savage animal barbarism. The dark ages really were truly dark and living standards declined to pre-historic norm.

It is psychotically delusional to claim that the scientific method came from religion. This is a flat-out lie.

I stand by my point. The only useful thing that came from religion is the protestant work ethic. The rest of religion is completely useless to competent intelligent people.

The idea that I, personally, could ever "owe" anything to any religion is obscenely offensive.

Ken said...

"Asians make their kids play western classical because its the only music they can make their kids learn. It is far more aesthetically appealing than eastern classical (face it, that sounds worse than western post-modern classical). All you have to be to learn western classical is smart enough to precisely memorize a song someone else wrote. It doesn't actually require any musical talent. So it's maximum bang for buck. You sound like you are playing an amazing harmonically structured piece, yet all you've done is be a trained monkey with precise hand coordination. It's not much more than playing a tough video game. I would know because I spent quite a lot of my childhood playing classical piano and a lot playing video games too.

Asians don't make their kids learn jazz and rock because you need actual talent to play those genres. You don't need brains or discipline or even much practice- you need a lot of talent. Hence, plenty of great jazz musicians have been illiterate/heroin addicted/self-taught. It doesn't mean the music is plebian though. It sounds great, it's innovative and if you analyze it, it has melodic/harmonic complexity. "

-Most styles of music of any kind you can memorize the simpler songs. You indicate that you played classical music growing up, I doubt that you ended up being a virtuoso playing for the London philharmonic; that's because it requires a hell of a lot more than being a "trained monkey" to be any good at it. It has "soul", its just not acceptable as such by mainstream American culture because Black= Good, soulful; White = evil, soulless, is all that fits in the PC meme required by "polite" society. In fact, judging by the crap that comes out nowadays, it requires alot more talent to be a talented Classical musician than to be a musician of most of the best selling modern styles.

Anonymous said...

kurt you're fool:
Almost all of this stuff comes from the Renaissance and Enlightenment. That which existed in Europe between Rome and the Renaissance was nothing more than savage animal barbarism. The dark ages really were truly dark and living standards declined to pre-historic norm.
Umm no the dark ages were a period of barbarian invasion, the high middle ages saw the building of cathedrals, the founding of universities, the flowering of philosophy and yes, the scientific method -(see below) the cathedrals were in many ways, superior engineering than anything the romans came up with (the gothic arch, for example was stronger than the roman and allowed for thinner walls) and anyone remotely familiar with 13th century northern french sculpture would know that high art didn't suddenly appear out of nowhere in 1450 Florence.

Further Aquinas perhaps the greatest philopsher since the greeks, was firmly in the middle ages. the so called 'enlightment' on the other hand gave us the reign of terror.

To assert that the high middle ages had prehistoric living standards is beyond ignorant.


It is psychotically delusional to claim that the scientific method came from religion. This is a flat-out lie.
Feeling stupid yet?
http://takimag.com/article/when_man_invented_science/print
History’s first scientist was Robert Grosseteste, although his work is little known in popular education today. He was born in 1170 or so to a humble Suffolk family. He found his calling in the Catholic Church, as important a source of social mobility then as the university system is now. It was Grosseteste who formulated the first description of the scientific process.

Anonymous said...

I stand by my point. The only useful thing that came from religion is the protestant work ethic. The rest of religion is completely useless to competent intelligent people.
First thing we've already established you aren't terribly bright, at least about western history. Secondly, google the 'faraday institute' John Polkinhorne, one head of mathematical physics at cambridge, is now an anglican minister, there are hundreds of scientists like him.
So you idea or assertion that intelligent people find religion useless is.. well not only useless but stupid.
I specifically cited Michelangelo, Rubens, Bach and Handel because all were devoutly religious and their art and music grew directly out of that. As was Faraday (thus the name of the science religion institute) and lots of other people far far far smarter than you (which is a fairly easy accomplishment)

also among Christianities other 'useless' acomplishments:
idea of charity and hospitals as moral obligation and virtue.
ending of infanticide (a common pagan practice)
blood sports (mortal combat for entertainment)
the bulwark against the tide of islam - it was the devoutely religious knights of malta who finally ended the muslim advance, and the devoutly religious queen isabel who drove the muslims from Iberia. (and another favorite group too;) )

So, Kurt you can continue to think stupidly and thus say stupid things or you can start looking at history and the west a little less simple-mindedly.

Damon said...

"Also, instead of turning music appreciation into an academic thing for lay students, why not just offer a pass/fail class where students arrive, relax, and hear some good music with minimal explanation."

-Would you pay $20,000/yr for your kid to go to college to get an experience they could get at a coffeeshop for free?

Anonymous said...

"Scholar' Kurt9, a bit more on the inventor of the scientific method:
Grosseteste was a deeply moral and pious man. He made sure the common people had proper moral instruction in English and that everyone knew the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments. He fired all of the clergymen under his authority who led immoral lives and was a passionate advocate for religious instruction in his native tongue of Middle English

How about admitting your wrong, mr. rational, reasonable, enlightened 'bright'? or are you going to be as willfully ignorant as Richard Dawkins.

Anonymous said...

PSS Kurt:
most prestigious universities in Europe were founded in the high middle ages, all were religious based. Oxford, Cambridge, Sorbonne, Salmanaca, et al.
Harvard was founded as a puritian seminary, all ivies, with the exception of UPenn had christian affiliation or founding.
that's not an accident. It's also not an accident that the quality of the education at all has dramatically declined and become left-politicized once they became de-Christianized.

Anonymous said...

also among Christianities other 'useless' acomplishments:
idea of charity and hospitals as moral obligation and virtue.
--

The buddhists did it first around 300BC,

Anonymous said...

"Also, instead of turning music appreciation into an academic thing for lay students, why not just offer a pass/fail class where students arrive, relax, and hear some good music with minimal explanation."

"-Would you pay $20,000/yr for your kid to go to college to get an experience they could get at a coffeeshop for free?"

NO!!! I was thinking of grammar school or high school. I remember a 'blow off' high school class in film studies. I was the ONLY one who took the class/subject seriously while everyone else signed up just for an easy grade. NEVERTHELESS, bunch of people in class were introduced to films of Truffaut, Kurosawa, Ford, Ashby, Donen, and etc, and some of them came to appreciate the ART of cinema.

Anonymous said...

"Asians don't make their kids learn jazz and rock because you need actual talent to play those genres."

In truth, 95% of Asian kids I knew were mostly into rock and pop, even jazz. Asians may disproportionately push their kids into classical, but most Asian kids are into the same American Idol crap the rest of us are.
And in Japan, for every classical music student, there are 1000 J-pop and J-rap fan.

