Can music speak across cultures

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetlore, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    music doesn't reach out across cultures, race or age. It IS culture, timeless and race free. It is a medium for communication provided there is someone listening. Unlike languages, it needs no translation, unlike paintings it is infinitely variable in its presentation, unlike law there is no "right" and "wrong", unlike human beings it does not wither up and die.

    True musicians are the culture bridges, able to communicate with anyone. Musical maturity gives an internal satisfaction that is unmatched by any other art form or human state. Music does not betray, it is not fickle, it is available for any level of understanding. It needs no excuse or reason for its existence. Music provides infinite opportunities to those willing to let it.

    I can only encourage all TMers to treat music with the respect that it deserves. Even mouthpieces and embouchures are insignificant in comparison.
  2. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    Elsewhere (Trumpet Herald) I have seen people express the same opinion that I expressed in this thread and it led to people of an opposing opinion starting an all-out *war*.
    In fact, when a poster named ChaseFan expressed similar opinions in Trumpet Herald, those of the opposing view complained about him to the moderator and the moderator permanently banned ChaseFan from the site. For simply expressing an opinion about the ability of classical music to increase its fan base.
    When ChaseFan then moved to this site, a poster here even tried to declare war on ChaseFan and ChaseFan had to appeal to a moderator here to intervene.

    I do not want to have that happen to me.
    I don't want a flame war.
    I am already on thin ice here at Trumpet Master, since last year an artist in residence here was acting in an insulting manner ridiculing someone famous and I told him to stop it and the moderators temporarily banned *me* from this site with the *public* warning that the ban would be made permanent if I ever acted like that again.

    So I have no desire to engage in a flame war here that the moderators would use as an excuse to ban me from Trumpet Master.

    By the way, I only returned to this thread for this one post because my email notified me that you had addressed the above post to me here.

    - Morris
  3. trumpetlore

    trumpetlore Pianissimo User

    Apr 14, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Dear friends,
    I'm not arguing if the broad range of music can stretch across culture. My question, poorly worded I suppose, was to the ability of classical music to do so. There are so may cultures represented in North America, yet so few people really pay much attention to classical music, or support it to any great extent. For a classical album to sell 30,000 copies is pretty much like going platinum, where a pop album will sell millions.
    Does this not show that classical music is somehow coming up short on proving relevant to the masses?
    I value classical music as much as pretty much anybody. Like many of my colleagues, it encompasses most of my time throughout the day. Even still, the way it lacks appeal to so much of the general public makes me think it must be time for a new approach.
    Rowuk, you say "It is a medium for communication provided there is someone listening. Unlike languages, it needs no translation..."

    Do you really think this? There's so much music that falls under the classical genre these days that clearly needs a lot of translation. Most people, even most musicians in North America cannot understand what is being sung in many opera composed in the last 200 years due to actual language barriers. The music doesn't seem to transcend the language to always tell people what it's about, sometimes, but often not. What about twelve tone music, or serialism? How about the myriad of languages each composer uses to compose other "twentieth century" music?

    It seems to me that if music were truly transcendent, that we wouldn't have problems getting a concert hall of 5000 filled every night in cities of millions.
    Do you really think classical music is missing nothing? What about Broadway? It seems to me that the shows on broadway have something, they run the same show for years on end, and people keep going back. Why is the concert hall so different?
    It seems to me that often Chris Botti or Kenny G, with their own brands of Muzak, must somehow be closer to that timeless ability to express across culture than most orchestra's playing Beethoven, Mahler, or Lutoslavsky.
  4. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    One of the problems I see here is that Classical music seemed to be the popular music of it's time and as such told a contextual tale. Take it out of it's time period, or context, and you lose something in that transposition. However, look at the effect music has had on Shakespeare, for instance, with pieces like West Side Story, we can, if we find a way of aligning context with the time period, re-invigorate the message - this is happening often when Classical music is used in television advertising for example. I don't think it is the music that fails to speak, I rather think it may be the language we use to convey our musical conversation. (Ooops, now we are bordering on the cerebral and I'm only here to have fun). Opera doesn't do it for a lot of people because it is presented in an old fashioned 'voice' that we fail to recognise - but the music itself flourishes.
    Any thoughts?
  5. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    Classical music has never communicated to so many people!!
    There is no doubt in my mind that classical music in the UK has never been better supported. Look at the proms, Classic Fm, TV reality music programmes such as Maestro, Choir, the huge number of amateur orchestras around the country, and Katheryn Jenkins' assets ;-) ; all these things attract big audiences. Sadly Classical music is still trying to shake off it's reputation of class exclusivity from 19th- mid 20th century. Presentation/packaging and exposure i believe are the keys to it's preservation and breaking down the class divide. However if we place Puritan intellectual values upon it's performance, Classical music will go the same way as (sorry EC and Mahberio) contemporary music concerts; small audiences which only consist of geeky composition students ( i know because i was one of them), professors, and other middle class pseudo- intellectuals.

    Hope i have ruffled up a few feathers. I enjoy a dirty argument. Grrrr!

