We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It's about time that someone wrote a book about the effects of recorded music on music, and the way we listen to music, who makes the music, and the way music is performed. Robert Philip has done it: Performing Music in the Age of Recording. From a NYROB review by Rosen:
"Before 1900 in Europe and America, it was at home that music was most often experienced, by family members who played some instrument or sang, and by, willingly or unwillingly, the rest of the family and friends. (In Western society among the lower middle class and upward, most music was made by women, who were generally expected to learn to cook, sew, and play the piano. The majority of professional musicians may have been male, like the majority of professional cooks, but most of the cooking and piano play-ing was the lot of women. Music, like breakfast and dinner, was part of life at home.) More exceptionally, music could be heard in some public placesóconcert hall, opera house, or church. The public realm was essentially a complement to the private. It set standards and added glamour.
By the twenty-first century, all this has changed. Both private and public music are being displaced by recordings. Few people make music themselves at home anymore. Because of more cramped living space, it is now inconvenient to house a piano, a once indispensable piece of furniture for any household with even modest pretensions to culture and the instrument that for more than a century was the mainstay of classical music. Outside the big cities, live public music is disappearing as well. Most of the smaller towns that used to have a classical concert series have lost that, and if they are too insignificant to sponsor a popular rock group event, their public music must be confined to clubs. Even live symphony and opera broadcasts have been largely eliminated. At home today we play records. Classical and pop radio stations play records. And often ballet companies and theatrical productions play records in place of hiring musicians.
Robert Philip's Performing Music in the Age of Recording is a brilliant analysis of how this has affected performance style. It is also incidentally, for much of the time, the best account I know of how musical life in general has changed since the introduction of vinyl and long-playing records in the 1950s, which made it possible for records to invade everyone's home."
Plus, folks get fewer and fewer places to learn to play - or to play after they've learned. Far too many school systems consider band and orchestra to be outside activities similar to sports. When I taught band many years ago, I had students whose only academic achievement was in music - it was the only thing they "got" and were successful in. Now, those kids aren't allowed to take part in what's now called extra-cirricular activity.
Then there's the opportunity of performance. Even when I played professionally, I performed many times for free in local little theater productions and at churches. Now, these venues use recorded music rather than live.
I don't know where future musicians will come from. Perhaps that's why current pop music contains so little of what I would consider original music - it seems to be mostly samples, or chords that make the old rock 'n roll 3-chord turnover seem complex.