Anonymous said...

The buddhists did it first around 300BC,
No, the christian, western University was a unique concept. To call indian buddist schools a 'university' is akin to putting their sculpture on par w/ western sculpture, or moghul illustration with western painting.

Anonymous said...

"I love classical music but I don't see why Chua thinks it is important for her kids to learn to play it."

Because her children were born about the same time that the bogus "Mozart Effect" theory was published, that's why. And being the SWPL Asian she is, she bought in.

Anonymous said...

No, the christian, western University was a unique concept. To call indian buddist schools a 'university' is akin to putting their sculpture on par w/ western sculpture,
--

Google up Nalanda university, a buddhist university from 200AD to 1200AD when the muslims burned it down.

Udolpho.com said...

lol at needing talent to play rock music

holy fucking lol

Anonymous said...

"lol at needing talent to play rock music
holy fucking lol"

To play great rock music. Can just anyone compose and perform Stairway to Heaven or Tumbling Dice?

Svigor said...

One of the things I find really odd about the dark ages thing is that "Rome" survived the whole thing, and everybody seems to pretend she didn't. Ever heard of the eastern empire? Byzantium? Constantinople?

Anonymous said...

"@Anon, Angkor Vat was a Hindu temple, when the Cambodians converted to Buddhism they abandoned it to the Jungle."

Not so, it was built first as Hindu but then expanded and preserved as a Buddhist temple. It likely fell because the rulers were too oppressive and the slaves rebelled or something--like how the Mayan civilization fell due to internal discord, bad rule, natural disasters, war, etc. It was lost not for spiritual but political reasons.

"As fas as modern Egyptians and Persians not being connected to ancient Egypt and Persia, keep in mind they were invaded by Arab armies and converted to islam."

Regarding Egypt, the Islamic invasion finally put the nail in the coffin of the old culture, but ancient Eygpt had largely been neglected and forgotten long before the Islamic invasion. Maybe it had to do with decadence, followed by Greek and Roman invasions. Similarly, Greek culture declined and much of it was forgotten even before the Ottoman invasion. Byzantium Empire on the eve of the Ottoman conquest has effectively been reduced to the area around Constantinople. It was an empire only in name, constantly raided by Turks, Venetians, etc.

"Islam considers the pre-islamic period as a period of darkness and destroys any pre-islamic artifact like the Bamiyan Buddhas"

This seems to have been true where Muslims came to be the solid majority very quickly. But in places like Indoesia, India, and Malaysia, where Muslims became the majority only very gradually--or never--, they practiced a more tolerant form of Islam.
Even so, in most cases Islam didn't destroy healthy and vibrant cultures but put decaying or moribund ones out of their misery. By the time the Muslims took over Persia, the glory days of Persia were long gone.

Anyway, maybe the idea of wholesale destruction of other cultures only began with Christians and Muslims. Previous powers could be ruthless and destroy entire cities and kill lots of people, but they were 'spiritually' more tolerant. Mongols killed countless folks but didn't care about who worshipped what. Same with Alexander, the Romans, the etc.
The Chinese tolerated various religious beliefs and practices and many schools of thought in their empire. Japan had a mixture of Buddhism and Shinto-ism. They even adopted Christianity in the 16th century, which was later abandoned and forbidden only when the elites (1) learned of Western imperialism and (2) feared the samurai class becoming pacified. Shusaku Endo's SAMURAI is a terrific book on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Judaism is by its nature intolerant spiritually but its ethnocentric nature left OTHER People alone--mostly. But Christianity and Islam sought to convert the heathens, pagans, infidels(with the idea of ONE AND ONLY GOD AND SOURCE OF ALL TRUTH AND VALUES), and this required the massive destruction of Old Satanic Culture. So, Christians went about destroying much of Greek nudey art, pagan temples to 'false idol' gods, etc. But in many other cases, Christians converted pagan temples into churches. And Muslism did some of the same. The big Christian church in Constantinople was coverted into a mosque. Even so, due to the linkage of Christianity and Classical Rome(which first adopted it as an official religion), Christians respected much of classical culture and learning. It was more a case of syncretism than one of total invasion and destruction. Though one could say a Near Eastern idea conquered the West, Near Easterners did not MILITARILY conquer the West(though some Muslims did later). Rather, the West freely chose to adopt Christianity. Rome was not destroyed by Christians but by pagan Germanic barbarians. But then Christianity survived and spiritually conquered the Germanic barbarians; Christianized Germanic Barbs sought to destroy and eradicate its indigenous cultures and beliefs--the 'witchcraft' pagan stuff--, a destruction of so thoroughness that vestiges of the original pagan culture survived only in Iceland and few other places.

One might argue Christians were closer to Classical Culture becaues Christianity began as an OFFICIAL religion under Classical Roman protection. It also helped that both Greco-Romans and later Christians were of the same race--though to be sure, Christianity had also spread through much of the Middle East. In contrast, Islam directly owed little to classical culture and then mounted a challenge to its official religion of Christianity. And in many ways, Muslims were less respectful of classical culture. But then, they did preserve much of ancient classical culture in Arabic and transmitted this back to Western Europe, especially in places in Italy and Spain which they conquered and held for awhile.

Anonymous said...

Christianized Germanic Barbs sought to destroy and eradicate its indigenous cultures and beliefs--the 'witchcraft' pagan stuff--,
like human sacrifice and infanticide. How barbaric of them.
What cultural destruction are you talking about? The "Celticness" or germanicness of the said cultures is reflected in say, the book of kells, or art and legend from that time period.
.

Anonymous said...

One of the things I find really odd about the dark ages thing is that "Rome" survived the whole thing, no barbarian invasions in the East, the east also had more established cultures and societies where as much of Europe were roman colonies. Maybe it will be the same with americas and Aus. when the anglosphere collapses

Anonymous said...

Christianity began as an OFFICIAL religion under Classical Roman protection
err no... ever hear of nero, christians, lions and all that - its not just a myth - christians were persecuted by Nero, and a host of other Roman emperors including Aurelious. Constantine wasn't until AD 300 or so.

Anonymous said...

"lol at needing talent to play rock music
holy fucking lol"

To play great rock music. Can just anyone compose and perform Stairway to Heaven or Tumbling Dice?

the very fact that many allegedly smart westerners gush over rock music writing/reading/ discussing elaborate 'histories' and 'theories' shows just how much our civilization has sank.

Much rock music had as devastating an effect on western youth (sex drugs rock n roll) as rap.

