To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
47 messages

Proper Music?

06 Nov 00 - 01:18 PM (#335314)
Subject: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Proper music in the UK means European classical music. Therefore proper musicians are classically trained musicians……………Is this true also for where you live?……. The purpose of this thread is not to knock fine classical music or fine classically trained musicians, but to examine the reasons for the high regard this music has and the comparatively low regard for other forms. To also look at national differences to this.

The irony of this being that some of these lesser musicians, in particular the 'pop' stars, earn far more than the respected classically trained musicians could ever dream of. They would probably trade a little of their reverence for a more secure lifestyle?

One of the reasons for this being true in the UK and possibly not quite so true elsewhere is our unique and still existing class system. There is a certain snobbery attached to classical music and even those that do not like or understand it much, will be tempted to express some enthusiasm for it and to disparage others forms.

In my experience, I would say that the main purveyor and supporter of this attitude and probably the main reason it exists, is our State radio and TV, the BBC.

In fairness I would say that all forms of music are treated equally badly on BBC TV and TV in general. The only music that TV seems to know about is 'pop' and that given its appeal is not treated very well either.

The problem is worse and the pattern was set by BBC Radio. Over many years and for very good reasons the BBC has promoted classical music. The annual Promenade Concerts and entire radio station (now called Radio 3) has been devoted all most exclusively to classical music. Popular or light music as it was known, would fight it out amongst the remaining channels. It was not until fairly recently (1960s) and in the face of 'pirate' competition that 'pop' music was given its own.

There have been occasional the oasis in this desert of classical music. Programmes on music considered more worthy, like The Organist Entertains, jazz and blues programmes have come and gone (The Organist Entertains will go on forever) but none promoted with the zeal of classical music.

Whilst being grateful for the approach that has 'given the people what they need rather than what they want', in the way of broadcast music, I am angry that in 2000, things have changed little. There are moves to introduce 'world music' on Radio 3, but it is too little and too late to change the attitude in the UK, toward other non classical forms of music that The BBC is largely responsible for creating.

There is one hour a week devoted to folk music on national BBC Radio and one hour on Blues.

How have other nations with State Radio, like Ireland fared?

06 Nov 00 - 01:25 PM (#335319)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: MMario

I suspect on this side of the pond, most people would rate how "proper" a musician is by his income. the higher the income, the more "proper"

06 Nov 00 - 01:43 PM (#335340)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Whistle Stop

Shambles, I am a classical musician as well as a practitioner of other forms. Here in the USA we don't have State radio per se, although we do have "public" radio stations that survive on private and corporate donations supplemented by some government funding. They tend to be more eclectic than what you're describing, devoting substantial amounts of air time to folk and acoustic musics, musics from other cultures (commonly called "world music," although some of us don't care for that term), and a variety of other things.

However, even though there seems to be more variety on American radio, there is still some snobbishness associated with classical music (we don't often use the word "proper" here). I think that snobbishness is a big part of the reason that people aren't drawn to classical music nearly as much as they are drawn to pop music. Basically, the classical world dug its own grave -- the classical institutions did their best to choke all the life out of the music that people often don't want anything to do with it. Improvising and creative license are frowned upon (except within very narrow parameters). The young prospective music student is basically encouraged to believe that the best he or she can hope for is to work like a slave for decades to play this music almost exactly like everyone else does -- and if he or she is VERY talented and EXTREMELY diligent, ready to sacrifice everything to the quest for technical proficiency, perhaps there will be a seat open on some orchestra somewhere when the last occupant dies. Is it any wonder few are drawn to this?

06 Nov 00 - 05:43 PM (#335502)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Eric the Viking

Nah! I tell everyone I meet, proper music is heavy metal!! and also folk, much classical music is crap as is most pop. I've never been one to see the Emporors new clothes, I always see people naked, that is to say, that I don't agree with people for the sake of it. I am willing to bet that if we were listening in 100 years, classical would include Beatles, Dylan, and many others.

06 Nov 00 - 06:32 PM (#335523)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Greyeyes

I used to think I must be a bit of a philistine for not liking a lot of classical stuff, then I heard Tom Stoppard, a writer I admire enormously and consider extremely cultured and highbrow, interviewed on the radio, "I've never been to an opera in my life," he said "and I wouldn't go to a ballet even if the tickets were free." I stopped feeling guilty after that.

Yes the BBC should be ashamed of itself.

06 Nov 00 - 07:18 PM (#335551)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

I did wonder about useing the word 'proper'. It does however sum up entirely the attitude I am referring to here in the UK.

If you see a music festival advertised, it means a classical music festival. A music club, means a classical music club. Grants and subsidies are almost entirely for classical music.

How different here would the public perception of folk music be if it received just a fraction of the radio exposure and funds provided for classical music and in particular opera?

06 Nov 00 - 07:43 PM (#335571)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Bill D

there is much music snobbery in the US also, but it is not nearly so pervasive, since it is not promoted widely by state radio/tv....the USA is so big, that there is a lot of room to have 'classical' stations, as well as pop stations....not as many, but big cities always have one. I like much 'proper' music....Handel and Holst and Brahms and Beethoven...but I don't collect it like I do traditional folk.

On the other hand, it seems that if you know where to go, the pub with live folkish music is still alive in the UK, whereas in the USA, it is a hard thing to find in many areas.

06 Nov 00 - 08:06 PM (#335594)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)

You have brought a a bunch of very interesting questions here--and important ones too, because though the situation appears to be very different here in the states, in terms of both classical music and radio--the effects seem oddly similar--radio programming seems to offer a very narrow range of choices, and there seems to be an extreme polarization between classical music and all the other stuff--

A lot of the American music schools now offer jazz programs, and a fair number of the high profile pop musicians have had extensive training in classical music, though they do not tend to admit it-- heavy metal guitarist Steve Vai,is I believe, a Julliard graduate--and there are many others--

Years ago, when classical music was regularly featured on the radio and television, and many (if not most) of the classical conductors, composers, and performers, were European exiles, there was much more enthusiasm among them for folk and pop idioms--and it was typical for performers to include folksongs and arrangements of folk music in their performing repertoire--

For that matter, the pop and commercial jazz musicians, at least until the fifties or early sixties, generally read music and worked from arrangements--and were on playing terms with most kinds of music--(pop and jazz renditions of classical tunes used to be quite common)

For quite a long time, though, the different branches of music have seemed to be at war with each other, with people who stradle the fences of taste viewed as traitors of a rather high order--

I have no idea how we got this way, especially since it often said(way too often) that music is a "universal language"--

06 Nov 00 - 08:20 PM (#335606)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: kendall

I got my first introduction to "Classical" music by watching cartoons. The Poet and Peasant, Light Cavalry, William Tell Overture and LaGaza Ladra have all been used many times. I've since graduated to Beethoven. His Violin Concerto in D is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. Fortunatly, we have many local stations that play "Proper" music. It is a welcome relief from the screeching and wailing that passes for "Pop" these days. It's close to painful for me to go into a store these days.

06 Nov 00 - 10:49 PM (#335711)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: paddymac

There was a time when NPR was very, very heavily into "classical", to the near exclusion of most other forms. But as competition for tax dollars has increased and they have had to scramble for support in the market place, they have had to vastly broaden their offerings. At the moment, "talk radio", whether commercial or "public" seems to have the lion's share of the air time. You're not likely to find Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern on NPR, however. NPR talk offerings tend to be more cerebral and substantive and less emotive and culturally culturally biased or prejudiced. There remains an element of "snobbery", seen mostly in the reliance on BBC fillers at night time (probably an economic issue here as well), and the faux Brit accents many of the "voices" have. I suspect each market is different to some degree, but the trend at present seems to be more on what is said rather than how it is said. Progress seems usually to come at a snail's pace.

07 Nov 00 - 02:11 AM (#335789)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: CarolC

I've had more experiences being made fun of for liking classical music here in the U.S. ("Long haired Opry music"), than I have for liking any other kind of music. I hate Pop music and Country and Western music (sorry), and people look at me funny for that.

No one's ever given me a hard time for liking traditional forms of music, although I've taken a lot of heat for playing the accordion.


07 Nov 00 - 03:02 AM (#335798)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

Dear Shambles.Mmmh.Your BBC has nothing to do with it.Italy is much worse,and we don't have the huge Classic music force-feeding you have in UK.Conservatories are still very old,I doubt jazz is considered music yet from teachers there,classic western uninspiring unmusical training is the only possible training(that training which shuts your ears from the very first beginning because there is no melody or beat in what you play,just notes and ligatures)spontaneity and ear-playing are less important than practising scales.No tunes.Folk is mainly lost in the northern part,I've never heard a session of whatsoever music(spontaneous or folk,unless you want to think about playing Beatles on a guitar in ten making it sound like the record),classic music is not that known anymore from common people(apart from famous operas ,Haydyn and Beethoven)(I loathe the three of them)cause you listen to it if you are a posh intellectual or upperclass xxxxxer.First time I got an italian friend to a folk session here with her fiddle she refused to even try playing along because she hadn't reharsed with the rest of the people(let alone knowing the tune).i was taught music at school since I was three years old,starting with one of those evil recorders,yet I always feel so unabkle with my own music background when i see people who freely plays down here. My God,this all sounds very tragic.I'm very critical about this 'whining opera goer's 'mentality.This people coul'dn't accept the fact that classic music is over-fried,well-disguised folk music,(otherwise why I'd love Mozart so much...?)and the music education coming from this mentality is a draining one,destined to withdraw creativity from people.If you play an instrument,you'll better become a very good professional and if you wish to sing,you'll better be gifted with an incredible voice,otherwise amuse yourself watching television.And music is the best sociable occasion.I really regret that my generation is made of people who'll never be given the possibility of getting together to play and have fun.And also,music without roots is like a tree without roots:you delete your folk heritage from the back of your mind,and nothing will support the music you write(but I said that in some other thread about art music).
But:what if classy,polished BBC transmitted folk music.
HUH,folk music would become such a polished,classy matter.The other day I was talking to a folk singer touring in Australia.She told me that in UK folk is quite a clicque,you have to play çlassic folk or it's not folk,while she tents to get very original and bend notes,get jazzy,and in the end she's not considered a 'proper'folk singer.(she's a great folk singer to me).Well,then,it would get as frozen as classic music,with fussy listeners like classic music listeners.
But I'm being cynical.ABC,in Australia,broadcasts lots of folk music and recordings from folk festivals,and it's great.
P.S.:don't ask me where the point is in this long message.

