Death Never Sounded So Good!

CareOfLonelyLeapDOTcomIt seems like music writers are working towards some unspoken quota for the number of articles about the “death” of classical music and/or jazz that have to appear in a Google search. Pieces about the upcoming, long-past or allegedly well-known demise of both musical traditions appear with impressive periodicity. Mark Vanhoenacker’s “Requiem” is the latest example of this perennial trend.

This article is actually one of the most optimistic things I have seen in quite some time, not just when it comes to classical music’s death, but to my own end. Based on the outpouring of reaction from musicians, journalists and fans, I hope that someday I will also be consigned to the type of “death” that Vanhoenacker is convinced classical music has already suffered. Here’s a small sample of what Vanhoenacker would probably dismiss as necrophilia:

-Greg Sandow, whose blog is devoted to the questions (rather than the presuppositions) that Vanhoenacker raises, suggesting that the fat lady isn’t ready to sing;

-Proper Discord with a passionate, at times far-reaching reply that points to the growth of public radio as well as the fact that musicians, not necessarily large, well-known and lavishly funded orchestras, make music;

-Matthew Kassel making the mind-blowingly modest point that classical music, as well as jazz and poetry “may never be very popular…. [but that] doesn’t mean any of those art forms are dead;”

- Head|Voice letting personal experience as well as passion generate some alternatives to the narrative.

As for my own views on the death of classical music, I’m just intrigued by the term’s linguistic and philosophical context. For example, what do I make of that word when selecting which Vivaldi opera I want to listen to while reading the catalogs of at least three (as in one, two and three among other) different labels exclusively devoted to prewar jazz? What about while attending one of L’Academie’s free concerts of eighteenth century music at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, or the forty-third BixFest? The only other question left to ask is, “how come no one is writing similar articles about polka, or jug bands?”

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2 thoughts on “Death Never Sounded So Good!

  1. jazzlives says:

    Journalism about The Death of _______ is a sure-fire sell, or at least some people think so. The alternative: “Look, isn’t X still vibrant!” only comes as a response. The musicians and the music are there whether anyone is writing about them. Vivaldi and Tiny Parham quietly go about their business of showing us new ways to feel or old ways,felt more deeply, all the time. “Dead?” Says who? And, by the way, Mamie Smith sends her love.

    • Dead-on Michael, especially your point about how too often advocacy for the music is a reactive rather than a proactive stance. If only there were people who wrote about the music as sound in the present rather than a historical relic? Oh well…

      I don’t even like the term “old music” anymore. If the piece is from 1715 but I’ve never heard it, it’s pretty “new” to me!

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