----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Cox" <doncox@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
In rock and pop, by and large the performer is the focus, and most of
the material is composed by the performers. So one might buy a studio
recording and a live concert recording, and that is it.
That is a practice which has only existed for just over (about) forty
years! IIRC, the Beatles were the first pop artists to write the vast
majority of the tunes they recorded (and they had the advantage of
being talented songwriters...one not granted to most of their ilk!)
Prior to that point (even during the heyday of "rock'n'roll!") if
one was a song PERFORMER one contacted a WRITER to see what songs
might be available to record. The problem to-day is that for the
most part being a talented performer does NOT guarantee that one
is an equally talented songwriter!
For a Beethoven sonata, or a Cole Porter song, each performer has
something different to tell you about the music, as each actor does
about Hamlet or Macbeth. Add to that the changes in performance styles
over the years, and it does make sense to own several versions of a
Whether it makes sense to buy the latest offering by some young "star"
at full price, I doubt.
It probably doesn't. Many "stars" are selected by record-industry
"honchos" for reasons that have little or nothing to do with their
musical talent (or, usually, lack thereof...) but simply seem to
offer a possibility of selling large amounts of "product!"
As well, as recorded music more and more becomes a product of
technology, as opposed to any extant musical talent, the resulting
"product" takes on a distinct similarity...again, aimed at saleability
as opposed to musical quality. At some point in the not-too-distant
future, it may be possible to create "superstars" that exist only
as bytes and bits somewhere in the half-vast "IT Division!"
I think the number of listeners to classical music is increasing, not
decreasing. Comparing an issue of The Gramophone from the 70s to a
current issue, there are far more releases, ten times as many labels,
and no shortage of excellent new recordings. After all, there is more
money around today than there was then.
But...the demand is primarily for the same relative handful of familiar
classical works! I assume there are still classical works being composed...
however, I would guess they are either extensively derivative of older
classical music...or so experimantal as to sail over the heads of the
potential purchasers. Most of what is heard on classical-music radio
is at the very least close to a century old...and generally two to
four centuries old...
I think jazz pretty well died when it became a genre.
Hey, my sympathies are with you. It's the same with jazz -- aside from
the fact that the genre has been hijacked to large extent by the
"museum music" crowd.
Jazz began to die out when be-bop made it 1) more introspective than
entertaining, and 2) effectively impossible to dance to! In fact, that
is why "dixieland jazz" still survives...simple, often familiar tunes,
an obvious and ear-catching rhythm listeners can dance or clap their
hands to...and a sense of fun! Note that all of these qualities are
either absent or hard-to-hear in, say, a Coltrane album/performance...
One interesting side thought (on which I have so far no opinion...)
As a "survivor" of the sixties, I lived through (and enjoyed, as
near as I can remember) the musical developments that were both
inspired (for the artists) and enjoyed (for the listeners) by
the "mind-altering" drugs of the period. Now, the "drug of choice"
for jazz musicians for most, if not all, of the pre-WWII period
was, of course, good ol' C2H5OH (or, during prohibition, occasionally
CH3OH...). During the "bop era" and thereafter, many jazz musicians
were into heroin and similar opiates. What effect did that have on
how jazz developed...?!
Steven C. Barr