How to Approach Classical Music
Ascoltare Newsletter #7
This is a different post compared to what I’ve been writing in the past but I think it’s time to visit the overarching themes of this newsletter. But fear not, there will be plenty of musical intermissions. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s dive in.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing the “Lindy Music” edition of the Lindy Newsletter. The idea is that the music I present in these posts has stood the test of time and is still being appreciated 100s of years after the death of the composers.
The best is: Will the kind of music we create today be relevant a few decades from now?
You might think “Who cares, I enjoy the music and that’s all that matters”.
And I must say, this is a valid answer but an incorrect one.
During the introduction of this newsletter, I made the case that we seldom apply the same standards to music as we do to movies and art.
We’ve lost the taste for complex forms and structures. Our musical palette is too simplistic, in a sense.
Yet, I don’t think we should solely blame the consumers for this.
Music is an abstract concept and a tangible object simultaneously. We’re able to feel music using our senses but we can also use our intellect to approach it theoretically.
The very act of composing and performing is what reconciles this paradox.
The issue is that the skill required to engage with classical music holistically became a steep curve the average man didn’t have the patience to climb.
So, what did we do? We stopped creating and we started refining.
Talentless intellectuals spend hours discussing the harmonic validity of one note, while they never managed to create or perform themselves.
We love discussing Wagner more than we like his music.
We care more about competitions than honest performances.
We removed classical music from our homes and local venues and placed it on top of tall pedestals where we can have debates ad nauseam.
The Music in “Classical Music” became a peripheral subject.
That’s not to say there’s no place for discussion. After-all, this newsletter is a discussion about classical music in a sense.
With these posts, I attempt a textual expression of the pieces I’m writing about.
In fact, I’d argue that what I’m doing is feeling-oriented rather than an intellectual endeavor.
Classical music isn’t background music. It requires focus and active, practical listening.
Effortful enjoyment is perhaps an accurate description of what we experience.
The key is to move away from the abstract concept of classical music and closer to the partiture. Closer to what you feel when you’re listening.
Forget about the weird, aesthetic fetish musicians have.
Forget about the traditionalist LARPers that make music a meme.
Start exploring pieces on your own accord. Stop listening to sensational, gimmicky songs.
And if you want to take things one step further, start thinking like a creator. Pick up an instrument.
I wrote that the notion we should simply enjoy the music is valid but incorrect.
Valid because we don’t know better, incorrect because we’re quite literally accepting the absolute mediocrity that is being enforced to us by mainstream culture. It seems like it’s a victimless crime but the consequences run deep.
Mainstream music lets you indulge in over-simplistic emotions. A powerful spell that highjacks you current state of mind with nonsense and trivial pondering.
Classical music allows you to explore subtle textures and an overall larger emotional spectrum. You just have to let it simmer and settle.
The internet has bridged the gap between high-brow elitists (to their dismay) and the “common folk”.
Here are a few YouTube channels I recommend:
Share this with every musician, uninitiated pop listener, classical music connoisseur, snob aristocrat, the bourgeoisie or proletariat: