“New” Music and New Music

I have eluded before that I hate elitism in music and in arts in general. I hate the idea that atonal, minimalism, etc, are for “smart” people only. Only the educated and the privileged can enjoy these pieces. Arts should be enjoyed by everyone, and often it is the average, not-trained-in-a-normal-way person that pushes the art form forward because often they view the art differently from the “educated.”

“New” Music (as I will call it in till I think of a better name) describes a genre of music that includes avant-grande experimental music of the 20th and 21st century. This includes Philip Glass, Earl Brown. Improvisational, atonal, minimalist, and graphical scores are all examples of pieces that would fall under this category.

Now here’s my problem with this, there are more types of music that are new than just “New” Music. Even in the classical world, there are new pieces of music that don’t fall under the “New” music category, Eric Whitacre is an example. The problem that I have with “New” music is that it continues to promote the elitism of music in modern culture. It’s essentially saying that all music that isn’t “New” is derivative and not noteworthy at all. Why is that? Neo-Classical music can have cultural significance both in general and with music itself. Hell, Eric Whitacre has done a ton of cool stuff with cluster chords that I think will play an effect on the music of future generations. I’m even incorporating clusters in my music, if that shows the cultural impact of Whitacre.

But here’s another problem I have, at the beginning of last semester I was asked by a staff member at my university who are my favorite 20th century composers. I brought up Eric Whitacre, because I thought since he wrote music in the 20th century, so I thought he counted as a “20th century composer.” I was given a funny look. “Well…” the staff member responded, “… he’s not TECHNICALLY a 20th century composer.” Oh okay. So my music tastes and inspirations aren’t good enough to be a real. So what if Whitacre inspires me. Fucking Lady Gaga was a major inspiration for The Long Road, so why do we separate music into “real” and “fake.” Look, I hate derivative pop as much as the next guy, but shielding yourself from entire genres of music just because of preconception of it being fake vs. real, you are losing out on a lot of cool music. It’s like those “born in le wrong generation” people. There will always be shitty music, no matter where you are born. Don’t judge an entire generation of music just on the bad music.

Also what I hate about “New” Music is the title of the genre. Come on, we can do better than that. It’s confusing in everyday language. Is it a piece of “New” Music or is it just a new piece? I wouldn’t know what type of New you are trying to refer to. And also, the other periods of music have such cooler names, like Baroque or Romantic. Why is the modern period just called “20th century” or “New.”

Wow this ended up way more ranty than I wanted it to, but whatever.


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