PAE, music etc

Subject: PAE, music etc
From: Buerck / Vihmand (
Date: Fri Jul 02 1999 - 01:33:01 EDT

I fully agree with Natasha. Honestly, I don't know what this talk about
"acedemic music" (as opposed to popular music) really means. Isn't it just
a bunch of cliches?

We live in an age where individual experiences, emotions and reflections of
individual people are getting more and more standardized by industrial
products. Many (most?) people's ideas of "music" are shaped by the cliches
of popular music, forming a kind of filter which filters all the music they
listen to. Therefore, of course, if certain music doesn't consist of these
cliches, there is hardly anything left if one puts it through this filter,
and so these people deprive this music of being "music".

In my eyes it would be absolute nonsense to state that "serious"
contemporary music is "difficult" to understand and, for this reason, could
only attract an academic audience. The problem some people have with this
music is rather due to the fact that it lacks cliches they want to

Natasha speaks about "academic" music which gives "the opportunity for a
listener to emotionally and maybe even intellectually explore such
concepts". She hits a very important point. Exploring - just like every
real kind of experience - is a PROCESS, and it takes time. For me good and
fascinating music is music to which I can listen many and many times
without really "capturing" it, and I find music boring which is obvious
when listening to it for a second (or even for the first) time.

Of course each kind of music has a different idea and intention and also a
different function. It wouldn't be the right place to play a string quartet
by Beethoven or a piano piece by Finnissy in a disco. It is a different
kind of music which is required in this situation, and this is all right.
And I find it great to listen to rock music when I feel like it. But in
this case I am aware of the fact that this is just a particular kind of
music, an "instant gratification music", as Natasha put it, and that there
are different kinds of musical experience beyond that.

So I don't deprive this popular music of its existence. But I do object to
those who claim 'pop musics' to be THE music. I do object to those who
blame electroacoustic music of only appealing to small audiences. What is a
small audience, what is a large audience? For the Rolling Stones maybe
10000 people would be a small audience, but for chamber music 500 people
are sizeable. Why think in terms of quantity rather than quality? Is the
market the only God we worship? Should we all listen and applaud to the
same kind of standardized music? Should we all be happy to eliminate the
little bits of individuality we still have?

I don't know which term would be appropriate for music which is opposed to
'pop musics'.'Art music'? I don't really like the term 'academic music',
since it gives a wrong impression. Is it called 'academic' because the
composers work at academic institutions (and therefore don't have to
compose commercially-oriented music), or is it called 'acedemic' because
these composers live in a safe little world, writing music according to
certain boring academic rules which can be cliches, too? Is Beethoven's or
Bach's music 'academic'? Thinking of Stockhausen in the fifties, I wouldn't
call his music 'academic'. He was just trying to find a completely new
musical language and a completely new aesthetic, which was absolutely
opposed to every kind of music which had existed before. And this was quite
a risk. He was frowned upon, almost spat upon by many people, but he
created this music because he felt he HAD to create it. Later on, serial
techniques became acedemic and 'ossified' to cliches. Many
pseudo-revolutionary imitators used these techniques to write boring music
without taking any risks any more.

Therefore 'serious' music (the term 'serious composer' always reminds me of
the 'constant frown' type) is not necessarily synonymous with 'academic'
music. Many colleagues working at academic institutions create interesting
and exciting music which is far from boring academic rules and far from
superficially structured music as well. And this music is very open-minded
and risky.

What we need is VARIETY rather than standards. And, thanks God, there are
still people who have the desire to make individual (long term) experiences
which don't coincide with (instant gratification) cliches and standards.
And if they are a minority (which is sad enough), why blame them for that?


Rainer Bürck Tel: -49-7125-7790
Am Samuelstein 9 Fax: -49-7125-70685
72574 Bad Urach E-Mail:
Germany Web:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Wed Jun 11 2003 - 13:09:01 EDT