Re: Academic? Long Posting

Subject: Re: Academic? Long Posting
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 09:44:45 EDT

The question is important because conflation of meaning leads to people not
giving a fair hearing to music made in, or associated with, schools. We
should strive to make our meaning clear, which may mean clarifying internal
presuppositions and attitudes.

I, let it be clear, am neither a teacher nor a student.

Original Message:
From: jan.larsson
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2004 13:37:21 +0200
Subject: Re: Academic? Long Posting

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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