The Music Lover's Handbook

The Music Lover's Handbook

The Music Lover's Handbook

The Music Lover's Handbook

Excerpt

During the past two generations, deep and far-reaching changes have taken place in the world of music. Ideals of pleasing harmony, beautiful tone, and "pure" expression, held sacred for hundreds of years, have slowly but definitely broken down. The concert hall, hitherto the sanctum sanctorum of high romantic emotion, has opened its doors to the violence and challenge of the world outside. Timbres, rhythms, and motives unknown to a previous age--the beat of the honky-tonk, the noise of the city, the rhythms of jazz and mills and motors, the thunder of the people's war--all these have found their way into symphonic works. In addition to the dignified "legitimate" sonorities of the traditional orchestra, composers have added to their scores the moan of the blues, the squealing clarinet, "hot" trumpet, saxophone, and drums, the twanging Kentucky fiddle and guitar--and these scores have been performed in the most distinguished concerts by Koussevitzky, Stokowski, and Toscanini himself.

The composer, no longer only an artist but also a citizen of our time, has become aware of the new audience and the new outlets for music: radio and the movies, the schools, theaters, and army camps-- as important today as the concert hall itself. The old dividing lines between "serious" and "popular" music, once so sharply drawn, have grown indistinct. With the serious musicians turning to the more "commercial" outlets, and the tunesmiths of Tin Pan Alley working their way up towards the symphonic field, such divisions may soon cease to have any meaning whatsoever. A new concept and style of music is definitely emerging.

Yet, as in all great periods of musical change, the ideas and common notions of what music is have lagged behind the actual practice. Teachers, commentators, and critics, with eyes fixed on the works of the old masters, cling to beliefs that apply rather to the music of a hundred years ago than to that of our own time.

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