Ben Bova Loses the Hip-Hop Market Forever

It happens here. Bova is a fabulous science fiction writer, but anyone who quotes Bread as an example of good music or says of the youngsters that “The last time they heard Ravel, I imagine, is when they saw Bo Derek in ’10,'” when that particular film is 27 years old, knows current teen and 20something culture tangentially at best, probably as some small, obnoxious slice of it is being thumped out at him at a red light from a car filled with morons.

More to the point, he also makes the imprecise comparison of comparing songs like “Stardust” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” which were (and are) popular music for adults, with whatever hip-hop-ish atrocities he imagines the kids are listening to today. That’s pretty unfair to both eras; “My Humps” can be compared to “Stardust” about as precisely as Ohio Express’ “Yummy Yummy Yummy” can be compared to Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” to give an example of a song from a currently recording artist plying his wares to an adult market.

What I suspect Ben Bova needs is for someone to take his hand and walk him down the adult contemporary aisle, where his shock and terror about “bitches” and “hos” will be soothed by the mellow tunage and smart lyrical stylings of the aforementioned Sting, as well as Sarah McLachlan, kd lang, Coldplay, Daniel Powter, Norah Jones and so on. Then someone might also slip him Paul Anka’s Rock Swings just for fun. All this might convince him the end times are not here, musically speaking. He just needs to stop polling the morons at the stop lights as to what’s worthwhile in music today.

58 thoughts on “Ben Bova Loses the Hip-Hop Market Forever

  1. Mr. Bova’s next editorial will be a rumination on why kids today just won’t stay the hell off his lawn.

    My next rumination is going to be on people who post my joke before I get to do it.

    Damn kids!

  2. Perhaps at 73 he doesn’t want to know current teen culture.

    But I suspect he gets it more than you give him credit for – the outrageous nature of hip-hop music is fueled by young rich kids trying to piss off their parents by going ‘ghetto’. As he points out, it’s really no different than generations past (the wannabe wiseguys from his youth).

    His point is that symphonies and orchestras seem to be dying from neglect, and that’s a shame. I listen to rock music mostly, but there’s something about classical music that stirs the soul.

  3. He’s largely right with classical music though. It’s not that no kids like classical music, but there may not be enough people under 40 willing to buy CDs and concert tickets to keep all of the professional orchestras afloat in the future.

    When my wife and I go to the symphony, the majority of the listeners are definitely over 50. Orchestras are expensive, with a hundred or so skilled workers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of them get into dire financial straits in the next decade or two. It probably won’t be the handful of famous ones, but the also good but not as famous ones in mid-sized cities.

  4. I think the successful orchestras will be the ones that target kids and young families; for example, the CSO here in Columbus does a regular “kids’ concert” series during the fall and winter, and they do concerts in the park during the summer. The kids’ concerts are always packed to the rafters, and it’s a lot of fun. They open the doors an hour before the show starts, and have activities in the hallways like the “Violin Petting Zoo”, where kids can get to see, touch, and play an actual violin. (With assistance from an actual violinist, of course.) It’s relatively affordable; more expensive than the zoo, but cheaper than, say, a TMBG family concert.

    It’s very cool, and I suspect that the bucks they bring in from all of that stuff help fund the Mahler retrospective and John Cage Night, or whatever.

  5. “Beast with two backs” is from Othello? Cor. I could have sworn it was Rabelais. Oh well.

  6. Jan, I think you’re right. But I wonder how converts they get. How many people who go to summer concerts and kids concerts go on to buy tickets for more traditional concerts? I don’t know but I suspect that it’s a small minority.

  7. Stan:

    “He’s largely right with classical music though.”

    Yeah, that’s an entirely separate issue. I personally point to the lack of musical appreciation courses in schools as a major portion of that problem, along with (and here my biases show through) so much of orchestral composition of the last 40 years being aggressively unlistenable.

  8. Ben should listen to Nellie McKay. I think he’d appreciate her stuff.

    Just don’t give him “Kid A” — his head will explode.

  9. “so much of orchestral composition of the last 40 years being aggressively unlistenable.”

    In terms of the numerical quantity of “classical” composition, you may be right, but there’s no lack of interesting “serious” compositional and orchestral work going on today. Within the last 40 years, even, you have Shostakovich, Britten, Stravinsky, Part, Barber, and Penderecki (although some of Penderecki is not really pleasurable to listen to — the Threnody, for example). Of those, Part and Penderecki are still alive and composing, last I heard. It’s not so much that it’s all aggressively unlistenable, it’s that the listenable works don’t really get wide distribution. I’m sure there are excellent contemporary composers today, composing serious orchestral and chamber music — I just don’t know who they are.

  10. And it’s always easier to get away with things when there aren’t kids on your damned lawn, too. And that annoying talking dog. Fortunately the smaller annoying talking dog was killed by my cat.

  11. Taeyoung:

    “I’m sure there are excellent contemporary composers today, composing serious orchestral and chamber music — I just don’t know who they are.”

    Well, yes, that’s pretty much the problem. You have to promote the relatively accessible stuff in order to get people through the doors. People will buy classical that’s accessible — Gorecki’s Symphony #3 is an example — but they have to be able to find it.

  12. Shoot this idea down at will – but I’ve wondered if there is simply a limit to what can be done with ‘classical’ music and all the best bits have already been discovered? All that is left for the new composers are the scraps and oddball bits that are not very pleasing.

    Pop music has the same problem but it also has the freshness of topicality and new faces. A love song is a love song but the performer can change somewhat.

    I’d like to put a shout out to “Sum 41.” Yeah, I’m sure it has been done before but I still like the hard chugga chugga guitar sound.

  13. Iago: ‘I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs’.

  14. so much of orchestral composition of the last 40 years being aggressively unlistenable.

    If you count movie scores as ‘classical’ (and why not? they are certainly valid compositions) then I would disagree with that sentiment. And not just with the obvious scores (such as those by John Williams or Danny Elfman)…

  15. John H:

    Film scores are certainly orchestral, although I’d think their very contextual nature generally keeps them from being considered as works in their own right. There may be exceptions.

  16. Film is the main place where new, listenable classical music is still being written. The aggressively unlistenable stuff is what is taught for the most part in colleges. Popular stuff is sniffed at and looked down on by most of the composition professors and this attitude is passed onto the new composers (all of which are forgetting that back in the day, Mozart and other still listened to composers were the pop music of the day).

    I disagree with John-the problem isn’t that movie scores are contextual, the problem is the same music snobs that are teaching our classical composers to be terrible. Hopefully in another generation they’ll be gone and composers like John Williams will be recognized in their own field for how great they are. Not that he’ll care at that point, since he’ll presumably be dead too, but hopefully my point is clear anyway.

  17. I can’t get to the link whatever I do. Is it to the essay in which Bova trashes kids today and their loud obnoxious music? I’d like to read that so I could answer it.

    Instead, I guess I have to answer some things said here. It’s all little points, not a thesis. And apparently stream of consciousness, too.

    “My humps” is actually, for example, a well-crafted piece of social commentary and gender analysis, and the musicality of it is as tight as Mozart. Mozart, if you listen to him without the halo effect, makes a lot of use of simplistic repetition and mechanical variation, just like say, techno and hiphop.

    For myself I have a low noise tolerance so I have had to limit my exposure to popular music since I was a teen. But I know how to distinguish between the qualities of the music and the demands of my own nervous system. Music being made now, in whatever genre, has about the same ratio of truly brilliant to just okay to worthless as music made in any other era. Kids have always chosen their music to define themselves as a generation and as groups within that generation. The qualities of the music (notice I’m not saying quality) are not the point: they’re just the marker.

    It’s just as stupid to resent Daddy Yanqui or Eminem as it would have been for my parents to resent Mick Jagger or Donovan Leitch (which they had the sense not to).

    And as for movie scores — they are too works of their own, and not just because they can be bought separately to listen to, either. Some are more there and some are less there, that’s all.

  18. Oops. I wanted to say this too: the local community college has a world-class (as in internationally esteemed) new music festival every year. Most of what they play is fairly new, and it’s pretty well listenable, though some is challenging. I’m not sure where “orchestral” starts and stops, but I imagine a big chunk of it is definitely orchestral.

    What’s in danger is categorizations of music, more than the music in the categories, as far as I can tell.

  19. “My Humps” makes me sad, it’s overly repetitive (and sort of annoying, but this has a lot to do with me not being impressed by Fergie as a vocalist) and not really a good example of their songwriting. Generally speaking, the Black Eyed Peas are clever lyricists.

  20. so much of orchestral composition of the last 40 years being aggressively unlistenable.

    If I may offer counterexamples: Gorecki, Pärt, Harbison, Reich, Glass, Adams, Golijov, Higdon, Torke, among many others.

  21. MHO: Orchestral music needs to get off its high horse and market to the modern audience (in the same way Mozart did in his day, by the way). Movie scores are an excellent example. Children’s cartoons seem like a viable market also (my kids know the theme music to a great many kids shows – and those melodies are often pretty respectable jazz, swing, or rockabilly tunes).

    Also, new forms of expression haven’t been explored: web sites, podcasts, etc. Look at what Disney did with Fantasia back in its day – couldn’t there be an equivalent if someone would just give it a real, creative shot?

  22. Well, “Fly Me to the Moon” has been introduced to a whole new generation of fans. It was used as the end credits music to anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.

  23. And to Firebyrd’s comment above, that just isn’t the case anymore at the majority of conservatories and music schools. Composers of my generation (20s to 40s) are quite comfortable with popular music, tonal music, and “listenable” music. In fact, the only period that could be characterized honestly as aggressively unlistenable was a brief period in the early 1960s. Downtown music (Glass, Reich, Kyle Gann, etc.) is performed at universities around the country, and composition teachers do not sniff at popular music. Some performers do, but even that is mostly the older generation.

  24. Re: Firebyrd
    I disagree with John-the problem isn’t that movie scores are contextual, the problem is the same music snobs that are teaching our classical composers to be terrible.

    I don’t think that’s actually the problem either — my problem with film music (which I like, actually) is that it’s less satisfying than, say, a good tone poem, which it might resemble, because it usually doesn’t have strong development, at least in the form it appears on the OST CDs. There, it’s just pulled out into a brief 4 or 5 minute chunk, with an exposition of the theme and maybe a bridge and some variation or something — essentially the same kind of structure you get in pop music. Not that this is bad — many classical structures are not much more complex — but it’s less satisfying than a longer form symphonic-style work, with more play between the themes.

    Re: Patrick
    Well, “Fly Me to the Moon” has been introduced to a whole new generation of fans. It was used as the end credits music to anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    So true.

    Re: Spiegelberg
    In fact, the only period that could be characterized honestly as aggressively unlistenable was a brief period in the early 1960s.

    Early 1960s? But Schoenberg was dead by the 60’s. I think the heyday of truly, aggressively ugly music is about three decades before that.

  25. I had read the Bova piece earlier. My first thought was, “Ben Bova’s still writing? I thought his career tanked when he and ‘Penthouse’ Bob Guccione teamed up decades ago.” However, I agree with him that “ghetto-thump” isn’t exactly the kind of sublime creative expression that will echo through the ages.

    Ironically, as I came to this site, I’m listening to the soundtrack from “The 25th Hour.” I’ve listened to Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings” disks enough to have lasered off the data. Ditto Poledouris’ “Conan” soundtrack. That being said, other than “The LotR Symphony,” every ‘classical’ performance I’ve been to in the past 5 years was dominated by senior citizens. I agree- low turn out and high staffing costs sadly may bring about the demise of much live symphonic and orchestral music.

  26. “The last time they heard Ravel, I imagine, is when they saw Bo Derek in ’10,'”

    Okay, so I’m 26, old enough to be completely out of touch with the music my almost-high-school-aged sister listens to, and until about 30 seconds ago I thought that ’10’ was a kind of low-calorie soft drink advertised by Bo Derek. Which means his point is about *2* generations off. Mercy.

  27. I think it’s interesting that while turnout for classical symphony might be low, things like Metallica’s concert with the San Francisco Symphony are generally well regarded by the younger generation. I would be curious to know what the album sales numbers for that looked like…

  28. John Scalzi said
    Film scores are certainly orchestral, although I’d think their very contextual nature generally keeps them from being considered as works in their own right. There may be exceptions.

    Prokofiev took the themes from the opera he wrote and produced a lovely symphonic piece. Copeland, often overlooked because he wrote film music, still produced works like Rodeo and Appalachian Spring. If you go to John Williams’ concerts, you hear coherent renditions of his film scores.

    I want a decent version of Last of the Mohicans.

  29. Early 1960s? But Schoenberg was dead by the 60’s. I think the heyday of truly, aggressively ugly music is about three decades before that.

    Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern honestly believed that people would like their music. They thought the 12-tone system was the logical culmination of centuries of tonality. Berg made the infamous statement that in twenty years average listeners would be whistling Schoenberg melodies like Mozart melodies.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that the music they wrote can’t be perceived as ugly. I don’t like all 12-tone music myself.

  30. Scott Spiegelberg:

    “Berg made the infamous statement that in twenty years average listeners would be whistling Schoenberg melodies like Mozart melodies.”

    Well, they tried, but it sprained their lips.

  31. The reason you don’t hear much about modern orchestral music is that (with some exceptions, of course) the classical music industry is one big Classic Rock station that only plays Hotel California and a couple of CCR tracks.

    Imagine if all rock radio stuck to a total of a few dozen classic artists, only rarely playing the occasional new, radically innovative modern piece like, say, “Anarchy In The UK”. How long would rock music survive?

    But then, rock radio is neither the recipient of enormous government subsidies or somewhere you can go to show off your new diamond necklace (unless you’re a rapper) and catch up with what Muffy’s been up to (unless you’re Paris Hilton). I gather that in countries where the average student can afford the cheap seats at the symphony, that whole classical music thing is in a somewhat healthier state.

    As for film soundtracks, the problem there is that they’re an accompaniment to a movie, and listening to them without the movie is not unlike listening to a violin concerto without a violinist, or the Stooges without Iggy or even an Iggy standin. Not exactly the ideal showcase for modern orchestral music.

  32. John H says:
    But I suspect he gets it more than you give him credit for – the outrageous nature of hip-hop music is fueled by young rich kids trying to piss off their parents by going ‘ghetto’. As he points out, it’s really no different than generations past (the wannabe wiseguys from his youth).
    No, that was the early 90s.

    The outrageous nature of hip-hop music is from exaggerating the music of people who parodying exaggerations of “authentic” music.

    People who have 15 year old children now were in bed making them in 1991. *coughcough*seeabove*coughcough*

    Re: Fly me to the Moon
    Yeah, I certainly never had a Sinatra song that I gave a hoot about until I heard 20-something different versions at the end of N.G.E. That’s not to say I disliked Sinatra then, and love him now. It’s just that it was all “Sinatra” and meant nothing to me. (except “My Way” and “NYNY” both of which I wanted, and still want, to not hear ever again (thanks overexposure)).

    Re: Mr. Bova’s article
    Welcome to the real world, where being art isn’t enough. Also, just because the symphonic music industry used to support hundreds of orchestras all over the world doesn’t mean that the modern world will. Ask ditch-diggers about whether or not the modern world promises to keep people employed doing the things they used to do.
    There will be enough lovers and supporters of symphonic and orchestral music to keep it around through endowments for a rather long time. (Generations at least).
    It’s incorrect, or even spurious, to say that orchestras need an audience. “None” of them keep afloat that way now anyway.

  33. The best film composers are quite capable of engaging in development of musical ideas within their scores; they just can’t do it within the constraints of traditional symphonic forms. To listen to film music divorced from film can be a bit jarring for someone used to, say, sonata allegro form, but it’s too simplistic to say that film scores consist of discrete chunks of musically unrelated material.

    If you have some money to spend, I’d highly recommend the recent issue of the complete score to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, because it presents a score that is one of the most cohesive I’ve ever heard, and it has stunning liner notes that use actual musical examples to illustrate the score’s coherence.

    I suppose the years of serialism and atonal composition and avant-garde stuff probably did harm to the approachability of classical music, but now I think the problem goes deeper: it’s not that people don’t find the classical music of the last four or five decades largely unlistenable, but rather that they seem to find it all unlistenable. People seem to me just as unlikely to listen to Bach or Schumann as they are to listen to Gorecki or Kilar.

  34. As for film soundtracks, the problem there is that they’re an accompaniment to a movie, and listening to them without the movie is not unlike listening to a violin concerto without a violinist, or the Stooges without Iggy or even an Iggy standin. Not exactly the ideal showcase for modern orchestral music.

    No, listening to a filmscore without the film is entirely like listening to a violin concerto without a violinist. A filmscore is music. One does not need staging and scenery to listen to an opera, nor does one need the dancers to listen to a ballet.

    Familiarity with the film can help one to identify the dramatic decisions a composer makes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the music is music.

  35. No, listening to a filmscore without the film is entirely like listening to a violin concerto without a violinist. A filmscore is music. One does not need staging and scenery to listen to an opera, nor does one need the dancers to listen to a ballet.

    Familiarity with the film can help one to identify the dramatic decisions a composer makes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the music is music.

    So is the faux pan pipe version of “Girl From Ipanema” you get when the billing department puts you on hold. You don’t need to be on hold to listen to a pan pipe version of “Girl From Ipanema” either, but do you?

  36. People seem to me just as unlikely to listen to Bach or Schumann as they are to listen to Gorecki or Kilar.
    I guess it says something… odd… about me that sometimes I really can’t live without listening to some Lamb & Gorecki (or Venetian Snares, or Amon Tobin, or Sonic Dragologo, or Aphex Twin, or Sona Eact, or… you get the point). But then again, maybe L&G I know of is just named after the Gorecki you’re talking about?

    And it’s not wankery (like a guitarist listening to Malmsteen, or Satriani), I really just like to listen to it.
    But then again, I’m kind of permanently excluded from musical discussions, because sometimes I also can’t live without listening to Morning Musume… Oh well.

  37. But then again, maybe L&G I know of is just named after the Gorecki you’re talking about?
    10 seconds at wikipedia confirmed this… I’m an idiot.

  38. The outrageous nature of hip-hop music is from exaggerating the music of people who parodying exaggerations of “authentic” music.

    Yes, that’s what hip-hop music is – what I said is it’s fueled by rich suburban kids buying into it. Which I think was the point Bova was trying to make when he compared it to kids in his day wanting to be wiseguys, or the kids of Constantinople dressing up like Huns (not sure if that’s true, but funny either way).

    Ask women my age (37) about Valley speak and see how many either deny having anything to do with it or blush from embarrassment over it. Yet it was all the rage in 1983…

  39. Yes, that’s what hip-hop music is – what I said is it’s fueled by rich suburban kids buying into it
    But that’s not even what you said. Buying into something and using it to piss of their parents are totally different intents, even if the behavior is the same.
    My point was really that the kids these days can’t piss off their parents by getting into hip-hop, because the parents were there when some of the bigger names in hip-hop started to cater to white-suburban teenage-angst. (Ice-T, etc)

    That has nothing to do with the feeling of parents that the music their kids listen to is crap… I mean, I like a lot of early 90s rap, but think that Crunk (Li’l John, Ying-Yang Twins ad nauseum) and it’s influence on hip-hop in general is utter Crapola. [I have no barometer for whether hip-hop fashion is considered transgressive to anybody… parents or not.]

    But then again, I disgraced myself on the Gorecki point about a minute ago, so maybe I’m not worth arguing with *sigh*

  40. The best film composers are quite capable of engaging in development of musical ideas within their scores; they just can’t do it within the constraints of traditional symphonic forms. To listen to film music divorced from film can be a bit jarring for someone used to, say, sonata allegro form, but it’s too simplistic to say that film scores consist of discrete chunks of musically unrelated material.

    This is certainly true of the LOTR scores as they appear in the movies — but the OST CD’s don’t really do justice to that. They’re little chunks of melody (Ring’s theme, Fellowship’s theme, Fellowship breaks! Rohan’s theme, etc.), in the main, compressed down from a nigh-Wagnerian three hours of music per movie. They’re not available (that I know) in a format where you can enjoy them in their full form. And it’s the same way with most film music.

  41. Taeyoung:

    “This is certainly true of the LOTR scores as they appear in the movies — but the OST CD’s don’t really do justice to that.”

    Agreed. Lots of leitmotifs, not a lot of connective tissue.

    I’ve been very interested in hearing Shore’s “LotR” symphony adaptation to hear if makes a coherent musical piece of the various chunks of the movie music, but I haven’t heard it yet.

  42. But heaps of hip hop isn’t outrageous. It’s a vast church with all kinds of flavours.

    It’s also getting on for thirty years old itself (or more depending on how you date it). There’s lots of hip hop I love and not just Grandmaster Flash songs from my childhood.

  43. Justine Larbalestier:

    “But heaps of hip hop isn’t outrageous. It’s a vast church with all kinds of flavours.”

    Agreed. But some people just don’t think they’ll ever be able to pray that way. Their loss.

  44. The blog of Alex Ross (not that Alex Ross) often has interesting thoughts about the state of classical music today; see particularly his essay Listen To This.

    Some things he’s pointed out as contributing to its eclipse are high ticket prices at concerts (since live performance is so important to the genre, more than in pop or rock), and a class-based, cliquish tendency in the community that makes it forbidding to outsiders. He’s bothered, for instance, that the etiquette of when and when not to applaud at concerts has become such a shibboleth (apparently this wasn’t the case at concerts 150 years ago, when people applauded whenever they liked, as in musical theater today).

    Also, I get the sense that he really doesn’t like the 20th-century orthodoxy of twelve-tone serialism, which seems to be mostly over now.

  45. mellow tunage and smart lyrical stylings of the aforementioned Sting, as well as Sarah McLachlan, kd lang, Coldplay, Daniel Powter, Norah Jones

    John, with the exception of Norah Jones, everyone on that list is, well, old. I love Sarah McLachlan, but then I loved her back in 1991 too.

    I guess that makes sense when you’re talking about adult contemporary. Still… I would say that while your point is valid, your illustrative analogy is weak. No offense. But Sting simply doesn’t fill the same niche that Sinatra did, back in the day. The market has changed rather a lot since then.

    Doug M.

  46. “John, with the exception of Norah Jones, everyone on that list is, well, old.”

    The members of Coldplay are hovering around 30. Daniel Powter, I believe, is in his 20s. Sarah McLachlan is younger than I. And all of them is currently recording. Which is my point.

    Also, my point was not to suggest these folks are artists are hip with the young kids; my point was to suggest that these people are addressing their music to adults, just as Frank Sinatra did (or Cole Porter, or Hoagy Carmichael).

    As for your suggestion Sting doesn’t fill the same market niche as Frank Sinatra did, well, here I get to pull rank and suggest that my nearly two decades of writing about music and following the music industry allows me to say fairly authoritatively that he does. Certainly the music industry has changed in 40 years. However, they were at similar points in their careers well-established, successful artists whose primary audience is an adult one. Simple.

  47. I know at least 3 dozen black teens who would beat Ben just for listening to Sting.

    What will 50 Cent’s kids listen to that pisses HIM off? I shudda to think.

  48. Scott: “It’s incorrect, or even spurious, to say that orchestras need an audience. “None” of them keep afloat that way now anyway.”

    But, in addition to that, what happens when the oldest generation of rich people die off? Are people who are currently middle aged and who don’t listen to classical music going to make donations? (Either directly or when a new generation is in charge of the various endowments.)

    I don’t think classical music will disappear or anything alarmist like that. Most musical forms of the last century still exist in some form. But there will probably be fewer live venues.

  49. “My point was to suggest that these people are addressing their music to adults, just as Frank Sinatra did (or Cole Porter, or Hoagy Carmichael). ”

    But in the 1950s, Sinatra did have a young audience – video clips of his concerts show the front row full of young teenage girls screaming “Frankie!” The difference is that he may have had their mothers as well. My uncle (58, but prefers the music of the generation before his) was claiming the other day that before rock music, people of all ages were listening to the same thing. I’m not convinced, though; I think ragtime, for one, was young and rebellious when it came out.

  50. dichroic:

    “But in the 1950s, Sinatra did have a young audience – video clips of his concerts show the front row full of young teenage girls screaming ‘Frankie!'”

    Actually, his teen sensation years were in the early 40s; by the 50s his career was in decline and he pretty much had to beg his way into the cast of From Here to Eternity which got him an Oscar and helped revive his career. Also, and more to the point, Sinatra’s music even in the 40s was aimed at an adult audience; the teen audience was something of an afterthought (it wasn’t really exploited until the 50s and rock and roll). Sinatra was popular with the girls; he wasn’t primarily marketed to them.

  51. So is the faux pan pipe version of “Girl From Ipanema” you get when the billing department puts you on hold. You don’t need to be on hold to listen to a pan pipe version of “Girl From Ipanema” either, but do you?

    I have absolutely no idea what this means.

  52. This is certainly true of the LOTR scores as they appear in the movies — but the OST CD’s don’t really do justice to that. They’re little chunks of melody (Ring’s theme, Fellowship’s theme, Fellowship breaks! Rohan’s theme, etc.), in the main, compressed down from a nigh-Wagnerian three hours of music per movie. They’re not available (that I know) in a format where you can enjoy them in their full form. And it’s the same way with most film music.

    With specific regard to just the LOTR scores, this simply isn’t true. First of all, the CDs that accompanied the films actually contain tons of “connective tissue” — in fact, the entire leitmotif method that Shore uses is nothing but “connective tissue”, so interwoven are the various motifs. Just listening to the original “Fellowship” CD, one can trace tremendous amounts of thematic development throughout the seventy minutes on that disc. I know because I’ve done it. It simply isn’t one little minute of melody followed by another.

    But as I noted also upthread, the entire scores are being released, with “Fellowship” existing on a three-CD set that came out last winter (and it includes the entire score on a single DVD as a bonus). You get to hear the entirety of Howard Shore’s musical architecture, as opposed to the “quick tour” of the original CD. But even on that original CD, something of the architecture can be heard.

    And this is true of the scores of many of the greatest film composers — Bernard Hermann, the Rozsa, the Korngold, the Williams, the Goldsmith.

    But besides, even if it were a truism that filmscores consist of discrete chunks of music without a whole lot of “connective tissue”, well, what of it? Smaller-scale units of musical expression abound without being judged unworthy. Take Percy Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posy” — it’s a suite of six folk-song settings for wind band. The whole six-movement work takes about twelve minutes to hear in its entirety, it literally consists of six brief units of unrelated melody, and it is a masterwork. So are many filmscores. (Not all, I certainly grant you. I’m avoiding the names “Zimmer” and “Horner” here for a reason.)

    A filmscore is not a symphony, and it should not be listened to as if it was. But that doesn’t therefore imply that it is meaningless outside of its film. (In fact, many times nowadays a “symphony” isn’t even a symphony, in the classic definition of the form.)

  53. Is it really true that symphonic music is disappearing, though? Perhaps people aren’t sitting down in concert halls as much as they once were, but the music itself is showing up in places that it hadn’t been in before.

    I’m nearly 23. Black. MIddle class. I love video games, and I love Role Playing Games the most. I’ve been playing them since before Nintendo released the NES in the US. You would be hard pressed to tell me that the music in many of these games isn’t good.

    I like anime. I find many of the OSTs quite enoyable. Yoko Kanno takes up a fair bit of my self space.

    I don’t feel that symphonic music is disappearing. It may simply be shedding the ‘live concert’ aspect that the older generation associates with the genre. Honestly, it feels as though most music is going through the same phase, the difference being that rap/rock/pop actively promotes audience participation (screaming, dancing, geting lit, ect) while classical does not. Why should anyone want to have to get dressed up, pay high prices for the show, and sit there for several hours when they can hear the same thing at home with a decent sound system without having to be ridiculed just because you needed to go to the lavatory during the performance?

  54. I don’t think classical music will disappear or anything alarmist like that. Most musical forms of the last century still exist in some form. But there will probably be fewer live venues.

    Fewer, definitely. That’s what the rest of my comment was about (the world not caring if it used to support 400 symphony orchestras, if the market only supports 100, there will be 100).

    Also, well tended endowments can last an exceptionally long time. Like, until a market crash or something.

  55. He’s largely right with classical music though.

    Funnily, dance/mashup/DJ music makers are sampling and recasting an awful lot of classical music. I double-dog dare Ben Bova not to get his freak on from Captain Jack’s “Dream a Dream”.

  56. “Also, my point was not to suggest these folks are artists are hip with the young kids; my point was to suggest that these people are addressing their music to adults, just as Frank Sinatra did (or Cole Porter, or Hoagy Carmichael). ”

    Naah, these artists are aiming at an audience who think elevator music is a bit too challenging, he said with a sneer. Bloody coldplay, of all things!

    On a more serious note, the problem with classical music is exactly the fact that it’s dominated by wrinklies. Until they die off, classical music will not burst out of its self-imposed ghetto of safe performances and snobbery.

    In the meantime, the music itself will live on, just not in the venues associated with classical music culture.

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