So I don’t mean to, ya know:
but I thought I’d weigh in once more on the ‘alt/indie/post/anti/whatever-classical’ debate, this time on the question as to whether it’s even relevant to discuss (a discussion on which is of course an awesome paradox).
Dennis Desantis weighed in on the ‘why are we even discussing this?’-tip:
The only thing that’s ever mattered about any piece of music, ever, is what it sounds like. Martin Bresnick used to talk about how a good piece of music should make you check for your wallet; you should feel like you got your ass kicked after listening to it.
How it got made only matters if what got made matters. No one gives a shit about your craft if your music sucks. Likewise, there’s plenty of music that makes you check for your wallet, even if it doesn’t hold up to analysis.
So what makes music good? What makes music relevant?
The answer is, “who cares?” Figure out what you like to hear. Then go listen to it and make more.
“Figure out what you like to hear. Then go listen to it and make more”. Words for a composer to live by. And of course as a composer I totally agree, but that is only one perspective. As I commented on his blog, “If I thought about all this shit while I was trying to create I simply wouldn’t create. I know this because I used to and I didn’t.”. Yes, anyone who is deeply considering these matters while writing a piece should probably stop. The alt-classical discussion isn’t primarily a discussion by composers though, it’s a discussion about composers and their compositions.
If you asked a football player what he was thinking about as he ran through a wall of linebackers he’d probably look at you strangely and say, “why the hell would I be thinking in a time like that?”. Should that stop the sports commentators from discussing what incredible maneuvers he did in the five seconds that made up the play? Of course not. But the more important answer is, should doesn’t matter. They’re going to discuss what they are going to discuss, no matter what the players involved think.
Should Greg Sandow, Allan Kozinn, Anne Midgette, or Steve Smith care if composers think “alt” as a label is tacky, or the discussion is futile, or that over-thinking your genre limitations is stifling to ones creativity? Hell no. They’re doing their jobs, and if they worried excessively about how composers would feel about any of these matters they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs any better than we could.
I believe it is healthy for this discussion to have some input from some composers involved. We wouldn’t want it to be solely framed by writers and critics. So I will add the Marks Corollary to the Desantis formula:
If you feel like discussing the current state of music do so. If not, then don’t. If you find it messes with your ability to create then stop. But others are going to discuss it and define it whether you like it or not.