2014: Mansoor Hosseini

2014: Mansoor Hosseini

2014: Mansoor Hosseini

Publicerad: tis, 2014-12-09 12:46

Is this music?

New music in our time comes in a large variety of styles and influences. Composers are constantly searching for new manners to express their ideas. On one side there is technology which is advancing fast, offering us all sorts of possibilities to create new dimensions of sounds. New programmes are invented, suitable for live performances and electronics manipulated in real time. On the other side there is an eager search for new instrumentation, permitting more combinations of sounds.

For many decades, composers such as John Cage (listen to ex. “Water Walk”) and Mauricio Kagel (“Dressur”) have turned to everyday objects for their collection of sounds. Objects like chairs, water boilers, bicycles, balloons become music instruments or musical objects. This method gave birth to theatrical music, which is the term I prefer to use instead of musical theatre. Cage, Kagel and their contemporaries bravely demonstrated a new process to make music, a new way of thinking which astonished the audience, performers and even composers. Today, after so many years of concerts, it is still not comfortable for the “average” audience to attend these theatrical music performances. Most people would not be open to listening to a trio playing a piece for table, flute, and vacuum cleaner! A critical and “untrained” audience might ask “But is this music?”. A vague, but reasonable answer could be: “Yes, as long as it is about producing sounds and it is musical”.

It is regretful to say that there is one type/category of audience that merely copes with avant-garde music, every now and then, only because they are getting used to it. They tolerate it simply out of respect. However, getting used to something does not mean they enjoy or understand it. It only means they accept the fact that for certain artists it is essential to experiment beyond the usual and explore unknown territories.

These artists, like Columbus as a voyager, want to explore a new continent, a continent of sounds. They aim to accumulate an island full of instruments and sounds, the sea being the audience. Either the water stays calm, without any major reaction, or the waves would cover the land as destruction or protest. Maybe the tide pulls away, ignoring the land and all creations on it. This is what too many people have been doing, turning away from music unfamiliar to the ear, to the mind and the brain. Perhaps we ask too much of them and there is no one to blame. Or is there?!

If avant-garde music has too little audience, at least compared to many other genres like pop or rock, it could be because the audience is not “trained” to listen with patience, or to work hard in order to feel the magic those sounds may bring. In today’s society people have very little time to spare and they prefer music for relaxation, music that is easy to digest. They choose music just like they choose to consume fast food.

So, the question is: “How do we encourage more people to spend time with new music, and what ground can we prepare to help new listeners appreciate avant-garde music? Without a solid cultural education at early age it may be difficult to succeed at this task. This means we must start introducing classical music from all epochs, including avant-garde, already at the age of six. Why are there no systematic music classes where avant-garde music is played, listened to or discussed? Even classical music is threatened. It is taught at few schools, with few hours of poor standard. Perhaps if children heard new music and had more possibilities to play more instruments, we would have better understanding of music.

While in India people find Indian music natural and exciting to listen to, since they are brought up with it, fewer people in Russia would, on the other hand, find Indian music exciting. This is of course not surprising due to cultural and educational reasons. In the same way we could bring up our young ones with more musical knowledge both at schools and at home.

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