Re: Academic? Long Posting

Subject: Re: Academic? Long Posting
From: jan.larsson (
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 07:37:21 EDT

In my native language the word "academic" may also mean "theoretical,
detached from any practical value".

So it need not refer to the the world of academics. I beleive it is the
same in the english langage, no?

/Jan L.

2004-06-06 kl. 12.46 skrev Kevin Austin:

> On several occasions questions around memorability and great/good
> pieces have appeared here, and will continue to, as is a central issue
> among those interested in art. In hockey, there is a numerical result;
> maybe longevity is a 'numerical result' for art(ists).
> One of the points raised is that the 20th and 21st centuries are not
> the first to produce "less than wholly captivating art". Given a
> finite amount of time here and limited resources, as an individual I
> need to take decisions about what I will listen to, once, twice, or
> regularly.
> There are tens of thousands of symphonies from the late eighteenth
> century. Among the 'second and third tier' of composers, there are
> many hundreds of 'interesting' works (Cannabich, Paesiello, Stamitz,
> Pleyel) that titillate my ear once or twice, and I am ready to move
> on.
> There were (quasi-)academic composers that most student pianists have
> met (Boccherini, Clementi, Cramer, Dussek, Hummel) to name a few, but
> what is it that makes Beethoven more engaging than (say) Hummel or
> Boieldieu? Why Stockhausen and not NNnnnn?
> For me, it relates to the 'density' (and breadth) of the (musical)
> thought. Sounds which I find quite predictable or 'un-engaging' do not
> draw mt my mind back. Kontakte still 'speaks' to me; it has this kind
> of density of identity in which I continue to hear things new (or
> anew). There is another 'layer' to the thought that engages me on each
> hearing.
> I find 'student works' to be interesting in terms of how the
> individual student is progressing on their own path. My expectation
> for an 'in depth' (thought) experience is tempered by the context of
> their being a student.
> When the student composer rises 'above' this condition (when they show
> signs of speaking with an individual voice), their work begins to be
> recommended for others to hear.
> This process of selection is a bit like going to a new restaurant.
> Many people I know suggest pieces for me to listen to. I will listen
> to some of them and determine if I agree with the assessment. If the
> work sounds like any of the thousands of student pieces I've heard, my
> level of 'trust' in the person suggesting the piece goes down.
> And slowly the student composer's name gets "passed up" through the
> network. Performers and producers come in contact with the work and
> ask for more pieces, in time, starting a cycle of commissioning works.
> (This is not to say that the system 'works' for all "original voices"
> (Cowell, Ives, Partch, Nancarrow and Ruggles come to mind immediately
> as voices that were not commissioned).)
> The next step was to have performances without the presence of the
> composer -- the music had interest beyond being a vehicle for the
> development of the composer's career. It is my experience that this is
> the type of work that has acquired the 20th and 21st century
> appellation of 'academic' -- it is frequently more of a stage in a
> career than a designation of where the composer lives.
> Beyond this lies recording and publication -- as assertion that the
> work stands on its own, as those who will play it (or listen to it)
> will have little or no direct knowledge of the composer as an
> individual.
> Over time, this model has become somewhat standardized, and the stages
> of the career can be seen as:
> -- student: supported by teachers and friends on the basis of personal
> development
> -- commissions: someone wants to hear more, in the form of 'new'
> creation
> -- wider performance: the 'works' interest performers and producers
> -- recording and publication: some group (other than the composer or
> their immediate associates (vanity publications)) pays for the
> production and dissemination of the composer's work.
> The "academic" composer often stalls in close proximity to the
> "commissions / wider performance" steps. The well-known question for
> composers is about the "third and fourth" performances of a work away
> from their immediate environment. Is there enough 'abstract' interest
> in the work, that others will seek it out to be heard, performed and
> distributed.
> A look through the Canadian Music Center's catalog of 15,000 pieces by
> more than 600 composers reveals that probably only 3 or 4% per year
> get more than a few (momentary) performances. The American Music
> Center (with less support funding) has 30,000 titles by 2,500
> composers. Given the population ration (1:10), there are likely more
> than 150,000 titles and more than 6,000 composers in the USA. At the
> rate of 5 new pieces per day, it would take more than 80 years to
> listen to this output.
> Using the model presented before, in the Americas and Europe, there
> are probably 1500 to 3000 ea sound arts crafters regularly producing
> works. The web has changed the paradigm of how a composer (and their
> works) becomes known.
> While there is still some (slight) amount of commercial publication,
> there are few ea CDs produced that do not involve (1) the individual's
> own resources, (2) arts council or government funded agency, or (3)
> 'academic' assistance, but the web has altered the place of this
> physical CD.
> Every day there are more and more 'virtual' sources for ea
> distribution. It is the listener's decision whether to make the
> 'virtual' into 'real' by recording off the web and burning a CD. This
> change has disrupted the distribution model, and the consequences of
> this are not yet being strongly felt, but certain projections make a
> number of points clear.
> Firstly, listeners have become accustomed to not paying the composer
> for what they listen to. They will pay the internet service provider
> (who does not pay fees to the 'content producer'), and think that they
> are getting music for "free". Hmmmm
> Secondly, in academia the methods of assessing 'recognition and
> distribution' of creativity are challenged by a non-peer reviewed
> system. Tenure and promotion systems are attempting to 'tighten up' to
> show the necessity of third party recognition and this continues to
> fuel the ever hotter debate over Intellectual Property (ownership and
> transfer obligations).
> So .... to summarize, I do not take "academic music" to have a simple
> or narrow definition, and having read several years of the term being
> loosely applied to sorts of things, I have proposed a relatively
> complete context from which to understand my usage of the term.
> Best
> Kevin
>> On Jun 5, 2004, at 11:07 PM, Kevin Austin wrote:
>>>> At least with academic computer music, 95% of the composers are
>>>> mathematicians, electrical engineers, computer scientists, or
>>>> something similar. Sometimes (sometimes), the music reflects their
>>>> backgrounds a little too much for some (some) people.
>>> Is this problematic? Is it problematic that they don't write tunes
>>> like Chopin and Schuman (William I presume)?
>> Of course not.
>> I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but you're
>> seeming quite touchy about all this... and there is no need to be.
>> I'm getting the feeling that I'm on the wrong mailing list... of
>> course perhaps the first hint was that I'm from New York. ;-)
>> - John Nowak

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