It was a normal dinner conversation between musicians. I casually mentioned my abhorrence of the Banff Centre's muzak policies; a reasonable complaint given the contiguity, say, at the coffee shop, of Kenny G Christmas with Madonna's "Like a Prayer."
One building on campus even has music piped into the restrooms, set to activate with the lights when someone enters. The other day they were playing Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto in there.
I think we can all agree that that is outrageous.
One of the composers at the table, following my comment, described a bathroom concert a teacher of his had been involved with. Another musician has a colleague staging a swimming pool concert, complete with synchronized swimmers. I mentioned a friend who has played on a coat-room music series.
We have all of this, and yet when I went on long runs in Austin I was pleasantly surprised to see dudes unceremoniously playing guitars in their front yards.
We tried to be revolutionary by removing music from the concert hall, and yet now it's more provocative and unusual to have live music on one's own porch. Taking music to unexpected spaces has not altered contemporary attitudes about music-making and where it belongs.
Spectating is no longer radical, no matter where you place it. It's genuine participation in music that has become rare, "experimental" when it occurs.
We've got music everywhere these days and music-making nowhere. Everyone has music piped into their "living" room, but when was the last time you had "live" music there?
Not so long ago all music was live music, just like all music was new music until around the time Mendelssohn revived Bach's St Matthew Passion. The opposite of "new" music should be "old" music, but now benchmark experimental works from decades ago are still referred to as "new music." The opposite of live music, I suppose, is recorded music -- but when I hear disembodied background sounds, even if they're unfortunately situated works by a great like Beethoven, that's not just recorded music. That's really the opposite of live music. That's dead music.
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