What to do… If You Don’t Like Contemporary Music
The Reality of the Music Business
For some people contemporary music is just a joke. The music itself doesn’t make any sense for them. I was included in this group of people until recently. I believe it is a matter of understanding what makes enjoyable a piece of art- of any kind. If you visit a museum and stare at some crazy piece of art for 5 minutes you might realize that your little sister can draw something even prettier. If that sounds familiar- you are not the first person to think that. The Rite of Spring was a complete failure when it was a first performed, but now it is well accepted in the symphonic repertoire and one of the most performed piece by symphony orchestras. It is a matter of time and knowledge. Knowledge because when you know the story behind it- your vision of the piece changes and it becomes automatically more enjoyable.
Yesterday, I had one of those days you will never forget for the rest of your life. I went to a seminar/talk with composer Philip Glass. He is a contemporary minimalist composer who found success at an old age. He said at the seminar “ I couldn’t make a living by writing music until I was 41” he also said “ In my first 20 years of writing nobody cared about my music”. That being said- we can see how hard he worked and how hard was for the people to accept his music. In my opinion he is an amazing composer. We recorded his cello concerto yesterday and that was something else. What a great experience- his music has a stamp that says: I was written by Philip Glass and I sound unique and awesome. Philip was one of the composers I studied to get a little more in to contemporary music. Since then he has been an inspiration for me and a trigger to learn more about the 20th century’s music. Once you get in to the language it will be easier to assimilate the music and you will be one of the very few people who understand the genre and maybe like it.
If you don’t like contemporary classical music you should:
Learn the story behind it to understand the art and enjoy it a little more
Read and get well informed about the composer, his life and the purpose of the music
Listen to a contemporary piece a few times. This works for me- I start to like it after listen to it a lot
Listen to romantic composers and work your way up until you reach the extremely chaotic contemporary music and then decide what you like and what you don’t like
Study Wagner and Mahler and compare their music to contemporary music. Composers often include some Wagnerisms and Mahlerisms in their pieces. You can relate to that and accept it as good music.
If you like film music (I love film music), you can find lots of dissonant music that it’s being used to create effects. You can start your way up in to contemporary music by listening to soundtracks. Here is my list
Take a 20th century music class. By the time I took it I was not very open to the language… so I wasted my time more or less. I always learned something.
As a composer, I try to understand every kind of music. Even if I don’t like it much. It will give me some general understanding about the genre and it will help me unconsciously with my compositional ideas. I still don’t understand or like some of the 20th century composers. Like John Cage for example. But I will keep trying, and maybe some day I might feel something- or maybe more than something. Who knows! The important thing is that everything is music and music is art. I’d say every opinion counts..like it or not is up to you but at least give it a shot.