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Hogarth judge

February 2018

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Cigarettes. . . .

"Pop" music and "serious" music

From a recent email I sent:

I like similar things in pop music and serious music. Either way, I am drawn to minor keys and modal melodies. In pop music, I expect a level of sophistication in the lyrics; in serious music, a level of contrapuntal complexity. Either should have human scale: a five minute pavane is more appealing than an hour-long symphony. This may be a function of my twentieth-century attention span, but there it is. I will generally prefer chamber pieces to large orchestras, which I find murky. I generally find displays of technical or vocal virtuosity unmusical in either genre, at least when they seem gratuitous.

I've noticed an odd trend of musical journalists writing about various pop musicians who have recorded what they call "song standards." By this they appear to be referring to a bunch of ancient Tin Pan Alley, torch song, and lounge jazz numbers with which I am happily unfamiliar. A greater gulf of sympathy exists between me and this material than for Perotin: this stuff belongs to a past I've no wish to remember. After the summits of the Doors, of Hendrix, of Bowie, even a slight return of that sort of thing seems disturbing and just wrong.

I suspect the impulse to invest your musical tastes in the cloak of sophistication or morality is universal.

Comments

I suspect the impulse to invest your musical tastes in the cloak of sophistication or morality is universal

Not universal but very common especially among middle class males I suspect....

Have you read Adorno's musings about serious v. popular music? V. amusing as well a thought-provoking. He is very scathing about the popular v. elitist and lots of double-standards but worth reading all the same...