Most rock music, is whiny, effeminate, narcissistic crap. that includes alleged 'geniuses' like Led (sic) Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. If I hear one more idiot tell me that 'Richards and Jagger are the Mozarts of our day, I will officially give up on western civilization.

Descartes said...

The poster between Carol and Richard A provides one of the best reiterations of American music history I've read in quite some time.

I'm a bit skeptical about the Supremes surpassing the Beatles in 66, considering how that era was considered their most unique and creative(Rubber Soul, Revolver, Yesterday, and Sgt. Peppers are considered the best of the studio years).

steve burton said...

Constantine's "vision of the flaming cross" is supposed to have taken place just before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, 28th October, 312.

The claim that Christians were persecuted by Nero is based on a single brief passage in the surviving fragments of the *Annals* of Tacitus and is much disputed by scholars who argue that Christian scribes had both the motive and the opportunity to alter Tacitus' original text.

Heck if I know.

steve burton said...

Why do I keep doing this?

Just 'cause a commenter seems reasonably intelligent & well-spoken, I try, one more time, to hear something worth listening to in a Rolling Stones number.

Stairway to Heaven? Nuthin. Nondescript tune, primitive rhythm, color-by-numbers harmony...

Tumbling Dice? Ditto.

I guess you had to be there.

Anonymous said...

Just 'cause a commenter seems reasonably intelligent & well-spoken, I try, one more time, to hear something worth listening to in a Rolling Stones number.

Stairway to Heaven? Nuthin. Nondescript tune, primitive rhythm, color-by-numbers harmony...




I agree that it's a very overrated song, but it's by Led Zeppelin, not the Stones.

Anonymous said...

"I'm a bit skeptical about the Supremes surpassing the Beatles in 66, considering how that era was considered their most unique and creative(Rubber Soul, Revolver, Yesterday, and Sgt. Peppers are considered the best of the studio years)."

Rubber was 65. Sgt Pepper was 67.
Both Monkees and Supremes outsold the Beatles in 66.
From 65 to 66, I think Supremes had five or six consecutive #1 hits.
Of course, Beatles outsold everyone in 67.

Interestingly enough,the biggest hit of 65 may have been Herman Hermit's MRS BROWN YOU'VE GOTTA LOVELY DAUGHTER.

Anonymous said...

"Most rock music, is whiny, effeminate, narcissistic crap. that includes alleged 'geniuses' like Led (sic) Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. If I hear one more idiot tell me that 'Richards and Jagger are the Mozarts of our day, I will officially give up on western civilization."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArSLNJNUEIM&playnext=1&list=PL2B9B58B93FC93A16

Kylie said...

"So, a documentary series on the glory of Western music that compellingly features the life stories, thoughts, adventures, tragedies, and triumphs of individual personalities like Bach, Haydn, Handel, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, Sibelius, etc can inspire interest in classical music."

That's what reading Highlights magazine did for me as a child 50 years ago.

"The group that best understood the soul of classical music is Pink Floyd. prolly the greatest rock band ever. Floyd didn't try to be 'classy'--like Moody Blues and Yes--but drew their inspiration from some deep source within and made storm and thunder with that stuff."

Yes. I'm a lifelong lover of classical music and while I like a lot of rock, only Pink Floyd really moves me the way my favorite classical music does.

Anonymous said...

"...unleahed a roomful of Fraziers..."

Funny that, I haven't seen anybody at all here talking about "The Golden Bough."

Anonymous said...

nd is much disputed by scholars who argue that Christian scribes had both the motive and the opportunity to alter Tacitus' original text.
which 'scholars' ? The Colosseum before it was sterilized by anti-religious 'enlightened" gov. officials, was a place of pilgrimmage almost from the begining of the Christianity in Europe- as a place where martyrs fell. there is also plenty of evidence of persecution of Christians by both the Roman and Jewish establishments.

Anonymous said...

the very fact that many allegedly smart westerners gush over rock music writing/reading/ discussing elaborate 'histories' and 'theories' shows just how much our civilization has sank.

Much rock music had as devastating an effect on western youth (sex drugs rock n roll) as rap.

Most rock music, is whiny, effeminate, narcissistic crap. that includes alleged 'geniuses' like Led (sic) Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. If I hear one more idiot tell me that 'Richards and Jagger are the Mozarts of our day, I will officially give up on western civilization.

"I'm a bit skeptical about the Supremes surpassing the Beatles in 66, considering how that era was considered their most unique and creative(
this is exactly the kind of crap i am talking about

Anonymous said...

Peter hitchens::
I have long believed that one of the most important moments in our history was the exoneration of Mr Richards from drugs charges in 1967. It may not have killed as many people as the Iraq War. But it helped to ruin many lives, and still does so. And Mr Richards was vaguely aware of it.

He told the judge in the case, David Block: ‘We are not old men. We are not concerned with petty morals.’ What did the judge make of this? Old he might have been, but he was not petty and he knew more about morals than Mr Richards ever will. He had survived the sinking by the Japanese of the aircraft carrier Hermes in the Indian Ocean in 1942 and (like my father) was present at the Battle of North Cape in 1943, perhaps the last great fleet action of the Royal Navy. But in the contest between the two worlds represented by the sneering lout in the dock and the distinguished man on the bench, the entire British establishment has long taken the side of the lout.

Mr Richards’s drug conviction, like that of ‘Sir Michael’ Jagger, was overturned on appeal by the Lord Chief Justice in person. My liberal conservative colleague, Lord Rees-Mogg – then editor of The Times – rallied to the defence of Mr Jagger, allegedly a ‘butterfly’ broken on the wheel. Some butterfly. Some wheel.

Mr Richards is an old man now, a debauched, capering streak of living gristle who ought to be exhibited as a warning to the young of what drugs can do to you even if you’re lucky enough not to choke on your own vomit. Yet, far from being embarrassed, he goes on about it as if it was all a good thing. If he can even remember 1967, does he ever, in the long dark nights, wonder if he chose the right life or did any damage? I do hope so

Wake up Idiots said...

Peter Hitchens sums up my view of rock music:
Is any of it really any good? If a serious culture survives 100 years from now will people still listen to it, or will they be baffled that we did? I think they'll be baffled. And I think that Mr Dylan's survival, like that of many other things, is a symptom of the permanent adolescence of the 1960s generation, yet another way of refusing to become adult. The Peter Pan idea, of a boy who wouldn't grow up, is pretty creepy. The 1960s concept of a hairy, smelly, jeans-wearing, teenager who won't grow up, and who brings his children up to be eternal teenagers too, is dispiriting. as well as creepy.

Anonymous said...

