BackStage

What shall we call this stuff?

What shall we call this stuff?

Tue, 9/26/2006 - 10:23pm — Stephen Burns
Sep 26, 2006
After 500 years of Western Art music I think we need a new name for this stuff. Clearly we have carved out names for each style specifically: Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque. Classical, Romantic, Post-Romantic, Modernist, Neo-Classical, Neo-Romantic, Serial, 12-tone, Minimalist.... Post-neo-minimal-Modernist.

While it is not really important to narrow it down to one pigeon hole, it is interesting that we cling to the narrow appellation of Classical Music, considering that it relegates this entire genre to music created between 1750 and 1820, if you want to get academic about it.

As Chamber Music America has welcomed Zorn & Jazz into its hallowed halls since 2000, where do we put improvised, highly chromatic music of the Hard-Bop, Post-Bop, Free Improv, Afro-beat, AACM, AEC, Steve Lacy, Dave Douglas, Django Bates, Sun Ra, or any other artist who defies category?

We live in challenging times. The question is:

Are we creative or reactive?

S

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Comments

Let's just call it music.

Let's just call it music. It's labels that make people think that something will sound one way or another. Like the saying goes, "Run it up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes it."

Let's not get academic about

Let's not get academic about it. Let's make the experience of presenting and listening to the music so compellng that any discussion of what we call it is rendered meaningless. Do you honestly think that most people who listen to baroque music on the radio on their way to work or while sipping their morning coffee care that it is called Baroque or when it was composed.  I hope not. I hope what is true and valuable finds its place, no matter what we call it. Chicago's new sculpture Cloudgate was immediately renamed by Chicagoans as "the bean." Let's take the hint. What "the people" call it is what matters.  Let's just hope they keep coming.

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