07 Nov 00 - 06:18 AM (#335836)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Where is the point in this long message?

There were lots of them and good ones, in your post and all the other posts…… English folk music is presented here in a similar way to classical music. In the sense that 'you should like it'. The conservative approach you refer to is also similar. When someone is singing 'A Farmer's Boy' (a real traditional song), in a club or a session, you are made to feel that you SHOULD know the words to enable you to sing the chorus. Maybe this is just a uniquely English problem and a direct result of our class system?

From its roots in folk music and dance, European classical music has reached an unprecedented level of technical mastery. As with everything this has a good and a not so good side. The advent of notation enabled one person, the composer, to play all of the instruments. Individual differences in playing styles change from being the attraction, as it is in folk music, to being a hindrance to the way the composer or conductor wanted it to sound. As was said above, this uniformity is then encouraged and trained in.

I think that this was when the concept of "a universal language" runs into trouble. When the language was written down. The (folk) music and musicians that did not need to write it down or read it, were despite their mastery of their instruments and form, then considered to be illiterate. Rustic forms of music, only good enough to 'steal' from.

The most notable achievement of musical notation and where this form of written and scored music, starting from the page, is so different from others is in the development of harmony. I feel it was at this point, where the melodies that all of us seem to love and hook on to, were lost in the composer's rather self-indulgent search for ever more complex harmonies. It was at this point that the classical composer and most of the audience parted company. The concept of this music's superiority however, lingered on.

It does not seem to be generally recognised that this European classical music, fine as it is, is just another form of music, not superior just different.

Do you feel, or do you think that you are made to feel, that the music you like or play is inferior to classical or any other form of music?

07 Nov 00 - 09:09 AM (#335899)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

There is the usual claim of the 'dramatic'force of classical music.You know,the pathos,the sublime.And it's difficult to get that on folk music.I once heard a very 'suffered','felt'version of 'the Butterfly'on fiddle,which got me pretty much in the stomach for its tackiness.But then again.When I need music to help me 'feeling',I listen to a cello sonata from Kodaly which happens to be a very sensible 'çut and paste'of hungarian folk tunes.And just the other day I heard and orchestral piece written from a local folk band(VERY well accomplished task.I would expected to be impossible to write an openly folk piece for a Philarmonic Orchestra...and I was just so impressed from what I heard!And I consider myself a very tasteful listener,so trust me)which was just great.Music notation is just like every other written language-a structure. You get the pattern from your eys to your brain,and then you're able to bend it however you want it like.Like reading a book:your imagination does the job.Notation is notation.The music lies in communicating something out of it.
And if folk expresses no feeling,as they claim,how about jazz?!I love jazz,but you really have to be inventive most of the times to detect anything in it but wit and broken nerves.
And classic music,for most instruments,is easier than folk-it gives you some pace.
Probably so called composers were musicians who got a little bit over theirselves.Ravel had to repeat his tune some twenty times in Bolero,while average folk group is happy with four times...that could show something...
And shambles,I absolutely agree with the very good point about harmony.

07 Nov 00 - 09:21 AM (#335907)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Matt_R

Lena, did you know that "Bolero" was merely written as a warm-up piece for orchestra? That's why it repeats so much. I like the trombone part, my friend Jeremy (he's a music history/conducting major) likes the bassoon part. Anyway the orchestra players liked it so much, they asked Ravel to make it a concert piece. He not only did that, but made it into a short ballet for solo dancer.

07 Nov 00 - 09:24 AM (#335912)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Whistle Stop

Shambles, I think we should recognize that the attraction to snobbery isn't limited to classical music types. Here in the USA, jazz has become much more marginalized than it was in the first half of the 20th century, largely (I believe) because the jazz community got too precious and haughty about "their" music. I believe this trend has begun to reverse itself, but it has a ways to go yet.

Rock and roll started down this path in the 1970s, when stage productions and arrangements got more elaborate, leading to increased domination by corporations (who could underwrite this stuff), and drifting away from the more primal impulse that gave the music its power. Fortunately, rock and roll is the music of youthful rebellion, so it didn't take long for the punk movement to knock the elitists down a peg or two. Rock and roll has other problems these days, but this kind of artistic pomposity isn't nearly as big an issue as it was a couple of decades ago.

Sadly, I sense this same impulse among certain members of the "folk" community, who insist that folk exists only within their own rigid construction of it -- that it has to have certain specified ties to "tradition" (as defined by the self-appointed keepers of the flame), that it must rely on specific instruments and playing styles (without allowing for the healthy cross-pollenation that keeps a tradition vital), or that it has to speak to particular political themes or causes (and often to only one end of the political spectrum). This is an exclusionary, elitist tendency, in my view. While we're recognizing the failings of the classical music world, it might be healthy to examine some of our own shortcomings.

