Is Classical Music Elitist? Part 3

Continued from

To continue this fascinating discussion of the commentary found on The Guardian’s web site, it now evolves into a debate between two posters, katyekpay and Maritz. Here is katyekpay’s response to Maritz’s earlier post:

3 Nov 2009, 10:40PM

The elitism you allege is just education and understanding of that particular art form. The bands at the festival are not producing art. So if it is elitist to participate in an art form, understand it and enjoy playing it, so be it. Enjoy the bands – but they are not ART. Is ART elitist???

One question?

For you what defines Art?

So Rock music is not Art, Classical is?

Street Jazz is not Art, Ballet is?

Jazz/Pop singing is not Art, but Opera is?

You show your prejudice (elitism) by your comments, what makes popular art easier than classical styles?

To katyekpay (Maritz has his own answers I will publish later), I say, yes, Rock music is not Art, and Classical is. Why? Because rock music is too formulaic. There may be an exception or two to the rule, but the general rule of thumb is that rock music consists of music in the range of a very narrow tempo, with four-line stanzas, each four measures long, and confined to a (sorry for the music theory terms here) I-IV-V7 harmony. Then after either 2 or three verses, there is a bridge, and back to the original form.

How is this different, from, say, a Schubert art song? Schubert’s harmonies are far more wide-ranging; instead of the same volume and density of music all the time, we have different vocal colours, different expression on the piano, and much more. It’s amazing what you can find on YouTube these days, so let’s listen first to the Techno interpretation of the song “Erlkönig” (that is their characterization, not mine, so if you have a comment about whether this is Techno, please don’t ask me to understand the difference–I can distinguish among Mozart, Haydn, Cannabich, Spohr and Stamic, but I don’t hear the difference between Techno, House, Trance, and whatever else there is);

then to Thomas Quasthoff’s interpretation of the Schubert setting.

Let me ask you, honestly, which is more subtle? Which has more layers? Which is more moving? And which requires more artistry?

katyekpay, I have much, much more to say to you on the other questions, but it will have to wait for another post; I can rant only so much in one day, and I have a book to finish researching.

Continued in:

2 Replies to “Is Classical Music Elitist? Part 3”

    1. Dear Katyekpay,

      Thank you for visiting my site!

      To be precise, I have not been talking about you; my remarks are not personal. I have been addressing your publicly available comments on an article in the Guardian. I hope you will feel free to respond to my comments about your comments; this will further enhance your viewpoint and give us a chance to discuss your opinions.

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