"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArSLNJNUEIM&playnext=1&list=PL2B9B58B93FC93A16

How fitting that a rock music fan responds with an inane cartoon clip.

Kylie said...

"But I suppose people can still believe one culture isn't allowed to influence another without it 'stealing from them' or something along those lines."

Right, like those people who claim Elvis "stole" black people's music.

Anonymous said...

actually ON topic - apparently american violin business is booming= main demand - china!

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jBEf-TPXvahOFAnfUCyX4ECK3pXw?docId=CNG.f51814b2123d0b2440c777e6f9c9c8b9.711

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic, but here's another curious observation:

There are plenty of excellent black sopranos and black baritones in opera, but scarcely any black tenors.

Whaddup widdat?

Anonymous said...

"the very fact that many allegedly smart westerners gush over rock music writing/reading/ discussing elaborate 'histories' and 'theories' shows just how much our civilization has sank.
Much rock music had as devastating an effect on western youth (sex drugs rock n roll) as rap."

This is really stupid.
Sure, art has its dark and dangerous side, and this goes for all forms of art. People have blamed classical music, especially Wagner, for Nazism. Some even associate neo-classicism with Nazism for its impossible and 'intolerant' perfectionism. Any art or culture, when taken to excess or politicized, can be dangerous. We could probably blame much of Christian intolerance, violence,and persecution on sanctimonious Christian art.

Rock music, like cinema, has had both a good and bad effects. It was liberating and invigorating, but also(and too often)crazy and wild.
The sane thing is to find some kind of balance. Greeks understood the need for both Apollo and Bacchus. All this excessive rock-bashing is so much like Judaic and Islamic tirades about false idols.
Are we supposed to be SERIOUS all the time? As I see it, there is a place for Beethoven and a place for Beatles, a place for Michelangelo and a place for Looney Tunes, a place for Tolstoy and a place for Mario Puzo, a place for Tarkovsky and a place for Charlie Chaplin. This isn't to say everything has equal value, but wit, creativity, and orginality can manifest in many ways. Jokes may not be profound but the great ones are brilliant and make us laugh. They have value too.

Btw, the greatest horrors of the 20th century--Nazis, Soviet communism, khmer rouge, Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the crimes of the Stasi, Taliban oppression, etc etc had NOTHING to do with rock music.

And only a deaf, dull, and boring person would say the following is not great music. It may not be the greatest music and not about the MOST SERIOUS things in the world, but pleasure and joy are a part of life too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thFKrLxScfU

(I'll take Supremes over Andrew Sisters any day)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9KC7uhMY9s

(What's Going On is not a great beautiful song? Go see an ear doctor)

Anonymous said...

"Peter Hitchens sums up my view of rock music:
'Is any of it really any good? If a serious culture survives 100 years from now will people still listen to it, or will they be baffled that we did? I think they'll be baffled. And I think that Mr Dylan's survival, like that of many other things, is a symptom of the permanent adolescence of the 1960s generation, yet another way of refusing to become adult. The Peter Pan idea, of a boy who wouldn't grow up, is pretty creepy. The 1960s concept of a hairy, smelly, jeans-wearing, teenager who won't grow up, and who brings his children up to be eternal teenagers too, is dispiriting. as well as creepy.'"

Peter Hitchens is entitled to his opinion, and there's much about the guy I like and respect. However, only time will tell if something will have lasting value, and it's not for me or him to say what will be remembered 100 yrs from now. Sometimes, the stuff that's neglected in its time become classics while the stuff that's praised are forgotten. In the book GERMAN GENIUS, it says a painter named Anton Raphael Mengs was a major artist in his time but eventually ended up in the dustbin of history. When Mark Twain wrote his books, few would have thought they'd become classics.
And in old Japan, SERIOUS literature were what Confucian scholars wrote about virtue while stuff like Tale of Genji was considered 'women's stuff'. But no one remembers most of those SERIOUS writings while Tale of Genji is considered the towering literary masterpiece of Japan. It was not taken seriously in its time. Similarly, WATER MARGINS and DREAM OF RED CHAMBER were considered as disreputable pulpish novels among the elites for most of Chinese history, yet they are today conidered great classics.
In the 1950s, many serious American critics neglected VERTIGO, SEARCHERS, and TOUCH OF EVIL while heaping praise on the SERIOUS films of Stanley Kramer, but who the hell cares about Kramer today? In contrast, VERTIGO, SEARCHERS, and TOUCH OF EVIL are often mentioned among the greatest films ever.
In the 80s, BLADE RUNNER was a critical and box office flop while GANDHI won tons of accolades, won Best Picture, and made lots of money. No one gives a crap about GANDHI anymore while BR is now considered a classic.

My guess is that the great works of rock music will not only survive but rock as a musical form will never die. One advantage rock has over all other musical forms has been its creative diversity and 'inclusiveness', for lack of a better term. Rock can be anything from Grateful Dead's lovely 'Ripple' to Zeppelin's riproaring 'Whole Lotta Love', from Morrison's 'Into the Mystic' to Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just wanna have fun'. That is the great joy of rock music.

And just adding up all the great songs from 60s and 70s alone produces a staggering list of knockout wonders: Don't Worry Baby, Stand By Me, Purple Haze, Light My Fire, Norwegian Wood, Box of Rain, Who'll Stop the Rain, Behind Blue Eyes, More than a Feeling, Ruby Tuesday, etc, etc. This was pop renaissance.

I think the problem with Hitchens is he's trying to atone for his excesses of the 60s, and maybe his pendulum swung too much in the other direction. He was wrong in the 60s when he was on the far left, and I think he's wrong today when he's on the grumpy right.
Hitchens went from kneejerk anti-everything-conservative to kneejerk anti-everything-liberals-and-60s.

And while some Dylan fanatics make too much of their hero, Dylan's greatness as a creative force simply cannot be doubted at this point.

Anonymous said...

All this excessive rock-bashing is so much like Judaic and Islamic tirades about false idols.
Are we supposed to be SERIOUS all the time?

something akin to rock music has been around - folk- fiddle etc. nothing wrong with that- its when people take it 'seriously' as a high art and spend lots of time discussing its 'importance' and 'history' if it all a society has to show for itself it isn't much.

and yes, in some ways rock culture was as destructive as mao, etc. by creating a decadent culture ripe for collapse.

As for you Wagner comment- either art has meaning and influence or it doesn't . personally, i think its pretty obvious if you listen to and read dumb things you start acting dumb. Just look at white teenagers who embrace rap culture.

If you read fiction and stories, of say, great brave men in history you won't necessarily become brave, but you have a beacon to guide you to becoming a better human being.