07 Nov 00 - 09:31 AM (#335916)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

The European version is different.Half of the audience walked away during the premiere.But after all,it was the fashon in Paris since The rite of Spring.I remember the piece was commissioned from the Opera du Paris,which was still under Astruc at the time and was trying to replace the amazing experimental landscape that Ballets Russes had been providing...Ah,yes,it was a piece for Ida Rubinstein.1928.I'm also pretty sure that Bronia Nijinska,Nijinsky's sister, put up the choreography-she had been working with Ravel before,and worked in tandem with Stravinsky and Gontcharova for the premiere of one of my favourite 'fo'lk-classic'pieces,'Les Noces'.Aaah,golden times...(now you really find the thread in this posting...)

07 Nov 00 - 09:34 AM (#335920)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

Hurrah for Whistle Stop!(I didn't read your posting before)

07 Nov 00 - 09:47 AM (#335928)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Dave the Gnome

I'm all for improper music myself. And most other things improper!

Seriously though, I certainly agree with one of the first points made here -In the UK the Opera and Ballet seem to get all the funding as well as air time and I reckon I know why.

Only the well off could afford to pay 10's, if not 100's of pounds to go to a production by Sadlers Wells or The Royal Ballet and yet these organisations are funded, by the government and other agencies to the tune of millions.

All these millions therefore are going to give pleasure to the rich minority, the rich minority own the media, the media tell us that classical music and dance deserve the funding and so it goes on. Conspiracy theory??? Moulder eat your heart out!

Try getting a grant from the government (local or central) for a folk festival however and you will be told that they can only spare a few hundred quid, if that, as all there funds are committed elsewhere. We know why though don't we (see above).

Don't get the impression that I am bitter about not getting funded though - I'm not. We do get some funding and use it to keep the price of tickets down at our festival and provide some free entertainment for anyone interested. I'm happy that we provide a good service and everyone else is happy that they can afford some live entertainment.

Sorry for the thread drift but the bit that rubs is that it is our taxes and our efforts that pay to subsidise an elitist culture, ensuring it's self perpetuation.

(Gets off soap box)

Ahhhh - I feel better now after a good rant!

Dave the Socialist Gnome

07 Nov 00 - 09:48 AM (#335931)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: sophocleese

Don't worry about proper music in Britain being European Classical music. A few years ago my brother, living in Germany, got a kick out of being a Canadian playing English Lute music in a show on German Culture.

Evolving notation systems have certainly had an effect on music, just as increased literacy has had an effect on storytelling. Storytelling where the heart of the story, not just the words, are passed on is enjoying a modest revival, but I don't want to throw out Jane Austen yet (although there are some authors that I would). Classical Western music is often more intricate than folk, that is part of its appeal and its difficulty. A few years ago I was singing in a choir and we performed Healey Willan's requiem. Its not an easy piece to do but when we finally got it all together it sounded gorgeous and I had a real sense of accomplishment from having learned my part. We cannot all be blessed with as keen and discerning ear as Mozart, I am glad that he wrote his music out and therefore others have been able to play it so I can hear it. At the moment I am listening to a CD called Baroque Banquet featuring the exquisite trumpet playing of Stuart Laughton with other musicians. Some of the pieces are beautiful and can move me to tears. Without notation they would be lost now.

CBC Radio 2(I think) plays a lot of classical music. There is only one other radio station that I know of, CJRT, that plays a similar amount of classical. CJRT also used to play folk music on Saturdays. I can't get it in Orillia where I am now but loved to hear it at work when I lived in Hamilton. For me CBC Radio is a life saver in a desert of top forty or country music stations. CBC also plays various kinds of folk music in different programs. Hell they even play Rick Fielding now and again.

07 Nov 00 - 09:54 AM (#335935)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

Let's not make a soup out of ballet-classic,boring ballet is supported.I've seen many worthy ballet companies almost starve to survive.So,keep long-legged Sylvie Guillem and passed away Nureyev on one side,and truly great ballet companies on the poor side.Thanks.

07 Nov 00 - 03:08 PM (#336135)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)

There is a "Pride Goeth Before the Fall" sort of theme running through this all, or so it seems, when Shambles talks about complex harmony, and Whistlestop talks about haughtiness--To my view, whether you have a lot of "attitude" or not has no effect on whether you can pull off the musical ideas that you are working with--

Given that, I have to say that there are a lot of arrogant so-and-so's associated with all types of music(some with extreme talent, but most just extreme) and most of us delight in seeing them get their come-uppance, but unfortunately, it seems like that rarely happens--

at any rate, complex, multi-voiced harmonies, as well as counterpoint singing, all existed in folk music first--what composers have tended to do(at least our Western tradition composers) was to clean up and simplify the parts so that they could develop them into performance pieces for whatever venue they worked it in their time--

It is worth note that the Opera originated as a popular art form, open to the public, underwritten by admission sales, with story lines and grand styles created to appeal to the masses, who were(and still are) partial to extreme emotions and spectacle--

It is also worth noting that much of what we consider to be traditional music seems to have been composed music that moved from the written page into the oral tradition, where it was often passed down with surprisingly little alteration--

Given that folk music, pop music, and classical music have what, I guess, amounts to a symbiotic relationship, I am still at loss to explain the animosity, which is evident even in this thread, that divides them--

07 Nov 00 - 03:49 PM (#336164)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

What appears to some to be animosity in this thread, appears to me to be a pretty good and fair appreciation of all forms of music plus an understandable desire to see a level playing field.

