So, classical music then.
Wait, come back! I don't know if I'm projecting, but it seems there's this inherent fear of classical music from most if not all quarters of the young music fan community. Certainly around the music I tend to go for, anyway. I should qualify this a bit, so here goes.
I've been to a couple of Proms this summer, at the Royal Albert Hall. I've got one more planned too, next week, and it's a unique benefit of living in London that you get these 70-odd events mostly fairly affordable (I paid £11 a ticket, you can get them for as little as £7 if you don't mind restricted view). It's a couple of hours, in an absolutely lovely venue, listening to the sort of stirring dramatic music of styles that essentially persevered – and changed perceptibly many many times during this time – for a couple of hundred years. And still does today – not only is a vast majority of computer game, TV and film music essentially influenced by or styled upon various eras of classical music, many many bands incorporate it into their music. Every fucker has a string quartet at some point, and think how bands like Mercury Rev, Sufjan Stevens, The Delgados, Vampire Weekend have built music around it rather than just using the odd flourish.
Where was I? Oh yeah. No-one talks about it. Maybe when I was about to rail about inherent fear, what I meant was this kind of apathy towards classical music that I see in fans of pop music and its derivatives. I want to be ageist and say “especially those in their twenties”, but I have no idea how applicable that is. I remember reading a thread on a music message board when the Prom line-ups were announced. It was full of people getting excited about Stockhausen and Webern. I say 'full', but there were about 5 posts. On a popular site. Stockhausen and Webern are composers of contemporary music, and contemporary classical music is to classical music what modern art is to, er, art. I don't want to detract from contemporary music, purely because I'm a bigger fan of 19th century era music, but 20th century contemporary stuff probably has more in common with what you'd call the most popular experimental acts. Hell, Squarepusher's performed with the London Sinfonietta before. What I'm getting at here is, yes, it's people dipping into classical music, but it's the kind of classical music that probably isn't that much of a logical leap for them from the music they like. I realise this is sounding like criticism; it's not. Or at least, not meant to be.
Later today I'm going to an all-dayer. It'll be a good gig and a lot of fun, but I'm quite tempted to try and start up conversations about Prokofiev, Haydn, J.S. Bach. Mainly this is because I'm a contrary fucker, but just because no-one'd be bothered to get involved, or maybe some would express sort of vague intention to go to a Prom in the future. Now, my taste in 'indie' music is pretty narrow, I'm more than willing to admit that. So, why do people who have more diverse tastes than me have a classical music blind spot?
Well, maybe they don't. Maybe it's just something that never comes up; if you're getting enough joy from a relatively diverse area of music, you're in your mid-twenties or something say, there's not really any need to think “whither classical music?”. People come to classical music later in life, perhaps. Or maybe it's the fact that there's a different atmosphere that emanates from classical music than say, going to see The Thermals or something. That's a no-brainer. And yeah, you don't really want to be stuck watching the Proms surrounded by Talkers, people who aren't interested but just want to say they were there.
What do I get from classical music? Well, I'm a bit of a beginner, but I can be stirred by the wonderful swooning motif from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasia Overture; I can thrill and be entertained by the joyous Barber of Seville. Popular classics like Ravel's Bolero, Beethoven's Symphony No.5. But it just gradually seeps in, the vast dynamic differences, the changes in mood and the way it rises and falls, whether you've got a stirring, dramatic piece, or something light and whimsical. Sure it's not as full of hummable tunes but everyone knows fucking...Peter and the Wolf, or Dvorak's New World Symphony or something. It soothes the soul.
I seem to have lost the run of myself a bit in this piece. I'm just...I just don't really know why classical music isn't even considered by the people I talk music with, that I see at gigs. Yes, it's a different atmosphere and type of appreciation of music, but it's – okay, not valid, but I think more people would appreciate classical music earlier than they expect they would. Are you in your 20s? Never considered giving classical music a chance? Well, maybe I wouldn't either. And yes, maybe I wouldn't choose to listen to it while sat at home or something, but the unique experience of sitting in the Royal Albert Hall, as a whole host of amazingly talented musicians create such a vast collage of moods, it's a wonderful experience.
So, classical music then. Anyone fancy giving it a go? Proms next year?