Friday, June 22, 2007

A Few Recent Posts of Interest

On his wide-ranging and always engaging blog, Robert Philen has several recent pieces dealing perceptively with music, popular, jazz and classical.

Arguing against the frequently apparent desire to valorize jazz by calling it America's native version of "classical" music, "Jazz Is Not America's Classical Music" focuses on the distinct qualities of American jazz and American classical music. To conflate the two, as he points out, is to miscontrue the nature of jazz and to misrecognize what's unique and valuable about it, as well as to marginalize America’s classical music tradition, one which includes such composers as Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland,Philip Glass, Charles Ives, and Steve Reich. Jazz doesn't need to be America's classical music. It is better to appreciate both in their own terms.

"The Experience of Live Music" addresses both the experience of seeing musicians produce the organized sounds we recognize as music and the differences between the experience of watching/hearing a live music performance and the experience of listening to a recording, even of the same piece of music. It also discusses the ways in which the two experiences interact with and inform one another.

"Generation Gaps, Popular Music, and Affluence" looks at changes in popular music tastes in an historical and social context, that of rising middle class affluence after World War II and of a changing conception of "youth" that was no longer restricted to the chronologically young, a change in the place of play and leisure in adult life which was made possible by that postwar affluence.

I encourage everyone interested in these topics to read these well-argued and well-written pieces.