Whatever its humble beginnings or however popular opera was, it only can only be staged today because there is not a level playing field.

The "attitude" I was interested in exploring was of the audience to different styles of music and why that was. If there is any animosity between the players of different styles, is it not most probably caused by fact that there is not a level playing field?

07 Nov 00 - 05:51 PM (#336210)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Bert

Whistle Stop, you said...
certain members of the "folk" community, who insist that folk exists only within their own rigid construction of it...

Certainly a few such people do exist, even at Mudcat, but I see these people as a necessity rather than a problem. They hold us to our traditions while other Mudcatters (me included) will sing anything we please whether it's folk or not. I know that with the encouragement of these curmudgeons I am now singing more folk songs than I used to. I don't think that's a bad thing.


07 Nov 00 - 06:22 PM (#336244)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Matt_R

Our traditions? Then where's the guy with the southern Italian mountain songs, and the German coal miner songs? You mean BRITISH ISLES traditions.

08 Nov 00 - 05:04 AM (#336589)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

'Na doni, a lu'spunta'du suli
Aja vistu 'na dunni,
Putenzia delli Dii,Putenzia delli Di'
Putenzia delli Dii quannéra granni

(tarantella del Gargano) The girl with the southern Italy mountains song-actually,this is some sort of 2500 years old rap.Thanks for minding about us many unenglish and unceltic.

As for harmony.For my birthday I was given a cd of vocal music from Corsica and Sardinia.Recorded on it,there are some amazing samples of a chant working on harmonics(crazy,crazy,incredible harmonics for four voices)(Poppa Peter Gabriel released a cd about Tenores di Bitti some time ago.GET IT.).That chant it's believed to be the song of the world,the notes and combinations that shaped our earth hill by hill,fish by fish,colour by colour.And once asserted the very old age of such a folk music,I must repeat that the harmonies in there opened to me a landscape of sounds that I couldn't have a clue about(I used to think Ravel to be the umbeatable wizard of rendering feelings through harmony...).Just to say that I agree about harmony being firstly a flok

08 Nov 00 - 06:29 AM (#336604)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

I am not a subscriber to the idea that the musician should only produce music that they know will be popular. It is up to you to "pull off the musical ideas that you are working with". However if you intend to 'plough your own furrow', you should recognise that you may be left, cold and hungry, alone in your field. Those are the harsh realities.

The rock and pop musicians can only continue with their "grandiose" concepts because they take their audience (and consequently their commercial tour sponsors), with them. If they lose that audience they at least accept that they then have to 'cut the cloth'.

Many people try to push the envelope and it is healthy and right that they do so. However it is not acceptable to me, to expect one form of music only, to be supported by right, just because of what you may be attempting to "pull off" in that style.

My government, through many bodies, including the BBC, uses my money to stage concerts and commission works from modern classical composers. These works would most probably not be produced otherwise, as they are not to the current tastes of the general public. Not too sure if they are always to the tastes of the modern musicians playing them either?

Is it right then, that taxpayers money be spent to support such ventures and not others, just because the style of music is considered, somehow more worthy?

08 Nov 00 - 07:34 AM (#336614)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: JulieF

I think that by emphasising the subsidy of Classical music you are loosing a bit of the whole picture. There are many areas in classical music that are suffering because of lack of subsidy. My daughter's orchestra ( one of the best youth orchestras in the country ) has had to appeal for money to hire a piano so they can play with an extreemly high rated pianist at their Christmas concert. The concerts are always desparate struggles to get enough people in to raise money for instruments, tours and courses and to subsidise the members who otherwise would not be able to play.

One of the problems is that many people do not go to these sorts of concerts because of an almost inverted snobbery, its proper musics so its not for them. The people I have dragged along have invariably enjoyed themselves.

I agree that a wider range of musical types should be looked at for subsidy and promotion. I believe that all sorts of music is ignored on television. I enjoy some of the classic concerts but they are usually on at times which are inappropiate, most interesting pop/rock music is limited to Jool's Holland's program and I can't remember the last decent folk/roots program. The problem is not so much about what is proper music but is the chase for ratings and hence justification for existance.

All the best


08 Nov 00 - 09:56 AM (#336665)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Julie I do not think that the areas of classical music you refer to are suffering from a lack of subsidy. Surely they are suffering from not being popular enough to support themselves by putting bums on seats? Or from being more popular with those that want to play it, than with those that want to pay listen to it?……. Why is that?

I do not expect the music that I play to be subsidised, or that I am owed a living from it I just hope that it will be popular and I will continue to try my best to make it so. Most styles of music operate like that.

Maybe it is because classical music expects to be subsidised that it receives it. Even though that distribution is patchy as you demonstrate. ……Should any music be subsidised, or even expect to be subsidised and for what reasons?

If we are saying that a style of music can only exist if it is subsidised, or that it cannot compete with more popular forms, shouldn't we just accept that the music does not now speak to as many people as it used to? Rather than making the many pay (and resent), for the pleasures of the few?