Do you honestly think it wouldn't matter if someone spend their time looking at Michaelangelo or Damien Hirst?

Anonymous said...

And just adding up all the great songs from 60s and 70s alone produces a staggering list of knockout wonders: Don't Worry Baby, Stand By Me, Purple Haze, Light My Fire, Norwegian Wood, Box of Rain, Who'll Stop the Rain, Behind Blue Eyes, More than a Feeling, Ruby Tuesday, etc, etc. This was pop renaissance. "

I agree. I was thinking about this years ago--these are some beautiful melodies. I guess, though, it's a little depressing if the "kids" never moved on to other music as well. But in and of itself, "rock" and its associates are as durable as any folk music.

Anonymous said...

And while some Dylan fanatics make too much of their hero, Dylan's greatness as a creative force simply cannot be doubted at this point.
I just did, Peter hitchens just did, plenty of people do. It (pop/rock) is trivial. its effect on people like fast food, has been devastating.
Its anthems of sex, drugs, rock and roll, its culture of immaturity and adolescence have made the baby boomers the singularly most destructive, narcissistic , selfish generation in american history, completely lacking gravitas.

steve burton said...

At their best, the pop balladeers of our day can pump out tunes that compare favorably to those of the pop balladeers of earlier centuries - from Adam de la Halle to Steven Foster. I'm partial to some of this stuff, myself: only a very few of Schubert's lieder would accompany me to the proverbial desert island before Danny Wilson's "Mary's Prayer":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hqgC3W9GUI

"Never underestimate the power of cheap music," as Noel Coward (should have) put it.

Bits and pieces, here and there, might eventually get counted as minor examples of "classical music." The rest, fairly or unfairly, will be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

"And while some Dylan fanatics make too much of their hero, Dylan's greatness as a creative force simply cannot be doubted at this point."

"I just did, Peter hitchens just did, plenty of people do. It (pop/rock) is trivial. its effect on people like fast food, has been devastating.
Its anthems of sex, drugs, rock and roll, its culture of immaturity and adolescence have made the baby boomers the singularly most destructive, narcissistic , selfish generation in american history, completely lacking gravitas."

Look, there are people who still badmouth Wagner, Mahler, Sibelius, Welles, Ingmar Bergman, etc. and they will always exist. Treating Dylan as some prophet-wiseman is ridiculous, but he was one of the great major artists of the 20th century. If rock went in the wrong direction, it was not because of Dylan but because of anti-Dylan forces. Though Dylan was part-rebel, he was also very reverent about old music. He didn't want rock music to be only about sex, drugs, and partying. He experimented with drugs not just to zonk out to be look deeper. But when he took it too far, he drew back and returned to basics with stuff like John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. Dylan didn't pave the way for Bon Jovi and Backstreet Boys. Instead, he infused rock with roots, depth, intellect, poetry, and all such stuff. If rock had taken more cues from Dylan, it would't have become the slick packaged crap it became later. Dylan is the key figure in the ART of rock--as opposed to mere artiness of acts like Moody Blues--because he had the vision and talent to take it further and make it an expression about life, love, pain, doubt, nightmare, etc. JUST LIKE A WOMAN and VISIONS OF JOHNNA are not 'party all night' songs.

Also, use of drugs in rock, though out of control, was not something new. Many cultures had used drugs to 'break through to the other side'. Indians had peyote. Hindus had soma. Irish had whiskey, which got them drunk enough to come up with songs like Danny Boy. Russians have long been famous drinkers. Long before rock music, there was HUGE PROBLEM with alocholism in the US. Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, etc were famous sloshies. So were Cassavetes and his whole generation. In fact, Pete Hamill said he grew up with the idea that real men drank and smoke a lot. I grew up with ethnic uncles, and boy, did they drink like a fish and talk a lot of shit. They were too old for rock music but they drank and drank, and caused all sorts of problems, smashing into trees, etc. And the reason why Prohibition gained force was because too many men blew their earnings on drink and beat up their wives. All BEFORE rock music. If anything, potheads are mellower than drunkards.

Also, there was a whole bohemian culture around death, drug use, and decadence long before rock music. To die of consumption was endlessly romanticized. Coleride went into opium daze to find inspiration for his poems. Opium, which later became heroin, was cool stuff for many artists of the 19th century. And there was a time when coca-cola had real coke. And Chinese got addicted to opium on a massive scale in the 19th century. That was all before rock music. If anything, those wonderfully Christian British got the chinese addicted, and all those confucian Chinese were sucking on the pipe like crazy. What did this have to do with rock music?

And look at Elvis. He was anti-drug and even supported Nixon's war on drugs. But like so many anti-drug people, he was addicted too all sorts of legal prescription drugs.
Also, religion can be a drug too, and the Evangelical religion has made dummy zombies of so many white conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Btw, I do see the danger of rock music. Part of reason is it's just too good. It's so good that it's addictive. I remember during highschool, I used to come home and listen to rock music for 4 hrs before I got to homework or anything else, which may explain why I never did learn proper grammar, speling, and diction. How could I resist Beatles, Beach Boys, Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Supremes, Bowie, Springsteen, Young, Zeppelin, etc, etc? It was so good that it had a negative effect, but this is true of anything. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Even so, here was music that really said something about the 'I'. In a way, the 'my own bedroom' was central to rock culture. Beach Boys' 'In My Room' said it all. Before kids had their own bedrooms, they had a more communal sense of social/family life, and there was much good to be said of this.

But there was no place to dream one's personal dreams. This is why bohemians 'dropped out' and lived apart from society. They wanted to be free of 'conformism' and be the 'real me'. Before kids had their own bedroom and record collection, they shared the same music in living room with their parents. And lots of good stuff came though old radio; I aint knocking it. But it was about 'me and my dreams'. The movie C.R.A.Z.Y shows what rock music means to young people. In your own room with your own music created by maverick rock artists, you can feel special. The scene where the kid in CRAZY listens to Bowie is so close to life. He's in his own space. To have your own room, with posters of your heroes, and gaze at rock albums while listening to music for hours on end... this has allowed every kid to be bohemian. He or she didn't have to go to Greenwich Village. You could be 'different' right there in your room. A bedroom bohemian or bedhemian. In THE GRADUATE, Ben hides from the world in his bedroom; it's the place where he can be 'different'. (Today with the internet, we have bedroom radicals spouting off about everything via youtube vlogs. Bedradicals?) And no music was as suited for bedhemianism as rock music, especially in album form. Prior to Dylan and Beatles and the bunch, pop music was essentially defined by single hits. Albums were little more than a collection of singles. But rock music turned pop music into a larger concept--not in the opera narrative sense, but in a emotional-thematic sense. Songs became part of a larger cycle. So, Rubber Soul could be(indeed had to be experienced) as a whole; the whole was larger than teh sum of its parts.
You could lie in bed, turn on Floyd's WISH YOU WERE HERE and drift and drift and go very far.. right there in your own bedroom.

