Re: Academic? Long Posting

Subject: Re: Academic? Long Posting
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 12:04:35 EDT

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I am very interested in how people
actually listen to music or use music.

My own experience and use of music is quite different from yours. I'm now
in my fifties. I can enjoy many more styles from many more cultures,
classes, and periods than I could when I was younger. At the same time,
it's harder and harder for me to actually listen to music unless I find it
very, very good in the "serious" sense. For whatever reason, I can't make
your distinction between "serious" music and "recreational" music. There is
serious music that I find good or even great that I can't listen too so
very often, usually because it is loud, busy, or anxious, or has an
unsettling emotional burden (such as some late John Coltrane). But
normally, if I find music easy to listen to, I also find it very good art
music. Conversely, usually if I find music hard to listen to, I don't value
it esthetically. There is quite a bit of popular music that I like, but if
I like it, it tends to stand on its own as art, to be "serious". Obviously
then, if I find music to be artful and serious, I also find it highly
entertaining and I can usually listen to it either in the foreground, or in
the background.

I think that different musicians use music very differently, and that
different musicians listen to music very differently. Some composers listen
to very little music; others, to a great deal (as I do). To some musicians
the fidelity of the playback system is of scant account, to others it
matters very much (as it does to me).

Original Message:
From: Arne Eigenfeldt
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 2004 08:28:54 -0700
Subject: Re: Academic? Long Posting

I think that you've made some excellent points.

Last time this went round, I didn't contribute - here are my thoughts

In my own listening experience, there is "meaty, thoughtful" music that
requires my full attention and gives a certain intellectual
satisfaction in listening, and there is "recreational listening".
Almost all of the "great" pieces fall into the former category, and it
is one that we aspire to teach in composition classes. We've gone over
the criteria before, and Kevin's description of "density of identity"
is a good one.

As a composer of "serious, art music", I attempt to create music that
also fulfills these criteria. It's taken years of experience,
listening, and study to be able to do so, but I seem to be able to
create music that has placed me somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd steps
that you suggest.

On the other hand, I rarely listen to this music, even my own. When I
return to the music that I have created in this style in the last ten
years, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride in their construction,
development, and integrity; however, I feel no immediate desire to
listen to them again immediately. Outside of teaching works of this
sort (the canon), and attending concerts (whether EA or acoustic), my
personal listening is never seems to seek out this music.

Instead, the music that I listen to in the car, on the computer while
reading email, or via my mp3 player while walking, is of a different
bent, one I've come to consider "recreational listening". It's not pop
music, which lends itself to a somewhat different (but no less
valuable) listening experience, but a wider form of EA that one might
consider electronica. It does not require my full attention, yet it
still happens to fulfill many of the qualities of music that I enjoy
(in my case, timbral interest, rhythmic complexity of sorts, and a
degree of unpredictability).

To the bafflement of my university colleagues, I have begun to compose
pieces in this style as well. Recognizing that they do not fulfill the
same criteria as my "serious art" pieces, and thereby cannot follow the
same distribution and peer review model, I have chosen to distribute
this music via the internet on various web-labels under a pseudonym. At
this stage, somewhat to my surprise, other people have been willing to
create cover art graphics, web pages, pay for server space, and
publicize it - but the different distribution model makes it difficult
to place it on the same "career steps" that Kevin has suggested.

So I'm left with the thought, which music of my own is more successful?
Which should I spend my next available free time pursuing?

On Jun 6, 2004, at 3:46 AM, Kevin Austin wrote:

> 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.

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