I do take your point about taking people to live music events. Even if they do not think that they like the music and are not looking forward to it, they will usually enjoy it more than they think they will. Yes you are right about the inverted snobbery. With a classical music event, it is the idea that they should like it, are expected to like it and that it will be good for there soul, is probably what keeps them away? They will like it I'm sure, if you can only get them away from all that subsidised music on the BBC. *smiles*

Possibly 'proper' music is really any form of live music?

Is there not anyway something always self-defeating in hand-outs? They do not seem to make anyone happy.....

08 Nov 00 - 10:33 AM (#336682)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Whistle Stop

It is interesting to speculate what changes would be brought about if public arts subsidies were ended. Would the practitioners have to work harder to generate an audience that is enthusiastic enough about the art or music pay what it takes to support it? Would classical music lose a little of its ingrained snobbery because it has to compete directly with other forms for its audience? Would art exhibits live and die on their merits, and artists therefore be forced to consider their audiences more than they are now? And would all this make for better art/music, or worse?

I think this is probably a question that a lot of folks would disagree about. On the one hand, we worry that the unsubsidized arts would end up catering to the lowest common denominator, because that's the only way to compete with Madonna and Ricky Martin. On the other hand, we might all recognize that there's a lot of crap out there that only flourishes because it is subsidized (artistic merit being very much in the eye of the beholder). And besides, aren't there enough fans of classical music to support it?

In the US of A, many cities subsidize symphony orchestras, because it makes the host city more attractive to residents and tourists alike, which ultimately contributes to a healthy economy. And public radio and television also devote a significant amount of air time to musical forms other than classical, which is increasing more widespread appreciation of these forms (in my opinion). If state radio in Britain or other countries is still skewed towards classical music and away from other forms, perhaps it is just a little behind the curve.

08 Nov 00 - 12:06 PM (#336720)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Bagpuss

I think it is partly because to get anywhere in the classical world, you have to at least proficient on your instrument. This is obviously not true in the world of pop music, where image and popularity rule.

I know classical gets lots of funding, but due to lottery funding, there is (going to be?) a music centre in Gateshead, with Folkworks being a major partner in it. And they are going to have a folk music degree course.


08 Nov 00 - 05:30 PM (#336852)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Is this the really the right direction for traditional music to go? Is it possible that it may just produce more musicians who feel that the world owes them a living? We may then have two kinds of 'proper music'?

Why does the money go to Gateshead and not here in Dorset?

Just kidding.

08 Nov 00 - 11:59 PM (#337052)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: pict

The Brendan Voyage is a good example of happy marriage between Classical and Traditional music.Most classical musicians I've met haven't got an original musical idea in their heads.I like some classical music but can't be arsed with an equal amount of it.I read about Charlie Parker having a serious inferiority complex with classical musicians although no classical player could ever hope to achieve his improvisational virtuosity.I think a lot of non classical musicians have a similar inferiority complex,personally I view classical musicians as rigid rule followers I would never trade in my musical freedom for technical facility.

09 Nov 00 - 03:55 AM (#337079)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)

It is most interesting to hear about the differing ways that things are funded on either side--

Classical music forms(and the arts in general) don't receive the sort of state sponsorship here in the US that it seems to receive in the UK--here, orchestras. opera companies, and the like merely receive tax exempt status as a not-for-profit organization, and they are left to their own devices as to how to collect the funds that they require to operate--for that matter, there are quite a number of folk music related non-profit organizations, some of which generate huge amounts of money that they use to underwrite a variety of music and educational events--

I know a lot about the funding and underwriting for non-profits, both art/music related and other(out of necessity)--they draw money from a variety of sources, but the key to success, in all instances, is a strong relationship between the programs, the audiences, and the underwriters--

The system, as it has evolved, is even more bottom-line oriented than the for-profit world(though the bottom line is to use money to create art, rather than to use art to create money), more competitive, and, some people feel, more exploitive--There aren't a lot of musicians expecting that the world owes them a living, but there are a number of people who, by combining performing, some teaching, bits of unrelated part time, and a frugal life style, can make a career of performing--

09 Nov 00 - 01:21 PM (#337201)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Is classical music, 'proper' music because it is subsidised (or was patronised)?

Or is classial music subsidised because it is 'proper' music? .......Which came first the chicken or the egg?

