The technology which threatens classical music can also save it
In a world of iPhones/Pads/Pods, it can be easy for classical music to get lost. Â YouTube has made not just music, but our daily lives a ubiquitous presence. Â Did you hear what Stephen Colbert said yesterday? Â No? Â Go to YouTube. Â What’s your ringtone? Â Oh, that’s will.i.am.
Popular culture seems to come at us at such a high volume, seemingly everywhere, that it can be difficult for classical music to even get noticed.
Yet it does. Â Go to the website All About Beethoven and you’ll find an array of Beethoven ringtones for your cellphone. Â Rather have Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Bach, or Ravel? Â No problem. Â There are links to those composers and more.
Paul Elie, a Senior Research Fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, recently addressed the subject of classical music in our modern world in his book Reinventing Bach. Â He states that Bach, whose “greatness as a composer is total and inviolable,” was also “a pioneer of technology: not just a master organist but a master organ builder and repairer; a theoretician who investigated the possibilities of a tuning system that changed the way music sounds and is still in use.”
Leopold Stokowski teamed with Walt Disney to usher in a new age of film animation with Fantasia, which put classical music and classic cartoon characters together in the movie theatre. Â Much music written specifically for film does not stand well on it’s own, it is inextricably tied to the film for which it was written. Â
However, the average moviegoer probably remembers well Dvorak’s Song to the Moon, used in Moonstruck, Puccini’s O mio babbino caro used in Room with a View, and Strauss’ Beautiful Blue Danube from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Â
Fittingly enough, iTunes has a recent recording loaded with classical music used in cinema.
How we find, collect, and listen to popular music has changed immensely over the last several decades. Â Does it not stand to reason that this very same technology can just as readily deliver Bach and Mozart, Daugherty and Tower, as it can Black Eyed Peas and Mumford & Sons?
If we dismiss these modern devices as a waste of time, we do so at great risk.
Read Bach Is Still Revving Up Engine of Musical Innovation (NY Times)