Was there a negative side to this? Sure, but for every gain, there is a loss. Cinema can be blamed for the decline of literature and prose can be blamed for the decline in the art of the verse. Photography killed off many genres of painting. There is a danger to everything. I'm not one of those people who say rock culture only did good. I do see its dark side. But I'm not one of those people who don't see anything good about it either. Rock is like fire. The story of Prometheus features fire as both a blessing and a curse. It could be used for good but also for evil. Same goes for gunpowder(which I suppose is related to fire). Like Shane said, 'a gun is only as good as the man who uses it'. So, we should be cautious, even wary, and critical about the power of pop cuture, but it would be blockheaded to reject everything about it because of its negative consequences. Democracy and liberty caused a lot of problem too, so should we reject all of democracy and liberty? Indeed, why blame rock music? Rock music is the product of freedom, so why get rid of freedom itself? That would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

The danger of rock/pop is it's so fun and pleasurable that children grow up being addicted to stuff that offers instant gratification, which is why I think parents should introduce them to stuff like folk music first, which has more texture, roots, roughage. It's like kids are not gonna gain an appreciation of greens if you start them off on cookies and ice cream. And guys like Dylan and YOung understood this all along, which is why they remained artists throughout their careers. Dylan could have made money doing what Neil Diamond doing, but he was a personal artist, and he stuck to his guns. In cinema, his equivalent were guys like Cassavetes, Peckinpah, and Scorsese. But things changed in the slick 80s, and this had as much to do with soulless modern conservatism as with new liberalism. Reagan era yuppies wanted slickness, polish, money, status, etc. There was lots of good music in the 80s, but things began to sound synthetic, formulaic, and impersonal. Instead of Dylan or Joni Mitchell, we got MTV. And instead of 70s films like LAST DETAIL and FRENCH CONNECTION--full of grit and the stuff of life--, we got Beverly Hills cops and the like. And Rambo movies.

In both rock and cinema, there were two forces: that of artists trying to say something personal AND that of corporate suits with their marketing strategy, polls, and pandering to the lowest common denominator for the biggest bucks. Though all artists and rockers want fame/fortune, the real ones have something to prove and say while the fakers will do anything to make a buck. (Of course, some artists genuinely make stuff with great popular appeal. Burt Bacharach was one helluva artist but also a great popular entertainer.)

Anyway, just a random survey of rock/pop songs from late 50s to 80s prove without a doubt that it was a legendary period, maybe the greatest ever in terms of songs. I'm not saying TOMMY is greater than Wagner's operas. But if we take just the rock/pop tunes of 60s and 70s, it's the probably the greatest treasure trove of songs in human history. Other eras produced more great operas, symphonies, choral music, but when it comes to songs, 60s-80s cannot be topped. Just take Motown alone and you have all the great hits by Holland-Dozier-Holland, esp through the Supremes and 4 Tops. Then you have Smokey Robinson who alone penned at least dozen all-time classics. His song 'My Girl' for the Temptations is miraculous. Then you have Ray Charles. His 50s song Georgia on My Mind is an alltime classic. The add up the songs of Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys,and the list is getting really wild. And Pinball Wizard by the Who, and many other great songs. At least doze classics by CCR and a dozen more by Grateful Dead. At least half a dozen great ones by Doors and Byrds each and many very good ones. The Young Rascals, the best songs of Dusty Springfield. And on and on. It is almost too much.

Anonymous said...

Another reason why rock music is so wonderfully relevant to the modern age: The car of course.

One of the great songs of the 80s was 'Drive' by the Cars. I think a member of the band said you can tell if a song's really great if it works in the car. And in the movie ONCE, they test out the recorded song by playing it in a car.
And the two most significant places in THE GRADAUTE are Ben's bedroom and his car(which is often accompanied to S&G songs). One could be ALONE to dream, fantasize, and explore one's emotions in the bedroom and the car. (And the car has even been used as a bedroom, which is why Ben is tickled to death that Elaine got started in a Ford.)
For much of 20th history, cars weren't affordable to everyone. It was an adult thing and mostly utilitarian. But then cars, along with 'my own bedroom', became availed to even young people in the 50s. And cars got faster and got hooked up with stereo system. With cassettes, you could even to your own music. Cars were no longer utilitarian or a fancy item but an emotional extension of the self. And no music was more suited for the new car than rock music. It was fast, loud, romantic, fresh, youthful, personal, eccentric... like riding the car itself. Rock music was always going somewhere and took you away. And the interstates made it possible to drive faster and go further without stopping. Driving wasn't just someting you had to do to get from point A to B but pleasurable in its own right. We can see it in the use of car + music in HAROLD AND MAUDE. But two best films about the special relation between cars and rock music were AMERICAN GRAFFITI and DAZED AND CONFUSED. In a way, driving in a car is like rock n roll, and listening to rock--even in one's bedroom--is like being in motion.

Classical is more like riding an airplane. It's lofty and elevated and very impressive, but you don't feel close to the life below. You don't feel the bumpity bump of the wheels on the road. You don't feel the beat of life and emotions. It's more about higher emotions, which is all very good, but not very exciting for a young person. And even when a plane is going fast, you don't really feel the speed because one feels less turmoil and friction--unless one's a barmstorming pilot.
Folk music is more like riding a donkey or horse or hiking. It's nice, but it's not engine powered. It's one horse power, not 200 horsepower. The electric guitar and beat of rock n roll are like pistons. You can feel it in songs like BORN TO RUN and THUNDEROAD.

Anonymous said...

One's bedroom is nice and private, but it is still connected to the rest of the house. It's like when Ben in the Graduate closes the door in the kitchen to be alone from his parents. But in a car, you really be alone. You're not just feeling rock music but being rock music. My friend with hubby and kids says the only time she really has for herself is when she's commuting between home and work. It's in the car that she still has her own songs, music, memories. At home,there's the kids and she no longer has her own room since her hubby's there too. So, it's the car and rock that keeps her connected to 'herself'.

