Friday, June 03, 2005
We Get Letters Over Here, Too
I'd like to applaud on you and your team's effort in maintaining the wonderful Sequenza21 site. It has definitely open my eyes on the contemporary classical music scene.
Anyway, I would like to direct your attention to an interesting (and somewhat disturbing. Err… no, make that very disturbing) article by Miles Hoffman, titled "Music without Magic". The URL of this Wilson Quarterly article is http://wwics.si.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=115960 Would love to see the response and reaction from you and the composer's forum to this article.
Thanks and best of regards,
Thanks for the kind words, Adam. My immediate reaction is that Miles is full of shit. Not a very witty or pithy or deep response, I'm afraid, but I'm sure others will do better. For those of you who don't have time to read it all at one sitting, here's the heart of Hoffman's argument:
From a distance of centuries, knowledgeable observers can usually discern when specific cultural developments within societies or civilizations reached their peaks. The experts may argue over precise dates and details, but the existence of the peaks themselves is rarely in question. In the case of Western music, we don’t have to wait centuries for a verdict. We can say with confidence that the system of tonal harmony that flowered from the 1600s to the mid-1900s represents the broad summit of human accomplishment, and that our subsequent attempts to find successors or substitutes for that system are efforts—more or less noble—along a downhill slope.