12 Nov 00 - 07:28 AM (#339093)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Roger in Sheffield

Shambles just directed me here from another thread
I like 'bits' of all kinds of music and sometimes the boundries are blurred
I object to only having media access to a broadband of music/singing at short periods during the week, I think julie mentioned the BBC TV program "Later" which has the guts to feature people like Taj Mahal along pop acts. Unfortunately the hour long Mike Harding Folk show on BBC radio 2 does not include the african music that was found on the recently axed Radio 1 Kershaw program, it is far more english/irish based
During the daytime I have a radio choice of many Commercial pop stations or radio 1 (almost same output but paid for by the public), radio 2 (pop music of yesteryear),radio 3 (classical music),radio 4 (discussion,news,book readings)
So I feel left out, I don't mind pop music music not even eminem, but why is that all I can have? New pop, old pop or classical are the only music radio choices during daytime. I end up listening to Radio 4 and I know have an extensive knowledge of June Whitfields career and the life of the author of harry potter!
I need a varied musical diet - give me pop by all means but could I have some funk, blues, dub, folk, soul, metal, rock, jazz, classical etc.
I think the same is true of learning music, I found many teachers willing to teach classical flute but not one who would teach me to play the flute in the exciting styles I had heard 'folk' performers play. I started off with great enthusiasm and slowly the classical tunes I was given to play began to kill the fire that had made me want to learn in the first place. Luckily I found a teaching video! from this I learned that improvisation can be fun. I have given up th flute lessons and thrown off the classical chains that bound me - though I still love playing some classical pieces - now I am free to try anything and have £10 a week more to spend on BEER!
I have sympathy with the orchestra Julie, and I would love to hear it so send some details
When I was at school all that was on offer to play were orchestral instruments in a classical style, how many more of us would have been hooked then if we had the chance to try a Bodhran or tin whistle and join in playing a punchy jig rather than Away in a Manger?

12 Nov 00 - 07:37 AM (#339096)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Roger in Sheffield

know? oh now!

12 Nov 00 - 08:05 AM (#339105)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Given the different ways that classical music is looked at, funded and promoted in the countries that we have heard from here, it occurs to me that the perception of this music's superiority has not been much challenged.

It leads me to ask, from an early age, have we all been brainwashed?

13 Nov 00 - 03:03 AM (#339566)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

I used the term European classical music. Later in the thread it was referred to as Western classical music. This to include the US, I think.

But why the US? And why is this music so well played by fine musicians from Japan and Korea? Is it performed much in those countries?

13 Nov 00 - 05:38 AM (#339594)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Lena

I'd suggest to actually cut the word 'Proper'. It sounds like 'Moral'.In sone sityuations,Calssic music is not considered Proper and indeed a classic music lister can look ridicoulous. You can either call it,Çonservatory music', Classic Music, Western Art Music...

13 Nov 00 - 11:52 AM (#339739)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

I was not suggesting for a moment that classical music should be called 'proper' music. I don't think I have ever heard anybody seriously use the word 'proper' in respect to it either. What the word does however, is sum up very well and hopefully convey the usually unsaid attitude here, towards classical music and towards all the music that is not considered to be classical. It explains also why that music has suffered and continues to.

Yes it certainly does imply the word 'moral' and that is the point I am making. I am not too surprised that anyone, who may not have lived and experienced our class system, may struggle to entirely understand that attitude and how deeply ingrained it is. That is why it is somewhat refreshing to hear from those that do not have this view.

Maybe the term we use for the music actually says it all?……… CLASSical…………

13 Nov 00 - 05:19 PM (#339989)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Don Firth

Just looked in on this thread. Fascinating discussion. . . .

This may be thread creep, but one thing jumped out at me that I feel I must comment on: "I view classical musicians as rigid rule followers I would never trade in my musical freedom for technical facility."

When I first got actively interested in folk music, I was a musical dim-bulb. I had listened to all kinds of music all my life, but when it came to working out simple guitar accompaniments to simple folk songs (not even getting as far as some of the not-so-simple ones), I had no idea what chords to play. I had to have other people show me, or rely on the chords in songbooks, which are frequently pretty uninspired.

A friend of mine, a classical cello player, was attending the University of Washington School of Music (which was very stuffy and very "proper" at the time). He could look at the tune of a folk song I was struggling with and say, "Well, there are all kinds of possibilities here," and he would proceed to show me three or four different ways the song could be harmonized. They all sounded good -- but not pretentious, like when a classical composer tries to do something cute with a folk song. I was amazed. I decided I needed to learn some music theory. At this point, several of my heavily folk-oriented friends said, "Don't do it! You will have to follow a lot of rigid rules! It will ruin you, and you will never be able to play folk music . . ." and on and on. I decided to take the chance. I enrolled at the U. of W. School of Music.

Sure, there were a lot of rules, such as correct voice-leading for four part harmony and all that, but when it came to working out my own accompaniments, I could follow them or not as I chose. Far from taking my musical freedom away from me, studying music theory showed my what was possible. In fact, within a few months, some of my folksinger friends and acquaintances who vociferously objected to the formal study of music were copying my guitar accompaniments.

Slavishly following rigid rules is not a requirement of classical music. Quite the contrary. It is a failure of that particular musician's imagination and creativity.

Keep an open mind.

Don Firth

14 Nov 00 - 11:32 AM (#340484)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: Grab

The situation...

In the UK (for non-UK 'catters) we have 3 main music radio stations. There's Radio 1 which is targetted at teenagers and clubbers (mostly dance music and boy-bands); Radio 3 which is classical (with some jazz); and Radio 2 which is everything else (folk, blues, rock, musicals, jazz, world music, anything pre-1999, plus a fair slice of light classical too). Anything else, you need to listen to a commercial station which is nearly always middle-of-the-road pop.

TV has almost completely stopped covering music. The only regular TV programmes are Top of the Pops (weekly top 40, ie. all dance and boy-bands) and Later with Jools Holland (very good live music, but shown at 12:30 at night). The Proms gets coverage too (3 hours a day for 3 weeks a year IIRC, mainly light classical). Other than that, forget it.