I recall when I was in highschool and my friend got her first car. Before this, driving always meant being taken places by our parents. But now the car was ours. Privacy wasn't just about hiding in the bedroom. It was right there, in the car. Total freedom and total privacy. Intoxicating. Another great thing about the car was one was both totally private and totally public. Inside the car was our little world that belonged to only us. But we could go everywhere--highway, city streets, rural areas, small towns, etc--and we could see everything out the window. It was like a magic bedroom that moved.
To be at once private and have access to the whole world, it was a killer feeling. And what did we do to celebrate this joy, freedom, etc? Rock music. It could be soft and poetic, like S&G's 'America', moody like 'Every Breath You Take', thrilling like U2's 'Out of Control', far-out like Floyd.
The ending of DAZED AND CONFUSED says it all. Four people in a car, just rocking and driving all night long.
THE GRADUATE ends with Ben and Elaine in a bus full of older people, and life is ultimately like that. You gotta get on the bus of job, responsibility, paying the bills and taxes, etc. You're not the driver and there are other passengers on board. You can't do whatever and be your 'true self'.

But when we get in a car and turn on rock music as we cruise down the highway, we still have that power to dream.
Car culture without rock music just doesn't cut it. They were made for each other. Rock and cars, rock and cars, they go together like Venus and Mars.

Anonymous said...

Btw, I do see the danger of rock music. Part of reason is it's just too good. It's so good that it's addictive. I remember during highschool, I used to come home and listen to rock music for 4 hrs before as we know from mcdonalds, etc, just because something tastes good doesn 't mean it is good. by your admission rock music was bad for you- listening to the pounding rhythms and generally anti-western 'rebel (read immature, not a real 'rebel') lyrics pumped into your brain express (like rum and coke -caffine pumps in the alcohol)

Look at the culture of rock where teh music came from ...and what it has done - by my fruit you shall know me.

Anonymous said...

"as we know from mcdonalds, etc, just because something tastes good doesn 't mean it is good. by your admission rock music was bad for you- listening to the pounding rhythms and generally anti-western 'rebel (read immature, not a real 'rebel') lyrics pumped into your brain express (like rum and coke -caffine pumps in the alcohol)"


Too much of anything can be bad. Look what ballet did to the girl in BLACK SWAN. Look what too many books did to Karl Marx and Jewish radical intellectuals. Look what too much football did to the joints of athletes.
Wine is good for you but too much is bad.
So, the problem with rock is not rock itself but excess. Problem is it's so good we want more of it. But too much classical music obsession drove some people crazy too. Mozart didn't live long and Beethoven wasn't an happy person.

And love too. Love is good but too much can lead to madness.

And hamburger is pretty good food.

Anonymous said...

"Look at the culture of rock where teh music came from ...and what it has done - by my fruit you shall know me."

By your logic, I guess classical music is bad since it has turned you into a priggish, sniveling, sneering, snide snob.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem of rock music can be understood by the problem posed by cars. Cars made life faster and reduced distances. But everything becomes a blur out the window. Motion trumps details. Before people had cars, they walked, rode bicycles, rode horses, or traveled on wagons. They could see the world around them and take in all its little details: the people, the terrain, the houses, the bushes and trees, squirrels, insects, etc. But with cars, everything becomes a blur. We can travel a 100 miles and remember nothing but the speed on the road before us.
Similarly, the motion-centrism of rock music hurtles us by so fast that we don't really take in all the emotions. We feel the rush of emotions than its moistness.
I recall last summer driving over the Appalachians. It was cool and exciting but I don't remember but the blur. And within a few hrs it was all over. Naturally, I had rock music on. Imagine if you traveled over the same terrain on foot or wagon. That would be more folkish. Less exciting but you'd take in more details.
In the film ZABRISKIE POINT, Antonioni showed the car-centrism and rock-centrism of American life. Everything fast, fast, fast, loud, loud, loud, society like an asteroid hurtling toward who knows what. And in GOODFELLAS, the life of gangsters speeds up as 60s comes around and Henry Hill is into rock music/culture. Scorsese conveys the hecticness of all this by rock music, Hill's speeding in his car, and drugs.

Anonymous said...

Both jazz and rock are car-sy. Because of the brassy nature of jazz, you can almost see the sun or neon lights shining off the car. And the curvy nature of jazz shows up on the contours of the car too, like a woman's figure.
No wonder 007 movies--so big on cars--have that jazzy score with trumpets. But 007 also has electric guitar rock-ish stuff too. If jazz shows off the outside of the car--slick and shine--, rock music conveys the power under the hood. Didn't Chuck Berry write a song about a cadillac which combined elements of jazz and rock n roll?
And Beach Boys' LITTLE HONDA has that lurching piston feel to it from the use of guitar, bass,and beat.(though it's about a motorcycle). Motorbikes are iconic in rock history but one bad thing is you can't hear any music while riding it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7z2ktb3ay0&feature=related

I think DON'T WORRY BABY even uses a car as a metaphor for a lost love affair.

Anonymous said...

Maybe another appeal of rock music is the gun-centrism of American culture. We love all that bang bang stuff. Guns and guitars.

Anonymous said...

When people play rock music, it may bring out the hunter instinct. Pete Townshend even used his guitar like a machine gun. Audience seemed to have enjoyed getting shot.

Anonymous said...

"and yes, in some ways rock culture was as destructive as mao, etc. by creating a decadent culture ripe for collapse."

I dunno. Japan has a huge rock culture but it seems stable. The problem is not rock per se but having too many blacks. AS long as Japan has few blacks, I don't see it going downhill cuz of rock music, or even hip hop.
Africa is a mess because it has too many blacks, whatever their favorite music may be.

Also, tyranny and massive corruption can wreak havoc. Look at the awfulness of Hussein's Iraq, Kim's North Korea, or Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Or check the startling book McMAFIA which details new organized crime in the former communist nations. It's odd. Fall of communism led to neo-tribalism and gangsterism but both thrive in the new global order where each tribe can play many more dirty tricks.

And Sweden would have been okay even with rock music culture as long as it kept the third world immigrants out. Most white middle class kids who listen to rock are okay kids.
Maybe rock and pop are more dangerous for the lower orders since they have a greater tendency to go crazy and out-of-control.

Was there something in common between Maoism and rock? I suppose in a way. Maomania had some of the features of Beatlemania, especially during the Cultural Revolution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_8Seto05T4

But I would argue that the tyrant who better represented the power of rock was Hitler. Mao was 'big' but he wasn't charismatic and 'crazy' like Hitler. Hitler could really work up a crowd(even more than the flamboyant Mussolini). Even as you loathe him, he was like a one man rock band. In Triumph of the Will, he screams, rants, taunts, flaunts. He's at once god-like, thuggish, exciting, dangerous, barbaric, spiritual, aggressive, grandiose, etc. He was a rock diva before any such existed. Of course, he hated 'black music' and was for classical order and all that. But in terms of personal style and public emotions, he was a political leader as rock performer. He did with the voice what rockers did with electric guitars. He went all the way and unleashed among the crowds a kind of orgasmic oneness.