    Butch B.U.M!
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I really believe EVERYTHING that I posted. Even when noone else is listening, music can save your soul. I did not say that any and everybody would respond in the way that you expect. That is part of the beauty.

    I divide audio into 2 parts, entertainment and music. Both have their own merits, but only the music will survive.

    There is classical, modern, jazz, rock................. entertainment and music.
    The sounds of silence, let it be, what a wonderful world and Beethovens 9th symphony have all withstood the test of time. I'm a barbie girl is an example of a chart that does not deserve eternity, although many may rightfully disagree.

    My point is not that my subset of "music" is universal, it is a tribute to the power of the audible soul - available for anyone willing to turn the transmitter off for a while.
  7. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Thanks for coming back, Morris!

    I've noted this before and I will again: It is far too easy to uncork a combative, unpleasant response using this medium of an email oriented BB. You don't suffer much in the way of ramifications for "misbehaving", so there isn't much disincentive for doing so. Plus we can cloak ourselves in anonymity. That, coupled with the difficulty of reading between the lines to interpret what a poster intends, makes this environment conducive to flame wars, even though that is rarely IMHO anyone's intention.

    So what we need to do is try even harder to be civil when we disagree. Some TM posters have hundreds or thousands of posts and have never pushed anyone's buttons or been drawn into a flame war. They succeed in this by giving careful consideration to what they write, to how they disagree, and by having respect for other posters and the TM purpose.

    I am not being critical. We haven't yet adapted to this new fangled technology, where communication is instantaneous. In the good old days you'd write a letter to someone and weeks later you might get a response. The wait granted you a built-in opportunity for rumination, and when you got the reply that rumination continued as you took your time to consider what you would write back. With instant communication we think we must, and may be expected to, respond in an instant. We react (and start a flame war), instead of process. We're only talking trumpets, so it's no real big deal. But our governments are now operating on the same principle, and the results have been and will continue to be disastrous.

    Technology has its drawbacks and one of them is our inability to manage the steep learning curve. It is almost the opposite of music which, to one who listens, has (almost) no learning curve, and zero chance of misunderstanding or ambiguity.
  8. Bill McCloskey

    Bill McCloskey Piano User

    Apr 22, 2007
    When I was a kid, I used to see the Leonard Bernstein Concerts for Young People series on TV. Recently got them as a boxed set and amazing how truely great that series was. In those days, we had 4 stations,including the public television station, so that series had a pretty good reach. I also had the Young People Concerts record collection that came out on a series of 45's.

    Classical musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony used to come to my school and entertain and teach us about classical music in a fun way. We had a music appreciation course. My grandmother and great aunt used to take me all the time to see the Pittsburgh Symphony.

    As a result, the very first records I bought as an 8 or 9 year old were Mozart Symphonys. I still have those records.

    Today, parents and grandparent don't take their kids to the symphony, there are too many choices on TV, the schools don't have music education courses anymore and Leonard Bernstein is dead.

    You reap what you sow.
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    We are perhaps missing the difference between culture and civilization. Classical music (and jazz and death-metal, etc.) can and do speak across cultures. How music makes us civilized is perhaps worthy of another thread. Here is a pretty long, edited excerpt from Edward Abbey on the difference between culture and civilization:

    "Culture, we agreed, means the way of life of any given human society considered as a whole. It is an anthropological term referring always to specific, identifiable societies localized in history and place, and includes all aspects of such organizations - their economy, their art, their religion. The U.S.A., for example, is not a civilization but a culture, as is the U.S.S.R., and both are essentially industrial cultures, the former in the mode of monopoly capitalism, the latter in the mode of state socialism; if they seem to be competing against each other it is not because they are different but because they are basically so much alike; and the more they compete the more alike they become: MERGING TRAFFIC AHEAD.

    Civilization on the other hand, while undoubtedly a product of various historical cultures, and as a category one which overlaps what we label culture, is by no means identical with culture. Cultures can exist with little or no trace of civilization; and usually do; but civilization while dependent upon culture for its sustenance, as the mind depends upon the body, is a semi-independent entity, precious and fragile, drawn through history by the finest threads of art and idea, a process or series of events without formal structure or clear location in time and space. It is the conscious forefront of evolution, the brotherhood of great souls and the comradeship of intellect, a corpus mysticum, The Invisible Republic open to all who wish to participate, a democratic aristocracy based not on power or institutions but on isolated men - Lao-Tse, Chuang-Tse, Guatama, Diogenes, Euripides, Socrates, Jesus, Wat Tyler and Jack Cade, Paine and Jefferson, Blake and Burns and Beethoven, John Brown and Henry Thoreau, Whitman, Tolstoy, Emerson, Mark Twain, Rabelais and Villon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Spartacus, Nietzsche and Thomas Mann, Lucretius and Pope John XXIII, and ten thousand other poets, revolutionaries and independent spirits, both famous and forgotten, alive and dead, whose heroism gives to human life on earth its adventure, glory and significance.

    To make the distinction unmistakably clear:

    Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life;

    Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori;

    Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure;

    Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam;

    Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair;

    Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland;

    Civilization is a youth with a Molotov. cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L.A. cop that guns him down;

    Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement;

    Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood."
  10. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    Great thread.


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