B1 Intermediate US 39 Folder Collection
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Translator: Joyce (Wan-Hsuan) Wu Reviewer: Adrienne Lin
In our society, we like to categorize:
black, white, tragedy, comedy,
and this is true as well in the world of music.
A quick glance at iTunes reveals such genres as:
death metal, black metal, thrash metal, and so on;
all these categories that have come in in the past ten years.
However, the classical music scene shows a different picture.
Indeed, roughly 900 - (Laughter)
roughly 900 years worth of music
is condensed into a single category.
Not only is this an oversimplification
but it leads to many misconceptions about classical music,
that it all sounds the same, that it all sounds like this...
(Music)
(Laughter)
and so on.
In addition, modern concert etiquette
dictates that the audience remain in absolute silence
adding to an air of almost funereal silence.
This was not always the case.
In the 18th century, opera houses were noisy
and filled with all sorts of chatter, gossip, and even heckling.
Here is an opera house in 1761,
featuring Lully's play "Armide."
But only a century later,
with the advent of composers and conductors such as Mahler and Wagner
did this attitudes change,
and did absolute silence become the norm.
This was a turning point in classical music
because it became increasingly associated
with solemness, grimness, and absolute seriousness.
But the truth about classical music
is that it is as enjoyable, accessible,
and fun as in any other form in music. (Laughter)
For example,
take waltzes, minuets, gigues,
and all the sorts of Baroque and classical dances
that we associate with high art and courtroom dances.
At the time, these dances were the popular music of the time.
They were seen as light...
(Music)
...joyful...
(Music)
...and even seductive. (Music)
In fact,
the sarabande dance was banned in Spain.
(Applause) (Laughter)
The sarabande dance was banned in Spain
numerous times for being too "obscene,"
kind of like modern day twerking, isn't it? (Laughter)
In addition, countless composers have drawn
on the folk and popular music of their time
for inspiration in their classical music.
For example,
Bach's Goldberg Variations are a series of 40 variations on a single theme.
The last variation is a combination of four humorous German songs,
one of which translates to:
"Cabbage and turnips have driven me away,
had my mother cooked meat, I'd have opted to stay."
(Laughter)
Later on, Hungarian composer Béla Bartók spent years traveling
in the Eastern European countryside collecting folk songs
and using them in his music, such as in the first Piano Sonata.
And here he is with Czech villagers in 1908,
he is the one in the black suit.
In the 20th century, Maurice Ravel, a French composer said:
"Jazz is a very rich and vital source of inspiration for modern composers."
His Piano Concerto in G [major] features many jazz themes and idioms.
He is also pictured with George Gershwin who, in the same way,
combined classical music with orchestral timbre,
such as in his piece "Rhapsody in blue" that many of you may know.
More recently, Giovanni Dettori, an Italian composer, wrote a fugue,
which is a piece where successive voices enter repeating the same theme,
on the song "Bad romance" by Lady Gaga.
I'll just play the beginning because I don't know the rest.
(Laughter) (Music)
It keeps going and so on.
(Applause)
Now, in the other direction,
classical music has influenced popular music as well.
For example, the Beatles used orchestral timbre
in their song "A day in the life,"
using glissandi in the violins and many things
to create an illusion of dizziness and confusion.
As you can see, classical and pop music
are inextricably linked throughout music history.
In addition, the notation systems are similar.
Here we have figured bass notation
which was used by harpsichordists in the 1600s and 1700s.
They would be given a bass line,
and then they would improvise a chord on top of that bass line.
And then we have the tab notation used by guitar players today.
Although these written systems display much information,
musicians of both periods often depart from the written score
and choose to improvise their own additions.
In the case of Baroque music, those were ornaments, and in modern rock, riffs.
So, now that I've convinced you
that classical music and popular music are really quite similar,
you may ask me:
"Why is classical music appreciation so important?
Who cares about dead composers decomposing?"
(Laughter)
The truth is
that classical music programs in schools have been shown to increase
students' academic performance year after year.
Classical music participation and education
reinforces critical thinking, creativity, discipline,
and it provides an emotional outlet for children and teenagers
who, as you know, have many struggles growing up.
In the 2007 study by the University of Kansas,
students in elementary schools with superior classical music programs,
or music in general,
were shown to score 22% higher on English exams,
and 20% higher on math exams,
than schools with lower musical programs
regardless of the socioeconomic differences between those schools.
This is because there are many, many benefits that had been shown
about classical music participation and things like that.
The skills that they learned... I'll get into more of that later.
It's important to realize classical music does not make you smarter,
as some CD companies would try to convince you,
but it does have skills that musicians learn
that can be used in a wider context and situations.
String quartet players know
the value of team work, the importance of precision,
and the benefits of thinking outside of the box.
They must work together to have the same rhythm, the same interpretation.
They must be precise
in order for all of their lines to exactly line up and to match up,
but they must have enough creativity and spontaneousness
to make them stand out from other string quartets.
And this is very applicable to many other things.
This is why many companies hire amateur musicians
because of these kinds of skills.
Thus, classical music should be enjoyed
not only for its sheer beauty but also for its value to society.
Only when classical music has been absolved
of its reputation of snobbishness and elitism,
only when classical music is as enjoyed as popular music is today,
only when support continues for classical music,
education, and appreciation in our schools,
only then will we put the 'music' back into 'classical music.'
Thank you.
(Applause)
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Putting the 'music' back into 'classical music' | Luka Marinkovic | [email protected]

39 Folder Collection
ally.chang published on February 17, 2020
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