One good thing about rock culture is there is no one single rocker to rule all. Hitler was the only rock star of Germany and Mao the only rocker of China. In America, rock stars may be fools, but none has the total power of Hitler or Mao. A lot of people loved Lennon, but if Lennon ordered them to invade Poland, most people, even his fans, would have told him to go to hell.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. Japan has a huge rock culture but it seems stable.
adapt rock culture=plummeting population.

Anonymous said...

"I dunno. Japan has a huge rock culture but it seems stable."

"adapt rock culture=plummeting population."

So, all Japan has to do is listen to more enka than rock?

Mexicans love rock, but they seem to having lots of ninos.

Anonymous said...

Strange relation between rock and history(especially war).

From mid-60s to early 70s, no music was as closely associated with the anti-war movement as rock music. Folk music started this trend, but rock won out in popularity by the mid 60s as the music of counter-culture. Inherently, rock wasn't very political but it was politicized nevertheless. Beatles were singing stuff like ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE. In Vietnam, officers were complaining that too many soldiers were into rock culture and lacked discipline. They were into fun, music, women, and drugs instead of following orders and fighting the enemy. They made bad soldiers. Rock was associated with freedom and freedom was associated with peace. War was associated with militarism and militarism was associated with discipline, hierarchy, order. Woodstock was a mega anti-war fest, and it was all about rock music(and some folk on the side). In contrast, the pro-war movie was PATTON, and it was all about hierarchy and discipline.

But there was something wrong with this picture. There was something of the rock star diva in Patton, and indeed part of the appeal was Patton too was a 'rebel' of sorts. Also, though rock was associated with peace(and there were songs like ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE and WE LOVE YOU), the essence of rock was aggressive, barbaric... war-like. There was something ironic about Woodstock's biggest acts being The Who and Hendrix who dropped musical napalms on the audience who couldn't get enough of the take-no-prisoners mayhem.
Folk music was naturally about peace since your average folk song was something like WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE? To be sure, there was a militant aspect in folk, especially all those prole working class songs, but it was about sobriety and serious struggle for justice. Rock was essentially hedonistic, individualist, and nihilistic. It was a threat to both left and the right. So, it was rather unstable as the music of leftist causes--even though most rockers have been liberal. Even today, stuff like LIVE AID looks kinda stupid cuz we see rich spoiled rockers flaunting their narcissism and riches in the name of caring for the poor and starving.
Same could be said for sports. Though Ali was associated with the anti-war movement and world peace, he made his name by violence--knocking people out--and howling that he was the 'greatest' warrior badass in the world.
As time went on, rock music and Ali came around to the opposite position. Ali became the spokesman of Americanism, a symbol of patriotism. He became part of the establishment. And rock music was embraced by the military as a kind of emotional steroid for soldiers. When US invaded Panama, US military blasted heavy metal to drive Noreiga crazy, who hated that stuff. And SHOCK AND AWE was like rock n roll. In 2003, I recall watching the Iraq Invasion with my friends, and we felt like, 'wow, this is like a Led Zeppelin concert'. And an army officer buddy told me that prior to deployment, his men all got together and played/sang WE WILL ROCK YOU. So, rock music, once associated with Woostock anti-war movement and Summer of Love, came to be the warcry of the US military. And in movie GUNNER PALACE,it's like black soldiers see Baghad as a kind of gangsta rap paradise. Craziest of them all is Ted Nugent, who in a recent book, said US should fight a war like it's rock n roll concert. Just lay the enemy all to waste. Kick ass!
Initially, it seems the US military hated rock music and culture because it was associated with 60s youth culture, anarchy, rebellion, and peace movement. The favorite song of conservatives in the 60s was something like the BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERET; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH4-tOqLH94

Anonymous said...

But, as time passed, US military made peace with rock music and recognized its usefulness. I recall reading In AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE that the Clash song ROCK THE CASBAH was a favorite among US soldiers when they invaded Iraq. And in the initial stage of the war, it seemed like most soldiers saw it as like a rock concert tour. (For all their anti-Westernism, it seems like terrorist also have a kinda rock n roll sense in their riotous destructiveness.) Rock + military = war is cool, fun, and badass.

Relation between music and war is nothing new. Nazis and Soviets both had their war songs. And the use of Ride of Valks in APOCALYPSE NOW is unforgettable. Prescient too, as Wagner was used almost as a rock music. After all, they're attacking the Viet Cong to go surfing. I also heard there are recruiting centers around America that allow visitors to experience war like a videogame with virtual technology and all that. So, like everything else, war has been consumerized and that means rock-n-roll-ized. Politics too of course. Democrats played a rock song at 92 convention and we've heard endlessly that Obama is like a rock star. Maybe Palin too, though she's more like a country star.

Anonymous said...

300, maybe the ultimate rock & war movie? Or Rambo?

Anonymous said...

Aristocrats prized their horses for hunting, riding, pomp and circumstances; the rhythm of classical music is horsey. Like Lone Ranger theme. There's a lot of classical music that trots, gallops, leaps, stampedes.
I suppose there is a kind of rocking in horse-riding, like a rocking horse. But there is no ROLL in riding in a horse. Rock n roll needs the wheels of a car. Wagons had wheels but they were none too fast and the riders depended on the rhythm/speed of the horse. Trains had wheels but had to stay on the track and had no independence from the pre-ordained pathway. The train prolly inspired some modern classical music, especially that of Shostakovich.

Ships were also classical music-like, with vastness of sky and ocean, with winds on the sails. And since aristocrats lived in mansions and palaces, their music tended to sound finely furnished and palatial.

Rock is expressive of the suburban nuclear home with emphasis on basics and convenience.

Maybe rap is the way it is--thumpity thump than mobile--because inner city black kids were in a crowded tribal environment(unlike suburban kids with safe open space and mobility)where everyone had to fight for turf. Rock is about the freedom to get around; you need not worry about territory since you know your home will always be there. Rap is about standing your ground and saying 'dis is mine'; turf had to be fought for and defended, or else the rivals took it from you. Also, inner city kids had less access to cars, and so their mentality was more about standing ground on 'my turf' than moving freely all around.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the problem of rock music can be understood by the problem posed by cars. Cars made life faster and reduced distances. But everything becomes a blur out the window. Motion trumps details."

Paul Virilio has written dozens of books on the philosophy of speed.