Just got back home from the show–the Indianapolis gigs are a good two hours drive (give or take 30 minutes for stops for coffee). So many interesting things to share/talk about but don’t have the time as I head to Bloomington, Indiana (home to the renowned Jacobs School of Music) to play another show with my Balkan group. Still deciding if I have time to get to this month’s GLMTA (Greater Louisville Music Teacher’s Association) meeting in the morning (urm–later this morning) but also have to go pick up a part for Hello Dolly which I’ll be playing in the pit for in April.
Still been having tons of thoughts about the economics of underserved audiences, and a recent discussion at Greg Sandow’s blog really had me thinking aloud on the drive up to the show last night. Fortunately the wife is finishing her MBA so I got to bounce some ideas about the economics of music(s) off of her. See, the discussion–as you can tell from the post and responses–frames the issue of Classical Music versus Pop music as a classical binary opposition that gets collapsed into a false dichotomy. Basically, that’s the problem with binary oppositions in that they often get treated as binary distinctions, which are a different kind of logical animal altogether.
But the whole field of structuralism as well as post-structuralism relies so heavily on de Saussure’s ideas about binary oppositions and seems to be a way of thinking that is so intuitively robust, folks can’t seem to get past the fallacy involved with treating binary oppositions (e.g. good/bad; black/white) as if they were binary distinctions (e.g. good/not-good; black/not-black). T.K. Seung brilliantly analyzes and describes the history of this fallacy in his book Structuralism and Hermeneutics.
By only framing the discussion in terms of Pop Music vs Classical Music, you’re left with loading all the terms and direction of the talk with reference to only Pop Music and Classical Music. For example, Peter Sachon said:
I don’t know who these non-academic experimental musicians are, but I think some of them have a band called Radiohead. The only people who can’t stand what “pop music stands for” are classical musicians. We must change the classical industry’s artistic snobbery. It holds us all back.
In other words, he can’t imagine there being people who, for whatever reason, stand against Classical Music and Popular Music as there’s no other music outside of the two. So, in his musical world, there can’t be, say, a Thai Piphat musician that absolutely hates Western Pop music and Western Classical music. There’s no room for any musicians other than those that exist in that dichotomous world, or maybe worse yet, the Thai Piphat musician just doesn’t really count as a musician at all. Either way, I don’t see these viewpoints as being any less elitist than the straw man Classical Musician he sets up.
Whether or not that’s just a reflection of his Western musical training in general, or more broadly his Western cultural upbringing I can’t really say. But I think I will definitely come back to this issue, especially as it relates to how underserved audiences aren’t often seen because of how the discussions about music gets framed.
I fired off a quick response to Peter before taking off to Indy that I don’t really want to repost here as it contains some words that I would rather not show up in searches to my blog. Such are the musical skeletons in my closet–hah!