So it's not just the classical folks benefitting - teens and clubbers are getting a heavy boost too, and when it comes to subsidies it's teen music (with manufactured boy-bands) which gets money from record companies cos it's there that they'll make their money back in the short term. Radio 1 has non-stop dance (and this is non-stop; club DJs on the decks) from 7 to some ridiculous time in the morning, plus plenty of play on Radio 1 all week; by contrast, folk and blues get 1 hour each per week. What's needed is another radio channel (or two) to share the burden with Radio 2. As it stands there isn't the bandwidth to do it, but hopefully when digital radio gets started properly we can have channels dedicated to hitherto under-represented styles of music.

I don't go for any of the "class" thing in classical; certainly it's expensive to go to a top-line concert/ballet, but no necessarily more than you'd pay to go and see a top-line rock act (compare and contrast to tickets for Meatloaf, Dire Straits's last gig, Michael Jackson's last tour). Local amateur orchestras don't charge more than a typical amateur pub-and-club group (generally £5-10 depending on quality, for both), and regional professional orchestras don't charge more than a full-price gig (average price £15-25 for a gig by a popular group around here, Halle Orchestra for example charges £18-£30 for tickets). Is this price due to subsidies? Maybe so, but not always from the government; major orchestras can be sponsored by various commercial groups. Incidentally, major pop and rock group tours are often sponsored by commercial groups too (Nike, Pepsi, etc), so go figure.

On the "never trade in my musical freedom for technical facility" front... No! There's no contract signed in blood that says you have to stop playing folk once you've taken some classical lessons! Classical music has spent several hundred years working out the most effective way to play various instruments, and refusing to take advantage of that vast pool of knowledge is just pig-headed. If you don't want to play classical music then fine, but going to a teacher for technical advice on how to play your instrument better is not selling your soul, it's common-sense. I grant you that classical music doesn't encourage improvisation, but you're an adult now and you can choose your own way.


PS. Re-reading that, I don't necessarily mean that Meatloaf, DS and MJ are the world's best acts, just that they're the biggest, or were at the time. So don't flame me on that. (please... :-)

14 Nov 00 - 01:49 PM (#340593)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: The Shambles

Just a quick comment on the 'Later' programme. Why on earth, having got these fine musicians together fo the show, do try and they cram it all in to one programme?

Taj Mahal was on the last one, two songs and an interview. Why don't they just let the bands set up and play their set and put it out as one show?

We could then have one act per show and on every night of the week?

14 Nov 00 - 10:22 PM (#340848)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: GUEST,pict

I don't for a moment doubt the value of theory,reading and scale practice I practice and study these things constantly but I learned to play by ear and would never place theory before the actual practice of music.Jazz is a good example of a form of music that requires intense study and copious dollops of theoretical knowledge but unlike the Classical musician the Jazzer isn't confined by the bars of the musical staff.A classical musician is expected to perform the music as written and this musically conservative demand seriously limits musical creativity without which there would be no more new music.The traditional musician among others is free to embellish and ornament the existing music or even to create completely new pieces.Of course there are musically adventurous musicians in any field but Classical music by nature is conservative and unoriginal flawless execution of the set in stone score is its raison d'etre, as someone once said it is the musical equivalent of necrophilia.Give me the freedom of the fingers over the confinement of the crotchets any day;)

14 Nov 00 - 10:24 PM (#340850)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: GUEST,pict

I don't for a moment doubt the value of theory,reading and scale practice I practice and study these things constantly but I learned to play by ear and would never place theory before the actual practice of music.Jazz is a good example of a form of music that requires intense study and copious dollops of theoretical knowledge but unlike the Classical musician the Jazzer isn't confined by the bars of the musical staff.A classical musician is expected to perform the music as written and this musically conservative demand seriously limits musical creativity without which there would be no more new music.The traditional musician among others is free to embellish and ornament the existing music or even to create completely new pieces.Of course there are musically adventurous musicians in any field but Classical music by nature is conservative and unoriginal flawless execution of the set in stone score is its raison d'etre, as someone once said it is the musical equivalent of necrophilia.Give me the freedom of the fingers over the confinement of the crotchets any day;)

14 Nov 00 - 10:43 PM (#340856)
Subject: RE: Proper Music?
From: McGrath of Harlow

When I use the term proper music it's more personal. It includes some folk music and some clasical, and others as well. It's a matter iof being fitting.

If I said that a film had proper music it's mean that it had music that helped it, and that you'd want listen too even apart from the film.

The divide between classical music and other musics is a terrible shame. One of the best things that the Beatles did was to do somethinmg to break down that barrier.

Essentially I think that the best music is music that will survive being played by people who aren't too skilled, but love it. The way Carolan's music does. So does Mozart, and a range of others. And there is a whole range of highly regarded music that wouldn't pass that test, and I think is on a far lower plane by that very fact. And that is another thing I mean when I use a term like proper music.

If you can't sing to it, and yiou can't dance to it, it's just doodling. And I don't carer if it calls itself classical, or folk, or jazz or what have you. It's not proper music.